When Your Rain Gear Doesn’t Keep You Dry

When you first bought your rain jacket you could stand in a monsoon and still be bone dry. Now, your shell gets waterlogged and the t-shirt you’re wearing underneath gets damp after a light drizzle. What gives? It could be time to buy new rain gear, but maybe your hard shell rain jacket or hard shell rain pants just need a little maintenance.

Most rain jackets, rain pants, and waterproof shells lose waterproof properties over time. This is normal. Even your top of the line GORE-TEX┬« rain jacket will stop beading water and start soaking it up after a couple of years. This does not mean that you need to replace it, however. Here are a few things to consider when your rain gear doesn’t keep you dry anymore.

Water-repellent finishes

Watching water bead up on a fresh, new rain jacket is incredibly satisfying. Watching your hard shell jacket absorb rain drops and become waterlogged has the opposite effect.

The reason that waterproof rain jackets and pants bead water is because they are treated with a durable water repellent – or DWR – finish. This finish wears off over time, however. This means that while your rain gear may still keep you dry, the outer material soaks up water. This adds weight and sacrifices breathability.

Sometimes all you need to do is give your rain gear some tender loving care to restore waterproofness.

A tech wash is often all you need to restore water-repellent properties and breathability to your rain gear. If, however, after cleaning with a tech wash your rain jacket still doesn’t bead water like it used to, you can re-apply a DWR finish.

You can also apply a durable water repellent finish to soft shell jacket sand pants. This won’t make them waterproof, but it does add quite a bit of protection.

Leaky seams

Your rain gear is made from waterproof materials, but they have a weak spot. The seams. This is why rain jackets, rain pants, and all truly waterproof rain gear come with seam tape. If there’s a leak in the seams or seam tape, however, you’re going to get wet.

If you’re dealing with a small leak, a little bit of seam grip can go a long way. More often than not, you can successfully use seam grip to repair leaky seams on a rain jacket, or reinforce the seam tape that’s already there.

For bigger leaks, you might have to reapply seam tape, or contact the manufacturer if it’s still under warranty. If, however, your rain gear is old or the damage is due to improper use rather than a manufacturer defect, you may have to buy new rain gear.

Rips, tears, holes, and punctures

For small rips or tears, seam grip can offer a relatively permanent fix. You may need a waterproof patch and a layer of Aquaseal to fix larger holes and tears on your favorite shell.

Unlike peeling seam tape, holes and rips typically won’t be covered under a manufacturer warranty. This is because rips and tears are rarely the result of a manufacturer defect. If the hole is too large to be repaired, or it’s in a spot that’s too difficult to mend, you might need a new rain jacket.

Is it time to replace your rain jacket or rain pants?

Even the best outdoor apparel with lifetime warranties needs replacing over time. Lifetime, after all, means the lifetime of the garment rather than your lifetime. If you’ve had your rain gear for fifteen years, you’ve repaired it so many times that there’s a philosophical debate as to whether it’s still the same jacket, or it’s beyond repair, it could be time for some new rain gear.

Stop by and see us at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters in Fayetteville, Arkansas to browse our selection of waterproof pants and jackets from great outdoor brands!


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