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Stay Dry, Stay Stylish: A Guide To Waterproof Fabrics

Stay Dry, Stay Stylish: A Guide To Waterproof Fabrics

Every cloud has a silver lining; in the case of the UK’s unpredictable weather, the silver lining often appears in the form of stylish waterproof fabrics. Modern technology has led to an exciting range of waterproof, water-resistant, and outdoor fabrics, ensuring we remain dry without compromising on style.

When it comes to enjoying the great outdoors, one crucial element to consider is staying dry and comfortable, regardless of the weather. The key to achieving this lies in the fabrics used for outdoor garments and furnishings. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various types of waterproof and water-resistant fabrics, their applications, and the technology behind them. Whether you're an avid hiker, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply seeking the perfect outdoor furnishings, understanding the characteristics and benefits of different fabrics will help you make informed choices.

Types of Waterproof and Water-Resistant Fabrics:


Microlight is a lightweight and highly water-resistant fabric, perfect for active outdoor pursuits. Its tightly woven structure ensures that water beads off its surface, keeping you dry and comfortable even in drizzly conditions. Ideal for light rain jackets and windbreakers, Microlight offers excellent breathability to prevent moisture build-up during physical activities.

PU Coated Fabrics

Polyurethane (PU) coated fabrics are renowned for their exceptional waterproofing capabilities. The PU coating is applied to fabrics like nylon, polyester, or cotton, creating a waterproof barrier. PU coatings are commonly used in rainwear, tents, and backpacks due to their excellent waterproof properties and relatively low cost.



Nylon is a lightweight synthetic fabric widely used in outdoor gear. Its tightly woven structure and durable nature make it highly water-resistant, making it an excellent choice for rain jackets, tents, and backpacks. Additionally, nylon can be combined with various coatings for added waterproofing and protection.



Gabardine is a tightly woven fabric known for its water-resistant qualities. Originally used for military uniforms, this versatile fabric is now popular for raincoats and outdoor clothing. Gabardine's smooth finish and draping ability add a touch of elegance to your outdoor wardrobe.


Waxed and Bonded Cotton

Waxed and bonded cotton are two traditional waterproof fabrics. The former gets its water resistance from a paraffin or natural wax coating, whilst bonded cotton is composed of two layers of cotton with a waterproof membrane in between.


Canvas has been a staple outdoor fabric for centuries. It's a heavy-duty material with natural water-resistant properties, making it ideal for rugged outdoor uses. Modern canvas fabrics may also be treated with additional coatings for enhanced water repellence. Canvas is frequently used for outdoor coverings and durable outdoor furnishings such as deckchairs, seat and cushion covers.

Heavy Coated Canvas

Similar to traditional canvas, heavy coated canvas features an extra layer of waterproof coating. This provides superior protection against moisture, making it an excellent choice for outdoor furniture covers and durable bags.


Ex-Designer Rainwear

Ex-designer rainwear refers to high-quality, stylish rainwear that has been gently used or previously owned. These garments often feature cutting-edge waterproof technologies from reputable designers, are luxury, high-quality materials that offer an excellent combination of style, durability and water resistance.


The Technology of Waterproofing

Behind these fabrics is an array of technologies. For example, PU coated fabrics are made waterproof by applying a coating of Polyurethane to the fabric. This makes the material resistant to water, yet breathable. Waxed cotton, on the other hand, uses a more traditional approach, where the fabric is made water-resistant by saturating it with a mixture of paraffin or natural wax. Bonded cotton uses technology to layer two cotton fabrics with a waterproof layer in the middle, combining strength, durability and water resistance. Many waterproof fabrics are treated with DWR coatings, which cause water to bead and roll off the fabric's surface. This prevents water from saturating the fabric, keeping you dry and comfortable.


Care Tips for Outdoor Fabrics

Caring for waterproof materials is important to maintain their longevity. Always check the manufacturer's instructions first. As a general rule, avoid using fabric softeners or bleach, which can damage the water-resistant coating.

  • To maintain the longevity and performance of your outdoor garments and furnishings, follow these care tips:
  • Regular Cleaning: Clean your waterproof items regularly with a gentle soap and water solution to remove dirt and grime. Avoid harsh chemicals that may degrade the fabric's waterproofing properties.
  • Drying: After exposure to rain or moisture, ensure your items are fully dried before storing them to prevent mould or mildew growth.
  • Reapply DWR Coatings: Over time, the DWR coating on some fabrics may wear off. Consider reapplying DWR coatings as needed to maintain its water repellence.
  • Proper Storage: Store your outdoor garments and furnishings in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight to prevent damage and fading.

Waterproof fabrics have never been more essential. With a variety of styles, types and technologies available, staying dry no longer means compromising on style. So, as the rain clouds gather, take comfort in knowing that you can face the elements with confidence, wrapped in your stylish and durable waterproof garments.

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