Caring for your rain jacket is something you probably haven't thought a lot about, and that's a big mistake.

Once upon a time, all our rain jackets used to be treated with a water-repellent finish called C8. But, it's now been found that C8 is not very environmentally friendly. Nowadays, most of the rain jackets we sell have a new treatment called C6, which requires a bit more looking after.

Most of you hikers out there probably get home from a multiday hike, hang up your rain jacket to air for a few days, and put it away. But, what you need to do is wash your rain jacket regularly. (If you went off on a five-day hike, and you got back and your hiking shirt wasn't grubby, would you just stick it away in the cupboard? No, of course not. You would wash it.)

Even if your rain jacket doesn't look too dirty, it'll still have all sorts of stuff on it: dirt, hair oils, body oils. This can affect your jacket's water-repellent coating.

Step One: Wash

Put your rain jacket in your washing machine (an ordinary domestic washing machine is fine). Add about 100ml of a tech wash like Nikwax Tech Wash (read this article to see why you need to use tech wash and not your usual laundry detergent). Select the WASH CYCLE ONLY. There's no need to spin the jacket. Wash for about 8–10 minutes.

Step Two: Rinse

By hand, rinse your rain jacket thoroughly. Hang it up to drain a little for a few minutes.

Step Three: Re-activate DWR

If your jacket is fairly new, re-activate your jacket's Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish. You can do this by putting it in your tumble dryer (an ordinary domestic dryer is fine) on a medium setting for about half an hour (depending on how hot your dryer gets, obviously).

If your jacket is quite old, it's worth re-treating it. Get a spray like Storm Eco Heat Cure. Hang up your jacket outside on a coat hanger on your washing line. Spray the jacket all over. Then do as above (dryer, medium setting, about half an hour).

When rain jackets are newer, the heat of the tumble dryer actually reactivates some of the chemicals that are in the jacket and that revives the DWR finish.

How to tell if your jacket needs re-treating: If you run a bit of water on it and the water is mostly soaking in and not running off, it's time to re-treat your rain jacket.

Why is Durable Water Repellent (DWR) important?

DWR is NOT the main waterproofing technology in your rain jacket. A good rain jacket is constructed with fabric is comprised of several layers that do the job of waterproofing. DWR's job is to stop the outside of your rain jacket from soaking up water.

Without DWR, if your rain jacket were to get wet in rain, you would end up with a layer of water all over the outer skin of your jacket. That cuts the breathability of the jacket down enormously: you'll feel a lot more damp inside, because your jacket is no longer breathing. That's why your jacket's DWR needs to be functioning really well.

See our range of men's rain jackets and women's rain jackets.

Questions? Visit us, email us or call us (03 9600 0599).

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