Is Bud­get Water­proof­ing Fea­si­ble?

RECOIL OFFGRID - - Pistol Caliber Compatibility -

Test­ing all the bags for our stormproof backpack buyer’s guide got us think­ing: Is it fea­si­ble and pos­si­ble to make a weather-re­sis­tant knap­sack on the cheap? Af­ter all, not ev­ery­one has a hun­dred bucks ly­ing around to spend on a brand-new dry bag. But a bot­tle of water­proof­ing wax runs for only $10.

To craft our own DIY stormproof backpack, we looked for a backpack that wasn’t just af­ford­able but also com­mon (to ap­prox­i­mate what one might find in an aver­age house­hold). Any­one who’s ever at­tended high school in the past 50 years has owned or seen a JANS­PORT bag, so we se­lected the Trans by JANS­PORT SUPERMAX. It fea­tures a 15-inch padded lap­top sleeve, four zip­pered com­part­ments, and a life­time guar­an­tee. Price tag? Any­where be­tween $25 to $35 on­line.

Next came se­lect­ing the wa­ter­proof coat­ing. There are all sorts or pro­tec­tants avail­able to­day, from sil­i­cone aerosols to durable wa­ter re­pel­lents (DWR) made of flu­o­ropoly­mers. We chose a $9 bot­tle of Nik­wax Tent & Gear So­larProof. Aside from be­ing a wa­ter-based for­mula that’s non-aerosol, non-flammable, and non-haz­ardous, it pro­vides both H2O re­pel­lency and shield­ing against UV dam­age.

Fol­low­ing the direc­tions, we sprayed an even coat of Nik­wax on the SUPERMAX, waited two min­utes, and wiped ex­cess liq­uid with a damp cloth. We let the pack dry overnight. The next day we per­formed our in-house rain sim­u­la­tion: stuffed it full of newsprint pa­per, closed all the zip­pers, and put it un­der a run­ning show­er­head for 10 min­utes.

Then we wiped off the droplets on the pack’s ex­te­rior.

So how did our DIY stormproof pack do? Like a drunk celebrity at a po­lice check­point, it failed mis­er­ably. While the Nik­wax did in­deed help wa­ter bead up and stay on the sur­face of the polyester fabric, the coat­ing couldn’t stop H2O from flow­ing through the seams or zip­pers, where our newsprint pa­per was most mush-like.

The les­son? You can paint a dinghy to look like a sub­ma­rine, but that won’t stop it from tak­ing on wa­ter when you hit rough seas. If you’re look­ing for a truly weath­er­proof pack for your next bug-out bag, make sure it was man­u­fac­tured with weather-re­sis­tant prop­er­ties in the first place, be­cause a wa­ter­proof coat­ing can only do so much.

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