Today I wanted to do a short post to share a handy little tip on how you can protect the waterproofness of your rain jacket while out on the trail. In this post, when referring to a rain jacket I mean a waterproof hiking jacket which, while perfect for any city street on a rainy day, is mainly designed for protection from the elements out on the trail.
Your standard rain jacket will normally have some kind of layer of DWR (Durable Water Repellency) material on it. I won't go into a lot of detail about DWR here. You can read more about waterproof and breathable material in this post. For the purposes of this post, understanding that the DWR material is the stuff on your waterproof hiking jacket that makes the water bead and roll off and so keeps you dry, is enough.
This DWR is like a coating on your jacket and as such you need to be careful with it and treat it well. For example, you need to be very careful how you clean your waterproof hiking jacket. Using standard detergent will deplete the DWR capability of your jacket and could render it useless after only a few normal machine washes. You need to use the appropriate detergent.
This DWR coating is of course a key part your outward protection from the elements. As it faces outwards to the environment it can take some pretty hard hitting over time and not just from the elements. For example, getting rubbed up against hard surfaces, getting scratched from tree branches, etc. Now many good rain jackets will have an element of abrasion resistance to help deal with this but again, you need to be careful with it and treat your jacket as well as you can.
Today's tip is about a simple way to protect your rain jacket from a very common, and avoidable, thing that can expedite the loss of the potency of it's DWR coating much quicker than it should.
When you're on the trail, you of course are normally utilizing a system of layering, putting layers on and taking them off as you warm up and cool down. So, what do you do with your layers when you take them off? That's right, if you're like me, you stuff them up and put them into your day pack. I can nearly guarantee you, that you don't give this bit much thought right? I know I am guilty of this 🙂 .
However, think about it. You roll your jacket up into a ball and stuff it into a, likely, already full pack. You then start to move as you hike generating friction on the items inside your pack. You drop your pack to the ground, maybe even sit on it when you stop for a bite to eat.
That's all good and part and parcel of hiking on the trail but remember, your rain jacket is scrunched up inside and that precious DWR coating is taking all the impact of your moving, sitting, and so on.
Stow Your Waterproof Hiking Jacket Away
So folks here's the simple tip for today. If your jacket has a stowable feature within it, which means it can be wrapped up and packed away by zipping it up into it's own pocket in a neat and compact manner, take the time to use it when putting your waterproof hiking jacket into your pack when not in use.
If your jacket does not have a stowable capability within it, fear not. Simply wrap your jacket up in a neat manner and roll it into the hood as compactly as you can.
Then try and put the jacket, whether in it's own stowable pocket or rolled into it's hood, into a secure part of your pack. If you can wrap it in another layer in your pack, for example a fleece, even better. That will add another layer of soft cushioning around it. You could also put it into a dry bag to seal it up nice and tight.
If you want to keep your waterproof hiking jacket performing to it's full capability for as long as possible, add this simple tip to your hiking and packing routine. It's takes no time to do and it's easy peasy 😉
Do you have any tips on how to help protect your rain jacket? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!