The latest version of EN 343 is now available. This March 2019 version differs in particular from its predecessors due to the possibility of a new, higher class for both the water resistance level and the water vapor resistance.
This class 4 requires a water resistance of at least 20 kPa and a water vapour resistance (Ret) of no more than 15 m²⋆Pa / W. This means that only highly breathable materials with a very good water resistance in combination with well-constructed waterproof seams are eligible for this class.
In addition, it is now also possible to assess its watertightness by means of a simulated rain test on clothing. Only clothing that has undergone such a test may carry the additional classification (R) associated with it. This test is not mandatory!
Limited wear time
Just like its predecessor, this standard also stipulates that rainwear with a water vapour resistance class 1 must be marked as a product with "a limited wearing time". Background information on this must be found in the user instruction.
The breathability test must be performed on all layers that make up the clothing together. To be performed with or without a removable thermal liner.
The major drawback of strict requirements for category I products is that there is not type-examination by an inspection body (Notified Body), which means that over-classification is lurking. It is also unfortunate that this standard version does not take into account other methods than breathability to increase the comfort of the clothing. Nevertheless, clothing manufacturers are free to innovate their products on this point.