Where are the safest non-toxic jackets & raincoats without PFAS “forever chemicals?” Answering this question is a real challenge in terms of the best outerwear for the seasons. What type of high-quality eco-friendly materials should you look for? Mamavation has been working on this investigation for a long time and although we haven’t tested most of these brands, we have put together a guide for you on brands based on compiling lists from organizations, testing some products, and corresponding with brands directly. You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like safest period underwear sans PFAS, safest cookware sans PFAS and nanoparticles, & safest deodorants, now join us for the safest jackets and raincoats sans PFAS “forever chemicals.”
Disclosure: This post was medically reviewed by Sondra Strand, RN, BSN, PHN. This post also contains affiliate links.
Waterproof & Water Resistant Chemicals On Jackets & Raincoats are Made from Toxic PFAS “Forever Chemicals”
Most conventional waterproof jackets and outdoor apparel companies add PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) to their textiles as stain-resistant and water-repellent coatings. This includes trench coats, parkas, rain jackets, raincoats & rain gear, apparel for snow & skiing, boots, and everyday jackets. In fact, any outer layer you put on could have these chemicals inside, including jackets marketed as using eco-friendly fabrics.
These chemicals are also referred to in the industry as waterproof membranes & durable water repellents (DWR). Coatings and membranes with PFAS chemicals are linked to environmental & health concerns because they are persistent, toxic, and ubiquitous in the environment. A growing body of research over decades has found links between exposures to these chemicals and a wide range of health problems, which is particularly problematic to kids:
- reduction in immunity
- metabolic diseases like obesity & diabetes
- reduced vaccination response
- cardiovascular disease
- affect the growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children
- increased risk of allergies & asthma in young children
- lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant
- increase the chances of miscarriage
- increase cholesterol levels
- low sperm count
- smaller penis size
- increase the risk of cancer like testicular & kidney cancers
It’s important to understand that PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment after you wear them as garments, which is why they are persistent. They show up in the soil, drinking water, and air samples and have become a global threat to the health of humans and wildlife.
In one recent peer-reviewed study by Toxic-Free Future (which is affiliated with the Mind the Store Campaign) they found PFAS in 100% of breast milk samples tested. They also found that the newer “short-chain” PFAS chemical that most companies switched to is also building up in people. Lots of jacket companies switched to a family of chemicals known as “C6” which are still persistent and may actually be more damaging to the environment and human health. This is a prime example of why it’s important for us to purchase products that are not coated or made with the entire class of PFAS “forever chemicals.”
European Companies are Safest & Non-Toxic In Terms of PFAS “Forever Chemical” Usage, While American Companies are Barely Getting Their Act Together
The first thing you’ll notice when you do an investigation of all the snow jackets and raincoats out there is the Nordic and other European countries have been avoiding PFAS for quite some time and it’s just recently that the American-based companies have gotten into the mix. That’s great news because those countries do get quite cold and rainy so it’s promising to note they have done a good job of creating safe products for the environment that keep you dry and warm.
Also, with the increase in vegan lifestyles in Europe and a desire to wear fewer wool coats & natural fabrics such as wool & leather, companies wanting to shield their customer from dangerous chemicals have had to work harder to find alternative solutions.
Fjallraven Kanken is an example of a Swedish company selling sustainable winter coats with a loyal Nordic customer base that has been producing PFAS-free jackets for brutally cold winter clothing made of a “proprietary mix of paraffin and beeswax.” This brand is also available for purchase in America where you can find everything from tents, to kids backpacks, to men’s winter coats & women’s winter coats.
Most American brands, as you will see in our investigation, are still polluting the environment in some way, including brands like Patagonia and REI.
Newer Fabric Membranes & Coatings For Safe & Non-Toxic Jackets & Raincoats That Claim to Be Free From PFAS “Forever Chemicals”
As the years have gone by, more and more alternatives have become available for brands to use as membranes (waterproofing fabric) and Durable Water Repellants (DWR) as treatments. Here are some of the products we were able to find that are available to brands or that are already used by PFAS free brands. This list was created using Greenpeace’s report PFC Revolution in the Outdoor Sector & The Green Science Policy Institute’s PFAS Central website. We double-checked to ensure each product was current but did not test every brand. We encourage you to reach out to brands directly about their products.
Membranes are fabrics that convey water repellency and/or stain repellency. Sometimes they are coated with DWR chemical coatings. The ones below are the ones we know are PFAS-free.
- Arnitel VT–flexible thermoplastic elastomer membranes that is 100% waterproof and 100% recyclable.
- CLIMALOOP membrane— windproof, waterproof, highly breathable, and made without PTFE, includes a Sympatex membrane and Bionic Finish ECO DWR. (Used by Pyua outdoor brand)
- GreenShield & GreenShield Zero — GreenShield and GreenShield ZERO are based on amorphous silica nanoparticles that are also used for such applications as toothpaste and cosmetic creams.
- Nikwax Analogy Pump Liner— Uses a two-layer approach that consists of a face fabric made of ripstop polyester, treated with a PFAS-free DWR that deflects wind and rain and backed with a unique ‘pump liner’. (Used by Paramo Directional Clothing)
- Outdry Extreme ECO — PFAS free membrane made for Columbia for Outdoor EXO products. Also combines PFAS free DWR.
- Sympatex — It is made of polyether/ester, a compound of polyester and polyether molecules, which means it can be recycled like a PET bottle.
- REPEL — New sewing thread membrane ideal for backpacks, footwear, athletic wear, uniforms, and workwear.REPEL will carry A&E’s PFCZERO™ designation as it contains no perfluorocarbons (PFC-free). It has been 3rd party tested on the seam and meets rain test method: ISO 22958-2005 (OR AATCC 61).
- TEXAPORE — Developed in-house by Jack Wolfskin based on polyurethane and is PFAS free.
PFAS-Free Durable Water Repellent (DWR)
PFAS-free durable water repellents (DWR) available today include formulations based on paraffin, silicone, fat-modified resin, acrylate/wax, and urethane. While some of these may deliver water repellency comparable to the C6 PFCs under certain circumstances, no one formulation is suitable for all applications. However, these are the ones available that we could find:
- Arkophob FFR— offers water repellency levels to existing fluorine-free products available on the market that are similar to C6 fluorochemicals, without the C6 fluorochemicals.
- BIONIC-FINISH ECO–based on proprietary dendrimer technology, comes as a family of unique non-halogenated, APEO-free, fluorine-free formulations suited for different materials and designed for different applications.
- CURB — Sciessent Curb durable water repellent (DWR) is a functional finish that adds liquid-shedding properties to fabrics. It causes liquid droplets to bead and roll off the surface of products and can be combined with odor control and antimicrobial technologies for ultimate product protection.
- Ecoguard-SYN (Conc) — fluorine-free specialty product for water repellency and rainproofing. Ecoguard-SYN (Conc) gives best results on synthetic fabrics and outerwear fabrics. The performance of Ecoguard-SYN (Conc) is very close to C6 fluorochemicals in terms of water repellency and durability.
- Ecorepel — based on long paraffin chains that wrap themselves in a spiral around the individual fibers which reduces surface tension so water droplets and even aqueous dirt with a much higher surface tension simply runoff.
- HEIQ ECO Dry — Building a microscopic hydrophobic 3D surface structure to minimize contact points and provide durable water repellency. Creating a barrier with tightly packed functional polymer units provides repellency through steric hindrance.
- Iceberg — Typically combined with Gor-Tex membranes on shoes, so be careful to ensure you are getting the new PFAS free GORE-TEX line. This DWR is “fluoro-free.”
- miDori evoPel — Made from partially based plant-seed and can be used on renewable resources like GOTS organic clothing.
- NANOMYTE® SR-200EC — highly hydrophobic liquid coating that results in relatively thin, clear coatings with an easy-to-clean functionality. The thermally cured coating is mechanically robust, highly repellent to water and oils, and enhances lubricity, however, the key aspect is that the coating is free of fluorinated materials.
- NEOSEED series — PFC-free DWR agents with water repellency comparable to conventional fluorine-based water repellents.
- Nikwax–waterproofing DWR that avoids all fluorocarbons, including PTFE, C6s & C8s.
- Organotex — using plant-based catalysts to bind water repellent “fatty” polymers directly to the textile fibers.
- Polartec — Look specifically for these products: Hardface®, Power Shield®, Power Shield® Pro, NeoShell® and Windbloc® products. The technology will also extend to fleece and insulation treatments for greater moisture management on products like Thermal Pro® and Alpha®.
- Smartrepel® Hydro — protection that keeps cotton, polyester, and polyamide textiles dry. The unique technology offers exceptional, durable water repellency and it is not based on fluorine.
- Teflon Ec0Elite — based on 60% renewably sourced plant-based raw materials, performance far exceeds other PFC-free technologies, such as paraffin and silicones. (Please be aware that other Teflon products DO contain PFAS chemicals.)
- ZELAN R3 — contains 63% renewably sourced content derived from a variety of plant-based sources, carefully selected to be from non-genetically-modified (non-GMO) and non-food-source feedstock. Claimed to be up to three times more durable than existing non-fluorinated repellents.
- ZeroF — impregnation is produced on a fluorine-free polymer base.
Specialized PFAS-Free Durable Water Repellancy (DWR) for Down
- HyperDRY ECO — works the same way as traditional DWR chemicals by building carbon-hydrogen chains on the down cluster to decrease the surface tension, which ultimately causes water to bead and roll off. The difference is that the HyperDRY compound is completely PFC Free, meaning it is not fluorinated.
- DownTek ZEROPFC — is a fluorocarbon-free water repellent down that uses DWR technology inspired by nature. Stays dry 10x longer than untreated down, meaning those who wear it stay warmer and drier.
- Nikwax — safe, PFAS free, high-performance technical cleaner for hydrophobic and regular down-filled clothing and gear.
Customer Confusion: Not all Jacket & Raincoat “PFAS-Free” Claims Are As Consistent & Factual As You Think
As brands are getting pressured by consumers, activists, regulatory agencies, and independent scientists about wanting safer non-toxic jackets & raincoats sans PFAS “forever chemicals” they are starting to move. Some brands are not telling you the full story of what is going on and that can still impact your exposure to these chemicals.
- GORE-TEX®, announced they just invented a new PFAS-free membrane while at the same time still allow an additional PFAS chemical treatment to their outdoor apparel and gear. This second surface coating is known as “DWR” or “durable water repellent” and is made of PFAS, but the new “PFAS-free” membrane (with the addition of PFAS on top) will be available for purchase in late 2022. It’s important to note that GORE-TEX still produces other products that have PFAS, but they have just created a new clean one. Please careful of the marketing attempts when this becomes available for purchase in late 2022. These products may still contain PFAS in another coating on the jacket.
- Pertex® Fabrics, which power brands like North Face, Patagonia, Rab, Peak Performance, Marmot, Mammot, Montane, Mountain Hardwear, & Outdoor Research, claim to have both fluorinated and non-fluorinated fabrics. This calls into question the brands themselves and which they are using such as: Pertex® Shield, Pertex® Quantum, Pertex® Quantum. It’s not clear which has PFAS and which does not. According to Pertex’s sustainability report, 22% of their DWR finishes were non-fluorinated in 2019. Their aim is to be at 100% non-fluorinated by 2022, but we have no confirmation if they are on target or not.
The problem of a mixed genre of chemicals claiming “PFAS free” means a confused consumer. For instance, when Goretex steps up some of their membranes but still uses PFAS-based DWR chemicals, it’s not enough.
“Although a step in the right direction, it is not nearly enough,” said Mike Schade, director of Mind the Store, a program of Toxic-Free Future. “Without a commitment to banning PFAS as a class in all of its products, Gore will continue to contribute to PFAS pollution. Major brands and retailers must act swiftly to reduce and eliminate all PFAS, including membranes and surface coatings, in outdoor apparel and other textiles. There’s no reason why businesses like REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods should continue to sell products made with forever chemicals that are contaminating communities and the environment around the globe.”
Certifications & Third-Party Standards That Confuse Consumers on “PFAS-Free” Usage
There are a few certifications & third-party standards out there common among outerwear for snow and rain that are a bit confusing to the consumer. They allow for certain PFAS “forever chemicals” like C6 or PTFE, while restricting others. And because of this confusion around this chemical class, the consumer is being exposed to PFAS “forever chemicals” when they don’t anticipate it. Here are some of the certified programs that allow for some chemicals in the PFAS chemical class but not others.
- OEKO-TEK We’ve tested textiles with OEKO-TEK certification for our Period Underwear Investigation and found some contamination. We also interviewed Ben Mead, Managing Director of Hohenstein Institute America, which is a company that manages the OEKO-TEX® standard in the United States. Ben made it clear to us in an interview over the phone that OEKO-TEX® tests for only 30+ the most common PFAS chemicals directly like PFOA and they do not test their fabrics for fluorine at all. Because there are over 9,000 PFAS chemicals, testing for 30+ does not do the job of protecting the consumer. OEKO-TEX® has added some additional “PFOA-like” chemicals to their testing in 2021, but we are still not convinced they are avoiding every possible PFAS chemical, especially the “short-chain” ones.
- Bluesign is a certification that lots of outdoor jacket brands are relying on and it’s problematic to the consumer. This certification allows PFAS chemicals into their products. Bluesign also allows brands to make a “PFAS-free” claim without technically being free from all fluorinated PFAS chemicals. Obviously, that’s not good for the consumer.
- Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) from UL doesn’t mean what you think it would mean. It actually does allow for hazardous chemicals like C6, which is a PFAS chemical.
Help Us Increase Pressure! Sign Petition Demanding REI Stop Using PFAS “Forever Chemicals”
Want more non-toxic jackets & raincoats sans PFAS? The Mind the Store Campaign is petitioning REI to stop using PFAS “forever chemicals” in all their products. Would you like to see REI join our list of the safest non-toxic jackets & raincoats free from PFAS “Forever Chemicals” one day? Right now it’s a shame they are not already part of this “best” list.
“The companies that make outdoor products leave a toxic trail of pollution. Manufacturing a product like a jacket can pollute the drinking water around factories, which can often be located in low-income communities and communities of color. Then, retail workers can be exposed to PFAS in the store’s air, and consumers (and the environment) can be exposed during use. Finally, when the product is thrown out, it can pollute the community around the landfill or incinerator where it ends up —and can even end up in wildlife like orcas and polar bears…That’s why today, the Mind the Store campaign has launched a national campaign and petition calling on REI to phase out and ban PFAS in all private-label and brand-name products it sells. This follows a September letter we sent to REI CEO Eric Artz, which the company has not meaningfully responded to yet.”
Rei did take some action on ski wax products, ski gear, and ski clothing treatments, however, they haven’t done enough to address PFAS in their jackets, footwear, tents, and sleeping bags. Those products likely still contain PFAS that are contributing to global contamination of communities, wildlife, breast milk, and drinking water.
Sign The Petition
Mamavation’s Recommended Outerwear For Kids & Adults
We curated this list for you of backpacking-related products for the kids & adults available on Amazon that made our “best” list. It comprises outwear for snow and rain, including sweaters, jackets, boots, knitted caps, backpacks, & gloves. Stick around to the end of this post for the full investigation of products.
Kids & Children
- Dale of Norway Cortina Sweater for toddlers
- Dale of Norway Moritz Blue Sweater for toddlers
- Deuter Kid Comfort Child Carrier Backpack
- Deuter Children’s Backpack for hiking and trekking
- Didriksons Harje Jacket — kids
- Didriksons Boys Matt Parka
- Didriksons Sunne Padded Jacket
- Icebreaker Kids Merino Apparel (base layers, socks, undershirts, hats)
- JackWolfskin Baby Tunket Jacket
- JackWolfskin Hiking Boot for Child Unisex
- JackWolfskin Modesto Unisex Jacket for Kids
- JackWolfskins Boys High Rise Hiking Boot
- Vaude Unisex Kids Knitted Cap
- Vaude Children’s Trekking Backpack
- Vaude Children’s Snow Cup Gloves
- Vaude Boy’s Gloves
- Vaude Unisex Kids Hat
- Canada Goose Shelburne Parka Women’s
- Canada Goose Chelsea Women’s Parka
- Canada Goose Expedition Parka Coat Men’s
- Canada Goose Chateau Fusion Fit Parka
- Dale of Norway Geilo Feminine Sweater
- Dale of Norway Men’s Blyfjell Sweater
- Dale of Norway Headband
- Dale of Norway Masculine Jacket
- Deuter Unisex Adult Litespeed Hiking Backpack
- Deuter Casual Backpack for Adults
- Didrikson Erika Parker for Men
- Didrikson Donny Parka for Men
- Didriksons Aino Women’s Parka
- Didrikson’s Gustav Women’s Jacket
- Didrikson’s Waterproof Travel Jacket for Men
- Didrikson’s Stacie Waterproof Windproof Jacket for Women
- Fjallraven Men’s Trousers
- Fjallraven Men’s Curved Trousers
- Fjallraven Women’s Curved Trousers
- Fjallraven Women’s Singi Down Jacket
- Fjallraven Women’s Kiruna Padded Parka
- Fjallraven Women’s Expedition Down Jacket
- Fjallraven Women’s Snowflake Parka
- Fjallraven Women’s Abisko Trial Fleece
- Fjallraven Women’s High Coast Wind Jacket
- Fjallraven Men’s Skogso Jacket
- Fjallraven Men’s Abisko Trial Fleece
- Fjallraven Men’s Expedition Lite Down Jacket
- Fjallraven Men’s Skogso Padded Jacket
- Fjallraven Men’s Singi Down Jacket
- Fjallraven Men’s Expedition Down Jacket
- Vaude Women’s Risti Jacket
- Vaude Men’s Skarvan Jacket
Mamavation’s Investigation on Safest Non-Toxic Jackets and Raincoats Free From PFAS “Forever Chemicals”
We wanted to provide for you a complete list of the safest non-toxic jackets & raincoats without PFAS and we must admit, this was very tricky so here is what we did and plan on updating this post when we receive more information about each brand.
We started this investigation by testing one of the most popular brands, Patagonia, for total fluorine. We went to their website, and at that time they had a section for PFAS-Free clothing. We purchased a jacket from that section and sent it off to the lab to be tested for total fluorine. It came back with a result of 901 ppm total fluorine. This is indicative of PFAS. Later we noticed the section to purchase PFAS free clothing was no longer there.
We then started looking to the policies of brands that were making claims and compared them to what we already knew about the materials they were using, like the new Teflon EcoElite and Pertex fabrics. We also looked to prior investigations done by Greenpeace in 2017 clearing several brands. Then we looked to which brands were confirmed to have true PFAS free claims from PFAS Central to ascertain where most of the best and better brands were.
We structured the investigation looking first to “not our favorite” brands that are either ignoring the issue, made confusing claims, haven’t made any firm commitments, or we personally tested them and found concerning results. The “better” brands are either working on the problem and converting part of their products or have made a public timeline of when they will be completely PFAS-free. The “best” brands already have PFAS-free products.
We intend to adjust this investigation as more reports come out on this industry or we are contacted by brands with more information as they change, so stay tuned.
Not Our Favorite Jacket & Raincoat Brands
These brands may be confusing if you read their statements. Some of them are claiming to be “PFAS free” but are still using PFAS chemicals and just deciding not to count them as PFAS chemicals. The problem behind this is it’s basically false advertising. When the consumer says they don’t want PFAS chemicals, they are including all PFAS chemicals in that common interpretation. Another reason these brands may be in here is that we have tested them ourselves and found them to have high levels of total fluorine OR they have not made any stances on the PFAS chemical class at all and are just ignoring the issue.
- Arcteryx –“Today we exclusively use short-chain PFCs in our products and monitor both our suppliers and materials for compliance.”
- Caterpillar — Did not respond to inquiries.
- Feathered Friends — “Right now all the Pertex we use on our jackets and bags contain the C6 short-chain PFC.”
- KUHL — “If there is a DWR we are using the C6 DWR.”
- L.L. Bean — “We have switched from C8 to C6 fluorocarbon…our water and stain-resistant products have trace amounts of PFAS.”
- MontBell Versitille — “Our DWR coating contains C6 short-chain PFCs. Our GORE-TEX membrane contains PTFE.”
- Mountain Equipment — Did not respond to inquiries.
- Outdoor Research — “Anything you see on our site that lists “water-resistant” or “waterproof” will have a DWR coating that can contain those [Re: C6 or PTFE] chemicals.”
- Patagonia –(Mamavation tested a jacket that was marketed as “PFAS-free” on the Patagonia website earlier this year and it came back with 901 ppm total fluorine, which indicates PFAS)
- Rab — (claims most products are fluorocarbon-free, but that’s a tricky way of saying they still use C6)
- REI (Sign this petition to demand REI stop using PFAS in their products)
Better Jacket & Raincoat Brands
This list is the middle of the road. It’s not the safest non-toxic jackets & raincoats because some still struggle with PFAS “Forever Chemicals.” These brands still have some PFAS issues, but they are either striving towards not having any and have set a date for that OR have some part of their selections that are PFAS free. We either communicated directly with these brands, reviewed independent studies on these brands, or pulled the info directly from their website.
- Burberry (all clothing, except for swimwear)
- Burton (select products)
- Columbia (Outdry Ex Eco products, policy)
- Endura (Items made with Exoshell 40, Exoshell 60, and DWR M exterior treatment are PFC-free, policy)
- Everlane (Selected products)
- Helly Hansen – New Lifa Infinity Pro three-layer fabric is waterproof without the use of any chemical finish. It doesn’t need DWR because the barrier is completely physical, not based on a chemical solvent. The brand only has it in a few products right now, but is expanding to professional gear Fall 2021.
- Hummel (select products)
- Mammut (select products, policy)
- Marmot (EvoDry rainwear products, policy)
- Odlo (90% of everything)
- prAna (select products, policy)
- Royal Robbins (select products, policy)
- Timberland (Free from some PFAS chemicals by 2025, but no clear timeline on PTFE chemicals)
- The North Face (Free from some PFAS chemicals by 2025, but no clear timeline on PTFE chemicals)
Best & Safest Jackets & Raincoats without PFAS “Forever Chemicals”
These are the safest non-toxic jackets & raincoats without PFAS “Forever Chemicals.” Part of this list was taken directly from PFAS Central, while others were added via what we already know from emails from companies and additional website statements. These companies all have policies to restrict PFAS within their products.
- Canada Goose (all apparel)
- Dale of Norway (all apparel)
- Deuter (all products, policy)
- Didriksons (all products, policy)
- EcoAlf (uses all recycled polyester, nylon, wool, cotton, etc. and supposedly no PFAS treatments.)
- Fjall Raven US (All products, policy)
- H&M – All Clothing
- Jack Wolfskin (all products, policy)
- Molo (for children)
- Nau (all products, policy)
- Páramo (all products, policy)
- Primary (all products)
- Picture Organic Clothing uses Teflon EcoElite
- PYUA (all products)
- R’ADYS (all products, policy)
- Rotauf (all products)
- Tretorn (Swedish brand)
- Vaude (all apparel products, policy)