What Makes a Snowboarding Jacket Waterproof?


If you are new to the world of snowboarding, then it’s understandable to get confused when you are choosing your first ever snowboarding jacket. There are a number of brands that offer snowboarding jackets that specialize in different features.

These features can range from mobility, breathability, and of course water resistance. This begs the question: Are snowboarding jackets waterproof and to what extent are they waterproof?

Understanding Waterproof Ratings

For most inexperienced buyers, most simply rely on a snowboarding jacket’s tag to tell them if it is waterproof or water-resistant. Although this can be helpful, the tags can sometimes be inaccurate in what they advertise. Some brands include helpful numbers to back their claims of their product’s waterproof ratings. To give you the gist of these numbers, here’s a quick summary:

  • 0-5,000 mm – Little to no resistance to moisture, these jackets are best worn in light rain, no snow, and no pressure conditions.
  • 6,000-10,000 mm – Waterproof only in light pressures, jackets with this rating can withstand light rain and pressure, and average snowfall.
  • 11,000-15,000 mm – Rain and waterproof except during high pressures, these jackets provide adequate protection from moderate rain, light pressures, and average snowfall.
  • 16,000-20,000 mm – Rain and waterproof even under high pressures, with a rating like this a jacket can protect you from heavy rain, some snowfall, and moderate pressures.
  • 20,000 mm and above – Rainproof and waterproof even under very high pressures, these types of jackets are the best when it comes to withstanding heavy rains, wet snow, and high pressures.

By using these numbers, it can make looking for a waterproof snowboarding jacket easy even for the inexperienced. Use this as a helpful guide in your search for an adequate waterproof jacket that meets your needs.

How Waterproof Should a Snowboarding Jacket Be?

Knowing the different ratings of water-resistance is handy, but that won’t be enough. Yes, staying warm and dry during your snowboarding trip is important for your health and enjoyment; that does not mean you should buy a jacket that has a 20,000 mm water-resistance rating.

If you are planning to spend some time enjoying the snow and participating in activities like snowboarding and skiing with regular breaks at the lounge, the best jacket rating to consider is the 6,000-10,000 mm.

These types of jackets will give you enough protection from the snow and the cold without compromising your mobility in the snow. It might seem like a good idea to buy a jacket with a higher water resistance rating, but this can cause you to sweat profusely as you snowboard which is unpleasant and dangerous.

And yet, buying a jacket with a lower rating could mean that you will end up feeling cold all the time, even when you’re inside the lodge. It’s all about balance when it comes to snowboarding jackets. Think of your comfort and protection from the cold temperatures to ensure that the jacket you choose will give you both.

Why Aren’t All Snowboarding Jackets Completely Waterproof?

This is a normal question to ask. It would seem like a basic feature that all snowboarding jackets should have, but why don’t they? Jackets and similar outerwear made for active snow sports like snowboarding and skiing will always vary in water resistance and will most likely leak when exposed to too much water and pressure.

One of the main reasons why water resistance is not the same for all jackets is because manufacturers hold different standards and testing of these materials has not yet been standardized.

Although garments like a rubber rain coat are guaranteed to be extremely waterproof, they will not be useful on a snowboarding trip. Stick to jackets like The North Face Men’s Denali 2 Jacket or the O’Neill Compass Snowboard Jacket for men, which are manufactured specifically for snowboarding and have earned high praises from many users.

Are Snowboard Jackets Waterproof?

The honest answer is no, they are not waterproof. They are only water-resistant and this resistance will vary depending on the material, brand, and conditions they are exposed to. Snowboarding jackets are there to keep you warm and dry during ideal snowboarding conditions. Do not expect them to do more than what they are intended for, or you might end up soaking wet.


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