How To Re-Waterproof My Foul Weather Gear

Good quality foul weather gear can be expensive, especially if you have open ocean-rated full-body dry suits.

But that doesn’t mean that they remain waterproof indefinitely. After a while, even the best sailing foul weather gear will experience a loss in performance. 

To keep your foul weather gear in good condition, wash them regularly, check for damage (and fix where possible), and re-waterproof them.

At a Glance:

1️⃣ Always wash the garment before re-waterproofing.

2️⃣ There are three waterproofing methods – spray, wash, and wax.

3️⃣ Never store foul weather gear when it is wet.

💦 Re-Waterproofing Methods

Several commercially available products can be used to re-waterproof your foul weather gear.

Before applying any waterproofing, wash the foul-weather gear. Washing instructions for foul weather gear can generally be on the garments label. 

Foul weather gear is generally coated in a Durable Water-Repellant (DWR) finish. This ends up as a hydrophobic glaze that water cannot penetrate. It has the advantage of allowing the coats to be breathable and waterproof.

There are three application methods.

Spray-On Solutions

Hang the foul weather gear on a clothesline to get 360-degree access.  

Carefully spray the waterproofer all over the garments. 

Most spray can products have sufficient waterproofing to complete one garment. Ensure you cover the whole garment, paying particular attention to creases and folds.

If you have any mixture left in the can, respray all the areas that show high wear. These include areas with wear abrasions, such as arms, legs, shoulders, armpits, and the crotch/upper thigh area.

Spray-on weatherproofing products include the following:

🥇 Nikwax TX Direct Spray-On Waterproofing: Buy it now
🥈 Gear Aid Revivex: Buy it now
🥉 Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield: Buy it now

Wash-In Formulas

The wash-in formulas are the most convenient method, ensuring an even coating over the garment.

The application is straightforward. All that is required is to pour the product into the detergent tray of a front-loading washing machine.

Place the garment inside the washing machine. Most products require warm water (+-30oC) and a gentle cycle.

Some product treatments suggest placing the garment in an electric tumble dryer to activate the coating and bed it into the material.

A dryer is not ideal for foul weather gear, and a product that does not require this step is better suited.

Check with each manufacturer first.

  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions on the bottle of the waterproofer you’re using.
  • Check the foul weather gear label to ensure you comply with washing and waterproofing instructions.

Wash-in weatherproofing products include the following:

🥇 Grangers Wash + Repel: Buy it now
🥈 Nikwax Cotton Proof Waterproofing: Buy it now
🥉 STAR BRITE Low-Odor: Buy it now

Using Waterproof Wax

Ensure that the foul weather gear is clean and has no dirt or dust on the surface. Once the wax is applied, it can be tough to remove.

Waterproof waxes generally need to be heated before they can be applied. Place the dispensing bottle in a pan with 1.5 inches of water and heat it until the wax melts.

Dip a cloth into the melted wax and apply the mixture to the gear. If the applied coat is thick enough, the surface will look shiny.

Press the wax into the fabric using your fingers and a canvas smoothing tool. This will also help remove the white clumps of wax and create the desired waterproof seal. 

In difficult-to-reach areas, you can use the edge of the canvas smoothing tool to remove the wax.

Hang the garment in a warm, dry spot for 24 hours. This provides time for any remaining white spots to reduce as the oils evaporate. The result is the wax binds with the fabric, leaving it waterproof.

Wax weatherproofing products include the following:

🥇 Otter Wax: Buy it now
🥈 Barbour Thornproof Dressing: Buy it now

🧼 Maintaining Your Gear

Foul weather gear should be regularly maintained to ensure that it is fit for purpose.

Regular Inspections

Check the condition of the material. In particular, look for tears or other damage. Look out for areas experiencing high wear.

After the gear has been washed, ensure that you dry it properly. 

Identifying Damage And Wear

If there is damage, it is possible to use a PVC repair kit to fix it; however, most manufacturers recommend that the product be returned for professional fixing. 

Proper Storage Techniques

Once the gear has been properly dried, store it by hanging it in a closet or a cool, dry place.

🔑 Key Takeaways

For foul weather gear to remain functional, it must be inspected and re-waterproofed periodically.

1️⃣ Always wash the foul weather gear before re-waterproofing.

2️⃣ Use one of the three product types available.

3️⃣ Only store the equipment when it is completely dry. 

A little effort makes a big difference when it means having a warm body while battling high seas. Along with other safety gear, foul weather gear needs to be protected.

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Sailing Savvy. I spent a decade working as a professional mariner and currently, I mix those experiences with digital publishing. Welcome, and I hope that we can be the hub you need for safe passage.