Waterproof Expert

Waterproofing tips & tricks

How to read the waterproof rating in clothes

In a world where the weather can quickly become unpredictable, it’s crucial to have reliable protection from rain, snow, or sudden downpours.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a daily commuter, or simply searching for the right raincoat, understanding waterproof ratings in clothing is essential.

But what do those numbers and labels actually mean? How can you decode the jargon and make an informed decision about a garment’s level of protection? Let’s delve into the details and find out!

How to decode the waterproof ratings in clothes

The most commonly used waterproof rating system is based on the millimeter (mm) of water that a fabric can withstand before it starts to leak.

The higher the waterproof rating, the longer a fabric can remain waterproof. However, even with a similar 10,000mm rating, the thick sturdy fabric offers superior waterproofing capabilities compared to thin fabric.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to reading and interpreting the waterproof rating in clothes.

Look for the waterproof rating

Manufacturers usually include the waterproof rating on the clothing’s label or product description.

It is usually indicated as a number followed by mm (e.g., 5,000mm).

Understand the rating scale

The waterproof rating scale typically ranges from 0mm to 30,000mm or higher. Higher numbers indicate greater water resistance.

The most common ratings you’ll encounter are between 1,000mm and 20,000mm.

Assess the level of water resistance

Rating Moisture resistance Weather
0-999mm Non-water-resistant Light rain
Misty conditions
1,000-5,000mm Water-resistant Light to average rain of short duration
5,000mm-10,000mm Waterproof Moderate to heavy rain
10,000mm and above Highly waterproof Heavy rain

0mm – 999mm

Garments with a rating of 0mm to 999mm are not considered waterproof. They may offer some resistance to light rain or misty conditions but only for a few minutes.

1,000mm to 5,000mm

The 1,000mm to 5,000mm rating indicates your garments are water-resistant and can withstand light to moderate rain for a short duration. They are suitable for everyday use in mild weather conditions.

5,000mm to 10,000mm

Garments in the 5,000mm to 10,000mm range offer moderate waterproofing. They offer reliable protection against average rain showers and heavier downpours for extended periods.

They are ideal for outdoor activities like hiking or camping.

10,000mm to 20,000mm

Garments falling in the 10,000mm to 20,000mm range offer excellent waterproofing capabilities. They’re suitable for heavy rain, snow, or prolonged exposure to wet conditions.

They are popular among outdoor enthusiasts engaging in activities like mountaineering or skiing.

20,000mm and above

These garments provide superior waterproofing and are designed for extreme conditions, such as heavy snowfall or intense downpours.

They are commonly used by professional athletes or those who venture into the most challenging environments.

Is a 10,000 mm waterproof rating good?

A 10,000mm waterproof rating is generally considered to be good. It indicates a high level of water resistance. It can provide reliable protection against average to heavy rain showers and extended exposure to wet conditions.

Clothing with a 10,000mm rating is suitable for a wide range of outdoor activities including hiking, and camping.

Consider other factors

While the waterproof rating is essential, it’s not the sole factor determining a garment’s overall performance.

Factors like breathability, fabric quality, and design features are equally important.


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