How To Pick A Waterproof Jacket? (2023)

What’s the difference between ‘water-resistant’ and ‘waterproof’?

Truewaterproof clothingis designed to keep your bone dry for hours in the rain or snow. A water-resistant item can stand up to light showers on the hill but will let water in sooner than you’d like.

What makes a jacket waterproof?

Waterproof jacketsare made with multi-layered fabric that is treated with a hydrophobic coating. This fabric should have a minimum hydrostatic head of 1,500mm, but ideally over 5,000mm.

What dowaterproof jacketratings mean? / What is ahydrostatic head?

A jacket’s waterproofing is measured inhydrostatic head(HH). The higher thehydrostatic headrating, the longer you’ll have in the rain before the water gets through the fabric.

The hydrostatic headis literally measured as the height the water column reaches above the fabric before drops begin to pass through.

Under1,500mm:This fabric is water-resistant at best, suitable for brief showers or short exposure to snow.

1,500mm – 5,000mm:Any fabric above 1,500mm HH can handle light rain for a couple of hours at most. Excellent for quick trips about town in the rain, or a sudden shower on an otherwise cracking day.

5,000mm – 10,000mm:Here are your serious waterproofs, perfect for average to heavy rainfall, even over many hours on the hill.

Above10,000mm:If you’re going to be exposed to persistent heavy rain and stormy weather, fabrics above 10,000mm HH will keep you dry.

A rating of1,500mm to 5,000mm is plenty for yourideal everyday jacket. It can handle a brief shower when you’re about town or up a hill, but you’ll want to pack something more substantial for grey and stormy days.

(Video) How to Choose a Waterproof Jacket

Jackets rated for5,000mm to 10,000mm are excellent all-rounders.Generally comfortable enough to throw on for a park trip, they shine when the weather takes a turn for the worst. It can comfortably handle persistent rain and wet conditions.

What type ofwaterproof jacketshould I get?

2-Layer Waterproof Jacket

A 2-layer jacket offers waterproofing and breathability together, combining two fabrics with very different properties. The outside layer has been fully treated to repel the rain, while the inner layer of mesh allows the body to breathe and provides some airflow. 2-layer jackets, like theKerrera, make excellent everyday jackets.

2.5-Layer Waterproof Jacket

2.5-layer waterproof jacketshave the same inner and outer layer, but with one extra treatment. The inner lining has a thin coating, which protects this layer from being clogged by sweat and dirt from our skin. This keeps the breathability of the jacket high and makes it excellent for more active adventures like hiking, trail running, and Munro-bagging. Check out ourCannafor a classic 2.5-layer jacket.

3-Layer Waterproof Jacket

3-layer waterproof jacketsare ideal for the winter months when you can expect to spend hours in a downpour. The layers are built from outer waterproof fabric, breathable lining fabric, and a protective layer that helps to keep these layers clean. The three are bonded together to form an outer shell that protects against any weather condition and is also extremely durable and long-lasting. Look at ourMunro Jacketfor a classic example of a hard-wearing 3-layer jacket.

Packaway Jacket (Pakka)

These are extremelylightweight waterproof jacketsthat can be folded, rolled, or simply stuffed into a bag or rucksack. Ideal for emergencies, they normally have one layer of waterproofing, with vents providing some breathability. We would recommend thefor everyday use.

Waterproof Jacket & Trouser Set

(Video) 10 Tips & Features To Look For While Picking A Waterproof Jacket

It’s just as important to protect your trousers when you’re out in the rain for hours, and most walking trousers are water-resistant at best. A lightweight waterproof trouser is the perfect companion for any rainy day. Ensure you find a jacket/trouser combination that provides complete coverage, like ourStormguardandTempestsets.

What features should awaterproof jackethave?

Yourwaterproof jacketshould have a variety of features specifically designed to keep the rain out from all angles.

  • Hood

Your hood serves two functions: to keep the rain from your head, and to shield your eyes from drops. Many hoods will have a peak at the front for exactly that purpose. A hood with drawcord tightening is useful, especially when you’re moving fast, and you don’t want the wind to blow your hood down – but walkers might prefer a looser fit for more face protection.

You’ll notice that jackets for climbing will have a larger hood – so that you can fit a helmet underneath.

  • Chin guard

Some rain jackets have a strip of fabric at the top of the collar, designed to protect the lower part of your face and avoid snagging your chin in the zip.

  • Vents

Just because it’s pouring down doesn’t mean you won’t build up a sweat under your coat. Many jackets will have strategic vented sections around the back or arms to encourage breathability and airflow. On waterproofs, these may be harder to spot, as they’ll be covered by a flap of waterproof fabric.

  • Pockets

Pockets should be either zip sealed or protected by flaps to avoid damaging the most important items on your body. Depending on your adventure, you might want pockets to sit higher on your chest to avoid covering them with your hip belt.

  • Zips

A good zip makes a huge difference to your experience of a jacket. Some of our jackets feature fully waterproof zips that give you peace of mind when you’re out in a storm. Others feature sturdy zips protected by storm flaps -a piece of material designed to protect an opening from the rain.

(Video) What to look for when choosing a Waterproof Jacket


  • Cuffs

Especially for climbers, well-sealing cuffs are an essential on your jacket. The best are adjustable with either Velcro fastening or lockable drawcords – keeping the rain out and your body heat in.

How should awaterproof jacketfit?

  • Length

It should be long enough to cover your trouser line when you raise your arms above your head. Jackets normally shift by about 1-2 inches as a guide, but this depends on the sleeve design.

  • Cuffs

Your cuffs should be long enough to cover your wrists, but without slipping over your hand entirely. Adjustable cuffs help to keep longer sleeves in place and leave your hands.

  • Layering

You won’t be wearing a jacket alone, so make sure you can layer comfortably. You should be able to fit a base and mid-layer underneath the jacket. Arain jacketfor lightweight running or cycling is the exception – for really active pursuits, you should choose something close-fitting to avoid chafing.

Awomen’s waterproof jacketdiffers from unisex andmen’s waterproof jacketsin a couple of ways. They have a narrower, more fitted waist, to stop the jacket from moving too much when you’re active. They also have shorter sleeve lengths, and their bottom hem is slightly wider – though most can be adjusted by drawcords or Velcro straps. Some women will get on well with a unisex, but others prefer the tailored fit ofwomen’s waterproof jackets.

What’s thebest waterproof jacket?

Thebest waterproof jacketcompletely depends on the person – a hiker’s jacket will be very different than a cyclist.

(Video) How To Choose A Waterproof Jacket | Rain Jacket Buyer's Guide

The short answer is – it all depends on what you’re using it for!

For walking and hiking

Hikers, you’ll be pleased to hear you have a lot of great options. For the perfect mix of durability, clever design, and streamlining, theCannais an impressivewaterproof jacket for walking. The construction balances waterproofing and breathability, and you’ll find the extra length is perfect for keeping the rain off your trouser seat.

If you’re out on the hills every weekend in winter, you might appreciate the extra features and 3-layer fabric of ourMunro.

For climbing

If you’re looking for awaterproof jacket for climbers, there’s one that stands out:theMunro Jacket.Every detail has been tailored for the mountains – your large hood to accommodate a helmet and elevated pockets to stash maps and snacks in easy reach. You’ll even find waterproof underarm zips for breathability without compromising waterproofing.

For cycling

Cyclists need alightweight waterproof jacket– and you can’t get much lighter than theStow & Go. This packaway coat is ideal for city cyclists and mountain bikers who want a sturdy waterproof that doesn’t take up lots of space in their pack. For top visibility, choose ourand be seen anywhere you cycle.

For everyday

You have a lot of cracking choices foreveryday waterproofs. We’d personally recommend theKerrerafor mornings walking the dog or a run to the shops in the downpour. It’s sturdy and comfortable, with some serious waterproofing that holds up in the worst winter showers.

(Video) Picking a Waterproof Jacket 👣 Hiking 101

On the other hand, if you’re looking to stand out when you stroll into town, theLighthouseis a relaxed and stylish coat. Based on the classic fisherman’s jacket, it will keep you completely dry without a tight fit.


What is the best level of waterproof jacket? ›

5-10,000mm is ideal for those who spend long days out on the mountain, in all weather conditions; while 10-20,000mm is best for those in wetter climates or skiers and snowboarders who prefer backcountry.

How good is 10 000 mm waterproof? ›

10,000mm – 15,000mm: A waterproof garment in this range will withstand most downpours as well as heavy snow, but will soak through over time if subjected to pressure, such as crashing in wet snow, kneeling or sitting down, or a heavy pack.

What to look for when buying a rain jacket? ›

The top 5 things to look for when buying a raincoat
  • Waterproof fabric. The most obvious first feature one would expect from any decent raincoat is that they have used waterproof fabric - and not just water repellent fabric/treatment. ...
  • Sealed seams. ...
  • A good hood. ...
  • Breathability. ...
  • Length.
Sep 6, 2018

Is 5000 good waterproof? ›

If you are out for a day in the mountains, you should look for your main waterproof to be rated 5000mm or higher, and most good waterproofs will be around 10,000mm, the highest being around 20,000mm for the wettest conditions. A lower rating means the water will eventually get through if the rain is heavy.

What does 7000 mm waterproof mean? ›

Hydrostatic head, measured in millimeters (mm), is a measure of how waterproof a fabric is. In the case of a 10k or 10,000 mm fabric, if you put a cylinder with inner dimensions of 1” x 1” over a piece of said fabric, you could fill it with water to a height of 10,000 mm (10m) before water would begin to leak through.

What does 20K 20K waterproof mean? ›

Static-column test

The tube is filled with water, and the water's height in millimeters when leakage begins becomes the waterproof rating. A piece of fabric that can withstand 20,000mm of water pressure will have a rating of 20,000mm or 20K.

Is 20K 20K waterproof good? ›

20k waterproofing: A very high waterproof rating. 28k waterproofing: Goretex fabrics are the only ones to achieve this, the highest waterproof rating in skiwear. Higher waterproof ratings do exist but at the expense of breathability and so so they are not used for ski clothing.

What does 30K waterproof mean? ›

This number is measured in millimeters (mm), and the higher the number, the more waterproof the membrane is. These numbers can range from zero up to as high as 30,000mm (30K), which is considered to be top-level waterproofing.

Is 10K waterproof enough for rain? ›

A rating of up to 10K is enough to handle light to average rain for a short amount of time. Ratings between 10K and 15K can handle a moderate amount of rain for much longer, and jackets rated between 15K and 20K or higher are serious shells for heavy, intense rain over a prolonged period.

Is Gore-Tex 100% waterproof? ›

Every product in the original GORE‑TEX products range is waterproof, windproof, and breathable and many come with additional benefits.

What does 20000 mm waterproof jacket mean? ›

The higher the number of millimetres, the more waterproof the jacket is. The highest level of waterproof protection currently offered by Trespass is 10000mm, while our sister range, DLX, offers up to 20000mm – that's 20 metres of water that can be repelled!

Which fabric is best for rain jacket? ›

Silk is one of the best fabrics for a raincoat as it has a glossy finish. This fabric has a soft hand and a beautiful drape. In its water-repellent form, this smooth and luxurious fabric can be used to create a raincoat that could be as beautiful as your outfit and might as well overshadow the same.

What makes a jacket fully waterproof? ›

The outer fabric used for water resistant and waterproof jackets will often 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.

Should a rain jacket be tight or loose? ›

Fit The fit should encourage layering underneath, but shouldn't be too loose. Remember that you should be able to cinch your rainwear down so it's snug enough if the weather turns. Move your arms, bend your knees. A full range of motion is essential.

How many K is Goretex waterproof? ›

Waterproof Breathability Rating Chart
BrandFabricWaterproofness (mm/24 hours)
Fouresquare2L MicroShield10,000
Fouresquare2.5L MicroShield15,000
Fouresquare3L MicroShield20,000
Gore-Tex®Gore-Tex® (Classic)28,000
53 more rows

What does 100% waterproof mean? ›

Waterproof means the bag can be submerged completely underwater for long periods of time, and there won't be one single drop of water that enters the interior. Think of a balloon, completely sealed off from the outside world.

What rating is completely waterproof? ›

As such, the second digit in a typical IP code indicates a precise level of protection against moisture ingress under specific test scenarios. The ratings widely accepted as 'waterproof' for most general purposes are IP65, IP66 and IP67.

Is 8000 mm waterproof good? ›

If you are buying a waterproof coat for walking about town or dropping the kids to school, a waterproof rating of 2,000-5,000mm will be more than enough. If you were planning a weekend in the mountains, we would advise a rating of 5,000-8,000mm as the conditions can be much harsher.

How many mm is fully waterproof? ›

1. Waterproof Ratings
0 – 1,500mmWater resistant / SnowproofVery light rain
1,500mm – 5,000mmWaterproofLight to average rain
5,000mmVery WaterproofModerate to heavy rain
10,000mmHighly WaterproofHeavy rain
Dec 16, 2020

How many mm is Gore-Tex waterproof? ›

Gore-Tex offers a dryness guarantee, and it's rated at 28,000mm, for reference! Anything sporting a 25,000mm water column or more is a serious piece of gear ready for the toughest adventures.

How good is 20k waterproofing? ›

Waterproof/Breathability Ratings

Higher numbers mean more water resistant fabric. A fabric rated 20k for waterproofness resists approximately 66 feet of liquid stacked up in that 1-inch square tube before any seepage begins.

What material is truly waterproof? ›

Polyurethane Laminate is the fabric of all fabrics that are waterproof in its own right. PUL is a polyester fabric that has a plastic backing comprising a thin waterproof layer. Polyurethane Laminate is a completely waterproof fabric, as well as being breathable and flexible.

Is 15000 breathability good? ›

10,000 – 15,000 is breathable enough for most activities where you'd expect to sweat a bit – e.g. hillwalking. 20,000 is excellent for intense activities when you'll really be pushing yourself.

How much waterproofing do I need? ›

Waterproof Standards for Bathrooms

The entire shower floor must be waterproofed. Shower walls must be waterproofed up to at least 1800mm. The walls must be waterproofed up to at least 150mm. Over the hob or step down must be waterproofed to at least 150mm.

What is 15k 15k waterproof? ›

In that 15k/15k rating, the first number measures the waterproof rating. The “k” is thousands and the “mm” is millimeters. A 15k mm rating means that until you reach 15,000 millimeters of water, in a 1-inch diameter column, stacked on top of the fabric, the water will not penetrate the membrane.

How waterproof is Gore-Tex Pro? ›

GORE-TEX PRO Most Rugged Technology:

The fabric is still quite breathable with an RET value of <9, though that's a bit less breathable than current PRO fabrics which have RET values in the 6 range. The waterproof rating is fairly standard across all the technologies at 28k.

Is 2000m waterproof good? ›

The minimum standard for a jacket to be waterproof is 1,500mm so a jacket with a waterproof rating of 2,000mm would be suitable for moderate rain.

Is 1000mm waterproof good? ›

<1000mm means it's water resistant, not waterproof, and fine for temporary use in light rain. 1000mm~1500mm is a good range for lightweight gear that's waterproof, and with good maintenance it can hold up for long-term use. 1500mm~5000mm is for use in moderate rain for an extended time and it will keep you dry.

Is 3000mm waterproof good for a coat? ›

3000mm – 5000mm waterproof jackets

They're suitable for casual use and short trips through the rain. Typically, these will be lightweight and packable jackets or light hoodies.

What is 15000 waterproof rating? ›

Fabric Waterproof Ratings
Waterproof Rating (mm)Water Resistance Provided
0-5,000 mmNo resistance to some resistance to moisture.
6,000-10,000 mmRainproof and waterproof under light pressure.
11,000-15,000 mmRainproof and waterproof except under high pressure.
16,000-20,000 mmRainproof and waterproof under high pressure.
1 more row

What does 10K waterproof jacket mean? ›

The rating refers to the jacket's level of fabric protection as well as important weather-proofing details like critical seam sealing. In general, the higher the number, the more protective the jacket's fabric. 5K–10K FABRIC WATERPROOF RATING. Suitable for extended time in rainy or snowy conditions.

What are the different types of waterproof jackets? ›

There are three main types of waterproof protection to consider; wax-coated (pretty rare for technical outdoor jackets these days), PU-coated, and membrane lined jackets. Give our Buyer's Guide to Waterproof Jackets a read to understand the differences between the three waterproof protections.

What are the disadvantages of Gore-Tex? ›

One drawback of GORE-TEX is that you need to keep it clean to keep it waterproof—and clean it properly. Over time, as perspiration from your body escapes out through the material, it can cause a buildup of surfactants (detergent-like chemicals) that reduces the effectiveness of the waterproofing.

Does Northface use Gore-Tex? ›

Items listed as waterproof by The North Face are used with the GORE-TEX® membrane that is completely impervious to rain, snow and sleet whilst allowing for the wearer to sweat from within.

Why is my Gore-Tex jacket not waterproof? ›

No, Gore-Tex is indeed completely waterproof by design, unless the membrane got physically damaged. The coating that wears off has the job to make sure the water doesn't soak into the face fabric but beads off.

How good is 20K waterproof? ›

20k waterproofing: A very high waterproof rating. 28k waterproofing: Goretex fabrics are the only ones to achieve this, the highest waterproof rating in skiwear. Higher waterproof ratings do exist but at the expense of breathability and so so they are not used for ski clothing.

What level of waterproof do I need? ›

A rating of up to 10K is enough to handle light to average rain for a short amount of time. Ratings between 10K and 15K can handle a moderate amount of rain for much longer, and jackets rated between 15K and 20K or higher are serious shells for heavy, intense rain over a prolonged period.

How good is 3000mm waterproof? ›

A rating of 3000mm means that a tent fabric could hold a column of water that is 3000mm tall. 3000mm of water exerts more pressure on the fabric than 2000mm of water. A more accurate description of Waterhead rating is the measure of water pressure equivalent to a column of water that is 3000mm tall.

What difference does Gore Tex make to a waterproof jacket? ›

The central differences between GORE-TEX and normal waterproofs is the former's fabric reliability, versatility and broad range of uses. Everyday generic waterproofs are usually made from PVC, polyurethane, rubber or vinyl materials.

Is 30K waterproof good? ›

This number is measured in millimeters (mm), and the higher the number, the more waterproof the membrane is. These numbers can range from zero up to as high as 30,000mm (30K), which is considered to be top-level waterproofing.

What does 20k waterproof mean? ›

Waterproof/Breathability Ratings

Higher numbers mean more water resistant fabric. A fabric rated 20k for waterproofness resists approximately 66 feet of liquid stacked up in that 1-inch square tube before any seepage begins.


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