Waterproof Breathable Fabrics I have been asked...

Waterproof Breathable Fabrics

I have been asked a lot about KUIU’s rain gear and how it compares to other brands in weight and performance. When researching rain gear it is really important to understand the different choices of waterproof breathable fabrics to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Below is some basic information that I hope will help you make the best choice for your type of hunting.

There are three categories of waterproof breathable fabrics, 2-layer, 2.5-layer and 3-layer fabrics. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. 2-layer & 2.5-layer fabrics are lighter in weight and less expensive. 3-layer fabrics are significantly more durable, will last longer and are much more dependable.


Two-layer fabrics essentially consist of gluing a laminate or coating to a lightweight face fabric thus forming a single fabric. You can identify 2-layer rain gear by looking at the inside of the garment; it will typically be white or light grey in color and smooth to the touch. Packlite is one example of a 2 layer waterproof breathable.


2.5 layer fabrics add a very thin protective film to the laminate of a 2-layer fabric to increase abrasion resistance and add some protection for the laminate. You can identify 2.5-layer fabrics by the printed grid pattern over the top of the laminate on the inside of a garment.


A 3-layer fabric is made up of a laminate sandwiched between a face fabric and inside or backer fabric. 3-layer fabrics are much more durable due to the two layers of fabric protecting the laminate creating added strength. 3-layer fabrics significantly decrease abrasion and punctured caused failures so often experienced in 2-layer and 2.5 layer fabrics. The downside to most 3-layer fabrics is cost, weight and the lack of stretch or no stretch if a garment is using a ePTFE like Gore-Tex or eVent.

Waterproof breathable laminates and coatings are very thin and fragile. Abrasion, stress and punctures can create tiny leakage channels. I have researched and tested 2-layer and 2.5 layer fabrics that have failed in less than an hour of field-testing.

We only recommend 3 layer fabric rain gear. Two layer rain gear should only be considered packable emergency rain gear. If you plan to spend any amount of time in your gear do not risk your life or your once in a lifetime hunt on rain gear you cannot count on.

My goal for KUIU was to develop a durable, four-way stretch, 3-layer fabric that would weigh as much as a 2-layer and 2.5-layer rain gear. I worked closely with Toray to successfully develop a fabric that is the foundation of lightest 3-layer rain gear available. The Chugach fabric uses Toray’s DermizaxEV a 4-way stretch laminate technology with an amazing 20,000/20,000 waterproof & breathability rating.

KUIU’s Chugach Jacket weighs in at only 17oz and the Chugach pant is a mere 13oz which are on par for 2-layer and 2.5-layer rain gear. We have Tested this gear for two seasons on Kodiak, which has a rich history of proving waterproof-breathable’s do not work, and did not had any failures.

I hope this information helps you better understand the fabric choices available in rain gear so you make the right decision for your hunt.


This article has 19 comment(s)

  1. Will Jenkins

    Great Post Jason! Very informative, definitely can’t wait until everything is back in stock so I can get some in hand and test it out!

    • Jason Hairston

      Glad to hear this was helpful information.


  2. Jwhite

    Doesn’t telling consumers it’s magic suffice anymore? I for one, am content with you telling me it’s magic. Thank you for keeping me dry and perspiration free.

    • Jason Hairston

      LOL! You are more than welcome J

  3. Jim Currie

    Your last 3 posts have really been informative, greatly appreciate the time and effort to do so.

    • Jason Hairston

      You are more than welcome Jim.


  4. Geirge Hicks

    Like I suppose many others, I have experienced my share of failures of other brands of “performance” rain gear. That is, until I started wearing Chugach! I already learned that Chugach worked flawlessly, but it is nice to know why. Thanks for the tech Jason.

    • Jason Hairston

      Thanks George!


  5. Chuck Largent

    Thanks, good to know.

    • Jason Hairston

      Thanks Chuck for the comment!


  6. Trevor Esparza

    I already own my Chugach set but I’m curious as to what Toray uses for a laminate that allows it to stretch? Or why the gore tex/ event stuff isn’t able to stretch. Also curious how the Toray moves the sweat out?


  7. Jeff M Valunas

    Always enjoy the read! I think it would be of your/KUIU’s best interest, to include the SIZE that the weight is attached to!
    Different sizes, have different weight- You provide so much more information, than the others… Including the size, of that garment that you are giving weight to, seems a (no-brainer)!!!
    I realize you are in the busy season, of ‘shows’… So, something this minor, could have been a simple (flaw, over-look).
    Regardless, KUIU’s gear is the lightest, and BEST, in my opinion!

  8. Craig Germond

    I also tested my Chugach out this past fall. I went to BC in September for goats it rained from the time I got there until the day I left and never got once. Also hunt brown bear in late October in AK and it rained and snow and I was as dry as could be. KUIU has really been setting the bar high for the other clothing makers to compete IMO.

    • Jason Hairston

      Thanks Craig for the feedback. I am so glad to hear your gear delivered!


  9. Ron

    It speaks volumes when there is a hunter that takes feedback from hunters, and your opinions go a very long way with your customers (hunters). I can say I have never dealt with a company like yours that takes the time to research, and then share the research with their clients like you folks do. The gear, research, feedback, and input from the consumer sets you far apart from your competition.

    Thanks and Keep up the great work


  10. Tim Groves


    Is there a preferable way to store our rain gear as well as all our other Kuiu clothing?

    Tim Groves

  11. Jean-Francois Jobin

    Just check the dermizax NX fabric for your next 2012 shell apparels.

    2x more breathable than dermizax EV.

    And maybe do a bibs pant version.

    in gray…

  12. Jean-Francois Jobin

    Just check the dermizax NX fabric for your next 2012 shell apparels.

    2x more breathable than dermizax EV.

    And maybe do a bibs pant version.

    in gray…

  13. Tim Faltin

    Hey Jason, nice work! I’m currently writing a paper on outdoor gear, any chance I can borrow your pictures? I’ll give you full credit and everything. Thanks!