How to Choose the Right Outerwear

How to Choose the Right Outerwear

Outerwear is made for the outdoors. Its purpose is to protect anglers from the elements. Take on wind, rain, or snow comfortably with the right fishing outerwear to meet your needs. The weather is unpredictable, so wear something dependable when you’re on the water.

Hydronaut Ice

What Makes Clothing Warm?

Fabric is what determines how warm clothing keeps you. Starting by comparing fabrics, fleece and polyester are commonly used to make outerwear because they both trap heat. Fleece has a raised surface that locks in your natural body heat while keeping cold air out. Polyester is another common outerwear fabric because it has tightly woven fibers that trap heat inside and block moisture. Traditionally, the heavier a jacket, the warmer, but with technology and innovation, jackets today are warm and lightweight.

Soft shells are a prime example of warm and lightweight fishing outerwear. They keep anglers warm by protecting them from the wind and insulating their body heat. Soft shells are versatile because it’s easy to treat them with a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating, which repels water to keep anglers dry.

Cold Weather Fishing Jacket

Another characteristic that keeps fishing jackets warm is the fill. Fill comes into play with down jackets. Down jackets have soft goose or duck feathers inside as insulation. With jackets, the higher the fill rating, the more warmth it provides. For example, a down jacket with a 700+ fill rating will do a great job keeping you warm. While a down jacket with a fill rating of 400 only does a decent job of keeping you warm.

For anglers, outerwear with natural down insulation (feathers) is not a good option because it’s not waterproof. Instead, anglers should opt for outerwear with synthetic insulation. Synthetic insulation is feather-free and has polyester fibers. The polyester dries quickly and keeps anglers warm in wet and cold conditions. An example of a synthetic down jacket is the Crosswind Puff Jacket. It’s made with 100% recycled polyester, DWR water repellent, and has a drawcord hood so anglers can adjust the fit.

Different Types of Outerwear

From hitting the water to tackling everyday activities, AFTCO has fishing outerwear designed to protect anglers on or off the water. The AFTCO Coastal Layer is a prime example. It’s a quarter-zip lightweight fleece perfect for a casual day at the office, watching sporting events, or going out to dinner. You can also pair this with other AFTCO outerwear pieces as a layering option. For tips on how to layer fishing fleece, softshells, and fishing jackets to make an effective layering system, check out our guide on how to layer clothing when fishing.

Fleece vs. Softshell

Fleece is a popular fabric because it’s soft. There are several fleece options, including quarter zips and hooded fishing sweatshirts. For hooded fleece, the new Fish Camp Hood is soft on the skin and has a kangaroo-style pocket. Otherwise, Sundown, Ahoy, and Sentinel are classic quarter zip fishing fleece selections that layer easily underneath vests or your favorite jacket. While fleece excels in comfort and keeping you warm, it doesn’t protect you from wind and rain.

Softshells, like windproof jackets, block the wind, and most have a DWR coating to repel rain and snow. Another benefit of softshells is their breathability because they’re designed for movement. Even though fishing is not a high-intensity workout, anglers can still work up a sweat reeling in a monster catch. Most softshell jackets are made with durable and breathable polyester fabric, which wicks moisture away as anglers heat up. Wear a softshell jacket and add a fleece underneath for extra warmth on cool fall days when wind or rain is in the forecast.

Man in Fleece Jacket
Man in Softshell Jacket

Softshell vs. Windbreaker

Softshells provide anglers with versatility and perform best as a mid or outer layer, depending on the conditions. Softshells offer durability, comfort, and breathability, making them perfect for any outdoor activities. For AFTCO softshells, anglers can choose from the Reaper Windproof Jacket, Reaper Camo Windproof Jacket, or the Reaper Windproof Pullover. These fishing softshells have a DWR water-repellent finish, laser-cut vented underarms to promote airflow and adjustable shock cord hoods. Another distinction with these softshells is their Hexatron fleece. It’s designed to lock in warmth and keep anglers comfortable. The purpose of these features is to protect anglers from the elements and give them customizable gear to conquer their day. Softshell jackets are durable and ideal for mild conditions on or off the water.

Just like the name implies, windbreakers block the wind to protect you. Windbreakers are typically lightweight and best for mild conditions. Beyond that, windbreakers don’t offer many other benefits besides their ability to block the wind. We recommend wearing a fishing fleece or sweatshirt underneath your fishing windbreaker to add warmth. For windbreakers, AFTCO has the Transformer. Besides wind protection, the Transformer is a 2.5-layer jacket with DWR water repellent that can handle light rain, too. As a bonus, this lightweight fishing jacket packs into its right-hand pocket, making it perfect for travel or stowing away in a boat compartment.

Lightweight Shell vs. Heavy Shell

For anglers facing light winds and rain in mild climates, the Mariner Jacket will be the best option for you. The Transformer got its name from its ability to pack into its right-hand pocket. It also has matching Transformer Pant/products/transformer-packable-fishing-pantss so anglers can gear up in a light rain suit that easily packs down for quick storage. This light shell is 10K waterproof and ideal for light rain. It’s built with a two-way stretch, moves with you, and has adjustable cuffs and a shock cord hood. The Mariner Jacket is another option for light rain. It’s not packable like the Transformer, but it’s DWR water-repellent and has armpit vents to keep air flowing and anglers comfortable.

With strong winds and rain in the forecast, anglers should suit up with heavier fishing rain gear. Heavy shells should have a 20K+ waterproof rating to defend against heavy rain and wet snow. If it doesn’t have at least a 20K waterproof rating, anglers will be soaked and uncomfortable after a few hours in the rain. The Barricade Jacket is a three-layer waterproof fishing jacket with a DWR water-repellent finish. It has several adjustable features, including its hood, double dry cuff system, and hem cinch. For a heavy shell suit, pair the Barricade Jacket with the Barricade Bib to keep the rain out and your focus on fishing.

For all-day wind and heavy rain, grab the Barricade Elite Jacket. It’s a four-layer fishing rain jacket made with nylon, so it’s durable and made to last. Barricade Elite has the same features as the Barricade, but it has an extra layer of defense, made for the harshest conditions. To learn more about waterproofing, check out our Waterproof Rundown blog, and don’t get caught in the rain unprepared and uncomfortable.

Insulated Suits

With frigid conditions, it's time to put insulated fishing gear to work. The Hydronaut Insulated Jacket can take on the toughest elements. It's a two-layer nylon shell jacket with 30K waterproofing to keep anglers warm while ice fishing in sleet and snow. Its double dry cuff system, waist, and hem cinch adjustment easily adapts to you. The 140g synthetic insulation traps heat and dries quickly when wet. There are also matching insulated fishing bibs to fully outfit anglers with an insulated rain suit, hand warmer pockets, and a relief zipper. One thing to keep in mind with insulated fishing gear is that it's designed to trap your body's natural heat, so if you tend to warm up quickly or run warm, skip the layers underneath. For more layering tips, check out our guide on what to wear for cold weather fishing here.

How to Chooose a Rain Jacket

Anglers need the best fishing rain gear they can count on to keep them dry in a light sprinkle to a torrential downpour. Cutting through the clutter is challenging with so much variety on the market. AFTCO makes fishing rain jackets for any conditions anglers may face. Check out our Waterproof Rundown guide to learn more about waterproof rain gear, how it's rated, and how to choose the best gear for your needs.

Light Rain: Mariner & Transformer

For light wind and rain, gear up with the Mariner or the Transformer. The Mariner is a three-layer jacket with 10K waterproofing and DWR water repellent. It has armpit vents and an adjustable hood with hook and loop cuffs to keep air flowing. Like the Mariner, the Transformer is 10K waterproof. It’s a 2.5-layer rain jacket that’s fully packable and great for traveling anglers. Whether you prefer the Mariner or the Transformer, both will keep you dry when light rain hits.

Commercial Fishing & Foul Weather: Seafarer

Built for saltwater, the new Seafarer Jacket and Seafarer Bib keep commercial anglers comfortable and dry as they work on deck. These PVC fishing slickers are made with a PU-coated waterproof fabric to repel water. The Seafarer Jacket is lightweight with a two-way adjustable hood and a cinch cord hem. The bibs have adjustable elastic shoulder straps with a swivel buckle to relieve pressure on anglers’ shoulders and back. For foul weather, this lightweight saltwater fishing slicker has anglers covered as they take on the sea.

Medium to Heavy Rain: Barricade

With all-day steady rain, anglers should gear up in the Barricade. It’s a three-layer fishing jacket finished with a DWR water repellent. It’s an excellent year-round fishing rain suit because it’s breathable to keep anglers cool during a summer shower. For features, the Barricade has a two-way adjustable hood, a double dry cuff system, and an internal hem cinch adjustment. With all these features, anglers can quickly tighten or loosen the fit of their rain jacket, making it perfect for layering up in the winter months. Paired with the Barricade Bibs, the Barricade rainsuit offers high-end features at a competitive price point.

Heavy Rain: Barricade Elite

Built to withstand the rough channel crossings in Southern California, the Barricade Elite defends anglers from the elements. It's a step up from the Barricade because it's a four-layer jacket with 30K waterproofing and 7K breathability. With a day of heavy rain ahead, anglers should pair their Barricade Elite Jacket with its matching bib. The Barricade Elite Bib has hand warmer pockets, a plier pocket, and adjustable shoulder straps with a swivel buckle to reduce strain on anglers' shoulders. With fishing rain gear built for the toughest conditions, you can enjoy your time on the water fully protected.

Rain Plus Cold: Hydronaut & Hydro Bib

With freezing temperatures and rain in the forecast, anglers need a waterproof fishing rain suit that will keep them warm and dry, not just dry. Hydronaut was designed to protect anglers from harsh conditions. Hydronaut is a two-layer jacket with 30K waterproofing and a DWR water-repellent finish. When paired with the matching bibs, anglers have total protection from the elements. The Hydronaut Bib features hand warmer pockets, a relief zipper, and knee-high side zippers.

An alternative is the Hydro Bib, a two-layer Oxford nylon shell with 30K waterproofing. Nylon Oxford fabric combines the best of both worlds for fishing outerwear. It’s durable, strong, quick-drying, and lightweight. It adapts to the conditions while keeping anglers comfortable. The Hydro Bib features adjustable elastic shoulder straps with a swivel buckle and knee-high side zippers, making it easy to pull over your boots. The Hydro Jacket and Bib have all the features anglers need to take on the water comfortably.

Snow: Insulated Hydronaut

If ice fishing is in your future, grab an Insulated Hydronaut suit to stay warm all day on the ice. The Insulated Hydronaut has 140g synthetic insulation to trap natural body heat inside. This insulated rain suit also easily adjusts to anglers’ preferences and how many layers they wear. There are hood, waist, and hem cinch adjustments to customize the fit. With snow coming down and ice on the ground, gear up in the Insulated Hydronaut.

Anglers are at the mercy of Mother Nature on the water. From gusting winds to blowing snow, AFTCO has you covered. To make the most of every season on the water, choose the right outerwear to stay comfortable.

Anglers are at the mercy of Mother Nature on the water. From gusting winds to blowing snow, AFTCO has you covered. To make the most of every season on the water, choose the right outerwear to stay comfortable.