Waterproof Levels of Outerwear

When heading to the mountain you should be prepared for unpredictable weather. Ensuring that you are organised right from the beginning is the best way to do this – and it all starts at your clothing.

The Details

For a jacket to be considered legally waterproof it must have a minimum rating of 1,500 mm. This number is how you are able to tell what a jacket’s waterproof rating is. The rating is determined by the fabric manufacturer or producer or in the case of specialty fabrics, tested at an in-house lab. It involves placing a square tube over the fabric and testing how high the water in the tube will suspend over it for, until it leaks into the fabric.

The measurement of water is in millimetres, which is how the waterproof rating is determined. The higher the number, the more waterproof the jacket. A 5k or 5,000 mm rating tells us that the fabric can withstand 5,000 mm of water before it starts to leak through and makes you want to head for the hot chips at the café.

Depending on what your budget is, most outerwear will be able to keep you warm and dry. Amber Doyle from Marmot NZ recommends looking for clothing that is at least 10,000mm or above as an average person exerts an equivalent of 8,000mm of pressure just from sitting down.

If you notice that it is a particularly wet day and your jacket has a lower waterproof rating, make sure you come inside for more breaks and dry off. A 20k jacket is on the higher end of the scale and will ensure that no matter what the weather is you will be kept warm and dry. The trick to well rated jackets is that they keep the water on the outside while releasing the moisture you make from the inside.

A waterproofing tip from Amber is that it needs to be clean to work. Just like our skin, if it is not clean the pores will get clogged which means you will be getting wet from the outside as well as from within. A Tech Wash is handy for keeping your outerwear clothing clean as the enzymes from normal washing powder eat away at the waterproof coating.

Distinguished brands such as GORE-TEX are highly rated for their products as their fabric is specifically tested for waterproofness and breathability.

Go Shopping!

Check out your local snow sports store for some of this season’s latest and greatest waterproof jackets and pants. Look for outerwear that has its waterproofing laminated on rather than coated. A laminated version can take more of a beating from the cold and frosty conditions.

Great outerwear is essential for when you are going to the mountain, and with the huge range on offer you are sure to find one that suits you. If crazy colours and patterns or mod neutrals and pastels are your thing, there will be a jacket that perfectly matches your taste.  Not only this, but because of the whiz kids in the lab, you can look chic up high while still staying dry.