With NOAA meteorologists predicting heavy rain in the southern U.S. this winter due to El Niño, now is the time to start thinking hard about weatherproofing your gear. You could go out and drop big bucks on high-tech synthetic fabrics, or you could consider a time-tested (and much cheaper) alternative method: fabric wax. Fabric wax has been used by sailors and outdoorsmen for centuries, allowing ordinary garments to keep you dry in harsh conditions.

Historically, grease, animal fat, and fish oil have all been used for waterproofing, but unless you want to smell like you’ve been rolling in a dumpster, wax is the best option. Fabric wax can be purchased from a number of online retailers, and is simple to apply to cotton, canvas, wool, and other materials. Just heat the fabric, apply the wax, rub with your fingers to spread evenly, reheat once more, and allow to cure for 24 hours.

For a step-by-step guide on waxing fabric, check out this article from The Art of Manliness.

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