Blauer - Tactical Clothing & Equipment

05/24/18
Police Rain Jackets: What You Need to Know

You’re out on patrol for hours, and it’s pouring down cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals outside.  Staying dry isn’t easy, especially if you get posted to a traffic detail or sent to a MVC with a tow needed, but knowing what to look for in terms of a police raincoat can go a long way to helping keep you from being soaked and miserable for the rest of your tour.  Let’s look through some of the important things you need to consider when picking your rain gear.

Keeps You Dry, But How?

Too much of what masquerades as “rainwear” these days gets its waterproofness from thick fabric coatings that will keep water out, but also keep another type of water – sweat – inside.  For people who don’t have to wear an undershirt, body armor, and a uniform shirt, this is sometimes OK for casual use, but for those of us who not only need to wear those layers, but also must be able to move quickly or run in them, it’s a definite no-go. 

Fabric which is engineered to let water go only one way (out) is a far better choice, and the better it is at doing that, the more comfortable you will be overall because water coming out also = air coming out, releasing excess body heat.  The gold standard for this are GORE-TEX® police duty jackets such as those made by Blauer. 

A lot of people don’t know what GORE-TEX is, so here’s a rundown.  It’s a Teflon-based membrane that is pulled into a laminate, often sandwiched between an inner liner material and an outer shell fabric.  The membrane is microporous, composed of about 70% air and is also hydrophyllic or water loving.   As you can see from the image below, it lets out moisture vapor in the form of a gas while remaining waterproof due to the size of the pores being smaller than water droplets (rain) but large enough to allow sweat out. 

GORE-TEX material under an electron microscope, showing porosity

A thin coating of hydrophilic polymer is applied to the membrane to prevent damage by body oils and salts from perspiration.  A Durable Water Repellent treatment is applied to the outside of the shell fabric, which makes water bead like the finish on a new car.  When the shell fabric gets dirty however,  the surface fabric can wet out sometimes making the insides feel clammy and damp.  The membrane is still effectively blocking water but the garment should be washed and dried according to instructions to restore the beading finish.

 

Lower-Budget Options

While GORE-TEX is the gold standard, Blauer has developed lower-priced options to account for varying budgets.  B.DRY® rain jackets use a combination of proprietary membranes and coatings with performance characteristics slightly lower on the spectrum than GORE-TEX itself, but still at a high enough level to comfort and breathability while maintaining durable waterproofness. 

A Word on Visibility

If it’s raining, then chances are that visibility for drivers is reduced.  As such, it’s very important that you remain conspicuous when you’re out standing in the roadway, and the best way to do that is to look for  ANSI 107 2015 certified rainwear.  ANSI is a mandated by OSHA and US DOT  and dictates minimum standards for the amount of both hi vis and reflective materials and recommended designs.  The jacket should also have the reflective material and color blocking (the use of darker materials in contrast with the hi vis) arranged in such a way as to make it obvious to a driver that you are a person in the roadway and not, say, a traffic barrel.

Overall, whatever duty rain gear you choose, you should take careful consideration to make sure that the level of protection you pick is sufficient for the weather that your area could even potentially see, let alone what it normally does.  Much of Texas had not seen truly torrential flooding until Hurricane Harvey hit and absolutely inundated the area with water, and we at Blauer heard that many officers there did not have rainwear sufficient to meet the conditions that they encountered.  Part of the job of public safety is being prepared to face down and overcome the worst possibility, and that preparation should extend to the uniforms you have available to you every day.



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