Hi to all you outdoor enthusiasts!
We often get asked what’s the right way to impregnate membrane jackets and what is the most suitable impregnation, or whether impregnation helps if the jacket already leaks. So we’ve decided to take a close up look at these problems.
In the first place I must clarify the terms waterproof and water-repellent and explain the difference between the two.
- Waterproof means that the outer surface doesn’t let water through to the inside. Usually this is achieved by means of a membrane – a thin layer that allows water vapour particles through, but which blocks water particles which are much bigger in comparison. This property is expressed as a water column measurement - that is the pressure the fabric can withhold before it starts letting water through. This is expressed in millimetres and the higher the value the more resistant the fabric is to letting in water.
- Water repellence is a property of the outer material provided by impregnation. This causes the water on your jacket to form small droplets that run off onto the ground instead of soaking into the surface material. Over time this impregnation washes out of the jacket and has to be renewed otherwise water will reach the membrane. The membrane will stop the water so it won’t leak through to the inside, but wet clothing is heavier, feels colder and has severely reduced breathability.
To help you imagine it – this is how a fluorine or silicon chain looks on properly impregnated fabric. The impregnation creates fine hairs which prevents moisture reaching the surface of the fabric.
And this is how it looks after intensive wearing and a number of washes. As you can see, the protection is less than ideal and can lead to water soaking into the material.
Whenever rain stops forming droplets on your clothing and starts to soak in then it’s high time to renew the impregnation. How do we do this?
And now we get to the next question – Which impregnation product from the wide range available should you choose? Even we weren’t a hundred percent sure, so we decided to test some of the most readily available on the market at the laboratories of the Technical University in Liberec. We took some used material from GUIDE and DEVIL ALPINE jackets and first washed them ten times with bags full of metal poppers to simulate normal wear.
Then we impregnated the material and had it washed again – five times, ten times and twenty times over. The we turned to the experts from the university and asked them to carry out what’s known as a spray test – the material is fastened onto a hoop, sprinkled with water and then, on the basis of a photographic scale, assessed for soaking.
In reality it looks like this:
What you’re most interested in though is the results, isn’t it? First off, I must say that you can’t go wrong with any of the impregnation products we tested, they all showed a high level of protection against soaking and the differences between them were minimal.
That said, if we were to recommend one product according to the results it would be TOKO Eco Textile Proof. This impregnation impressed us by not only having the highest test results but also being highly ecological - its active ingredient is silicon, which is harmless to health, and application is by means of a mechanical sprayer. It’s no wonder that this product not only holds the OutDoor Industry Award but also fulfils the criteria the Bluesign award.
We liked it so much that we decided to add it to the range of products available from our e-shop, where you too can now obtain it and give your beloved hardshell clothes the best of care.
Martin M. D.A.