Vancouverites, and Pacific North Westerners in general, know that having waterproof gear in the Winter months is essential. We don't get a lot of the beautiful, dry cold you see elsewhere in North America. Here, it's straight up cats + dogs most days.
I have been looking for a really cozy jacket for awhile now and let me tell you, finding a beautiful jacket that is also waterproof is darn near impossible. I love a good, goretex-style hiking jacket for the outdoors, but when it comes to walking around the city I want something a little more 'style-aware' that won't be a giant sponge for the raindrops. It is really hard to find! And, when you do find one, it's usually exceeding the $500.00 mark - yikes. So, until I find a jacket in the higher price range that I love enough to truly commit to, I'm taking matters into my own hands.
Waxing is an age-old technique that works pretty well for making a jacket water-resistant. The more wax you impregnate the material with, the more the jacket will resist water. Beware that it absolutely can, and likely will, change the look, colour, breath-ability and texture of the fabric. A heavily waxed jacket will be stiffer, have wax darkened spots and be more wind resistant. I really like this look so that was fine with me. See below for some waxed jackets we love.
Things you need:
- Special, clothing-specific wax. We used Fjallraven's Greenland Wax. The guys at the store said a large sized bar would do 20 jackets - but we found it did 2... and we didn't even wax heavily. I think he may have been referring to touching up already waxed jackets.
- Hair Dryer
- A cotton/natural fiber jacket - Wax will adhere to most jackets but you definitely want to test first (always do a spot test in a hidden area)
- Lay the clean jacket on a flat surface and rub the wax on in a thin, even layer - do one section at a time to ensure even coverage. The flatter the jacket the better - wrinkles will cause uneven wax dispersion that will show when the wax melts into the fabric. Make sure to really get in and around seams well - these areas will likely be a bit darker.
- When the section is covered turn your blow dryer (some people use irons instead - but this seemed tidier) to high and hold it above the fabric about 6 inches away. As the wax gets warm it will melt into the fabric and 'disappear'. Move the blow dryer around until all wax has penetrated the fabric.
- Do the entire jacket this way, being aware of where rain hits the most (hoods, shoulders, arms) and make those areas extra waxy.
- You may need to do quite a few layers to achieve the level of water resistance/proofing that you want.
This process will need to be repeated every once and awhile throughout the life of the jacket - as wax does wear off with normal wear and tear.