How to Waterproof Your Ski Gear

Waterproofing ski gear is crucial to remain warm and dry throughout your adventures. Waterproofing isn’t just about comfort; it’s also about safety and performance. Wet gear can become heavy, affecting mobility and making skiing more challenging. By waterproofing your gear, you’ll extend its lifespan and save money in the long run, as you won’t need to replace your equipment as frequently. In this blog, we guide you through the easy steps waterproofing ski gear.

Basics of Waterproofing

Understanding how waterproofing works and why it’s necessary will give you a clearer perspective on the steps you’re about to take.

Water beads up on a cloth surface
Waterproofing forms a barrier that repels water.

The waterproofing process creates a barrier that prevents water from seeping into your gear. When correctly applied, it enables your equipment to shed water, keeping the interior dry. Waterproofing also enhances breathability, allowing moisture from your body’s sweat to escape while blocking external moisture from getting in.

Not all your ski gear requires the same level of waterproofing, but several items must be adequately protected to ensure your comfort and safety on the slopes. These may include:

  • Outerwear: This includes your ski jacket and pants, which are your first line of defense against snow and moisture.
  • Gloves and Mittens: Keeping your hands dry and warm is essential, as cold, wet hands can ruin your skiing experience.
  • Ski Boots: Wet feet can quickly become cold feet, so properly waterproofed ski boots are vital.
  • Ski Accessories: Backpacks, gaiters, and other accessories can also benefit from waterproofing to keep your essentials dry.

Necessary Supplies

To successfully waterproof your ski gear, you’ll need the right tools and products. Before you start waterproofing your ski gear, make sure you have the following items on hand:

  • Waterproofing Products: Depending on your gear, you may need spray-on waterproofing, wash-in treatments, or specialized products for materials like leather. Your local ski shop should have them.
  • Cleaners: To prepare your gear, you’ll need appropriate cleaners, such as gear-specific detergents for outerwear.
  • Brushes and Sponges: Soft brushes and sponges help clean and apply waterproofing products.
  • Gloves: Wear disposable gloves to keep the products off your skin.
  • Applicators: Foam brushes, cotton balls, or rags can be handy for applying waterproofing products evenly.
  • Heat Source: You can use a hairdryer or heat gun for heat-activated treatments or curing waterproofing products.
  • Ventilation: Ensure you have adequate ventilation in your workspace when using waterproofing products, as some can emit strong fumes.

Guide to Waterproofing Ski Gear

Carefully inspect your gear for any dirt, stains, or contaminants. Pay special attention to high-wear areas and spots where moisture often accumulates. You can use a brush or sponge to remove dirt and debris from the surface. For outerwear, follow the manufacturer’s care instructions. Machine wash your ski jacket and pants using specialized detergents designed for outdoor gear.

A red and black glove grips a ski pole
Avoid using regular laundry detergents, as they can leave behind residues that hinder waterproofing.

Rinse your gear thoroughly to eliminate any detergent residue, which can affect the performance of waterproofing treatments. Allow your equipment to air-dry thoroughly. Hanging it outdoors or using a fan can speed up the drying process, but avoid sunlight or excessive heat sources that may damage the materials.

If your gear has previous waterproofing treatments that are no longer effective, it’s essential to remove them before reapplying. To remove old waterproofing treatments, use a specialized cleaner or a product recommended by the gear manufacturer. Follow the cleaning product’s instructions carefully to ensure all remnants of the old treatment are eliminated. Proper removal is vital for allowing the new waterproofing treatment to adhere effectively.

Weatherproofing Ski Outerwear

Your ski jacket and pants are your first line of defense against cold and wet conditions. Waterproofing them will help you stay comfortable on the mountain. Here’s how to waterproof your outerwear step-by-step:

Choose a waterproofing product suitable for your specific type of outerwear, whether it’s a jacket, pants, or both. Ensure that the product is compatible with the materials used in your gear. For example, some products may be designed for GORE-TEX, while others are suitable for general ski wear.

Apply the waterproofing treatment:

  1. Ensure your gear is clean and completely dry.
  2. Work in a well-ventilated area, and protect your work surface from overspray.
  3. Spray the product evenly onto the outer surface of your gear, holding the can 6-8 inches away.
  4. Be thorough but avoid over-application, leading to clumping and reduced breathability.
  5. Let your gear dry completely according to the product’s instructions.

If you’re using a wash-in waterproofing product:

  1. Use a front-loading washer to prevent damage to your gear.
  2. Clean the detergent compartment to remove any residues from previous washes.
  3. Add the recommended amount of the waterproofing product per the product’s instructions.
  4. Wash your gear on a gentle cycle, ensuring it’s the only item in the load.
  5. After washing, check the label for specific drying instructions. In most cases, tumble drying on low heat is recommended to activate the waterproofing treatment.
A group of kids enjoy the ski slopes
By following these steps, your outerwear will be well-prepared to repel moisture, keeping you dry and comfortable during your skiing adventures.

Weatherproofing Ski Gloves and Mittens

Keeping your hands dry and warm is vital for an enjoyable day on the slopes. Follow these steps to waterproof your ski gloves or mittens:

  1. Begin with clean and dry gloves or mittens. If they are dirty, follow the manufacturer’s care instructions to clean them properly.
  2. Choose a waterproofing product designed for gloves and mittens. These products are made to protect the delicate materials used in these items.

Apply the waterproofing treatment:

  1. Place your gloves or mittens on a clean, flat surface.
  2. Following the product’s instructions, evenly apply the waterproofing treatment to the exterior of your gloves, paying close attention to the seams and any areas where water is likely to penetrate.
  3. If your gloves have leather components, use a product specifically designed for leather to maintain its suppleness and waterproofing. Be sure to apply it to the leather parts only.
  4. Allow your gloves to air dry according to the product’s recommended drying time. Avoid exposing them to sunlight or heat sources that can damage the materials.
  5. Before hitting the slopes, perform a simple water bead test. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the treated gloves. If the water beads up and rolls off, your gloves are adequately waterproofed.

Weatherproofing Ski Boots

Wet feet can lead to discomfort and reduced performance. Here’s how to waterproof your ski boots:

  1. Start with clean and dry ski boots. Clean any accumulated dirt or debris from the exterior.
  2. Choose a waterproofing product suitable for your type of ski boots. Some products are formulated specifically for leather, while others work well with synthetic materials.

Apply the waterproofing treatment:

  1. Make sure your boots are clean and dry.
  2. Apply the leather waterproofing product evenly to the exterior of your boots, paying particular attention to seams, stitching, and any areas prone to water penetration.
  3. Some leather treatments may require heat activation. Follow the product’s instructions for this step.
  4. For synthetic boots: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for waterproofing treatment.
  5. Once your boots have dried, perform a simple water bead test by sprinkling water on the treated surface. If the water beads up and rolls off, your boots are effectively waterproofed.
A young man skis down a mountain
It’s essential to care for your waterproof gear.

Weatherproofing Ski Accessories

When waterproofing, you can often overlook ski accessories like backpacks, gaiters, and other items. However, ensuring these accessories are protected can make a significant difference in your overall comfort. Here’s how to waterproof your ski accessories:

  1. Check the care labels or manufacturer’s recommendations for your accessories. Some materials may have specific care instructions.
  2. Choose a waterproofing product that matches the material and type of your accessories. Accessories are made from various materials, including nylon, polyester, and specialty fabrics, so be sure to select the right product.

Apply the waterproofing treatment:

  1. Following the product’s instructions, apply the waterproofing treatment evenly to the exterior of your accessories. Pay extra attention to seams and stitching, as these are common points of water infiltration.
  2. Let your accessories air dry according to the product’s recommended drying time. Avoid exposing them to direct sun or excessive heat.
  3. After drying your accessories, test their waterproofing by sprinkling a few drops of water on the treated areas. If the water beads up and rolls off, your accessories are effectively waterproofed.

Ongoing Care and Maintenance

Waterproofing your ski gear is just the beginning. Periodically clean your gear to remove dirt, sweat, and contaminants that can degrade waterproofing. Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions, using specialized detergents if available.

  • Spot Cleaning: Quickly address stains and spills with a damp cloth or sponge. Prompt attention can prevent stains from setting in and compromising waterproofing.
  • Retesting: Periodically test your gear’s waterproofing by sprinkling water on it. If water no longer beads up and rolls off, it may be time to reapply the treatment.
  • Storage: Store your gear in a cool, dry place when not in use. Avoid leaving it in sunlight, which can weaken materials and treatments.
  • Avoid Overheating: Be cautious when using heating sources like ski boot dryers. Excessive heat can damage the waterproofing treatment.

When to Reapply Waterproofing

If your gear starts to absorb water rather than repelling it, it’s time to reapply the waterproofing treatment. You may notice this during wet conditions when your gear becomes saturated.

  • Reduced Beading: When water no longer beads up and rolls off the surface of your gear, it indicates a loss of waterproofing effectiveness.
  • Frequent Usage: The frequency of use and the conditions you encounter can affect how often you need to reapply waterproofing. Heavy usage and harsh conditions may require more frequent treatments.
  • Wear Patterns: Pay attention to areas that experience the most wear and tear, such as elbows and knees on jackets or the toes and heels of boots. These areas may require more frequent waterproofing.
  • Seasonal Maintenance: Many skiers perform annual maintenance at the beginning of each ski season to ensure their gear is fully waterproof and ready for winter.