gear maintenance day

9:25 p.m. on January 28, 2018 (EST)
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after a balmy walk in the rain this a.m., I decided my rain jacket (Patagonia alpine Houdini today) needed a serious DWR recharge. it kept me dry, but the cuffs and hem where a hip belt would sit were done, water soaking in rather than beading up. Patagonia's instructions for re-applying DWR are confusing. they recommend spray-on DWR for 'two layer jackets,' which they say have a 'hanging mesh liner,' and wash in DWR for 'three layer jackets,' which have fabric protecting the interior liner. This jacket appears to be neither; it's a very thin nylon with some kind of polyurethane coating applied directly to the inner surface to make it waterproof yet still breathable. I decided to use up some wash-in nikwax DWR for that. washed it in, then hung it up to dry. once it dried, I checked it in a sink, and water beaded up well - but the inner surface felt sticky, with lots of tiny little balls that almost feel like rubber cement along the inner surface. not good. I set it aside to hang dry again.

Having warmed up, I decided to waterproof some boots. I used a relatively soft brush to free up and remove dirt and grit from the leather and the welt, then removed all the laces. Greased two pair of leather hiking boots (10 and 8 year old Limmers with Norwegian welts) and a pair of LL Bean boots with Limmer boot grease. I used to apply them with a cloth, but a while back, I started working it I by hand. Means a couple of hand washings, but I think I get better coverage, particularly along the welt, with bare fingers.  Also, I used to heat up the boots with a dryer so the grease would soak in, but applying it bare-handed helps me avoid laying too much grease on, so I dispensed with the blow-dryer.

I then sprayed mid and low pair of Oboz leather boots with a waterproof/breathable membrane with the recommended Nikwax spray bottle. These are newer - maybe 4 and 2 years old, and I have never treated the leather before. I'll use these instead of the heavier boots for day hiking or if I figure it's going to be extremely wet, because the waterproof/breathable membranes will keep water out for longer than welted leather boot; even fully treated, welted boots will eventually let some moisture in, whereas then membrane boots will keep moisture out until lots of use wears or tears the membrane. I have been pretty happy with the combination of Oboz's proprietary membrane sock and having a full (but light and relatively soft) leather outer - these boots have far outlasted lighter-weight waterproof/breathable sock membranes in The North Face and Merrell shoes I have worn over the years. Left them all to sit for the rest of the day, then put the laces back on this evening. Spraying boots is a messy process - I lay an old towel and a layer of newspaper down first. 

Because I wasn't completely psyched about what happened with the wash in DWR, I decided to spray two pair of shell pants (one venerable GTX pant from the late, great GoLite, one almost as old eVent pant from Wild Things Gear) with Nikwax spray, wiped them down, hung them to dry. It's a messy process because the DWR drips off the pants, so I do that in a shower and hang them on a plastic hanger. after that, I ran the pants under a faucet to make sure the DWR took (it did), and tumbled them dry for about ten minutes - most manufacturers say a little heat helps DWR work properly. 

last, I turned back to the Patagonia shell with the sticky interior. I decided to give it a good rinse in the sink, thinking that maybe the wash in DWR had somehow accumulated on the interior. then, I gave it about ten minutes in the dryer at medium heat. Upon closer inspection when I removed it from the dryer, I still cannot tell whether the DWR somehow accumulated on the inner surface, or whether the inner waterproof/breathable coating is starting to delaminate.  I'm going to wash it again in some tech wash or equivalent and see what that does......  

February 17, 2020
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