Understanding Waterproof Ratings for Winter Gear

Understanding Waterproof Ratings for Winter Gear

Love winter? Still, need to be warm in winter? If your answer is yes, then you need to understand what a waterproof rating is. To begin with, a waterproof ratings for winter gear is measured in millimeters and determines the amount of water pressure an article of clothing can hold.

The ratings are between 800mm-10,000+ mm. For the latter, clothes are capable of withstanding the same amount of water (800-10000mm) before leaking.

The Hydrostatic head method determines how waterproof your fabric is. It is now sensible to say that with a higher the waterproof rating, the clothes are capable of holding a higher amount of water pressure. This means that with a good choice of gear, you’ll have the higher waterproof rating and you can stay warm throughout the winter.

Winter gear needs to have a higher waterproof rating as that is how they protect us from the cold weather of winter. With this in mind, thick clothes with a lower waterproof rating are not recommended as they will leak in water easily.

Obviously a big part of the decision making process caomes down to where you are headed. For instance if you’re planning on trekking to Everest you’re going to need a very different selection of gear to if you’re skiing down Elbrus.

Water Proof Ratings – What do the figures say?

A given rating ensures that the water resistance provided still gives you a picture of what weather condition the apparel will be suitable to use.

fabric of a waterproof snow gear

0-5000mm Waterproof Rating

0-5000mm rating –This waterproof rating implies that clothes offers no resistance or little resistance to moisture. That said, the clothes are water resistant/snow proof. The suitable condition for use is for the times when there is only light rain, with no pressure but with dry snow. If you will purchase jackets or any other apparel that is necessary for your profession, you need to know that a 0-5000 rating is not recommended if you will spend the greater part of your day out in the element.

Winter gear with 5000mm ratings is perfect if you plan to use it as ski and snowboard apparel. However for newbies who will spend a lot of time in contact with snow, you may need winter gear with a higher waterproof rating. Not to mention that you will need waterproof pants.

6000mm-10000mm Water Proof rating

This rating makes it so your clothes will be rainproof /waterproof under light pressure. Apparel with this rating will be suitable for use in diverse weather conditions. You will not find yourself worrying about getting cold and wet if you are to stay out in seriously bad winter weather conditions. However, for extreme weather conditions, 6000mm-10000mm will not be a suitable fit. You will need gear with a higher rating.


Gear with 10,000+ rating is suitable for all weather conditions. They offer the needed resistance to moisture. Furthermore, they are waterproof and still perform well in light to high-pressure conditions. Conditions of heavy rains, average snow, and light pressure mean you should use apparel with the rating.

Learning more about winter gear waterproof ratings

Gear waterproof ratings go together with the breathability of the fabric. This is described in three parameters-millimeters (mm), PSI, and grams (g). The PSI water resistant rate lies between 3-5 PSI. This being said, the three parameters should not cause too much confusion as they all determine the quantity of water vapor that can penetrate through your apparel. In essence, the larger the number is, the more breathable and waterproof your gear is.

skier in action

Then, should I go for winter gear with breathability or one that is waterproof?

I recommend you to shop for waterproof and breathable jackets. Still, you need to understand that most clothes are designed to offer resistance to water or moisture penetration- especially during winter. However, as time goes by, your apparel will leak and therefore, it will cease to be waterproof/breathable.]

Waterproof ratings and winter gear- what to wear.

There is a lot of waterproof apparel that you can wear – jackets, coats, suits etc. Still, in winter there is no stable temperature pressure or humidity.

But winter gear speaks one language – they need you to be warm.

two guys wearing snow gearThus choosing winter gear means you will need you to go for the gear that has a rating of more than 10000+. This is however dependent on what you are doing out in the weather.

If you are skiing, snowboarding or participating in any winter biking, then apparel with 10000 or under rating will not suffice. You should go for one with a higher rating to complement your sport.

Also, you’ll want to understand that the winter gear is made of different materials, they are made out of different weight, and have other kinds of weaves and coating as well. This has the potential to affect the sport you participate in.

Waterproof ratings for winter jackets

How a waterproof jacket performs truly depends on the waterproof ratings. There are two kinds of waterproof jacket that you may use during winter – showerproof or fully waterproof. The difference between the two lies in the materials used in their manufacture. However, they will all guarantee you a warm winter.

woman wearing winter jacket on a mountain top

You can go for one, two or three waterproof jackets. But to be safe and sound during winter, you should shop for three-layer waterproof jackets. These are suitable for diverse weather conditions. The three-layer waterproof winter jackets are made out of a waterproof outer shell, an inner fleece-detachable, and a softshell jacket. This is what you’ll need for winter. The ratings of the jackets typically range from 20000mm+.

Waterproof ratings quantifying breathability

Waterproof resistance may quantify how breathable the jacket is. Waterproof rating of a maximum of 10K will be essential for individuals who are not very active. Winter jackets with breathability range of 10 -15K fit more active users. Winter jackets with a waterproof rating of above 15k will fit active users who spent a lot of time in wet cold weather.

Other factors to consider when choosing winter gear

Check on the waterproof rating prior to considering other factors. Winter jackets, winter pants, and other waterproof clothes are all available for us to wear during the winter. These clothes will have a different waterproof labels on them and you’ll valuable insight that will assist you in making the right choice.

Make sure to check the material used. Different apparel from different manufacturers may have the same waterproof rating but be made out of different materials. Don’t forget that the higher the quality of the material, the more waterproof your apparel will be. Apparel made from low-quality materials let in water faster.

snowboarder in action