This post was created byTriple F.A.T. Gans, an outerwear brand that Travel and Leisure magazine named as a top pick, saying:"This is the best goose down winter coat I've ever worn"when describing the Triple F.A.T. Coats made of goose feathers.
Do you know the difference between waterproof, water-repellent and water-repellent clothing? If you have some understanding but can't make a clear distinction between these terms, you're not alone.
If you were to take a survey, you would find that most people tend to confuse these topics.
This is surprising given how important water repellency is to most outerwear purchases.
We're here to clear things up.
In this article we talk about...
- The difference between the terms "waterproof", "water-repellent" and "waterproof".
- How fabrics are tested and rated for water resistance.
- Finally, how can you tell if a garment is truly waterproof?
As with all of our outerwear posts, if you have any questions, feel free to message us or reach out to us on LiveChat. One of our members will do their best to answer your questions on these or our topicsProducts.
First of all, what does "water resistant" mean?
Water repellency is a term used to describe the property of waterproof and waterproof products as it is permanent water repellency (DWR) is applied. When a product is labeled "water repellent" it means it is hydrophobic or repels water on contact. Water repellency is a characteristic of waterproof and water-repellent fabrics and measures how much water pressure a material can withstand before the amount of water starts to soak through.
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How do water droplets form on fabric?
Hydrophobic fabrics rely on something called surface angles to repel liquid. If a drop touches the fabric at an angle less than 90 degrees, some water will be absorbed by the fabric. When a drop hits at an angle greater than 90 degrees, less water is absorbed.
Put simply; Once a liquid hits the outer fabric surface, the angle of impact and the surface area it covers determines how well the water is repelled. Scientists have come up with a definitive list over the years to explain how some fabrics naturally repel water. By evaluating the results across four variables, fabrics are classified according to how water droplets form on their surface.
The list takes into account...
- The chemical compounds present in the substance.
- The roughness of the surface.
- The porous properties of the fabric.
- How substances like oil, sweat and dirt affect water repellency.
Water repellency test method for fabrics
When it comes to testing fabrics for water repellency, factors such as permeability (the property of a material or membrane that allows liquids to pass through) and penetration (the measure of how much surface area a liquid can cover) are involved becomes) play an important role in these experiments. In controlled laboratory environments, fabrics are tested in four classes to determine if they are inherently water repellent:
- Class A: The permeability is tested against water pressure.
- Class B: Penetration is tested in simulated storms.
- Class C: absorption values are measured.
- Class D: The fabric is tested with angled liquid contact.
When a fabric is able to effectively pass these four classes of testing methods, it can be considered viable for outerwear manufacturing companies.
How does a fabric become truly water-repellent?
Apart from synthetic alternatives, finished fabrics are not inherently water repellent. To make a fabric used in garment production water repellent, a DWR is applied to the outer shell or infused with the fibers of a garment. DWR is a specially formulated chemical that repels water once applied to a fabric's surface.
DWR doesn't last forever
Garments treated with DWR need to be coated with the compound from time to time to keep the water-repellent compounds fresh and refreshed. Things like dirt and oil attract water and can affect the rain resistance of the DWR finish. All it takes is a wash or spray reapplication, or sometimes both.
A quick spray is definitely the easiest way to rejuvenate your face fabric fibers. products likeNikwax TX Direct to Sprayare easy to use and offer excellent DWR reinforcement. All that needs to be done is spray the entire exterior of the garment and allow to dry before wearing/storing.
What is "water resistance"?
When a product is labeled as "waterproof", it is specifically designed to withstand contact with light water (rain/light rain and blowing snow) but not to withstand heavy water exposure. From a technical point of view, according to the Hydrostatic Head Test (abbreviated as HH), any water-repellent fabric must withstand a water pressure of approximately 1500 mm or more. The test is very simple. An open double cylinder is placed on a DWR treated fabric and gradually filled with water. Measurements (in millimeters) are recorded to see how much water exposure the fabric can withstand before permeation (or liquid penetration) occurs. Ratings vary, and the higher the number, the better the waterproof quality.
Familiarizing yourself with HH statistics is another useful tool to use when deciding what type of outerwear suits your needs best.
|HH Rating Scale (mm)||Best Use In weather conditions|
|1.500 mm bis 5.000 mm||Light to medium conditions: showers and light snow|
|5.000 mm bis 10.000 mm||Moderate conditions: continuous rain and snowfall|
|10.000 mm bis 40.000 mm+||Extreme conditions: heavy rain and snowstorms|
- They are treated with a DWR to repel light water on contact.
- Have an overall HH class between 1500 mm and 5000 mm water pressure resistance.
And waterproof fabrics...
- They are treated with a DWR to repel water on contact.
- Have an overall HH class of at least 10,000 mm + resistance to water pressure.
What really makes a garment “waterproof”?
A product labeled "waterproof" like thatTriple F.A.T. Valen male gooseor theTriple F.A.T. Chelsea women's glovesShell offers the highest quality protection from rain or water of any outerwear. When companies develop waterproof products, they target and improve water repellency to increase water repellency.
Think of it this way, waterproof clothing...
- Are treated with a DWR coating or laminate to ensure a high level of water repellency (10,000mm+).
- TerThe lawdesigned to increase potential water resistance.
- Tersealed/heated seamswhich help ensure better water resistance.
- Use waterproof zippers, which are more durable and can withstand harsh conditions.
- Cost more because of these innovative technical features.
Now that you know that 'water repellency' is a property and understand the key differences between water resistance and waterproofing in fabrics, you should feel a renewed confidence in purchasing the perfect product to meet your needs. Paying attention to label descriptions can help you decide if a product is suitable for the conditions you will be subjecting it to. Really know your product andhow to clean and store, because awareness of the product will help you prolong its use for years to come.
Learn more about Triple F.A.T. Goose, an outdoor clothing brand with a 35-year history, has been featured in Outside, Esquire, Vogue, Elle, Men's Journal, Cosmopolitan, Robb Report and others. Triple F.A.T. Goose offers a collection of puffers, waterproof jackets and parkas for men, women, men and women.buy collection.