When you think of Alaska, visions of snowy white mountains come to mind. And those mountains are always there but fact is that rain clouds often obscure them and down at ground level it is raining. I can’t tell you how many times I “played” in the rain. After a while I adopted a rain free zone around me and ignored the sideways rain. Otherwise, I’d be locked in the living room tending the wood stove.
I lived for 17 years in a ski resort called Girdwood. In that we got record amounts of snow, it sometimes fell as rain. I lived at 62-feet elevation. I owned some great raingear. It was great gear or you were wet. I confronted the weather head on.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to staying dry. Alaska fisherman wear Helly Hanson rubber bibs and hooded coats. This is what you see on Deadliest Catch. This stuff acts as a barrier to wet. It’s heavy, sweats and never fails you.
The next choice is nylon that is coated with a plastic coating called DWR or durable water repellent. The garment is bonded with a breathable layer, often similar to Gore-Tex. Once the DWR layer is worn out or dirty the breathable layer underneath usually fails. You will notice this because the fabric will fail to bead water and will soak through. Once wet the waterproofing fails. There are some DWR’s that you can rely on but more often the DWR layer is just dirty.
Once dirty, it will fail to bead water. This can often be restored by washing the garment in Sport-Wash once and then treating it with one of three ATSKO waterproofing products.
One of the most available waterproofing sprays is Silicone Water-Guard (SWG) with the orange lid. This silicone product is easy to apply. Plus, it bonds to the fabric via a process called polymer cross-linking, which is activated by exposure to oxygen. What could be easier? Silicone Water-Guard is very persistent. I’ve had raingear last through a 2-week expedition or hunt after treating gear with SWG.
Another beefed up waterproofing option is called Silicone Water-Guard Extreme, with the blue cap. This formulation used even a higher percentage of silicone and adds a UV-Block and a mildew resistor. This cost a little more but why not order the beefy solution and gain a little protection from wet? It uses the same polymer cross-linking to bond.
If you want to use the best waterproofing I’ve yet encountered try Permanent Water-Guard (PWG). This is a different animal and the formulation and strategy uses more chemical engineering. This formulation uses polymers but they are triggered to bond by using heat as a catalyst. Here is the drill to treat a garment and make it waterproof.
Permanent Water-Guard is guaranteed to repel water for 25 washings. Competing products fail after 1 or 2 washes. Permanent Water-Guard is the most environmentally friendly repellent you can use. It can save 100’s of times it’s cost. These polymer-in-water systems are sensitive to contamination and should only be applied after washing in Sport-Wash. They need to be heated in the dryer after the Permanent Water-Guard has dried. This sets and activates the polymers for maximum performance and durability. We recommend them for use only on items that can be washed and dried. Permanent Water-Guard will amaze you wash after wash.
My most remarkable garment is a fishing shirt I treated 6 years go. It was one of those expensive shirts you’d see a TV fishing guy wearing. I took mine and washed it once in Sport-Wash. Know this, the shirt was never waterproof. Next, I followed the directions and soaked it with a spray of PWG. Finally, I popped it into the dryer for 20 minutes and heated it up. This bonded the polymers to the shirts fibers.
Now the shirt felt a bit soft and slippery but it breathed. That was a plus. Now here is the most amazing benefit. The shirt beds water six years later. I don’t mean it sorta repels water…it beads water as good as my raingear. One formula is for cotton and one for synthetics. They say it is good for 25 washings. I bet mine has had that many and it still works to repel water.
Staying dry is possible if you are paying attention. If you are in Alaska it is critical but if you are in South Carolina or Texas dry is still important. Now you know the solution. Be done with wet.