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Chris1200 18 May 2009 12:20

Textile Jacket Advice Please
Folks, I hope someone can help me with this.

I have had a Joe Rocket Ballistic textile jacket for the last 6 years. It doesn't get any winter use as I am a hobby biker only and therefore try to ride in decent weather only. It has never been in an accident and is in very good overall condition overall.....except for the fact that it no longer appears to be waterproof!
For the last 2 years I have been biking for extended periods in Europe and have had more than my fair share of rain on each trip. I find that I very quickly get wet underneath my jacket. My bike for both those trips was a Triumph Trophy 1200 so the weather protection provided by the bike was as good as I could reasonably expect. I get wet everywhere, especially the inner arm, and this appears to be the main culprit which leads to everywhere else getting soaked. I always make sure it gets dried out before using it again. I have tried various waterproof spray treatments but none seem to work.
Does a jacket have a shelf life beyond which it is pointless to treat it? Are there any other remedies or is it simply time to buy a new jacket??


steved1969 18 May 2009 12:34

From personal experience I would say that yes, they do have a shelf life, how long that is I wouldn't know, but every textile piece of clothing I have owned started off being waterproof and ended up not being, even when treated with various waterproofing sprays/treatments. This is everything from cheap and cheerful kit, middle of the range jackets from Heine Gericke and expensive kit from Dainese.

Looks like it may be time to buy either a new jacket or (another option) a waterproof over jacket/suit

Chris1200 18 May 2009 13:07

Thanks steved

I'm starting to think that way myself. I have been carrying waterproof over jacket and trousers and have found that as soon as the rain comes on I need to stop and put them on, which kinda defeats the purpose of the textile jacket.
Never mind, I suppose 4 good years (and 2 bad ones!) from the Joe Rocket appears to be it's limit. I'm a bit disappointed though, even though it is that age it only does 3-4000 miles a year and even then mostly in dry weather.
Looks like it's time to spend some money!!


Alexlebrit 18 May 2009 15:16

Chris, I've no empirical evidence for this, but I'd guess that the problem might lay with the seaming tapes becoming unglued/unstitched slightly? Seams are always a nightmare to waterproof and the areas you're getting wet in often have a number of seams meeting.

All the waterproof clothing treatments in the world won't stop water penetration if you've got a hole, even if it's a very very small one. The only treatments I know of that might extend the life a bit are Barbour Wax for their thornproof jackets (but it's oily and messy), tent seam sealer (which usually dries opaque) and PVA wood glue thinned slightly with water.

Oddly the PVA glue seems to be the most discrete, although it doesn't last more than a year or so, but when it goes it just tends to peal off, so you can start again. Oh and it's cheap and readily available, you can even carry a small tube with you on your travels, it has a multitude of uses, I have a friend who waterproofed her jeans with a dilute solution of it, and I've painted it onto maps before to give them a bit of waterproofing.

BUT: Try it somewhere that doesn't show first so you don't come back and blame me when it buggers up your jacket.

Chris1200 18 May 2009 15:41

Alex, you just might be a genius.
Yes, my immediate reaction was that the seams might be worn etc. but there are no seams at all in the area I referred to so it can't be that.
The PVA glue might be worth a try though as I really like the fit of the jacket and it's great in hot weather too. Is it a 1:1 mix with water??


Threewheelbonnie 18 May 2009 15:41

The seams are an issue like Axlebrit says. Love the PVA glue idea :thumbup1:

The other issue with Goretex/nylon is the pores. When new/clean water droplets are briefly held on the surface and air going by takes them away. Air comes through without restriction. When dirty/old, water droplets stay on the surface and can get through eventually, but together with dirt they stop it breathing and you drown in your own sweat.

Three/Four options:

1. Get a new jacket.
2. Use a fully waterproof rain suit.
3. Throroughly clean the jacket and reproof it.
4. Give up breathable and go for a wax cotton jacket with proper vents/collar/cuffs.

1. is expensive. My last Hein Gericke thing was wet at three years old and cost £200. I pay less per year to insure the bike!:censored:
2. Cheap and it works, but you need to stop and put it on/take it off/get at your wallet.:helpsmilie:
3. Sounds good but I've had results varied from a jacket that worked for a year down to one that dropped to bits at the dry cleaners! All are a total swine to get the armour out and dry. Expect a week and complaints about the rings in the bath if you do it at home :(
4. Very expensive unless you give up protection. As a sidecarist I have less opportunities to need armour. I can therefore wear a Drizabone horse coat that ticks every box so long as you don't come off at over 20 mph. :mchappy:


steved1969 18 May 2009 16:05


Originally Posted by Threewheelbonnie (Post 242261)
2. Use a fully waterproof rain suit.
2. Cheap and it works, but you need to stop and put it on/take it off/get at your wallet.:helpsmilie:

Ah yes - it's amazing how quickly "it's just a shower, don't need to bother stopping to put my waterproofs on" turns into "I am that wet now anyway what's the point in stopping to put my waterproofs on"!

One other advantage to the oversuits is how quickly and easily they dry. I don't care how waterproof a textile jacket is, if you have ridden in rain all day and are camping at night there is no way it will be dry the next day. At least with an oversuit the water runs off fairly quickly.

Alexlebrit 18 May 2009 16:53

Oh is it breathable? If you coat it in PVA it sure won't be. As for the mix, a lot of it varies on the glue you use in the first place, I've just been using a huge 10 litre tub of PVA wallpaper paste and for that I dilute water:glue about 1/2:1/2 for fabric seams and a bit more maybe 2/3:1/3 for paper.

But really it's about experimenting in areas that don't show. I don't see this as a great way to waterproof stuff when you first get it, but more about eking an extra season out of something you love while you save up for something new.

OT a bit, but does anyone make anything like a waterproof bib for biking, or have I just invented something new and should shut up while I patent it? I'm imagining something like chaps or those things they put on you at hairdressers, for your upper body. After all your back tends not to get wet when you're moving. So it'd be something that pulled out of a bum-bag with a front piece and a couple of sleeves. In theory you could pull it on without stopping, but even if you had to stop it should go on in a second or two.

Matt Cartney 18 May 2009 17:16


I ride all year round (except when its really cold!) in a textile jacket that isn't and never was meant to be waterproof. Underneath it I wear a light Goretex Paclite jacket made by The North Face that I got in a sale for £100 (normally £150). The textile jacket gets wet of course, but me and my insulating layers don't. It's extremely comfy, totally waterproof and means I have a light jacket to wear when I'm off the bike.

I also use the jacket for hiking, skiing, cycling etc. so eventually (like all waterproof jackets) it will wear out. At which point I will just buy another, without having to buy a new bike jacket.

Matt :)

markharf 18 May 2009 18:18

I do like Matt does, following lots of experimenting with other methods. I also use backpacker rain pants, but these go over rather than under my "waterproof/breathable" armored riding pants. I'm sure that an oversuit would work at least as well as anything else; the key, as far as I can tell, is having two layers of "waterproof" gear on simultaneously.

FWIW, breathability is irrelevant when riding in the rain. Wetted-out gore-tex isn't functionally breathable either.

I'm still irritated that my US$600 jacket has pockets which fill up with water two inches deep whenever it rains. And I don't understand why it is (apparently) impossible to use zipper pulls which do not split, shatter or decompose within a year of use.

But that's just me.



McCrankpin 18 May 2009 19:08

Regarding where the seams are on a textile jacket - you may have no seams around the armpits on the outer shell, but the waterproof membrane almost certainly will have seams there. All the textile jackets that I've had have leaked after a while, so I examined the membrane on a couple of occasions. Where the seams are taped, there is clearly stress on the membrane at the edge of the tape. Maybe on a super-expensive goretex item (I've never owned one) the tapes are applied more carefully so as not to stress the membrane. Anyway, from my checks, I've found that the membrane splits right at the edge of the seam tapes. Not much you can do to fix that - new jacket time if it's out of warranty (and you wouldn't pull it apart to examine it if it was still in warranty anyway).

But I'd like to ask, does the type of rain have an effect?
For a while now I've given up with textile jackets and gone back to leather, with an oversuit. Works for me, and if you take care with a leather jacket, applying the wax treatment now and again, they have a certain degree of rain-proofing.
On a trip a while ago with a friend, wearing the same sort of leather stuff as me, we returned home from Paris. It rained on the way to Calais, not an awful lot so we didn't stop to put on oversuits. At Calais we were both still dry so were pleased with the performance of the leather. But we hung our jackets up anyway, once on the ferry, to dry a bit.
At Dover it was still dry, and we're both pretty sure the leather would have dried out pretty well after 20 miles or so of stiff breeze on the M20.
Then it rained, about the same as in France, and we were confident of arriving home in S. and N. London, dry, without having to stop and put on waterproofs.
But no!
At home I was soaked, after definitely no more rain than we experienced in France. I phoned my mate, also soaked, and he was absolutely certain, and still is today, that the rain we had on the M20 was a completely different type to the French stuff we had on the way to Calais.
That's why biking is so much more popular in France - the rain is dryer! We've proved it!

Alexlebrit 19 May 2009 11:38

Sorry to drift even further off-topic, but does anyone make a textile jacket with a waterproof front and a breathable back? I'd have thought that'd be a good compromise, as you mostly get wet on the front of your body, and you mostly get sweaty at the back half (or is that just me?).

Von Trippenhof 19 May 2009 14:16

Not 100% relevnt, but reading about the loss of the waterproofing made me wonder about the lifetime of a textile jacket - how long before they lose their abrasion resistance.

UV light damages the polymers and weakens them. How long before this affects the strength of the fabric significantly? I've a mate that did a season in Antarctica who was dead chuffed that he could keep all his top-draw free gear after the season. Fair enough he had no ozone layer, but after a year they were coming apart at the seams.

Most protective gear that's made of plastic comes with a 'only use for x years' sticker. Not noticed one on a jacket. Maybe they wear out physicaly / leak uncontrolably before it becomes an issue.

Wuwei 23 Jun 2009 21:40

Probably not 100% relevant, but as a very active ocean sailor I have come full course in boat foulweather gear back to now using the heavy, rubberized stuff that fishermen use. The fancy nylon/polyester/Goretex yachting gear that also costs a lot, with some sort of hi-tech coating stuff on the inside, only lasts a few years onboard at best, and then it leaks. Same thing happens to the light hiking stuff. In short, I wouldn't count on hi-tech waterproof gear lasting more than a few years, no matter how much money you spend. I think some sort of exterior rainsuit is the way to go, unless you want to revert to waxed cotton which can have its waterproofing restored.

buyarbi 24 Jun 2009 04:36

I have ridden my fair share of rain and only use the outer rain nylon suite. I dont understand why anyone would want to get their jacket soaked . Its not that hard to pull a 2 piece rain suite on and off. The latest 2 piece I have leaked at the knees from day one and now after 3 years leaks right through the material but I am still not drenched. I havnt sprayed this one with anything but am going to try the stuff that is sprayed on tents or go to the fishing store for somthing that might work.

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