Waterproofing

jo3st3

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I have Columbia outer layers, jacket and pants, and when it's snowing heaving or raining, they can get quite wet and don't shed the water well enough. Is there an easy way to get some waterproofing? Any recommendations?
 

Ohioskier

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Nikwax but Columbia has a few cheaper jackets that aren’t that waterproof and never will be. Is it a 3 in 1 that you got cheap?
 
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jo3st3

jo3st3

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MEN’S ALPINE ACTION™ JACKET
Columbia Men's Ridge 2 Run II Pant

Jacket claims Waterproof. But it's been washed, so I'm wondering if that has something to do with it not working? In fairness, who skis in the rain... but I live in the northeast and that's how we roll :P
 

François Pugh

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From what I hear, Columbia owns Mountain Hardware. I guess the ones they put the Columbia Name on are designed to get folks to buy the Mountain Hardware line. I have a Mountain Hardware jacket, with Dry-Q Elite, and it has kept me dry in very heavy down pores.
 

Sibhusky

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I just Nikwaxed my jacket and pants after today. It was actually snowing, but I was so covered in snow that as it hit me it was melting and I came home damp. Hopefully, that will do the trick. Hate using that spray stuff, the smell takes weeks to go away.
 

Josh Matta

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yeah first very few material are actually waterproof.....your columbia jacket is not one of them.

Second washing for most should be seldom, and when washed should be with tech wash.

Third you need Nikwax after you wash it.

I love skiing in the rain. I use either Goretex or Neoshell from reputable manufactors.
 

E221b

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Washing and drying in most cases actually refreshes the DWR on most technical outerwear. What we’re talking about isn’t “waterproofness”, it’s the DWR coating that prevents the jacket from wetting out. If your jacket no longer makes water bead up and instead soaks in, then either a spray-on or wash-in DWR treatment will restore that quality. Nikwax makes both kinds as does Granger.

Also, I’m quite sure even the cheapest Columba outerwear has some sort of membrane. It’s not Goretex, but an in-house proprietary product. Again, DWR and the waterproof/breathable membrane are two different things that work together to make your jacket “waterproof”.
 

Analisa

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Is there an easy way to get some waterproofing?
Happy to help - I'm a PM in technical apparel. All rain gear has a waterproof membrane that can degrade over time, since dirt & oils breakdown the membrane. It also gets coated with topical DWR. The membrane can't be replaced, but many people see an improvement when they wash their items. Washing a few times a year really prolongs the life of the garments. There are expensive tech washes on the market, but any mild detergent will work. Drying helps as well, since heat strengthens the bonds between DWR and the fibers. (But check your care labels, a few manufacturers like Flylow advise against drying, and it could impact your warranty. DWR only lasts for a limited number of wears and washes, and can be reapplied with a topical or wash in. It won't replace a shot membrane, but it adds some extra oomph on the really soggy days and can squeeze a little more life out of the garment when the membrane's starting to fail.

If it's new, I'd look at the type of membrane that you're using. Goretex (or a manufacturer's proprietary membranes like Patagonia H2NO, Columbia Omnishield, etc) all come in a few constructions: 2 layer, 2.5, and 3 layer. All 3 constructions use an exterior fabric, the waterproof membrane and an inner protective layer that protects the membrane from dirt and oils. 2 layer uses a separate nylon inner lining, that tends to be the best bang for the buck for waterproofing. 2.5 uses a spray or film layer, which is less durable and the cheapest option on the market. 3 layer integrates the protective layer into the rest of the fabrication so it feels like one piece of fabric. It's the most durable and waterproof, but tends to be less breatheable. Some improvements have been made to this technology to really do it all - like Goretex Pro, Goretex C-Knit, or eVent. From there, differentiation between brands is just things like fit & pockets. Goretex and most of the proprietary membranes are all made of polyurethane, so if you're wetting out in a 2 layer Columbia jacket, I wouldn't expect 2L Gore to be much of an improvement. eVent is the only technology that uses a different material than polyurethane, but the only major differences are that it tends to be more breatheable/lets in more wind and needs to be washed more often (once a month or so for weekly wearing).

And as mentioned, no fabric is ever 100% waterproof - with enough pressure, water can cut through sheet metal, and the same concept applies to outerwear. In the PNW, it's not uncommon to see people in trash bag jacket covers or racer ponchos on the soggiest days. Cuts down on breatheability, but worth it when the days are super wet.
 

DonC

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From what I hear, Columbia owns Mountain Hardware. I guess the ones they put the Columbia Name on are designed to get folks to buy the Mountain Hardware line. I have a Mountain Hardware jacket, with Dry-Q Elite, and it has kept me dry in very heavy down pores.
So I have a MH Snowtastic jacket with DryQ Elite 3L and have never been thrilled with the DWR. Went through tech wash and reproofing with sprays (tried Grangers and Revivex, the latter is what they recommend) including extra treatment on heavy wear areas and there are still areas where the outer layer soaks in quickly. I think the problem is that this jacket is 3L but is a stretchy-ish softshell, and the DWR simply does not take that well to the weave/texture outer layer, a problem that might be compounded with the move to less durable but more environmentally friendly DWR chemicals (if @Analisa or anyone else has thoughts about what I should do differently, please advise).

That said, I skied in the rain with it a few weeks ago and as one would expect from what was once billed as their premier jacket, the membrane held, the taped seams held, and the inside was pretty dry. And because I was skiing pretty laid back with just a base layer, I didn't sweat enough to cause excessive moisture on the inside.

Anyway, back the the OP: The real question is whether the outer layers are keeping you dry from external moisture penetrating and breathing enough to prevent internal moisture building up, not whether they are continually shedding water. Supposedly when the jacket is no longer shedding breathability is heavily compromised, but YMMV as mine has. So do the tech wash and reapply DWR, but don't ditch the jacket only because of the shedding issue.
 

Kiki

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On the mater of waterproofness of gloves, I have some 5 year old helly hansen gloves that I'm loathe to replace just yet (the dont look worn out and they fit and my fingers stay warm) however when it is raining or snowing they get wet through by lunch. I've been drying them a bit in the dryers in the bathroom at lunch on those days, after squeezing the water out with a paper towel, but the water ingress seems much greater than I'd expect. Is there anything i can do?
I have the techwash stuff for my gortex, should i wash them? Or spray with some scotch guard? Any tips to extend the life of these?
 

David Chaus

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And as mentioned, no fabric is ever 100% waterproof - with enough pressure, water can cut through sheet metal, and the same concept applies to outerwear. In the PNW, it's not uncommon to see people in trash bag jacket covers or racer ponchos on the soggiest days. Cuts down on breatheability, but worth it when the days are super wet.
Like this past weekend. Sunday was the first time I’ve ever felt the need to wear a clear plastic jacket cover, but I had to teach a couple classes. Stevens Pass is really good about handing these out as you arrive.

Great post, Analisa and thanks for the info. I’d heard most this information before, I think Blister did a good job with this a couple years ago and still has it up on their site, still it’s nice to have it all clearly stated by a company insider.
 

Analisa

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@DonC
I think the problem is that this jacket is 3L but is a stretchy-ish softshell, and the DWR simply does not take that well to the weave/texture outer layer, a problem that might be compounded with the move to less durable but more environmentally friendly DWR chemicals.
I would bet that the Snowtastic is knit instead of woven since it's a softer feel and has some stretch to it without any spandex. In a knit, it's the same continuous threads in loops, and don't tend to be as tight as wovens (basically fabric made on a loom with threads that cross). Knits are softer, looser, and stretch and shrink. They also breathe a lot better than wovens. So in terms of breatheability, it's a bit of a "multiple ways to skin a cat" scenarios. It's kind of like Goretex C-Knit that gets extra breatheability and less of a crunchy feel by using a knit in their backer fabric.

A looser knit would mean that you'd have larger tiny porous holes between threads, so while DWR may be bonding to the threads fine, it might be the tightness between threads making it less effective (just spitballing - no clue on the true size difference between knitted threads vs. the size of DWR molecules). I'd expect that you're taxing the membrane slightly harder than other 3L jackets with the same treatment, and that dirt and oil might seep into the membrane a little more easily and could probably stand to be washed a little more often.
 

Analisa

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I have the techwash stuff for my gortex, should i wash them? Or spray with some scotch guard? Any tips to extend the life of these?
Depends on what they're made out of/if there's leather at all in the gloves. Regardless, I'd check for a tag at the wrist with the care label instructions. An insane number of lab tests, man hours, and legal review goes into what's written on that tiny piece of real-estate in order to be compliant with FTC regulations. If there's a waterproof membrane, washing will likely help boost performance, as would a topical DWR treatment.

Waterproofing does break down to dirt & oil over time, and mitts unfortunately see a lot of both.
 
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