Waterproofing Your Gear

As we head into the rainy season, you may be noticing that your rain jacket isn’t as waterproof as it used to be. Gear can lose its water repellency over time, but there are things you can do to prolong your gear’s life! 

For Clothing:

The first step is to wash your gear. You may have heard that washing your waterproof gear is bad for it, but the opposite is true! Dirt and grime prevent the DWR (durable water-repellent) coating from doing its job - keeping your gear clean prolongs its life.

Conventional detergents may actually leave behind residue that attracts water, so it’s important to use a specialized detergent like NikWax’s Tech Wash. They recommend one capful of detergent per item. This step could be enough to revitalize a jacket that just needs a little refresher.

For the gear that could use a little extra love, the next step is NikWax’s TX Direct Wash. This revitalizes the DWR coating. 

Nikwax Tech Wash white bottle with green cap and TX Direct Wash-In white bottle with purple cap.

NikWax makes several different washes for various fabrics or types of gear like cotton, down, wool, base layers, and softshell layers. They all operate the same way, just with different formulas. 

5 Bottles of Nikwax products. From left to right Cotton Proof, Down Wash Direct, Wool Wash, Basewash, and Softshell Proof.

For Shoes:

If your toes are squelching in your hiking boots, there is still hope! The same waterproofing process works on a variety of shoes. NikWax makes cleaning gel and waterproofing liquid (for both Nubuck/Suede and Fabric/Leather) for making those old soles like they were when they were young. 

NikWax Shoe Care Products, from left to right Nubuck & Suede Proof, Footwear Cleaning Gel, and Waterproofing Wax for Leather

For tents and other synthetic materials:

You can probably guess the steps by now, clean that gear first! After it’s clean, use NikWax Tent & Gear Solarproof Spray. While the gear is still wet, spray it evenly, wait a few minutes, and then wipe off excess. 

Two NikWax Spray Bottles, from left to right Tent & Gear Solarproof, Tent & Gear Solarwash

For seals and holes:

Apply GearAid’s AquaSeal to tent seams or holes and watch it cure into a waterproof rubbery glue. This solution is ideal for gear that needs to be flexible and durable. Check your jackets or tent seams to see that the lamination is intact. Works on neoprene, rubber, nylon, canvas, and vinyl.  

Tube of Aquaseal Repair Adhesive in packaging.

One last note:

Revitalizing can add a few more seasons to your gear, but no gear is immortal! Check your gear regularly for holes and tears, especially along the inner seams to know when it’s time to say goodbye.

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