Rainy Day Running: DWR Explained

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The days are getting shorter and that morning breeze has a crisp edge to it. Fall is officially here and blustery, drizzly days are soon to come. This time of year can challenge even the most dedicated runners, testing their grit and resolve to train through Mother Nature’s nastiest spells.

Luckily, there are a lot of options out there for the hardy individuals who decide to continue their committed training into and through the winter. If you’ve spent any time shopping for weather-resistant running apparel, you’ve probably noticed the acronym DWR pop up repeatedly. What is DWR, and how can it help improve your rainy day running experience?

Examples of men’s and women’s jackets featuring a DWR coating

What is DWR?

DWR stands for Durable Water Repellant and is a coating applied to jackets and other outerwear for water-resistance. It is a polymer that coats the face fabric without compromising breathability. For this reason, it is commonly found on water-resistant running apparel.

DWR works to prevent rain from saturating the exterior of a garment. It does this by coating the individual fabric fibers, creating a surface that would look “spiky” under a microscope. This creates increased surface tension when water hits the surface of the garment, causing droplets to bead up and roll off instead of spreading out and being absorbed.

DWR: ‘Til Death Do Us Part?

While DWR is a lasting, reliable coating, it unfortunately won’t last forever. Exposure to dirt, oils, sunscreen, bug spray, and abrasions can all compromise the effectiveness of DWR. That “spiky” surface we mentioned above can get clogged up and begin to flatten out, losing its ability to effectively repel water.

The good news is that with proper care, you can extend the lifespan of the DWR coating. Regular washing, when done properly, can help revive the DWR coating. Below are some guidelines.

How to Properly Care for Your DWR Apparel

  • Wash your garment according to its specific care instructions. A liquid detergent specifically formulated for technical apparel is best, since many commercial detergents contain perfumes, softeners, conditioners, and other chemicals that may leave a residue that interferes with the DWR’s ability to repel water.
  • Heat helps reactivate DWR, so if your garment is dryer-friendly, tumble it in a warm dryer. If the cleaning instructions call for hang dry, you can apply heat with a warm iron (use a towel between the fabric and the iron to protect the garment).
  • Even with proper care, you may eventually find that your DWR coating just doesn’t work like it used to. In this case, you may need to reapply the coating with a spray-on DWR.

DWR: Not Just for Stiff, Crunchy Rain Slickers

Because DWR works by lightly coating individual fabric fibers, it can be used on a wide variety of materials. Gone are the days when being water-repellant meant wearing a stiff, heavy jacket that would have you soaked in sweat within the first three minutes. DWR is often applied to highly breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics that maintain these properties even while repelling rain. From lightweight, packable jackets to thermal layers and even tights, DWR can keep you covered on the water-logged days ahead.

DWR coatings are applied to a variety of fabric types. From left to right: the Patagonia Men’s Nano-Air Light Hybrid Vest, the Patagonia Men’s Alpine Houdini Jacket, the Salomon Men’s Bonatti Pro WP Jacket, the Patagonia Men’s Crosstrek Hybrid Hoodie, the Patagonia Women’s Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket, The North Face Women’s Isotherm Jacket, and the Patagonia Women’s Houdini Jacket

Thick and fully waterproof, insulated and soft, or lightweight and packable: DWR can be found on a wide variety of women’s jackets

Men’s DWR-coated jackets and vests range from thick and plush to super-lightweight

Shop weather-resistant jackets and vests: Men | Women


Tracie is a former teacher and a lifelong learner who loves exploring. Most at home in the mountains, she enjoys tearing up and down the trails on her mountain bike, and occasionally leaves the wheels at home for a run through the trees. Having recently earned her personal trainer certification, Tracie thrives on helping others reach their athletic goals.

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