All our clothes have some level of water resistance but different types of layers can be distinguished by how well they can repel water. The common understanding of what waterproof means in relation to clothes is that the item can withstand strong rain. There are three types of rainwear layers and these are waterproof-non-breathable, waterproof-breathable, and water-resistant.
Waterproof Non Breathable
An emergency poncho or thick raincoat usually falls under the category of a waterproof-non-breathable layer of clothing. These are usually used only during times of heavy rain and not for very long periods of time because they can become uncomfortable. This is because the layer is thick enough not to let rain through but it also traps your sweat on the inside of the layer. This type of rainwater is useful for withstanding strong rain but not combined with any strenuous activity such as hiking since your sweat will not be able to escape.
The more advanced type of rainwear layer is the waterproof-breathable kind. This means that it can keep water from reaching your skin while moving sweat out to the outer side of the layer. This is a good option for protection if you are going out on a long hike into the great outdoors where you may be caught by a sudden shower or strong rain.
The breathable type of rainwear has created a great demand, both for people who like spending time outdoors and engage in camping or hiking activities but also for people in the city who like having a versatile layer of protection on hand. This type of rainwear layer is not limited to rain jackets for women and men, it is also available for pants, shorts, shirts, and other garments. For people living in places that see a lot of rain, owning a set of waterproof-breathable clothes is a sensible investment.
Clothes that are called water-resistant can only withstand light rains or drizzles. This type of layer is common among featherweight jackets and windbreakers. They are breathable and light but that can not protect you from a heavy downpour. Many jackets have a durable water repellent finish which is not the same as being water-resistant because the latter describes the overall ability of the garment to resist water from entering it. The durable water repellent finish is a coating that makes water bead up and rolls off just like a leaf.
Construction of Rainwear Layers
There are three kinds of layers involved in the construction of most waterproof or water-resistant garments. These are 2 layers, known in the industry as the quiet type, 2 and a half layers, known as the lightest type, and 3 layers, known as the robust or sturdy type. These are different styles of constructing rainwear garments to make certain qualities more pronounced.
The three types of rainwear layers are general guidelines of commonly available garments and more popular jackets. Each type is best suited for a certain purpose so it is good to be clear about your criteria or needs before buying your new garment.