Proof you can stay dry: You won't be able to resist this

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December 10, 2008

Whether it’s your new Ironman® watch, Nike® golf shoes, Timberland® boots or GORE-TEX® winter gloves, you‘ve heard the expressions ‘water resistant’ and ‘waterproof’ tossed around regularly. Although when it comes to H20 and its affect on these items, the question remains, “Do you know the difference?”

Well, you may have inadvertently found out the distinction the hard way after doing that animated cannonball which splashed half the party at your brother’s cookout last Fourth of July. The problem here: The new $100 watched strapped tightly around your wrist when you dove off the diving board and wore in the pool for the next 5 hours was water resistant. Not waterproof. So to your surprise, when you woke up on the couch after your 8-hour nap, the water resistant watch you just purchased was stopped at the exact time of that memorable cannonball. Not good times. Now let’s make certain time won’t stop for you for a second time by breaking down the differences between “water resistant” and “waterproof.”

When a product is referred to as water resistant, it means it can withstand the effects of rain, snow and other wet weather, but here’s the most important point — it should NOT be submerged in water.

In contrast, when a product is referred to as waterproof it means the component is designed to withstand total submersion in water. The IP Rating Scale of IPX0 – IPX8 determines the degree of protection a product has against the ingress of water with “0” being don’t even let the item near a rain drop to “8,” the highest rating which basically means Aquaman could use it.

There are different levels of water protection based on the IP rating system (see below). The IP rating rates the ingress protection, in this case water, of the equipment inside the enclosure. The digit after ‘IP-X” indicates the degree of protection. The higher the number, the better the electronics will be protected from adverse affects of water such as shortages, moisture leakage, condensation or corroding.

  • IPX-0 No protection.
  • IPX-1 – Protected against condensation or dripping water falling vertically.
  • IPX-2 – Protected against spraying water when tilted up to 15 degrees vertically.
  • IPX-3 – Protected against spraying water when tilted up to 60 degrees vertically.
  • IPX-4 – Protected against splashing water from any angle.
  • IPX-5 – Protected against low pressure water stream from any angle.
  • IPX-6 – Protected against high pressure water stream from any angle.
  • IPX-7 – Protected against water immersion. Immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of up to 1 meter.
  • IPX-8Protected against continual water submersion in under water conditions.

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  1. I was wondering the same has what Rich said if water resistant just means falling rain or snow why do water resistant watches give a depth at which they can go?

  2. Rich D.

    Not always the case: Some “water resistant” items ARE submersible. My watch is “Water Resistant to 100 meters”
    This is certainly more that rain and splash resistant. Submersible to 100 meter pressure.

  3. Very interesting Sonny. I’ve always described GARMIN GPS with an IPX 7 as being water resistant. If what you say is true they are actually waterproof. Is that correct? Thanks.