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What is a DWR and How Does it Work?

This video discusses durable water repellent (DWR), how it is applied to outerwear and how it keeps you dry and prolongs the breathability of a garment.

What is a DWR and How Does it Work?

Today, most of the technical outerwear we buy comes with a DWR coating on it. DWR stands for “durable water repellant,” and it’s a coating that is applied to the outside of a garment in the factory during the construction of waterproof jackets, parkas, pants, gloves or other outerwear pieces. DWR coatings are applied to prevent the fabric from absorbing water and becoming saturated when worn in wet conditions. This fabric treatment makes the fibers hydrophobic, which means they do not like water and thus, repel it away. Any waterproof breathable fabric, like Gore-Tex Membrain or Ventia, is designed to work and “breathe” at an optimum rate while the exterior fabrics are not water-logged.


A DWR coating keeps your garment working to the best of its abilities, though DWR coatings are not meant to last forever, and heavy use garments can make these coatings wear off quickly. When the DWR has worn off, your jacket or gloves will begin to absorb water and feel wet. This is called “wetting out” and does not mean your waterproof jacket leaks, but it may feel that way while you’re wearing it. The inside of your jacket might feel cold or damp and clammy without a DWR to prevent the outside fabrics from absorbing water. At this point, the breathability of your jacket may be compromised and you might feel moisture on the inside of the jacket. Having your rainwear wet out on a trip may be miserable, but it doesn’t mean you need to buy a whole new jacket. DWR’s can be easily reapplied with a variety of products, such as Nikwax TX-Direct.