To befit a café racer or moto leather jacket in the midst of a rainstorm -while admirable – is a fool’s goal, as a leather jacket is not as “waterproof” as you may think…
Natural leathers like full grain and top grain leather are not waterproof, but they are water-resistant. Artificial leathers like PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and PU (polyurethane) leather are the most waterproof due to their vinyl and/or plastic (less breathable) properties.
However like everything in life, there’s a catch…in regards to the pros and cons of wearing certain types of leathers, over others – especially when it comes to water durability.
Can you wear your leather jacket in the rain?
Leather by design is a permeable material, which despite common perception, is not waterproof, and (without treatment) can stiffen or rot when exposed to water over long durations.
Though there are certain types of leathers that are more durable and resistant than others, naturally. So this might be something you lads may want to consider, especially if you’re the “forgetful” type.
Though I would say, with respect, “don’t be lazy, take care of your damn jacket.”
How to waterproof your leather jacket
While some types of leather defiantly fair better than others when wet, ultimately, it’s all leather, and leather absorbs water. And so if you don’t treat your leather jacket in the slightest then it will break down, eventually.
Waterproofing your leather jacket is your best bet to ensure protection from water damage. You can do this by either using lubricating sprays like silicone polymer, or wax/grease products for maximum effectiveness.
If you want more details on specific waterproofing products and which to use (and their potential downsides), then you can check out my other article for that here (specifically to the “lubricating sprays section” and below.)
Most common types of leathers and their water durability
The most common types of leather you’ll find being sold are, full-grain, top grain, and genuine leather. All with differing qualities, price points, and levels of durability, especially when it comes to water durability.
Below we’ll look at the most common types of leather as well as their features and levels of water-resistance.
Is a full-grain leather jacket waterproof?
Full-grain leather A.K.A top grain leather A.K.A. The “Real OG”, is one type of leather that was used long before any such other advanced methods in leatherware were invented – its old school.
Full-grain leather is made from the strongest part of an animal’s hide and is naturally the most resistant to wear & tear, and most resilient to water damage, thanks to its tightly interlinked fibers.
If you want a leather jacket that can bear the watery storms of Star War’s Kamino or any other such type of environment, then your best bet will be to get one made from full-grain leather.
Full-grain leather water-resistant level: High (5 stars)
Is a top grain leather jacket waterproof?
Top grain leather is the second priciest type leather on the block and one that is made by removing the outermost layer of the hide (whereas full-grain leather is composed entirely of the hide’s outmost layer.)
This ensures it to be thinner, and more workable for manufacturers (as reflected in its lower price point), but also as a consequence, equates to top grain leather being less durable, and more susceptible to water damage overall, when compared to full-grain leather.
Full-grain leather is a raw, untouched, uneven piece of beauty. This is what gives it its durability, as well as its lack of uniformity in its patterning (as nature never makes two of the same things.)
The “Achilles Heel” of Top Grain Leather
The “problem” with top grain leather is the fact that much of the natural grain on the top surface is sanded away, and imprinted upon with an imitation grain to give it that very uniform look, that full-grain leather lacks.
And in doing this, much of the strongest fibers within the hide are sanded away as well, leaving one less layer of armor – the strongest of armors – to stand guard atop its outermost surface – making full-grain leather not the greatest for waterborne endeavors, or your jacket.
Full-grain leather water-resistant level: Moderate (4 stars)
Is a genuine leather jacket waterproof?
This is the lowest quality of leather available, generally marked by several layers of lesser quality leather, taped together with glue. Genuine leather will not last nearly as long as high-quality leather and is the least resistant to water damage.
The only real upside to a purchasing genuine leather jacket is for its incredibly cheap price point. It’s also a lot more simple to maintain, and while it won’t last the decades that other leathers can, it can still be a worthy investment if you want the “leather jacket look” without necessarily paying the premium price.
Again, however, don’t expect genuine leather to hold up for long under any type rainfall, and/or water…at all.
Full-grain leather water-resistant level:
Are faux leather jackets waterproof?
There is an abundance of leather jacket types out there, with some fairing better than others in terms of how “waterproof” they are against the elements, but what of faux leather? Is faux leather the ultimate waterproof jacket?
Most faux leather is highly water-resistant, with PVC faux leather (standing for polyvinyl chloride) being the most durable compared to PU faux leather, PVC can also wrinkle and stain, as well as bear more extreme weather conditions.
So while faux leather won’t last nearly as long as full grain, top grain or even genuine leather, it will be your best bet against short term rain and/or water damage.
If you a more in-depth guide on how to best prepare your leather jacket against conditions of water and snow, then check out my other article here.
Is there any leather naturally waterproof?
If we get specific, leather is simply a material created through the use of tanning animal rawhide and skins – it’s animal skin.
And just like regular ol’ skin, leather by design is made to be permeable, naturally featuring properties that allow liquids to pass through and heat to expel, i.e. making it breathable, just like regular skin.
How to protect your leather jacket from the rain?
Your leather jacket can handle a few storms or splashes, but it’s how you manage it after such events that will largely determine how long it lasts.
- Hand-dry your leather jacket
Emphasises on the “hand” part. remember your leather jacket is not waterproof, it’s merely waterproof resistant, so when wet it’s crucial you tend to it in a timely manner.
When wet, simply get a towel to pat down and blot your leather jacket. Repeat until it “feels” dry.
- Hang your leather jacket on a hanger… but not just any type!
When wet, it’s crucial you hang your leather jacket on specific hangers meant to handle the weight dispersal.
Thin hangers can pull and put pressure on certain spots of the jacket, causing its shape to stretch & morph over time. Ultmately permemanntly ruining your leather jacket’s gorgoues shape.
- Apply a leather conditioner
Whilst still slightly damp, apply a leather conditioner onto your leather jacket and remember to really get in there.
I actually have a more in-depth article about what do to do to your leather jacket after a bout of rainfall (including all the steps) which you can check out here.
Are motorcycle leather jackets waterproof?
Motorcycle jackets are generally much stronger and thicker than “fashion leather”, with a 1.0mm-1.6mm thickness compared to a regular leather jacket’s 0.4-0.7mm thickness, though even then, no motorcycle jacket will be completely waterproof.
This makes sense if you think about the main point of leather motorcycle jackets (or motorcycle jackets in general) – the point being to protect your sorry ass from the asphalt floor, and NOT from a little rain.
How to waterproof your motorcyle leather jacket
As already afromentioned, your leather jacket meant for a night out with the bois will certainly differ in thickness and upkeep than that of your regular old *insert actual motorbike leather jacket brand here*.
Therefore when it comes to waterproofing your motorcycle leather jacket, there a few differences to note in terms of waterproofing. For motorcycle leather jackets, due to their thicker shell, it will be more effective to use a grease-based waterproof sealant, over a silicone-based one.
Thicker based conditioners like ones containing grease will likely work better and longer on thicker layers of leathers, between 1.0-1.6mm in thickness – this type of thickness is most commonly found on motorcycle leather jackets.
My recommended waterproof grease is Bear Grease Bear Leather Dressing (link to Amazon.com) as it’s low price point and multipurpose application means you can use it on anything, shoes, jackets, luggage etc…
Bear Grease Bear Leather Dressing (link to Amazon.com): Under $20
Does water ruin leather jackets?
Wearing a leather jacket in the rain while immensely cool looking, is not something you should strive for, as the exact method as to how water can ruin your leather jacket is not pretty, and quite unforgiving.
The issue with water coming into contact with your leather jacket will only occur once the leather dries. Once dry, the oils within the leather bind to the water molecules, and, as evaporation occurs, the oils are expelled as well, causing your leather jacket to lose its quality, and turn brittle.
So it’s not as much dependent on the water as it is on HOW you treat your leather post-rain pour/water splashes. Also keep in mind there are certain issues like fungal infection that can arise due to moisture if you don’t spot it early enough.
For specific steps on how to deal with fungal moisture, and leather jacket maintenance (when wet), check out my other article here.
Best conditioner and waterproof spray for leather jackets
Conditioning helps protect your leather jacket against mother nature herself, and just like the varied style as well as jacket material options that you can choose from, there are a few conditioner and waterproof sprays out there.
If you’re more of the simple type of leather loving man (or women), then I’d go with the “all in one” COLORLOCK leather care and waterproofing oil (link to Amazon).
COLORLOCK is an all in one waterproofing oil that’ll tend and protect your shoes, boots, bags, belts, and most importantly, your leather jacket.
However, if you’re after something more specific, then this link will take you to my resources page where I go more in-depth and provide more leather conditioner/waxes/spray options.
Are leatherbags waterproof?
Best types of leatherproof bags out there for men/women with product list (“these are currently the highest rated waterproof leather bags out there today”.)
There’s something romantic about toting a leather bag, whether that be an old-school 21inch vintage duffel, or a more modern slick Samsonite leather slim backpack (a rather recent emerging hobby of mine) – a leather bag is an investment.
However your leather bag is not waterproof, only water-resistant. To waterproof your leather bag, you’ll need to use a conditioner oil, spray (silicone or acrylic copolymer substance), or a thicker greased-based sealant, preferably from a reputable brand.
Style tip: In many instances, you’ll find leather bags to be made of full grain leather due to its increased thickness (terrible for jackets, great for bags), so keep a lookout for thicker conditioning agents when shopping for your waterproof conditioners.
If you’re looking for leatherbags most durable and waterproof straight out of the shop then we have some options for you as well!
Most durable and stylish leather bags
Below are my top choices for bags most resilient to damage and water resistance, as all picks below are comprised of full-grain leather made from cowhide and/or tanned calfskin.
Or you can check out my men’s accessories page for more leather bag and leather conditioning options here, or my overall resource page (including clothing and the tips on finding the “perfect” leather jacket) right here.
How to waterproof your leatherbag
A waterproof bag is an investment piece that will stand the test of ruthless fashion decorum for countless seasons to come, so you want to make sure you know how to maintain it’s integrity, and that all starts with how you waterproof your leather bag.
You can waterproof your bag by pre-treating your leather with a natural compound like beeswax. Then simply dry your bag, apply a small amount of beeswax all over, polish evenly until only a thin layer remains, and you’re done.
Or if you’d prefer, an easier way of waterproofing your leather bag would be to use a leather protectant spray. This would simply require a light even layer of anti-water compound to be distributed all across your bag.
I’d reccomened repeating the process a second time round after a few hours for most optimal results. I’d recommend Bickmore Gard-More Water & Stain Repellent (link to Amazon.com) for users living in but only the harshest of weather conditioners (so for my U.K. readers, this will serve you apt.)
Bickmore Gard-More Water & Stain Repellent (link to Amazon): Under $15
If it’s not Bear Grease Leather dressing, or some other wax/leather conditioner, it’s Bickmore Gard spray, and that’s mainly cause of it’s ease of use, unlike all the wax oils and balms out there – which, while I adore – somedays I’m just too lazy to do the whole “napkin, towel wiped down” routine.
Great reviews with a killer price point too!
Style tip: While beeswax is great, always remember to smear some on in an undisclosed area first, as in some cases it could dull, and/or alter the look of your sweet strapping leather bag.
Table full of different types of leather, and their water resistant level.
Types of Leather
PVC Faux Leather
PU Faux Leather
Full Grain Leather
Top Grain Leather
While full grain and top grain will always be the sought-after standard in menswear, faux leather – particularly PVC – is the most water-resistant leather out there, due to its plastic and or/ vinyl properties.
“How do you manage to dance between the raindrops?”
-Quote from The Menswear Style podcast
Nature’s kevlar (leather) is a tough bastard, but its incredible durability is offset by its dependence on its oils to remain resilient, and flexible. If not for the rain, it could’ve been unstoppable…
But it’s not. So go for “faux” or go home, and come back, with an umbrella.