Is a wool coat waterproof?

Posted by Elizabeth Williams on

Is Wool Waterproof? 

When the cold winter months approach, many of us turn to wool coats for their warmth and timeless, classic style. Wool has long been renowned for its insulating properties, making it a popular choice for winter outerwear.

"Wool is the world’s best technical fiber. It outperforms most every fiber for thermal regulation and moisture wicking." says Jacob Long, CEO American Woolen

The fibers are structured in a way that allows them to trap air, providing warmth in cold weather. Yet, it is also known for its breathability, moisture-wicking properties, and resistance to wrinkles and odors. Many women appreciate the breathable nature of wool fabrics. 

But is it waterproof??

Water-resistance and waterproofing are two distinct concepts. A water-resistant material repels water to a certain degree but is not completely impervious to it. On the other hand, a waterproof material is designed to prevent water from penetrating it entirely, even under prolonged exposure.

Wool and Water-Resistance:

Wool, by its natural composition is water-resistant. The outer layer of wool fibers has a scaly structure, making it difficult for water to penetrate immediately. When exposed to light rain or snow, a wool coat will repel water for a short period, allowing you to shake it off or brush it away. This inherent water-resistance is due to the high lanolin content present in wool, which acts as a natural water repellent. 


"There is no better fiber than wool; it truly is a miracle fiber." says Jeanne Carver of Shaniko Wool

However, despite the water-resistance of wool, it is essential to recognize that it is not waterproof. Wool fibers, when subjected to heavy rain or prolonged exposure to moisture, can eventually absorb water. Unlike synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester, wool does not have a water-repelling coating or a tightly woven structure to prevent water penetration completely. 

However, it's also important to note that most water-proof materials are also not breathable. While they do not allow moisture in, they also do not let it out.

Is there a middle ground?

Selecting a wool coat with a tightly woven fabric, such as melton or twill, can provide better water-resistance than looser weaves. Coats with a dense weave are less likely to allow water to seep through the fabric, improving their overall water-repellent properties.

Understanding the pros and cons of wool outerwear can help you make informed decisions when choosing how to dress each day. Here is Chicago, it's great to have at least two winter coats; one for heavy snow and one for the cold.

And with proper care of your wool coat, you can enjoy its warmth and style while managing light rain or snowfall year after year.

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