Your outerwear is your first point of defence for keeping the weather out. The quality of your outerwear is often a key point in your enjoyment of a bad weather day on the hill. This guide is aimed at providing you with the 

Waterproof and Breathability Ratings

The Waterproof and Breathability ratings are a good place to start when it comes to picking out a Ski Jacket or Pants. In general, higher ratings will perform better in adverse conditions, although these ratings aren’t the only important factor.


Waterproof Ratings are measured in mm’s of height using a water column. They range from 2,000mm (2k) up to 40,000mm (40k), with most options sitting at 10k, 15k, or 20k. Gore-Tex is accepted to be rated at 28k waterproofing and is the gold standard for staying dry.

Rating (mm) Description Suitable Conditions
0 - 10,000 Low waterproofing ratings, rain and snow proof in some conditions Sunny, Cold Snow
10,000 - 15,000 Medium waterproofing ratings, rain and snow proof for most conditions Sunny, Cold Snow, Light Rain
15,000 - 20,000 High waterproofing ratings, rain and snow proof for all but the worst conditions Sunny, Cold or Wet Snow, Medium Rain
20,000+  Highest waterproofing ratings, rain and snow proof for all conditions All conditions

If you go out when its raining and expect to stay dry, you don’t want to be looking  at anything less than 20k Waterproofing. Lower-ratings work well for the occasional shower or snowing, but will wet out quicker than their higher rated cousins.


Breathability is a measure of how well a water vapour disperses from inside the outerwear. It is measured in grams per 24hr period, and ranges from 2,000g (2k) up to above 30,000g (30k). Breathability becomes more important the more active you are when wearing it.

Rating (g) Description Suitable Users
0 - 10,000 Low breathability ratings Resort
10,000 - 15,000 Medium breathability ratings Resort
15,000 - 20,000 High breathability ratings Backcountry, Resort
20,000+ Highest breathability ratings Backcountry, Resort

If you regularly chuck your skis on your shoulder and hike for a better run, a higher breathability rating is essential. Anything 10k or less you will find that you sweat more often while skiing and the moisture inside your layers will be more uncomfortable.

Breathability is only as good as the layers you wear. If you are stacking cotton t-shirts and hoodies under your jacket, breathability performance will be severely compromised. Layering is key!

Waterproof & Breathability is only the start. Most brands are likely to add higher quality features in a higher quality garment. Hence you will find better seam sealing, DWR finishes and zippers on pieces with higher waterproof ratings. These smaller details play a huge role in comfort & performance.

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