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Coating, membrane, water repellent properties, etc. Does that mean anything to you? These are all elements that will affect the waterproofing of your waterproof hiking jacket. So how do you measure the waterproof rating of this garment that you will use on your wet hikes? We explain all!
Your hiking jacket (sometimes called "hardshell") is recognised as waterproof when it can stop rain from getting through, thereby protecting you from the elements. But there are different levels of impermeability, and different tests to measure them.
To get a clearer understanding, read this article to find out how to measure the waterproofing of a hiking jacket!
In addition to this, there is the construction of the component, which is evaluated according to its layers.
The2-layer component: The membrane is glued only to the outer fabric; the inner protective lining is free. This construction is used for the more comfortable jackets.
The 2½-layer component: The membrane is glued under the outer fabric and protected inside by a fine film. This construction is used for the more lightweight jackets.
The 3-layer component: The membrane is glued between the outer and inner fabric
The first test that is traditionally used to assess waterproofing is the water column test. This test measures the resistance of a fabric to water pressure.
The test results are expressed in terms of the height of a water column in mm or mm Schmerber (named after the textile industrialist Charles Edouard Schmerber who created this measurement method).
The waterproof rating is measured by the fabric's resistance to water pressure, expressed in terms of the height of a water column in mm (test based on the ISO 811 standard). The higher the water pressure, the more waterproof the fabric. A component with a 10,000 mm waterproof rating, i.e. it can withstand the pressure of the 10,000 mm column of water. This is also equivalent to 10,000 Schmerbers.
1 Schmerber = 1 mm water column = 0.1 mbar.
The average pressure of rainfall is between 1,000 to 2,000 Schmerber. A garment is therefore deemed waterproof if it can withstand the pressure of a 1.3 m (i.e. 1300 mm) high column of water in accordance with the ISO 811 standard). But bear in mind that a jacket made of a fabric with a waterproof rating of 2000mm Schmerber will indeed protect you from the rain but maybe not from a long downpour or thunderstorm. Indeed, the higher the Schmerber number, the more the material is waterproof.
Please note: the quality of the material used is very important, because the waterproof rating of a new jacket made in a low-quality component will diminish after washing.
At Quechua, we make sure that our products can claim the same waterproof rating before and after washing.
In our opinion, this is the most representative test because a product made of a highly waterproof fabric can leak water through its seams, flaps, zips, etc.
In this test, the products are placed in a shower to test their overall waterproof rating.
Following this test, we can therefore establish the following classifications:
- A product with a score of 2 protects the user from a light shower i.e. 6mm of rain in 1 hour (which corresponds to the average rainfall for a month of rain in the lowlands in France);
- A product with a score of 3 protects the user from a downpour i.e. 12mm of rain in 2 hours,
- A product with a score of 4 protects the user from a storm i.e. 30mm of rain in 3 hours,
- A product with a score of 5 protects the user from a violent storm i.e. 1.8cm of water in 4 hours.
You will find these scores in the technical benefits indicated on the data sheets of our Waterproof Jackets on our website