Understanding Waterproof Ratings

Choosing a waterproof jacket

If you’re anything like us, you’re not going to let a little bit of rain stop you from hitting the trails when we’re finally allowed out of our houses. Read this blog to find out how to choose a waterproof jacket that meets your needs…

Waterproofing technology 101

It’s not actually very difficult or expensive to make a 100% waterproof jacket. But anyone who’s ever sweated buckets in an old-fashioned oilskin (or a black rubbish bag!) will know that this is only half of the challenge. Modern waterproof jackets use a high-tech membrane to stop rain from getting in while also allowing perspiration to escape. This is possible because a raindrop is thousands of times bigger than a sweat droplet – yummy!

Understanding the jargon

They might be Greek to you, but those numbers on the label do actually mean something…

  • Waterproof: This is a measurement in millimetres of how much water – stacked in a vertical column – the fabric can support. The higher the number the better. A high waterproof rating also offers fantastic wind protection.
  • Breathability: This measures how many grams of water vapour can pass through a square metre of the fabric in a 24-hour period. Once again, a higher rating is better.
  • Taped seams: Really high-end jackets also boast sealed seams and zippers, to ensure that there’s absolutely no way for water to get into your cocoon.

Two but never three

When weighing up the pros and cons of waterproof jackets, I find it helpful to think of triangle where the first side is the waterproof rating, the second side is the breathability rating, and the third is affordability. It’s always possible to get a jacket that excels on two fronts, but never three. So, if you’re going to be hiking long distances in bad weather you’ll need to spend a bit more on a jacket with excellent breathability and waterproof ratings. But if you’re just planning on sitting on a rock with your fishing rod you can probably skimp on breathability.

Choosing a jacket

Luckily Hi-Tec has waterproof jackets to suit every budget and application…

If you’ve got your heart set on some serious wet-weather hiking, you’ll need a Hi-Tec Men’s Apex 3-in-1 jacket or Lady Lizzy 3-in-1 jacket. With taped seams, a removable fleece inner and solid waterproof (3000mm) and breathability (3000g) ratings, what’s not to like?

The super stylish Hi-Tec Desna Rain Jacket, available in men’s and ladies’ styles in a range of colours, is fantastic for everyday wear. Its 2000mm waterproof rating will keep a drizzle at bay all day long, while its impressive 3000g breathability rating means you won’t have to take it off if the rain does ever stop.

The fetching and oh-so-affordable Hi-Tec Nimba Softshell jacket (available as both a jacket and a coat for women) offers fantastic comfort and a seriously impressive waterproof rating of 8000mm. Its 1000g breathability rating means it’s not cut out for extended periods of high exertion.

Enough with the science lesson already! Now you can put the theory into practice. Remember: there’s no such thing as bad weather; only inappropriate gear.

Written by: Nick Dall

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