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What is the difference between waterproof and water-resistant protective clothing?

What is the difference between waterproof and water-resistant protective clothing?

Waterproof, showerproof, water- resistant, water-repellent – when it comes to choosing protective clothing that will cope with wet and windy weather, it can all seem a bit of a minefield. Different outerwear offers different levels of protection for workers exposed to the elements, so knowing your waterproof from your water-resistant can make a huge difference to both their comfort and their ability to function in their jobs.

Here’s a handy guide to the difference between the levels of protection offered by wet weather protective clothing.

The definition of waterproof

If an item of clothing is marked as waterproof, it means it has a special waterproof coating on the outer fabric and fully taped seams. These features makes it suitable for heavy rain and will keep the wearer as dry as possible. Elastic wind cuffs and thumb holes are also good features to look out for, such as those on the Lyngsoe Super Rainwear Jacket, a waterproof and windproof jacket suitable for the wettest conditions. Paired this with the Lyngsoe Super Rainwear Trousers and you’ll be good to go.

Waterproof jackets also have a hydrostatic rating, ranging from 1,500 (light rain) up to 10,000 (heavier rain), so you can choose the protection level required.

The heavy-duty nature of waterproof fabrics suggests that they’ll be hot and uncomfortable, but built-in membranes made from modern, breathable fabrics allow air to circulate through tiny holes that are too small for water to permeate, keeping the wearer both cool and dry.

The difference between waterproof and water-resistant

Quite simply, water-resistant clothing offers less protection against wet weather. While a water-resistant jacket will have a water-repellent coating, preventing water absorption, it will not have the heavy-duty features, such as taped seams, that a waterproof jacket does. While water-resistant clothing will repel water, causing it to run off the surface, it is mostly suitable for light showers, hence the term showerproof.

In most cases where workers need protection against wet weather, water-resistant or showerproof options won’t be up to the job. While they may be the cheaper option, they are not really suitable for staff working long hours outdoors. However, for a quick dash outside in rainy conditions, a showerproof or water-resistant jacket might be all that’s needed.

Minimum levels of protection

To be certain of waterproof clothing that will perform in heavy rain, look out for the EN343 standard, which ensures minimum protection levels.

EN343 Resistance to water penetration is divided into three sub-levels:

  • Class 3 affords the highest level of foul weather protection
  • Class 2 provides an intermediate foul weather protection
  • Class 1 provides the lowest level of foul weather protection

EN343 Breathability is divided into three sub-levels:

  • Class 3 affords the highest level of breathability
  • Class 2 provides an intermediate level of breathability
  • Class 1 is not classified as breathable under the standard

Contego Safety Solutions stocks a wide range of corporate workwear, protective clothing and PPE, including our WEARMASTER® range. We also provide a bespoke uniform design and manufacturing service to ensure that you get precisely what you are looking for in a company uniform.

The friendly and expert team at Contego Safety Solutions is always on hand to give advice and guidance on the right PPE and protective clothing for your needs. Contact us now on 0800 122 3323 or to discuss your requirements.