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 outdoorsmen 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’s 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.
There’s endless possibilities 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’s 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’s 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 to do 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!
1. Nikwax TX Direct Spray-On
When the DWR coating on your waterproof garments or gear starts to fade you’ll need to reapply some waterproofing product. TX Direct Spray-On is an awesome choice of waterproofer that’s super easy to use and is furthermore specially designed not to compromise breathability. Spray on application is sometimes preferred in situations where only part of your garment or piece of gear needs to be treated, or if certain points need more attention than others (elbows, jacket seams, hoods).
Hitting the top of your hiking pack with some TX Direct every spring will ensure rain never gets a chance to seep in. Spraying down your tent will keep water beading storm after storm. Applying a coat to your rain jacket or pants maintains and reinforces that DWR coating the garment started with when you purchased it.
This product is perfect for breathable rain garments with wicking linings that cannot be machine washed. It’s a simple, water based spray on waterproofer that does not require any heat to properly adhere — so no machine drying either. Nikwax also offers this same product as a “wash-in” waterproofer rather than a “spray-on”.
They recommend the wash-in version of TX Direct for garments that can be machine washed. It’s a more thorough way of applying the product evenly over whatever garment you’re waterproofing. It all depends on what you’re treating.
Don’t rule out outdoor gear like tent flys and hammocks for use with the wash-in version, all you need is to fill a bathtub with the solution and you’ll get a more even application than possible with the spray-on. This is a killer product, so it might make sense to own some wash-in for your clothing garments/foldable fabrics and spray-on for outdoor gear like backpacks, bags, cushions, etc.
You should always thoroughly clean your gear prior to using this product. Nikwax recommends using their Tech Wash for the best results. Some conventional detergents actually damage water repellency, so be mindful of what you’re using. When paired with the Tech Wash, the consistent need for TX Direct applications is greatly reduced — the two products make a good team. Read up on Nikwax’s Tech Wash in the next section.
Once cleaned, application of TX Direct Spray-On is a breeze:
Lay your clean garment or piece of gear out flat and zip up all the zippers. Then spray an even coat to the outside of the fabric from about six inches away. After about two minutes, wipe away any excess product using a damp cloth. That’s it! You’re once again beading water like a duck!
Remember that Nikwax is safe for both you and the environment — they make water-based products with no aerosol sprays, fluorocarbons or volatile organic compounds present. This product is also non-flammable which is of course wise to be aware of when applying chemicals of any kind to your outdoor gear.
Check out the video below for a look at the wash-in version of TX Direct.
Price: $14.94 & Free Shipping on orders over $25
2. Nikwax Tech Wash
Here’s an awesome spring cleaning product that’s massively overlooked in my opinion. If you’re someone who’s serious about getting the most out of their gear in terms of both performance and lifespan then you’ll definitely be interested in this one. Nikwax Tech Wash is a cleaner rather than a waterproofing product, but it has some amazing effects.
Using Tech Wash to clean your waterproof clothing and gear not just at the beginning of the season, but periodically throughout it will greatly reduce your gear’s dependence on waterproofing products.
Dirty fabrics attract water and some detergents leave behind residues that also attract water — cleaning your rain gear with a specialized product like this keeps breathability to a maximum and furthermore restores water repellency. It’s the perfect wash-in product to use prior to applying other products (like Nikwax’s TX Direct) and also works well on its own.
Washing machine and hand wash application is easy:
First use some undiluted Tech Wash and a brush or sponge to clean up any particularly deep stains. Then mix the appropriate quantity of Tech Wash in with your wash depending on water level on a warm setting. The product label specifies how much to use depending on washing machine size.
If you’re hand washing, immerse your garments or gear into six liters of hot water in a sink or tub. Nikwax recommends about 50ml per item for making the solution. If you’re in a hard water area (above average calcium and mineral deposits) then use double the Tech Wash in your solution. Simply agitate the solution with whatever you’re cleaning and then thoroughly rinse your garments/gear in clean water.
Air dry or tumble dry on a low setting. If you plan on using a waterproofing product like TX Direct after cleaning, there’s no need to let the garment dry before application — it’s ready once cleaned.
Price: $12.98 & Free Shipping on orders over $25
3. Nikwax Tent & Gear Solarproof
Protecting your gear from the sun is something a lot of us outdoorsmen overlook. UV rays can damage fabrics just like they damage our skin, so why not protect your equipment from the harmful effects of the sun? Backpacks and tents in particular see a lot of sun exposure and are likely at the highest risk of long term damage.
After even just a few days of high sun exposure, certain fabrics will be far more susceptible to tearing and puncture. With Nikwax’s Tent & Gear Solarproof spray you can add some serious solar defense to your most exposed gear. It’s like sunscreen for your tent and gear!
Nikwax claims you can double the lifespan of your tent body with just one application of this product! That’s saying a lot, but if where you typically camp is particularly sunny then this could be reality for you! Anyone who’s spent a lot of time camping has seen their own or their friend’s tent fly worn away to near paper thinness from sun exposure.
It’s tragic when the clips, zips and tent floor are all in good shape but the fly or tent body is too far degraded by the sun to use. Washing in some Solarproof solves this issue. Never lose another tent to sun damage again and also consider what other gear of yours could benefit from this kind of treatment. This product is also inherently one of the best waterproofing sprays around on top of providing solar protection.
Beach tents, canopies, outdoor hammocks, sun umbrellas and even soft tackle boxes are all good candidates for this kind of solar treatment. I think applying some Solarproof to the most sun-exposed parts of your hiking backpack is also a pro-move for wise outdoorsmen looking to get the most out of their gear.
Application is super easy:
Just rinse whatever you’re treating clean with some water, spray it on and wipe it off! That’s essentially it — check out the attached video below for a look at how simple product application is!
Price: $15.95 & Free Shipping on orders over $25 (13 percent off MSRP)
4. Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather
This is a bit of a niche product for prepping your outdoor gear for the season, but we think a lot of outdoorsmen will find this one useful. Although a lot of us hikers, backpackers, hunters and fisherman are wearing goretex and synthetic boots these days, there’s still some of us who own leather footwear.
Even a lot of synthetic boots have authentic leather uppers incorporated into the design that can be treated and waterproofed. Sandal straps, hiking or hunting bags, gloves or any other leather gear you own could all really benefit from a Waterproofing Wax treatment.
If you do own leather boots then this one should be on the top of your list. Keeping your boots both breathable and dry is key to having a good time in the field. This product will keep your boots dry, which means it also helps to maintain boot rigidity and air flow. Wet leather does not provide the same level of support that firm, dry leather does so it’s crucial to keep your footwear in top condition.
Furthermore, as we discussed earlier, when a garment, fabric or material is saturated it does not provide the same level of breathability. Wetness fills the material’s pores and greatly reduces the airflow in and out. Bottom line — keep your leather boots dry and therefore structurally supportive and breathable.
Application is particularly easy with this product:
Clean up the leather you’re treating with a cleaner or just water to remove loose dirt and mud. If you’re treating your leather boots than Nikwax makes a great cleaning gel for footwear you could prep with (see #5). Once you’ve cleaned whatever you’re treating, simply rub in the wax while the leather is still damp — that’s it! You can even use your hands to work in the wax because it’s a non toxic product.
Wha-lah! Tough, water repellent, breathable leather rejuvenated for the season!
5. Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel
Every outdoorsmen has boots or footwear that they heavily rely on in the field. Whether you own hiking boots, sneakers, sandals or a bit of everything for the outdoors, you’re going to want to annually or biannually treat your footwear to revitalize breathability and water repellency.
Nikwax’s Footwear Cleaning Gel is great for essentially all footwear but perfect for waterproof materials like Gore-Tex and eVent. Smooth leather, suede, nubuck and fabric are all compatible with this product. It should be an essential for anyone who wants to maximize the life span of their most beloved footwear.
Just like all the other fabrics and materials we’ve mentioned, cleanliness has a LOT to do with the performance of your foot wear. As a general rule — clean means better breathability and water repellency.
This cleaning gel will enhance the performance of your footwear for this reason and also get your boots or sneakers looking sharp again. If the footwear you’re treating is leather or partially constructed of leather than make sure to pair this treatment with some Waterproofing Wax for Leather to really prep for the season.
Application is quite simple with this product as well:
Just rinse the dirt and mud off your shoes or boots and while still wet apply the cleaning gel with the incorporated applicator tip. If your footwear is really dirty, then feel free to scrub the gel in with a nylon brush. Rinse with clean water once finished working the gel in and you’re all done! If applying Waterproofing Wax for Leather or any other waterproofer, now is the time.
6. Nikwax Down Wash Direct
Down Wash Direct from Nikwax is a pretty righteous product you may have never known existed. It’s a technical cleaner for down jackets and sleeping bags that is compatible with both hydrophobic and regular down. This product is AWESOME for annually treating your down gear — it not only cleans but also revitalizes insulation and water repellency!
Considering our down gear is for staying warm in the coldest of conditions, it’s absolutely worth keeping in prime condition. Cleanliness is one thing and certainly appreciated, but enhancing insulation and water repellency is worth a LOT — fortunately Down Wash Direct is quite affordable.
There’s about 10 separate applications per purchase with this product. That’s potential to treat a lot of gear for a lot of seasons. I personally think being able to revitalize the down insulation and water proofing on your sleeping bag in particular is the best potential for this product.
If you do a lot of camping, this is a product that absolutely belongs in your gear locker to ensure your sleeping bag is performing at its best. If you own high quality gear it’s silly not to treat it annually so it can be its best.
Down Wash Direct works very comparably to the Tech Wash :
It’s a wash-in product that can be used with both machines and by hand in a sink or tub. Nikwax recommends spin drying three times or tumble drying depending on the garment/sleeping bag you’re treating. Teasing apart clumps in the down throughout the drying process will further help the insulation loft. It’s a simple process that gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
Price: $29.93 & Free Shipping
7. Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent
Here’s a versatile waterproofing spray that’s compatible with a wide array of gear. Kiwi is a top reviewed brand for water repelling treatments and this product in particular is “Amazon’s Choice”. It’s an easy to use, spray on waterproofer that works with nylon, leather, canvas and breathable materials.
Campers and homeowners alike love this spray for boots, tents, tarps, patio furniture and all sorts of other outdoor gear. Reviews insist the product does not decrease breathability and applies easy. Similar to Scotchgard’s Outdoor Water Shield (see product #9), this is a one-stop product to treating a ton of different equipment and apparel.
This product is not entirely environmentally friendly which should be noted. It’s also described as “Extremely Flammable” so be mindful while applying it to your gear and outer wear. It’s a silicone spray that bonds to fabrics/materials. The silicone content might alter the color of what you’re treating so you may want to test it out first before fully applying it to a new surface. Once dry there’s no residual odor or stickiness left over.
Like all the other products listed here, clean whatever you’re treating before application. It’s unfortunately an aerosol spray (harmful to the environment) but as a result is praised for its ease of application.
This stuff sprays on super nice and evenly which is always appreciated. Always buy environmentally friendly products when possible — but for a quick, budget waterproofing treatment that is compatible with multiple materials a can of Kiwi is still a solid choice.
8. Star Brite Waterproofing
Star Brite makes a highly reviewed waterproofer for marine fabrics, tents and rain gear you should also have on your radar. This product is highly affordable and beloved by boaters in particular, but there’s all sorts of potential applications with this one. Customer reviews claim this product is great for clothing, footwear, marine fabrics, gloves, camping gear and more! It’s a versatile product that you will likely find all sorts of applications for!
I would recommend this waterproofer for its intended purpose of marine fabrics like bimini tops, boat, car and sail covers and umbrellas. It has some good reviews for compatibility with clothing and camp gear, but there’s a strong odor that lasts up to a few weeks after application. This product is also combustible which steers me away from wanting to apply it to personal items.
If you’re planning a road trip and want to treat your jeep or convertible cover or want to re-waterproof your boat’s fabrics for the season this is an awesome choice of product. It also provides UV protection when applied so it could be a great product for porch or lawn furniture or shade devices.
I like that you can buy a gallon (128 ounces) of this waterproofer at a super reasonable cost and have it on hand for whatever you think of treating! It’s a good value buy that sets you up for all sorts of waterproofing — especially if you have a lot of square footage to cover. One gallon is good for 465 square feet of application while the 22 ounce size will cover 80 feet. Not too shabby!
Application is simple with Star Brite — but be mindful not to touch or breath in this product:
It’s as simple as cleaning the material you want to waterproof and then spraying on the product. Allow the fabric/material to totally dry before application and then leave it for six hours after application. Always use this product outdoors and away from any flame due to its chemical nature.
Price: $22.95 for 22oz or $42.60 for 128oz
9. Scotchgard Outdoor Water Shield
Here’s another waterproofing product that’s compatible with all sorts of gear. Scotchgard’s Outdoor Water Shield is a top reviewed product for treating everything from outer wear to grill covers to boat biminis and backpacks. It’s a bit less affordable than buying from Star Brite, but my research implies it’s a better product for versatility — particularly for clothing and footwear.
This is a less specialized product compared to the array of waterproofers, cleaners and sun protectors by Nikwax, but it’s great if you want one product to waterproof all sorts of gear that won’t degrade equipment/clothing breathability.
This stuff is good to go on all synthetic outer wear and gear, Gore-Tex and soft shell clothing. It’s a single coat application that takes two to six hours to dry. There’s nothing to application — just spray it on (a clean surface) and allow to dry before using.
The odor is not so offensive and does not linger after application like Star Brite’s product does. Customer reviews praise this product for treating things like patio furniture and boat covers as well as clothing — it’s the type of waterproofer you can look at an object and think to yourself “why not!?”.
There’s only about 60 square feet of coverage with one can, and 20 if you’re applying to heavier fabrics. It’s not the best value considering square footage, but it’s a killer product in the sense that you can use it to treat all sorts of gear. If you want to waterproof your hiking boots, backpack, rain jacket and tent fly there should be enough product in one can.
It’s an effective one-stop treatment for almost all of your gear. For budget outdoorsmen who want to maintenance their equipment seasonally but don’t have the time or funds to purchase specialized products, this is your best best.
Price: $10.98 – $22.49 & Free Shipping on orders over $25
10. Rain-X Glass Treatment
Here’s a product you may not have expected to see on this “spring cleaning and waterproofing” list. If you’re treating your outer wear and outdoor equipment for the season, why not get your vehicle prepped for adventure as well? Rain-X is a seriously righteous product for repelling water off of your windshield that’s a MUST for anyone planning a road trip this season. If your spring and/or summer plans include some long hours driving, this is a miracle product you’ll wonder why you’ve never used.
Rain-X applications don’t last forever, but after treating your windshield water will bead off beautifully for a few months. It’s a pretty remarkable effect that makes driving in foul weather FAR easier. For long rides through crummy conditions Rain-X is a real life saver. Every time I purchase and apply Rain-X to my personal vehicle I ask myself why the hell I don’t use it more often. It increases visibility immensely and also protects against ice, salt and insects.
It’s a good product to use for overall windshield health and maintenance, not just for waterproofing. When you get up to speed on the highway in a down pour it’s really cool to see all the water just go flying off your windshield — your wipers hardly get to do any work. No doubt a great product at a super reasonable cost that increases vehicle visibility, cleanliness, comfortability driving and therefore overall safety.
Application is super simple — just rub the product into your clean windshield with a microfiber or cotton cloth and apply a second coat once dried. Check out the attached video below for a look at how simple treatment is as well as the impressive effects of the product.