Keeping your gear in good shape will keep you warmer and dryer on the water. Gortex is one of the most popular multilayer fabrics that is designed to be both waterproof and breathable. Other layered fabrics used in drytops, suits, and bibs include Hydrus 3.0, 3-layer nylon Taslan, 3-layer recycled polyester,
Gortex can be 3 layers, 4 layers, or ultra-light. It is generally made up of at least 3 layers.
- Top layer: Abrasion-resistant fabric coated with DWR coating for waterproofing.
- Middle layer: Porous Membrane which is water-resistant allows for sweat to be pushed through but waterproof from exterior
- Inner layer: Often something that wicks the moisture into the pores of the mid-layer
The durability of your top is a function of the type of exterior fabric:
- Ultralight Gortex is comprised of a much lighter outer fabric so that it is light and packable.
- 4 layers Gortex oftentimes uses an additional layer of fabric that can be as thick as a light Cordura helping with abrasive surfaces protecting the inner fabrics. For example, the reinforced knees and seat of Gore-tex Kokatat drysuits.
Durable Water Repellent (DWR) prevents liquid from building up on your garment’s outer layer. When the face fabric becomes soaked due to the absence of DWR there is no breathability which can make you feel damp and clammy due to sweat creating condensation inside the suit (“wetting out”). Regular wear and tear, exposure to dirt, detergents, and other impurities cause DWR to wear off over time, but the good news is that it can be restored. The effective life of the DWR depends upon how the garment is cared for, and how rigorously it is used. The most effective way to maintain the garment’s water and stain repellency is to rinse it and let it drip dry (washing helps, and if it’s not a gasketed or a coated fabric, then it can be put in the dryer). DWR is not what makes a garment waterproof – it’s a treatment applied to the face fabric that keeps water beading on the outer surface rather than soaking into it. Eventually, the DWR will wear out.
Thankfully, there are some great products we keep in stock at the shop that will help with DWR renewal, keeping your top waterproof and breathable.
Revivex Pro Cleaner: This is designed to clean out the pores of your dry wear without leaving any additional soap residue that will block them making the top non-breathable and thus sweaty. Safe to use on Gortex, and other multilayer waterproof-breathable fabrics like Eclipse, H2No, etc.
Most of the following products advise that you should wash your garment before applying any of them to ensure it is free of any dirt, oils, fragrances, and residues that hinder repellency.
Revivex Wash-In Water Repellent: This is designed to reinvigorate and add to the DWR coating on your top/pants, helping the fabric bead & keeping the pores open for perspiration to move out of the garment. Ideal for restoring or adding water repellency to outerwear and gloves with no insulation or lining, this is also a great option for treating multiple garments at one time. For best performance tumble dry with heat, this is NOT RECOMMENDED for any gear with latex gaskets.
Revivex Durable Water Repellent: This spray-on treatment restores DWR, resists abrasion, and repels water, oil, and stains. It requires the garment to be air-dried for 48 hours (a great option for drysuits or drytops) or tumble dried on low (gear that can be put in a dryer, DO NOT put garments with gaskets in the dryer). Designed for use on technical fabrics including eVent, NeoShell, and GORE-TEX materials; the formula is PFOA and PFOS free
Revivex Instant Water Repellent: A second spray-on treatment option. This repellent air dries within minutes so gear and synthetic insulated garments can be used immediately after treatment. Instant Water Repellent is a great on the go option when you don’t have time to wait. Safe for nylon, leather, suede, and waterproof-breathable materials including eVent and GORE-TEX® fabrics.
Still, having trouble with your Gortex/Breathable Drytop or Drysuit??
Some manufacturers offer repair & water testing for their tops and suits. This is awesome if you just took a rescue class and got stuck pulling a throw bag out of a blackberry bush or just had the out of boat experience that put you on a gnarly portage back to your boat through the brush.
Swing into the shop and we can give you pricing on sending your garment back to be water tested and patched. Kokatat & IR(IR will service more than just their gear for a reasonable fee) both offer these services for their gear.
Some manufacturers offer a limited lifetime warranty on the fabric of their dry wear. Kokatat is one of these companies, offering a limited lifetime guarantee of workmanship and fabric, both on the Gortex and Hydrus fabrics that they use. When you send your garment in for a water test they also check the fabric for delamination where the multiple layers come together. If found with delamination, Kokatat will replace the garment.
Beyond any manufacturing repairs, there are also some other problems you can encounter with your dry gear. Here are some potential problems and quick easy solutions for them!
Problem: Top seems to be water proof, but I get a lot of water weight in the fabric, water is no longer beading up off the fabric. This then causes more evaporative cooling on my exterior making it harder to stay warm.
FIX: Use the Revivex Waterproofing Soak. This is a New formula designed to be more environmentally friendly at the same time as restoring your gear 8 X the performance. Make that water bead.
Problem: My top is Waterproof, but I feel like the breathability isn’t working well, still sweating a lot inside…
Fix: Try washing your Top or Suit with Revivex Synthetic Fabric Cleaner. Gortex and other breathable layers work by having a porous breathable membrane if the pores on this get clogged with sunscreen, dirt, sand etc… They don’t allow the top to breath. The Synthetic Fabric Cleaner is gentle on the fabric while removing the guck.
Problem: Gaskets are torn.
FIX: We can fix most gaskets here at the shop turn around time is about 1 week… a rush option can be arranged. We work regularly on Kokatat, IR, OS systems, NRS, or Stohlquist on Neck, Wrists, Ankles or Latex Feet. If you have a Palm, Level Six, Lotus, or other top you may want to check with us on repair options, usually we can do the wrists and ankles, we may be able to do the neck it depends on the diameter of the neck gasket.
Problem: My New Gasket is TOO tight what can I do?
- You can try stretching it out on a form (Coffee can, big jug, ball something that will help stretch out the latex) Video
- You can also add 303 or Seal Saver to the area which will help soften the gasket so that it is more pliable and then stretch it out.
- Trim it: Fit it snuggly around a coffee can or larger diameter form. Use a NEW razor and cut along one of the rings on the neck gasket in one clean motion. Video