If you’re a hiker or a camper who spends a lot of time in nature, you already know that having dry clothes, tents, and shoes is essential for a comfortable stay and safe adventure. Of course, you can’t always find the right waterproof gear for your needs, and even if you do, even waterproof garments and equipment won’t stay waterproof for good. This is why a waterproof spray is often considered part of the essentials for backpacking and camping.
Feeling wet and cold in the wild can lead to many unwanted situations such as hypothermia, colds, and in general, the unpleasant feeling of wearing wet things and staying in a wet and cold tent. Your feet, body, and head should always be dry, no matter how much it rains. Also, your tent must be a safe place to sleep or rest. Having a waterproof spray with you is a smart way to touch up your gear. Before you head to your adventure, or simply go out during a rainy day, make sure you have prepared all the clothes and shoes you want to use.
Why You Should Re-Waterproof Your Gear
To be waterproof, camping gear and clothes are covered in a protective coating that repels liquids. This coating can also include protection from the UV rays, prolonging the effective life of your gear. However, over time, it can wear off and lose its efficacy. In case the waterproof coating is damaged, you’ll see wet spots where the water started to leak through the material. The wet spots will let water where you certainly wouldn’t want to have it and will also ruin the breathability of your fabric by filling it with moisture. So even though your gear is waterproof, you can expect that with time the waterproof coating will degrade so the fabric will no longer stay dry.
Considering this, it’s more cost-efficient to purchase a protective waterproof spray than it is to buy brand new gear. The spray will increase the surface tension of the fibres of the fabric, which prevents water from soaking into your gear. The added waterproof layer will make the water roll off your fabric like beads. Using this spray will also help to maintain the fabric’s breathability.
Choosing the Right Waterproofing Spray
Most of your gear is going to need a suitable waterproof spray – rainwear, tent, backpack cover, shoes, just anything you wear for your camping or hiking adventure. Because camping gear is often made of performance-oriented fabrics, you need to make sure to pick a spray that won’t damage them. For instance, if your clothes are made of GoreTex of eVent linings, you should look for a spray that’s designed to be used on these types of materials.
Besides making sure the spray is suitable for your gear, you also need to ensure it’s safe for personal use. After all, after treating your fear, you will be spending all day in the clothes and sleeping in the tent, and if the spray comes with potentially harmful ingredients, you will be breathing them in. And that’s certainly something you don’t want. So, check the ingredients list of the spray before purchasing. It should be PFC free so that it’s harmless to the environment and your lungs.
How to Waterproof Your Gear
Your gear should be clean before using the spray. Lay it out on a flat surface and spray it well. The garments can be either wet or dry, it doesn’t matter. Make sure everything is zipped or buttoned up so you don’t spray the inside parts. Hold the spray about 15cm away from the fabric and evenly spray it. Be sure to spray under every fold and flap and make sure that every area of the fabric is covered.
Remove any drips or excess spray with a damp cloth. In the end, make sure that you have sprayed every part of the fabric and hang it to dry. You can even put the fabric in a dryer (check the gear label if you should do this). You can do the same with your other gear such as backpacks or tent. Simply wash the pieces (or at least wipe them with a wet and clean cloth), spray and let them dry.
There are also wash-in water repellent treatments that you can add to your clothes while they’re being washed, saving you some time.
But what about your shoes? They are also exposed to rain and puddles and dew in the grass. If you want to waterproof your shoes too, you should first clean them properly. Remove the laces and with a cleaning brush scrub the grill from the fabric and rubber surfaces and then rinse the shoes until they’re entirely clean. After this, apply the waterproofing spray.
If the shoes are made of leather, the treatment will be different. If the leather is treated with the wrong spray, it will dry out and crack. And you certainly don’t want to ruin your perfectly good leather shoes. In this case, be sure to use a leather-specific cleaner and waterproofing wax instead of a spray to keep the leather shoes smooth and silky. Also, this should be done only occasionally.