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Remember when you got those brand new panniers? They shed water like a duck, and maybe even came with raincovers. After about a year of almost daily use, I’ve noticed my panniers had been taking on water when it rains, not as bad with the rain covers on, but they still eventually get soaked through well before my hour-long commute is over if it rains for the whole trip.
I would never rely on panniers that aren’t marketed as “Waterproof” to keep my stuff 100% dry, so I usually have plastic bags with me if I think it might rain. Still, It’s nice to have the water protection.
Enter: Coleman Pro-Techt water repellent.
I originally picked this up to re-seal my backpacking tent before going on a delightful S24O last weekend. There was plenty of water repellent left over, so I finished off the can by re-sealing my panniers and rain covers this evening. Fabric water repellent can be found at most sporting goods and discount stores near the camping supplies. Depending on the chain, there may be a few different brands available. I’ve had good luck using silicone water repellent sprays like this one, though.
Before I started, I hung my panniers over the back of some patio chairs and stretched the rain covers over a pair of 5-gallon buckets. You have to do this outdoors, as the water repellent creates fumes much like spray paint. These sprays can slightly change the color of fabrics (it darkened my backpacking tent a little) so if this bothers you, test the sealant on the back of the panniers or somewhere else that won’t get on your nerves. When you’re sealing, make sure to adequately cover the entire surface, or you’ll end up with leaks.
After that, you should allow the items to dry in a well-ventilated area. You may also choose to use a seam sealing solution as well. This is a liquid that applies kind of like a watery school glue with a stiff brush to help you push it into the seams. It provides additional waterproofing to the seams of your bags and rain covers. McNett’s Seam Grip is a brand I’ve used in the past for tent seams.
What’s awesome is that these sealants work on many different kinds of fabrics, so you can just as easily make your duffel, backpack, or messenger bag a little more water resistant. You could even try your cycling shoes!
Putting it to the test. After the repellent spray dried, I misted my bags with water to see how they would react. I’d call it a success!