What waterproofing / breathability rating do I need?
You’re on your ski holiday and you want to stay dry when the snow falls (or you fall in the snow) and not be soaked through with sweat from your exertions by lunchtime. To achieve these simple goals you’ll need ski clothing (jacket and pants) with a good waterproof and breathability rating. Let us explain…
WATERPROOF OR WATERLOGGED?
What is waterproofing and how to measure it?
Good waterproof clothing has at least 2 layers. The first layer is a repellent coating that makes water and snow slide off the surface preventing the fabric absorbing the moisture. The second is a very clever integrated membrane (like a microporous film) that resists water from getting through from the outside whilst allowing sweat to evaporate out. Together these layers form a waterproof barrier to protect you whilst you are skiing. But beware, the waterproofing rating varies enormously between ski outfits.
Fabric waterproofing is tested using the Schmerber test and is measured in mm. This test involves putting a column of water under pressure onto the fabric and measuring the height of water in the column that it takes to penetrate the material. The higher the column of water, the more waterproof the garment is. So, if the column of water measures 10,000mm before the water penetrates the material, it has a rating of 10k waterproofing. A jacket with a 20k waterproofing rating is therefore more waterproof than one with a 10k rating.
RATINGS TO AVOID FOR SKIING IF POSSIBLE
- Lower than 5k: Not waterproof enough for skiing to remain a pleasurable experience during a snow shower.
- 5-8k waterproofing: Again, not really fit for purpose for skiing as they won’t keep you dry and comfortable in case of bad weather.
- 8-10k waterproofing: Waterproofing ok for occasional and fair weather skiing.
FOR OCCASIONAL SKIERS AND ON-PISTE SKIERS
- 10k waterproofing: A decent rating and the minimum you would want to wear for several hours on the slopes each day. Ski clothing with this rating will keep you dry for a good 2-3 hours in the event of snow.
- 15k waterproofing: A good waterproof rating, resistant to most snowy weather and guaranteed to keep you dry all day.
FOR THE BEST COMFORT
- 20k waterproofing: A very high waterproof rating keeping you comfortable in snowy conditions.
- 28k waterproofing: Goretex fabrics are the only ones to achieve this, the highest waterproof rating in skiwear. Higher waterproof ratings do exist but at the expense of breathability and so so they are not used for ski clothing.
[bctt tweet=”Do you know what a difference it makes to wear ski clothing with good waterproofing and breathability ratings?”]
WHAT ABOUT BREATHABILITY?
It’s not just your lungs that need fresh air. Your skin also needs to breathe through your ski clothing. If your ski clothes aren’t breathable you will sweat, become damp, cold and uncomfortable.
The breathability of a fabric relates to its ability to let sweat (in the form of water vapour) escape. It is measured according to the amount of water vapour let out per metre squared of fabric over a 24 hour period. It is written on the label of your ski clothing in mm like the waterproof rating and is almost always shown immediately after. For example, a jacket with a label showing 10,000 / 10,000 has a waterproof rating of 10k and a breathability rating of 10k. A rating of 15k is great whilst 5k is not so breathable. The best combination is both highly waterproof and highly breathable for ultimate comfort on the slopes.
GOODBYE TO HAND-ME-DOWNS & BUDGET SKIWEAR
We know that buying a decent ski outfit can cost a fortune which is why help is at hand in the form of the Oxygene ski clothing rental service. They have selected ski clothing from 4 top brands all using the latest fabric technology as well as the most recent colours and styles.