Understanding your horse rugs waterproofing

Understanding your horse rugs waterproofing main image Understanding your horse rugs waterproofing image
Understanding how your synthetic turnout gets its waterproofing can be so valuable in understanding how to care for your rug and how to test if you think the waterproofing is failing.


All Delzani turnout horse rugs are both breathable and waterproof. Our synthetic denier waterproof fabric rating - exceeds 3500mm for waterproofing - more than twice the minimum rating and our rug Breathability rating - exceeds 3300g/m2/24hrs for maximum comfort.

The chemically treated membrane is what lines the underside of the fabric in synthetic waterproof rugs and is what provides the waterproofing; the fabric itself does not. 

This membrane allows vapour, which is smaller than water molecules, to escape through the membrane while preventing water molecules from flowing through the fibres. It’s the quality of this membrane and how it is maintained that can create big variances in rugs meeting our expectations. Once the membrane is damaged, you can’t reseal it.

The quality of this membrane is the single biggest differential between cheap and more expensive rugs.  Many manufacturers sacrifice the quality of the membrane with a cheap alternative - this creates a rug that leaks under heavy rain - or the membrane starts breaking down quickly when in use and the membrane starts to peel away from the fabric. It’s also very common to see waterproof deniers that do not have breathability built into the membrane - it’s simply waterproof. (This is how many manufacturers offer cheaper rugs - by sacrificing breathability,

A quick test to see if your rug is breathable.

With Delzani rain sheets, we use a soft mesh lining to provide the best breathability. If you hold the rug up to the sun and look up from the underside – you will see the thousands of little pins holes of light – these are the waterproof pores in the fabric that give the rug its breathability. The waterproof membrane ensures the holes are smaller than a water molecule – so water cannot enter the rug. 

This is a great way to see if your fabric is actually breathable.  

Keep in mind that when the horse rug is wet, breathability is reduced to almost zero, as the water covers all the little pores.  

How to check waterproofing in a horse rug is easy.

Sometimes a horse can be damp under his horse rug (see why further below) The best way to check your horse rug fabric is still waterproof, is to use a sink or large tub, lay the rug over the top and create a small indent with the denier - ensure you choose an area of the rug with no fittings or seams. Then pour a few glasses of water into the indent and allow the water to pool. The denier should hold the water and not allow any seepage to the inside.

What else assists a rain sheet to be waterproof/? 

Taped Seams - Delzani turnouts have taped seams behind stitching and seams, but no rug will ever be 100% Waterproof, this is because all rugs contain stitching, webbing & fastenings that cannot always be tape seamed to prevent water penetration.  (Tape sealing doesn't create a 100% waterproof seam, it simply slows water entry down significantly. We use tape on all our side seams and the stitching behind the belly surcingle and leg strap attachments) 

Why it may appear my rug is leaking?

Condensation & sweating

Even in cold weather, your horse will perspire, and if a garment does not have sufficient breathability, the moisture (from perspiration) and difference in outside/inside air temperature will build up as condensation on the inside of the rug. This will make your horse uncomfortable. For any turnout rug to keep your horse comfortable on the inside, both the outer fabric and the lining also need to be breathable.

If your horse decides to take a quick gallop or get worked up, the perspiration they generate will be more than a turnout rain sheet can breathe away. Also be aware that regardless of the rug's breathability rating - in wet conditions, it will be reduced to almost zero as water covers the rug's fabric pores. This can cause condensation to accumulate on the inside of the rug. This extra moisture on the inside may also give the illusion that the garment is letting water in from the outside, when in reality it is your horse’s perspiration and condensation from the difference in outer air temperature. 

When using rain sheets, we always suggest using a cotton underrug in humid, extended wet or cold conditions as this style of rug will help wick away the horse’s perspiration and condensation that needs to be transported away from their coat. A horse can perspire up to 1 litre per hour.

If you have ever worn a raincoat yourself on bare skin on a cold day in the rain, you will know how clammy and uncomfortable it feels as the condensation builds up against your warm skin. 


Water will eventually wick its way up a horse rug's interior lining or via under rugs.

The inside linings of the rugs progressively absorb moisture by a natural capillary action when water collects on the drip lines and bindings of the rug. 

This is accelerated if you have an underrug hanging out a few millimetres from the top rug. This fabric functions something like a sponge, sucking up the rain as it falls off the outer rain sheet. It's more important to consider the amount of time spent than the amount of rain needed for this to occur. For example, 10mm of rain falling in 5 minutes won't have much of an impact. Nevertheless, 5mm spread out over 10 hours gives more opportunity for capillary action allowing water to wick its way in.

Tail Flaps

At Delzani we use large tail flaps, but water entry around the tail flap is unavoidable, A tail flap is a separate attachment to the main rug, and it's normal in any horse rug to get some water entry in via the stitching that attaches the rug and tail flap. We are yet to find a foolproof way to get zero water entry in via the stitching (as is any other manufacturer)  On a correctly fitting rug the tail flap seam should be situated below the top of the horse's tail.

How Long Does a Denier Rug's Waterproofing Last? 

Treated correctly you should get a good life out of your turnout, but it depends on a few factors.

  • washing a rug will shorten a waterproof membrane's life. Avoid top-load washing machines that agitate and twist rugs.
  • avoid harsh detergents
  • never use water over 35c, hot water will destroy the membrane.
  • leaving rugs out in the sun, when not in use, will cause the membranes, over time to get brittle
  • some shampoos and coat conditioners can be acidic and damage the membrane.

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