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  1. #1
    WV's Avatar
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    not waterproof after all

    I had made some assumptions about waterproof materials, that turned out to be mistaken. At Mt. Rogers my DIY overmitts leaked and the possum down gloves inside them got wet, so this week I set out to seal the seams between the yellow silnylon and black "white widow" pack cloth I used for the palms. I applied Permatex Clear RTV Silicone Adhesive 66B to all seams, then dunked my hands in water to test. They leaked. I had also sealed the seams of my old DIY Tyvek mitts, so I dunked them, too. They also leaked. I hung them up to dry overnight, then filled them with water today to locate the spots I had missed. Surprise - the black fabric leaked everywhere. Despite having what looks like a urethane coating on one side, it's not waterproof. I also tested the Tyvek mitts - same story. The material (admittedly much worn and wrinkled) leaks. The coated seams may be the only parts except the yellow silnylon that didn't leak.

    Attached photo shows them drying on the line. (By the way, that's my hammock workshop slowly taking form in the background. I'm assuming the new roof doesn't leak.)

    I had sought to make the mitts less slippery by putting stripes of silicone across the palms. Those parts didn't leak either, so now I need to go back and fill in the spaces between the lines. My pulk bag is made of the same white widow fabric, so now I know to use drybags for the stuff I put inside it. Live and learn. Life is full of problems and partial solutions.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Senior Member Rune's Avatar
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    Make the mitten too water proof and you get trouble with condensations when your hands start to sweat.

    I have complete faith in my wool mittens ability to keep my hands warm even when wet. Here we call them sea mittens (I am an island boy). The old fishermen used to dip their mittens in sea water when their hands got cold, beat the water out of them and wear them. I've tried, and it works.

    Anyway these are felted wool mittens. And over them I use my army cotton wind prrof mittens. I have never had cold hands in those. IEven when the cotton over mittens have been soaking wet. The army have now changed to gore tex over mittens, but kept the wool mittens inside them. As they never found anything to be better.

  3. #3
    WV's Avatar
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    Rune,
    That's very helpful. I'll look for felted wool. Possum down (actually a mixture of merino wool and possum down) from New Zealand is very warm when it's dry, but miserable when wet, and it takes a long time to dry. These are knit gloves, not felted. I posted this, thinking about the properties of the overmitt materials, but now am considering the whole package. (Must be farther north than West Virginia to contemplate wearing cotton, though.) Thanks.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Rune's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WV View Post
    Rune,
    That's very helpful. I'll look for felted wool. Possum down (actually a mixture of merino wool and possum down) from New Zealand is very warm when it's dry, but miserable when wet, and it takes a long time to dry. These are knit gloves, not felted. I posted this, thinking about the properties of the overmitt materials, but now am considering the whole package. (Must be farther north than West Virginia to contemplate wearing cotton, though.) Thanks.
    I am on the islands of Northern Norway and the climate here can be rather wet in winter. So the army have now gone over to gore-tex for the over mittens. But uses the same wool mittens inside them.

    The British Army uses something similar (they do their winter warfare training here in Norway) so her eis an aexample, and the seller is in the US

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/BRITISH-AR...item35b62ded6f

  5. #5
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WV View Post
    I had made some assumptions about waterproof materials, that turned out to be mistaken. At Mt. Rogers my DIY overmitts leaked and the possum down gloves inside them got wet, so this week I set out to seal the seams between the yellow silnylon and black "white widow" pack cloth I used for the palms. I applied Permatex Clear RTV Silicone Adhesive 66B to all seams, then dunked my hands in water to test. They leaked. I had also sealed the seams of my old DIY Tyvek mitts, so I dunked them, too. They also leaked. I hung them up to dry overnight, then filled them with water today to locate the spots I had missed. Surprise - the black fabric leaked everywhere. Despite having what looks like a urethane coating on one side, it's not waterproof. I also tested the Tyvek mitts - same story. The material (admittedly much worn and wrinkled) leaks. The coated seams may be the only parts except the yellow silnylon that didn't leak.

    Attached photo shows them drying on the line. (By the way, that's my hammock workshop slowly taking form in the background. I'm assuming the new roof doesn't leak.)

    I had sought to make the mitts less slippery by putting stripes of silicone across the palms. Those parts didn't leak either, so now I need to go back and fill in the spaces between the lines. My pulk bag is made of the same white widow fabric, so now I know to use drybags for the stuff I put inside it. Live and learn. Life is full of problems and partial solutions.
    WV, as I'm reading the first part of your post, I am already having a minor flashback to my NOLS course 30+ years ago, where our instructors had no confidence in that early generation of GTX, and not total confidence in any rain gear. On a long trip - in that case 30 days with zero contact with civilization - the assumption was that some of us were going to get wet. Either from external moisture or from sweat and likely both. That's why the insulation was chosen for it's ability to maintain some function in the wet, and/or dry quickly.

    But then you really take me back with the line " Live and learn"! That's all by friend could come up with to say after that snow loaded branch broke and ripped through his tarp, dumping a big load of snow down his bag hood and neck collar. Live and learn!

    It is 30 years later, and we are struggling with waterproof fabric issues! You would think we would have it all figured out by now!

    Oh, BTW, I remember doing very similar repairs way back then, trying to stop mitten and bivy leaks with seam sealing. Mostly I was less than fully successful.

    PS: On that long ago trip, I used Patagonia Polyester Pile mittens ( same material as my balaclava), polyester fleece gloves and I don't remember cold hands. Similarly, I have spent all day on a ski lift in blowing snow storms then skiing down through deep snow and working up a sweat, then repeat sitting/hanging from the ski lift. I used various so called water proof/breathable gloves with various synthetic insulations. Some worked a lot better than others, but most got the job done. I would consider taking some of these on winter hiking trips, just plain old ski gloves or mittens. Maybe not the lightest, but very reliable. Lets face it, alpine or cross country skiing all day - even hanging in the sky as the winds pommel you in a wet snow storm- this is as bad or worse conditions as any of us will ever find on the trail. So what works there will probably tell us something.

    And also, my ski clothing always got the job done also. Which was a polyester long john next to skin layer, polyester fleece mid-layers of various thickness, a polyester fleece neck gator and hat, all covered with various GTX outer layers. Did this let water in from the outside, did it have some leakage? I can't say for sure, though I definitely would sweat a lot during major physical exertion on steep slopes. Plus, occasionally I would fall and be buried in deep snow for a few minutes! So whether it kept me bone dry or not, I always stayed warm enough. Too hot and sweating while skiing down 3000+ feet of vertical black diamond slopes, then sitting exposed to the wind on the chair lift and apparently drying out. My system worked consistently for me in these conditions for many years. I very often took the same clothing backpacking, though I probably never pushed it as hard as when skiing. Except I might occasionally hike all day in cold rain in WY at 10,000 feet, or occasionally snow. But the skiing was the real and consistent test.

    Maybe there is something to learn from how that gear functioned? Water ( rain, snow or sweat ) happened, but maybe the key was the insulation not being effected that much by the water and then drying out very quickly?
    Last edited by BillyBob58; 03-15-2013 at 21:25.
    For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us....that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
    Romans 8:18,21-22

  6. #6
    MedicineMan's Avatar
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    WV this is how we learn. Thanks

    for posting the experience.
    Rune, thanks for jumping in.
    I noticed on this years Roan hang Poof had 3 pairs of gloves! We pack for our greatest fears and sometimes several insurance policies is a good thing....other times it's just dead weight in the pack. Knowing when, well that is the 10^6 question.
    I can pretty much hike without fingers but forget setting up camp or cooking without them
    I'd like to think of carrying felted wool mitts, got a pair or two, and know their weight-better yet I know their weight when wet.
    Everyones got their 'way'....mine is:
    Smartwool liner gloves-the lightest they make.....carried year around.
    MLD eVent mitts (turned inside out and sealed twice)....carried year around.
    These two together are amazingly warm.
    OR Metamorphs--new to me this year, used on Roan. I've found these to be outstanding in variability, the Smartwool liner gloves work under them. I carried the big honking over mitts but didn't need them. When the Metamorphs were worn under the MLD shells I was good to 8F with the big wind.
    The only down to my system is fragility of the lightweight eVent. They are light enough one could carry two pair but MLD is way to proud of them.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Rune's Avatar
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    Regarding the comment on the weight of wet felted wool mittens. The OP is like me using a pulk. Weight and volume of what you wear is simply not a concern. Comfort and keeping warm is, and then felted wool is simply the best there is for keeping warm. And it can always be tryusted to do so, wet or dry. Why experiment with synthetics when there is a material that has been proven to work?

    The only clothing materials the Norwegian army, that trains and operates in the arctcic has not changed to modern materials over the last 10 years...is the wool mittens because nothing that existed was found to be better or equal to it.

    In other times of year when the pulk can't be used, felted mittens are not needed, so their weight does not come in to play then either, as those types of mittens simply stay at home.

    As for size. In winter conditions the over mittens should be long enough to cover parts of your under arm, to prevent snow coming in that way. Specially important during blizzards etc.

  8. #8
    WV's Avatar
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    Rune, I'm actively looking for felted wool mittens. Unfortunately the January hike in which I really needed something better for my hands was not one that permitted using a pulk. Still the extra weight wouldn't have been a problem. My Aarn pack weighed 40 lbs (because I was carrying water + back-up layers for the rest of my body, which I used to good advantage), and carrying the pack was no strain.

    MM, thanks for describing your system. Looking into liners like yours, too.

  9. #9
    Detail Man's Avatar
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    WV, anything with "coating" and "waterproof" in the same description is bound to fail at some point. PU coated fabrics will be waterproof for a period of time, shortened by abrasion, stuffing, folding, and UV exposure.

    I like to think of silnylon as nylon reinforced silicone sheeting. As long as the fabric keeps the silicone molecules close enough together it will repel a significant amount of water. If the fabric is stressed enough, the silicone film will develop holes, degrading its ability to shed water.

    Silicone-impregnated nylon is technically not waterproof, even though we speak of it as such. It's made by running the fabric through a bath of silicone and then letting the silicone cure. We all know nylon stretches, hence it's lack of suitability for tree straps. Nylon fabric also stretches. Silicone is inherently elastic as well. These properties of silnylon are why I think grosgrain edges on a tarp are a good idea, because it minimizes the stretch in the fabric. I know of silnylon pack cover/gear hammocks that have lost waterproofness because of the repeated stretching.

    Polyester has better UV resistance and less stetching. A sil-poly fabric might be something worthwhile.

    You can add a thin layer silicone to silnylon and increase it's durability. Weight will increase, but it might be something to try.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rune View Post
    The old fishermen used to dip their mittens in sea water when their hands got cold, beat the water out of them and wear them. I've tried, and it works.
    So what is the principle at work here? Does it have to do with the salt water or the properties of the felted wool?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rune View Post
    I am on the islands of Northern Norway and the climate here can be rather wet in winter. So the army have now gone over to gore-tex for the over mittens. But uses the same wool mittens inside them.

    The British Army uses something similar (they do their winter warfare training here in Norway) so her eis an aexample, and the seller is in the US

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/BRITISH-AR...item35b62ded6f
    I live part of the time in the far north of B.C. cold and dry sub artic conditiions. I use wool cotton gloves, wool mitts, gortex over mitts. I do not get cold hands, however water is not a problem.

    I am going to try a pair of the mittens from the EBay link, keep them in the truck for emergencies.

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