Keeping Winter Adventure Gear Water Resistant, Tips from a Local

With wet weather finally upon us, it’s likely you’ll be reaching for your rain gear soon. Most folks who spend any amount of time outside in rainy weather are familiar with the slow chill that comes from a piece of waterproof clothing that is losing its ability to shed water. It starts with a patch of fabric that doesn’t bead up like it used to, and soon enough your “waterproof” gear is soaked through, heavy, and freezing cold.  

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to extend the life of your wet-weather gear, including specific washes, treatments, patches, and sealants.  

A detergent specific to waterproof clothing is a great place to start. These specialty detergents clean waterproof fabrics while rejuvenating their existing waterproof coating. While you might be tempted to simply throw your waterproof clothing in with your normal wash, using a regular detergent slowly inhibits waterproof fabrics’ ability to shed water. Similarly, not washing rain gear will eventually result in a build-up of oils, dirt, and other contaminants that inhibit waterproofing and can lead to funky smells.   

If your garments have already seen years of cleaning with regular detergent or have simply seen lots of use, you can supplement your use of a waterproof-safe detergent with both wash-in and spray-on treatments that will add a new, durable layer of waterproofing. Nikwax is one popular solution that offers a wide array of both wash and treatment options for everything from Gore-Tex to down and even cotton.  

These same principles apply to other waterproof outdoor gear like tent rain flies and footprints, tarps, and even footwear. If your waterproof gear or clothing has suffered a tear, rip, or other damage, easy-to-apply adhesive patches can help extend their life while maintaining their waterproofing.  

Before you throw out your well-worn jackets, pants, gloves, and shoes, consider looking for ways to extend their lives while helping to avoid a growing trend of wasted textiles. The EPA estimates 11.3 million tons of textiles entered landfills through municipal solid waste in 2018, while only 2.5 tons were recycled. With so many easy-to-use treatments and repair options available, it’s never been easier to make your waterproof clothing continue to work for years to come. 

By Matt Gomez, a bicycling enthusiast and sometimes outdoors writer who works locally for Peak Sports. 

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