Difference between Waterproof vs. Water Resistant vs. Water Repellent safety jackets

Are you confused about waterproof, water-resistant, and water-repellent safety jackets? In this blog, we will discuss the differences between them.

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When it comes to safety jackets, one of the most important features to consider is their ability to protect the wearer from water. This is especially important for outdoor workers or those working in wet environments, as water can quickly lead to hypothermia and other dangerous conditions. However, not all safety jackets are created equal when it comes to water protection.

There is often confusion about the differences between waterproof, water-resistant, and water-repellent safety jackets, especially when it comes to choosing the right safety jacket for a specific activity or environment. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to different levels of protection against water and moisture. Understanding the differences between these terms can help you make an informed decision about which type of jacket is best for your needs.

Waterproof safety jackets

Waterproof safety jackets are designed to completely prevent water from penetrating the fabric, keeping the wearer completely dry even in the heaviest of downpours. This type of safety jacket is made with a waterproof membrane, such as Gore-Tex or eVent, that is laminated to the outer layer of the fabric. The membrane is made up of tiny pores that are too small for water droplets to pass through, but large enough to allow moisture vapor to escape, keeping the wearer comfortable and dry. Another waterproof materials are typically made of synthetic materials like polyurethane or PVC. and are often coated with a special finish to make them even more effective at repelling water. Waterproof safety jackets are the highest level of protection you can get from a safety jacket, and it’s ideal for use in heavy rain, deep water, or other situations where you need to be completely dry.

Water-resistant safety jackets

Water-resistant safety jackets, on the other hand, are designed to provide some level of protection against water, but they are not completely waterproof. Water-resistant safety jackets are made with fabrics that have been treated with a water-repellent finish, which causes water to bead up and roll off the surface of the safety jackets. This type of jacket is not as effective in heavy rain as a waterproof jacket, but it can provide enough protection against light rain or mist. This means that while you will stay relatively dry in light rain, you may still get wet in heavy rain. Water-resistant jackets are suitable for everyday use in mild or wet weather, but they may not be suitable for more extreme environments or activities.

Water-repellent safety jackets

Water-repellent safety jackets are similar to water-resistant safety jackets, they are treated with a DWR( durable water-repellent) coating or finish that helps to repel water. This means that while the jacket itself is not waterproof, the coating helps to keep you dry by repelling water. But it can still eventually penetrate the fabric if exposed to enough water for a long enough time. Water-repellent safety jackets are often used for items that need some protection from water but do not need to be completely waterproof or water-resistant. However, this coating can wear off over time, so a water-repellent safety jackets may not be as effective after prolonged use. Both waterproof and water-resistant safety jackets are water repellant.

Key differences between these types of safety jackets

One of the key differences between these types of safety jackets is their level of protection against water. A waterproof safety jacket will provide the highest level of protection, as it is completely impermeable to water. This means that the wearer can be fully immersed in water and still stay dry. Water-resistant jackets, on the other hand, will only provide limited protection against water. They may be able to withstand light rain or splashes of water, but they will not keep the wearer completely dry if they are submerged in water. Water-repellent jackets, while they may be effective at keeping the surface of the jacket dry, will not provide any protection against water that soaks into the fabric of the jacket.

Another key difference between these types of safety jackets is their breathability. Waterproof jackets are typically made of materials that are not very breathable, as the impermeable nature of the jacket makes it difficult for moisture and air to pass through the fabric. This can lead to discomfort for the wearer, as they may become hot and sweaty inside the jacket. Water-resistant and water-repellent jackets, on the other hand, are typically made of more breathable materials, which allows moisture and more comfortable.

It is also worth noting that there are different levels of waterproof, water-resistant, and water-repellent jackets. For example, a jacket may be labeled as “waterproof to 10,000mm” or “water resistant to 5,000mm.” These numbers refer to the amount of water pressure that the jacket can withstand before letting water pass through. The higher the number, the more water the jacket can handle.

Other factors can affect the effectiveness of safety jackets

In addition to the type of safety jacket, there are other factors that can affect the effectiveness of a safety jacket. For example, the fit of the jacket is important. A jacket that is too loose may allow water to enter, while a jacket that is too tight may not allow for proper ventilation and could cause you to become sweaty and uncomfortable.

It is important to note that no safety jacket is completely indestructible, and all jackets will eventually wear out or lose their effectiveness. It is worth mentioning that the care and maintenance of safety jackets can affect their effectiveness. For example, a waterproof jacket may lose its waterproofing over time if it is not properly cared for. To maintain the waterproofing of safety jackets, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and storing the jacket. It is therefore important to regularly inspect safety jackets for signs of wear and tear and to replace them if necessary. This is particularly important if the safety jacket is used frequently.


In conclusion, the main difference between waterproof, water-resistant, and water-repellent materials is the degree to which they are able to repel or resist water. Waterproof materials are completely impermeable to water, while water-resistant materials allow some water to penetrate the surface, and water-repellent materials have been treated with a coating or finish to help repel water.

In general, waterproof safety jackets are the best choice for use in wet and rainy conditions. These jackets will keep you completely dry, no matter how hard it’s raining or how long you’re exposed to water. Water-resistant jackets are a good option for light rain or occasional splashes, but they may not be sufficient for more intense rainy conditions.

Understanding the differences between waterproof, water-resistant, and water-repellent safety jackets can help you make an informed decision when purchasing a jacket. By considering the type of jacket, the level of protection it provides, the fit, and the activities your customers will be doing while wearing it, you can select the right safety jacket for your business. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

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