Waterproofing spray for jackets ??

Does anybody have good experience with using a water-repellancy treatment for travel clothing ? I have an old jacket that would be great for travel, but concerned about rain. (And too cheap to buy Gore-tex jacket.)

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7963 posts

It doesn't work very well regardless of what kind of crap you buy. If the jacket was never waterproof, forget it. If it was and had a hard finish, you can spray the seams and pray. If it was and had a soft finish, spray the whole thing twice (a day apart), wait another day, and spray the seams. Regardless, the best you'll have is something that will last for a couple or three good showers and you have to hang it (not fold it for traveling) to get that far. My jackets get rough use. When they start to leak they go to the charity box immediately. Even with treatment, they're just something to toss in the back of the car for an unexpected shower around town and they aren't even very good for that. Bean has a Trail Model waterproof jacket (not goretex, but it works about as well) for under a hundred bucks. Two hundred is about the best you can do for gortex and you have to be careful who made it. REI has generally better, but the price starts to climb. Arcteryx is the gold standard, lasts forever, but is more of an investment at half a thousand for starters.

Posted by Marie
San Diego, CA, United States
857 posts

I've used Scotch-Guard (sp?) with some success. You'll need to spray your coat very evenly at least two times (let dry it between and pay careful attention to seams, underarms, backs of collars etc.) Go over a the back and shoulders a third time. Do all this outside:) Has worked fine in light to moderate rain for short periods of time (10 - 15 minutes). Now I just pack a rainproof zip up the front windbreaker (with hood) to wear over a lightweight jacket or sweater. Stuffs in the jacket pocket or day pack. Cheap, effective and goes well with that whole dressing in layers concept. Cold? - t-shirt, long sleeved cotton shirt, lightweight sweater, windbreaker. Really cold? A regular t-shirt and a long sleeved one! Pretty much covers most weather (OK not Germany in February but you get the drift). Hot, reverse. No checking or lugging around a jacket at a museum required!

Posted by Richard
Los Angeles
631 posts

Are you going to Europe or going camping? I still prefer an umbrella just like at home. I rain jacket will still drip on your pants and shoes and your head will get wet. A small collapsible umbrella is easy to pack or cheap to buy and in most tourist areas as soon as it starts to rain there are vendors out selling umbrellas for 5 euro. My wife was easy to find after we got her a bright yellow one that she loves to carry back home.

Posted by Marie
San Diego, CA, United States
857 posts

I've used Scotch-Guard (sp?) with some success. You'll need to spray your coat very evenly at least two times (let dry it between and pay careful attention to seams, underarms, backs of collars etc.) Go over a the back and shoulders a third time. Do all this outside:) Has worked fine in light to moderate rain for short periods of time (10 - 15 minutes). Now I just pack a rainproof zip up the front windbreaker (with hood) to wear over a lightweight jacket or sweater. Stuffs in the jacket pocket or day pack. Cheap, effective and goes well with that whole dressing in layers concept. Cold? - t-shirt, long sleeved cotton shirt, lightweight sweater, windbreaker. Really cold? Add in a t-shirt with long sleeves! Pretty much covers most weather (OK not Germany in February but you get the drift). Hot, reverse. No checking or lugging around a jacket at a museum required! These items will already probably be part of your travel clothing so you avoid that hauling around something you might use only occasionally. For travel in winter - buy the Gore-tex jacket, good waterproof gloves/shoes and a GOOD travel umbrella not some $4 job.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1335 posts

Laura B. i have a cordura/polar fleece riding jacket that was water proof until the coating wore out. the jacket works fine, the h2o proof doesnt. I tried using the spray on stuff, and it only worked for a day. do yourself a big favor. buy the right tool for the job. you can always use it for other home or local travel too. i went to REI on one of their sales and bought a nice roll up into a pocket rain jacket. Its has vents/zippers and all of the fluff. I also got a nice hooded jacket to replace my riding jacket. Im going to break both in this week on my travels. It will be my luck that i will have all sun too.... Happy trails.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

REI sells the Marmot Precip rain jacket for $50 to $70, depending on size and color. This is a very lightweight and packable waterproof and breatheable jacket that is great for travel. Arc'teryx is an excellent brand--- I bought one for my son to wear ski mountaineering ten years ago and it is still in great shape despite lots of use. But these are very expensive and overkill for a most travelers, unless you are going walking in Scotland r something like that. For myself I prefer Patagonia; my jacket is tough enough for the mountains but nice enough for city wear. It will be making its fourth trip to Europe in a few weeks.

Posted by George
Canada
817 posts

Geez Lola, I don't know, did the RS thread fashion police vet that Patagonia jacket for city wear?

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
611 posts

Nikwax SoftShell Proof works well in my experience.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17736 posts

Laura B, I tend to agree with Ed that none of the usual products really provide complete waterproofing. I've used Scotch Guard in the past, but haven't seen any on the store shelves here in awhile. Lately I've been using NikWax Direct Wash-In and seems to work reasonably well.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9094 posts

When and where are you going and what do you plan to do? Does your itinerary involve hiking? Are you headed to the Alps? I'm asking, because waterproofing any item of clothing, besides likely being ineffective, is probably not necessary unless you plan lots of outdoor activities- meaning, rural areas with no readily available shelter, not city walks. If your trip is to any non-Alpine area of northern France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, or Scandinavia, you are unlikely to encouter the sort of heavy rain showers that would soak through your outer clothes. It may rain frequently in these locations, but the rain usually falls lightly. An umbrella will be likely all you'll need.

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
234 posts

Umbrellas? Having worked in Frisco's financial district wind canyons for more than a decade I avoid umbrellas for two reasons. First, a quick wind shift can turn an umbrella inside out in a New York second. Second, the average umbrella user doesn't know how to walk without spearing the rest of us with pointed umbrella ribs. REI has reasonable advice re water repellent finishes. Keeping the outer shell from soaking up water is more I important than "waterproofing": http://m.rei.com/mt/www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/rainwear-dwr.html To quote: "...a waterproof/breathable membrane (e.g., Gore-Tex®, eVent®, REI Elements®) will stop water from penetrating a rain jacket's interior. But a DWR prevents precipitation from saturating the jacket's exterior. Without a DWR, a rain jacket's exterior becomes waterlogged and heavy; the damp fabric tends to sag and cling to your skin."

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
611 posts

The product I use and recommend provides my breathable windshell a nice water resistance that's quite helpful when it rains whether in the city or country. An umbrella is also a great product but unless you have a large version and there's no wind, you'll need more than that to keep your upper body dry.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9094 posts

Just saying... I live in Germany, spend a lot of time outside and manage to stay dry beneath my clothes without using any kind of waterproofing. Take that for what it's worth.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7188 posts

I have a Marmot. Ideally I would like it to be an inch or two longer at the bottom and have an elastic string to tighten the waist - but nothing's perfect. The hood adjusts, it has zippered pockets and underarm vents, flaps over the zippers, weighs about nothing, packs as nearly nothing and is waterproof. One thing I learned from REI that I hadn't known before is that you can wash and dry a waterproof jacket. REI's website describes it as a good way to restore a garment's waterproof ability. Washing gets rid of oils or other residues that may inhibit the waterproofing. They suggest using powder soap but as long as it's rinsed really well and no fabric softener is used, liquid soap is okay. Fifteen minutes in a dryer followed by hanging restores the waterproofing - but don't leave it in the dryer or let it sit on something hot. REI says every jacket can be washed a few times like this (so it doesn't have to go to charity the first time it leaks). Marmot is supposed to take 18-20 washings before it's repellency wears out. Once the repellency is shot, or if the jacket was never repellent to start with, I agree with what Ed said. A spray helps some but won't restore repellency or make something repellent that wasn't made that way. I'm always surprised how many "raincoats" are sold that are only rated as water resistant.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4867 posts

I have a hard time believing that Edgar ever worked in San Francisco. Why? He has repeatedly referred to it as Frisco. No one in San Francisco calls it that. Maybe he worked in Frisco, TX. :-) Umbrellas are fine, unless it's windy. Then they are useless.

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
234 posts

"Frisco, that once-verboten term for the city by the bay, is making a comeback among the young and hip. Herb Caen is spinning at warp speed" - James Sullivan, Chronicle Pop Culture Critic http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/article/Frisco-that-once-verboten-term-for-the-city-by-2582886.php Some quotes: The term "Frisco," for so long a nickname non grata in these parts, is making a comeback as mysterious as those random, unclaimed single socks on the folding table. "Frisco" is, of course, a contraction of San Francisco, but there are other theories about its origin. Some have suggested it is an Americanization of el fresco, a term apparently used by Mexican immigrants coming to Fog City to escape the heat of the Sierra Nevada. The late etymologist Peter Tamony traced the word all the way back to the Middle English frithsoken, meaning refuge or sanctuary. Shortened to "frisco," the term was apparently used by sailors to refer to any port where ships could be repaired. But the great columnist might have actually signaled the beginning of the Frisco thaw in 1995, when he noted the arrest of two loiterers in Berkeley who told police they were "from Frisco," thus betraying their status as interlopers. "Balderdash," Caen wrote. "The toughest guys on the old S.F. waterfront, neither rubes nor tourists, called it Frisco, and no effete journalist would have tried to correct them." Edgar Who lived and played in that other City by the bay, Oaktown and is not embarrassed about the former occupations of my maternal ancestors.

Posted by melissa
Austin
799 posts

I bought silicon spray in the camping section at WalMart and used the spray 3 times method described above. My jacket is a fashion jacket, not a travel jacket; black and textured so shininess was not an issue. The spray worked very well, so well that I sprayed my leather handbags and my tennis shoes and black lace up ankle boots for the same Fall European trip. I just looked online and did not see the brand, but I learned of this tip on this forum.
Don't know if you would like the results on a light colored coat or not.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9094 posts

"Umbrellas? Having worked in Frisco's financial district wind canyons for more than a decade I avoid umbrellas for two reasons." All very well and good, but the OP isn't traveling to San Fransisco. The same weather patterns simply don't apply. By the way, Laura B, where do you plan to travel and what activities have you planned? If you have planned lots of outdoorsy stuff like hiking or cycling, or if you're traveling to an area that can receive frequent severe weather like the Alps or the coasts, then water-resistant clothing would be appropriate. But I repeat- the combination of drenching rain and howling wind that certain areas of the US see is otherwise uncommon in NW Europe (if that's where Laura plans to visit- I'm not going to pretend to know much about the weather patterns in the Mediterranean). Not saying it never happens, but it isn't likely.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8732 posts

So, Edgar, based on what you quote, which is it? Are you trying to portray yourself as young, or hip? BTW - I lived in San Francisco, and worked in the heart of the Mission, for many years and never once called Baghdad by the Bay as Frisco, to either locals, tourists, family, or others. And never heard it called that either until we were several states away. And ... this is the other surprise: all that time I was working in the Mission district my wife was working at the Embarcadero, and she used to take an umbrella with her.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
611 posts

So Laura, some good suggestions above to enhance the water repellency of your jacket. I treat my windbreaker before traveling in Europe and such really helps shed the rain we seem to experience on every trip.

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
234 posts

Hello Nigel, I use to see a lot of beyond repair inverted umbrellas in downtown San Fran sidewalk garbage cans. On the other hand my London Fog is as good as new many decades later. More from the Chronicle: "Farewell to Frisco, say hello to San Fran" by Carl Nolte
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/nativeson/article/Farewell-to-Frisco-say-hello-to-San-Fran-4759011.php ...Richard Everett, the curator of exhibits at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. He thinks Frisco is a good fit for a city that grew up on the waterfront, but then got so self-important that it turned its back on the sailors, longshoremen, saloon keepers, crimps and lowlifes who built the city. "I'm trying to put the word back," he said. "It has been in jail too long." Everett did research. He found that when San Francisco really was a port, every salty dog called it Frisco. It was an affectionate nickname. Jack London wrote about the "Frisco Kid," Woody Guthrie called it Frisco in his 1941 "Ballad of Harry Bridges." "I am of Frisco ... the foghorns, the ocean, the hills, the sand dunes, the melancholy of the place. I love this city," William Saroyan wrote once. His play, "The Time of Your Life," was set in a waterfront saloon. And it won a Pulitzer.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

Laura, My wife and I both use Eddie Bauer WeatherEdge rain cotas and jackets. The coats are for places where rain is a sure thing and jackets are for places where it is warmer and might rain. There are a number of different models to choose from. They have kept us dry in some pretty fierce downpours.

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
468 posts

Third or 4th thumbs up for the Marmot Precip. This May our Heart of Italy guide, Trina, was using one in a complete downpour in Florence as well as windy and cool conditions in Volterra and Monterosso. I got one when I got back home on sale at Campmor. Also saw them at Sierra Trading Post for a good price if they have your size and color. I used it a lot in Yellowstone this June, once when it was hot as heck and the mosquitoes were so bad I needed to cover up, then the next morning when there were snow flurries, then later rain and wind. It was perfect. I've also got an as yet unused Eddie Bauer Weather edge longer length jacket I'm taking to UK next week. Purchased it after seeing the ones Monte and his wife brought to the local Rick Steves meet up. It looks less sporty than the Marmot and comes to mid-thigh.