Breathability vs. Waterproof – Which Is More Important?
There is a lot of conflicting information out there when it comes to covers for caravans and motorhomes. We are here to break it down and make protecting your investment easy.
When it comes to protecting your caravan or motorhome from the elements, it’s essential you look around to find the best.
At Protec, we believe a cover is only as good as its fabric. But what makes a fabric “good”? The snazzy colour choice? How soft it is? How heavy it is? As important as all of these factors are, it really boils down to how waterproof or breathable a fabric is.
But what does that mean, and which is more important?
We have a blog explaining the in-depth science and testing we have done on our fabric (click below). But when you’ve been staring at 100s of different covers and been told “you need a breathable cover” from one friend, but “you need a waterproof cover” from another friend, sometimes it is all a bit too much.
These commonly used terms may seem self-explanatory, but if you’re new to caravaning or owning a motorhome, their meaning when it comes to covers may not be obvious.
When we say a cover is breathable, this means that moisture is able to pass through the cover. Whether this be in the form of condensation on the outside of the vehicle or naturally occurring moisture in the air.
The speed at which all this moisture will breathe through a breathable fabric will vary depending on the temperature and moisture levels of the air. For example, if it is a rainy or foggy day, the air is already ‘full’ of moisture and will not be able to take on any more; however, once the air dries a bit, any moisture under the cover will evaporate and begin to pass through the cover over time.
If a fabric is made out of plastic or PVC, this means that it cannot be breathable. So, beware of any claims of breathability if a cover is made of these!
The definition of this one is probably a lot more obvious to all of you, but we will go over it anyway.
When we talk about a cover or fabric being waterproof, this is how much water or moisture it keeps out. It’s not as black and white as you may think, as there can be different levels of waterproofing.
For example, plastics and PVC are completely waterproof as they let no water through, whereas other fabrics can be waterproof up to a certain amount (after holding so much water on top, the pressure of the water will force some water through the fabric)
Yes, we know caravans and motorhomes don’t need oxygen. However, it is essential that there is airflow around your vehicle so it can “breathe”.
If moisture is trapped between your cover and vehicle, this can make your caravan or motorhome ‘sweat’. This means that moisture (a.k.a condensation) will gradually build up on the roof of your vehicle, leading to mildew and algae build-ups. After spending money on a cover to keep your vehicle clean and dry, the last thing you want is more work cleaning a mess it has created!
Breathability is a trade-off with how waterproof a fabric is – if the fabric is highly breathable, it will not be 100% waterproof (but usually waterproof enough for your needs). So, this is something to be aware of when it comes to how breathable your cover is.
A waterproof fabric ensures your caravan or motorhome is going to be protected from heavy rainfall or snow. This means you won’t be a victim of dirty rainwater or puddles of water freezing on your roof over winter.
However, if a cover is fully waterproof, it cannot breathe. This means any moisture that naturally occurs in the air will become trapped underneath the cover. Moisture getting trapped can lead to damp and condensation for your caravan or motorhome.
Damp and condensation can lead to mildew and algae forming on the roof of your caravan or motorhome, completely reversing your hard work in prepping your vehicle for storage (link to prepping vehicle guide blog) and protecting it with a cover.
Waterproof fabrics also tend to be made from plastics and PVC, which are very heavy and stiff, making them hard to handle when it comes to fitting the cover on your caravan or motorhome. These materials are also known for being quite rough, giving the risk of it scratching your paintwork or windows. (here is a quick video showing how our Protec fabric won’t!)
In short, it is important to get the perfect balance of a fabric that can provide waterproof protection whilst maintaining its breathability. Remember, the more waterproof a fabric is, the less breathable it is.
Do your research and obtain fabric samples from any cover suppliers you are considering using for your caravan or motorhome to ensure your money is not wasted and your vehicle’s pristine condition is maintained.