Travel can be full of unexpected hazards, and weather will likely account for at least half of them. You can’t change the forecast, but you can take steps to avoid getting delayed by soggy feet or a soaked bag of clothes while you should be out exploring.
One of those steps is waterproofing your gear before your trip. A quick spray or rubdown can prepare you for surprise thunderstorms and make sure that you don’t accidentally sacrifice your favorite pair of shoes.
The vice president of marketing at popular waterproofing supply brand Nikwax, Heidi Allen, advises travelers prep anything they might possibly be wearing or carrying in the rain or near water. “I’ll waterproof my travel pants and even my jeans before a trip, to make sure even if I do get wet, things will dry as quickly as possible,” she said.
Every waterproofing product will have different requirements and instructions, but the basic prep steps should remain the same. First, make sure whatever you’re prepping is clean. Sealing water out will also mean sealing in whatever’s on there when you start, and dirt or factory chemicals may interfere with how well the treatment bonds to the material. Some of your rain gear may come with DWR, which stands for Durable Water Repellent, built in and should be able to regain its water-blocking abilities with a cleaning. Allen recommends testing it by spraying the item with water. If the water beads up, the DWR is intact; if it soaks in, the DWR has worn off and needs to be reapplied.
After the cleaning, you may need to leave your item slightly damp or even wet to apply the product — check the instructions. You should also make sure you do a spot check somewhere unobtrusive to see how the color and texture of the item react. Now, find a well-ventilated spot and get to work.