If you love the outdoors, you will likely have stumbled across the American clothing and apparel line called Carhartt. Established in 1889, Carhartt provides high-quality apparel and is well known for its workwear and outdoor clothing. Carhartt is renowned for its wind-resistant heavy-duty jackets which are popular with outdoor activities and workwear, selling millions of jackets every year.
Most Carhartt jackets are made from durable 12-ounce cotton canvas with triple-stitched seams which provides a good level of waterproofing when new. Anyone who has owned a Carhartt jacket will know that the waterproofing will gradually wear out with everyday use and you’ll need to reapply a waterproofing treatment to maintain a good level of waterproofing for the jacket.
The good news is Carhartt jackets are easy to waterproof and there are a few options for applying a waterproof treatment to your Carhartt jacket. In this article, we will explain some of the different techniques to keep your Carhartt jacket waterproof and suggest the best methods to waterproof different kinds of fabrics that are used in Carhartt jackets.
Using Wax to Waterproof a Carhartt Jacket
This method is intended for use on a thicker cotton canvas material, so be sure to check the type of material your jacket is made of before applying any waterproof treatment. For lighter cotton and denim jackets, an alternative waterproofing option is listed at the end of the article.
One of the most durable methods to waterproof a Carhartt jacket is by using a paraffin-based wax which will restore water repellency and also provide abrasion resistance. This works well on thicker canvas jackets that are very common in the Carhartt line.
A wax such as Filson’s Oil Finish Wax is a great choice as it’s easy to apply and has been a trusted choice for many farmers, hunters, and outdoorsmen for many years.
Filson Oil Finish Wax
- For best results re-proof in warm conditions
- Brush all excess dirt from the area to be treated
- Apply wax generously with your fingers or a clean cloth
Here’s what you’ll need to apply an even wax treatment to your jacket:
Otter Wax Smoother Tool
- Waxed Fabric & Canvas Smoothing Tool
- Helps Otter Wax bond to fabric and canvas
- Presses wax into top layer of fabric
Steps To Apply A Waterproof Wax Treatment
Armed with the tools we listed above, you can now follow these simple steps.
Clean The Jacket
First, you’ll need to make sure that your jacket is as clean as possible. Lay the jacket out on a clean flat surface such as a table or ironing board and use some clean cold water and a clean cloth to remove any marks or dust from the jacket fabric.
Note: It is important not to use detergent or any other cleaning products as this will interfere with the application of the wax in later steps.
Melt The Wax
Next, you’ll need to melt the wax. If you’re applying the wax during the warmer months of the year, submerging the wax (lid screwed on) into some warm water should do the trick. If you’re applying the wax in a colder climate or in sub-zero temperatures, you may need to use a small candle flame under the wax to melt it and make it easier to use.
Alternatively, you can scoop out some of the wax into a ceramic bowl and use a microwave to melt the wax.
The wax should be sticky and soft to touch, much like melted butter, but be careful not to make the wax completely liquid as it is messy to apply. Once it is soft and easily malleable, you’re ready to apply the wax to your jacket.
Apply The Wax To Your Jacket
Use a wax smoother or paintbrush to apply an even covering of wax to the jacket. Use quick brush strokes moving up and down the jacket (from collar to mid seam) and apply the wax thoroughly, and note that the faster you can do this, the better finish you will get.
When waxing the seams, be sure to provide a good amount of wax and use the wax smoother to really push the wax into the seam edges. By doing this, you’ll be sure to waterproof the seams properly.
You’ll probably end up with some areas that are more thickly coated with wax than others. Don’t worry, as in the next step we’ll show you how to even out the wax and get an even finish all over the jacket fabric.
Melt The Wax Into The Jacket Fabric
Once your jacket has a reasonably even coat of wax (including the seams), you’ll want to use a hairdryer or heat gun on a low setting to melt the wax and even out the wax coating. In this example, we will put the hairdryer onto a high heat.
Hold the hairdryer a few inches away from the jacket and maintain the heat on the thicker areas of wax. You’ll start to see the affected areas begin to melt and even out. Use a slight circular motion to slowly melt all of the wax on the jacket fabric and take care not to miss any areas.
If you’re using a paintbrush, you can use the brush to smooth out the seams and other areas where excess wax builds up. An easier way is to use the wax smoother tool, and gently press the seams while applying the heat from the hairdryer.
Allow Your Jacket To Cure And Dry
Once finished, hang the jacket to dry or ‘cure’ overnight, and be sure to keep it away from an open flame. You will now have successfully waterproofed your Carhartt jacket. Depending on use, you’ll typically need to reapply a new wax treatment every few years.
Waterproofing Natural Fabrics Like Denim, or Canvas
Another similar method for waterproofing lighter fabrics is to use a wax called Otter wax. This wax is made in the USA using all-natural ingredients and comes in a convenient bar that can be applied easily to any fabric, however, it works best on thicker denim or canvas material jackets.
Otter Wax Fabric & Canvas Wax
- All-Natural Waxes & Oils
- All-Natural Fabric Wax to Waterproof & Protect Canvas, Tincloth, Denim, & More
- Environmentally Friendly & Safe Ingredients -Handmade
When you apply the wax to a fabric it will stiffen the material slightly and may slightly darken the material, although it’s common for all waxes to darken any material when applied.
For best results, rub the wax bar into the fabric and pay particular attention to the seams. Use a wax smoother tool to rub the wax into the fabric and then use a hairdryer to melt the wax into the fabric (same as step 4 above).
Repeat this step until the jacket is evenly covered and then hang the jacket up for a few days to allow it to adequately dry, this can take anywhere from 1 to 4 days depending on the climate conditions and humidity levels.
Keep Your Carhartt Jacket Waterproof
Maintaining and waterproofing your Carhartt jacket will have many advantages, from keeping you dry and prepared for any weather conditions, to preserving the jacket material and allowing them to last longer without excessive signs of wear and tear.
Keeping your jacket dry and waterproof also reduces the chance of your jacket absorbing moisture and prevents mold, but most importantly, it will keep you dry and comfortable whilst you roam and explore the beauty of the outdoors!