How to make some of my gear waterproof

10:43 a.m. on April 1, 2012 (EDT)
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Hello, I've been working on some projects to make some of my gear waterproof, I'm making a rain skirt and also working on making a backpack waterproof. The skirt is made of a waterproof fabric I bought at Joann's, I forgot what the fabric is called, but since I'm stitching it up I need to seal the seams. The backpack is made of 210 Denier Nylon, which is water resistant as the manufacturer say. I'm planning on spraying the pack with some sort of water repellent, I saw one called ReviveX which will add a DWR layer to my pack, will this work or will it ruin the pack? After the treatment I will just seal all the stitched areas with seam sealer, the zippers have storm flaps so no danger of getting water in. I never used a seam sealer before and there are tons out there, do you guys recommend any single one for this kind of work? 

10:47 a.m. on April 1, 2012 (EDT)
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I would think that maybe a poly coating such as Kenyon Recoat would work better applied to the inner of the pack.

I used it to waterproof a Thule roof cargo carrier and it worked well. A bit time consuming but the results were worth it.

3:32 p.m. on April 1, 2012 (EDT)
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I want to waterproof the outside, so I don't carry the weight of the rain water when it gets wet

4:09 p.m. on April 1, 2012 (EDT)
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I don't really see much reason why it couldn't be applied to the outside of the material.

4:41 p.m. on April 1, 2012 (EDT)
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I would test anything your going to try first on a small spot on the pack where it will not affect or ruin anything. On a pack I would think the best place to do a test area would be the bottom of the back towards the hip belt. I would try a 1 x 1 or a 2 x 2 area and then let it sit for a while.

I myself along with some of my friends have had much luck with using just Thompson's Water Sealer. A friend of mine years ago always complained that his leather hiking boots would leak water. As he worked outside he needed waterproof, not water resistant boot's. He dipped his boots in Thompson's water sealer and, woola, sealed boot's. Now that would not have worked for me as my feet sweet a lot, (I would not recommend that anyone try this) it did seem to work for him. He never complained to me about his boots ever again. I'm currently still experimenting with mixing Thompson's Water Sealer with UV resistant GE 100% clear Silicone sealer. So far in all my experiments it has worked flawlessly.

The best seam sealer I have found by far is McNett's Seam Grip and I use nothing else myself unless you have a material that uses silicone as the substance to make the material waterproof. You would then want to use a silicone sealer as a seam sealer as nothing will stick to silicone except silicone in my experiance. IMHO

http://www.mcnett.com/Seam-Grip-Seam-Sealer-Outdoor-Repair-P133.aspx

5:04 p.m. on April 1, 2012 (EDT)
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You might be better off buying a waterproofed pack.

5:11 p.m. on April 1, 2012 (EDT)
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Callahan said:

You might be better off buying a waterproofed pack.

 What's the fun in that??

5:57 p.m. on April 1, 2012 (EDT)
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This would be a "fun" project , but wouldn't really make the pack waterproof. I suspect that it would endure barely an hour of rain and no more than a moment of submersion before it wetted out.  The danger here is that the product might lead you to assume they will render the pack waterproof, and 10 minutes into a rainstorm you find all your insulation soaked and compromised.

There are a few ways to go here:

1. Consider a truly waterproof pack.  There are a few that are essentially roll-top dry bags.  They are heavier than most other packs, but truly waterproof.

2. Do what most hikers do: line your pack with a trash compactor bag or a large dry-bag.

Option #2 is quite reliable, and costs a lot less than the several gallons of seam sealers you'll need to buy for your pack.

But - if this is just a fun project, and you want to see how water resistant you'll make your pack, give it a try and report back - just don't trust it to keep your gear dry if you're really counting on it!

6:01 p.m. on April 1, 2012 (EDT)
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Seth, like this:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/outdoor-research/drycomp-ridge-sack/

I looked into this awhile back.

6:20 p.m. on April 1, 2012 (EDT)
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Revivex works best for restoring waterproofing to a fabric that has already had a DWR coating which has worn off, not for making a non-waterproof fabric waterproof. I use it on an old Sorel jacket I have which was originaly waterproof/breathable, and while it works fairly well, it only lasts a short while.

A well-designed pack often comes with a waterproof rain cover, or they can be purchased separately. Not as much fun as making your own, but very light and they will fit the pack perfectly.

6:37 p.m. on April 1, 2012 (EDT)
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I agree that SeamGrip is king.  However, I'm guessing you are just wanting to forgo the weight of a pack cover?  I've never tried it on the pack itself.

9:06 a.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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I have used Scotch gard carpet protector for any man made materials like nylon - works unbelieveable good and is super cheap; just spray it on and rub it in, leaves that film like when you first bought it, doesn't hurt zipper or anything. They also make it for natural materials but i have never tried. I look at it as scotch gard makes stuff to keep couches and rugs from getting wet from spills, it should work well on my camping and hiking gear. Most everything manufactured is repackaged and relabeled for different uses anyway and at different prices, its all the same stuff. When i worked constuction i used 100% silone spray on my boots, you can get it cheap in the automotive department in any store as a lubricant. On my hiking boots i use mink oil, i think its more natural for the leather vs silone. My constuction boots would last a year maybe two so it didn't matter what i put on them i just wanted to keep the water out and my feet dry.

9:11 a.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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This guy lives in the Pacific Northwest and know a lot about keeping water out.  He works hard on his research, and I like his videos.  This video seems to be a great solution to your problem.

2:36 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Line your pack with trash bags or get a warterproof cover.  I believe Rick's profile pic shows him sporting one

2:43 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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maxx said:

... I'm planning on spraying the pack with some sort of water repellent, I saw one called ReviveX which will add a DWR layer to my pack, will this work or will it ruin the pack?...

 To clarify what peter1955 said, ReviveX is, as the name says, to "revive" the DWR, not a waterproofing treatment. It is intended for waterproof/breathable fabrics such as eVent, GoreTex, and similar fabrics. Clothing of wp/b fabrics come with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating that loses its repellent qualities after dirt, body oils, and such accumulate. After washing to remove the dirt and grime, you either spray on the ReviveX (a McNett product, and Nikwax makes a similar product) or wash the garment in it, then preferably dry the garment in a dryer or iron it (LOW heat). The heat helps reactivate the DWR.

There are other chemicals intended for waterproofing (Scotchgard for one). I have not found any of these satisfactory on synthetic clothing or packs that were not made with a wp/b or flash-coated fabric in the first place, and on wp/b or flash coatings, they seem to make the situation worse. By not satisfactory, I mean the waterproofing on, say, your basic ripstop nylon would last through one good rainstorm, maybe.

Best approach I have found over many many years is to (1) cheapest is pack everything in the pack in individual plastic bags (this helps keep everything else dry when you get one item out, even with waterproof packs), (2) use a big garbage bag over the pack, (3) use dry bags from Sea to Summit, OR, Granite Gear, or other companies (the really light silcoat or Cuben ones work really well), or (4) get a purpose-made pack cover (or make one yourself out of a flash-coated material). My experience in rain forests (Africa, PNW, summer storms in the Rockies, Sierras, Cascades) has been that number 3 works best, especially backed up by number 1 for the stuff inside the dry bags. Dry bags from the companies I named are really light and durable (particularly Cuben cloth, which you might get from sail makers, since it is the latest greatest sailcloth - strong and thoroughly waterproof).

2:58 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Arson, is that CrawlingRoad(don't have the time to view it at the moment.) If so he did a pretty nice vid on the Hille Soulo/Akto as well.

Sage, I don't have the pack cover on the pack in my profile pic but I do have a few shots of it on during my Feb trip.:

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/trip-reports/topics/118255.html

While they do provide some protection they leave a bit to be desired. Water can still get to your gear from areas that are not completely covered in the area of the backpanel.

I have encountered this penomenon a few times. Especially heading face 1st ito a driving rain storm. Also water can still run down in between ones back and backpanel causing the same results.

Bill's liner bag/dry sack mention is a very solid(probably the best)way of reassuring ones self that your bag, gear, etc. won't get flooded while on trail.

The only other way to guarantee one won't experience a washout is a poncho that not only covers you but also is large enough to cover your pack as well.

6:25 p.m. on April 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Since reading you guy's comments I went ahead and bought some Seam Sealant and that ReviveX product to peform a test. I contacted the manufacturer of the backpack and explained my plans, they said the fabric is highly water resistant, the only problem will be the seams and the accumulation of water in the fabric, so sealing the seam and adding a layer of water "repellant" will increase the likelihood of making this pack waterproof.  I use a pack cover, but I want to avoid having having to use one, I will also test my plans under the shower,  if that works well I will still use a pack liner (aka trash bag inside my backpack =P) while backpacking untill I encouter a real nasty storm and feel confortable with the setup.  I will keep u guys up to date on this project!
Btw I've seen those OR dry backpacks and tried them on, the suspension system doesn't seem confortable at all, it doens't have a frame, and they aren't big enough to store a tent sleeping bag cook system and food. They look great for a day pack, or maybe an ultralight backpacker, but not for me =/

4:53 a.m. on April 3, 2012 (EDT)
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Sealing seams on rucksacks has been to costly for the market so far. It would make the top-end packs about the same price as a top-end goretex jacket. Black Diamond are doing it for some seams with their new range of backpacks with the interesting suspension system. In the UK, Lightwave/Crux seal some seams as well. Ortlieb made a waterproof pack for mountaineering but they forgot, or were patent-constrained, to include a roll-top closure, which doesn't seem to have help sales. Exped do some as well, though the shoulder straps look a bit flimsy, so you would have to try it on. Arc'teryx make some in Canada but they cost about the same as a small family car.

But like Rick mentioned, the back panel is a point of ingress on many of these designs.

On a 48hr heavy rain session last year, the Sea to Summit silnylon ones kept our sleeping bags bone dry (single roll top each one). Others failed (Lifeventure, UK brand). So I echo Bill's comments. Just make sure the roll top closure isn't sitting on the base of the pack as water pools there and can make its way through, given enough time.

Pack covers are not as popular in the UK, I presume because they would get blown away as there isn't much tree cover. That happened to me the first and last time I used one. We never got on with pack liners, so now we are using silnylon stuff sacks (roll tops for the clothes and sleeping stuff etc). Any new packs we get will probably be waterproofed by the manufacturer during construction, as not only is it going to be 'the next thing' but it makes sense in the long run, methinks.

1:42 p.m. on April 4, 2012 (EDT)
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Just found this online:

www.wimp.com/superhydrophobiccoating

3:04 p.m. on April 15, 2012 (EDT)
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wash in water repelling solution wash

10:11 p.m. on April 22, 2012 (EDT)
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Anyways, I made some advances in this project, here is what I've done so far in case anyone is curious and wanting to do the same: 

I got the ReviveX spray and a Silicon Water Guard spray at walmart which was 5 bucks.  Got an old T Shirt that I was going to throw away, cut it into 3 pieces, one I sprayed with ReviveX and the other with Silicon Water guard, last one I did nothing.
I let them all cure for about 8 hours and did a test. I placed each fabric at an angle against my kitchen faucet and turned on the water to see how they would behave. The water went right through the shirt with no product, the ReviveX did a soso job as some water made it's way through the fabric but most was slipping out, the Silicon spray made the water skip through the shirt like a ride at a water park, I had to turn the fabric at a 90 degree angle and put the faucet at full strength to break through the treatment.  

Next I got a Golite Jam which went on sale, the women version was $49.99, since it's a simple design and made of nylon it's perfect for the project! I got some Seam Grip as suggested and applied it to all the seams that had access to the internal and outer pocket, didn't worry about the shoulder straps or hip belt, I used masking tape to make the job less sloppy.  One nice thing about the pack is that the water bottle pockets have a hole at the bottom to let the water out, so no worries about water accumulating in them.

Two major problems I had to solve:
1. The pack is a roll top, solution: I cut up a trash bag, got some thin strong elastic at Joann's and sowed it all together to look like a shower cap. The cap cinches nicely at the top of my pack, don't think a strong wind would blow it out, but still a prototype and not tested. The downside is that it looks really bad, the backpack is black and the cap is clear, I need to make a nicer looking one in the future if it works out.

2. The pack has two holes used for some elastic thing that leads to the front pocket, I couldn't figure out what it was for, solution: I removed the elastic and put masking tape to cover the hole (pictures will show it better). 


I this morning I got ready the treat the backpack, I placed my sleeping bag inside a trash bag and stuffed it inside the main compartment of the backpack, then some clothes in another trash bag inside the smaller compartment to stretch the fabric of the whole backpack, afterwards I hanged the backpack in my backyard and emptied out the can with two treatments all around the backpack, I'm letting it cure, and thinking of some add-on to store my tent since the pack is really small.

Anyways, that's how far I came, will probably finish and do some tests next weekend, will either be a total failure or total success =P 

10:24 p.m. on April 22, 2012 (EDT)
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You could always just spray the whole pack with this stuff:

https://www.getflexseal.com/?tag=im|sm|go|gn&a_aid=011&a_bid=a4cc8494



8:16 a.m. on April 23, 2012 (EDT)
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I saw several products at walmart that would do the job, but some changed color of product or would jeopardize the fabric, others created a rough or hard surface and would increase the weight too greatly, that silicon thing was the best I could find until the super hydrophobic coating comes out. Sealing the seams with a brush instead of spraying would be the best way to make sure every one of them got covered. 

11:33 a.m. on April 23, 2012 (EDT)
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i primarily use an outdoor research pack cover if i expect a lot of rain.  if i'm canoing or doing a lot of stream crossing and am more concerned about the pack getting dunked, i use dry bags inside the pack.  of the available dry bags, i think it's worth spending a little extra for the silnylon dry bags with an eVent bottom because they do a great job compressing the contents of the dry bag - air escapes through the eVent bottom as you roll the top and seal it shut. 

lining a pack with garbage bags works - but the pack cloth ends up absorbing some moisture in a steady rain.  same issue if you dry bag the contents of your pack, and dry bags weigh a little (but not much) more than trash bags.  covering a pack with a big trash bag is fine but more insecure than a dedicated pack cover in high winds - i have seen trash bags get torn off and fly away in a strong wind.   

11:40 a.m. on April 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Here is the problem. From my experiences on trail how does one "waterproof" the backpanel area of a pack? 

When in driving rain, etc the biggest issue wit pack covers is that rain will run down in between your back off your shell and in between your back and back panel of your pack. 

The best/easiest way to guarantee your pack and gear will not get flooded out it a pack liner of some type or a poncho. 

Jmo.

1:54 p.m. on April 23, 2012 (EDT)
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Rick, the issue of water running down the back of the backpack and into the main compartment is an issue I'm worrying about.  When I sprayed the shirt, water was being repelled extremely well, I sprayed the whole back of the backpack, I hope that the water will repel and not get inside the pack. As soon as the treatment cures and I have time to run some tests all of this and more will be answered =).  

2:00 p.m. on April 23, 2012 (EDT)
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I think this is going to be a problem for you when you take into consideration the padding on the backpanel.

My thought is that in this area you may very well want to waterproof the pack on the inside as opposed to the outside. 

I cannot see a waterproof treatment that is applied to the outside of the backpanel of any kind being 100% effective due to the padding, seams, etc.

If applied to the inside you have a "cleaner canvas" to work with. 

4:57 p.m. on April 23, 2012 (EDT)
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I just got this....

http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Tents/LightShelters/PRD~5012-442/integral-designs-silponcho-tarp.jsp

My plan is to use it to solve the problem Rick mentioned. Having no space between my jacket and pack cover eliminates the water getting in those spaces.

My hope is that it will be...

a) a rain jacket

b) a pack cover

c) give me a porch in wet weather in front of my tent

 

Fingers crossed, I just recently got it and havn't had a chance to test it out. My main concern is how much I will sweat in it. Its obviously not going to breathe through the fabric so I'm hoping some air will flow under the bottom to keep me cool when hiking. We'll see though.

 

10:49 a.m. on April 24, 2012 (EDT)
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Jake W said:

I just got this....

http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Tents/LightShelters/PRD~5012-442/integral-designs-silponcho-tarp.jsp

My plan is to use it to solve the problem Rick mentioned. Having no space between my jacket and pack cover eliminates the water getting in those spaces.

My hope is that it will be...

a) a rain jacket

b) a pack cover

c) give me a porch in wet weather in front of my tent

 

Fingers crossed, I just recently got it and havn't had a chance to test it out. My main concern is how much I will sweat in it. Its obviously not going to breathe through the fabric so I'm hoping some air will flow under the bottom to keep me cool when hiking. We'll see though.

 

Ponchos work well but can be a hassle in windy weather, also watch for snags on brush, etc.

12:26 p.m. on April 24, 2012 (EDT)
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Max Imo your going to find it difficult to keep your pack waterproof. Thats why most long distance hikers use trash compactor bags or waterproof Sea to summit bags. Here's a product thats like a ponch that I think is more practicle to what you want to accomplish. www.thepacka.com

 

11:56 p.m. on April 24, 2012 (EDT)
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Umbrella.

I use one.   Works.

    ~ r ~

12:04 a.m. on April 25, 2012 (EDT)
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Robert Rowe said:

Umbrella.

I use one.   Works.

    ~ r ~

 Not fun in driving rain with high winds. Unless of course you can play Mary Poppins and navigate so your forward progress isn't hindered.

11:03 p.m. on April 29, 2012 (EDT)
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So I tested out the backpack today. The front compartment which was the one I was most worried about was bone dry, the main compartment however, had a significant amount of water coming somewhere towards the bottom of the pack, the upper part of the compartment was dry, which makes me think the water is leaking from the back panel as Rick thought it would.  I have to do some examining and see how I can stop the leaks. I folded the pack inside out and will do some more sealing whenever I have time this week.  I noticed that the fabric of the back panel inside the pack is different from all the other fabrics in the pack, maybe it's not water resistant at all.  The packa, a poncho, umbrella, pack liner, all have disadvantages, waterproofing the compartments of a backpack without any additional accessories is the best way, but not easy to get done, still, don't think it's impossible this pack.

11:23 a.m. on April 30, 2012 (EDT)
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keep at it. you'll manage something

9:35 a.m. on May 5, 2012 (EDT)
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Well, I'm improving this little by little, I coated the inside of the pack with some silicone spray and only a very small amount of water got in, I will do another layer and focus more on the seam areas, but for now, here are some pics of what I did:

Taping around the seams to make a clean job:
IMAG0119.jpg

Back view to show my tent carrying mod, the tent sagged it a little, I have adjusted to hold the tent higher, it's very sturdy and comfortable to carry the tent like this, it also shows the trashbag/rainkilt project I finished, it works flawless, very good to walk with also:

P4230168.jpg
 

Side view in the shower trying to get as much water into the back panel:
P4230169.jpg
 

If I were to start this all over again I would get it right much faster, last attempt I made I stayed in the shower for a long time and only about 1/4 cup of water got in. What is cool is that it only gets in from the bottom, the upper area is bone try, I could just leave my sleeping bag in a dry sack at the bottom and make a hole on the backpack for excess water to run down.  I will keep trying until it's fully waterproof,  I don't want to carry the extra weight of water in the rain and have to worry about drying the pack to avoid mildew.

10:20 p.m. on May 5, 2012 (EDT)
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all I do for pack dryness is use a contractor grade trash bag that can hold much much more than the pack itself can. I put the bag in first, and then I put all of my pack's contents inside the bag, and close the trash bag at the top by rolling it down before I close the pack.

The second layer of protection I use for the outer pockets and compartments is 2 fold. First I put items inside plastic grocery bags to recycle those and save money. Then I put those bags in the outer pockets. The second step is putting a water resistant pack cover over the pack, that I purchased from walmart for 4 bucks.

Other than stuff I'm wearing that is sweaty and wet from the day of travel, my pack's contents are always bone dry.

5:37 p.m. on May 12, 2012 (EDT)
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When I want my packs to be water proof, I use garbage bags inside them plus more sacks over my stuff sacks outside. I also use a garbage sack for my body when I want to stay dry. Much cheaper than waterproof coatings and having extra clothing to add weight. All my garbage sacks weigh next to nothing.


black-trash-bag-dress2.jpg

No pictures of me wearing one, but you get the idea!

3:16 p.m. on May 24, 2012 (EDT)
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Eliminate the problem completely and have fun at the same time!

http://www.uswaterball.com/ 


efim.jpg



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