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Safety Footwear - What's the difference between waterproof and water repellent?

WATERPROOF (water-resistant): An item that is waterproof is impenetrable by water. Meaning no water can get through the material of the item. It also means that the item provides sustained protection from water for a prolonged period of time.


WATER REPELLENT: These types of products only prevent water penetration up to a certain level. Therefore they are not completely impenetrable by water. Water will be able to pass through the fabric when it's exposed to vast amounts of water.


The materials in a water-repellent item are tightly woven so that water struggles to get through. However, they DO NOT stop the water completely.


It's only an item with a waterproof membrane that prevents water from seeping through onto the inners of the footwear. A waterproof membrane acts in a similar way to putting a plastic bag on your foot. Unless the footwear has a waterproof membrane, it will not be entirely waterproof.


Some people may struggle to see the difference when it comes to footwear markings. Here are the two markings you will need to look out for.


Water Resistant (WR): WR means the boot

has a waterproof membrane and is certified as waterproof.


Water Repellent Upper (WRU): This means the boot has only some resistance to water from the upper.


Rock Fall is one of our superior footwear supply chain partners. To test for the WR marketing and waterproof certification they submerge an item in a water tank 20mm above the featherline. (where the sole is bonded to the upper). The footwear is then flexed and only a tolerance of 3cm2 of leakage is permitted. However, Rock Fall take that one step further and submerge the footwear for 8 hours instead of 80 minutes.


As well as the 8-hour testing method Rock Fall also produce certified styles that undergo 100 hours of flexing, which is 75 times longer than the European standard!


On top of all this Rock Fall use the highest grade Non-EPTFE membranes in their footwear. This means that the production is much kinder to the environment. Emitting 36% less Greenhouse Gases per kilo compared to EPTFE products.


It doesn't stop there!


Some of the Rock Fall range also features Moisture-tech by Sympatex®. This ensures that moisture is wicked quickly from the foot through the inner lining of the boot, making sure your feet are kept dry from sweat and water.


If you would like to talk further about improving your safety footwear please get in touch with our team.


Call us direct 0121 543 1333