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Breathable waterproof fabric is a material that can be used to make clothing, protective outerwear, or even portable shelter that is both breathable and waterproof. Breathable means that the substance allows air, and by extension water vapor, to effectively pass through the substance. Waterproof indicates that the substance can also effectively keep a certain amount of water from passing through it. A breathable waterproof fabric then is a material that keeps liquid water from passing through it but allows air and vapor to freely move through it.
Making a material breathable and waterproof is often accomplished by using a membrane or substance that consists of many tiny holes. These pore-like holes are too small for a water droplet to pass through it, but are large enough for air molecules to pass through. This allows a breathable waterproof jacket to protect underclothes from getting wet, while allowing sweat to evaporate and escape from a person’s skin or clothes.
Other objects such as tents can also be made from breathable waterproof materials. This allows a tent to keep out water from rain or snow, while allowing fresh air to pass through and preventing carbon dioxide (CO2) buildup within the tent. Pants and shorts may also be made from breathable waterproof fabrics to allow a wearer to sit down on a wet surface without allowing the water to permeate the fabric. Such clothes will still allow sweat to evaporate and pass through to keep the person comfortable and dry during hiking or exercise.
Shoes can also be made from breathable waterproof fabrics to allow a wearer to maintain comfort and to help prevent bacterial infections. This can be especially helpful for someone who is hiking over long distances through potentially wet or soggy terrain. The material will usually prevent water from entering the shoe while allowing sweat to evaporate out of the shoe, both of which can help prevent skin irritation or foot fungus.
Such breathable waterproof materials can also be used to make garments such as raincoats for people and animals or tarps for automobiles. These coverings can keep a person dry during rain or snow that helps prevent conditions such as hypothermia in extreme cold. Similarly, a car could be more effectively protected from corrosive elements such as rain and snow by a covering that keeps water out while allowing moisture to evaporate and be released from within.
My experience is that w/b material is of very limited use where there is pressure, e.g. pants seat when sitting in wet conditions such as boat seat.