I'm considering an ultralight (non-waterproof) shell and Nikwax wash-in waterproofing as a rain layer. I'd like it to be waterproof through several wearings (a week or more).

Does this result in a garment which will actually repel water in a heavy rain?

  • 1
    I've had experience with reproofing, but that was only with an already waterproof jacket Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 5:01
  • Two clarifying questions: 1) What is the shell made out of, and 2) How long do you want the shell to be waterproof?
    – Greg.Ley
    Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 19:16
  • @Greg.Ley -- I clarified on the duration, but I'm not concerned about the material. If there is one that works, I'll just buy that. Commented Apr 29, 2012 at 20:58
  • I agree with the accepted answer. I don't think it will work. But if you want to protect it as much as possible you could try layering different waterproofing material. For example after the wax is dried you could add a layer of shoes wax which AFAIK is the thickest.
    – FluidCode
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 10:17
  • If there was a way to make lightweight, cheap, flexible, packable, quiet, breathable, fully waterproof shells the manufacturers would already be doing it. If you need waterproof then you'll have to buy a waterproof, and compromise on some of the other qualities. There are plenty of ultralight waterproofs out there for adventure racers and the like, if you're willing to pay for them.
    – aucuparia
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 20:24

2 Answers 2


I don’t think that will work for heavy rain. The waterproofing coating will make the water slide away from the garment (this is the so-called lotus effect), but that’s just one part of keeping the water out. The harder part is not letting the water through under pressure, like when you press the garment against something, under your backpack straps, under heavy rainfall etc. Here the simple waterproofing finish will eventually give way and the water will get through.


My one experience can be summarised as "ish". It definitely helped / worked in light rain, so if that's all you're trying to achieve then it should be fine. But for heavy rain or pressing the garment against a wet surface, it was all but useless.

Afraid it was a while back and I can't remember the specific brand I used, but after talking to a couple of other people who've also tried it they seemed to have similar experiences.

  • This is my experience. Wash-in waterproofing an ultralight Pertex shell helped it shed light rain, but it still let anything heavy or prolonged in.
    – aucuparia
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 20:18

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