When it’s time to buy a new jacket, online shopping has now become the most common way to go about it. With so many options available, information that is accessible in just a few seconds, the reasons for online shopping becoming so popular are quite self-explanatory.
So the time has come for you, too, and now you are looking for a jacket that will not only keep you warm, but that it will keep you dry as well. After all, an all-purpose jacket, which can be worn in rain and shine, would undoubtedly be the best option.
The search for “waterproof jacket” will yield hundreds, if not thousands, of results. Numerous jackets to pick from, each made of different fabrics and some mentioning water column and even special membranes.
We understand very well that it tends to get a little bit confusing, especially if you have no prior experience with buying waterproof jackets.
We will explain all of that simply, before we get into today’s selection and guide.
- 1. Waterproof Rating
- 2. Water-resistant Jackets
- 3. Waterproofing Sprays & Wash-in Products: Our Top Picks
- 4. How To Apply Water-Repellent Products
1. Waterproof Rating
When a jacket is referred to as being waterproof, what it means is that it will remain dry in wet conditions. That’s if we were to put it as simply as possible.
However, you will see water column ratings for waterproof jackets, which is what actually determines not only how much rain or snow a jacket can endure, but if it is indeed waterproof to begin with.
For a jacket to be considered fully waterproof, a water column of 10.000mm and higher is required. The higher the rating, the more resistant to water leakage a jacket is. Usually, ratings above 20.000mm mean extreme protection and that the jacket can withstand harsh weather for quite a long time.
2. Water-resistant Jackets
Water-resistant jackets are another search result that will come up along with waterproof ones. However, these are not to be confused, because water-resistant does not mean waterproof.
The term usually refers to jackets with a water column of 10.000mm and below, meaning that they will provide protection in light rain. This is common with softshell jackets, for example.
What you are looking for is water-repellent. Water-repellent jackets are DWR coated, too, just like a water-resistant one, but when a jacket is rated as being waterproof and water-repellent, then it is a completely different story from a simple water-resistant one.
Water-repellent coatings cause the water to bead up on the surface of the jacket and then it rolls off, rather than staying on top and risking water leakage into the fabric.
This brings us to today’s topic, where we will be looking at waterproofing sprays and wash-in products for jackets.
These are water-repellent sprays or wash-in products, which, when applied, form a protective barrier on the jacket’s outer layer, causing it to not only withstand water but also repel it by causing it to roll off.
3. Waterproofing Sprays & Wash-in Products: Our Top Picks
We will now take a look at the products that we have selected as some great options for waterproofing a jacket and then we will move on to the guide on how to waterproof a jacket by using water-repellent liquids or sprays.
Nikwax Softshell Clean / Waterproof DUO-Pack
The first spray is by Nikwax, the Softshell Clean and Wateproof sprays, which come as a duo pack. This pack contains the Tech Wash and Softshell Proof.
These are in liquid form and are best used together, by firstly cleaning the jacket with the Tech Wash and then making it water-repellent by using the Softshell Proof.
Tech Wash is a soap-based cleaner, which is formulated for waterproof, synthetic clothing, sleeping bags, garments and equipment. It is a water-based product, which is biodegradable and does not contain any VOCs or PFCs, which are considered harmless not solely to the environment but also to the human body.
Softshell Proof helps by restoring the water-repellent finish of your jacket, which tends to degrade overtime and requires continuous maintenance.
303 Products Inc Fabric Guard Sprayer
By 303 Porducts, we have picked Fabric Guard, a spray that not only restores the water-repellent coating of the jacket, but also helps it against stains. This is especially important with Polyester jackets, which tend to get stained from oil-based substances.
It does not affect neither the fabric color or the way it feels and wears. Most importantly, it does not affect breathability either. If anything, it helps, since it prevents the fabric from getting saturated with water, which really affects a jacket’s ability to breath and wick moisture away.
It can be applied directly to any fabric you want to make water-repellent, but it works best with freshly cleaned jackets, as it will immediately restore its water-repellent ability as if it just came out of the fabric.
Nikwax Tech Wash / TX.Direct Wash In Twin Pack
The next two products are also by Nikwax, the first one being a duo comprised of the Tech Wash and TX.Direct Wash-in.
Tech Wash is the same product as the one mentioned previously and you use it directly in a front-loading washing machine, as per instructions.
TX.Direct Wash-in is also used with a washing machine, after you have properly and thoroughly cleaned the jacket with Tech Wash. It will restore the water-repellency of the jacket, while not affecting breathability. It is PFC-free, too.
Nikwax Wax Cotton Proof Spray-On Waterproofer
The third Nikwax product is the Wax Cotton Proof spray, which is formulated for waterproofing waxed cotton fabrics specifically. It does not just make the fabric water-repellent, but it also helps rejuvenate its color, making it look newer and well-kept.
In green cotton fabrics it also restores lost color, which is a plus.
Continuously and regularly waxing a waxed cotton jacket will keep it in a better condition not only in regards to weather-resistance, but to its longevity as well, making it last for a long time and look much better.
Because it comes as a spray-on formula, it is very easy to apply and you won’t have to spend extra time dealing with the process of waxing.
Stormsure Clothing and Tent Reproofer Spray
The next product is also a spray-on formula, the Clothing and Tent reproofer spray by Stormsure. Besides restoring your waterproof jacket’s ability to repel water, it also helps with UV protection, because it increases fabric strength.
UV-protective clothes are incredibly important as there is no way to apply sunscreen all over the body on a regular basis, and if you are outside for extended periods of time, the risk of UV damage and its side effects increase over time.
This is an air-drying spray, in a water-based formula that applies easily on numerous fabrics, such as nylon, polyester and canvas.
Scotchgard Water Repellent Outdoor Fabric Protector
The last spray is by Scotchgard, the Water Repellent Outdoor Fabric Protector. It is specially formulated for textiles that are designed to withstand extreme conditions, by forming an invisible barrier which protects not only against rain, but also stains from grease and dirt.
It does not affect the look and feel of the jacket and it can also be used on numerous jackets, as well as outdoor gear and shoes.
This way, everything will be protected and you can focus on having a great time in your next adventure, without having to worry about getting wet or your gear getting damaged from humidity.
4. How To Apply Water-Repellent Products
We will try to make this guide as easy as possible, so you can reproof your jacket confidently and without any trouble.
There are two ways to reproof a jacket, either by using a waterproof spray or a waterproof liquid that you put in the washing machine, also known as Wash-in, as you saw above.
If you were wondering about waxing a jacket, then we have a detailed guide on that as well. However, waxing works for certain types of fabrics, such as canvas and cotton and it directly affects breathability, so watch out for that.
Now onto the products for reproofing other types of fabrics:
A wash-in product is usually accompanied by a washing liquid, which cleans the product first. However, if that is not the case, then do that step yourself, as it will maximize the chance for a successful reproofing.
After the cleaning is done, following the appropriate amount recommended on each product’s instructions, pour the Wash-in liquid in the (preferably front-loading) washing machine where the jacket is.
Keep the temperatures low, but not too much, because heat is usually required to activate the product. However, this is dependent on which product you are specifically using.
For Nikwax Wash-in liquids, the following video shows how to correctly use their duo packs:
A clean jacket is always advisable, as there won’t be any gunk or dirt on the outer layer, which will reduce the effectiveness of the reproofing spray.
The recommended way to use a reproofing spray is by evenly coating the jacket and then hanging it to dry naturally. As a quick tip, keeping the jacket on the drying line while spraying is the best way as you can get to all sides.
Then, if there is any excess product on the jacket, you can just wipe it off and leave the jacket to dry.
If you are using fabric-strengthener reproof sprays, or even if not, it is advisable to do a second coating on areas that fold and are prone to abrasion, such as the shoulders or elbows. This will ensure that the coating on those areas will last as long as the reproofing on the body.
As for when to reproof, you will be able to tell because the jacket will start to absorb and even leak water.
If you have had your jacket for a while and reproofing proves to be unsuccessful, then it is a clear sign that the jacket is past its prime and you might have to replace it.