Due to Gore-tex and other space age thingies, hiking and camping can be a lot more comfortable than it used to be, and according to the producers of those wonder layers, if you want to hike or camp under a light drizzle, the only way to survive is to use some thousands of dollars/euros to get a complete set of gear made out of the miracle materials.
OK, I admit that most of these miracle fabrics are better than cotton, or rubber, or combination of them, but most of the people who hike or camp are a) not filthy rich, b) do not need gear that is proven to be 10% better than some other gear on top of the mount Everest, and c) I’m interested of low cost outdoor gear and low cost ways to make their gear better.
If you listen to the sales pitches of the miracle layer salesmen, on contrary to the vast amount of literature, no one born before the nineties would have ever enjoyed anything outdoorsy, and from the survivalist point of view, we should not even have any ancestors.
However, even in the miserable last century, some people enjoyed hiking and camping, and, as surprising as it may sound, not one of us would be here if survival in the wilderness would require gore-tex.
I am an open minded guy, and I honestly appreciate laser torches which work in the vacuum of space, as well as I appreciate water proof ultra light weight aramid fiber back packs. However, I do not expect to be lost in space in an immediate future, and my German army surplus back pack has been quite decent hauling device for the last decade or so. Therefore, I’m not going to buy a 100000 $/€ laser torch to replace my 10 c box of matches, and I’m not going to spend 1000 $/€ to get a back pack little better than my current one. However, a bit more water proof back pack would be nice to have.
Fortunately, there are some companies, which still sell some ancient, reasonably priced solutions to many of the camping problems. Probably because they don’t have the patent rights to sell the wonder products, but anyway. One of those companies is the legendary Fjällräven from Sweden.
They have made a number of very very high quality camping and hiking gear for decades, and one of their wonderful products is something they call the G-1000 fabric. They use G-1000 in their line of extremely well designed outdoor clothing.
The secret behind the G-1000 outdoor gear is a treatment with the Greenland wax. The Greenland wax makes their gear pretty much water proof while preserving the breathability in the fabric. They also sell the Greenland wax to their customers to maintain the wonderful properties of the G-1000 fabric.
In order to protect the customers, and unintentionally to destroy any free enterprize, European Union requires them to reveal the content of the Greenland wax. And of course, as a law abiding Scandinavian company, they did so. So, the content of the Greenland wax is paraffin and beeswax.
The original ratio has not been revealed, but there has been several tests to figure that out, and a common belief is that the ratio is about 9 to 1.
I would love to support an ingenious private Scandinavian enterprize by buying their product, but I am a greedy, flat broke individual, who does not want to use any more money than is absolutely necessary for anything.
Therefore, instead of buying the Greenland wax for 10$/€ per 100 grams (about 3 oz), I bought some paraffin candles for 30 c a piece, melted one of them together with a teaspoon of beeswax (value 5 c), and used the end product to treat my German army surplus cotton camo pants.
I rubbed the wax against the fabric of the pants, heated it with a hot air gun (hair dryer would be better, but I don’t have one), rubbed the wax with a piece of cotton cloth, and repeated the treatment three times.
To test the effect of the treatment, I showered the pants. And in the end, the untreated part of the pants was instantly soaked, as the treated part repelled most of the water and stayed relatively dry.
In conclusion, I would say that the home made Greenland wax (25 times cheaper than the commercial version) works unbelievably well. However, I have not tested how my washing machine behaves with the treated clothes, and therefore, I would limit the usage of the Greenland wax for the fabrics in tarps, tents, back packs, and any other things that do not require frequent washing.