Knowing the difference between the varying levels of rainwear namely “waterproof”, “water-repellent” and “water-resistant” will be key when scouting for your ultimate winter jacket. For many, the words may have the same definition, however they all indicate varying levels of water protection and coverage.
Understanding each term will assist you when sourcing First Ascent rainwear garments this winter, always ensure that you know the definition of each to make sure that you are fully protected for any adventure or outdoor pursuit.
WATERPROOF – HIGHEST LEVEL OF PROTECTION
Garments marked with a waterproof tag will provide you with the highest level of water protection. All waterproof garments have an outer shell which is impervious to water, ensuring that water does not penetrate through the jackets surface, to provide you with optimum protection against rain and wind conditions.
Membrane vs Coating
All waterproof jackets come in two different types of membranes, 3-layer or 2 layer or a PU coating. Each jacket is designed and constructed to provide different levels of versality, varying levels of 'waterproofness' and breathability. When looking for a waterproof jacket, you will want to look out for a 3 or 2 layer fabric membrane, which gives the jacket increased durability and a higher level of 'waterproofness'. Coated fabrics provide increased water protection and a more lightweight garment, however they lack in breathability in comparision to laminated membranes.
Seam-sealed refers to the covering of the tiny holes made in the garment during the sewing process, such as by the zip, hem etc. Fully-tape sealed garments are sealed at these points by a fabric or tape overlay, to prevent water leakage into the jacket. Without proper seam-sealing, water will penetrate the surface of the garment even if a waterproof outer fabric is used.
The Discovery and Hurricane Jacket features a waterproof and breathable fabric which has a coating adhered to the Vapourtex outer. This lightweight and waterproof fabric is great for expedition outerwear. Apparel shelled with Vapourtex have a minimum spec of 3000mm of waterproofness, 3000g/m2/24hrs breathability.
WATER-REPELLENT – MID LEVEL PROTECTION
Water-repellent jackets are designed using special techniques, materials and fabrics which assist in repelling water away from the jackets surface. Jackets which are marked as water-repellent have a waterproof membrane, combined with a Durable Water Repellenant (DWR) coating, however these jackets are not tape sealed. These garments are hydrophobic meaning that they are able to bead water off the jackets surface, keeping the inner dry during light moisture or rain conditions. These technologies do not provide full waterproof coverage but assists with increasing the water-resistance of the jacket.
What is DWR?
Durable Water Repellent (DWR) is a coating which is adhered to almost all First Ascent outerwear garments and assists with stopping the garment from becoming saturated by moisture or water by beading water off the jackets surface. The coating has a lifespan and is affected by increased use, abrasions and dirt, and will wear off over time. Nikswax Spray can be purchased and used to treat jackets with a DWR coating.
Designed with an athletic cut, a 3-layer 1000/3000 WP/BR XT-1 membrane for increased water shedding and articulated arms for ease of movement - the Oracle Jacket will keep you warm and protected during overcast winter days.
WATER-RESISTANCE – LOWEST LEVEL OF PROTECTION
In theory if the garments label reads ‘water-resistant’ it has been designed to have resistance against small amounts of water. These outerwear products are typically coated with a light coating of DWR which gives the garment a protective layer and assists in increasing the endurance of the jacket when exposed to moisture or light drizzle conditions. Water-resistant jackets are generally lightweight and breathable.
Take on winter adventures in the ultra warm, lightweight Transit Down Jacket that’s insulated with a 650 down-fill and features a DWR coated outer, aiding with water repellency.
Escape from the chill with our Ladies Compass jacket. Made of Microtex fabric featuring a DWR coating and filled with Thermo-Shield insulation, its generous hood and wind-block zip baffle will ensure that you are kept warm and toasty!
Now that we have the above terms clarified, selecting your rainwear this winter should be an easy task. Always check the label for a full features list, to ensure that you have full confidence that the product you are purchasing will perform at its optimum when exposed to the activity for which it was purchased for.