jacket weather ratings

How Jackets are Rated for Weather Proofing and Warmth

What’s It Rated?

It’s that time of year again: Time to start thinking about a winter jacket and preparing for Michigan’s snow soon to be here! These days there are a host of choices to select from, so shopping can seem overwhelming. There’re so many jacket weather ratings. What’s the difference between 20 below versus 30 below in terms of your needs? Is it worth the money or superfluous? How does wind factor in? What’s the process for how jackets are rated anyway?

Let’s unpack this.

You’re one-of-a-kind!

These answers will all depend on you. Not all jackets are equal or meant for the same purpose. Some are better windbreakers, while others excel at keeping you dry.


Before delving into the nuances of different jacket weather ratings, consider what your needs are.

Will you mostly be wearing winter gear from your car to the office? Or, do you deliver pizzas or work in sales travelling door-to-door rather than sitting in a temperature-controlled cubicle daily?

Consider weekends too. Do you usually stay indoors, attending concerts or going out to dinner with friends and family? Or, are you an avid skier, snow-shoer, or snowmobiler? Is winter camping what you look forward to each year?

Avid traveller? What’s the climate of your destination?

Do you generally get cold or overheat?


Your Helpful Guide

How Meaningful or Accurate are Temperature Ratings?

First, let’s discuss what the ratings can and cannot do and how you can use them to answer your questions.

When it comes to jackets, a common question concerns what temperatures a particular jacket is rated for.

Take these numbers with a grain of salt. Some experts argue that jacket weather ratings are arbitrary. The reason is that there are many variables that aren’t controlled for that influence how warm – or cold – you will feel.

A jacket rated to be warm at a certain temperature when the wind isn’t blowing snow or the rain isn’t pouring down might not be warm under specific weather conditions.

In addition to temperature, variables for rating can include:

  • Wind
  • Rain
  • Humidity
  • Your exertion level
  • Your metabolism


Add wind chill and you can go from comfortable to … well … chilly very quickly.


In winter, dry can feel pleasant while humidity can feel cold (generally the opposite of summer humidity), despite it being the same temperature.

Activity level

What are you going to be doing? All things equal, running in a jacket versus sitting in a ski lift makes a difference. You’ve probably had the experience of sticking your hand out the window to gauge how cold it is and then taking a heavier jacket than you needed. Once you start “moving,” the layers come off.

Additional layers augmenting your jacket

If you’re wearing warm layers, a hat, and mittens, you’re going to feel warmer – no matter what jacket you have on. Consider whether you tend to wear layers of clothing or typically just sport a t-shirt.

Body type

People with less body fat typically get colder easier. You’ve probably noticed when you’re among friends and family, people in the same room say they’re cold while others say they’re hot. This phenomenon applies to jackets as well.

Now, combine these variables!

As you can see, temperature is a starting point, but it’s far from the last word. Many variables should go into determining the type of jacket you need for your needs.


How Jackets are Rated: Meaningful Numbers

Fabrics are rated by weight, density, and permeability.


Weight of the fabric (measured in grams per square meter / GSM / gsm/ gm/2)

Example: 300 gm/2 is heavier than 180 gm/2.


For fleece, the higher the number, the heavier the weight

Example: 100 or 200 weight

Fill power

Down jackets’ fill power rating measures thermal efficiency rather than the amount of insulation.

Example: 300 or 900 (i.e. one ounce of down covers 300 or 900 cubic inches)

Water-resistant fabrics and materials

Manufacturers measure waterproof breathability of fabrics in:

  • Millimeters (mm)
  • Grams (g)


The higher the number, the more waterproof.

Take a 10,000mm fabric. If you put a 1” x 1” square tube over a piece of fabric, you could fill it with water up to 10,000mm (32.8 ft.) before water would leak.


The higher the number, the more breathable.

Measured by how many grams of water vapor can pass through a square meter of fabric in 24-hours. Example: 20,000g fabric.

Completely waterproof?

Outerwear has various degrees of water resistance, but fabric will leak if it’s exposed to enough water, time, and pressure. Balance protection with the ability to let water vapor from your body escape. A raincoat is more waterproof and ideal for a storm (although, getting out of the rainstorm would be even more ideal!), but if you skied in it, you’d be drenched in sweat (still becoming wet!).

Note: Waterproof testing is not standardized.

Waterproof and breathable

Waterproof breathable fabrics consist of layers:

  • Outer layer/face fabric
  • Membrane
  • Fine scrim or mesh

The outer layer (“face fabric”) is typically nylon or polyester with a membrane or coating usually made of expanded Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon®) or Polyurethane treated with Durable Water Repellent.

The membrane keeps water out. Its holes are too small for water to enter but large enough to allow water vapor to exit.

A fine scrim or mesh lines the inner surface of the garment for comfort.

Waterproof jacket weather ratings: How high does it need to be?

Look for a minimum waterproof rating between 5,000mm and 10,000mm for ski and snowboard jackets and pants. If you’re a serious skier or live in a wetter climate, the 10,000mm to 20,000+mm range is a good choice. If you’re a hiker, look for both waterproofing and breathability in the 20,000+ range.



Skier, 5,000mm to 10,000mm

Serious skier or wetter climate, 10,000mm to 20,000+mm

Hiker, 20,000+mm


How are waterproof ratings determined?

Waterproof testing is performed by independent laboratories or in-house.

Most testing methods place a 1” x 1” square tube over the fabric to measure how much water the fabric can stand before it leaks. Some manufacturers add pressure to simulate wind. Some manufacturers measure PSI (Pounds per Square Inch). 704mm = 1 PSI.

How breathable does it need to be?

Like a lot of things in life, it depends. Consider the weather and your expected exertion.

How are breathability ratings determined?

Testing methods are numerous, so it’s hard to compare jacket weather ratings between brands. Manufacturers don’t typically report how they test either.

Note: For jacket weather ratings using an RET scale (Resistance to Evaporative Heat Transfer), a lower value is better.



Waterproof rating (mm) Water resistance

(provided under …)

Precipitation Conditions it can withstand Pressure Conditions it can withstand
0-5,000 None to minimal moisture Light rain, dry snow None
6,000-10,000 Light pressure Light rain, average snow Light
11,000-15,000 Medium pressure Moderate rain, avg. snow Light
16,000-20,000 High pressure Heavy rain, wet snow Medium
20,000+ Extremely high pressure Heavy rain, wet snow High


Good ol’ fashioned customer service

Nothing beats service with a smile and a knowledgeable staff. If you’re debating about what jacket is right for you, talk to our helpful staff at T.R. McTaggart! Call us at {insert number] or contact us [link] via email with any questions you might have.


Insulated Outerwear Considerations

Weight and ability to compress/compressability

Especially important when backpacking.

Shell materials

Affects breathability, mobility, durability, and rain and windshield protection.

Insulation type

The type of insulation will affect how well it retains warmth, reacts in wet conditions, and how small you can pack it.


Insulation Types


Ducks’ and geese’ plumules are warm and lightweight. Down jackets are good for mild exertion level activity.

In terms of jacket weather ratings, the higher the number, the warmer the down. Fill power ratings range from 300 to 900; fill power is the volume in cubic inches that one ounce of down fills up. A high-quality rating starts at about 550. The other jacket weather ratings associated with down are its down to feather ratio, generally 70/30, 80/20, or 90/10. The more down, the warmer the jacket.

Just don’t get it wet! Rain, snow, humidity, and sweat affect the thermal efficiency of goose down. If down gets wet it stops working and dries slowly. If you’re active consider water-resistant down, synthetics, or a down/synthetic hybrid.

Water-resistant down

Like down, water-resistant down is light, warm, and packable. Polymer treatment helps down fight dampness.

Note: Water-resistant down is just as light as regular down, but it is expensive and doesn’t perform as well as synthetics do in wet weather. Good for moderate exertion.

Synthetic insulation

Synthetics use compressible water-repellent fibers. Synthetics work great when damp, dry fast, and are less expensive than other types of insulation.

Note: Synthetics are heavier, less packable, and less durable than down.

In terms of jacket weather ratings, numbers like 40g or 150g indicate the weight in grams of a square meter of fabric. OK for strenuous exertion.

Combination down/synthetic insulation

Offers the benefits of both down and synthetics. Some jackets blend these insulators together. Other designs use down in the core and synthetics in the arms and sides. Great choice if you want down at a lower cost. OK for strenuous exertion.

Combination wool/synthetic insulation

A blend of wool and synthetic material benefits from wool’s ability to insulate when wet and its resistance to odor. OK for strenuous exertion.


Waterproof and Breathable Fabrics


Created by laminating GORE-TEX® membrane to nylon and polyester, GORE-TEX® is waterproof and breathable, even while participating in extreme activities. GORE-TEX® has microscopic pores that allow water vapor to escape.


A breathable wind blocker.


Breathable and waterproof.


Waterproof fabric with a PU membrane.

Polartec® NeoShell®

Stretchy, waterproof, and breathable.

Polartec® Power Shield® Pro

Breathable soft shell fabric.

Dry.Q™ Elite

Water vapor will escape as soon as you put it on. No need to wait for vapor to build up.

DryVent® (Hyvent®)

Waterproof and breathable fabric available in several thicknesses.


A waterproof and breathable fabric.


A coated technology for lightweight raingear.

Pertex® Shield+ / AP

Waterproof and lightweight for vigorous outdoor activities.

Contact T.R. McTaggart Today

T.R. McTaggart provides a variety of jackets for nearly any use, “weather” it be work, athletics, or everyday wear.

Our staff is happy to discuss jacket weather ratings, how jackets are rated, and your specific needs to determine what’s right for you and your organization.

Our expertise is in providing high-quality apparel that can be customized with corporate and team logos. We make you look stylish, keep you warm in winter, and help promote your brand. Speak to a friendly representative by calling (800) 433-0983 or contact us via email and tell us about all of your winter jacket needs!













get more done

Get more out of your work day

42268004_SWe all want to get more out of our time at work, right? It all comes down to the right habits. Here are some ways that research tells us you can be more efficient at the office.

Focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking is the kiss of death to quality and productivity. Studies show that multitasking has a host of disadvantages and that focusing on one thing at a time can produce better results than trying to get more than one thing done at a time. Our brains simply weren’t wired for multitasking!

Ask for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but one of effective leadership. Delegating can be a powerful way to get more done each day and empower those around you. For many people, though, it doesn’t come naturally. Here’s a great guide from Harvard Business Review to successful delegating.

Communicate clearly. Make sure your texts, emails and documents are clear and thorough. Think of any unanswered questions that you can proactively answer as well. Also, be open to follow-up questions and concerns.

Develop routines. Rituals and routines can keep you motivated and focused. Here are some important things to work into — and re-energize — your daily routine.

Take breaks. No one is a bionic man or woman, You need downtime to allow yourself to enjoy something else, and you need mental and physical breaks, including real vacations. Take a vacation — and unplug for the sake of your health.

Seize the day!

Christmas party

Work holiday parties that work

48255884_SWe’re in the midst of the holiday season, and if you’re a company that prides itself on the culture—you will want to host a party for your employees.

Your company’s culture is one of the biggest points of difference between you and your competitors, and a holiday party is the perfect time to show off. Even employees who may skip out on other company-wide events are likely to attend the holiday party, so it’s one of the best opportunities to get in front of your most valuable asset–your staff.

For example, if you want to emphasize the importance of individual employee efforts, consider ways to recognize employee achievements. One way to do this is to acknowledge employees who showed high performance throughout the year with an award or a corporate branded item. Another way is to hand out thank you cards allowing employees to thank each other for the hard work.

The holidays are also a great time to establish philanthropic efforts, which add to your company culture. Employees generally love a chance to give back, and take pride in a company that loves to give back as well. This is a great time to spread seasonal cheer and happiness, while getting your name out there at the same time.

Holiday parties also encourage networking and relationships. A lot of times there aren’t very many opportunities for employees to talk, especially if they are in different departments. Christmas parties allow your employees to interact with each other and build friendships. This will help your employees have more positive feelings toward your company.

Whether you opt for karaoke, board games or a more traditional holiday celebration, one thing’s for certain, if you want to boost company morale, a holiday part is a must!


Boost employee morale with recognition

43617982_SToo often, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture at work. We tend to value people on the job for the volume of work they produce rather than their commitment, work ethic and the intangible value they bring to the organization.

However, you can change the corporate culture by adding an element of appreciation. Remember, most people aren’t simply motivated by a paycheck. It extends beyond that. They want to work hard and contribute and be noticed and respected for their efforts. It’s really an innate human desire.

Here are several reasons recognition can ensure the long-standing health of your organization and improve employee retention:

Reason #1: Recognition results in happier people. When was the last time someone you respect paid you a compliment? How did it make you feel? Chances are good it brought a smile to your face and made you feel great. By honoring the hard work of staff, you are boosting confidence and making them feel positive about the work they contribute.

Reason #2: Recognition is public acknowledgement. Most employees’ efforts go unnoticed because they aren’t calling attention to themselves or their work. But regular public recognition—in front of a peer group of volunteers at a staff meeting, for example—validates how you as a leader feel about their work. That’s truly special and meaningful.

Reason #3: Recognition tends to replicate. When you recognize hard-working folks, chances are high that goodwill will spread. Team members who have been honored can be encouraged to report back on co-workers who are also making a difference—and deserve similar recognition. By creating a kind of virtuous circle of positive feedback, people will enjoy working together more and, thus, get more done for the organization.

If you haven’t made an effort in the employee recognition department, now is a great time to start. We can help you handpick branded items as tokens of appreciation. It’s just one of the many ways we help you put your best foot forward!

Easy button

Group ordering just got easier

11352404 - hand pushing the buttonThe Internet has made our lives easier and simpler in a lot of ways. Indeed the business world depends on it to keep moving. It’s now easier than ever to order your favorite branded apparel–with the click of a mouse! Yes, online stores are the best kept secret–but we’re hoping to change that! Here are a few reasons why you should consider setting one up today:

  • Maintain and elevate your organizations’ brand and image
  • Reward employees
  • Access built-in fundraising opportunities for your teams and the school
  • Ship custom branded apparel with no minimums
  • Consolidate multiple promotional product vendors
  • Maximize the best volume discounts
  • Save valuable time and money
  • Manage and control corporate logo usage per brand guidelines
  • Manage inventory at your fingertips–regardless of device
  • Manage multiple vendors with one source
  • Have merchandise available 24/7
  • Access easy-to-use reporting to help manage your program
  • Submit and receive orders securely–no more paper order forms or checks

We have partnered with OrderMyGear to deliver such a solution. Get started by building a custom, secure, online account that effortlessly handles all your apparel needs.

Triumphant young man with gold medal

Join us in supporting the Special Olympics movement

IFAt T.R. McTaggart, we pride ourselves in being community-minded. That’s why we support organizations like Special Olympics Michigan. The mission of this worthy organization is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Michigan has been part of the Special Olympics movement since 1968.

According to the organization, athletes develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy while participating in the sharing of gifts, skills and friendship among their families, Special Olympics athletes and the community. Caring volunteers, coaches, family members and staff all make this possible. Donations from Michigan citizens and businesses (like T.R. McTaggart) provide funding for the programs. In fact, we just had our 30th annual golf outing, which benefited Special Olympics Michigan. We are happy to share that we raised over $29,500 for the cause this year.

Speaking of programs, competitions are how the mission really comes alive. Athletes are placed into divisions based on age, gender and ability. Competitions take place at local, regional, state, national and world levels. Special Olympics also promotes athletes’ integration into society. For example, in the U.S., 52 percent of Special Olympics athletes are employed; approximately half of these athletes are “competitively employed” – employed alongside people without intellectual disabilities.

But that’s not all. The impact of this organization is significant. Consider these facts provided by the organization:

• 23,317 athletes participate in Special Olympics Michigan with programs provided at no cost to athletes or their families

• 24 sports are offered

• 6 state-level competitions, 4 district basketball tournaments and more than 600 competitions statewide

• More than 29,000 volunteers

• Special Olympics Michigan is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supported almost entirely through corporate funding and individual gifts

We are proud to partner with such an amazing organization. If you would like to get involved, there are plenty of ways to volunteer. 

Frustrated office worker

Tackling burnout at the office

21384546_SBurnout is an often inevitable part of life. We are working longer and harder at the office. But you don’t have to let it be a constant. These tips can help you take control of your life:

Indulge a little. Maybe you like to meditate in the morning, sip a cup of tea over breakfast or read before bedtime. Allow yourself to have such moments, which can free up your brain’s capacity to sort out problems and be more creative.

Regain control of your schedule. Sometimes that calls for going off the grid. Consider turning off notifications on your devices and only checking email or social accounts every few hours. If something is really urgent, the person will call you. Electronic communication can wait. Also, try to limit unnecessary meetings. If something can be agreed on in an email or via a short conversation, save yourself the trouble.

Respect work-life balance. You don’t live to work. Try to shut off email after work and on weekends. When you don’t get adequate down time, your stress level never has a chance to return to normal before morning rolls around again—creating a never-ending cycle of anxiety.

Delegate. You don’t have to do it all. Lean on your employees or outside vendors to lighten the load. Don’t forget we can help take the load off with our corporate products.

Be good to you. Eat well, exercise and prioritize sleep. Take a vacation at least once a year. The mind-body connection is real. Honor your limitations and don’t be afraid to set boundaries. You’ll be more effective at work when you’re refreshed.

Follow these tips and you’re less likely to let yourself reach the point of burnout. Your employees and family will thank you.

Online Store

We make your design come alive

37289119 - t shirt icon.vector illustration.When we say “custom,” we really mean it. You won’t find cookie cutter products here. That’s not how we do business. Instead, we approach each order as a unique project. Here’s a look at our process.

Every business has its own personality and brand, and we do our best to capture that. When it comes to designing your next t-shirt campaign, we make it easy to turn a concept into reality. Whether it’s tweaking an original hand-drawn concept, or creating an original and dynamic shirt design from scratch, our experts can help take a design concept and upgrade it to the next level. Your company benefits from an in-house design team. Customers can choose between editing a pre-existing design, submitting a design form for the design team to modify, or creating a completely new shirt design. It’s really up to you.

Another element to our process is innovation. Traveling from coast to coast, we stay current on best practices and apply it to your project. From exclusive designs nowhere else in the marketplace to a custom logo, great apparel starts with great design and great design is our passion.

So what can we do for you? Your next design is just a call or a click away!

Get more out of your next conference

34238760 - conferenceConferences can be a great way to meet people and get out of your day-to-day routine. But you only get as much out of them as you put it. Here are a few ways to get more mileage out of your time there:

  • Request to speak on a panel. This might sound like an introvert’s worst nightmare, but it can really be a boon to one’s career. After you speak, people tend to come up and find you, so that eliminates any awkwardness. You never know—your next big client could be in the audience!
  • Make the most of dinner. Everyone needs to eat, after all. Invite a few fellow conference goers out and you might discover you have more in common than you thought. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know people outside of a stuffy conference setting.
  • Be open to chance encounters. Sometimes the best conversations occur on a whim. So set yourself up to impress. Make it a point to learn names and capture tidbits of biographical information. Even if the conversation is brief, you’re off to a good start by building on a topic they’re passionate about: him or herself! It won’t always work, but it’s possible they’ll want to connect further maybe on LinkedIn or via email.  You might even consider handing out a branded promotional item.
  • Use wardrobe strategically. Sometimes articles of clothing can be good talking points. For example, as a woman you might pin an antique brooch on your blouse or if you’re a man, you might choose a colorful tie. Don’t be afraid to express yourself!

Great t-shirt design isn’t rocket science

11248553_SWe’ve seen thousands of designs. As a result, we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. The good news is that making a great design for your next campaign really isn’t all that complicated. (It’s not rocket science!) We’ve made it easy and boiled it down to four key elements that you can adopt to make a great design.

1) Think simple. If your design is too involved or busy, at best it’ll be difficult for someone to read and understand your message. At worst, the quality of the final product will suffer.

2) Less is more with color. We recommend using a limited number of colors – ideally two or maybe three at most. That’s because the number of colors largely determines the cost. Each separate color on your design requires more work on our part, so minimizing the number of colors you use helps to keep the cost per unit down.

3) Know your audience. Maybe you run a buttoned down nonprofit. Or maybe you need a design for an edgy rock band. These are polar opposites, so you’ll want to take into account the purpose and context. The season and climate are also factors. You don’t want to order black heavy knit polos in the summer.

That pretty much covers the basics. If you have specific questions, we’d be happy to help guide you as you develop a custom design.

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