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EN 343 Waterproof Clothing Explained


When its time to face the elements, it’s always important that your work clothing can offer you the right level of protection. When it comes to rain, you’re going to want to take advantage of clothing which is fully waterproof. Not to be confused with products that are water resistant or water repellent – fully waterproof work clothing meets EN343 standard, and differs from its counterparts, in terms of how it keeps you protected.

Waterproof ClothingWater resistant clothing is able to resist penetration from water exposure to a certain extent, but will not be effective in heavy foul weather conditions, whereas products which are repellent are not so easily penetrated under exposure to water, and are usually hydrophobic in nature. Repellent products will usually be treated to bead water off of the surface, but water can still get into certain areas such as seams, zips and pockets.

Products which fall into the EN 343 foul weather protection category, are defined by two attributes –

  • Water penetration
  • Water vapour resistance

These values are split into three classes from 1 through to 3, and accompany the EN343 pictograph as illustrated:

EN343 Pictograph
The EN343 Pictograph

Below you can see a breakdown of the three levels of water penetration resistance for En 343 foul weather clothing. 8000 Pa (Pascal units) equates to 1.16 pounds per square inch (PSI).

Water Penetration Resistance Class
1 2 3
Test on fabric ≥ 8 000 Pa, before pre-treatment ≥ 8 000 Pa , after pre-treatment ≥ 13 000 Pa, after pre-treatment
Tests on seam, before pre-treatment ≥ 8 000 Pa ≥ 8 000 Pa ≥ 13 000 Pa

1 mVc (meter water column) = 10 000 Pa

The table below shows the attributes of vapour resistivity, based on the operating temperature, and the number of hours which the garment can withstand vapour penetration.

The preferred working hours based on the garment’s water vapour resistivity Class
Operating temperature °C 1 2 3
25 60 105 205
20 75 250
15 100
10 240

“-” Means that working time is not limited.

As with all types of protective clothing, EN 343 certified waterproof clothing garments should be looked after in the correct manner, in order to maintain their protective qualities. For maximum effectiveness you must always ensure that the products are well fitted and closed fully to reduce any chance of water penetration, and that the fabric itself is kept clean, as dirt can negatively impact the effectiveness of the protection. It’s always important that foul weather protective clothing and accessories are stored in dry and well ventilated areas. As with all clothes, it is also recommended to follow any fabric care instructions applicable to individual items, to help further maintain their protective qualities.

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