The Importance of Waterproofing your Equipment - Interview with Grangers

Waterproof tent

As the old saying goes, there's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing. So just because the rain is on its way, don't think that all the hiking and camping fun has to stop - you just need to make sure everything is waterproofed properly.

Read more: The Hiking Gear You Need To Survive The British Weather

We had a chat with Grangers, one of the leading names in waterproofing and water-repellent products for their tips and advice on how to waterproof your clothing, boots and tent so you can stay nice and dry no matter what the weather.

Here's what they had to say...

Why is it important to waterproof your clothing?

Waterproofing your clothing – or applying a water-repellent treatment, to be more accurate – is important for a whole host of reasons…

A waterproof jacket keeps you dry because the technical fabric it’s made from is coated in an invisible water-repellent finish. This finish (which the outdoor world tends to call a DWR, or a durable water repellent finish) prevents water from soaking in to the top layers of your jacket. In turn, this lets the breathable and insulating properties of your clothing work as intended.

Over time, with use, or because it’s impaired by dirt, dust, and even sweat, this DWR finish will wear away. Once it does, water will soak into the fabric of your jacket or clothing, trapping in any water vapour your body produces. This leaves you feeling soggy and damp – a sensation that leads most people to believe that their jacket is leaking. In fact, nine times out of ten, rainwater is stopped by the material of your jacket, and the dampness is just sweat. Gross.

Applying a new water-repellent coating whenever clothing starts absorbing water (rather than forcing it to bead off) helps to prevent this. You stay dry, you save money because you don’t need to buy a new jacket, and you lower your impact on the environment by keeping clothing out of landfill for longer.

Plus, as we all know, getting wet is rubbish!

What if the clothing is actually labelled as waterproof? Should you still use protector?

Absolutely – for all of the reasons discussed above.

Even the best article of waterproof clothing will only repel water while it has a DWR finish applied to it. Once that finish wears off, the clothing will absorb water, suffer from reduced performance, and may leak under heavy rainfall. Even if rain doesn’t actually leak through to your skin, the extra weight and clammy feeling caused by a jacket heavy with rain can lead to some very uncomfortable walks!

Grangers waterproofing products

Can you explain just how Grangers works to waterproof your clothing & other equipment.

Granger’s waterproofing products work by giving your clothing and equipment a very thin (and completely invisible) layer of water-repellency. This coating contains certain polymers that lower the surface tension of any material they’re placed on. With this lower surface tension, water is unable to ‘grip’ the fabric and just runs off – that’s the impressive drops of water you see rolling off new outdoor jackets and equipment.

Granger’s also has cleaning products which can improve the performance of waterproof clothing and equipment. These cleaners remove the dust, dirt, and other impurities that might be preventing any waterproof treatment from working correctly. Once these impurities are gone, your clothing and equipment will be able to repel water for as long as the DWR lasts.

When should you waterproof your clothing?

It all depends on how often you wear the clothing, and how heavily it’s used. A jacket you wear through heavy rain seven days a week will need re-proofing a lot sooner than a jacket you wear for weekend walks!

As a rule of thumb, clean your jacket every fortnight or so to make sure the DWR can function properly. When it comes to restoring the DWR, every 3-4 months should be often enough for most people – though if you find that your jacket isn’t beading water quite as well as it used to, it’s a sign that you should probably retreat it!

How do you waterproof your clothing...

We have a whole bunch of online guides that will make looking after your clothing, footwear, and equipment as easy as possible. That said, there are a few things to remember to get the best level of performance…

First, make sure your clothing is clean. We recommend using a technical wash such as Granger’s Performance Wash or regular soap flakes. That’s because regular laundry detergent can leave residue that inhibits your garment’s ability to repel water.

Next, once your garment is clean, wash it again with a wash-in water-repellent treatment such as Granger’s Clothing Repel, or spray it over with Granger’s Performance Repel. Both products are equally as effective, so it’s personal choice as to which you use!

Finally, leave your garment to dry. If you’re using the products listed above, it doesn’t need tumble drying. That said, performance tends to be a little better if you do!

Waterproof boots

How do you waterproof your footwear?

Start with some clean footwear. This means brushing off any dust, dirt, or muck before cleaning them over with Granger’s Gear Cleaner. Once they’re clean, but still slightly damp, it’s time to re-proof them.

Simply spray Granger’s Footwear Repel over the shoe – making sure you get into the seams and creases. Wipe off any excess with a clean cloth, and then leave them to dry! Drying time might vary, but overnight will usually do the trick.

If you have leather boots and want to condition/waterproof those, we do have some creams and waxes too. Whether you use our G-Wax, Leather Conditioner, or Paste Wax will depend on the level of conditioning, breathability, or protection you want – and details can be found online. Application is more or less the same, however; start with a clean boot, and apply the wax/cream sparingly with a clean brush or cloth. Again, make sure you get into the seams and folds to give complete coverage!

How do you waterproof a tent?

Waterproofing your tent is easy too! As before, you need to start from a clean base to get a good amount of performance – Fabsil Universal Cleaner is our go-to product for cleaning tents and outdoor fabrics. It’ll remove any dirt, dust, pollen, and other residues that can prevent the waterproofing treatment from being effective.

Once your tent is clean, dry, and fully set up, it’s time to apply Fabsil Universal Protector. You can either paint it on with a clean paint brush, or decant it into a spray bottle and spray it on. Both will be equally as effective – painting is useful for getting into seams and folds, while spraying allows you to cover much larger sections of fabric with ease.

Once the tent is completely proofed, leave it to dry before packing it away. This should take a couple of hours in warm conditions – just try to avoid getting it wet, as this can wash away the waterproofing treatment!

Girl on a hike in the rain

Could you give us a brief idea of how Grangers' products are developed?

We actually develop all of our products in an on-site laboratory, based in Alfreton, Derbyshire. A small team of technicians works hard to make sure all of our products are able to provide great performance, and they’ll also strive to improve and develop our formulations in order to really exceed our customers' expectations. This lets us keep one step ahead of the competition, while consistently delivering great products.

In terms of developing completely new products, months and months of research and testing happens before any samples are released from the lab. We recently started work on completely reformulating an existing product, which means sourcing new ingredients and components, testing their suitability, stability, and effective shelf-life, and then making sure they actually perform to our high standards.

Once a formulation is settled on, we have to test it in various containers and at different temperatures to ensure that it’ll continue to work all over the world. It’s a huge job, but we’ve got nearly 80 years of experience, so we always get the results.

Grangers has evolved quite a lot over the years. Where's next for the company?

We’ve actually just had a full company refresh, where we outlined our new Brand Vision and company focus, and revealed a new visual language with which to frame our products and services. Over the next few months we’ll be rolling this out to more and more people – so look out!

In terms of products, we’re always looking to solve the problems that people in the outdoor, footwear, and sports industries are facing. We’re on the cusp of taking several exciting new products to market, as well as promoting kits that provide complete garment maintenance.

And, as ever, we’re a little obsessed with the wet weather. That means we’ll be doing our best to enjoy autumn without getting too wet!

If you want to ensure you stay nice and dry, check out our full range of Grangers waterproofing products, as well as our fantastic selection of waterproof jackets.

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