Water no longer beads up on the outside of my old Gore-Tex raincoat, especially on the shoulders. Once the outer fabric is soaked, the water continues down to my skin. Can I resurrect this garment, or do I have to buy a new one?
Although this will sound un-American, buying a new raincoat should be the last resort. First, take a close look inside your jacket to see if the white Gore-Tex membrane and the tape on the seams are intact. If either of these are compromised, you should contact the manufacturer for repair or replacement.
If the membrane and seamsealing tape are intact, it’s likely that the pores of the Gore-Tex laminate are clogged with dirt, which would prevent sweat from escaping and create a rain-forest effect inside your jacket. To combat this, you need to treat the garment with a chemical agent specially designed to clean and rejuvenate Gore-Tex. There are many products on the market, but I prefer a company called Nikwax. (Jock usually avoids specific product endorsement, but the good folks at Nikwax are environmentally thoughtful, and their products work well.) My favorite Nikwax waterproofing restorative is added to the washing machine. This full-immersion treatment has several advantages over a spray-on application: Not only does washing refresh the waterproofing, but the jacket also smells and looks better—at least for a little while.
Stay dry, Jock