Rainwear or Shell?


Shell or traditional rainwear for children?

When it comes to outerwear, you want to be sure that your child stays dry and warm through several hours of outdoor play, even if the weather isn’t the best. But what is best – shell or traditional?


Flexibility and breathability

Shell garments have many advantages. They move well and they “breathe”, i.e. they release moisture that forms inside. Polarn O. Pyret’s shell jackets and trousers also have pre-bent sleeves and legs to allow even more range of motion when crawling, running or climbing. Our shell garments are waterproof and have taped seams. The seams are also skewed to reduce wear from chafing against each other. Shell garments should be washed occasionally, but over-washing them could impair their ability to repel dirt. Spot-clean with a wet cloth as needed instead.


Since shell garments breathe, they are at their most effective in unpredictable weather when they are layered. In the spring, a thin base layer may be sufficient, while in late autumn and early winter, you might need to supplement the base layer with one or more middle layers. Everything depends on the weather and the wind.


Durability in fabrics can be measured in many different ways. Here at Polarn O. Pyret, we use a stringent method developed to test work clothing. A “Martindale Machine” exposes the fabric to wear and tear with a coarse paper, and its durability is rated according to the number of revolutions the fabric can withstand. A really durable product usually has a benchmark of about 10,000 revolutions, but at Polarn O. Pyret, you can find reinforced outer clothing that can withstand up to 33,000 revolutions. Extremely durable, in other words! If we were to use a finer grained paper for abrasion, the number of revolutions would be even higher, but we have decided to test tough right from the start.  

Traditional rainwear

Easy to keep clean

Traditional rainwear consists of plastic-coated textile weaves. The plastic coating makes the garment waterproof and durable, but also quite stiff. Since the plastic is very smooth, traditional rainwear is also easy to keep clean. Dirt doesn’t stick easily and whatever does stick can be simply rinsed away.


Unlike shell garments, traditional rainwear does not have as much ability to release moisture from the body, i.e. it doesn’t “breathe” as well. If you’re active when wearing traditional rainwear, it’s important to make sure that the ventilation is good. Otherwise, there is a risk that you will become damp and chilled from the inside.

So which is really best?

Since shell garments work so well with the layering principle, are more flexible in the fabric, and are made of a durable material, many people today prefer shell over traditional rainwear.

But of course it depends on the application. If your child is sitting still in the sandpit or making mud pies, you don’t need the breathability of shell, and it will be easier to clean the garment with a simple rinse.  

So give some thought to how your child usually uses their outerwear, and then make your choice based on what is best for you both.