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Caring for your Freeman Raincoat

Maintenance: it can be a dreadful word to some, even having the power to influence big life choices. Whether you cross paths with this word regarding home ownership or in what kind of car you want to buy, or even if you are thinking about taking up a little personal maintenance through exercise, I think the real truth about maintenance is that none of us can avoid it. And you know what? A little maintenance goes a long way in improving the enjoyment and longevity we might get out of something.  So if it's been a year since your last oil change, go get one. If you haven't cleaned the gutters, better to do it now before water backing up into your basement forces your hand. And finally, if you have been romping around in your Freeman jacket and you notice it isn't performing quite like it did when it was new, then this article is for you.   

Caring for you Freeman

While your Freeman Jacket is made with a high-quality, 2-layer waterproof/breathable fabric, it will be subject to less-than-ideal performance when exposed to dirt and oils (like on your hands) and abrasion (for instance, contact with backpack straps). Even simply balling it up and putting it into a bag can, over time, cause some very microscopic changes to the fabric that impair its function. Sorry for all these boring words, here's a picture that tells you more than I ever could:

On the left is a classic sign of a jacket ready for a little love. The oils on the skin are clogging up the fibers of the face fabric, which in turn impairs water from beading up and results in "wet out" – what you see on the left. Alternatively, when the fabric is performing well, the water beads up on the face of the fabric, rolls off, and you stay dry and warm – what you see on the right. It's important to note, the fabric we use to keep you dry is made up of two parts, and just because you start to see "wet out," that doesn't mean you are going to get wet. There is an inner membrane bonded to the face fabric which acts as the waterproof/breathable layer and is responsible for keeping the water out. It works in conjunction with a fabric coating on the surface of the fabric which helps repel water by causing it to bead up (this is called the DWR, or durable water repellent, finish).

Think of it like this: if your jacket were a castle, and enemies storming the castle was rainfall:

- The surface treated with DWR is the moat.

 - The waterproof/breathable membrane is the walls.

In essence, there are two technologies working together to keep you dry.  When you start seeing "wet out" it means your first line of defense is compromised, and thus more strain is put on your castle walls. Thus, you start to get uncomfortable. The jacket gets heavier as water soaks into the fibers of the face fabric and the added water will begin to cause a temperature differential with your skin, resulting in a clammy feeling. All very undesirable things. Fear not, a little maintenance will come to your aid.

  • First: try a tumble dry on low heat in the dryer. This can actually fluff up the fibers of the face fabric, causing the DWR to perform better.
  • Next: if the dryer doesn't do the trick, it's time to wash the oils and dirt out of the face fabric. We strongly recommend using Nikwax Tech Wash as it is the only soap designed for technical fabrics. Standard household laundry soaps have detergents and fragrance that do not rinse clean from the fabric and actually attract water.  These will absolutely harm the performance of your jacket (as will other fragrances and oils – i.e., cologne). Additionally, only use a front-load washer, as the agitator in a top-loading machine can get wrapped by the hood of your jacket and cause damage. 
A few more washing machine tips:
  • Make sure your jacket is zipped up.
  • Secure all snaps and flaps.
  • Wash your jacket by itself to prevent the hood or strings from getting tangled in other items.
  • Only use a front-loading washing machine to prevent damage to the jacket.

Lastly: follow up your washing of the jacket with a treatment of Nikwax TX Direct. This is a treatment for adding DWR back to the face of your jacket. Over time, it will deteriorate and so it will need to be retreated. This is your ticket for great wet-weather performance. 
These are quick and easy steps for ensuring you get the longest, happiest life possible with your Freeman jacket.  

For the time-strapped, here are the Cliff's Notes:

  • If you see "wet out," then it's time for maintenance.
  • Try a low-heat tumble dry first. 
  • If you still notice "wet out," wash your jacket in a front-loading machine using Nikwax Techwash. Follow that up with a treatment using Nikwax TX Direct. Both are sold here at Freeman.
  • Finish with a tumble dry on low heat.

If you have any more question, please feel free to hit us up: info@freemanseattle.com