Water-Resistant vs. Waterproof: What's the Difference?

Staying dry is one of the most important parts of staying comfortable when you're enjoying a day outdoors. But, as many have learned the hard way, not every piece of clothing performs well when water is involved.

Unfortunately, between water-resistant, waterproof, and other descriptions, the terminology can get a bit confusing. So read on as we explore the difference between waterproof and water-resistant and what it means for your wardrobe.

What does Waterproof Mean?

For those looking for the most complete, comprehensive protection from water, look for items labeled waterproof. The familiar term means exactly what it sounds like: the clothing is designed to prevent water from penetrating the material even in heavy rain or when submerged. This is accomplished by using specific materials like rubber or plastics or through special chemical coatings on other fabrics.

Man and woman wearing Free Fly waterproof Cloudshield Rain Jacket

What does Water-Resistant Mean?

Water-resistant materials provide an option between typical clothing and fully waterproof items. They're made from special fabrics or fabric treated with chemicals that help water roll off rather than soak through. Because of this, they are generally lighter weight, though they only provide water protection to a certain point. Water-resistant clothes can also come in a variety of styles, from specialized athletic gear to items that look like everyday casualwear.

Man and woman wearing Free Fly water-resistant Headwind Jacket

When to Use Each Style

The choice between water-resistant vs. waterproof clothes isn't always entirely straightforward. However, each type offers some valuable advantages, as well as some potential drawbacks for specific situations or users.

As mentioned earlier, waterproof items provide the most comprehensive protection from water. They're also generally more durable than water-resistant clothing able to withstand heavy weather and long-term exposure to the elements.

You can also be pretty sure about the level of protection you'll enjoy with waterproof items, while the term water-resistant can have slightly different meanings for different garments or brands.

On the flip side, while water-resistant clothing may not offer the same robust protection, it's typically far more breathable, which can be vital for those staying active on wet days or close to the water.

This lightweight, breathable fabric allows it to be worn in a wider range of conditions and packed or stored more easily. In many cases, water-resistant items end up costing less than fully waterproof ones, too.

Try Free Fly's Selection of Waterproof and Water-Resistant Clothing

Whether you need waterproof or water-resistant outerwear, Free Fly has you covered with comfortable, stylish options for men and women that fit in just as well on a deep-sea fishing charter as they do running errands around town.

For those who only need moderate water resistance, check out the Men's Headwind Jacket or Women's Headwind Jacket. It's produced with ultralightweight, sustainable construction with 50 GSM nylon. Nearly half of the material is recycled, with the balance treated with the DWR (durable water-resistant) finish that keeps you dry and comfortable.

Unlike cheap, low-quality windbreakers, Free Fly's Headwind Jacket isn't crinkly - it's smooth and falls naturally around your form. Plus, it's so compact that it can be rolled up and stored in spaces as small as a fanny pack, providing ultimate flexibility for days when you're not sure what the weather will bring.

Other times, you'll need more complete protection from rain, spray, and splashes. That's where Free Fly's Women's Cloudshield Rain Jacket and Men's Cloudshield Rain Jacket come in.

The completely waterproof Cloudshield technology provides a 16,000 mm waterproof rating, adequate for even the most intense storms and substantial splashes and spray. It's part of a quiet, lightweight, three-layer shell that offers two-way stretch comfort, complemented by premium features like YKK zippers and a rear hood cinch.

Now that you understand the difference between waterproof and water-resistant, it's time to make your pick! But, while each of these high-quality Free Fly items has its advantages, it's hard to go wrong with either (or both) as part of your wardrobe–they will serve you well and keep you dry.