Snow­bee ad­vice

Top buy­ing tips for water­proof cloth­ing

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

THERE are a num­ber of ways to water­proof a gar­ment but what does ‘water­proof’ ac­tu­ally mean? How water­proof and breath­able is a gar­ment and how is it af­fected by the weather? On cold days or in cold wa­ter for ex­am­ple, there can be more con­den­sa­tion be­tween the warm, dry in­ner body and the cold ex­te­rior and – with­out good in­su­la­tion be­tween the two – this can cause heavy con­den­sa­tion on the in­side. Sim­i­larly, on warm muggy days, evap­o­ra­tion is less ef­fi­cient and the tem­per­a­ture, plus any phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, will play a mas­sive part in the ef­fec­tive­ness of any breath­able cloth­ing. As a stan­dard for wa­ter­proof­ness, there are lab­o­ra­tory tests that mea­sure the height in mil­lime­tres (mm) of wa­ter ‘head’ that can be up­held be­fore the wa­ter pen­e­trates through a gar­ment. Breatha­bil­ity is mea­sured as the ‘wa­ter tran­si­tion rate’ that can pass through a mem­brane in grams of wa­ter (in vapour form) per square me­tre of fab­ric per 24-hour pe­riod (g/m2/24hrs or just ‘g’). All good cloth­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers will have a la­bel some­where or spec­ify the lab ‘head tests’ in their lit­er­a­ture for their par­tic­u­lar ma­te­ri­als – beware the man­u­fac­turer that does not! Gen­er­ally a gar­ment that can sus­pend a me­tre (1000mm - head) of wa­ter, with­out al­low­ing any to pass through, may be deemed as be­ing ‘water­proof’. But typ­i­cally, a good av­er­age water­proof/breath­able prod­uct will use ma­te­rial ex­hibit­ing a head of 3-4000mm, and a breatha­bil­ity of 3-4000g/m²/24hrs too. A gar­ment with 10 me­tres (10,000mm head) of wa­ter lab test spec­i­fi­ca­tion, could be ex­pected to be 2.5 times more ‘water­proof’ than 4000mm ma­te­rial. But that does not al­ways ap­ply as weather, wear, choice of un­der/outer gar­ments, zips, seam tap­ing etc and how well made, can and will have an im­pact on the per­for­mance. On warm muggy days, gar­ments will also be less ef­fi­cient at evap­o­ra­tion for breatha­bil­ity and ex­ces­sive sweat­ing can oc­cur be­neath too. Sim­ple tem­per­a­ture vari­ances will have an im­pact on per­for­mance and once con­den­sa­tion forms it will not trans­mit through a water­proof, breath­able mem­brane. Higher spec­i­fi­ca­tion water­proof and breath­able ma­te­rial can be as much as 20,000mm (20 me­tres) and more and 20,000g/m²/24hrs, but still needs to be well made to be prop­erly ef­fec­tive. Gore-Tex is an ex­am­ple of high spec ma­te­rial and oth­ers like the new five-layer Snow­bee Geo waders are also in this bracket. Other prod­ucts like the Pres­tige breath­able wa­ter­proofs are ex­tremely re­li­able and spec­i­fied at 8000mm water­proof and 4000g breatha­bil­ity, which is still highly ef­fi­cient and rep­re­sents su­perb value. Snow­bee in­cor­po­rate a TPU Vapour-Tec® sys­tem that en­hances mois­ture/vapour mi­gra­tion out through the mem­brane of the gar­ment too.


Check the la­bels and watch for ev­i­dence of good man­u­fac­ture like neat stitch­ing, double-hemmed seams prop­erly taped in­side, seams that do not run into pock­ets which can hold wa­ter, plus zips that are pro­tected. A good fit is es­sen­tial as is room for a sen­si­ble syn­thetic wick­ing lay­er­ing sys­tem be­neath, which helps pre­vent con­den­sa­tion. Plus, look for cuffs that are close fit­ting or neo­prene, that will stop wa­ter run­ning down the sleeves when cast­ing in a jacket. Gar­ments must fit well and have no stress points, which will en­cour­age leaks over time. Waders can be the worst for prob­lems like this if they are ill-fit­ting. Mod­ern fab­rics have come a long way and whilst tra­di­tional stalk­ing out­fits for ex­am­ple, have been made for many years from a good wool weave, some of to­day's ad­vanced syn­thetic ma­te­ri­als can be so much lighter and more ef­fi­cient, and so well treated that they are very re­sis­tant to pen­e­tra­tion by wa­ter and wet­ting and very breath­able too. The ma­te­rial fi­bres of to­day can be treated with a num­ber of wa­ter­re­sis­tant dress­ings that when weaved to­gether can be hugely ad­vanced in their prop­er­ties. This coat­ing can break down over time though and if left wet for any length of time can en­cour­age bac­te­ria that can de­stroy a gar­ment or water­proof mem­brane. Some can be fully dried and re­treated but best to look af­ter it and keep the gar­ment clean and as new for best and most re­li­able re­sults.


Durable wa­ter re­pel­lent (DWR) refers to an outer coat­ing to fab­ric that can be added to help the fab­ric be­come more wa­ter-re­sis­tant. Good DWR treated cloth­ing will bead up on the out­side when new and less so once start­ing to wear. This helps pre­vent sat­u­ra­tion of a gar­ment from the out­side, re­gard­less of the ma­te­rial prop­er­ties. With­out it, even with a water­proof in­ner mem­brane, the outer can still be­come very heavy and is called ‘wet­ting out’. Wa­ter soaks up on the outer sur­face, de­spite a mem­brane be­neath keep­ing the wearer mostly dry in­side. Breatha­bil­ity, how­ever, be­comes sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced when this hap­pens. This DWR fin­ish does wear off over time and when it does, re-treat­ment is rec­om­mended us­ing a spray or wash-in prod­uct.

Make sure you're pre­pared for what­ever the weather throws at you.

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