Water-resistant vs Waterproof: Behind the Terms (Which is Better?)

It is common for people to have a misconception about water-resistant and waterproof.

FYI, they are the two different terms, though they share slightly similar characteristics.

This misunderstanding extends to a false purchasing water-repellant items as consumers assume that waterproof and water-resistant work the same way.

These two terminologies are different from one another. Though they both have the “water” prefix, they should not be recognized as synonyms.

Let us crack the terms down into a battle of water-resistant vs waterproof.

You will be able to answer whether one product is waterproof or water-resistant and also how to know that the product you buy can handle water or not.

Get set and GO.

When buying an item, you have to do a small check before you trust anything you see on the box.

A lot of companies market their products with the term waterproof.

But there are standards to measure how water-resistant something is. And we only consider one item waterproof if it can be submerged with no harms to its functions.

What you want to do is to distinguish the two now.


First of all, waterproof doesn’t mean the material is impervious.

The definition of the word suggests that it means invulnerable to H2O in overall.

There is a system illustrating the waterproofing ability with the rating scale called IP (International Protection).

The IP ranging from 0 to 8 by far indicates higher resistance as the number goes up.

In most electronic devices, this number is marked on the package to let buyers know how tolerable the device is in the water.

Here is the protection scale point chart:

  • IPX – 0: no protection exists or the item can’t meet water.
  • IPX – 1: the product can stand a small amount of dripping liquid
  • IPX – 2: the item can handle dropping liquid when the object is tilted less than 15 degrees.
  • IPX – 3: protection against water spray
  • IPX – 4: you can splash the object from any direction
  • IPX – 5: can withstand water stream from 6.5 mm nozzle from any direction
  • IPX – 6: similar to the previous state but bigger nozzle of 12.5 mm
  • IPX – 7: you can submerge the object into the depth of 1 meter
  • IPX – 8: can immerse in water deeper than 1 meter

This scale chart doesn’t apply to fabrics like jackets, coats, tents or hiking backpacks.

Non-textile items like phones, watches, or camping gears use this system to attract buyers.

When the products don’t have this specs on the package, assume its rate to be IPX-0.

Regarding bags and garments, there is no exact standardization for waterproofing.

The least the merchandise can do is to be convincing about how impermeable their products are.

Waterproofing in fabrics is also placed on a sliding relativity scale. It says even zipper or tarp is not able to keep the water out forever.

It is the seams that decide the waterproofing level, leading to the invention of Sonic Welded Seams, a kind of treatment to the sewn lines.

Water resistance

The term includes water repellant and hydrophobic, usually indicated on apparels.

In camping, the gears are typically designed to resist water. This doesn’t mean the feature will keep your item dry all the time. Actually, it mitigates the wet conditions until it got cooled out by air.

It is the density of fabric that makes the stuff resist water.

Water-resistant vs Waterproof
Water resistant jacket

Think of a leaking boat with micro holes in the bottom. Water can still seep in but at a low rate. Before water floods the whole boat, the sun already dries out the surface.

That implies there are levels of water resistance.

The denser the fabric structure is, the longer the liquid takes to invade.

Materials like nylon and polyester are tightly woven credited to high water resistance.

Cotton and other more delicate fabrics are more like sponges that absorb the liquid.

Water repellant derives from its mother term as a lower standard of water resistance.

It is no more than a featured imbued into textiles in the form of the coating. The treatment can be waterproof though it’s not always the case.

Water repellant is not a standardization to be specified. You can’t find them as specs on any product tag.

Hydrophobic, in fact, is just another way to say water repellant although it differs slightly.

If you buy any bag or jacket having a DWR coating, it is a standard of being hydrophobic.

DWR stands for Durable Water Repellant which means the item has an ability to repel water to some degrees.

However, this treatment wears off by time, similar to erosion. It implies that the products will become less effective in repelling water as time goes by.

Modern technology has developed the Nano liquid which works the same concept.

If your objects lose it water repellent, there is always a way to retreat them.

To wrap up the info,

We’ve got a brief table to map out the difference between water-resistant and waterproof.

Water resistance

  • Sustainable in light showers or coincident splashes
  • Can’t dive in the water
  • Can be treated with DWP
  • Popular in apparels, textile objects
  • Treatment can wear out over time


  • Can endure heavier rain
  • Can be submerged into the water from the IPX 7
  • Fabrics come with a waterproof membrane
  • More expensive

Water-resistant vs Waterproof: Which is better?

It’s unlikely to draw a conclusion concerning the advantages of the two terms.

While fashion for outdoor activities requires items that can expose to water, completely bone-dry goods are not compulsory.

On the other hand, electronic devices bearing the standard IP for waterproofing are preferred to endure rain or even swimming.

When buying an item with such a water resistant feature, it is best to rely on the profile of the item on its website.

There is a wide array of words on the items to explain its endurance to water.

Just remember that even within the water-resistant category, there are things which are more impervious than others. In the case of buying gears, it is the best be to determine what kind of water endurance you need first and then shop around accordingly.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *