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What’s the Difference Between Waterproof and Water Resistant

Tribit Stormbox Pro after water has been poured on top of the speaker
Andrew Heinzman / LifeSavvy

Sometimes, we use the words waterproof and water-resistant interchangeably. But, when you adopt that mindset, your favorite watch, camera, speaker, or other devices could end up getting ruined after you take them for a dip in the pool or outside during a sudden rainstorm.

Why? Turns out these two terms often get confused thanks to clever marketing. Even if a product isn’t completely waterproof, advertisers might throw around words like “water-resistant” to get you to think it is.

So, what’s the real difference? What should you know about the waterproof vs. water-resistant debate?

MARMOT Women's PreCip Rain Jacket

A waterproof jacket will keep you dry and warm---a water-resistant one might leave you feeling all wet.

At its core, an item that is waterproof is made of materials that are impervious to water. It can be dipped, dunked, sprayed, or showered, and it won’t get damaged. For things like electronic devices or even waterproof clothes, a waterproof “finish” helps to create a barrier that keeps water from soaking into the actual product.

Simply put, if something is advertised as waterproof, you can feel confident water shouldn’t penetrate it.

Water-resistant items, on the other hand, are only meant to repel some water. They might contain materials or sealants that keep moisture out for a while. But, it’s a seal that can be broken, and water can start to seep through.

Things like a water-resistant jacket might keep you dry if you’re only outside for a minute or two, but it’s not something you should take on a rainy camping trip.

Many home-building materials are also labeled as water-resistant, like sealants and pressure-treated lumber. While these materials will undoubtedly last longer than untreated items in inclement weather, they won’t be protected from water forever.

There’s nothing wrong with water-resistant items. However, it’s important to know the difference when you’re making a purchase, so you can prepare yourself (and your belongings) to stay dry.

Stacey Koziel Stacey Koziel
Stacey Koziel is a news writer at LifeSavvy. She's worked as a freelance writer for over ten years, focusing on family and lifestyle content. She also has a background in marketing and social media, and is always eager to talk (and write!) about the latest TikTok trends. Read Full Bio »
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