5000mm Waterproof Rating: Can You Expect Good Protection From Your Jacket?

Whether you are working outdoors in extreme rain, or heading out to the slopes, you want the proper waterproof jacket to meet your specific conditions. Understanding the terminology around waterproof jackets can be confusing. For example, you may see some waterproof jackets labeled as 5000mm Waterproof. What does 5000mm waterproof mean?

A 5,000mm jacket is a jacket that can withstand 5000mm (or 5 meters) of water in testing before allowing water to penetrate the material. That’s the technical definition, but here’s what you need to know: a 5000mm jacket does provide protection against light to average precipitation, but it is generally considered the absolute minimum you will need for moderate conditions. If you are facing extreme weather, a higher rating will likely be best (think 10k-20k). 

Although it is possible to make a 100% waterproof jacket, those jackets are not useful for workers because they lack breathability. And even though they would protect you from rain, you would be soaked in your own sweat since very little of your body heat would be able to escape.

To combat this, companies will create waterproof jackets and clothing that not only hold out moisture, but also still allow your body to breathe. But this can be tricky, and usually the more breathable a jacket, the less rain protection it offers.

These waterproof ratings (such as 5000mm waterproof) exist to help communicate how effective the material is at holding out water. But often these ratings will also be accompanied with a breathability rating that communicates the materials ability to release water vapor from the inside (for example, you may see a 5k/15k rating).

A 5k/15k jacket would have a waterproof rating of 5k (5000mm), while offering a breathability rating of 15k (15,000g). A breathability of 15k would mean the jacket was tested and showed the ability to release 15,000g of water vapor per square meter of material.

The main takeaway is this: most 5000mm waterproof jackets are best suited for light to average precipitation, and are not meant for extreme weather. They are often quite breathable compared to more extreme jackets, but the breathability rating can vary from jacket to jacket.

In this article let’s take a closer look at waterproof ratings, and discuss what type of conditions these jackets will protect against. Let’s also discuss other types of waterproof gear you may want to consider.

5000mm Waterproof Rating Discussed

Is 5000mm Waterproof?

Although 5000mm is a waterproof rating, do not expect 5000mm rated products to be completely waterproof. In fact, they are only designed to hold out light to average precipitation. If you are facing extreme weather, you will need a higher rating.

These types of jackets, however, will be more than enough if you are looking for basic protection as you run errands around town. But if you are spending long periods of time outdoors in extreme rain, you will want a higher rating.


Is 5000mm Good for Wet Conditions?

This will depend on what type of wet conditions you are facing. If you are facing light precipitation, and are performing an active task, whether it be work or recreation, a 5000mm waterproof rating may be perfect for your situations.

Many 5000mm jackets, while only designed to hold out light precipitation, remain very breathable and make it easier for water vapor to escape the jacket. While 5000mm is considered waterproof, please understand that it is widely considered to be the absolute minimum you would need for moderate conditions, and will likely not be suitable for extreme weather.

What Makes a Jacket 5000mm Waterproof?

A waterproof jacket is a special type of jacket made from waterproof materials knitted together in layers. While the actual materials and construction may vary between manufacturers, most jackets use a three-layer design:

However, different waterproof jackets exist for different activities, such as lightweight jackets for cycling or trail running. By reading further, you will learn all the critical features that will help you find the right jacket for your needs. 

  • An optional innermost layer of insulation
  • Waterproof mesh or polyester membrane
  • Teflon-coated outer layer

Each layer forms a specific function. For instance, the insulation keeps your body heat inside, while the Teflon layer prevents water from soaking through. Some manufacturers will even tape the stitching to add additional layers of protection. The quality of these layers determines the overall quality of the jacket, which is often provided as two separate numbers. 

Measured in millimeters (mm), the waterproof rating describes how dry the jacket will keep you, representing how much water can rest on it before it starts seeping through. For instance, a 5,000mm jacket can withstand 5 meters of water, making them suitable for most (but not all) outdoor activities. 

The other number, the breathability rate, tells you how much water vapor can be released from the inside of the material. The higher the breathability rating, the more breathable the jacket will be.

5000mm Waterproof Rating Compared

Although every outdoor situation is unique, here is a general idea of what type of weather your waterproof jacket might be able to protect you against:

Waterproof RatingBest Use
0-1,500mmOccasional, light rain. These jacket provide light water-resistance.
1,500mm-5,000mmLight to average rain. Can protect against persistent, but light, rain.
5,000mm-10,000mmAverage to moderate rain. Can be used for moderate conditions.
10,000mm+Extreme weather. Built to handle heavy, consistent, rain.

As you can see, 5000mm falls as a sort of divider between light to moderate protection. It is considered by many to be a sort of minimum standard needed for moderate conditions.

Types of 5000mm Waterproof Jackets

Waterproof jackets come in different styles, with each style serving a specific activity or function. For instance, you want something lightweight when strolling, but something hardwearing when mountaineering. Therefore, you want to select your desired activities first, so you know which features you need. 

Two-Layer Waterproof Jackets

Most waterproof jackets fall under the two-layer design. These jackets forgo the insulation layer to reduce costs and improve breathability. In these jackets, the outer layer does most of the work with the inner membrane reducing the natural corrosion from use. This design makes these waterproof jackets great for outdoor activities during warm weather.

Two-and-a-Half-Layer Waterproof Jackets

A modification of the two-layer design, 2.5-layer waterproof jackets have an additional polyurethane coating on the inside. This additional coating protects the inner membrane from dirt and sweat, improving the longevity and breathability of the jacket. The polyurethane provides some heat insulation but is nowhere as good as a three-layer jacket. At least this makes the 2.5-layer the lighter option. 

Three-Layer Waterproof Jackets

Three-layer jackets come with all three layers of waterproof protection, including the DWR waterproof fabric exterior, an internal waterproof and breathable membrane, and an insulation lining. Bonded together, these layers produce an effectively single-layer lightweight jacket suitable for all weather conditions. 

Three-in-One Waterproof Jackets

A 3-in-1 jacket is a customizable two-layer jacket that lets you switch out the inner lining with a detachable inner fleece, softshell or padded jacket. This customization lets you use these jackets year-round under any weather conditions. You can even get 3-in-1 jackets with taped seams for extra waterproof protection.


Parkas are lightweight waterproof jackets you can pack away into their waterproof pouch. You can then carry the jacket in your backpack until you need it. While not suitable in all weather conditions, they work well when you have no other option. Luckily, you can overlay parkas over other jackets if necessary. 

Breathable Waterproof Jackets

While often overlooked, you can get dedicated highly-breathable 5000mm waterproof jackets. These jackets allow you to sweat in comfort, especially when doing any energetic activity.

Even though all waterproof jackets have some breathability, most jackets just use their loose fit to let air inside. As a result, these waterproof jackets often feel leaky as their inner lining soaks up sweat. In contrast, the truly breathable ones come equipped with an additional breathable membrane, pit zips, and mesh-lined pockets that allow air to pass freely through.

Fitting 5000mm Waterproof Jackets

A waterproof jacket will do nothing if you cannot wear it. Therefore, you must get one that fits your size. Luckily, waterproof jackets tend to use similar sizing scales as other clothing. Therefore, your best starting guess is your shirt size, but there are a few caveats. 

Select Your Cut

For instance, manufacturers cut their waterproof jackets differently for men and women. As a result, women’s jackets often have shorter arms with a more tailored fit. Therefore, if you want a looser fit, you must go with a men’s jacket, even if you are a woman, despite the broader shoulders and narrower hips. 

Consider the Layers

You must also consider the jacket’s layers. Each waterproofing layer of a jacket adds to its effective size. Some layers are also thicker than others. As a result, you may have to go with a waterproof jacket that is slightly larger than you normally wear to be able to move your arms and shoulders. This is especially true when your desired activities depend on your freedom of movement. 

Select the Right Length

Finally, you must get a 5000mm waterproof jacket that is long enough to cover your lower back even after lifting your arms. You also want cuffs that are long enough to cover the top of your hands. These lengths will prevent rain from soaking through the edges. 

Luckily, many shorter waterproof jackets have longer backs to fill the gap between your pants and jacket. This should keep you dry if the jacket rides up your back while cycling or whenever you bend forward. 

Finding Waterproof Gear

If you are working in wet conditions, and need protection, consider our articles linked below to help you find the proper protection you need:

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that water-resistant is not the same thing as waterproof. If you are working in extreme conditions, you will want to make sure the jacket or boot you choose meets the demands of your job.

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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