What Does Waterproof Actually Mean?
There seems to be some uncertainty regarding clothing which professes to be waterproof, water resistant and breathable in some consumers eyes at least.
When any clothing is said to be waterproof, water resistant or breathable this is true to a point and that point is where most people take exception and feel there is a misleading quality to the garment.
If we look at the waterproof element first, different clothing brands have their own way to measure this but on the whole there is a quantifiable industry standard to measure this property. Brands such as Regatta, Helly Hansen and other workwear companies use a process using a Hydrostatic head. A hydrostatic head is very simply a column of water measured in millimetres which is held over a stretched piece of fabric. The head of water is then timed to see how long and how much water the fabric can take before there is penetration. The truly advanced waterproof fabrics used can take upwards of 20,000mm of water before any penetration is detected. Even when you see clothing with the 20,000mm label such as Isotex from Regatta there are some caveats attached which hopefully clear up the perception in the consumers eyes what these figures actually mean in real world applications.
Any garment whether it’s a jacket, pair of trousers or even workwear clothing is only as waterproof as the weakest part of the products construction if you take jackets for example there will be the zipper, which while every precaution will have been taken to make it as resilient to water penetration as possible, still has the inherent problem that it opens and exposes the inside of the jacket. Pockets and some seams have the same effect so there has to a point where design necessity does affect the waterproof integrity. However these weak areas will offer little or no disruption to the performance of the clothing it is usually down to mismanagement or incorrect clothing being used for a specific task.
That being said we should really look at the real world applications of these waterproof products to make sure we clear up the misconceptions and concerns. Taking the Regatta Isotex fabric as the example and the Regatta 3 in 1 Generator and Evader 3 in 1 Waterproof jacket as real world products you can buy with the label “waterproof”.
I have personally worn both jackets in differing conditions, both in the ever changing British weather and I can say without doubt that if you are looking for wet weather protection you won’t find much better performance or value for money than these two Regatta jackets. I have used the Evader more as I personally own the black version and have worn it out in some pretty serious wet and cold conditions and found it to work extremely well with no water penetration with or without the fleece combination. In fact I would say that you would have to expose yourself to near hurricane weather conditions for hours before any water penetrated the fabric you could stand in the shower and not feel the water you would just feel like an idiot but hey this is science and you’re proving a point right?!
Buy great waterproof & breathable workwear clothing online through Regatta
The main issue with waterproofing in clothing tends to be moisture which is generated internally which can often be mistakenly identified as leaks or poor design, this is a question of breathability not the integrity of the fabric on the outer. We recently had a protracted conversation with a “customer” who had bought a Pace jacket from a car boot sale and was unhappy at the waterproof performance of the jacket, in short the individual was trying to say the jacket leaked. After extensive emails back and forth we arrived at the conclusion that it was actually sweat moisture that was collecting inside the garment as he was using the jacket for outdoor pursuits (hiking and walking).
The Pace jacket is indeed waterproof but not breathable so the moisture generated inside could not dissipate through vapour release and wicking fabrics. I also believe judging by this individual’s inflection he would expect a breathable jacket to keep him bone dry and that is clearly never going to be the case.
Bulk Discount on all Waterproof workwear clothing and Uniforms through Regatta
Breathable jackets will allow moisture to be wicked away from the body and allow the vapour to escape over time but it will not keep you dry especially if you are active. The principle behind breathability is to keep you less wet that a product which is not breathable it will reduce the moisture created by allowing skin to perspire and cool through evaporation keeping the wearer comfortable. In the case of the Evader if you were active at work and then rested on your lunch break the properties of the Isotex fabric will wick away the sweat and allow it to evaporate leaving you dryer than when you finished your task. These properties are very well received and highly sought after by both clothing brands and consumers.
The question of breathability is directly related to waterproofing and water resistance, you see a fleece is very breathable it allows moisture the wearer generates to be wicked away into the fleece fabric where it is slowly dissipated. You would however be a fool to wear a fleece in the rain for obvious reasons as the material is hydrophilic (Water loving). The need for breathability will follow the hydro performance of the jacket as a close requirement because the need to stay dry is paramount. The moisture generated inside the jacket or clothing then needs to have a system of fabrics which allow it to be drawn away from the wearer quickly in order to reduce heat loss and maintain comfort levels when the wearer is less active.
The main issue with breathability raises when the consumer believes the jacket to be a breathable one but is however not, which sounds like sharp practice and it could actually be that. Some brands do like to fly close to the bone and insinuate that their clothing is actually breathable when in fact it is not when applied practically. This is not illegal or even unlawful as there are different levels of breathability which is measured is grams of water vapour dissipated per square metre of fabric in a 24hr period (g/m2/d). The seriously premium clothing products have upwards of 20,000 (g/m2/d) these products are the ones you see used in sailing, mountaineering and endurance sports.
Waterproof Workwear clothing should be breathable to achieve high performance
Regatta has some truly extraordinary workwear clothing which has excellent breathability these products can be found in the X-Pro range and some selected Hardwear jackets.
In the real world application of breathability the average user will be able to tell the difference in their clothing straight away whether it is actually breathable or just stated that it is. There are products out there which have a very low water vapour release but is still classed as breathable these are the ones to try to avoid, the prices should be an instant giveaway. If you see a jacket for example which professes to be waterproof and breathable for less than £20.00 how good could it actually be? The short and simple answer is not very.
Waterproof Workwear clothing should be breathable in order to achieve high performance in optimal working conditions.
You do get what you pay for in terms of waterproofing and breathability however that does not mean you have to go buy that £150.00 jacket and certainly not for work. You just need a little heads up, a few simple questions and simple reasoning to determine whether the clothing is what it says it is. One other telling mark to look out for is the brand, the brands equity is derived from a reputation of providing a service or performance and some brands like Helly Hansen, Berghaus, Praybourne and of course Regatta epitomise this.
Your search if needed should be backed up with a phone call or email to glean more information allowing you to disseminate and evaluate as much relevant content before you buy.
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