Keeping your gear in good shape will not only keep you warmer and dryer on the water but it will also help your gear last longer. There are many multi-layer waterproof fabrics that are designed to be both waterproof and breathable. Gore-Tex is one of the most popular multi-layer waterproof fabrics. The following recommendations will work for all fabrics you find being used in dry gear today.
Multi-Layer fabrics follow the same general layout:
- Top layer – Abrasion-resistant fabric such as polyester or nylon coated with a durable water-repellent. 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.
- Middle layer – Porous membrane which is water-resistant allows for moisture to evaporate outwards but does not let water penetrate in.
- Inner layer – Often a fabric that wicks the moisture into the pores of the mid-layer and also makes the fabric more comfortable for the wearer.
Durable Water Repellent (DWR) prevents liquid from building up on your garment’s outer layer. When the top layer of the fabric is no longer beading up and shedding off that means the DWR has worn off and this allows for the fabric to become saturated and what we call wetting out. When this occurs there is no breathability which can make you feel damp and clammy due to sweat creating condensation inside the suit. Wetting out also makes it harder to stay warm on the water. Regular wear and tear and exposure to dirt, detergents, and other impurities cause DWR to wear off over time. The good news is that it can be restored. The effective life of the DWR depends on how the garment is cared for and how rigorously it is used. To help keep your garments clean in between washing it is recommended to always rinse them using fresh water and to hang dry. If you paddle in chlorinated or salt water, rinsing your garments with fresh water after use is a must!
The durability of your top is a function of the type of exterior fabric:
- Polyester – A hydrophobic material, which means it repels water, that does not wet out easily once the DWR has been worn off. If you are doing more rigorous activities like bushwacking or are just hard on your gear you will notice more nicks and tears in polyester.
- Nylon – A hydrophilic material, which means it attracts water, this causes more wetting out once the DWR has been worn off. While the fabric may wet out easier it is more durable and holds up to heavy abrasion compared to other fabrics.
- 4-layer fabric uses an additional layer of fabric like a light Cordura that is the most abrasive resistant. This layer of Cordura completely protects the 3-layer fabric underneath. For example, the reinforced knees and seat of Gore-tex Kokatat drysuits.
Thankfully, there are some great products we keep in stock at the shop that will help with DWR renewal, keeping your dry gear 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??
Get the garment pressure tested! Pressure testing is the best way to find pin holes and other problems with dry gear. While a small pinhole may not seem like a problem it can allow a surprising amount of water into a drysuit and if you have more than one pinhole all that can add up. Common areas that get a lot of pinholes include the shoulders, elbows, knees, bottom, and feet.
Come by the shop and we can give you pricing on sending your garment back to be water tested and patched. Kokatat & Immersion Research both offer these services for their gear. Immersion Research will service other brands in addition to their own gear which is great if you have a piece of gear that is sold outside of the United States.
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: My garment seems to be waterproof, but water is no longer beading off the fabric and it looks like the fabric is soaking wet. This causes more evaporative cooling on my exterior making it harder to stay warm.
FIX: Use a DWR finish product best suited for the garment you are treating. This will revamp the DWR layer and will stop the wetting out of the fabric and keep you warmer and dryer on the water.
Problem: My top is Waterproof, but I feel like the breathability isn’t working well, still sweating a lot inside…
Fix: Wash your gear with Revivex Pro 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 breathe.
Problem: Gaskets are torn.
FIX: We can fix that at the shop! Gaskets are not designed to last forever and when they break it is a simple fix. You can bring your garment into the store and we will let you know if we can replace the broken gaskets. With older garments we may not be able to do gasket repairs due to a few different reasons but if we are unable to do the gasket replacement we will know who to send you to who can!
Problem: My New Gasket is TOO tight what can I do?
- You can try stretching it out on a form (Coffee can, big jug, float bag, something that is larger than your neck) 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.
- As the last option, you can trim the gasket. This is a last resort as it will greatly impact the longevity of the gasket and if not done right will cause the gasket to tear. Fit the gasket 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