EN 343 Standard for Waterproof and Breathable Workwear

EN 343 standard

EN 343 Standard for Waterproof and Breathable Workwear

For people working outdoors it is extremely important to wear quality garments that can effectively protect them in extreme weather conditions. As we already know, the terms “waterproof” and “water-resistant” are often used interchangeably, but there is a huge difference in the level of protection they provide. When it comes to facing the elements, your clothes must be fully waterproof and must meet the EN 343 Standard for water penetration resistance and breathability. Let’s see together what this means!

What is EN 343 standard?

EN 343 is a European Standard testing and specifying requirements for garments, fabrics, and seams providing protection against the effects of precipitation (e.g., rain, hail, snow), fog and ground humidity. Items meeting this standard are tested with respect to two attributes: resistance to water penetration and water vapour resistance. Each attribute is rated from 1 to 3, with 1 representing the lowest level of protection and 3 the highest:

Water Penetration Resistance
1: Minimum level of rain protection
2: Intermediate level of rain protection
3: Highest level of rain protection
Water Vapour Resistance
1: Not classified as breathable under EN 343
2: Intermediate level of breathability
3: Highest level of breathability  

Both ratings are shown on the CE label. 

Performance assessment

To test resistance against water penetration, pressurised water is applied to the garment both before and after pre-treatment (abrasion, flexing and washing). The EN 343 standard rating for waterproofness refers to the pressure garments can withstand, and is classified as follows:

Note: 8000 Pa (pascals) is equal to 1.16 pounds per square inch

 Water Penetration Resistance WP Class 1 Class 2 Class 3
Material before pre-treatment; WP > 8 000 Pa X X
Material after each pre-treatment X WP > 8 000 Pa WP > 13 000 Pa
Seams before pre-treatment WP > 8 000 Pa WP > 8 000 Pa WP > 13 000 Pa

Breathability is tested based on the operating temperature and the number of hours which the garment can withstand vapour penetration and is initially expressed as a RET number (Resistance of Evaporation of a Textile). The lower the RET rating, the greater the garment resistance to vapour penetration:

Recommended working minutes based on water vapour resistance Class 1 Class 2 Class 3
Ambient working temperature RET > 40 20 < RET < 40 RET < 20
25°C 60 mins 105 mins 205 mins
20°C 75 mins 250 mins X
15°C 100 mins X X
10°C 240 mins X X
5°C X X X

Remember that in order to be effective, all garments must fit well, must be fully closed to avoid any risk of water penetration, and must be looked after in the correct manner. This involves keeping them clean, stored in a dry place, and washed following the care instructions on individual labels.

Now that you know how the EN 343 standard for water penetration resistance and breathability works, browse our full collection of high-quality Rainwear to get the best protection against the elements!

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