Caring for Your Rain Repellant Jackets by WindRider

Extending the Lifespan of Your Rain Gear: Essential Care Tips

High quality rain gear is an investment in being comfortable no matter what nature throws at you. With any piece of gear, you need to take care of it, so it can take care of you. Here are some tips to help ensure your rain gear lasts as long as possible.

Understanding DWR (Durable Water Repellent):

The Key to Keeping your Rain Breathable

Let’s start by breaking down what DWR is and why it’s one of the most important aspects of rain wear. First off, let’s address a common misconception: many people think that when their jacket starts to absorb water - or “wet out” that it is no longer “waterproof.” For most modern rain gear, this is NOT true. Rather, the DWR just makes it so the water beads up and rolls off the face fabric. This face fabric is NOT what keeps you dry inside though. To understand why, we need to know how breathable/waterproof fabrics are made. Most modern rain gear is made from laminated material. The outer - face fabric is the more rugged fabric. This is bonded to a waterproof membrane. Gore-Tex was the first, using ePTFE (expanded Polytetrafluoroethylene) to keep the large water droplets from getting through, but still allowing smaller air molecules to pass. This allows the rain jacket to be both breathable and waterproof. Now there are generic ePTFE membranes, eVent and other membrane materials available.

When Breathable Membranes No Longer Breathe

This is why DWR becomes so important. If the face fabric wets out, then it blocks the membrane material from having the ability to allow air to pass through it, this can make it seem like your rain gear is leaking, because now all the sweat that is usually passed through the membrane is blocked and therefore you can feel clammy and may think your suit is leaking. So before you get rid of your rain gear because you think it leaks, make sure to follow our tips below and see if that will rejuvenate your rain jacket.

Proper Washing Techniques

The first step in maintaining your rain gear is washing it properly. Make sure you follow the wash instructions on the garment and use a tech wash instead of a regular detergent. Standard detergents such as Tide or Woolite can degrade your DWR and compromise your waterproofing. Technical Detergent, such as NikWax Tek Wash, is formulated to maintain the integrity of your rain gear.

Many people use too much detergent when they normally wash their clothes, so it may be a good idea to just do a quick rinse cycle to remove any residue from the drum. This will ensure that the only detergent you are using to clean your rain gear is the proper one.

After you have washed your jacket and gotten rid of any oils, fish slime etc. It is time to revive your DWR coating. We typically recommend spray on DWR vs wash in. This ensure that the DWR is only on the outer face fabric instead of getting everywhere, which is what happens when you use a wash-in. It also allows better ability to make sure high wear areas like arms, seat etc can get a good solid coating. After you have sprayed the DWR you need to activate it by putting in the dryer on low/medium heat for 20 minutes.

If you follow these care practices, your rain gear can last for up to 5, 10 or even 15 years! Structural issues like ripped seams need to be addressed separately, but overall, proactive maintenance and early intervention can help extend the life of your rain gear. So, what’s the best way to make your rain gear last longer? By knowing the importance of DWR, using the right washing techniques, and reapplying your water repellent coatings regularly, you can make sure your rain gear is ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at it. Follow these expert tips and you’ll be able to enjoy your outdoor adventures with confidence knowing that your rain gear is built to last.

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