waterproof zippers vs. storm flaps?
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Kate Magill
(lapedestrienne) - F
waterproof zippers vs. storm flaps? on 04/12/2013 10:55:03 MDT Print View

Okay, who has an opinion? Are there any good reasons (other than cost and weight, duh) why manufacturers use "water-resistant" zippers like the YKK Aquaguard on jackets which are otherwise fully seam-taped and waterproofed?

I don't know how I feel about spending $$$ on a rain shell with a zipper that isn't waterproof, but in my experience waterproof zippers start to peel eventually anyway and turn into plain old zippers. So maybe it shouldn't be a make-or-break.

Also, internal stormflap vs external stormflap? Is one superior to the other? Thinking back to many jackets over the years, I'm sure I've used both but can't come up with a good argument for one over the other.

Ultimately, I think anoraks are the right direction for rain gear--lower bulk , lower weight, less risk of leakage/failed moving parts. Maybe someday the industry will come out with a stretchy enough WPB fabric to make a zipper-less pullover rain hoody. Oh wait--I think that's called a poncho ;-)

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: waterproof zippers vs. storm flaps? on 04/12/2013 11:29:26 MDT Print View

I use regular zipper without stormflap. I get lot's of opportunity to test it : )

If the zipper is vertical, water will tend to run down it rather than inside so it doesn't matter a lot. And if it rains a lot and I'm exercising a lot I'll probably get wet from sweat and the WPB fabric won't work that good so the little bit that gets through the zipper won't matter.

With no stormflap it's less likely to snag.

But, I'm probably at the end of the spectrum on this and most people would want storm flap or waterproof zipper.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: waterproof zippers vs. storm flaps? on 04/12/2013 17:20:50 MDT Print View

Ever since I started taking cold showers I've become less and less critical of rain gear design...but proper

I think water resistant zippers are on par with planned obsolescence in electronics, like non-user replaceable batteries with a low number of recharge cycles. It's a good way to ensure that in 5 years time someone is going to be on the market for a new jacket.

Water does travel along the zipper so it's not a total loss. Because water travels along zippers, I like a storm flap on the inside incase there's enough wind to blow water through the zipper teeth. Having a flap outside would protect against wind blown water better but at those wind speeds the flap can be blown out of the way. So to prevent that velcro or buttons are necessary which add weight and fiddle.

I'm a fan of mitigation, not prevention of discomfort. Until I can seal off my entire body into a lightweight space suit (so much for enjoying the fresh air...) no element protection clothing will be perfect. Zippers as a whole are a minor concern when the fabric itself, even the best, will make me wet if I stay too active. A storm flap behind the zipper does mitigate the weak point with the least weight and complexity in my opinion. As for snagging, all zippers give me trouble so I can't comment.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
conundrum solved... on 04/12/2013 18:11:49 MDT Print View

"Oh wait--I think that's called a poncho ;-)"

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: conundrum solved... on 04/12/2013 18:58:48 MDT Print View

Nick, you don't know anything about rain and waterproof anything : )

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: conundrum solved... on 04/12/2013 22:22:30 MDT Print View

"Nick, you don't know anything about rain and waterproof anything"

You're right. That's the beauty of a good poncho. Completely water proof and lots of open areas for breathability. Keeps the pack dry too. My Uncle Sam taught me how to use it in all kinds of adverse climates and locations.

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Both on 04/13/2013 03:19:41 MDT Print View

Useful to have both I think :) The market concensus cf internal storm flaps over water resistant zips vs external storm flaps presumably down to looks/convenience rather than function.

While normal rain might not stress a zip too badly the sort of horizontal wall of water you can get when it gets badly wind driven is another matter!

Don't think I'd want any poncho style ventilation spaces with that going on either :)

There is actually now the odd fully waterproof zip (> riri zips) sneaking on to the market. Still very rare though and they won't be on ultralight rain gear.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: waterproof zippers vs. storm flaps? on 04/13/2013 04:56:05 MDT Print View

Oh, lots of opinions! Read at your own peril.

> why manufacturers use "water-resistant" zippers like the YKK Aquaguard on jackets
I may sound like a broken record here, but the answer is perfectly simple: to try to gain a marketing advantage.

Please remember, the manufacturers need to sell thousands of jackets to justify the investment on that model. That means that 99% of the product will be selling to people who really have no idea about what they need or about the technology. That means they try to use marketing to convince the customer. And that means spin, spin and more spin. Spin does noty have to contain and truth or facts.

Funny - a few years ago such zips didn't exist, and yet the spin of the day assured us the jackets of that era were perfect for our needs. Think about that.

> internal stormflap vs external stormflap?
Either will work, up to a point, Neither will really keep all water out. It gets in up the sleeve, down the neck, up the skirt ... and you sweat too.

> Ultimately, I think anoraks are the right direction for rain gear
Anoraks are great for alpine use in the snow. For rain ... you sweat.
Me, I prefer a good well-designed poncho. Much warmer and less sweaty. I have worn mine in the snow and howling storms very effectively - see
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/myog_mntn_poncho.html

Cheers

Joel Benford
(Morte66) - F - M

Locale: Surrey flatlands, England
Re: waterproof zippers vs. storm flaps? on 04/13/2013 15:33:39 MDT Print View

I like external storm flaps -- if the rain isn't too bad, you can leave the zip undone but velcro the flap closed in a few places to let some air in. Ventilation >> breathable fabric.

Edited by Morte66 on 04/13/2013 15:42:02 MDT.

Maris L
(Ablaut)
Storm flaps on 04/13/2013 18:36:56 MDT Print View

I agree with Joel. My rain shell actually has both an external and internal storm flap, which certainly adds some weight but has worked very well for me. I haven't had a waterproof zipper that hasn't been difficult to zip and begins to partially break down after a few years, but I haven't had too many jackets with this feature, either.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: waterproof zippers vs. storm flaps? on 04/13/2013 19:18:50 MDT Print View

Joel opined: "I like external storm flaps -- if the rain isn't too bad, you can leave the zip undone but velcro the flap closed in a few places to let some air in. Ventilation >> breathable fabric."

+1 on that. Unless it is raining hard and/or the wind is in your face, this helps vent hear and moisture.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
UV rays and WP zippers & "303 Protectant" on 04/14/2013 13:54:06 MDT Print View

My Ski Patrol parka has waterproof front pocket zippers that are just now (after 4 years) beginning to show signs of breaking down a bit.

I think the UV exposure they get at 8,500 to 9,500 where I patrol have something to do with it so since last year I have been putting a but of 303 Protectant liquid on them as it is about the best UV protection I know. It also tends to lubricate tehm a bit.
I've used 303 Protectant on my sea kayaking life jacket and after 12 years it still looks like new. No fading at all.

Daryl Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Zero for two here on 04/14/2013 17:18:37 MDT Print View

Don't like either.

The waterproof zippers I have had tend to be stiff and more difficult to work than regular zips.

Storm flaps sometimes get caught in zippers, especially with lighter fabrics, ande are a pain to get out.

Kate Magill
(lapedestrienne) - F
poncho vs shell on 04/15/2013 11:40:01 MDT Print View

I have tried to love ponchos, but it's never clicked for me. I wore one for a couple of weeks in Spain in midsummer and still decided to switch back to my jacket. And that was pretty level terrain plus heat and high humidity--ostensibly perfect poncho conditions. Any place with wind, rock scrambles, or thick underbrush and i feel like i'm getting snagged all the time. Also, I run cold and rarely sweat. Insulation is more critical to me than ventilation in almost all conditions. If the sky decides to rain on me when it's above 75 degrees F and I'm moving uphill, then sure, maybe I'll break a sweat in my jacket...but if it's that warm I don't usually bother breaking out a shell anyway and some rain is much welcome (free shower). I really start to rely on a waterproof jacket around 60 degrees F, with sleeves and hood and waist cinched up to keep out drafts. Of course, I'm also the kind of person who likes to wear a sweater indoors if it's 70 degrees and I'm sitting still... Or even a down puffy...

I realize that there is no ultimate solution here, and that rainwear is never 100% anything, it's just a matter of what's going to keep me most comfortable for the longest period of time, hopefully at a fairly low cost. I guess zipper-type is going to stay toward the bottom of my list of criteria in my quest for the (not quite) perfect shell.