Rainy days are bad for my credit card. Instead of going for a run or visiting the greengrocer, I'll kill time by browsing online – and, more often than not, that browsing leads to purchasing.
This was the predicament I found myself in last week as Sydney endured day after day of torrential downpours. Fighting the urge to spend seemed futile, so instead I decided to channel it into something useful. I would take my cue from the weather and buy a new raincoat.
Given the generous rainfall totals that Australia's capital cities enjoy, it's surprisingly difficult to find a decent raincoat in our bricks-and-mortar stores. (The same applies to gumboots – good luck trying to find a pair of those.)
In fact, the last place I purchased a raincoat was at Liberty in London. That coat, a slick black number by Norse Projects, lasted me almost nine years before finally falling to pieces in 2018 – so I decided to check out the brand's online store for a possible replacement.
Those who do it best
There are certain advantages to buying a Scandinavian raincoat.
For one, the Scandinavians have an innate sense of style, so you're much more likely to find something fashionable. And, of course, the weather in Northern Europe is pretty appalling, which means Scandinavian coats are built to last.
Norse Projects' current top-of-the-line style is the Trondheim Waterproof (US $800), which looks good enough to wear to the opera and is made in Italy from New Zealand wool.
A slight flaw
The downside of many Scandinavian raincoats, especially for those of us in warmer climes, is their lack of breathability.
These things are designed for deep winter, not monsoonal Sydney or indecisive Melbourne. Norse Projects offers a style, the Kalmar Light Rain ($209), that breathes, but it doesn't have quite the same Scandi flair.
If you're going to sacrifice breathability, I'd also consider the Long Jacket ($170) from Danish brand Rains, which fits slim and comes in excellent colours including lilac and canary yellow.
Stutterheim, another well-regarded Scandinavian brand, offers its signature Stockholm raincoat ($369) in some interesting colourways such as daring 'safety yellow'. The jacket is marketed as unisex but I think it leans more masculine, and the rubberised cotton can reportedly take a beating. ?
Does the job
I decided to check out a couple of less fashion-focused raincoats and was immediately drawn to the Torrentshell by Patagonia ($180), which sells by the truckload and has the advantage of being made responsibly from recycled nylon. These coats are perfectly respectable-looking and are touted as completely waterproof but also breathable. The only drawback is the Patagonia logo on the breast.
Of course, no coat search would be complete without checking out Burberry, the brand that invented gabardine (water-resistant cotton) and is now one of the UK's luxury-goods behemoths.
Unless you want to channel The X-Files, I'd skip the classic Burberry trench (feel free to disagree with me). But the brand's Short Chelsea Fit Trench Coat ($3150), with its tailored look, is a definite winner.
Money well spent
So, which did I choose?
In the end, I decided to re-buy from Norse Projects, the brand that served me well during my time in drizzly London.
But there's more rain on the horizon in Sydney, and there's no such thing as too much outerwear...
Dan's writing on style, travel and more has appeared in The New York Times, the Australian Financial Review, Condé Nast Traveller and others. He is based in Sydney.
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Check out the gallery above to see the best raincoats that won't leave you caught out in the rain.