A good waterproof jacket is essential for any kind of outdoor activity. Obviously it’s main purpose is to keep you nice and dry when the weather takes a turn for the worse, but it should also keep you warm and be breathable when part of an effective layering system.
Waterproof jackets are incredibly well made these days, with years of research and development going into their design. However, as with anything in life, they don’t last forever, and eventually, it’ll start to succumb to the rigours of the outdoors.
Is it time to replace your waterproof jacket or can you restore it to its former glory? Let’s take a look…
Washing your waterproof jacket
If your waterproof jacket isn't performing as it used to, the first thing you should try is washing it. Over a period of time, mud, dirt and general grime - such as fumes from vehicle exhausts - can coat the outside of your jacket as well as its lining. This affects its waterproofing properties by wearing away the DWR.
Sweat, oils from your skin and other lovely things can affect the breathability of the jacket as well, causing build-up on the breathable membrane. Washing your jacket will help remove any nastiness like this and make your waterproof breathable again.
This can result in poor breathability and limited waterproof ability. Wash your jacket according to the label instructions, and add a cleaner.
Nikwax's Tech Wash is a leading product for caring for waterproof jackets and clothing. Simply use a sponge, cloth or brush to apply it directly to any stubborn stains. For larger coverage, use the cleaner in your washing machine as a wash-in protector. This is a similar process to a wash-in reproofer.
Reproofing your waterproof jacket
If you waterproof starts to absorb water then you’ve got a bit of a problem. What should happen is that water beads on the surface and rolls off thanks to the DWR (durable water repellant) applied to the materials.
However, over time the DWR will start to wear away. This could be due to friction from rucksacks or other accessories, or just the passage of time. Either way, if the proofing starts to wear away then your jacket will absorb the water and become ‘wetted out’.
If you’ve noticed that the water isn’t beading and your jacket or that it feels much heavier or clingy when it gets wet, then it might need reproofing. You can do this with a reproofing spray or with a wash-in proofer - to be done in a washing machine.
Water should bead like this on a waterproof jacket. If it soaks in then your jacket needs reproofing or replacing.
We have a range of waterproofing products to choose from which include Nikwax, grangers and Kampa, as well as a guide on how to reproof a waterproof jacket.
Repairing your waterproof jacket
Obviously, if you have a hole or rip in your waterproof then water is going to get in. You might think that any tear spells instant disaster for your jacket, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Clearly, if it’s a large hole or the arm has come off or something like that, then you’ll probably need a new jacket, but if it’s only a small rip then you just might be able to repair it.
Simply repairing a jacket can restore its waterproof abilities, and the easiest way to do so is with tape. If there is a large tear or the taping along the seem has failed, professional repairs are best.
When taping a jacket, you'll first have to clean it and dry the area around the tear. Place your jacket on a hard, flat surface and smooth it out. Then, place your tape over the hole to measure how much you'll need to cut - it's best to leave up to 2.5cm of excess tape around the tear, so, we recommend cutting a circular piece to make sure no corners can be easily picked or peel off.
Peel the back layer of the tape off and place it over the tear. Press from the middle of the tape out, making sure to smooth the fabric and remove any air bubbles.
Kampa repair tape is an excellent product that is both water and air proof. It’s strong and easy to apply. You can try and repair torn zip areas if you’re handy with a sewing machine, but you’re unlikely to get it as good as new.
After you’ve made any repairs, make sure you reproof your jacket, especially if you’re repairing any of the seams.
Buying a new waterproof jacket
If all else fails, and your jacket is beyond repair, then it might be time to treat yourself to a brand new one - and there are plenty to choose from with all sorts of features and technologies to help you battle the elements.
So which waterproof jacket should you choose? Which features are right for you?
A good way to determine this is to consider what you’ll primarily be using it for. If you’re doing serious hill walking, then you might want a stiffened hood, storm flaps, and pockets for extra storage.
However, if you’re climbing, then you might want to consider something that’s a little more hardwearing, has a more relaxed fit for ease of movement, and has adjustable cuffs and hems.
Take a look at our waterproof jacket buying guide for all the information you need to choose the perfect coat.
Shop Men's Waterproof Jackets
Shop Women's Waterproof Jackets
Shop Kids' Waterproof Jackets
Complete Wet Weather Protection
For complete protection from the elements, waterproof accessories are a hugely popular option for every lover of the great outdoors.
SealSkinz is renowned for its ground-breaking development of waterproof and windproof technology while maintaining high levels of breathability when you get more active. Their outdoor range includes gloves, socks, and hats, ensuring that every part of you will stay dry this Autumn.
The iconic brand's range is perfect for every outdoor need, whether it's hiking, a weekend stroll or running on the streets and trails - SealSkinz is the must-have accessory for British weather!