With a rainy spring nearly upon us, it’s time to start thinking about breathing new life into our waterproof/breathable rain gear. Follow these four steps and you’ll have your wading jackets and turkey-season rain gear back in tip-top shape in no time.
Begin by checking for any rips or other damage to the outer shell. Most outdoor retailers sell iron-on patches for Gore-Tex and other waterproof/breathable layers.
Most waterproof/breathable clothing is coated with a polymer at the factory. The polymer consists of microscopic holes that are large enough to allow moisture to escape, but small enough to stop water droplets from getting in. However, dirt can clog these pores. When this happens you end up sweating like you’re wearing a garbage bag, yet water still works its way through the fabric.
Washing the garment reactivates some of the waterproofing in a fabric’s weave. Follow the instructions on the tag and only wash the piece when it is dirty, as washing wears out waterproofing over time. Typically, you should wash the garments on the gentle cycle with a mild powder detergent or a product specifically designed for washing outerwear, such as Nikwax Tech Wash. Don’t use liquid detergents or those that have fabric softeners, as these can leave residues that might harm waterproofing.
Some fabrics can also be renewed with an iron. It might feel strange to iron your rain gear, but an iron set on low steam (not hot) can help to renew the waterproofing polymer that might have started breaking down.
The last step is to retreat the fabric, and there are two options: spray-on or wash-in. If the jacket has a wicking liner that can’t be removed, a spray (such as Nikwax TX.Direct Spray-On or ReviveX Durable Waterproofing) is the best option.
An easy place to do this is in the shower. Spray evenly and don’t neglect the high-impact areas like elbows and underarms. Let it dry before applying a second and even a third coat. After it dries, toss it in a dryer on low heat to help melt the treatment’s polymer into the fabric. If the garment doesn’t have a fleece liner or other material sewn in, you can use a wash-in treatment, such as Grangers Performance Wash or Nikwax TX.Direct Wash-In.