Today, most of the technical outerwear we buy comes with a DWR coating on it. DWR stands for durable water repellant and it’s a coating that applied in the factory, by the manufacturer, to the outside of the garment, whether it be waterproof jackets, parkas pants or gloves. DWR coatings are applied to the outside of a garment to prevent the fabric from absorbing water and becoming saturated.
This treatment of the fabric makes the fibers hydrophobic, meaning they do not like water and thus, repel it away. Any waterproof breathable fabric, like Gore-Tex, Membrain or Ventia, is designed to work and breath at an optimum while the exterior fabrics are not water-logged. A DWR coating keeps your garment working to the best of its abilities. DWR coatings are not meant to last forever and heavy use or a garment can make these coatings wear off even faster. When the DWR has worn off, your jacket or gloves will begin to absorb water and feel wet. This is called “wetting out” and does not mean your water proof jacket leaks but it may feel that way while you’re wearing it.
The inside of your jacket might feel cold or damp and clammy without a DWR to prevent the outside fabrics from absorbing water. At this point, the breathability of your jacket may be compromised and you might feel damp moisture on the inside of the jacket making you feel wet. Having your rain wear wet out on a trip may be miserable, but it doesn’t mean you need to buy a whole new jacket. DWR’s can be easily reapplied with a variety of products like Nikwax TX-Direct.