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…
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.
Cleaning your waterproof jacket
It could just be that your waterproof needs a good wash. Letting dirt build up on the outside of your jacket will affect 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.
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. Obviously 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.
Kampa repair tape is an excellent product that is both water and air proof. It’s strong and easy to apply – we’d recommend cutting a circular piece to apply so there are no corners of the tape to easily pick off. 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.
Last modified: May 16, 2019