What Do Waterproof Clothing Ratings Mean? - VELTUFF® DK

Choosing the best waterproof workwear for you is essential. This guide outlines waterproof ratings, important features such as breathability and technical terms to help you find the right jacket for your working environment and conditions.

Waterproof Ratings

How waterproof an item of clothing actually is will depend on its waterproof rating. The higher the waterproof rating, the longer the fabric will remain waterproof for.




 Up to 2,000mm

Water resistant

Very light rain



Light to average rain


Very Waterproof

Moderate to heavy rain

 10,000mm and above

Highly Waterproof

Heavy rain

Each garment will vary, as products are designed for different needs, but the vast majority of our waterproof workwear will sit in the 5,000mm-10,000mm section and so suitable for adverse weather conditions. These higher rated waterproof work jackets will also be breathable.

How Are Waterproof Products Tested?

The level of waterproofness is tested using a Hydrostatic Head test. In a Hydrostatic Head test, the fabric is pulled tight under a 1 inch diameter sealed tube of water. This is then observed over 24 hours to ascertain how many millimetres of water the fabric can withstand before it soaks through. The level at which water starts to come through the fabric is the hydrostatic head, which is measured in mm. To meet the British Standard the fabric must achieve a result of more than 1,500mm.

VELTUFF® EN343 Waterproof Jackets

What is EN343?

EN343 is a classification for protective clothing and so this is often used for workwear and commonly provided as an alternative rating for waterproof hi-vis clothing. The European Standard for protective (EN 343) clothing classifies garments that must provide a minimum level of protection against wet weather in addition to the fabric used. The level of waterproofness is measured using a hydrostatic pressure test. This involves applying a quantity of pressurised water to the garment. The water penetration rating indicates the pressure it can withstand.

How is EN343 Measured?

Garments are tested in two categories: 

(X) the ability to protect against precipitation, fog and humidity.

(Y) measures breathability in the conditions of (X)

Both (X) and (Y) are given ratings out of three classifications from the highest level of protection to lowest, as shown below:

(X) Water Penetration Resistance

  1. Minimum level of rain protection
  2. Intermediate rain protection
  3. The highest level of rain protection

(Y) Breathability

  1. Not classified as breathable under EN343
  2. Intermediate level of breathability
  3. The highest level of breathability

Water penetration is tested both before and after pre-treatment, which includes abrasion, flexing and washing. This makes the EN343 standard tougher to achieve than the standard waterproof testing for non-protective clothing.

How do I know the rating of my waterproof clothing?

The rating is shown on the CE label inside the garment. It will show the EN343 symbol and the two numbers from (X) and (Y) results. The example below displays the highest level of waterproofness and breathability.

VELTUFF® - EN343 Badge

How is breathability measured?

Breathability (Y) is tested in accordance with ISO 11092. A skin model is used to replicate human skin and measures water vapour resistance, which is initially expressed as a RET number (Resistance of Evaporation of a Textile). The lower the RET rating, the greater breathability, and, therefore, the higher the item will score overall under EN 343. Waterproof & breathable workwear is essential for many professions as it provides protection from external elements while keeping the worker comfortable and dry.

What about water resistant jackets?

The fabric used for water resistant jackets will be treated with a Durable Water Repellency coating (DWR), or a similar water repellent coating. You can tell a jacket has been treated with a water repellent coating as water will bead up on the surface of the fabric and run off. Water resistant jackets will be considerably cheaper, but they will usually be less durable and may need reproofing more regularly than other waterproof jackets.

What are Taped Seams?

A garment can be treated with a waterproof coating and have a waterproof membrane but not be fully waterproof. For a jacket to be 100% waterproof it will also need to have taped seams. Taped seams are heat sealed seams that stop water coming through the stitching. It is particularly important to choose a jacket with taped seams if you will be working in heavy, prolonged rain.

Workwear guide

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