In the simplest sense, a waterproof jacket offers the highest level of protection from rain and snow. While a water-resistant jacket offers a good, but lower level of protection. Though there’s a little more to it than that.
The difference between water-resistant and waterproof arises from the fabric. A water-resistant material is so tightly woven that water struggles to get through. So, materials like polyester and nylon naturally withstand more water than cotton just because of their construction. But a water-resistant jacket can only stand up to so much rain.
A waterproof material, on the other hand, provides a complete barrier to water. In this sense a plastic bag is waterproof. But you’d totally overheat if you were hiking or snowboarding in a plastic bag, getting wet from the inside – from your own sweat.
That’s why both our men's water proof jackets and womens waterproof jackets use a membrane material, combining waterproof and breathable properties. This membrane keeps you dry from the inside – yep, from sweat – and from rain and snow on the outside.
There’s another aspect to keeping out the wet we need to talk about, too: water repellence. This basically means that water beads on the surface of a material preventing the fabric from saturating.