Blog

How to Choose a Woman’s Waterproof Jacket

“None of your shower-proof nonsense” Emerald Street 

Whether you are going up a mountain or doing the daily commute to work, we’ve put together a guide to understanding a jacket’s waterproof capabilities and what it can actually handle. From waterproof ratings to shower resistance, we’ll give you the facts on what the numbers actually mean, how breathability comes into it and what to look for.

What Makes a Jacket Waterproof?

Essentially there are two kinds of ‘waterproof’ jacket:

  • Water resistant (sometimes referred to as showerproof)
  • Fully waterproof (this is what you want and this is what we do)

Water resistant jackets are simply treated with a waterproof coating which repels water for a certain amount of time – they won’t give you protection in a downpour as the fabric becomes saturated and there will be “weak” areas of the jacket such as the seams where water can seep in due to holes from the sewing process. The coating also wears off as the garment is worn and washed. Water resistant jackets generally are not breathable.

Fully waterproof jackets are made with a waterproof membrane bonded to the fabric and all seams on the jacket are taped, or sealed, with a waterproof tape to ensure there are no “weak” areas for water to get in. Generally they will be covered in other design details to ensure everything is watertight such as waterproof or covered zips and have considered and effective hood construction. Most will combine all this with a waterproof coating on the top of the fabric for added durability and water repellency. Fully waterproof jackets will also have varying levels of breathability built in with the waterproofing technology.

 

Hood construction of our Waterproof Parka

Waterproof Coatings

The fabric used for water resistant jackets will be treated with a Durable Water Repellency coating (DWR), or a similar water repellent coating. You can tell a jacket has been treated with a water repellent coating as water will bead up on the surface of the fabric and run off. Waterproof jackets also use this coating on top of their already waterproof fabric to add to a garments capability – we use a coating that is environmentally friendly (zero carbon content or no PFCs) as well as being effective.

Waterproof Membranes

A waterproof membrane is a thin layer that has lots of microscopic pores which are big enough to allow water vapour (sweat) to be released but small enough to stop water droplets getting in. The membrane is also what makes a jacket breathable.

Taped Seams

A jacket can be treated with a waterproof coating and have a waterproof membrane but not be fully waterproof. For a jacket to be 100% waterproof it will also need to have taped seams. Taped seams are heat-sealed seams that stop water coming through the stitching. Taped seams are the key to keeping dry and along with waterproof membranes are what sets “technical” or “performance” clothing apart from regular water resistant garments.

Our Waterproof Parka with fully taped seams and waterproof rating of 15000mm and breathability rating of 15000gms

Waterproof ratings

How waterproof a jacket is will depend on its waterproof rating – the higher a jacket’s waterproof rating the longer the fabric will remain waterproof for.

Waterproofness ratings are measured in millimetres using a Hydrostatic Head test – this tests how much water pressure a jacket can withhold without the water penetrating the fabric and it is always measured in millimetres. For example, 15,000 WP means that the fabric will take 15,000mm (or 15 metres) of water pressure over a 24 hour period before the water starts to leak through.

Our 15k rated waterproof fabric (with 15k breathability rating)

Ratings explained:

  • Ratings of 1,500mm to 2,000mm are suitable for very light showers and everyday use whether it be around town or walking the dog. These jackets won’t be breathable.
  • A rating of 5,000-10,000mm is suitable for most weather conditions. These higher rated jackets will also be breathable.
  • For extremely wet conditions (or to protect you in all weather conditions) a jacket of 10,000mm or above will offer the most protection and also be the most breathable.
  • All Protected Species garments have a 15000 rating for waterproofness and breathability along with a 2 year guarantee for waterproofing.
Rating Resistance Weather Conditions
0 – 1,500mm Water resistant / snowproof Dry conditions or very light rain
1,500mm – 5,000mm Waterproof Light to average rain
5,000mm – 10,000mm Very Waterproof Moderate to heavy rain
10,000mm- 20,000mm Highly Waterproof Heavy rain

You’ll often see another number alongside these, expressed in grams. This number is how breathable the fabric, found by testing how many grams of water vapour can pass through a square meter (m2) of the fabric from the inside to the outside in a 24-hour period. In the case of a 5,000g fabric, this would be 5,000 grams. The larger the number, the more breathable the fabric. All our garments have a breathability rating of 15000gms.

If you have any questions at all about our performance or want to see, feel and test the fabric before buying just drop us a line at [email protected]

Protected Species signature fabric – soft, tactile but high performance