The Annapolis Performance Sailing expert will show you how to maximize the breathability of your dry suit by properly cleaning and reapplying DWR to it.
What is DWR?
DWR (Durable Water Repellent) is a treatment that is applied by manufacturers to the outer fabric of waterproof-breathable foul weather gear – jackets, trousers, dry suits, spray tops, etc.
The DWR chemicals bond with the individual fibers in the threads of the fabric and prevent water from soaking into the threads and ‘wetting out’. Instead, they cause the water to ‘bead up’ and roll off the fabric. Similar to dropping a bit of water into a Teflon coated frying pan – the water, does not spread out but beads up. This keeps the spaces between the threads dry and open which greatly aids the breathable fabric’s ability to expel moisture from inside the suit. So if you have been sailing hard and perspiring, a dry suit with a good DWR will allow the suit to more quickly move your sweat out. This will keep you dry and warm later when you are less actively sailing.
DWR coatings are durable but don’t last forever. In fact, with recent changes to the formulation of DWRs’ chemical compositions to make them more environmentally friendly, they have an even shorter life and must be reapplied more often. So the more you used your suit the more often you will need to do this. This is especially true of high abrasion areas where the DWR wears away faster. Also, washing you suit helps to remove dirt and oils that can cover up DWR and mask its ability to repel and bead water.