Are the Levi’s “Commuter” jeans really waterproof?

We put the special water-repellant coating to the test

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From the September/October 2016 issue of the magazine.

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A pair of jeans that can repel water and dirt? Sign us up. After all, there are few things as dispiriting as a nice bike ride ruined by a puddle-inflicted racing stripe up your bum. Levi’s “Commuter” line of jeans, khakis and jackets were designed with hardcore bike riders in mind, but offer features any umbrella-toting office worker will appreciate. In addition to smart design touches like a reflective strip that rolls up the cuff and a special belt loop to holster your U-lock, the fabric is treated with a special DWR (durable water repellent) coating that mimics the water repelling functions of duck feathers. Water beads up and rolls off the surface while the jeans remain as breathable as any. So does it work? Yes, exactly as advertised. In our testing, a deep drenching did eventually get through, but it easily repelled most splashes and the equivalent of a light shower. The effect will eventually wear off: In Levi’s testing the coating lasted through aggressive rubbing and more than 20 wash cycles. In our tests, it also successfully repelled a glass of red wine. That was good enough for us.

Levi’s 541 Commuter jeans: $133


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