There is a fair bit jargon in the fashion industry. Can you tell your anoraks from your cagoules, gilets, capes, ponchos, parkas, overalls, and various sportswear? Do you know why hoods are so useful? Any clue what causes a Wet Out?
We hope to clarify some of it here.
Does it matter that your rain suit is keeping you dry from rain if you end up soaked from your own sweat? The biggest dirty little secret in the outdoor industry is that rain gear won't keep you dry.
It makes little difference if you buy a high-end €400 Gore-Tex parka or wear your hoodie, they'll both wet out in continuous rain and leave you soaking wet. If the weather is warm that may be acceptable, but not when it is cold.
Manufacturers don't consider it leakage when moisture intrusion is in the range of edge seams, zippers and pocket parts, or pressing through moisture under mechanical stress, like from a backpack or bike saddle.
Another dirty secret in typical waterproof products is that light abrasions, dirt, and even body oils degrade the DWR, especially when the jacket is wet, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a rain jacket that you can actually wear outside. The DWR coating must be maintained and retreated to avoid soaking through, called a "wet out".
The other issue is that, once wetted out, this multilayered approach to rainwear restricts breathability and quickly becomes clammy. You've probably been there before. The jacket is soaked and it feels clammy and uncomfortable next to your skin.
A smarter alternative is to wear soft fleece clothes under a thin, loose fitting anorak or cagoule and matching pants.
The fleece keeps you warm and wicks some of the moisture away.
The outer shell keeps most of the wind and rain out.
Occasionally shake it to ventilate a bit.
Getting the hang of all of these techniques, dialing in your own system,
and validating it in different temperatures takes a surprising amount of practice,
but pays dividends when you need it.
An umbrella is better than nothing, but not much better. The biggest problem is that umbrellas don't really keep you dry. If you are lucky, maybe your top third stays dry.
Umbrellas are really hard to handle when it is windy, because they have such a large surface area. If the wind is strong enough your umbrella can turn inside out.
In an effort to keep you dry as possible they act as really amazing sails. Somebody used an umbrella with a skateboard to go wind boarding. That was pretty cool.
One last problem with umbrellas is that they are big. The more effective they are, the bigger they are. And on a busy sidewalk, that can cause problems. Especially because on most busy sidewalks, there is at least one really rude person.
Hiking ponchos and capes are better than umbrellas as they give all round cover.
They also flap around in the wind like ubrellas, but not nearly as much.
It is important to dress appropriately for any sport you participate in. Proper attire can keep you safe and comfortable while enjoying your watersports. Consider the location and weather conditions before you choose your outfit.