Difference between Waterproof and Water-resistant jackets
By Theydiffer - June 3, 2015

When purchasing a jacket, one will often come across the terms waterproof and water-resistant. While both jackets have similar qualities, there is a distinct difference between them. This article will help explain that difference.

Definitions

A water-resistant jacket is a jacket that has no waterproof membrane, but is treated with a water-repellent material such as DWR (Durable Water Repellent). Water will not seep into the jacket’s exterior when the jacket is treated with a water-repellent material, and water will instead remain a droplet, such as in the above picture.

The British Standard qualifies a water-resistant jacket as a jacket with a resistance rating of 0-1,500mm. A water-resistant jacket will keep out some moisture, but will get wet in heavier downpour or if it is submerged in liquid.

Comparison chart

Waterproof jacketWater-resistant jacket
Waterproof membrane woven into the jacket itself, often with a water-repellent treatment on the exterior.No waterproof membrane, but treated with a water-repellent material on the exterior.
Waterproof standard rating of 5,000-20,000mmWaterproof standard rating of 0-1,500mm.
More expensive than water-resistant jackets.Cheaper than waterproof jackets.
More effective at keeping out water.Less effective at keeping out water.

Waterproof vs Water-resistant jackets

What are the differences between waterproof and water resistant jackets? The main differences are:

  • Whether or not there are waterproof membranes
  • Waterproofing standard ratings
  • Cost of jacket

A waterproof jacket will have a waterproof membrane such as Gore-Tex woven into the jacket itself. This membrane will keep out all water and prevent it from contacting the wearer’s body. A water-resistant jacket, on the other hand, does not have a waterproof membrane, but is treated with water-repellent material, such as DWR (Durable Water Repellent). While water-resistant jackets do not have waterproof membranes, waterproof jackets will often also be sprayed with water-repellent material.

Many outerwear manufacturers test their jackets for waterproofing. There are a few standards by which jackets are tested. One well-known standard is the British Standard of waterproofing. Water-resistant jackets will have a rating of 0-1,500mm, and waterproof jackets will have a rating of 1,500-20,000mm. Most waterproof jackets fall within the range of 1,500-5,000mm.

Waterproof jackets are generally more expensive than water-resistant jackets, additionally. A waterproof jacket will have a waterproof membrane which increases the cost, whereas a water-resistant jacket utilizes a water-repellent treatment on the exterior of the jacket, which is cheaper.

Overall, a waterproof jacket will be more expensive but more effective in keeping out water, whereas a water-resistant jacket will be cheaper but less effective in keeping out water.