For camping and hiking enthusiasts one of the most important things to have is a waterproof jacket. If you own one then you can perform your tasks in the rain knowing you are well protected and will remain dry.
However, have you been out in the rain rocking your waterproof jacket but noticed that water seems to get absorbed on the outer layer? This is called wetting out and it prevents your jacket from performing at its optimum. It also hinders its breathability.
The wetting out is caused by dirt, grease and body oils that accumulate on the exterior surface of the waterproof jacket.
To ensure your jacket performs at its full potential, all you need to do is clean it. However, simply soaking it in water and detergent will not do. Some detergents leave behind a residue that can actually cause wetting out.
The best solution is to use a technical cleaner that is made specifically for removing all the dirt and grease from the surface of the waterproof jacket.
There are two main ways you can tell your waterproof jacket needs cleaning. The first is the wetting out. You will notice that when a raindrop hits the surface of your jacket, it spreads as the water gets absorbed on jacket’s outer layer.
Second is when you can see stains on the surface of your waterproof jacket. Life in the outdoors can get a bit messy and it is expected that your waterproof jacket is going to get dirty sooner or later. Sometimes cleaning a stain out with a wet cloth may be all it takes but in the majority of instances, it will interfere with the breathability of the jacket which calls for a much more technical cleaning.
How Waterproof Rain Gear Works
Before learning how to wash your waterproof jacket, it’s important to know how they work. They consist of a breathable inner material that lets water vapor pass through while also preventing the rain droplets from getting through. This is what makes such jackets both waterproof and breathable.
While you will get ample protection from the rain, the waterproof jacket also features a fabric material called durable water repellent or DWR. This material helps to keep the gear dry from moisture and forms a barrier between you and the rain. When water droplets hit the DWR they roll down without getting absorbed.
As you repeatedly use your waterproof jacket, the DWR material experiences wear. This leaves the underlying fabric open to catching dirt, grease and other impurities which gets into the membrane causing the waterproof jacket to losses its properties.
The jacket might start to smell from all the dirt and will also not be very effective at keeping you dry in wet weather. As the water gets absorbed, the jacket feels heavy in the rain. After cleaning the jacket, you can restore it to full capacity by re-waterproofing.
The question as to how often to reproof your waterproof jacket often arises. The first and most obvious way to tell that the jacket needs reproofing is as soon as you realize that it is losing its effectiveness in keeping the water out.
You can reproof your jacket based on how frequently you use it. If you are always out in the woods at any chance you get then you may have to re-proof your jacket after every 4 months or so. On the other hand, if you are the occasional camper, then you can reproof after 6 months.
How to Wash Your Waterproof Jacket
You will need to first wash your jacket to remove the dirt and impurities before you can retreat it. If you retreated without washing first, you will simply lock in all that dirt and oils.
The first step on how to wash your waterproof jacket is to a look at the garment tag and check the instructions. More often the instructions will be similar across all types of waterproof gear. However, to remain of the safe side, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
As we saw, normal detergent simply will not do. The best is Nikwax Tech Wash. It will effectively remove the grime off your waterproof rain gear with ease all while keeping the DWR material safe. Simply put the jacket into the washing machine and add the Nikwax Tech Wash and then turn it to a gentle cycle while using cold water.
After washing, ensure that you rinse the jacket out thoroughly. This will remove any residue of the tech wash. Leave it out to air dry. You need to take care not to wash the waterproof rain gear too frequently as this will damage the material and reduce its durability.
You do not need to wash your waterproof rain gear after every use. Instead, use the gear several times and if you notice it becoming dirty and getting stains, then you can wash it. One major benefit of the DWR coating is that it’s able to withstand several washings before it wears out.
Layering is a term that you will often come across with waterproof jackets. It refers to using multiple fabrics with different properties to keep the user safe from the outside elements and free to pursue their outdoor ambitions.
Layering is not just about remaining warm in cold and wet temperatures. It also helps promote air circulation. This will help regulate your body temperature when wearing the waterproof jacket in both warm weather and cold weather ensuring you remain at optimum body temperature. This means you will not be too cold in cold weather neither will you be too warm in hot weather.
How to Reproof a Waterproof Jacket
There are two main ways that you can reproof a jacket. These are by using a waterproof spray or by using a wash in proofer.
Using the spray is the easiest method. You need to first ensure that the jacket is clean. This will prevent it from clogging up when sprayed.
Once having cleaned it, put it up on a hanging line and apply a coat of waterproof spray while holding the spray around 20 cm away. Make sure every part of the jacket is given an even spray.
In case of any excess, simply take a cloth and wipe it off.
The second method involve the use of a washer and proofer. Not only will it clean your jacket it will also apply a coat of waterproofing evenly on the surface.
Types of Waterproof Jackets
The most popular type of waterproof jacket is the two-layer jacket. It has an outer waterproof fabric and an inner membrane made from either polyester, mesh or a combination of both. The inner layer prevents the wearer’s body from coming into contact with the outer layer which would cause it to deteriorate resulting in sweat and body oil to sticking to it.
Then there are the three-layer waterproof jackets. They can be used in almost all types of weather even in heavy rains. 3-layer jackets feature an external layer, a middle membrane that is both breathable and a waterproof inner protective lining.
3 in 1 waterproof jacket are not the same as 3-layer waterproof jackets. They feature an outer shell that is waterproof, an inner fleece, and a soft shell. These are a great option for wearing in ay type of weather and can be used year-round.
An even lightweight version of the waterproof jacket is the Pokka. It can be removed and stored away in a waterproof pouch during mild weather and remove it and wear it when the weather changes for the worse.
A good waterproof jacket should allow air circulation, be breathable but should not let water seep in. Walking through the backcountry can be strenuous. If the jacket is not breathable, sweat will not escape and the wearer will feel damp. People can easily think water is seeping into the jacket while in fact, it is their own sweat that is making them feel wet.
Waterproof jackets are going to be made differently based on whether they are meant for men or women. For women, the jackets often come with shorter arms and have a more fitting design. Men’s jackets are much larger with a looser fitting.
The right waterproof jacket will come down to how you plan to use it. The term breathability is often used when describing waterproof jackets. It simply refers to the rate at which moisture from your body moves through the fabrics to the outer shell of the jacket. This makes it possible to sweat while also keeping you dry.
Selecting the right waterproof jacket for you shouldn’t be so hard. How well it fits will determine how comfortable it is to wear and will not wear you down when camping in the backcountry.
Globo Surf Overview
Cleaning a waterproof jacket will not only provide you with a long service but it will help keep you dry in warm weather and warm in cold weather.
Proper care needs to be taken not to over wash your waterproof jacket as this will cause it to quickly lose its properties. GORE-TEX is the main material used to make waterproof jackets. It is often also windproof. First developed in Europe, it is now a common feature with weatherproof gear throughout the world.
Every so often depending on how regularly you go out camping, you will need to reproof your waterproof jacket. The process is simple and you will be done in no time.