Why Does DWR Suck?

1-Durable Water Repellant Coatings Prvent Wet-Out by Making Water Bead on the Surface of Fabric and Roll Off
Durable Water Repellant Coatings Prevent Wet-Out by Making Water Bead on the Surface of Fabric and Roll Off

The DWR (Durable Water Repellent) that rain gear manufacturers put on waterproof/breathable rain gear and hard shells is really not that durable. It’s a chemical coating that you need to reapply over and over to make rain water bead on the surface of your rain gear and roll off. It wears off when your scrunch up a garment or it rubs against other clothing inside your backpack.

The number one reason why waterproof/breathable rain gear fails is because the DWR coating wears out and rain soaks the fabric. This process, called wet-out, happens to every eVent or Gore-Tex rain jacket when the DWR wears away, as well of ones made using waterproof/breathable knock-offs like Patagonia’s H2No and Mountain Hardware’s Dry.Q Evap. 

When water soaks into the fabric of a rain jacket, you can just forget about breathability. The system is a complete sham but people keep buying into it, including the need to reapply the DWR coating several times a year. It’s the hidden cost of owning a waterproof/breathable rain jacket: the need to keep buying Nikwax TX-Direct or Gear-Aid Revivex to repair the DWR when it wears out so the (really expensive) breathable fabric part of your jacket can work.

EMERGING CONTAMINANTS FACT SHEET – PFOS and PFOA
EMERGING CONTAMINANTS FACT SHEET – PFOS and PFOA (click to read)

Health Hazards of DWR Coatings

But most DWR coatings also suck because they contain flourcarbons or PFCs that have been shown to be a hormone disruptor, like BPA. These chemicals are persistent, and break down very slowly in the environment. They also bioaccumulate, meaning their concentration increases over time in the blood and organs when you eat foods that contains them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every single person in the United States has PFCs in their blood. At high concentrations, certain PFCs have been linked to health problems such as low birth weight, delayed puberty onset, elevated cholesterol levels, and reduced immunologic responses to vaccination.

In the outdoor industry, PFCs are common in water-repellent finishes (DWR) and have long been a precondition for breathable outdoor clothing due to their ability to repel water, dirt and oil. In particular, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are two PFCs which raise long-term environmental safety concerns. The European Union has banned the use of PFOS and a future restriction of the use of PFOA is under review. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has initiated a voluntary industry phase-out of PFOA in cooperation with the outdoor industry.

But outdoor apparel manufacturers are in no rush to remove PFCs from the DWR coatings they use on waterproof/breathable jackets and are only making halting steps in their phase-out.

Some brands that still include PFCs in their DWR coatings:

Brands that do not have any PFCs in their DWR coatings:

  • Nikwax (all products)
  • Sciessent Curb

The only way to speed up that process is by public outcry and pressure. Take the microwave popcorn industry as an example. When consumers found out that PFCs were present in microwave popcorn bags, food manufacturers were quick to eliminate them. Same with Teflon and Scotchguard. Next time you shop for waterproof/breathable clothing, I suggest you contact the manufacturer and ask about PFCs in their DWR coatings.

Why does DWR suck? It’s making us sick.

Suggested Reading

If you’re interest in learning more about PFC issues with DWR, here are a few sources with good explanations.

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92 comments

  1. curious: is there any info on how much PFC’s are absorbed when worn? or if it ‘flakes off’ and can potentially be ingested that way? if it only causes issues when consumed then i don’t really see the health risk here; unless you were to eat your jacket.

    are there any viable alternatives to PFC’s? or is ‘breathable, waterproof, and no health-risk’ a case of “pick 2” currently?

    • Yes, that’s my whole point. Viable alternative exist that do not contains PFCs. If you still buy into the Breathable DWR jumbo jumbo, their are non-PFC coatings available to manufacturers. Or you can use a silicone oR PU coated jacket with pit zips. I’ve gone the latter direction with the rain jacket from Lightheart Gear since I am sick of DWR that doesn’t work and breathable garments that don’t breath.

      • why all the work with DW this and DW that. Columbia DRY OUT. permanent water proof and breathable FOREVER never needs to ever have anything applied. Fisherman use it fine …Gore makes something like it called ACTIVE. The water proof layer is on the OUTSIDE so there is nothing to wear off! smart who thought of that huh?

      • None of these jackets are designed for hiking though. Try one and you’ll quickly see what I mean.

    • “curious: is there any info on how much PFC’s are absorbed when worn? or if it ‘flakes off’ and can potentially be ingested that way? if it only causes issues when consumed then i don’t really see the health risk here; unless you were to eat your jacket.”

      You don’t have to eat your jacket to eat PFCs, they just finish in the food chain.

  2. What Bergans of Norway say:
    Skin contact with products containing PFOA has not been proven to exert any negative effect on human health. The amount of these substances in textiles is extremely small anyway, and there is therefore no risk in using clothing treated with PFOA.

    But! They have stopped producing gear with PFOA’s as per their website.
    http://bergans.eu/csr/page/2/chemicals

    I have found that DWR is pretty rubbish anyway except on my Bergans Super Lett which is awesome. (I have no affiliation to Bergans btw).
    Why can they not use a Permanent water repellent (PWR) instead of a DWR that’s what i would like to know.

    As for Paramo, you are more than likely well aware of the debates over Paramo in the UK. Some find it fantastic others, which i am one, find it useless. So the Nikwax DWR doesn’t work for me.
    Never heard of Sceisscent curb. I will check it out.

    Good article Phillip.

  3. Most manufacturers use short-chain PFCs, which do not produce PFOS or PFOA. They are now looking for suitable PFC-Free alternatives. However, there is no evidence to link short-chain PFCs to health or environmental risks. Furthermore, there is no need to reapply the DWR coating; simply wash the product, then tumble dry it and it will return to it’s original state. I have a ‘Gore-Tex’ jacket that is still as good as the day I bought it, which is over 8 years ago. How is this not considered durable and why is buying cheaper items that require more regular replacement considered more ‘environmentally friendly’? To simply group all PFCs as ‘high risk’ to health and environment is both irresponsible and unfounded at present. Please study the science in greater detail before you cast aspersions on an entire industry based on the word of NGOs or assumptions that all fluoropolymers behave in the same way.

    • Wrong. The short chain six Carbon PFCs also break down but more slowly. The reason manufacturers feel the need for PFCs is that that they are oil and water resistant. The oil resistance is needed for heavy industrial applications but not outdoor sports like hiking or skiing where water resistance is sufficient. Non PFC coating exist for water resistance only.

      • Not wrong! I did not say that short-chain PFCs do not break down, I simply said they do not produce PFOA, which is currently the only evidential link to health risks. PFOA is contaminating waterways across the States and I agree entirely that it should be eliminated. I also agree with you that viable alternatives exist for the majority of consumers and that PFCs will be eliminated from the Outdoor Industry in time. My point was that materials such as Gore-Tex are built to last if washed and dried. Work done on LCA (life-cycle analysis) suggests that durability is a significant factor when considering environmental impact, as items do not need replacing as regularly. Ask yourself how many jackets you have purchased in the last 8 years compared to my single item that still functions as well as the day I bought it. If short-chain PFCs do not pose the same health risks, but still offer durability, are you certain that existing PFC-Free alternatives are more environmentally friendly? I welcome the debate you start through your original article, just ask that you consider the broader concerns with textiles in general.

      • I think that’s a valid argument Dave. But the information sources and people I’ve had access to think that the more durable solution still doesn’t address the health concerns. I’ve included some links at the end of this post with some additional information that you might want to take a look at that.

    • Sorry Dave, Phillip has bought into some groups knee jerk story –

  4. DWR coatings are not the only issue. Do a full life cycle analysis of any outdoor product – especially well-loved synthetic materials like cuben, polypropylene, etc. and its equally as ugly a story. DWR is just the low hanging fruit. For example, bits of synthetic materials from your fleece or base layer that are shed in the washer wind up going right through the waste water treatment plant and into water bodies, where they adsorb and concentrate contaminants and wend their way up the food chain and onto your plate.

    I think the post is alarmist, and as Dave says above, flawed. In terms of a pure route-of exposure analysis, unless you’re ingesting or inhaling the shed DWR material, the main route of exposure is dermal absorption and even so, there’s very little prolonged skin contact in recreational use of DWR materials. There’s even less risk assessment data for a casual use scenario. Where this type of data exists, its usually from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and is in the context of workplace exposure – 8 hours per day, 5 days per week at much higher concentrations than what you find on a finished item like a rain jacket.

    If there is a “safer” and more effective DWR alternative (they all pretty much suck), then we’re far better without PFCs than with them. But if you’re looking to reduce risk of exposure to PFCs, throw away every non-stick item in your kitchen and gear closet before your toss your Goretex

    • The problem is not with eating the PFCs or skin exposure, it’s when they wash off and enter the food chain. There’s no need for PFCs in outdoor sports clothing as viable alternatives exist.

      • Wait – you’re saying the problem is not with eating the PFCs, its when they enter the food chain. Hopefully this was a typo, as these are exactly the same exposure route whether it’s direct ingestion or through the food chain due to the persistence of PFCs.

        I’ve worked on the “white hat” side of the environmental industry for over 30 years and we are of like mind as far as PFCs are concerned. But this type of ill-informed post does not add credibility to the cause and can actually hurt it. The same is true for the “greenwashing” of outdoor products.

      • If a post is too technical, no one reads it. I’ve delved into the science of what’s known and conducted interviews behind the scenes. I’ve also listed external links that people can follow to read more. The damage occurs when the PFCs bioaccumulate in peoples bodies after being washed into the water and food chain. It’s a mass effect caused by mass use, not individual consumption. DWR coatings wash off. Where do you think they go?

      • Bioaccumulation means a compound enters an organism and tends to stay there. For the exposure levels were taking about, it really makes little difference whether the source is direct ingestion or via the food chain. For purposes of human health risk assessment, the ingestion route is the ingestion route. As far as being too technical to keep an audience, that just BS. If you are afraid of losing an audience, then maybe a backpacking blog isn’t the best place for more technical environmental science and human health risk assessment topics.

        Sometimes you need to actually delve into the technical aspects of a subject because dumbed down is exactly that, dumb. Some things are inherently technical and all oversimplification does is to contribute to scientific illiteracy and cast doubt on credibility.

      • We disagree. You spent 30 years in the field and are used to technical explanations. Sorry if I fall short of your standard for scientific explanation. As a matter of craft, I try to translate needlessly technical backpacking jargon into explanations that more people can understand and think I do a pretty decent job of it. I’ve attempted to do that here but can’t please everyone.

      • I appreciate this article and the less-technical explanation. It seems to me that if we get too technical we lose the common sense of the whole thing. Obviously spraying chemicals onto clothing that just wash off is not good for the environment. Anyone can spend hours debating concentrations and accumulations but the bottom line is, again, simple common sense – there are better alternatives.

      • ‘Needlessly technical’! Unfortunately Philip you started a debate that is entirely technical and to remove jargon is not the same as overlooking the complexities of the chemistry. You continue to lump a complex group of perfluorocarbons under one banner, which is precisely the reason that this issue in misunderstood and how many recommendations to use equally, if not more damaging materials, are ill-informed.

      • See my previous reply above or the links below.

  5. Although I’m a gearhead, I am not at tech-oriented person (chemistry, engineering, thermal dynamics, etc.) Last spring, I replaced my Gore-Tex raingear with the Helium line from OR – a pound lighter, and made from Pertex. I’ve had good luck with it on several rainy weekends (and some liquid-sunshine days on the golf course). I notice Pertex is absent from the discussion and all the comments. Is it just another brand name (like H2No), or is it a distinctly different material, to which the discussion doesn’t apply?

    • Pertex is just a different breathable fabric (take your pick). They’re all covered with a DWR coating which will wear off.

      • Thanks, Phillip (I also appreciate the non-technical reply. Two other questions, since I do not want to add to the problem:

        1) I’ve always read that the only purpose of DWR is to keep the surface of a WPB garment from “wetting out” and impairing breathability of the garment. Doesn’t this mean it’s still waterproof? Back in the 80’s, when the WPB-clones weren’t available yet, and GoreTex was hideously expensive, I seem to remember getting by OK with waterproof, coated-nylon rain garments. Yeah, I did sweat – but I don’t remember it being that much more than with a WPB “miracle” garment.

        2) Do waterproof-only garments have DWR? I have a silnylon poncho, not intended to breathe, that I could switch to when the DWR on my Pertex garments wears off, rather than refreshing the DWR and adding to the problem. I know; a poncho isn’t a perfect solution, either – but there doesn’t seem to be a truly perfect solution yet, so I’m willing to live with imperfection if it reduces my impact on the places I love to hike.

      • 1) Breathable jackets are not waterproof without a DWR coating. That’s the problem with breathability, and DWR which washes and rubs off. When the coat wets out, so do you.

        2) A waterproof material doesn’t need a DWR coating.

      • Thanks again – sounds like the poncho may be a viable solution. Here in the Ohio Valley, you’re mostly hiking in the woods and aren’t on many exposed ridges, so the poncho’s tendency to blow around isn’t much of an issue. Also, since I don’t tend to go off-trail, snagging is not a significant problem either.

        You’re not aware of any similar environmental issues with silicone or PU coatings, are you?

      • PVC is evil. I would guess that PU is too. I’m researching alternatives including rubberized jackets. It may be that a safe “waterproof” and man-made item is impossible to create.

      • (Disclaimer: I’ve only bought into the Gore Tex last September, so I might still be biased)
        (Sory to raise this thread again)

        Philip,
        “Breathable jackets are not waterproof without DWR coating” – could you clarify? Sure, if the DWR is the only protection against water, that statement holds.
        However, I was under the impression that DWR on Gore Tex / Neoshell / … only helps keep the top layer of garnment “dry” so that the membrane has an *easier* job – AFAIK the membrane itself still holds back any water.

        Sure, if the membrane doesn’t work as intended, sweat accumulates – but to no more degree as in a PU jacket (except for higher weight-induced sweat ;-) ).
        What’s your view on this? Did I misunderstand?

      • The gortex is the membrane.

      • Trivial.
        Let me restate for formal precision:
        Membrane equipped products with soaked upper layers are waterproof.
        Saying “a waterproof material doesn’t need a DWR coating” neglects that DWR helps waterproof materials attain permeability. But I get your point – you don’t like them (for the need to rebuy DWR, which I also hate. Probably try Paramo next time..).

  6. Philip, wil you be doing a full review of the light heart gear rain jacket?, didn’t see anything on the blog, i have the marmot precip now good jacket but the hood isn’t great for eyeglass wearers like myself and would be nice for internal pockets, and I’ve never really considered the issues w/ DWR and there impact that much, I’ve checked out light heart gears web site and it seems like a good alternative and seems reasonably priced..

  7. If a DWR coating worked, we might insist that they be used until a viable replacement is found. But, they do not work all that well. Initially, and after every fresh cleaning and treatment, they work OK for about an hour in rain (if that.) (I used a very expensive jacket one year. I got soaked and stayed that way for three days. I returned it as non-functional.) I need a waterproof jacket. It can even double as a ground cloth. I do not “NEED” something that only works for an hour.

    This is saying I will take rain gear to stay dry but not expect it to keep water away from me. You need to decide if a DWR coating is critical to your survival and comfort.

    Go with something completely waterproof (I use around 5000mm as a definition of water proof.) At least you only contend with inner perspiration, not the rain, too. A size big, Pit Zips, and, leaving the front loose are tricks that work better than DWR for breathability in rain and mist. If you are sweating, you are simply too heavily clothed for your activity. Use your common sense.

    • My brother, his wife, and son hiked the Milford Track in New Zealand a few years ago. It rained dogs and cats (other side of the equator for “cats and dogs”) much of the time. Many of the people they met on the hike had fancy Gore-Tex rain jackets that cost about what my brother had spent on air fare. They all wet out in no time. My nephew used a three dollar Walmart vinyl poncho and was better off than any of the ones with the fancy gear.

  8. PFOS and PFOA are salts? From what I’ve gathered, there are health concerns related to reproductive and other systemic effects, with adverse mammary gland development in mice. With a half-life in humans ranging from 2-9 years. So it sounds like ingestion into the bloodstream causes these side effects as they do not leave the body for several years and can build up if exposure continues for a prolonged time.

    From what I understand; and correct me if I’m wrong, but these PFC’s can only enter the bloodstream and cause side effects by being ingested during the application process, as normal wear and tear and washing of the chemical treatment on the garment is not enough to pose an exposure risk, which is why the EPA deemed it a “voluntary” phase out, and not mandatory. I.E. overtime, tiny amounts may flake off as the coating wears naturally but it isn’t enough all at once to cause harm.

    Still, as a precaution, there is enough evidence showing that there are carcinogenic effects from the use of these chemicals and viable alternatives exist as you have stated. I’m glad to see that Nikwax doesn’t contain them. I think they are the best in the business for when you need to re-apply a DWR coating.

  9. I’m surprised at the amount of negativity in the comments. I agree with you that DWRs have been functionally poor on all of the jackets I have owned. Most people just replace the jacket when the DWR wears off. I hear complaints all the time that people’s jackets aren’t waterproof anymore (also I hear people marvel when they get a new jacket at how the water just falls off)

    I have been testing using an outdoor umbrella with a rain kilt and a wind shirt instead of the traditional rain suit because of the issues with breathability with my jackets. This system has held up pretty well, but I haven’t had to test it in a windy rain storm yet, so the jury is still out.

    I didn’t know about the hazardous chemicals in DWR treatments, but it is no surprise. My wife works on designing wastewater treatment plants, and it is a constant struggle for that industry to find ways of getting pharmaceuticals and other chemicals out of the water. This is going to become a larger issue in the future in places like California and Texas because they are starting to use the wastewater effluent as the supply to the water treatment plants, so chemicals like this could cycle up in the water supplies.

    • That makes all the sense in the world. Windshirts are much more breathable because there’s one this layer of fabric, not three. Add in an umbrella for waterproofing and you’re all set. Wind is the only gotcha.

      • I used the wind shirt + umbrella + rain skirt/kilt combo this past year and it works in most situations. My arms will eventually get wet but my torso stays dry. There’s also a huge mental bonus of the umbrella over your head, kind of like hiking inside a shelter. It’s also great to be able to use paper maps and your camera/other electronics in the rain under the shelter of your umbrella. At camp, it doubles as a dry clean surface when placed on the ground upside down.

        For short periods of wind, facing the umbrella into the wind and only opening it 3/4 of the way works great. You can’t always aim it perfectly so you do eventually wet out the wind jacket. A “2.5” layer jacket would work better if you’re anticipating exposed storms.

  10. I agree with the notion that DWR coatings and WPB garments do not perform as advertised. The question then becomes, what is the better alternative? I don’t want to go the poncho route. I still have an old Campmor coated nylon jacket in good condition. The jacket itself is in great shape and is nicely detailed, except for lack of pit zips. I don’t believe Campmor makes these any more; given the features this was a very good value. What else is out there? Hilleberg Bivanorak? Not a lot of other options readily available. For that matter, products like precip and h2no never seemed to be more to me than simply fancy coated nylon.

  11. Hmm, I have a north face event. just about everyone I know has a NF jacket that is waterproof. Never knew it had such nasty stuff in it. Thanks for reporting on this issue.

  12. I’m not a chemist, biologist, or, really scientifically minded at all (except I do know a lot about aquatic insects), so this may be a dumb question. Is there any way to “fix” rain gear with a DWR coating by over-coating it with some sort of permanent water-resistant application?

  13. Thanx for keeping it real, Phil.

  14. If a sarcastic response ( polyurethane) to a legitimate question about finding someway to minimize the adverse environmental effects of DWR is considered ” keeping it real,” I think this discussion has gone a little off the rails. I appreciate today’s blog about DWR and the many questions its use raises. It is a complex issue which deserves thoughtful and educated debate. Even ” non-technical” type people can find resources that will give them a good basic understanding of these chemicals, their uses and hazards. Knowledge coupled with critical thinking skills to help people separate the wheat from the chaff regarding the issues surrounding DWR use will help lead to more productive (and civil) debate and targeted action.

    • PU stands for polyurethane. It’s used on the outside of tents and jackets to waterproof them. Available as a reproofing agent for tents, so I believe you really can just paint it on.

      • Thanks for the clarification. My misunderstanding.

      • I use Polyeurethane on my wood floors! Probably a different mixture I’m sure! I know guys who use some sort of marine waterproofing or varnish on their jackets when reapplying the waterproofing layer. It goes on thick, but it seems to work pretty good. That might be a viable alternative.

    • If the reference is to my question, I didn’t feel the response was sarcastic. Polyurethane is flexible and maybe light coat would work. I know a lot of split-bamboo fly rod makers use it instead of the more traditional spar varnish.

  15. Any word on the new permanent beading rainwear (TNF and Colmbuia)? Same chemicals?

  16. I have one or two more thoughts here….In addition to investigating concerns about DWR residues off of consumer products, we also need to look at the environmental and social costs in the communities where these highly toxic components of many DWR coatings are produced. Here is one chilling recent article : http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/magazine/the-lawyer-who-became-duponts-worst-nightmare.html?referer=

    Just a search for PFOA DWR on Google will turn up a number of interesting articles.

    I do think that many of the outdoor manufacturers ARE legitimately trying to reduce their use of these substances and come up with safer and effective alternatives. It doesn’t hurt to keep reminding them that we too are concerned, and can vote with our dollars.

  17. What are some good alternatives to DWR clothing then? Thanks for the very informing post as well!

  18. So basically it’s just coated with one of those hydrophobic coats. Damn, and I was about the get one. Imagine all the money they make having people buy and re-buy their product. And of course there’s a possibility that you won’t actually coat everything and water will still seep through. Any alternatives you’d want to recommend?

  19. Hey Phillip,

    Saw this article on PFC and Gear Aid. Not entirely clear but it would seem that ReviveX no longer uses PFC? What do you think?

    -Kevin

  20. So, I have a new jacket that has a DWR coating. Until it fails, I don’t want to purchase another one. It was mentioned that rubbing on the jacket can cause the DWR to come off. I keep my jacket in the outside mesh pocket of my pack. To reduce rubbing, would you recommend keeping it in a stuff sack? Also, does manufacturing any of the plastics, polyurethanes, silicones etc, cause pollution that needs to be worried about?

  21. “Painting” a PU coating has me intrigued. I have an older OR Foray jacket that I like a lot beacause it has 30 inch pit zips. But the “waterproofness” sucks even after a “dwr recoat”. I retired it to heavy duty yard work and bush whacking only, as I use a driducks for hiking. Time to research a paintable PU coating more and see if it’s possible.

  22. columbia’s latest jackets that have no woven shell layer have no DWR

    greenpeace’s latest report on DWR chemicals in outdoor gear
    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/report-hazardous-chemicals-outdoor-gear/blog/55379/

  23. Surprised at the negativity of the topic – all cloud, no sun.

  24. I apologize if this is off-topic, but I couldn’t help wondering. Are there are any potential health concerns regarding the water repellant “down defender” chemical treatments?

  25. Hot topic! Thanks for bringing it up -great topic for discussion and discussion does shine some light. I am glad initial post was not too technical?.

  26. I always thought DWR stands for “Doesn’t Really Work” ;)

    (That’s based on an tech joke from the 90s about ISDN standing for “It Still Doesn’t Work.”)

  27. All this reminds me of a post months ago, when you pointed out that rain gear is better at keeping you warm than keeping you dry. I’ve had rain jackets made by Marmot, EMS and now Patagonia. None has worked well. Ditto for so-called waterproof boots. LL Bean, Garmont, Asolo – hike in the rain for more than an hour and your feet are wet. I’m encouraged by this debate, Philip. Hikers are been buying into this “guaranteed to keep you dry” nonsense for decades. If manufacturers get the message that we know waterproof-breathable is a myth, maybe they will come up with something better – or at least stop soaking us for something that doesn’t work.

    • Awful hard to leave behind a gravy train when actions are controlled by quarterly quotas and bonuses. Maybe a Dupont style class action suit is the only way to get real change. Any lawyers out there?

  28. I have been testing Columbia’s new OutDry Extreme outerwear for the past several months (full disclosure, I work for Columbia). OutDry Extreme garments have no DWR coating.The waterproof/breathable membrane has been moved to the outside of the garment. I can attest to it’s durability and waterproofness. This gear feels bombproof! It also does a pretty fair job of being breathable, and it certainly NEVER wets out.

    I am a sweaty guy, and for me pit zips are a necessity always. That said, the OutDry Extreme jacket and pants I’ve been using are way better than any other waterproof/breathable I’ve owned in the past. Your comment above, “by all accounts, they suck”, in relation to all permanent beading rainwear could be qualified by a fair review of the actual garments. I’ve used mine on a 60-mile section hike on the JMT and in heavy squalls while winter sailing in the pacific northwest.

    • Fair enough. Columbia’s Outdry rain coats are a new type of polyurethane raincoat. I’d love to try one out and test it out in a New England climate. I’d honestly like to have a rain jacket works as advertised for a change and if it does, I’ll shout about it from the rooftops.

  29. I am probably older than most on this thread. Many decades of playing outside.

    I remember back in the day I got a parka from REI that was hi dollar made from some sort of English Cotton (Ventile maybe) the latest thing to keep a person dry. Cotton supposed to swell up in the rain and be water proof. Took it on a multi day Buffalo River canoe trip. Wet out in less than an hour and kind of strained the water but worthless as far as being dry inside.

    Since then like most of you I have wasted a ton of money on various guaranteed to keep you dry stuff. None of which worked. The old Army WWII surplus stuff coated with some sort plastic keeps all the water out but pretty soon you are drenched with sweat.

    Just about every thing we wear/eat/use now is terrible on something. Just like the animal skins worn by the locals helped kill off the environment and animal life, modern science just does the same just more expense and faster.

    When it comes to rain wear, I have come to the conclusion to wear what used to be called ‘oil skins’ by the cod fishermen with Scandinavian cotton mesh underneath. Deal with the damp sweat. Set up a nice tarp or tent at camp and relax there in smart wool something or other. another great natural wool that if not chemically treated can keep us humans warm if not semi dry under the proper outside layer.

    Being some one who has spent a lot of time outside in the elements for a long time, I am in awe of how Technology has given us so much comfort at so little weight. I am amused at how much we debate damage done by chemicals and go home in cars, wear nylon stuff, eat processed food, boat in oil based boats and the list goes on. Kind of funny I think that we argue over DWR and spend the rest of our life in stuff far more dangerous to ourselves and our planet. I do not have the answers just the observations.

    • Great point. Almost everything sucks, not just DWR. =) Although, even if private vehicles and unnecessarily large 3000+ square-foot homes are exponentially worse than outdoor products with DWR, we don’t need to focus on just one concern at a time. But yeah, let’s keep it in perspective.

    • The thing with Ventile or Etaproof is that the most jackets are made of thinner fabric with one layer. The old day army stuff was supposed to be made of thicker fabric and double layer.
      I have no personal experience but I have read in forums that the double layer works much better.

  30. Interesting article and comments, Philip.

  31. I’m interested to hear about why AlanR was disillusioned with Páramo raingear which uses PFC-free Nikwax Analogy fabric. This fabric has never needed PFCs to keep the weather out – and is well-known for being the most effective fabric at getting rid of perspiration and condensation, whatever the humidity or temperature.

    It’s been used in the UK by both outdoor professionals and enthusiasts for over 20 years and is the choice of many working and playing in the (very wet & humid) Scottish Highlands, including a huge number of Mountain Rescue teams, who are willing to swear by its effectiveness.

    Not sure what experience AlanR had – but we’d like to hear!
    Alan – please email [email protected] and let us know.
    Catherine Whitehead
    Páramo Marketing

  32. I much prefer waterproof non-breathable but well-ventilated ponchos to WPB jackets – the latter just always feel too constricting. The only WPB I use is my old OR gore-tex sombrero, that’s still waterproof after 20 years with no re-treatment.

    The best solution to avoiding human consumption of PFC’s (and all the other toxins entering the environment – backcountry-PFC use being a drop in the bucket) is to eat lower down on the food chain. Especially avoid marine predators, like tuna; better yet, stop eating meat. But that’s another soapbox.

  33. From your links and other reading it seems clear that there is a potential health risk. Some of the discussions I have read on the topic seem a little alarmist as there are still many unanswered questions. I understand that it can be hard to find smoking gun evidence for human health harm like we have with things like tobacco and lead and that degree harm is not needed before making changes but there should be some acknowledgment that current human harm from DWR’s is not established. I’m not opposed to erring on the side of caution if there is little to be lost. Hopefully in the process they can come up with something that lasts longer for clothing. For now I’m not convinced that the risk is enough to avoid any DWR treated clothing. Still it is another reason to try to cut down on the consumer lifestyle. A vice I’m certainly guilty of with regard to buying outdoor gear.

  34. Dunno what coat from LHG you are reviewing but all their products are variations of SilNylon, which they state only has a HH of 2000mm, this means it is just SilNylon with a DWR treatment. ‘True’ waterproof materials either have insanely high HH measurements in the 25k+ range or are rubber like the original raincoat.

    The only other potential are the newer tech fabrics that rely on membranes being the face fabric instead of the middle layer in the fabric sandwich.

  35. Just to chime in several months later, Gore does plan on rolling out non-PFC-based DWR by their 2018 collections. Check it out here: http://www.gore-tex.com/en-us/experience/responsibility/environmental

    • Yawn. Campaign promises. You have to understand that Goretex is an OEM fabric supplier, only responsible for one small piece of the jackets made by companies using their materials. Columbia, which makes OUTDRY, makes the membrane and the final jacket products so they can guarantee that their jackets are PFC free. Don’t be fooled by the Gore-tex PR machine They blame all product defects and exaggerations about Gore-text effectiveness, jacket PFCs, etc on their OEM customers. They’re very skilled at it.

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