When your go-to rain jacket fails you, it can make for a grim & soggy hike. Not nice. Why does it even happen?
Most rain gear will have had their exterior treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish. This is the gear's first line of defence against precipitation. It does this by stopping the precipitation from saturating the gear's exterior. This is different from the role of a waterproof/breathable membrane like Gore-Tex® that will stop water from penetrating a rain jacket's interior.
After some time the unavoidable happens: although your jacket still keeps you dry, it looks like it's been soaked in water. Eventually, some of that rain gets inside and your base layers start getting damp. Why does this happen?DWRs's performances reduce because of a number of factors: abrasion, repeated laundering, dirt and body oils.
What can you do about it?
You can either attempt to revitalise the garment's DWR or apply a new DWR.
Revitalise existing DWR
Follow the cleaning instructions for the type of rain gear you own. Washing away the dirt and oils may be all that's needed to restore its DWR's water repellant properties.
TIP: If your garment has stains, first pre-treat with a stain remover, then wash in the machine with a normal detergent to remove stains. Afterwards, wash it again with a technical cleaner to clear away any dirt trapped in its waterproofing layers.
2. Apply heat
After washing, exposure to heat does the most to bring a DWR back to life. Place the garment in a dryer set for low or medium heat for up to 15 minutes. Make sure to check the manufacturer's instructions before placing in the dryer.
If that's not enough to revitalise your DRW, it may be time to retreat by applying a new DWR.
Applying a new DWR
You can reapplied a DWR via a spray-on or wash-in revival product. I like Nikwax water proofing products because they are are water-based, non-flammable, contain no harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are fluorocarbon free. Whichever product you choose to use, follow the instructions given by the manufacturer of your chosen product for best results.
TIP: Clean the detergent dispenser in the washing machine before treating your garment to avoid contamination and get the best results.
Do you have other gear you need maintenance tips for? Let me know in the comments and I'll get to them in a follow up post.
The crisp air, the colourful foliage, and the lack of crowds are all the motivation you need to hit the trails this fall. But hiking this time of year does require some specific seasonal planning. Here are a few things to consider before heading out to have a safe & fun hike in autumn:
1. Early Rather Than Late
Days are getting shorter & shorter this time of year so that means less daylight to get your hike done. Prefer an early start especially if you are planning a hike of 6 hours or more. You should aim to be off the trail before losing your light. This will ensure that if anything goes wrong, rescue can get to you before it's dark.
TIP: Pack a headlamp or flashlight (and extra batteries) for autumn hikes.
2. Staying Dry Is the Aim of the Game
Rain gear is essential. I usually pack a waterproof shell all year round but in the autumn making sure your lower body stays dry is also key to keeping warm. The dew in the fall can be heavy and take longer to dry out so using gators will keep the bottom of your pants dry as well as the top of your socks and boots. Packing waterproof pants is also useful as they can double up as windbreakers for those windy summits.
TIP: Bring extra dry clothes to leave in the car. It will be a godsend if you get back from the trail wet!
3. Use Layering Wisely
When starting off on your hike, wear as few layers as possible so you are comfortable. Yes, I did say AS FEW AS POSSIBLE. Everyone's "as few as possible" will be different but you want to use the start of the hike to warm up. As soon as you stop for a break, this is when you should throw on an extra layer to trap your body heat so you stay warm. Once you're ready to head off again, peel it off and pack it in your bag.
TIP: Don't forget to use layering on your hands and head as well. Take along some gloves and a hat - or my preference is for a versatile tub scarf!
4. Calories Equal Heat
Take along plenty of snacks. Calories will provide fuel for your body to help it stay warm. Snack often, before you feel hungry. And taking along a thermos with a warm beverage can warm you from the inside out!
TIP: Pack snacks in small pouches or containers to stash in easy to access pockets in your jacket and pack.
5. Be Seen
This time of year you may encounter hunters on your hikes. Though many of them will hunt at dawn or dusk, you should take extra caution when hiking in popular hunting areas: dress in bright coloured clothes and make your presence known.
TIP: Check official hunting resources to know when hunting is on and where in the area you are heading to. For the Jura mountains consult:
Vaud - Hunting Information
Jura Cantonal Hunting Federation
Hunter Federation Jura Department - France