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The Complete Guide to Waterproof Ratings of Snow Jackets

Waterproofing 101 – Australia and Beyond

What are all the different kinds of waterproofing and what do they do?

There are quite a few different kinds of waterproofing materials on the market. They all work slightly differently to try and achieve the same aim – keeping you nice and dry against the elements! This includes product names such as Gore-Tex, Nikwax, Hipora etc. All outerwear at Auski will have at least ONE of these elements, most with a combination of two:

DWR, Laminates and Membranes

DWR Coating– DWR (Durable Water Repellent) is a hydrophobic polymer that is applied by either soaking or spraying on to the outermost layer of clothing to effectively bead water off the garment. It’s the first stop in making sure the outer-layer fabric doesn’t become water logged, cold and heavy. Degrades easily with wear and tear, however can be reapplied when necessary.

Laminates –Usually a Polyurethane Laminate that is either stitched or heat fused onto the inside of the outer-most layer of fabric. A more durable waterproofing material and cost effective, however the biggest downside to Laminates is that they are relatively slow and expelling moisture, so can feel quite clammy when you are working hard on the slopes.

Membrane – The piste de resistance of waterproofing. When you picture high-end, premium and exceptionally functional outerwear, you picture a waterproof membrane. This kind of fusion allows for the most waterproof and breathable products, keeping you exceptionally dry even in the harshest of conditions.

Waterproof Ratings and Guides

Waterproofing guides are just that – a guide; they’re all relative and depending on where you’re riding, the product might be waterproof in the American Rockies, but not in the Victorian Alps. To try and help, we’ve broken the ratings down into four key groups:

800 - 5,000k – Rain repellent. Will probably be okay for those perfect blue bird days, but in a down-pour, moisture will soak through within a few minutes. Can be found in technical mid-layers.

5,000 – 10,000k - Rain resistant. Will resist more than just contact moisture, but will eventually get wet, especially in a downpour or if sitting on snow for more than an hour.

10,000 – 20,000kRecommended Australian Minimum. This is where the waterproofing really starts to get serious. Will withstand a few hours of heavy rain and wet snow, however if subjected to moisture pressure (ie. Sitting down on snow or heavy crashes), it will eventually soak through.

20,000k + – The Best Stuff.Torrential downpour? Once in a century blizzard? You’re as good as can be with this rating. Even if your snow buddy pours a bottle of water on you – you’re not getting wet any time soon with this on.

Seam Taping/Sealing

Waterproofing is useless if your seams allow water to leak through. That’s why most jackets will have some kind of seam taping, whether it’s Critically or Fully Taped. There are a few different ways that manufacturers tape seams, which can also include welded/fused seams, but what you should really look for is how much of the jacket is actually taped.

Critically Taped/Sealing -This method of taping only covers the seams which are exposed to the elements the most. This usually includes shoulders and hoods, and is mainly used in ski and snowboard jackets where the waterproofing is not the top priority or where it is not completely necessary. It’s also a lot cheaper and more cost effective than Fully Seam Sealing outerwear.

Fully Taped/Sealing – This method of sealing seams means that every last stitch of every single seam within the garment has been taped or fused to keep out moisture from leaking through. Standard practice for high-end products where protection against the elements is paramount.

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