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Sports Basement's Waterproofing Guide

Posted by Erendira Garcia on

We’re gearing up for the soon-to-arrive rainy weather here in the bay which means we're busy stocking (and testing) our waterproof gear. Though there are plenty of options to keep you dry, sometimes an umbrella is not one of them, especially on a two-wheeled commute. And you definitely, don’t want to be left in the rain when it becomes an unexpected guest on your camping trip.

Testing out waterproof gear is serious business.

There’s a huge variety of waterproof apparel and you don’t have to pay top dollar to stay dry. You just gotta know what to look for to find the protection you need. Read on to see a breakdown of the terms, types, and top picks of the waterproofing world.

The terms

The industry lingo for waterproofing is a bit tricky, especially when it comes to labeling. Water resistant, water repellent, and waterproof apparel can all handle different amounts and pressures of water. The terms water resistant and water repellent are often used interchangeably on apparel and can handle light rain showers. While waterproof apparel will keep you dry, the amount and pressure of water can still vary significantly between brands.

Put to the test

There aren’t specific standards or special boards that measure waterproof fabrics, so the ratings on most apparel will vary. Most fabrics are put to the water column test: a 1-inch diameter tube sits over a piece of fabric and is filled until the fabric starts leaking. The leaking point then becomes the waterproof rating. So if a piece of fabric can handle up to 10,000mm of water, then its waterproof rating becomes 10K. Most waterproof garments have a rating between 20 and 40K.

Layer up

Waterproof garments have 2, 2.5, or 3 layers to keep you dry:

2 Layers: These layers are made up of a fabric that’s bonded to a breathable waterproof fabric like a PU Laminate. 2 layer fabrics are the most breathable of the waterproof fabrics, so it’s perfect for getting a rainy run in.

2.5 Layers: These fabrics have the same 2 layers mentioned above, plus a waterproof spray or coating. These are great for travel since they’re lighter while still remaining durable (and dry!).

3 Layers: Apparel with 3 layers includes fabric that’s bonded to a breathable, waterproof layer that’s also backed by a protective scrim. This is the best option for when you need to stay desert dry in the wettest conditions.

DWR

 

NikWax Waterproofing Line

Durable water repellent is added to clothing and fabrics so that water beads up on the fabric and slides off rather than become absorbed. It’s coated on most outer facing fabrics of waterproof apparel. DWR can also be washed in or sprayed to garments if they start to lose the coating.

 

Seal the seams

If you look on the inside of some water repellent or waterproof jackets you’ll often see tape running along the seams. This is not the result of a lazy tailor, this is a heat sealed tape that keeps water from seeping in through the seams of a garment. Even if the fabric itself is very water-resistant, water can still get in through the holes made on the seams so the tape covers them up. Some garments’ seams are welded together so they’re more flexible and can handle harder water pressures.

High-tech

While most brands use a mix of all the aforementioned tech, many of them including Marmot, The North Face, and Patagonia have created their own super-cool, cutting-edge, waterproof fabrics. The North Face’s DryVent™ tech is fully waterproof, windproof, and breathable. Patagonia’s H2No® technology undergoes some of the most intense testing to make sure you stay dry no matter how hard it pours. Marmot created a 3 layer fabric technology, called NanoPro™, that’s made with tightly packed, microscopic pores to allow for more breathability. Many brands also use the ultra waterproof fabric, Gore-Tex®. Its 3 layer fabric has some of the best breathability and waterproofness on the market.

The North Face Venture Waterproof Jacket

Patagonia Torrentshell Waterproof Jacket

Marmot Precip Waterproof Jacket

 

Whatever type of water you need to be proofed from, we’ve got you covered. Head to your local Sports Basement to find the best waterproof jackets and apparel for your next water-ful adventure. We’ll be here to help find what you need...and conducting our own waterproof tests on our staffers.


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2 comments


  • Thanks for the explanation, David! We’re lucky our customers are so knowledgeable and willing to share their wisdom! If you’re looking for a high-performance jacket without the crunchy feel, check out Marmot’s Minimalist Jacket here: https://shop.sportsbasement.com/products/w-minimalist-jacket-2?variant=17312055237

    Erendira @ SB on

  • Your explanations of 2L, 2.5L, and 3L fabrics are either ambiguous or incorrect. Waterproof DWR “spray” is applied to all of them.

    2L fabric has two layers, the exterior fabric bonded directly to waterproof membrane, PLUS a liner to wick away sweat and protect the membrane. Liner adds a lot of weight and bulk.

    2.5L has same exterior + membrane, plus a printed coating on the INTERIOR. Purpose of the print is to the protect the membrane, not to improve waterproofness.

    3L has the exterior, membrane, plus an interior liner fabric bonded directly. Also DWR treated. Super crunchy feeling, but dramatically improves performance.

    2L is cheapest construction and least performance-oriented but probably most comfortable. 3L is most expensive, most durable, most breathable; much more packable than 2L because you take out the liner material; but super “crunchy” feeling. 2.5L is lightest and most packable, but probably least comfortable.

    I’d recommend 2L for most anyone, unless packability, compressibility, or high-abrasion activities are part of your priorities.

    David on

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