What is waterproofing?

Written by: Enora Gelot



Time to read 6 min

Lagoped clothing is adventure clothing that adapts to a large number of activities: hiking, climbing, skiing, sailing, mountaineering, cycling, traveling, etc. We are therefore committed to offering technical and comfortable products to accompany you on all your escapades, whatever the weather conditions. This is why we offer a wide range of waterproof clothing: from jackets to pants. Let's take stock of what the waterproofness of clothing is.

Understanding Waterproofing

What is the waterproofness of clothing?

Waterproofing is the ability of a material to resist the penetration of water, thereby keeping it dry. This is an important property in the design of clothing or backpacks, and that's good because it's our domain!

The challenge of waterproof adventure clothing is to also be breathable (and for sporting activities, that doesn't go without one). This allows the clothing to prevent water from rain or snow from penetrating but also preventing perspiration from escaping to provide the perfect balance of waterproofing and breathability.

Waterproof EVE jacket

Julia Roger Veyer photographed the EVE jacket in Orange78.

In the fashion industry, we find natural waterproof materials such as wax or rubber, which are often not very breathable and poorly suited to the movements of athletes. It may then be waterproof clothing, which is not breathable. More recently, synthetic materials are used in the manufacture of waterproof and breathable membranes, this is what we will present to you in more detail.

How is the waterproofness of clothing measured?

The waterproof level is called Schmerber Level, and corresponds to the water resistance level of the fabric. It is measured in “water column” which is expressed in millimeters, this is the maximum water pressure that the fabric can withstand before water passes through. Therefore, the higher this number, the more waterproof the garment will be and suitable for unfriendly weather conditions.

Several standards are used to measure the level of waterproofing, the best known is standard 811-2018 which will be revised in the coming months. It makes it possible to structure water resistance tests in the water column and to formulate waterproofing indices.

To help understand these indices: 1 Schmerber corresponds to one millimeter of water. 1000 Schmerber therefore corresponds to a water column of one meter.

  • Garment with a waterproof rating of less than 5000 Schmerber offers protection in light rain only.
  • Clothing with a waterproof rating of less than 10,000 Schmerber offers protection in most cases, it will keep you dry during a downpour.
  • Clothing with a waterproof rating of less than 20,000 Schmerber offers very good protection for several rainy days (and this is very necessary for the adventurers that you are).
  • Clothing with a waterproof rating greater than 30,000 Schmerber offers reinforced protection reserved for extreme weather conditions.

At Lagoped, we have chosen to offer waterproof clothing at the 20,000 Schmerber level, which is a waterproof rating considered very high, offering protection suitable for outdoor activities in intense rain: hiking, skiing, mountaineering, etc.

Waterproof EVE jacket

Jodouin Mitrani photographs the EVE jacket in Soleil color and the SUPA pants in Royal Blue color.

These indices must be put into perspective according to criteria such as movements which exert additional pressure on the fabric, or other factors linked to the garment: seams, closures, and special treatments which can influence its overall performance. In the design of Lagoped clothing, we pay particular attention to these elements, which we improve each year with our partners.

Other standards are used to measure breathability such as the coefficient of thermal evaporative resistance (RET) or the water vapor transmission rate (MVTR), but we will dedicate a future article to it to be expert on this issue.

The waterproof and breathable membrane at Lagoped

What waterproof membrane is used in the design of Lagoped adventure clothing?

The waterproofness of Lagoped clothing is ensured by the Sympatex membrane. This is a technology developed in Germany by the company Sympatex Technologies GmbH, founded in 1986.

Unlike other waterproof membranes on the market, it is called “full” because it does not have “holes” which are pores. A significant advantage when looking for a durable membrane: the pores risk becoming clogged over time, which is not the case with the Sympatex membrane whose functions are maintained over time.

It is based on a physico-chemical principle, which we will explain to you right away. We can imagine a membrane made up of two fabrics, an outer fabric which is hydrophobic, it does not like water and prevents it from penetrating, and an inner fabric which is hydrophilic, it likes water and absorbs water vapor. water generated by body heat and rejects it outside. These absorption and evaporation processes allow the transfer of moisture through the membrane and ensure its breathability. The greater the differences in temperature and humidity, the greater and more effective the breathing effect of the Sympatex membrane will be. It therefore adapts perfectly to different sporting activities and weather conditions.

In addition to being breathable, the Sympatex membrane is also windproof, to ensure that the layer of hot air does not move far from the body, according to the DIN EN ISO 9237 standard which determines the permeability to the air of the tissues.

Waterproof EVE jacket

Details of the EVE jacket in Graphite color

How can we ensure the waterproof quality of Lagoped products?

At Lagoped, transparency towards our customers is essential, which is why we take the time to explain each function of our clothing and the stages of their manufacturing. Our waterproof clothing using the Sympatex membrane complies with standard 811-2018 which governs the measurement of the level of waterproofing of fabrics in the industry and according to which a fabric is waterproof from 1500mm. Sympatex must therefore regularly carry out water resistance tests in the water column.

To these first tests are added the so-called shower tests. As the name suggests, it involves placing the finished garment in a shower and applying strong pressure to all parts of the fabric. This test therefore makes it possible to check the waterproofness of the entire garment and the effectiveness of the seams, zips, and the most accessible and sensitive parts of the garment. This is a test that we like to carry out when designing our clothing, since it guarantees its performance in terms of waterproofing.

Let's go into detail on the construction of the EVE jacket, waterproof and versatile to accompany you on your many sporting activities and in all weathers. By looking at the inside of your jacket, you will see that each seam is sealed with heat-sealed strips. Indeed, the construction of the garment is very important to ensure its waterproofness. These waterproof strips are worked with our partner Sympatex and our factories.

Discover or rediscover the technical characteristics of the EVE jacket for men and women .

Waterproof EVE jacket

Franck Bernes Heuga photographs Arthur Bertrand in the EVE jacket and SUPA pants in colors that are no longer available.

As you can imagine, the test we prefer remains above all the field test. The members of the Lagoped teams, Christophe its founder, the first, as well as certain ambassadors of the Lagoped Family are invited to test the new products by practicing their favorite activities and by surveying the highest peaks and the most beautiful valleys. They thus provide us with all the necessary feedback to offer you products worthy of being worn by the greatest adventurers who love Nature, you.

Are there other waterproof and breathable membranes?

The best-known membrane is undoubtedly the Gore-Tex membrane. We have already taken stock of the differences between the Sympatex membrane and the Gore-Tex membrane in a previous article .

But did you know that there are other breathable and waterproof membranes? There is something for all tastes and budgets. You have undoubtedly heard of Hydro membranes from the Craft brand, NeoShell from Polartec or even HyVent from The North Face. Some companies are creating more environmentally friendly waterproof and breathable membranes, and that's great news. This is the case of the Dimpora membrane which is developed by a Swiss start-up; it is a waterproof and breathable membrane with a micro-porous structure. It is made of polyurethane, PFC-free. Likewise, the LIFA Infinity Pro™ membrane is developed by the Helly Hansen brand which seeks to reduce its environmental impact with chemical-free manufacturing.

Seeing the outdoor textile industry seeking to improve by offering more sustainable technologies can only make us smile.