Magdalena Putz

WTF is water column

Winter is just around the corner and a new ski suit is needed. Like a nomad, I wander from shop to shop looking for the perfect ski suit. From pushy salespeople I hide between the clothes racks – I  want to shop by myself and in peace. A look to the left – no one in sight. A look to the right – the air is clear. I turn to a row of ski jackets, grab the label and study the foreign words that are printed on it. Size – I understand. Price – I understand. Material – I understand. Water column – WTF is water column? I take out my cell phone – Google  is your friend.

Ah, there we have it

The water column tells me how waterproof the clothes are. The higher the value, the denser the material. It starts at 10,000mm.

What exactly is being measured here?
The pressure is crucial. It means what water pressure the upper material can withstand before water infiltrates. 1,000 mm WS corresponds to a pressure of around 0.1 bar.

When is my clothing dense enough?
It depends on what you want to do with your clothes. 10,000mm is enough for a rain jacket for running, cycling and hiking. The combination of wind, movement, exposure and weather is taken into account here. Hardshell jackets have a water column value of 20,000mm.

My recommendations:

  • Ski and snowboard pants: from 15,000mm – in wet conditions and snowfall, sometimes 20,000mm
  • Ski jackets: from 10,000mm – you can have more, if you are not only a beautiful weather skier
  • Winter jackets (for everyday): from 5,000mm
  • Snowsuit / ski clothing for children: from 4,000mm – the more they roll around in the snow, the higher the water column should be.

How about the breathability?

One thing is clear – the denser, the less permeable. But you can help yourself with several layers. Onion look is the ultimate thing when it is cool outside, but you keep moving and your body warms up, but then threatens to cool down again.

“Can I help you?” Growls a deep voice behind me. Caught I turn around and look into the warm green eyes of a young, sporty man with dark hair. A smile turns the corners of my mouth upwards. "I'll take the ski suit combination here with the 20,000mm water column".

Satisfied, I walk out of the store – the new ski-jacket and ski-pants in one hand and the receipt with the sweet salesperson’s number in the other.

Magdalena Putz

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