If you're hitting the trails during rain or inclement weather and notice that your GORE-TEX jacket or garments is getting soaked and not beading on the surface it might be time to "recharge." In one of our prior posts, we talked about how to stay dry, Hiking in the Rain (or Snow) — No Need to Get (Too) Wet, Here's Why..., which is really the first part to the equation. New equipment should perform well, as it get used, that changes (of course).
But what if you are wearing Gortex and it's getting wet, what should you do? It’s a combination of things - maybe it needs a B-12 quick fix wash and tumble dry or maybe it’s Paclite and it’s been raining for an hour. Both are plausible.
Before we talk about DWR. It’s important to call out that not all GORE-TEX is created equal. We could spend a whole blog post talking about the various types of GORE-TEX, the layers, and the purpose. Technology evolves and continues to advance, but know if/when you're buying the cheaper versions of GORE-TEX, it's because it's not operating at the same level. Whether it is Paclite, GORE-TEX, GORE-TEX Pro, Shakedry, etc, etc, the waterproof time is not unlimited. Now that said, there is a trade-off, for example, if you buy the most expensive GORE-TEX Pro, you’ll find it is rigid - it's probably hurricane rate, but it comes at a cost with comfort. There is a place for all the versions. If it’s a small chance of a light sprinkle - Paclite all the way, it’s comfortable and light. If it’s going to be a heavy rain day, you’ll want the higher end GORE-TEX, which is also heavier and less comfortable.
So we'll save the overview of GORE-TEX types for another post. Check out the Gear Guide | Equipment, Tech, Clothing for our preference, we're an Arcteryx household, and our everyday jacket is BETA LT and in stormy conditions is the ALPHA SV (rigid).
So let's talk about the soggy jacket and how you might go about recharging. While every manufacturer will have their recommendation, most of the time it's simple. Wash and gently tumble dry for an extended period. If that doesn't work, most likely it's the DWR polymer that needs to be recharged.
GORE-TEX CARE INSTRUCTIONS
Start with the label on your jacket. If there is no tag, go to the garment manufacturer's website or where you purchased the product. There should be information in those two spots on caring for the garment.
However, the official word from GORE-TEX is pretty much machine wash (with detergent meant for the garment) and tumble dry. This will reactivate the DWR and should get you back in working order.
GORE-TEX WEBSITE: CARE INSTRUCTIONS: RESTORING WATER REPELLENCY | GORE-TEX Brand
And if you need a little more information on care for the GORE-TEX and beyond that label in the garment. There are a few suggestions that are made by GORE around care.
GORETEX WEBSITE: How to Wash GORE-TEX Products | GORE-TEX Brand
And if all else fails and the ‘shower test’ (stand in the shower) fails after you wash and tumble dry, probably time to look at the Durable Water Repellent on the clothing.
IMPORTANT: Regular laundry detergent is maybe not the best for your garment. Look for laundry products intended for GORE-TEX like Graingers or Gear Aid.
GORE-TEX WEBSITE: Durable Water Repellent | GORE-TEX Brand
It's fairly straightforward why "good DWR" works from the diagram and images, however, I could never explain the technology that is underlying and why. The summary here is that maintenance is needed on your shell or garment to keep it in good working order. When it get used it needs maintenance, same with every other piece of equipment you may own.
Should you reach the recharge point, your manufacturer will also recommend DWR retreatment products that are preferred for your particular garment. For us, we use products like Grangers Clothing Wash + Repel - 10 fl. oz. and Gear Aid: How to Wash and Restore GORE-TEX Jackets.
We hope this is a small suggestion to increase the enjoyment while outdoors. Now get outside and enjoy nature!