Our Guide to Waterproof Ratings

Our Guide to Waterproof Ratings

Have you ever been caught in the rain wearing what you thought was a waterproof jacket, to only be let down? It turns out that to guarantee staying dry in wet conditions, it all comes down to the waterproof rating.

But, what is a waterproof rating and how is it measured?

Whether you’re an avid hiker, snow shredder or just someone who wants to stay dry in the rain, read on to learn all things waterproofing so you can stay out there longer.

What do waterproof ratings mean?

Simply, a waterproof rating tells you how much water a material can handle before it starts to leak, which is also the point where you start to feel wet. Measured in millimetres (mm), the higher the rating the better the protection. 

To make it even easier, here’s a quick example. Let’s say you have a waterproof jacket rating of 10,000mm (sometimes it’s written 10K), like our popular Stash Jacket. Essentially, it can handle the pressure of 10,000mm of water before it begins to seep through. 


How do you measure waterproof ratings?

So now the question remains, how are waterproof ratings measured? The test to determine your gear’s rating is something called a hydrostatic head test

Basically, a small piece of fabric is put under a column of water that gets added to. The water height in the column increases until the point that water begins to soak through the fabric. From that point, a measurement in millimetres is taken which ends up being the rating you see on a clothing’s swing tag.

Commit this to memory and you’ll be impressing your outdoorsy friends in no time.


What is a good waterproof rating?

When you’re deciding what a good waterproof rating is, it’s always a smart idea to determine what your gear is being used for and how much protection you’ll need from rain or snow.

As we said before, the higher the rating, the better protection. Unfortunately, this also comes at a higher cost, which means a bigger dent in your wallet. 

For everyday hikers and campers, a rating of 5,000 to 10,000mm usually hits the spot. This rating can handle rain but it won’t be happy in heavy or prolonged downpours. If you think you need more protection, opt up to 15K, like what you’d find in our Tarkine Rain Jacket.

Heading to the snow? It’s generally best to start at a minimum of 10K waterproofing and work your way up from there. If you spend a lot of time in the snow or head out into the backcountry, 20,000mm is a solid choice and offers some of the best protection you’ll find. This is especially true if the snow turns to sleet, or even worse, rain. 

This level of waterproofing is normally found in top-level snow jackets and pants. Like our premium women’s and men’s Palladium Snow Jacket.


Learn more with our other snow guides

To sum it up, a good waterproof rating is one that suits what you’re doing, how often you’re doing it and how much protection you need to stay out there longer. 

Soak up (pun intended) even more knowledge with our guides on Skiing: All You Need To Know and What to Wear on Your First Snow Trip.

See you out there and don’t forget to do good, be free, (and most importantly) have fun!