Maybe you feel a little trickle on your skin, or you see rain soaking into your jacket where it used to bead right off. Both are signs that your shell—which was once your armor against nature’s worst—is losing its ability to keep you dry. What went wrong?
Nothing. Even the best-built shells lose some water-repellency over time. Just how long depends on how much you wear it and the durability of the original construction.
Most waterproof/breathable rainwear is coated with a Durable Water Repellant (DWR) fabric finish that acts like wax on a car: It makes rain bead off the surface, which improves the garment’s ability to vent your sweat (moist air passes through the fabric between those beads of water).
But that DWR finish wears off as the garment rubs against rocks or backpack straps. Dirt can also prevent DWR from doing its job. And the newer, more environmentally-friendly DWR treatments that manufacturers are currently using don’t last as long as the old C8 formulas (which contain perfluorocarbons that are harmful to humans and environmental health).
But of course, if you’re like most consumers, chances…