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How to Re-Waterproof Your Gear

Make your jacket last longer and stay drier by re-upping your Durable Water Repellent coating.

When we first started Flylow, our goal was to create gear that was durable and would last season after season, through the pounding of over a hundred days on snow. That objective hasn’t changed. Because we understand that sustainability means choosing products that are made with the best and kindest materials and won’t need to be replaced every year.

To that end, we’ve always encouraged our customers to take care of their products, which means fixing repairs, washing gear, and reapplying Durable Water Repellent, or DWR, to help extend the lifetime of your jacket or ski pants.

A DWR coating is a factory-applied treatment that goes on technical waterproof/breathable outerwear to help boost that water-resiliency of the membrane. That coating helps the fabric shed water droplets—like rain rolling off a wetsuit—so you don’t get wetness or dampness on the inside of your shell. In short: You need your DWR to be working at its finest in order to stay dry in a storm. But DWR fades over time and gets worn down by dirt, oil, and other contaminants, as well as frequent wet storm days or friction against the fabric.

First, see if your DWR is still holding up. You can spray water on your jacket or run it under the sink and see if the water beads up on the surface. If it does, you’re good to go. If the water gets absorbed by the fabric—you’ll see wet, dark splotches as it wets out—you’re likely due for a DWR reapplication. It doesn’t mean your jacket is done—it just needs a little TLC (or DWR, to be exact) to get through the next storm cycle.

 

Step 1: Wash Your Garment

We sell a Nikwax Combo Pack, which comes with your washing treatment and your DWR treatment and is 100 percent fluorocarbon-free. Or pick one up at your favorite local ski shop. First step is to wash the jacket or pants to get rid of grime, dirt, body oil—all the stuff that can get in the way of your new DWR treatment sticking to the fabric. Follow the instructions on the Nikwax Tech Wash. This is something you can do at home in your standard front-loading washing machine. (Just make sure you clean out your detergent drawer beforehand to get rid of any residual detergent.)

Step 2: Apply Your DWR Treatment

Read the directions on your DWR treatment—the Nikwax version says to apply the wash-in coating while the garment is still wet (others may say to dry it first, so just follow the instructions). You can get a spray-on or wash-in DWR—both work great. We typically recommend using a spray-on DWR for two-layer garments and the wash-in for shells, but you can’t go wrong either way.

If water rolls off your jacket like this, you're good.

If water rolls off your jacket like this, you're good.

The one we sell in the two-pack is the Nikwax TX Direct Wash-In, which means you run the jacket or pants through the washing machine one more time, with the wash-in DWR treatment added to the machine and set to warm water and gentle—but follow specific care instructions inside the garment. Make sure all the zippers are zipped up and pockets closed before you toss the jacket into the machine, and make sure you’re washing the garment alone or with no more than two other garments (not, say, with a load of your regular laundry). If you use the spray-on DWR, it’s best to do that outside.

Step 3: Let it Dry

After you’ve washed and applied the DWR, let it dry. You can pop it in your home drier for 20 minutes on medium heat. Or let it completely air dry in a warm space. After that, feel free to test the water repellency again. If done right, you should be fully outfitted for the next powder day.

How Frequently You Need to Reapply DWR

You can reapply DWR as many times as you want. And there’s no hard and fast rule as to how frequently you should re-coat your outerwear in DWR. Some skiers do this at the end or beginning of every winter season, part of their take-care-of-your-gear ritual. If you use your coat every day in a downpour, you might need to do it mid-season to keep things waterproof. In short: We recommend washing and replenishing your DWR at least once per season, or more if the piece gets heavily used in wet conditions.

You Can Outsource This If You Want

If you don’t feel like dealing with this process yourself, see if you have a local outerwear repair shop that cleans and fixes technical gear—places like Technical Equipment Cleaners in Truckee, Rainy Pass Repair in Seattle, or Boulder Mountain Repair in Boulder do this type of service with the highest level of professionalism.

Leather Gloves Wetting out?

You can do essentially the same thing with any baked or pretreated gloves. Every pair of leather gloves that we sell comes with a little packet of Nikwax glove treatment. You can use that to apply to your gloves and put a water resistant seal back on them. Or, run to the hardware or most outdoor stores and buy some SnowSeal and turn your oven into your very own Gloven. Watch the video below for the how to.

 


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