As Paddy Pallin would say, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”
Many moons ago, Gore-Tex was the only reliable option for 100% waterproof coverage. Nowadays, there are many new waterproof fabrics and designs to cater to every kind of outdoor pursuit.
Waterproofing a jacket is easy; any piece of plastic will keep the rain out. However, what makes a good quality waterproof jacket is its ability to keep you from feeling like you have slipped in a non-breathable oven bake bag.
Instead, quality waterproof fabrics will let your sweat transport outward in the form of water vapour rather than condensing on the inside of the hard-shell and making you wet, cold and let’s face it, probably a little grumpy.
Gore-Tex achieved this by using a waterproof membrane, something like a super fine net with holes too small for water to penetrate, but large enough for vapours to escape through.
Ultimately, every hard-shell will let water through; the question is how long you can stay in the rain before it surrenders. The best jackets are equipped with state of the art technology designed to keep you dry in even the longest downpours, while some will only last an hour. So depending on whether you’re trekking the Great Wall, hiking the Sumatran jungle or cycling through Southeast Asia, you’ll want to know what type of waterproof gear best suits your adventure needs.
The Importance of Waterproof Ratings
Waterproof ratings are measured in millimetres, e.g. 10,000mm. This is the amount of water that was used when testing the fabric.
Testing is usually performed using a cylinder with a 1 inch diameter that is fixed to a piece of fabric. The cylinder is filled and left to stand for 24 hours. If the membrane remains dry, more water is added until seepage appears. The height of the last level of water that the fabric could fend off is the resulting waterproof rating measurement.
While it is hard to convert the average downpour in Vietnam to millimetres, simply put, the higher the number, the better.
If you’re planning on staying around town (where there is ample shelter should you need it) a 2,000+ mm rating should suffice. However, if you’re taking on an Inspired Adventure this year, you will almost definitely require minimum 10,000–20,000+ mm.
How to Care For Your Waterproof Gear
Just like your other equipment, your waterproof gear needs to be looked after. Thankfully it’s as easy as washing your garments with a special detergent.
Most waterproof clothing is treated with a Durable Water Repellent coating (DWR) that sits on the face of the fabric. If you notice that water does not bead off your garment anymore, this doesn’t mean it has lost its waterproof function. Simply give your gear a waterproofing treatment (we recommend Nikwax TX Direct Waterproofing Spray or Wash-in Water Repellent from Paddy Pallin).
So What Have We Learned?
Well for starters, we know that waterproof gear is paramount to the success of an adventure. As the old adage goes, “When it rains, it pours”. Being caught in the rain may have been charming for Gene Kelly; but trust me when you’re caught in a downpour on the side of Mount Kilimanjaro you won’t be singing. Get the right gear and keep it in good condition and you’ll have one amazing adventure after another.
Our Top Picks For Quality Waterproof Jackets
Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket
Made by our fellow B Corp pals, Patagonia, this jacket is not only aesthetically appealing, it will keep you dry through any kind of wet weather.
Patagonia Pluma Gore-Tex Jacket
Rain, hail or shine, this jacket has your back. Combining durable waterproof/breathable performance in a lightweight 3-layer GORE-TEX® PRO shell fabric, it also features GORE® Micro Grid Backer Technology.
Marmont Minimalist Gore-Tex Jacket
Sleek and minimal, this jacket boasts a lightweight shell that’s durable, waterproof and windproof, guaranteeing reliability in even the grimmest of conditions.
Sherpa Stay Dry Hiker Rain Pants
We mustn’t forget about the bottom half of our bodies. These pants are lightweight, affordable and made from a PU coated Polyester. They are rated at 5000mm for waterproofness.
Check out the upcoming adventures on our calendar!