A Complete Guide for Understanding Water Penetration and Protection

A Complete Guide for Understanding Water Penetration and Protection

Feb 22, 2023, 00:00:00

Water-repellent, water-resistant, and waterproof are terms used to describe the level of protection a product can provide against water. While they are often used interchangeably, there are important differences between the three.

This image shows camping clothing protecting against rain outdoors.


Water-repellent refers to a product that is designed to resist water penetration but is not completely waterproof. This means that the product can resist light rain or splashes of water but is not suitable for use in heavy rain or immersion in water. Examples of water-repellent products include jackets, pants, shoes, and bags.


Water-resistant products, on the other hand, can withstand more exposure to water than water-repellent products. Water-resistant products are often coated with a special material that helps to repel water, making them suitable for use in light rain or for short periods of time in water. Examples of water-resistant products include camping gear, outdoor furniture, and swimming products.


Waterproof products are the most water-resistant of the three and can withstand immersion in water for extended periods of time without allowing any water to penetrate. Waterproof products are typically made from materials that do not allow water to pass through, such as rubber or specialized fabrics like Gore-Tex. Examples of waterproof products include diving gear, electronic devices, and bathroom tiles.

When it comes to choosing the right water-resistant product for your needs, it's important to consider the level of water exposure the product will encounter. For example, if you are looking for a jacket to wear in light rain, a water-repellent jacket will likely suffice. However, if you plan to spend extended periods of time in water, you will need a waterproof product.

This image shows a water droplet blocked by a fabric surface.

Chart of Water-protection at different levels

               Definition                            IP Rating            
               Rainproof                            Airproof                            Types of Materials            
               Water-Resistant                IPX1 to IPX3
               Resistant to light rain                Resistant to water droplets/splash                Nylon/polyester/treated leather/treated canvas
               Water-Repellent                IPX4 to IPX6                Resistant to moderate rain                Repels water droplets/splash
               Gore-Tex/softshell/waxed cotton/treated nylon
               Waterproof                IPX7 to IPX8                Resistant to heavy rain                Completely blocks water vapor                PVC/neoprene/rubber/treated leather/treated canvas

Note: The type of material used can greatly affect the level of water resistance a product has. While some materials may be inherently waterproof, others can be treated with special coatings to become more water-resistant or water-repellent.

Our Thoughts and Suggestions

In terms of specific products, here are some thoughts and suggestions on water-repellent, water-resistant, and waterproof options:

  • Clothing: Water-repellent jackets and pants are a great choice for outdoor activities in light rain, while waterproof jackets and pants are better suited for extended periods of exposure to water. When it comes to footwear, waterproof hiking boots are essential for hiking in wet conditions, while water-resistant shoes are a good option for running or walking in light rain.

  • Electronics: Water-resistant and waterproof electronic devices are essential for outdoor activities, especially those involving water. For example, a waterproof smartphone or camera can be used for underwater photography or videography, while a water-resistant smartwatch is ideal for tracking activities in wet conditions.

  • Camping gear: Water-resistant and waterproof camping gear, such as tents, sleeping bags, and backpacks, are essential for outdoor enthusiasts. These products can help keep you dry and comfortable, even in wet conditions.

  • Fabric: Water-repellent and water-resistant fabrics are ideal for outdoor upholstery and awnings, while waterproof fabrics are suitable for use in raincoats, umbrellas, and boat covers.

  • Floors and walls: Waterproof flooring and wall materials, such as ceramic tile and vinyl, are essential for use in bathrooms and other wet areas. Water-resistant flooring and wall materials, such as hardwood and laminate, are a good choice for areas with occasional exposure to water.

  • Swimming products: Water-resistant and waterproof swimming products, such as goggles, swim caps, and earplugs, are essential for swimmers who spend time in the water. These products can help protect against water exposure and improve performance in the water.

  • Plastic products: Water-resistant and waterproof plastic products, such as food storage containers and trash bags, are ideal for outdoor use and can help keep items dry in wet conditions.

  • Furniture: Water-resistant and waterproof outdoor furniture, such as patio chairs and tables, are essential for use in wet conditions. These products can help protect against water damage and prolong the life of your furniture.

  • Metals: Water-resistant and waterproof metal products, such as stainless steel and aluminum, are ideal for use in outdoor settings where they may be exposed to water or moisture. For example, stainless steel grills and appliances are water-resistant and can withstand exposure to rain and other outdoor elements. Additionally, waterproof coatings can be applied to metal surfaces to further enhance their protection against water damage.

  • Makeup: Water-resistant and waterproof makeup products, such as mascara and eyeliner, can help prevent smudging or running when exposed to water or sweat. These products are ideal for outdoor activities, workouts, or events where you may be exposed to water.

Overall, it's important to carefully consider the level of water exposure a product will encounter before choosing between water-repellent, water-resistant, or waterproof options. Additionally, it's important to follow care and maintenance instructions to ensure that the product maintains its water-resistant properties over time. With the right products and proper care, you can stay dry and protected in wet conditions, whether you're camping, swimming, or simply enjoying the great outdoors.

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