What is Diver Dave Water Repel?
Water Repel is a liquid waterproofing compound from Diver Dave, a specialist in wader repairs. It's designed for restoring the waterproof coating that wears off waders and waterproof jackets with regular use. However, it can actually be used to add a water repellant coating to almost any item of clothing from gloves to hats.
How does Water Repel work?
According to Diver Dave, Water Repel is a concentrated C6 fluorocarbon product. The same stuff is used in the expensive durable water repellent (DWR) coating added to a lot of waterproof hardshell and softshell jackets to make water bead-up and run off instead of soaking into the fabric. Dave says that Water Repel is more concentrated that the commercial stuff you can buy and is much cheaper, too.
Is it a waterproofing compound?
Not exactly. As the name suggests, it's a hydrophobic water repellant. It makes water run off the surface instead of soaking into the fabric so it will make a jacket much less likely to get sodden but it can't make it waterproof if it's got holes in.
How do you apply it?
Repel comes in a bottle with a spray cap and you simply spray the liquid over the fabric you're trying to make water resistant. Dave says that for best results you should get the item as warm as possible to help the chemicals bond to the fabric. Placing the item under a hairdryer, on a radiator or in an airing cupboard is a good idea.
How long does it last?
This depends on the fabric, the amount you add, how hot you got the garment after spraying it and how many times it's been washed. Dave says that a good application can last up to 10 washes, so should last you quite a while. If the water repellency starts to diminish, heating the garment up again can reactivate the chemical and give it an extra boost.
Does it work?
I've tried Diver Dave's Water Repel on a pair of Simms Windstopper Flex Gloves. They were expensive and were supposed to have a durable water repellent coating on them, but it was very short-lived and they're now pretty useless as they soak up water like a sponge, making your hands very cold.
I laid the gloves on a plastic sheet and sprayed them all over with a copious quantity of Water Repel. Every piece of the glove got a good soaking, and I used the collected repellent that had pooled on the plastic to give them an additional dose to try and avoid missing any of the fabric.
Once they'd soaked up all of the product, I took them inside and blasted them under the wife's favourite hair dryer for five minutes on the hottest setting (don't tell her) and then shiftily replaced it in the bedroom (she'll never know). Once they were dry, I ran the tap, donned a glove and checked the water repellency.
Parts of the glove were very well treated and the water sheeted off, leaving dry fabric beneath! However, the edges of the fingers (which got damp with the original Simms DWR coating) stayed damp and the Water Repel didn't seem to have bonded. Maybe this particularly fabric doesn't take the DWR products as well as the rest of the gloves, which might explain why it never really worked on the Simms gloves when they were new,,, The rest of the gloves shed water amazingly, though.
How much does it cost?
DiverDave Repel costs £8.50 for a small 250ml bottle or £15 for two 250ml bottles, including postage.