Waterproof Ratings & Breathability Ratings Explained

Waterproof ratings and breathability ratings measure the waterproofing and breathability of fabric and garments.

The higher the waterproof rating, the more waterproof the material will be. Likewise, the higher the breathability rating, the more the fabric will release moisture and vapour, which allows the body to regulate temperature and minimise sweating.

Waterproof Rating Chart


Waterproof Rating mm

Level Of Waterproofing

0 – 1500

Water resistant – very light rain & drizzle

1500 – 5000

Light waterproofing – light rain & showers

5000 – 10000

Good level of waterproofing – rain & heavy rain

10000 – 20000

High level of waterproofing – heavy rain & extreme conditions

Breathabilty Rating Chart


Breathability Rating g/m2/day

Level Of Breathability

Under 5000

Low – light exercise

5000 – 15000

Medium – medium to high energy activity

Over 15000

High – vigorous sustained activity

What makes clothing waterproof?

Typically waterproof clothing comprises of three layers, an outer layer, an inner membrane and mesh lining.

Waterproof ratings and breathability ratings explained

Outer Layer

Usually made with PES (polyester) or nylon. The primary role of the outer layer is initial protection against the elements as well as giving the garment it’s design, style and colour. Waterproofing is achieved by the application of a DWR coating (Durable Water Repellent) to the face fabric (outer layer).


A mid-layer windproof and breathable membrane add protection by blocking wind and in reverse allows body moisture vapour to escape away to the outer layer where it evaporates and helps regulate body temperature.

Inner Layer

The mesh inner lining protects the mid membrane giving the garment a longer life cycle as well as improving the breathability of the garment. 

Waterproof garments are either two layers or, three layers, the former will be without the mesh inner layer. Three-layer garments have greater performance and durability.

8,000 Waterproof Rating

Our Fritidsklader Softshell Jacket has three layers and an 8,000 waterproof rating.

Waterproof Softshell Jacket

Fritidsklader Football terrace wear
White Softshell Jacket

What is DWR (Durable Water Repellent)

Durable water repellent, often abbreviated to DWR is a coating added to garments to increase the waterproofing. 

Usually applied to the garment at the factory, the fluoropolymer compound can be either sprayed on or washed in. The effectiveness of the DWR coating will decline over time and when the garment comes into contact with dirt, oil and soaps and detergents through repeated washing. 

It is recommended that garments are reproofed by either washing the garment with a specialist polymer liquid or applying a spray coating to the garment.

Waterproof seam tape

A greater level of waterproofing can be achieved by the application of waterproof seal tape to the seams of a garment. This process seals micro needle holes and keeps the garment watertight.

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