If you live in a climate that has any wet weather at all, then you need a waterproof coat. You have two choices: you can buy a waterproof coat, or you can waterproof your own.
Types of Waterproof Coat Treatments
3M makes an excellent waterproofing treatment. It’s called Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Repellent for Outdoor Fabrics. There are other water repellent products on the market that will also prevent water from soaking into the fabric, keeping you warm and dry underneath. An Australian product called “Oakwood” has received excellent reviews as a re-repellent treatment for oilskin coats. Another Australian product called “dry-proof” by Joseph Lyddy has also received good reviews for renewing water repellency for oilskin coats, hats and more.
Water Proof Breathable (WPB) Fabric
Many of the waterproof coats and other outerwear on the market today are made of a fabric called “Water Proof Breathable” or WPB, which allows moisture to escape through evaporation while repelling water droplets on the outside. This outerwear can be heavy as in a fleece-lined coat, or it can be lightweight as in a windbreaker or jogging shell.
However, with exposure to the elements, or just plain age, your outerwear may not stop the moisture anymore. If you get wet because your coat absorbs rain or other precipitation, you can renew the repellent treatment on your waterproof coat with a product called “NikWax,” or another called “McNett.”
Durable Water Repellent (DWR) Treatment
This type of treatment is known by the acronym of DWR, which stands for Durable Water Repellent. DWR is an invisible fabric finish that repels water, causing liquid to “bead” into little droplets and run off the material. These two things – WPB fabric and DWR treatment are what keep most oilskin coats and other weather-proof outerwear in good shape to protect against the elements.
DWR-renewable products come in spray-on, Powdercoating wash-in (yes, throw it in the washing machine!) and a waxy-type product that you wipe on your waterproof coat. For the washing machine-type of repellent treatment, reviewers have indicated that a single layer-type jacket is best for this application, not a coat with a liner that is thicker than one layer. Some people have said that they will remove the inner lining of their heavy waterproof coat and wash it separately from the WPB shell, then washed the WPB shell with the renewable-DWR treatment for best results.
So How Do You Apply Water Repellent Treatment?
You’ll want to check the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application of your DWR re-treatment. Some require heat to activate and set the treatment, while NikWax, for example, states that you’ll get superior water repellency without applying heat. They actually state that air drying is better for their treatment.
Some DWR treatments are also available for boots and footwear. McNett has a product called ReviveX that has received good reviews, with several people stating their feet stayed warm and dry after applying ReviveX to their hiking boots and Ugg boots. The product does not, in most cases, discolor suede or other material.