on a quest to protect
This is the way.
Use the forecast
To quote the Mandolorian "I can bring you in warm, or I can bring you in cold". Context aside, waterproof or water resistant - can be giving your child a similar fate. It’s worth taking time to know where the garment you’re planning to buy fits in. If a barrier to scattered showers and wind is all your littles need then a water resistant layer may be an adequate, budget-friendly option. That said, if there’s a chance they could be caught in a downpour, fully waterproof is the way.
Don't sweat it
Even fully waterproof jackets may not be breathable. But why does this matter? Basically if the skin can’t breathe, sweat quickly builds up. The resulting moisture chills quickly on your child’s skin, negating any warmth the garment should be providing. It may surprise you to know babies sweat considerably and young children have more sweat glands per square foot than adults do. Treated cottons or nylon are more likely breathable, PVC invariably is not. That is the way.
When buying raingear it’s good to consider which seasons they will be using it for. While warm fleece linings seem ideal in early spring, they’ll likely be too warm in late spring/early summer. The lightspeed at which your child is growing will impact your decision here. Layering can be a good alternative to thicker linings - i.e. adapting your child’s layers under light-weight rainwear (e.g. adding under layers of merino wool or wicking poly base-layers during cooler months). Considering this now will avoid the need for different raingear for summer showers during camping, lake or hiking adventures.
You can have the most waterproof fabric in the world, but if it’s not fully heat sealed at every seam, then rain can still get in. Sadly taped seams are prone to wear, and over time and with incorrect care they can loosen and therefore leak. Whether buying, inheriting (or consigning in) used raingear, paying attention to the condition of the seams is key to figuring out how useful it’ll be in the wet.
Avoid the dark side
Wet conditions bring poor visibility, and rain can even make daytime much darker especially in the winter months. The best rain jackets or rain suits usually have some reflective qualities that will keep children visible to traffic. Bright colours can add cheer and make it easier to spot your child from a distance.
Jedis wear hoods dude
It likely goes without saying but a jacket without a hood will give inadequate protection in the rain, unless your child is wearing a hat. A loose fitting or poorly designed hood can inhibit vision, or blow around in windy conditions. Some hoods will be elasticized or have drawstrings for a tighter fit. Others include small visors to help deflect rain from dripping down their face. Equally effective during sandstorms in the deserts of Tatooine.
Generally rain suits, jackets or pants will be layered over regular clothing. This makes it important for these to be pretty loose fitting; otherwise this will restrict what kids can wear underneath. Rain jackets if too short may not give sufficient coverage so should be an adequate length so as not to gape during activities. Conversely longer raincoats may be suited to about town use, but would restrict motion so would be less useful for kids at play. Because children will often wear rain-boots when wearing rain-pants or rain suits, we recommend going for longer pant lengths and tucking these into the boots. Buying slightly longer is better for your budget and the environment as it extends the life your child gets from the garment.
Zip It Kid
Check out the zippers when buying raingear. Better raingear will have quality tight zippers that provide a water resistant seal. Snaps may be more durable than zippers, but perhaps more fiddly and harder for cold wet little hands to deal with. Beware of fabric that overlaps or is too close to the zipper. This can get snagged in the zip and can shorten the life expectancy of the garment dramatically. If they don’t come with it, consider attaching something to zippers to make grasping these easier for kids without trapping their hands (e.g. pull tags, ribbon or key fobs). If jackets are easier for children to fasten up themselves, they’re more likely to do these up themselves… even when you’re not there to nag them! Pockets on raingear should either be covered with flaps or zippered.
Pack & Go
It’s hard to know when showers might come so, stowing raingear in a pack ‘just in case’ is a smart precautionary measure. It doesn’t take much for a child’s backpack to get full and heavy, and no parent wants to deal with a miserable child who prefers to conveniently ‘forget’ their raingear at home, rather than pack it around all day. Some of best rain garments for kids are therefore lightweight and can be packed very small.
Wear more, care more
Even performance rain gear like Goretex needs some special care to ensure the waterproofing is maintained. Reproofing is a good idea if water droplets don't bead off the surface. Most rain gear is better spot cleaned (e.g. using a soft scrubbing or nail brush) vs. putting in the wash. Always check the washing instructions and avoid fabric softener, harsh cleaning agents or bleach. Hanging to dry vs using a dryer is usually recommended, especially for garments with taped-seams. Some reproofing formulas need the heat of a dryer to activate the Durable Water Repellant finish, so if seams are vulnerable to heat, it may be better to reapply the DWR using a spray-on formula instead.