11 Best Waterproofing Sprays for Outdoor Gear

Spring at last! The coming of spring is always celebrated by us outdoorsmen — it signals the annual return to the great outdoors. After months of waiting it’s finally time to break out the camping gear, fishing poles, canoe cushions, and hiking boots. With the coming of every spring season, a wise outdoorsman cleans and re-treats all of their applicable equipment to be optimally waterproof and looking sharp.

We’ve selected 10 righteous products to assist you with preparing your gear locker for another exciting season of outdoor activity. Your rain jacket, camping or shade tent and hiking backpack should all be cleaned up and re-waterproofed. Some other less obvious but equally important items to treat could include your hiking boots, fishing waders and tackle boxes, outdoor hammock or even your boat cushions. We’ve even included some products for getting your vehicle road trip ready and for prepping your marine fabrics for the high seas.

There are many pieces of outdoor gear that could use some annual maintenance to not only enhance performance but to extend overall lifespan. Cleaning and re-waterproofing equipment not only keeps your gear shedding water but also revitalizes fabric breathability and UV protection depending on the product.

If a fabric or material becomes damp or wet, it loses almost all of its breathability — it’s crucial to maintain the Durable Water Repellency (DWR) coating to ensure your gear stays breathable. Some products however can decrease breathability depending on how they apply — stick to our top picks for options you can trust.

That favorite rain jacket of yours can repel water as good as new (or perhaps even better) with the right product application. Your longtime hiking backpack can be sealed watertight for the trail with certain cleaners/waterproofing products and still retain the necessary breathability you need. Your new hiking boots can stay looking and feeling new by treating the leather and fabrics with the right stuff.

The choices are nearly endless for rejuvenating and maintaining your most beloved outdoor gear — be a mindful hiker, camper, fisherman or whatever you are and take the time to enhance the performance and life span of your equipment.

There are several outfitters and brands that offer spring cleaners and waterproofing products worth buying. Make sure to observe the quantity or “amount of treatments” you’re getting as well as the lasting effect of the product when purchasing. Some brands work wonderfully, but only through one rainstorm.

Another thing to consider as a wise and respectful outdoorsman or woman is environmental impact — try and avoid products that use Fluorocarbons or anything else that might be detrimental to the environment. As lovers of the outdoors, it’s our responsibility not to introduce toxins into the landscapes we cherish.

One brand that has impressed me, in particular, is Nikwax. They sent me out an array of cleaners and waterproofers to sample on my own equipment, and I’ve been thrilled with the results. I have used a fair amount of spring cleaning/waterproofing products, and all with success, but Nikwax has exceeded in quality what I’m used to applying to my gear. Their products are furthermore Fluorocarbon free, non-persistent, don’t use propellant gasses and are environmentally safe. We’ve decided to include several Nikwax products here due to their performance and affordability, but make sure to carefully read through the options from our other selected brands as well — there are some other great products listed.

Here’s a quick guide for applying spray-on products to consider before treating your outdoor gear. Remember all products are different and may have their own instructions.

Make sure to thoroughly clean whatever garment, boots or piece of equipment you want to treat prior to product application. Oil and dirt embedded in your dirty gear can block pores depending on the fabric/material and keep the product you’re applying from properly soaking in or sealing.

Hang your gear to dry once washed. It’s likely better for the fabric/material to air dry naturally than to be heated in a dryer or next to a heater prior to product application

Once ready, apply product evenly and make sure to cover the entire garment or piece of gear. Make sure you’re in a well ventilated area (preferably outdoors) and wearing gloves if the product manufacturer recommends doing so.

Allow everything to properly dry, don’t go running into a rainstorm until the product has been fully absorbed

Whatever the weather or your plans for the outdoors, make sure all your gear is just as ready as you are for another season doing what you love most! This is what we’ve waited for — launch into the spring season like you mean it!

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