The Guy Cotten brand first got my attention when I started writing about its history. While the brand is not as old as some of the Scandinavian brands, they have been consistently making high-quality, bright-colored, heavy-duty rainwear for almost 60 years now. And some of the gear available today is very close to the products they first produced decades ago making it sort of a living history of the brand.
Even though the most iconic piece of Guy Cotten rainwear is the Rosbras jacket, which is made from the same material as their range of professional fishing gear, there are lighter and more easily accessible coats available with a fashionable cut. My interest is more towards their heavier range though, and my experience with several of their heavy-duty items will be discussed further in this article. Below some heavy-duty gear after a cleaning with the garden hose to get all the mud off.
So far I have 4 items from the Guy Cotten brand and I cannot rule out more will come in the future, even though my needs are met at the moment. My first purchases were the X-Trapper jacket in orange and yellow together with a pair of Pouldo trousers made from their Nylpeche material also in yellow. While these two items combined nicely at a first glance, the difference in how I experienced the yellow Cap Coz material from the jacket and the yellow Nylpeche material of the trousers made me purchase another pair of Pouldo trousers in Cap Coz to perfectly match. And as I was ordering gear already, I couldn’t resist adding a yellow sou’wester in their “Classic” material.
The X-Trapper jacket combines two different materials: the orange parts are made from Nylpeche while the yellow parts are Cap Coz. The materials are very close in weight, each weighting in around 480 grams per square meter, and can handle both cold and heat. This gear is made for commercial fishing, so it would have no problems with extreme wear and tear and with normal use it should last you for decades. The obvious downside of this type of material is its weight: especially the jacket is impossible to fold up into a small package and weights its part. I’ve noticed it is easier to simply keep it on, even when the rain stops, and just unzip it than to take it off and try to carry it around or push it into a backpack.
There is a difference in the two materials used in the X-trapper jacket, but with just the jacket you will barely notice this as each material has a different color. In both wet and dry conditions the materials combine nicely, although the yellow Cap Coz material will probably catch the most attention with its shiny surface. My issue combining the raincoat with the Pouldo pants in Nylpeche arose as the back of the jacket is made from yellow Cap Coz and the difference in materials becomes apparent with both being yellow and being so close together. Notice the reflection of light in the picture below with the Cap Coz clearly outshining the Nylpeche pants.
Most people would probably not even notice the difference between the yellow materials, but for me it had to match and I felt the need to purchase a pair of yellow rainpants in Cap Coz material. Visually the combination simply works much better making it more enjoyable to wear the complete suit. Below a comparison of the two materials used on a rainy walk; while both pants are yellow the Nylpeche material on the left clearly has a different shine compared to the Cap Coz material on the right.
But there is another huge difference between the two materials: the sound it makes. And I understand not everyone will care about this, but if you ever get a chance to wear a pair of nylpeche trousers you will probably notice the squeaky sounds the material makes when it rubs together when you walk. To me it just adds another layer to the experience of this material making it so much more interesting.
Finally there is the “Classic” material of the sou’wester, which is visually best comparable with the Nylpeche but has a different feel on the inside. According to the description on the Guy Cotten website this material is PVC coated on both sides, but the backing is not nearly as smooth and interesting as the yellow outside. The most noticeable difference with the other 2 materials is the drying time though, where the Classic material dries very quickly compared to both the Nylpeche and Cap Coz which can take a few hours for the lining to be completely dry again.
Needless to all Guy Cotten gear is completely waterproof. All seams are welded with a high-frequency technique meaning not a drop of rain will come through. And while both the trousers and the jacket are from workwear lines of clothing the finishing is excellent with little beautiful details coming to light when taking a closer look at the garments.
The zipper at the front of the jacket must be the biggest zipper I have ever had on a piece of clothing. At first that seems to be over-the-top, but I quickly discovered the added value when wearing a pair of industrial rubber gloves. A smaller zipper would have been impossible to grab through the thick rubber.
In general you should expect this rainwear to last a seriously long time with normal use. Think several decennia compared to maybe a couple of years for more “fashionable” rainwear. Of course that does not mean you cannot go shopping for more rainwear; it just means you can start building up a collection and pick what you feel like when dark clouds appear at the horizon.
There is not much to talk about regarding the design of the Pouldo rainpants; they have a straight cut and an elastic band at the top. There are no further features like pockets, adjustable straps, or push buttons. That simplicity can be attractive though.
It is the X-trapper jacket that deserves most of the attention here. There are design features incorporated at many levels and while some are impressively, smart, and innovative, some others are slightly disappointing and something you need to take into account when considering purchasing this jacket.
The most obvious things about the X-trapper jacket, and also the Rosbras jacket which is very similar, is the overall bulky design. While I have seen many pictures online of mostly the Rosbras jacket, it wasn’t till I received my own jacket that I realized how large it actually is. Taking a second look at the nicely crafted and highly professional pictures of models wearing the jacket it quickly became obvious the jacket is very bulky and should reach to your upper legs. At first I was not too happy with my choice of the “correct” size of this jacket, but I soon realized this actually makes the rain jacket stylish in its own way and maybe more of a jacket for general use than one with the specific purpose of giving cover only during the rain.
This observation is confirmed by what I would call a design mistake which is the extremely stiff Velcro band in front of the zipper. The idea behind this design feature is obvious: keeping water from reaching the zipper which is the least waterproof part of this jacket. But due to the stiffness of the Velcro the jacket loses a lot of general flexibility. By itself you will not notice this, but it becomes especially apparent when sitting down with the jacket closed. While the heavy-duty design of the rainpants will maybe add 10lbs of visual weight to your lower body, the jacket adds an easy 25lbs with the zipper closed when you sit down. Other brands solved this problem by using buttons which will give a less secure result but much more flexibility to the front of the jacket. One could point out this is done because the X-Trapper jacket is pure workwear, but the Rosbras jacket has the same feature and is often presented as a normal rain jacket for a much larger audience. And that is probably also the reason why in 9 out of 10 the models in promotional pictures wear the jacket open or are standing. Below a picture of me sitting down suited up, notice how all the material from waist level up starts to build up giving a rather unattractive look.
A distinct selling point often mentioned with several Guy Cotten raincoats is the patented MAGIC hood. Due to the design you can put the hood up, pull it tight around your face, and it will move along when you look left or right. While walking I never make use of this function as I do not use the drawstrings to tighten the hood, but when you are on a bike it actually becomes quite handy that your field of vision is not limited too much which can result in dangerous situation when participating in traffic.
An even better choice would be to simply wear a sou’wester rain hat. This simple hat would keep your hair dry, keep the rain out of your face, and will give you an unlimited view around you. Still, the number of sou’wester hats I have seen in my life in The Netherlands is stuck at one. For some reason this product has an extremely limited popularity in my home country.
And the final feature from the X-trapper raincoat worth mentioning are the elastic cuffs. The elastic cuffs are hidden in the sleeves leaving a smooth silhouette but still protecting your arms from water splashing up. While practical, the greatest benefit for me is one purely based on the feeling of safety and protection it gives me when I am able to have the elastic part at my wrist while the sleeves extend further to go over part of my hand. For some reason I just like curling up my fingers and holding the ends of the sleeve while wearing this jacket.
Based on the size chart from Guy Cotton I was lucky enough to be able to pick a size that nicely covered my measurements expecting both the pants and jacket to be a perfect fit. From experience I know that this raingear is meant as workwear and will therefore fall a bit bigger. Add to that the overall oversized model of the jacket and I am actually quite content with the size I picked. There is no access space around the neck for rain to come in and the sleeves are just long enough to give complete cover and a feeling of safety without them being too long.
The pants on the other hand feel a bit small. The crotch is hanging relatively low but when I pull up the pants further the ends of the legs will come up too much and I might end up with wet socks. With hindsight I would have wanted to try out the jacket a size smaller and the pants a size bigger for comparison, but neither item is sized so odd that I have to return them. Below a picture with me pulling the coat tighter with one hand to show what it would look like in a smaller cut or much smaller size.
Finally there is the sou’wester which is sold in the sizes Small, Medium, and Large based on head circumference. I already know I have a relatively big head and with long hair I wanted to make sure the hat would not be too small as that would destroy all my efforts of combing some volume in the morning. Unfortunately even the large sized sou’wester was actually a bit too small. Wearing a bright yellow sou’wester in the shiny Guy Cotten material would be quite a bold move already and with this sizing it will not pay off enough. When I compare the size to my Farmerrain sou’wester the difference is day and night, where the XL size of Farmerrain easily fit without giving me a “helmet head” hair, the size of the rim is also much larger giving more cover to keep the rain out of my neck and face.
Price and availability
Guy Cotten has a relatively large range of rainwear products on their website, but unfortunately the availability is pretty limited in most countries. The few workwear stores that do have some of their products only have a limited selection and of course you will have to order it online and hope that the products match your expectation. Wouldn’t it be great if they had a sort of flagship store in every region with most of their products just hanging there, so you can have a look and feel, and determine which size fits you best, before having to place and order and deal with returns?
The price of the items I bought were decent, especially keeping in mind that I regularly use rainwear and that the X-Trapper jacket is useful for more weather types than just in the rain. The trousers were around 40 euro’s and the jacket was around 75 euro’s. But because I had to order them from abroad there were a lot of shipping costs added which turned this into a purchase I had to really think about before following through. The second order of Cap Coz pants and the rainhat (costing 20 euro’s) were available from a local webshop which saved on shipping costs.
In my view these prices are acceptable as the products are produced in France and are made with great care. Compared to other brands producing similar rainwear Guy Cotten is on par with mostother brands and offers high quality gear making it a good deal in my view.
Obviously I am completely in love with my Guy Cotten rainwear. It is always a special feeling to put that heavy gear on and I truly feel completely secure and sort of invincible when wearing it. I already had great pleasure with the Nylpeche pants, but now that I purchased the same pants in Cap Coz as well I enjoy combining it with my X-Trapper jacket even more.
The Nylpeche pants are now mostly used in combination with other brands of raincoats, or for working in the garden. And this is actually a great choice, as the squeaky sounds of the material are much more noticeable now. Maybe at some point another piece of gear in Nylpeche has to be purchased to put me in this extraordinary material from top to bottom. I just can’t help fantasizing about a complete outfit that stimulates that extra sense as well making the experience simply more intense with all the squeaking going around you while excitingly waiting for what will come next.
The X-trapper raincoat sometimes doubles as a regular jacket as I simply love the overall look of it. In those cases I avoid closing it up, as that would give it too much of a raincoat vibe, and just wear it with the zipper open looking more casual. Several people have actually given positive feedback on the looks of the coat setting it apart as more fashionable from all my other rainwear. While the Rosbras is a more fashionable raincoat with a similar design, I tend to prefer my X-trapper as it has two colors.
As mentioned the sou’wester does not get a lot of use and has basically become a prop for pictures only.
For anyone interested in purchasing some Guy Cotten rainwear I would recommend keeping a close eye on the materials of the different items you plan on ordering. You want to make sure that you order everything in the exact same materials so it would match perfectly, otherwise you might end up like me with multiple pairs of heavy-duty yellow rainpants. Not that there is anything wrong with that of course. And for those that already own some Guy Cotten gear and have some budget left, you should consider trying some of the other materials as well as it will be a whole new experience.