Monday, June 25, 2007

First line of defense

This shot of Jeff Liskay (Patagonia fly fishing ambassador) struck me as a very clear illustration of the function of a garment’s DWR. Click on the picture to see what I mean. What is a DWR? A DWR is a “finish” that keeps the outer fabric from becoming saturated so that the breathable “barrier” can do its job. DWR finishes are the first line of defense in preventing water entry. Patagonia waders, jackets, vests and packs all have DWR finishes. In most cases it’s a proprietary technology called Deluge DWR, which lasts longer than standard DWRs. Garments with the Deluge DWR finish can have good repellency even after years of use. Eventually DWRs wear thin and aftermarket applications are the remedy. Oh and by the way, the picture also struck me as a nice shot of Jeff and his catch. Stay dry everyone. Let me know if you want to have a DWR (durable water repellent) conversation.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Liskay, Silver Fury Guide Service

16 comments:

it_guy said...

It looks like he's wearing a DAS Parka under there, as well. It must be pretty cold. I've always seen that worn as the outermost layer, never layered underneath a shell.

Oh, the fish is pretty nice too!

rj said...

I believe that is a DAS.

Under the DAS, he has on a LW R4 Jkt.

Those are some pretty cold conditions...

Randy Harward said...

Also, it's good to remember that DWR's are replenished by washing and drying in a warm dryer. People still seem to be afraid that washing will break down their DWR, but the opposite is true. Regular cleaning and drying is actually the process by which the DWR molecules are re-formed on the face of the fabric after they've been knocked down by the abrasion of normal wear and tear.

El Pescador said...

Well said Randy but I think many customers perceive washing to have more potential negative effect on barriers rather than DWRs. My understanding is that our barrier technologies are not negatively impacted by washing.

IT_Guy said...

There is definitely a lot of misinformation out there about how to care for DWRs.

My recipe for shells is to use the Nixwax detergent, which is a liquid, and to machine wash cold. I then do a tumble dry on the lowest heat I can. I don't do NO heat, I do LOW heat.

I have seen pretty good results with this but it does contrast with what you see on different sets of instructions. Nikwax says to wash with warm water. We used to tell people to use to use a powdered detergent, not a liquid - which would almost demand that you use warm water. I've also seen hang dry instructions or air dry instructions. What about for surf trunks that we apply a DWR to...what do you do with those? The same? Different?

It does get confusing, in my opinion, and as you said EP, the DWR is one of the most important components of a shell.

Brambor said...

ok. so what about those of us who don't have a dryer?

rj said...

it_guy and the rest of the folks,

We do endorse Nikwax in our retail stores and I would follow the directions on their label.

We don't adivse washing technical shells with a detergent-based cleaner. Nikwax Techwash is an enviro-friendly, non-detergent cleaner. Nikwax TX-Direct is the waterproofing DWR application.

I beleive Nikwax prodcuts are all liquid - not powder.

From my experience, it isn't harmful to wash shells in warm water.

You can care for the board shorts the same way if you want the DWR to continue working. If that isn't a concern, just wash them as the care label allows.

hope this helps.

El Pescador said...

Thanks for sharing your procedures IT guy. I personally don't use anything different than regular detergent for washing but there are specific non-detergent products that are probably better. As Randy states, "DWR's are replenished by washing and drying in a warm dryer". The key is to keep things free of dirt, fish slime, floatant, etc. so you get the best performance possible.

Brambor, kudos for not having a dryer. I don't suggest you get one just to keep DWRs happy. Maybe a neighbor or the laundromat would be options?

El Pescador said...

Much appreciated RJ for adding your expertise. I'm sure the readers appreciate it too.

joseph hollak said...

Can you speak on the "green-ness" of producing DWR chems?

It's nice that we're dry out there, but at what cost?

Not flaming here, seriously curious.

I'm due to buy my first pair of waders in seven years and since trying to be a lot more green myself.

Jeffrey said...

OK, so I have been curious about DWR as well... I have always washed my Patagonia Rain Shadow and Houdini full zip delicate cold and air dried. I never was impressed with the repeat performance of the DWR, so I took the advice on this post and washed both garments delicate warm (30C) and tumble dried on low heat. The DWR has come back to life and water beads up very nicely. Maybe Patagonia should educate a little more on product care. We spend our hard earned money on nice gear and want it to last. (by the way, the Houdini Full Zip is one of the most used pieces of gear that I own. Its very light at just 3oz and will stuff into my back pocket. its great for a wind breaker and I have even worn it while fishing on a 80 degree sunny day when I forgot to pack sun screen and stayed very cool).
Cheers!

jvk

El Pescador said...

Good question Joseph, the honest truth is that there's not much green-ness in our DWR chemistry. The greenest thing we can do with DWRs is to achieve good performance that will last a long time. On that level I believe we have some of the best DWR chemistry on the planet. We are currently doing trials with a brand new type of DWR that is more environmentally friendly. We'll see if it can meet our performance standards. That is the hard road we walk at Patagonia. Make the best product. Do the least harm.

One lofty goal that we do have for our entire line, waders included, is to make everything recyclable by 2010. We want to take full responsibility for what we make by closing the loop. We are already on our way. Check out this link for more info. on our Common Threads recycling program - http://www.patagonia.com/web/us/patagonia.go?assetid=1956.

Thanks for asking the question. I hope you'll consider Patagonia waders when you get ready to replace your old ones.

joseph hollak said...

Thank you for answering my question.

Good info, great service.

Keep up the blogging.

El Pescador said...

Thank you for posting your DWR feedback Jeffrey. It makes me happy to know that this blog and the comments on it helped improve your product performance. I will take your advice and try to find new ways to "educate a little more on product care". I've got some ideas. Regarding your feelings about the Houdini, I couldn't agree more.

duncan ferguson said...

i would add one thing to randy's complete and excellent explanation. 'contamination' by dirt, expecially anything oily or greasy (like the palms of your hands) can mask even the best dwrs - andthe first thing to do when having trouble with wet out, is to wash (non-detergent product) and machine dry well - often it is a masking rather than a breakdown that the customer is experiencing
dwrs always have been (and will continue to be) the crux of high performance fabrics

duncan

Anonymous said...

"Good question Joseph, the honest truth is that there's not much green-ness in our DWR chemistry. The greenest thing we can do with DWRs is to achieve good performance that will last a long time."

Wow, this is why i read this blog. That is an amazingly honest answer to great question. I don't know that a lot of companies would have been that forthcoming about a potential shortcoming in their product (or product line, for that matter considering how much DWR stuff you guys produce.) Thanks for respecting your customers enough to shoot straight and keep it up!
Sean