Nature is unpredictable and one needs to be well prepared before venturing out on long trips. Rainy weather conditions require you to have a good set of waterproof clothing to make your journey adventurous rather than a disaster. Lucky for us, the options available now days are a lot better than a few decades back.
One needs to understand the difference between the terms ‘water resistant’ and ‘water proof’. Most outerwear is resistant to water to some extent. However, prolonged exposure to even a light drizzle can make it saturated. Waterproof clothing has prominent layers of waterproof material coupled with sealed edges to prevent moisture from seeping in. Pounds per square inch (psi) and rainfall that a fabric can withstand in a day (mm/24) hours are two waterproof rating measures. The usual water resistant clothing can stand between 3 and 5 psi of water pressure. High quality clothing can go over 30 psi. Regardless of the quality, holes and openings of any kind can cause water to get in. Zippers and external pockets should be appropriately sealed.
Waterproof clothes can be made of fabrics that are either breathable or non-breathable. The non-breathable kind is good for rainy weather conditions that do not require you to do any intense activity. They do not allow any moisture to pass through them. Some examples include raincoats and ponchos that are usually cheap. The breathable kind provides the same protection except that it allows moisture from inside to pass out. They are perfect for activities like backpacking, cycling and mountaineering. They consist of a material with numerous of pores that are over ten thousand times smaller than a water droplet but significantly larger than water molecules. This allows complete protection from outside moisture while allowing sweat and body heat to escape from inside. (G/m2 per 24 hours) is the metric used which breathability is measured. Waterproof gear also receives durable water repellent treatment (DWR) for additional protection. Some regularly used waterproof fabrics are Helly Hansen’s Helly tech, North face’s Hyvent, Columbia Sportwear’s Omni tech, and Gore tax.
Waterproof clothing goes beyond just a jacket. Some other items that need to be waterproof are shoes, hats, tents, backpacks, sportsgear etc. Waterproof hats are constructed of the same materials that are used for jackets. Most tents are waterproof enough for camping trips. However, they need to be of a better quality. Some materials that are used in tents are nylon taffeta and rip stop nylon.
One needs to take proper care of your outdoor waterproof clothing to make them last long. Most of such outerwear can be washed and dried using your regular laundry machine. The durable water repellent coating will gradually start wearing off in time and leaks will start showing up. The best thing to do is to follow the instructions provided. Applying low heat ironing can help revive the coating. Strong detergents can cause a lot of damage and should be avoided at all costs. The DWR finish can be renovated by using some waterproof clothing spray – on as well.
If and when it rains during your camping trip you will be very happy you have waterproof clothes along with you. Being wet is not fun, especially if you are in a canoe because it is impossible to get dry and stay warm when you are just sitting in a canoe. Moral of the story is take good care of your clothing because it will keep you warm and dry.