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I come from a family where outdoors activities include picknick baskets and a time limit of four hours tops. However, my girlfriends family loves taking me on outdoor holidays, the kind where you won't see another human being for a few days. During last years holiday, my cheap coat was clearly insufficient to withstand anything more than a light Spanish shower, so they surprised me with a 'good' outdoor raincoat for our upcoming canoeing trip to Canada.

Usually, I sprayed my coats with some kind of water-proof spray before use to make it at least a little water- and dustproof, since 'you should always do that before first use'. However, this coat has some kind of high-tech breathing fabric that I'm not familiar with, and the labels did not provide any directions on whether (not to) spray the coat before first use.

So, my question: should I or should I not use water-proof spray on a 'professional' outdoors jacket? If yes, should I invest in a good spray from an outdoors shop, or will an all-purpose spray do? Or will this actually do more harm than good?

Specifically, it's Venturi ® fabric from Schöffel. Link to the coat in question (if that's allowed)

  • What is the coat made of? Or if your not sure what's the make and model? – user2766 Jun 8 '15 at 10:28
  • some kind of high-tech breathing fabric does this have a name on the label? I'd expect something like GoreTex or Hyvent, etc. – user2766 Jun 8 '15 at 10:29
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    It's called 'Venturi ®' from Schöffel outdoor. I'll edit that in. – Sanchises Jun 8 '15 at 10:40
  • If you want it to remain breathable, probably not. – Matthew Read Jun 8 '15 at 21:15
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From a website giving information on jackets, specifically for "Venturi" fabric, the material appears to be similar to GoreTex, etc. and recommended washing is given as:

The durability of Venturi is dependent on proper care. Regular and correct care has a positive effect on the durability of the membrane. Unless otherwise stated, wash in the washing machine with similar colours on a gentle wash at 30°C or 40°C, taking care to close all zips, Velcro fastenings and press studs and turning the item inside out before washing. Liquid detergent specifically for membrane clothing can be used and detergent residue can be avoided by rinsing the garment until water is clear, however the use of fabric softener is not recommended. It is better to care for the garment often with a little detergent than rarely with a lot of detergent . After washing, the garment can be spun briefly on the gentlest setting. Impregnation is one of the basic requirements for supporting the membrane’s function.

In addition to regular washing, all breathable fabrics need some sort of treatment to allow water to bead on the surface, to assist with breathability. To check this, try pouring a little water on your jacket's surface and see if it beads or wets out. If you find the water beads (forms into droplets which roll off the fabric) then all is well. If not, then using a spray which helps the fabric repel water (such as those sold by NikWax or Grangers, at least here in the UK, but I'm sure similar products are available in other locations) would be a good idea.

  • Thanks for the answer, I guess that answers pretty much everything - and also cured me of the belief that frequent washing is bad for weatherproof materials. Is a delicate (e.g., Woolmark approved) detergent good enough, or should I go for specific detergents? – Sanchises Jun 8 '15 at 11:35
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    There are specific cleaning materials such as NikWax Tech Wash, but most manufacturers suggest a soap flake type of cleaner is preferable to detergent as these often have whiteners and other chemicals. – Paul Lydon Jun 8 '15 at 11:42
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To answer the question simply - no, you shouldn't spray it with anything.

Waterproof fabrics (the higher end kind) are coated in the factory with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish that is usually silicone based. DWR will wear out over time (and then you spray again), but straight off, it is good to go for many days of wear and use.

Just wash it regularly (I do after 5-10 days of actual use) on a gentle cycle with a non-bio detergent (or use a designated soap from the likes of Nikwax, Granger's Storm or even just pure soap flakes). At some point the water will stop beading, mainly at high wear areas such as the waist or shoulders, and than a spray of those areas after a wash will do the trick.

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The German website you linked contains the following paragraphs under "Pflegehinweise" (maintenance notes):

Die Oberstoffe der Bekleidung werden bereits bei der Herstellung imprägniert. Diese Imprägnierung kann durch Wärmezufuhr im Trockner (falls laut Pflegeetikett erlaubt) reaktiviert werden. Da die Imprägnierung aber nicht dauerhaft hält, sollte das Kleidungsstück regelmäßig nach etwa 2-3 Wäschen mit einem speziell dafür geeigneten (silikonfreien) Imprägniermittel - erhältlich im Sportfachhandel - behandelt werden. Spätestens aber dann, wenn das Wasser nicht mehr vom Obermaterial abperlt und das Bekleidungsstück sich klamm anfühlt.

Idealerweise verwenden Sie eine Sprühimprägnierung, da Sie hiermit den Oberstoff gezielt behandeln können. Durch Wärmezufuhr, beispielsweise mit einem Haartrockner bei geringer Temperatur aus ca. 10-15 cm Entfernung oder für kurze Zeit auf niedrigster Stufe im Wäschetrockner (falls laut Pflegeetikett erlaubt) können Sie den wasserabweisenden Imprägniereffekt reaktivieren. Wärmen Sie dazu das trockene Bekleidungsstück an, imprägnieren es und führen anschließend nochmals Wärme zu.

Tipp: Besser oft und mit wenig Waschmittel als selten mit viel Waschmittel pflegen.

This roughly translates to:

The outwards facing fabrics of the clothes are already proofed during manufacturing. This proofing can be reactivated through heat in the dryer (if allowed according to the care label). Since the proofing does not last, however, the piece should be treated regularly after approximately 2-3 washings with a special adequate (silicone-free) proofing product-- available in dedicated sports stores. At the latest, when the water does no longer beads from the outer material and the piece of clothing feels damp.

Ideally, you will use a spray proofing, since you can treat the outer fabric specifically with it. Through the application of heat, for instance with a hair dryer from short distance of approximately 10-15 cm, or for a short amount of time in a dryer on the lowest setting (if allowed according to the care label), you can re-enable the beading proofing effect. For that, warm up that dry piece of clothing, proof it, and apply heat once again afterwards.

Tip: It's better to care often and with little detergent than rarely with a lot of detergent.

  • Thanks - I assumed the (already quite lengthy) label would have all info the manufacturer wanted to provide - hence I didn't think of looking at their website. I think the info at whatjacket.info (Paul Lydon's link) is actually a translation of the very same German excerpt. (and also, I'm afraid my German is rustier than I care to admit) – Sanchises Jun 8 '15 at 16:24

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