6 Great Sustainable Waterproof Jackets from Recycled Materials

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I love the subtropical climate of Florida.

Mild winters and hot, sunny summers are (quite literally) a world away from where I was born in the UK.

During the muggy summer months, the frequent thunder and rain storms make for some stunning, luscious, vibrantly-colored, natural vegetation to enjoy when out hiking.

In fact, wherever you go in the US, you're not immune to the odd downpour.

That means that it’s always best to pack your sustainable waterproof jacket in your eco-friendly backpack when out and about.

Does Waterproof = Chemicals And Plastic?

Until relatively recently, the only options available when shopping for rain jackets were non-sustainable materials (virgin polyester and nylon, for example) covered in a chemical coating.

Thankfully, as more and more consumers become aware of the environmental impact of their clothing choices, more sustainable clothing alternatives are coming to market.

So let's jump straight into the list of my favorite eco-friendly rain jackets that don't cost the earth.

6 Sustainable Rain Jackets To Keep You Dry Whatever The Weather

They Say: Simple and unpretentious, our trusted Torrentshell 3L Jacket uses 3-layer H2No® Performance Standard technology for exceptional waterproof/breathable performance, all-day comfort, and long-lasting waterproof durability. Fair Trade Certified™ sewn.

We Say: Mrs. M and I swear by Torrentshell from Patagonia.

We’ve been caught in many a flash downpour when hiking in our Torrentshells, and never has a single drop made its way through to our clothes.

This jacket is available in multiple colors (I own the two-tone ‘Current Blue’) and sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, 3XL).

Mrs. M owns the crisp and classy ‘Birch White’ women’s version.

The handwarmer pockets and micro-fleece lined neck keep you nice and cozy, without adding too much bulk.

This is thanks to Patagonia’s incredibly waterproof H2No® material combined with sustainable ECONYL®.

Patagonia is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and the fabrics used in this jacket are BLUESIGN approved.

They’re also a B Corp certified company and 1% For The Planet members.

An excellent waterproof jacket made with eco-friendly materials by a reputable and ethical company.

Yes, it’s not the cheapest waterproof jacket on the market, but it’s nowhere near the most expensive either. It is, however, most definitely one of the best!

It’ll keep you bone dry for years (if not decades) to come. Worth every cent!

Patagonia has the rest of the family covered with options available for girls, boys, and babies.

They Say: Kelly's signature collection continues to evolve with new travel-ready styles. Sustainably engineered for ultimate comfort and versatility wherever your journey takes you. Durable 4-way stretch fabric with a water-repellent finish so you're set in any conditions. Complete with a packable hood and plenty of pockets, including one on the inside. Smooth taped seams plus laser-cut vents for breathability.

We Say: Outerknown is a clothing brand co-founded by pro-surfer Kelly Slater. It mixes casual beach styles with practicality, sustainability, and transparency.

This Apex jacket, carrying Kelly’s name, is available in three colors (Marin, Khaki, Black) and five sizes (S, M, L, XL, XXL).

This waterproof jacket is made from sustainable recycled nylon and is stitched together in a Fair Trade Certified factory. Ensuring that all workers are paid a fair wage and work in safe conditions.

I can’t quite see why this jacket cost almost 300 bucks!

But, saying that, it’s a dream to wear.

It feels lightweight yet warming, and its water-repelling capabilities are unbelievable! I have a feeling you could go swimming in this bad boy and stay dry! 😁

An uncool father of two like me probably wouldn’t pay the premium for a Kelly Slater branded jacket.

However, if this brand is one of your ‘go tos’, and you have the budget, then this jacket is worth consideration.

It’s well made and could potentially last you a lifetime.

They Say: Waterproof breathable two-layer fabric. Stormflap at center front, two-way adjustable hood. Single chest pocket with concealed zipper closure and headphone port. Dual side pockets with concealed zipper closure. Drop tail hemline with adjustable drawcord. Responsibly made in China.

We Say: As mentioned in my roundup of the best Eco-Friendly Backpacks, United by Blue uses a range of exclusive and sustainable materials across their entire collection.

This rain shell is made predominantly from recycled polyester and, according to Mrs. M, is a real treat to wear.

Maybe one of the less stylish options in this article, but it certainly packs a punch when it comes to waterproofness.

Available in three colors (Wild Oat, Black, or Wine) and five sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL), this rain shell will keep you dry in even the stormiest of storms.

A men's version is also available.

United By Blue is B Corp certified, so you can be sure that you’re buying from a company with the highest possible standards when it comes to sustainability and ethical treatment of its supply chain and workers.

They Say: Keep out the chill with this wind-resistant layering piece. From its elastic cuffs and adjustable hood to its recycled polyester lining and shell, everything about The Cloud Shell Jacket is performance-tested and planet-friendly.

We Say: Ok, so this is not strictly a waterproof jacket. It’s more windproof than waterproof.

I’ve included it because it does still keep you dry during light showers and is super lightweight, and packs down to barely anything.

This jacket is also great for layering with other outer garments.

It’s available in two colors (Jet Black, Fig) and five sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL).

A men’s version is also available here.

If you need a fully waterproof rain jacket, Tentree also has you covered with their popular Nimbus Rain Jacket for men and women.

Tentree is B Corp and Climate Natural certified, and every item of apparel sold comes with a code for you to plant ten trees.

They Say: The Sequenchshell Trench is lightweight, form, and function combined. The three-layer waterproof and breathable exterior are complemented with wear-anywhere, contemporary lines. Finishing details include a detachable hood and flip-up collar for on-the-spot weather protection. 

We Say: At the behest of Mrs. M, I was tasked with including “an elegant and sustainable raincoat option for afternoon fizz with the girls on a drizzly midweek afternoon”.

Quite a specific request, I admit!

And, looking back at the review process, I suspect I was duped into testing a bunch of trench coats so she could keep her favorite!

On the subject of favorites, though, the Nau Sequenchshell Waterproof Trench Coat was streets ahead of the rest in Mrs. M’s eyes.

This is now her non-hiking eco-friendly rain jacket of choice for spring and fall. Perfect for commuting to work in the rain or afternoon fizz with the girls on a drizzly midweek afternoon…NAILED IT! 😉

It never fails to keep her dry, and she loves the fact that it folds down pretty compactly and will fit easily in a tote bag when the rain clears up.

They Say: Made from 100% remnant fabric that might have otherwise gone to our landfills, this weather-resistant jacket is made from repurposed polyester taffeta with a DWR finish. It has elastic bindings at the hood, cuffs, and hem, plus a back panel vent and a front kangaroo pocket with flap. Plus, it's super lightweight and easily packs down into an internal pocket!

We Say: This lightweight windbreaker from Cotopaxi is excellent value for money.

It’ll keep you dry in light showers and packs down to pretty much nothing.

Great for a warm but drizzly day (where you keep having to put a jacket on and off all day) or a day at a theme park (to keep you dry on water rides).

I love that Cotopaxi, a B Corp certified company, uses remnant fabric to make this eco-friendly rain jacket.

This is a fantastic way to reduce waste by utilizing resources that would otherwise have been thrown away.

Using recycled materials is a good thing for the planet. Using up textile waste before it’s recycled or trashed is even better.

Sustainable Fabrics For Sustainable Rain Gear

Want to find out more about what these sustainable rain jackets are made from? We’ve already covered the topic of sustainable fabrics in detail in the articles listed below.

PTFE And PFC In DWR

A durable water repellent (DWR) coating is applied to rain jackets to boost the waterproof properties of the natural fabric.

Two main chemicals are used, PTFE and PFC.

PTFE

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a thermoplastic polymer.

Unless heated to over 300°C, it’s considered a stable and non-dangerous material.

PFC

PFCs (per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals) are artificial and should be avoided wherever possible.

PFCs often leach into the waterways during manufacturing or when waterproof clothing is washed.

This has led to PFCs being found in glaciers.

Revive Your DWR

Has your old rain jacket lost its mojo when it comes to keeping the rain out?

Before you ditch it, consider these three steps to try and bring it back to life:

  1. Clean: Washing away dirt and oils helps to restore DWR. Check the label of the rain jacket for the best way to wash it.
  2. Dry: Ensure your jacket is fully dry before moving on to the final step.
  3. Apply Heat: This is key and should be done every time you wash your waterproof rain jacket. Set the iron on a no steam setting, with the heat setting on warm (but not hot). Then iron your jacket thoroughly. Place a thin cloth between the jacket and iron to stop it from melting.

If the steps above fail, it might be time to recoat your jacket with a PFC-free DWR.

Top Tips For Buying Eco-Friendly Rain Jackets

  • When ordering online, ensure that you order the right size to reduce the cost and environmental impact of returning.
  • If buying in person from a shop, take your own eco-friendly reusable shopping bag to reduce plastic bag waste.
  • Buy a quality jacket that will last you many years.
  • Buy from reputable brands and retailers that use recycled fabrics, ethical business practices, and carry recognizable green certifications.
  • Look for rain jackets made from recycled materials (such as recycled plastic bottles).
  • Buy second-hand.
  • Buy fair trade.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Waterproof Jackets Be Recycled?

This depends on the component materials used to make the jacket. If in doubt, check the label or contact the manufacturer. If the jacket is still in good condition, maybe consider donating it rather than recycling it.

Is Organic Cotton Waterproof?

Organic cotton is undoubtedly an eco-friendly and breathable fabric. However, when I think of waterproof, I don't immediately think of organic cotton. I’ve not yet come across a manufacturer or brand coating organic cotton with DWR, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

The Final Word

When shopping for a new waterproof jacket, you should be looking for eco-friendly materials (such as recycled waste plastics or vegan and deadstock materials) made by a reputable company, using ethical practices.

It also needs to keep you dry…obvs!

All of the options mentioned in this article meet that brief beautifully.

Get In Touch

Where do you buy your sustainable fashion and eco-friendly rain jackets? Have I missed someone doing good for the planet and turning recycled materials into kick-ass rain jackets? Drop me a line and let me know.

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James is a senior editor at The Roundup and has been in journalism for over 10 years. He was born in the UK but raised in Florida, where he currently lives with his wife and two daughters. James is passionate about sustainable living and environmental issues which are reflected by his work as an editor of TheRoundup.org.
James Miller
James is a senior editor at The Roundup and has been in journalism for over 10 years. He was born in the UK but raised in Florida, where he currently lives with his wife and two daughters. James is passionate about sustainable living and environmental issues which are reflected by his work as an editor of TheRoundup.org.

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