What’s the difference between waterproof and water-resistant?


If you’ve ever bought clothes and equipment for camping, you’ve properly seen the properties waterproof and water-resistant mentioned before. At the time, you may have assumed that the two things were actually the same, but it turns out that’s not true. These two qualities are pretty different, and it’s important to be able to distinguish between them for future purchases. After all, you want to make sure that what you’re buying is actually the thing that you want.

There are limits

If you’re looking for something that can withstand a lot of water, you don’t want to see the word resistant. While items with this quality can handle being exposed to water, there’s a limit on how much they can take. Yes, if you got caught in a downpour, you probably wouldn’t have to worry too much. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to go jumping into any rivers or lakes wearing water-resistant material. That’s why a lot of watches nowadays are labeled as being water-resistant. They’re effective enough that they can function after getting wet, but they still have their limits.

What is water-resistant?

So what makes something water-resistant and not waterproof? Well, anything boasting this quality is typically capable of preventing infiltration by water, but only to an extent. So, the material will probably be coated with a light substance that repels a certain amount of water from penetrating it. Coats and other clothing that are labeled as water-resistant wouldn’t be ideal on a trip to the rainforest, but they could hold their own in a light shower. Depending on what your needs are will influence whether you should go water-resistant or waterproof. If you plan on being around a lot of water, you’ll want to opt for the latter.

How does waterproofing work

While resistant materials merely hold off a certain amount of water, waterproof items are capable of keeping it out completely. They’re able to do this because the fabric contains a membrane lining which allows for breathability while keeping out water. It does this through the tiny holes set into the design of the material. They’re big enough to let air through but small enough to prevent water from passing through it. As a result, you stay dry without having to worry about overheating – two birds with one stone.

The risk of waterproof

There have been instances in the past where companies have been hesitant to label their waterproof products as such because they’re afraid of what might happen if something goes wrong. Calling something waterproof suggests that it will never let in water, no matter what the circumstances are. It’s such a concrete thing that companies worry they’ll come under fire if one of their products isn’t actually waterproof as advertised. Using this label can be a significant risk, but sometimes, it’s one worth taking. After all, people are more likely to buy something that’s waterproof over one that’s just water-resistant.

Depending on what you’re looking for will affect which of these qualities will suit you better. However, in most instances, something that’s waterproof will benefit you far more than something that’s water-resistant.