How can we test the waterproofing of a hiking jacket?

A product is recognised as being waterproof when it has the capacity to stop water getting in, and thus protects the walker from bad weather. You need to know that there are different levels of waterproofing, and different tests to measure them. On the one hand, the waterproofing of a fabric is given, and on the other, the waterproofing of an entire product is proven. So check that, as well as using a waterproof material, your jacket has watertight zip fasteners.


Two types of test: water column vs. shower


The water column test

This test measures the resistance of a fabric to water pressure
The results of the test are expressed in mm of a water column or mm Schmerber (the name of the textile manufacturer Charles Edouard Schmerber who created this measuring tool).

1 Schmerber = 1 mm water column = 0.1 mbar




Average rain pressure is in the range of 1000 to 2000 Schmerber. It is therefore considered that a garment which resists the pressure of a 1.3-metre water column (ie 1300 mm) is waterproof (according to the standard ISO 811). But beware, a jacket designed with a waterproof fabric to the level of 2000mm Schmerber will protect you from the rain, but maybe not a downpour or a long storm. Indeed, the higher the Schmerber rating, the more waterproof the material.

Please note: the quality of the fabric used is very important, as the waterproofing of a new jacket designed using poor-quality material may change after washing. Quechua guarantees that our products provide the same level of waterproofing before and after washing. 


The shower test

In our opinion, this is the most representative test as products designed using extremely waterproof fabrics may let in water via their seams, flaps and zips...

In this test, products are placed in a shower to test their overall waterproofing.





What level of waterproofing for what use?

After the test, the following classifications can be defined:

  • A product scored as 2 protects users from light showers giving 6 cm of rain in 1 hour (which corresponds to the average monthly rainfall on flat land in France),
  • A product scored as 3 protects users from a shower giving 12 cm of rain in 2 hours,
  • A product scored as 4 protects users from a storm giving 30 cm of rain in 3 hours,
  • A product scored as 5 protects users from a thunderstorm giving 1.8 metres of rain in 4 hours.

You'll find these scores in the technical profiles provided on the sheets for our Waterproof Jackets online or in Decathlon stores.





We have seen that waterproofing represents the product's ability to resist the penetration of rain. On the contrary, water-repellency is a fabric's ability to let water slide over its surface without seeping in.

The water-repellent treatment is a treatment via coating which can be added to certain products: it can either be added to a jacket with a waterproof layer to improve it, or it can be added to a product which is not essentially waterproof. In the second case, it guarantees a temporary solution if you are caught out in the rain. These products are generally designed for a different function such as heat provision, and their water-repellency is just a "bonus", as they are not designed to protect you from the rain while hiking.
A solely water-repellent jacket (not waterproof) is only designed to provide minimum protection, and is only suitable as a temporary fix. Where there is a risk of rain, consider taking a 3rd waterproof layer.

Owing to wear and tear, your jacket may lose its water-repellent property, so check out our recommendations on restoring it.


Please note : To stay dry, you should also wear breathable clothing so that you don't get wet through sweating when making an effort.


You'll find these scores in the technical profiles indicated on the sheets on our Waterproof Jackets online or in Decathlon stores.