What is the Difference Between a Trench Coat and a Raincoat?

Which should you choose?  A trench coat or a raincoat? Since both are intended to protect the person wearing from downpours and freezing weather, they can be difficult to choose. While they serve the same purpose, these garments are different.

Because of its breathability, a raincoat may be the best choice for a hiker. However, in the world of fashion, the trench coat is among the most multi-functional and practical outerwear available today. Good thing you can have both of these easily.

Many people adore a trench coat for its style and adaptability. Nevertheless, they also enjoy a raincoat because it is lightweight, breathable, and comfortable to wear. In this article, let us go into more detail about how they differ.

Comparison of the Two

Trench coats and raincoats are popular spring clothing items. Since spring is associated with rain, such jackets are made of various materials that will keep you dry. The raincoat is designed for wet weather, whereas the trench coat serves more as a wardrobe staple that can be styled regardless of the weather.

Trench coats and raincoats are water-resistant outer coats that offer weather protection. However, knowing the difference between the two is essential for selecting appropriate and fashionable outerwear. The main distinction between a trench coat and a raincoat is the style and material used. 

A raincoat is a water-repellent garment that protects from rain and comes in various styles and designs. Meanwhile, a trench coat is a long, double-breasted coat with deep pockets and a belt.

What Exactly is a Trench Coat?

woman wearing green trench coat

This coat has a military history. In case you are unaware, trench coats were developed for use in the trenches during World War I. This is where the moniker “trench” comes from.

Trench coats are waterproof, durable, and lightweight. Normally, leather and cotton gabardine are used in their construction. Trench coats are typically longer than regular coats, extending to the wearer’s knees.

Moreover, these coats are distinguished by the key details of their creation. Their double-breasted fronts typically have wide lapels, ten buttons, button-closed pockets, and a storm flap.  In addition, they feature adjustable straps around the wrists, which can be pinned to keep water out of the arm holes.

An even more important feature of a trench coat is the belt, which is usually worn at the waist. The trench coat’s collars have always been turned down, although they can also be worn flipped up. Traditional trench coats are khaki in color. On the other hand, modern trench coats are now available in various colors.

How About a Raincoat?

A raincoat, as the term suggests, is a waterproof coat that safeguards the wearer from rain. Raincoats are typically long and fall just below the knees. Meanwhile, those that are waist-length are also known as rain jackets. Most raincoats come with a hood to keep your head protected from the elements.

Raincoats are more of a functional piece of clothing than just a fashion statement. They are frequently made of breathable, waterproof fabrics that allow sweat to pass through the garment. Raincoats are made from materials such as Gore-Tex, Tyvek, and coated nylon.

Furthermore, these coats come in different styles and designs, but they all possess a hood and long sleeves. Some of them may also have front zippers or buttons and strings to alter the size of the pockets, collars, and hood.


How are a trench coat and a raincoat similar with each other? While they are made of various materials, they are all intended to keep the wearer warm and dry. This is due to their waterproof fabrics and linings, which can keep you cozy when it is cold outdoors. 

Key Differences

woman wearing yellow raincoat

Nevertheless, these coats differ in several ways too. How can you distinguish one from the other? Now, let us go to the observable differences between a trench coat and a raincoat. Check out the following details:

  • Hood

A rain shower coat has a hood, whereas a trench coat only has a winged collar. Therefore, trench coats, which can be worn in any event, are much less designed for downpours, and wearers must use umbrellas to stay dry. On the other hand, the raincoat, as the name implies, is intended to be worn only during rainy moments. With it, an umbrella is not required due to the built-in head covering.

  • Materials

Raincoats are created from materials that are designed to repel water. Gor-Tex, rubber, and nylon are all excellent water repellents that are usually listed on the materials sewn beneath the tag on the inside of the coat. Trench coats are generally made of lightweight materials, such as a polyester blend with a thin cotton lining. Moreover, they are water resistant instead of repellent.

  • Closure

The front closure with a double button is a trench coat’s distinguishing feature. The coat is fastened at the waist with a belt upon buttoning up. Meanwhile, a raincoat usually has only one zipper or row of buttons down the front.

  • Length and Color

The raincoat’s most prevalent and distinguishable color is bright yellow, worn with corresponding rain boots. Trench coats in beige or khaki are the most popular, followed by navy blue and black. When it comes to length, a trench coat is normally worn up to the knee or even as low as the ground. On the other hand, a raincoat could be waist length or above knee length.

Last Thoughts

group of people wearing raincoats

If you’re wondering whether a raincoat or a trench coat is better, the answer really comes down to your goals. Are you looking for something waterproof and small enough to carry with you for possible weather changes? If yes, then a raincoat is most likely the best option for you.

However, if you are searching for a garment to wear daily and that presents you like an international secret agent, we would suggest that a trench coat is the way to go. It may not be as water repellant as a raincoat, but how frequently does it rain in your area anyway?