Water resistant vs. waterproof.
Waterproof vs. water repellent.
Water repellent vs... wait.
Maybe it looks like different words saying the same thing. To us, though, there are clear and important distinctions. Not least because we have different (and yes, we mean better) standards than most when it comes to keeping water away from your skin. Experts as we are in all things anti-water, we’re taking this opportunity to share our knowledge, so that you can use it to find exactly the right gear.
This knowledge matters more than ever, too. Until recently, everything made by the GORE-TEX brand was guaranteed durably waterproof (and windproof, and breathable). But with the launch of our all-new, all-incredible GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ products range, things have changed. Because everything in this range is designed for when comfort and versatility take priority over waterproof. (Get the lowdown on the new range right here.)
So, hold tight as we deep dive into how the GORE-TEX brand deals with keeping water at bay.
The pinnacle of water protection. If you need reliable, guaranteed, best-in-class protection from mountain storms or downtown showers, or even on a sunny day when the weather takes a turn for the worst, “waterproof” is what you need—and our original GORE-TEX products are where you’ll find it.
Whether it’s GORE-TEX PACLITE® garments—with their lightweight, two-layer design perfect for fast-paced, done-in-a-day activities—or GORE-TEX SURROUND® footwear—engineered for 360-degree breathability all around the foot—if it’s in the original GORE-TEX products range, it will keep you dry.
How do products in this range work? Through a variety of innovations that have come about thanks to decades of research and development. From seam-sealed zippers to durable water repellent (DWR) surface treatments, we’ve been at the cutting-edge of waterproofing since 1976. But at the heart of it all is the GORE-TEX membrane. This magical (well, scientific) membrane contains billions of pores per square inch, each of which is 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet. So water has absolutely no chance of getting in. What makes our membrane even more magically (or, scientifically) brilliant: those pores are also 700 times larger than water vapour (i.e. sweat) molecules. So sweat can easily escape. This breathability keeps you comfortable for longer, even when you’re pushing yourself to go further or get more done.
So, you can rely on anything in the original GORE-TEX products range to keep water out? Trust us. We put the proof in waterproof: our testing processes are as rigorous as it gets.
Resistance is futile, as the famous historical saying goes. But we disagree. “Water resistance” may not offer 100%, cannot-ever-be-breached protection like “waterproof”. But it’s not every day, or during every activity, that you need that kind of protection.
When it comes to garments in the new GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ products range described as “water resistant,” they offer you protection and comfort in a wide variety of conditions and situations. They’re perfect for a run in windy conditions, for that light rain that surprises you in the final mile, and at the champagne shower celebrations when you cross the finish line. Jackets made with GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ WINDSTOPPER® product technology, for example, are not only totally windproof, they're also water resistant, making them ideal for a morning walk around the lake with friends, or cycling back home on your daily commute.
Think of this as the complement to the previous two. Water repellency can be found, for example, on the outer surface of all GORE-TEX jackets. In addition to the integrated membrane that guarantees waterproofness in these jackets, they also have a durable water repellency (DWR) treatment on their outer layer, which makes water bead up and roll right off, rather than penetrating the outer fabric.
Pro tip: care is required to make sure your product stays reliably water repellent. Visit our wash and care guide to learn more.
That’s all you need to know about waterproofness, water resistance, and water repellency. Just in case you need a quick recap to help you chat with the experts down at your local store about which gear you need.
Waterproof. Proven, tested, and guaranteed anti-water abilities. Best-in-class protection.
Water resistant. Resistance may not be forever, but it’s more than enough for many activities.
Water repellent. Repelled water beads up and runs off. Keeps your outer layers dry.