Three-layer fabrics have a third layer of lining that is bonded to the membrane’s waterproof layer, shielding it from body’s oil and dirt. They provide better moisture control and durability over two-layer fabrics however, they come with the cost of.

Patagonia’s new Torrentshell 3L (PS160) is an example of a sturdy three-layer jacket that features a durable 50D ripstop front fabric as well as Gore-Tex Paclite Plus technology. It does not have the lining used in many 2.5-layer jackets and reduces weight.

Waterproof and Breathable

Waterproof-breathable fabrics like Gore-Tex and eVent create jackets that are very protective in stormy weather. They let sweat escape but also keep moisture out depending on the variation in tension between body heat and cold air inside the jacket. The most breathable models include an outer layer to absorb sweat and offers a silky next-to-skin feel. The layers inside protect the membrane’s breathable from dirt as well as body oils and wear therefore they need more frequent cleaning to keep them at a level of breathable.

Aristino jacket

Historically 2-layer jackets used to have an exterior face fabric bonded to a waterproof-breathable membrane and a loose (typically mesh) liner hanging on the inside. Those types of jackets have been largely discarded in the last few years as cheaper 2.5 layer jackets have taken the market by the storm. Each of them should be waterproof and have a long-lasting water repellent (DWR) coating to keep rain from the outer shell. As time passes the finish will begin to deteriorate and will require treatment.


A lot of jackets have two-layer membranes. But a few take it a step further. The budget-friendly XeroDry GTX from Co-op ($169) comes with a two-layer GORE-TEX PACLITE membrane and provides a tough shield against moderate and windy rain. The membrane allows sweat vapor to go away. Mesh liner made of polyester protects the membrane, and can help reduce that clammy feeling one might experience when wearing a waterproof, cheap jacket with a constant rain. In order to keep the jacket running at peak performance, it’ll need the DWR treatment (either spray-on or wash-in) following a long period of use.

Three-layer jackets add a third fabric layer for wicking to the membrane and dramatically increase breathability and moisture management. Jackets constructed using this method include Patagonia’s Torrentshell 3L jacket ($179) have the ability be able to endure all-day floods.

The most efficient three-layer membranes are polyurethane and ePTFE films. Polartec’s NeoShell is a popular choice for its high-elevation, trail-running-friendly balance of water resistance and breathability at 20,000 g/m2. In addition, the Goretex Pro membrane has multiple ePTFE membranes that are joined to provide exceptional resistance to water (RET 13) and breathability (24,000 G/m2). Depending on your activity level and outdoor climate, a jacket with pit vents is likely to be important for the person you are.


Nearly any type of jacket is able to hold up to drizzle, but only those with the ability to breathe and waterproof technology will keep you the driest when it rains heavily. The jacket brands employ a variety of outward-facing fabrics and advanced laminates for layered structures There’s no standardized industry-wide standard for water resistance. Therefore, the comparison of claims for water resistance between various manufacturers isn’t always straightforward.

The most common waterproof materials include coated fabrics and membranes that are slipped in between weaved fabric layers. Coated fabrics are commonly utilized in low-cost jackets as they’re not as breathable as their layered counterparts but still have decent protection against water.

If you’re in a particularly wet environment, consider a jacket with three layers or the hybrid 2.5-layer model. The fabric that is inside most 3-layer jackets does a better job of protecting the outer membrane from oil, dirt and abrasions over the outer layer of a 2.5-layer jacket and click to read more But they’re generally bigger and heavier than 2-layer versions.

Lightweight and Packable

Unlike old oil- and wax-coated coats that had to be reapplied regularly and weighed a lot, the membranes in the modern two-, 2.5-, and 3-layer models keep out water and aren’t stiff or heavy. They’re light enough to pack in a tiny case or pouch that makes them suitable to travel in the backcountry.

The majority of jackets with two layers use the bonded membrane and an outer face fabric for protection against abrasions and wear. Certain jackets, such as Columbia’s 75-cent Watertight II and women’s Arcadia II include an attached liner which adds the weight and bulk, but also helps to shield the membrane from scratches, skin oils and clamminess.

This jacket from REI is made of Gore-Tex Paclite or Paclite Plus and is a fantastic choice for casual and frontcountry use. We love that it’s easily machine washed and dryable because that restores DWR (durable water repellent) and breathability–just follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions. Fair-trade Certified and manufactured using sustainable materials.