The 7 best waterproofing sprays for hiking gear and clothing (2023)

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Waterproofing sprays are a cost-effective way to add protection and functionality to your gear.

When exploring the countryside, getting caught in a storm is part of the territory. Ensuring you and your gear are wet prepared is an essential part of life on the trail. Even the most sophisticated piece of gear doesn't stay waterproof forever.

In this guide, we'll cover what waterproofing sprays are, how and when to use them effectively, their pros and cons, and share our top picks.

Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty10.5 fluid ounces$11
Nikwax: TX.Direct10 fluid ounces$15
Grangers: Performance Repel, Wash & Repel Down 2 in 110 fluid ounces$16
Waterproof Scotchgard shield10.5 fluid ounces$13
Gear Aid: Revivex Instant Water Repellent10.5 fluid ounces$18
Sof Sole silicone impregnation spray12 fluid ounces$12
Atsko silicone water protection10.5 fluid ounces$12


With so many waterproofing options available, how do you choose the best waterproofing spray for your needs? Here are the top specs to look out for and how to understand them.

Equipment versus clothing:Most waterproofing sprays are made from a synthetic chemical compound. Applied to a material, it forms a protective shield against moisture.

  • For team:A tough non-porous barrier to keep moisture out is best for gear that isn't being used like tents, tarps and backpacks. With laptop gear, staying dry on the trail is as much about letting sweat escape as it is about keeping rain out.

  • For the clothes:The best garment waterproofing sprays don't seal completely, but remain semi-porous, allowing the fabric to breathe and not trap moisture inside. Anyone who has worn cheap rain gear (such as a garbage bag poncho) can tell you how important breathability is.

Aerosol vs Spray Bottles:Sprays are easy to apply and can penetrate the fabric better. The downside is that they aren't very eco-friendly and you may end up using more spray than intended. Manual spray bottles give you more control over the amount of spray you use. On the other hand, it can be more difficult to apply an even layer.

Silicone and non-silicone based sprays:Silicone sprays are long lasting and very effective. However, they are not recommended for some proprietary fabrics as they can clog pores. They can also cause discoloration, so it's best to check before applying to the entire fabric. Silicone-free sprays often contain hydrocarbons or fluorocarbons. These may be better suited to advanced fabric technologies, but may have more environmental disadvantages.

Waterproof spray bottles can vary in size. The most common size is around 10.5 oz, which can cover around 500 square feet, enough for multiple clothing items or a larger item like a tent.

Alternatives to waterproofing sprays:
In addition to waterproofing sprays, there are other alternatives to restore the waterproofing ability of your equipment.

  • Washed:A "wash" impregnation is exactly what it sounds like. It is applied by adding it to a wash instead of spraying it on. Clean and rinse your item first, just like you would with a sprayer, then add the wash and start a new cycle. Easy to use. However, it is also applied to the inside of the material, which can reduce the garment's ability to wick moisture away from the body and reduce breathability.

  • Cera:Most people know how to wax shoes to make them waterproof, but wax products can also be applied to fabrics like canvas, denim, and even cotton. This centuries-old technique is an excellent non-toxic solution, but it can be labor intensive and is often not compatible with technical fabrics.

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how to use

Applying a new coat of DWR finish is a simple process. It's also very rewarding: regular repainting keeps your gear running.

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Step by step:

  1. Inspect. Are there stains to remove? Any other fixes you'd like to make before spraying DWR (small holes or tears)? Are the pockets empty?

  2. to wash. Before spraying, remove dust, dirt, and grime. This is the most important step as the DWR spray needs a clean surface to stick to. Use hand wash or washing machine. Check the manufacturer's recommendations for proper washing and detergents to use.

  3. rinse. Be sure to remove all detergents by rinsing thoroughly with water only. This can also be done by hand or in the rinse cycle of your washing machine.

  4. spray. Apply the waterproofing spray to the outside of the wet device from a distance of about 15 cm. Try to spray as evenly as possible over the entire piece. Wait a few minutes. If there is overspray, wipe it off with a clean cloth.

  5. Dried. You can air dry or tumble dry. Follow label directions when installing a tumble dryer. Not all devices are designed for the dryer. It is always best to air dry if unsure of care instructions.

  6. Expect. We know you want to get out there and try the new DWR coating! But it's best to check the instructions for use of the impregnation spray to see how long you have to wait until it has fully cured. Some can take up to 48 hours.

How often?

Waterproofing sprays don't last forever, so it's a good idea to get used to using the sprays regularly. A good rule of thumb is to re-treat with a sprayer once a year, but if you notice moisture getting in or the DWR isn't working as it should, you may need to reapply more frequently.

It's also good to get into the routine of washing your gear. Why?

The pores in the special membrane of waterproof gear can become clogged with sweat, oils, dirt and smoke. In this case, the effectiveness of the DWR material is reduced and breathability is reduced. If those pores are clogged, the waterproofing spray won't be as effective, so keep it clean!

However, you don't need to reapply the waterproofing spray after every wash, only if you find that the DWR isn't working as it should.

Some of our top picks combine a cleaner with a water-repellent treatment for a basic gear refresher.

Extra coats?

Sometimes it can be worth applying an extra layer. If the waterproofing is badly damaged, either by abrasion or too long between treatments, it may take a few coats to restore it to like-new condition. If you're applying multiple coats, wait 3-4 hours between each coat.

heat activation?

Some waterproofing products require heat activation, typically for high-end clothing and sprays. Grangers recommends applying heat by placing the item in a dryer. Unless the spray specifically recommends heat, it is not required.

Remember that the care instructions on the kit itself always supersede the instructions on the spray (or this guide!).

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The best impregnation sprays

For non-structured materials, fabrics such as nylon, leather and canvas, a simple waterproofing spray works well. If you're working with fabrics that use more advanced DWR technologies (like GORE-TEX or other proprietary technologies), read the waterproofing spray label carefully to make sure it's compatible and won't damage your gear.

Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty

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Best in: All outdoor gear

Weight: 10.5 fluid ounces

Preis: $11

This silicone-based spray is a great all-rounder. It can be used for most of the gear you carry outdoors such as B. Clothes, tents, shoes, backpacks. However, some patience is required - you will need 24-48 hours drying time before using it and if you are applying multiple coats you will need to wait three to four hours between each coat. The standard 10.5 ounce bottle can cover 540 square feet. The mist applicator makes application child's play. When it's wet, it smells something.

Available at Amazon

Nikwax: TX.Direct Tent & Gear SolarProof, nubuck and suede, fabric and leather

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Best in: All outdoor gear

Weight: 10 fluid ounces

Preis: $15

Born as a home-brew in a Scottish teapot, Nikwax is now the favorite of outdoor experts, with a waterproofing product for just about everything from tents to duffel bags to leather shoes. Nikiwax TX. Direct comes as an easy to use spray or wash that locks out moisture while maintaining breathability. It may not be as durable as other products, but ease of use and eco-friendly formulas make Nikwax the best option.

Available at Amazon

Grangers: Performance Repel, Wash & Repel Down 2 in 1

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Best for: clothing, sleeping bags, high quality specialty gear

Weight: 10 fluid ounces

Preis: $16

Granger's Wash & Repel Down 2-in-1 will liven up your sleeping bags and down jackets, whether down or synthetic, by adding density, breathability and water repellency. This squeeze bottle is also a great option for those who care about the environment. It is free of fluorocarbons and Bluesign certified as a sustainable fabric. Safe for high-end gear like GORE-TEX and with a money-back guarantee. The bottles are smaller so you can grab a few to get the job done.

Available at Amazon

Waterproof Scotchgard shield

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Best in: All outdoor gear

Weight: 10.5 fluid ounces

Preis: $13

Scotchguards Waterproof Shield can be used on nylon, polyester, canvas and even leather meaning it can protect tents, backpacks and shoes. A single application of the easy-to-use and inexpensive spray gets the job done, although the ingredients fall short when it comes to the environment.

Available at Amazon

Gear Aid: Revivex Instant Water Repellent

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Best Suited For: GORE-TEX and other specialty fabrics

Weight: 10.5 fluid ounces

Preis: $18

Revivex Instant Water Repellent receives rave reviews from users looking to restore high-end fabrics like GORE-TEX, eVent and more. Does not affect breathability. The formula is free from harmful fluorocarbons and comes in a spray bottle for added environmental protection.

Available at Amazon

Sof Sole silicone impregnation spray

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Best Suited For: Tents, backpacks and other non-specialty fabrics

Weight: 12 fluid ounces

Preis: $12

Sofe Sole Silicone Impregnation Spray is a silicone-based impregnation spray with a silicone content of 12% and guarantees long-lasting impregnation. It is not recommended in equipment such as GORE-TEX or athletic shoes as it can cause discoloration and reduced performance.

Available at Amazon

Atsko silicone water protection

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Best in: All outdoor gear

Weight: 10.5 fluid ounces

Preis: $12

Atsko Silicone Water Guard is an inexpensive silicone spray that works on all outdoor equipment. It dries clear and is odorless. Large size means it can cover more than other sprays. Like other silicone sprays, slight discoloration may occur if too much is applied. The spray makes this less desirable for the environment.

Available at Amazon

Why waterproof my gear again?

Some materials, like nylon, can repel water for a limited time. Quality Dyneema fabrics do an even better job.

In clothing, fabric technologies create a barrier between multiple layers of fabric to repel water. They often use a DWR (durable water repellency) coating applied to the outside of the fabric, which allows water to bead up and slide off clothing, tents, tarps and shoes.

Many of these materials tend to lose their effectiveness over time. Oil, dirt and friction can wear down DWR. This is where waterproofing sprays can come into play. They can be an inexpensive way to extend the life of older equipment rather than having to buy new ones.

Here are the main impregnation technologies available on the market today:

  1. GORE-TEX: The proven waterproof 2, 2.5 and 3-layer technology. Known for its balance between breathability and waterproofness. Removes moisture from clothing by diffusion. Example: Rab Kangri GTX

  2. H2NO: Patagonia's proprietary waterproof and breathable fabric available in 2, 2.5 and 3 layer constructions. This fabric is gas permeable and designed to perform in the worst conditions. Example: Patagonia torrent shell

  3. Hydronaute - 3-layer membrane fabric by Mont. Mont's claim to fame is its abrasion resistance and ability to resist wear and tear. Example: Monte Austral

  4. Shield+: Pertex's 2.5-layer fabric is known for its high performance and lightweight breathability. Example: Helium II outdoor research

  5. eVENT - A 3-layer membrane treated with a chemical that repels oil and water. More breathable than GORE-TEX but requires more regular cleaning to maintain functionality. Example: KUHL Skuhl

  6. DryVent: Included in The North Face products. It is DWR treated and designed to keep the products fully waterproof, windproof and breathable. Available in a 2, 2.5 and 3 layer construction. Example: The North Face TriClimate

  7. Nano Pro - Developed by Marmot and belongs to the PreCip line. It uses a special DWR coating mainly made of polyurethane. A unique feature of PreCip is its ability to be easily compressed into a small package. Example: Marmot PreCip

  8. Futurelight: Launched in 2019 by The North Face, it features an ultra-thin nano membrane that makes it very competitive in terms of weight and breathability. Example: The North Face Dryzzle

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frequently asked Questions

Does the waterproofing spray expire?

The waterproofing spray can run off. Expiry dates vary depending on the material. If a spray is used after its expiration date, it can reduce effectiveness or worse, damage your equipment. If there is no expiration date, it will likely take some time. If you're not sure, it's better to buy a new spray than risk replacing high-end equipment.

Is the waterproofing spray safe/toxic?

After the spray dries, it is safe and non-toxic. When wet, it can be harmful if inhaled. Some sprays can be flammable if applied in a well-ventilated area away from heat sources.

How do I remove the waterproofing spray?

If something goes wrong, the waterproofing spray can be removed, but it's not always an easy process. The first step is to try to wash it with warm water and detergent. If that doesn't work, you can try again, but this time add ¾ cup of baking soda.

Some photos in this post were courtesy of Jonathan Davis (@meowikes)


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