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Restoring the DWR on a Gore-tex Jacket

Revivex DWR Treatment

When I went backpacking last weekend, I experienced ideal conditions for developing hypothermia. I was hiking through heavy mist and light rain, which grew heavier as the day wore on. Temperatures were in the low 40’s F and the wind was blowing at about 20 miles an hour. After a few hours of this, I got soaked and cold. The durable water repellent (DWR) coating on my Gore-tex shell had stopped shedding rain.

Gore-tex clothing is made by sandwiching a Gore-tex layer between two moderately porous fabrics. A DWR coating is applied to the external layer to prevent it from absorbing water. The DWR penetrates the fibers and lowers the surface tension of the external fabric, causing water to bead up and roll off of it when it gets wet.

Over time, the DWR coating wears off from normal wear and tear. When this happens, rain will saturate the external layer and the garment will stop being breathable. Sweat will build up inside the jacket, soaking everything you are wearing underneath.

When the temperature outside is cool and your jacket wets out, you are likely to feel chilled, even if you’re carrying a backpack and generating a lot of heat. That’s exactly what happened to me. I was wearing a single layer under my coat which became soaked as the sweat built up on the inside of my jacket. This caused my entire layering system to break down because there wasn’t a dry layer next to my skin to transport sweat away from it. My body reacted by trying to evaporate the water in my jersey, burning more calories in the process, which left me feeling cold.

I was very aware of the hypothermia danger when all this was happening. My hands were cold because my liner gloves had become soaked and my back was cold underneath my pack. I decided that I would stop and camp if I started to shiver. I added a polarguard vest to my layering system to preserve my core heat and then ate a big snack with cookies, crystallized ginger, nuts, and a packet of Justin’s Nut Butter, washed down with a lot of water. That warmed me up pretty good and I made it to my destination a few hours later, still wet and cold, but out of danger.

After I got home from that trip, I applied Revivex, a water-based DWR treatment, to my Gore-tex Jacket to prevent another episode of wet out. This process is easy and has 3 simple steps:

  1. Wash your jacket to remove any dirt or salt build-up. Read the care instructions on your jacket before doing this. I have a big bottle of a very gentle detergent that I use to was performance clothing called Revivex Pro which doesn’t leave behind any soap residue and is scentless. Scentless Woolite is also quite gentle and will also work just fine. Spin dry.
  2. When the coat is still wet, apply the Revivex Spray-On solution, applying an extra amount to the shoulders, hood, and at the ends of the sleeves. The external material should be wet but not be dripping.
  3. Let the coat air dry. Then put it into a dryer by itself and dry it for 60 minutes on low to medium heat.

The entire process takes under 3 hours and works like a charm. Water just rolls of my Gore-tex jacket now. The Revivex really does the trick. A single bottle will treat several garments.

Disclosure: Philip Werner bought these products with his own funds.

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  1. This is a tangential question, BUT:

    do you prefer the Patagonia Capilene base layer to a much cheaper Under Armour option?

    Does it wick that much better? I am really thinking about winter hiking when moving sweat away is increasingly important.

  2. Unless it's insanely cold, I won't wear the long capilene pants under my softshell pants or my full zips. They're just too hot if I'm climbing or snowshoeing. Instead, I'll wear an under armour compression short, primarily to prevent thigh chafing from moisture. At the same time, I'm wearing heavy cloth gaiters which go up to my knees and provide a lot of lower leg insulation.

    On top, I wear at least one capilene 1 long sleeve jersey, and sometimes even two at once, if it's very cold, to move the moisture away from my body. Above that, I'll wear some kind of insulation layer and then a breathable shell. The insulation layer varies depending on terrain and conditions – sometimes a marmot driclime jacket, sometimes a montbell jacket, sometimes a montbell down vest, sometimes a cocoon polarguard pullover.

    I mainly wear the capilene 1 pants at night in my sleeping bag, and as an emergency layer.

    Hope that helps.

  3. A hot pepper product may be a good item to add in case there is the threat of hypothermia. Don't have any personal experience in using it for such a situation. The ginger probably worked almost as well.

  4. I'm partial to the chili spiced mango from Trader Joes and often carry it in addition to their crystallized ginger. Do you know if there is a distinct physiological benefit to hot pepper in hypothermia prevention and what it is?

  5. Been a while since I've read your articles, but I'm back…

    I haven't used the spray-on DWR because I generally hear the wash-in variety is best for jackets and pants. Either way, I found that it restored the DWR like a dream, but it wore off much, much faster than the factory-applied coating.

    I may have to try this again sometime soon with my Gore-Tex jacket or with my Precip jacket soon, since I have some of the DWR stuff left, and it's getting to be wintertime!

  6. I hiked last weekend in the white mountains under the same conditions. I found my REI superwool top did a much better job of wicking away my sweat then the Patagonia tops, it was also much warmer when damp, and seemed to dry quicker when wet.

  7. Wool makes me itch. Not sure it it's a physical thing or psychological. Not a bad observation though.

  8. Hi Philip,

    I'm a little bit confused. You say the diminished DWR coating was the cause of your wetting out under the jacket due to it no longer shedding rain. But I thought the waterproof capabilities of Gore-tex were permanent, but rather the breathability that diminished over time due to the clogging of the Gore-tex porous layer from dirt, sweat salts, etc… Which is cured by washing it as you did. I'm wondering if the DWR spray was simply the icing on the cake, rather than the solution to the problem. Is that true?

  9. Excellent question. The gore-tex layer on all garments is sandwiched between two other layers of fabric. You've probably seen labels that claim 3 layer Gore-tex. That's what they mean. So if you have standing cold water on the outer layer and wet sweat drenching your inner layer, it's easy to understand how the cold would be conducted through the coat. The DWR keeps the outer layer from getting saturated. Make sense?

  10. Thank you for this — I, too, have an irreplaceable jacket that I love, which no longer sheds water. I'm glad to find that I can restore it.

  11. Thank you for your tips. I was specifically looking for a good DWR that was NOT the wash-in type. I will follow your advice, and appreciate you sharing this info.

    Guthook- I have no experience personally with wash in vs. spray on DWR's, but I found the following on the Gore-Tex site. The how to resore section may be of interest to you, as they do not recommend the wash in DWR.


    [removed copyrighted material…]

  12. This is an interesting read. My goretex is less than two years old and has had very little wear so am disappointed that it has failed to keep my as dry as i would like. If i reapply DWR to the outside, how do i stop getting saturated with sweat on the inside?

  13. So, my MarineCorps issued vortex jacket finally soaked me to the. Bone I love that jacket will spraying it with dwr make it serviceable again?

  14. Here’s my 2 cents. I have used both the spray-on and wash-in variety of DWR replenishment and found the spray-on to be much better. it allows you to concentrate on trouble areas (e.g., shoulders on a jacket, thighs on pants); whereas, the wash-in variety will not. I also found that I needed to do the wash-on type twice and it was still not as good as one use of the spray-on.

  15. OK, one more cent. I’ve always wondered why Gore-tex is not simply the outer layer on the garment. It repels liquid water while allowing vapor to escape from the inside, keeping you dry. Why does Gore-tex put the outer DWR layer on, when all it does is absorb water and wet you out after the DWR wears off? I applied this DWR replenishment to a white 100% cotton t-shirt as a test and it beaded water too. Just seems that having to reinvigorate the DWR makes Gore-tex’s properties entirely reliant on a spray on waterproofing that could in theory be applied to any fabric at all.

  16. Question: how does this differ from Scotchguard …basically the same thing but different brand or does ReviveX have different chemical properties that work better on performance gear such as those made out of GoreTex?

    • No sure about the exact formulation, but Scotch Guard is usually packaged as an aerosal and Revivex is a spray-on or wash-in. They all do the same job ultimately.

    • From what I have read, Revivex is a C6 fluorocarbon formulation, whereas the varieties of Scotchgard available on the shelves of my local Walmart are silicone formulations. The South Carolina company Atsko has both kinds of waterproofing (fluorocarbon and silicone) in their “Waterguard” product line. I seem to recall that there is information on their website about which is recommended for different situations. I also seem to recall that, unlike belts and suspenders, the silicone and fluorocarbon formulations do *not* play well together. Switching from one to the other on a given garment is *not* a good thing to do! The assertion that silicone water repellents and fluorocarbon (also called fluoropolymer) DWRs are *not* interchangable by aftermarket users (like me) trying to restore water repellency is the main point of my posting this. I would get more specifics, but I”m gearing up and packing for a backpack trip, so this was all I had time to post. (I was on line searching for recommended temperatures for reviving the fluorocarbon DWR, and somehow found the earlier posts in this thread.) I hope the foregoing information may be helpful to some.

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