DIY: Water-Resistant Tactical Pants

DIY Water-Resistant Tactical Pants

Why is it important for your pants to be water resistant? A water-repellent treatment on your pants prevents the fabric from absorbing water—which would make the pants heavy, uncomfortable and less mobile. Not only that, but having this treatment on your pants makes them breathable and stain resistant.

There are plenty of tactical pants on the market that are water and stain resistant. Blackhawk and Under Armour use a Durable Water Repellent (DWR), while Propper and 5.11 Tactical employ DuPont Teflon. But what happens to these treatments after several thousand washes? And what if your pants didn't resist water to begin with?

Looks like it's time to do it yourself.

First, you'll need to do some research to find the right water-repelling product for your fabric type. If you're unsure of the fabric type of your pants, consult our Tactical Pants Fabric Guide.

Once you find out the fabric type of your pants, look for an at-home water-repellent treatment that will work well for your fabric.

Here are some of the most popular treatments on the market:

  1. Nikwax's Cotton Proof product works well on cotton and polycotton.
  2. Aqua Armor offers a water-resistant spray for both synthetic fabrics (polyester, nylon and lycra) and natural fabrics (cotton canvas).
  3. Star Brite is another brand that offers a fabric-safe water repellent.

Water resistant treatments can have different application processes. It's important to check the label to find out which process you should use. Nikwax Cotton Proof can be applied through your washing machine. Aqua Armor and Starbrite are both spray-on treatments. Regardless of the application process, we'll walk you through step by step.

Machine Application:

  1. Before you apply the treatment, make sure your pants are clean and completely dry. Either hand or machine wash the pants, but be sure the detergent dispenser is cleaned with the residue removed.
  2. Place the suggested amount of treatment in the machine dispenser, and use the cotton wash cycle. If you’d like to hand wash the pants instead, just use the treatment during that process.
  3. Heat activation is not required, but you can still tumble the pants dry on a low setting. First check with the care instructions on the pant’s label. You can also hang dry the pants.
  4. Do not fold, store or wear the treated pants until they are completely dry.

Spray Application:

  1. Take your clean, dry pants outdoors or to a well-ventilated area. We recommend hanging them to ensure full coverage.
  2. Spray or dab the water repellent on with a sponge until the fabric is wet and completely coated. Don't forget the seams!
  3. Let the pants air-dry.
  4. Once the pants are only slightly damp, it's safe to machine dry them on a low setting, or just continue to let them air-dry. However, the best results come from ironing the pants on the highest possible setting according to the manufacturer's instructions to complete the drying process.
  5. Do not fold, store or wear the treated pants until they are completely dry.

PLEASE NOTE: These at-home water-repellent treatments should not affect the cosmetic appearance of your pants. However, we recommend that you test the product on a small patch of your pants before completely treating it.