When it comes to choosing outerwear, we like to keep things pretty simple. It's certainly easy to get lost in tech terms and find yourself confused over what means what, and what's right for you, but in reality, it's really very easy. Picking out the perfect jacket and pants combo is 70% based on aesthetics, 30% based on tech. And tech wise, it's as simple as it gets! We're talking waterproofing and breathability. If you're shopping in store, you can generally find these details on either the tag, or inside the neckline of the jacket. When shopping online, we will always do our best to include these details in the description of the product. In either case, these numbers are likely to be described in one of three ways which may look something like this (based on 10,000mm waterproofing and 10,000k breathability):
10K/10K 10,000mm / 10,000g 10,000/ 10,000 In all three examples, the first number will represent the waterproof rating, while the second number will represent breathability.
Material that is considered to be waterproof must have a rating of at least 1,000mm. The majority of outerwear sold for Australian conditions sits at about 10,000mm. To put it into perspective the best non-gore-tex material goes up to about 20,000mm. While Gore-Tex does not carry a specific rating, many companies claim it sits anywhere between 25,000mm to 40,000mm. Most recently, DC have come out with a new technology called Sympatex which ranges between 30,000-45,000mm. At this stage, DC have produced only a limited product range which you can view here, however with such a positive consumer response, we hope to see more of this tech soon!
While 5,000mm is great for the 'once a year' type rider, it is worth noting that if you plan on sitting in the snow a lot, you may find yourself with wet pants by the end of the day! We suggest a standard base of 8,000-10,000mm, just to be sure. Here in Australia, we are lucky enough to experience spring riding conditions more often than most other countries of the world. While this is one of the reasons we love riding in Australia, it does come with one draw back. Warm days mean wet snow. For this reason, we always suggest aiming for at least 15,000mm waterproofing if you're planning on riding often.
Unfortunately there is no universal base of measurement and the size of the cylindrical tube and temperature during the test can vary. This means 10,000mm waterproof rating on one company's jacket can vary from another company. Often you can tell the difference when you feel the actual fabric. Thick sturdy fabric is going to be more waterproof than thin fabric that feels like paper even when they are both 10,000mm rated. If waterproofing is a big concern for you make sure you always go as high as possible.
Most snow fabric is coated with a waterproof spray that can wear off over time. The waterproofing can be reapplied and we usually recommend doing this at the beginning of every season. We also reccomend washing your outerwear with specific outerwear detergent. Outerwear fabric has tiny microscopic fibers that stick up and help water to bead and roll off. When the jacket gets dirty these fibers get pushed down and aren't as effective. If you don't use the correct type of detergent then the fibers can get damaged or rip off.