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Making Your Jacket Waterproof Again

When you buy a brand new shell jacket it comes off the rack with a fresh DWR. That stands for "Durable Water Repellent", and it's a factory applied chemical treatment to a fabric that makes water just bead right up and roll off. Just like a fresh wax job on your car.

Over time all of the DWR treatments will wear out. But don't worry. There is an easy fix and you can reapply a new DWR right at home. So how do you know when it's time to treat your jacket? It's so easy. All you've got to do is give it a squirt. If water beads up like that, you are all set. Don't do a thing. However, if you see puddling and the water starts to absorb into the fabric, you know it's time to retreat your jacket.

Okay, before you treat your jacket, you want to give it a good wash. And by the way, don't ever be afraid to throw your rain jacket in the wash, because that process alone helps reactivate the DWR that may still be lingering inside the fabric.

So before you do it, zip everything up, fasten all the Velcro so you don't get any patches of Velcro abrading the fabric, and then use the gentle cycle, cool water and ideally a purpose built soap like Nikwax Tech Wash or just a mild laundry soap is fine too.

So go to any well ventilated area, your garage or outside, and get a water repellent treatment. There's a ton of great ones out there. But basically, what you want to do is take the damp garment and you want to start spraying it evenly. And you want to pay particular attention to the high-wear zones. Shoulders, cuffs, those are areas where the DWR tends to wear off quicker. Also the front zipper.

Last thing you need to do is just throw it in the dryer over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until it is dry to the touch. And your jacket should be good to go and beading like a fresh wax job once again. If you ever notice that it starts absorbing water, all you need to do is repeat the process.


For more DWR tips like this, check out the rest of our Fix It videos at Backpacker.com.

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