Weatherproofing your gear for LARP events, reenactments, and more is an important task when it comes to maintaining your gear. Weatherproofing makes it nicer to deal with rain or other wet conditions and helps to keep you from getting soaked. In addition, ensuring that your gear is protected against water and mud helps it to last longer. This is mostly because it prevents mold and mildew as well as reduces the growth of water-loving bacteria. All of these things can damage your gear.
Weatherproofing Leather Gear
When it comes to your leather gear, the most common gear that you will have will be footwear, armour, and leather accessories. Your boots and shoes will be likely be high on your list of gear to waterproof. There are many modern products as well as historical materials that are available for weatherproofing leather. Here at Medieval Collectibles, one such product that we offer is Bee Natural Rain & Snow. The biggest benefit of this product and similar ones is that they are relatively easy to acquire and apply. Many modern waterproofing products will come with instructions on the container that explain how to apply it. A tradeoff of such products is that they are not historically accurate.
If you are looking at weatherproofing your gear in a historical manner, then there are a couple of materials that you may want to consider. For example, beeswax and lanolin are perhaps the two most common materials today that would be historically accurate for making leather water-resistant. Lanolin is also called sheeps wax or wool grease as well as a couple of other names. Basically, this is a naturally occurring material that comes from sheep and helps to condition their skin and wool. In this case, lanolin helps leather to resist water.
While both lanolin and beeswax are historically accurate, they do have a couple of cons. Lanolin can be rather greasy to handle. There is also a possibility that someone handling it may have an allergy to the product. Regarding beeswax, it can be an expensive product. Depending on the amount of beeswax required for a project, the price may become prohibitively expensive. If you are interested in general leather care, especially for your armour, you can check out our article on leather armour care.
Weatherproofing Fabric Gear
From clothing to tents and more, fabric is perhaps the most likely material that you will need to weatherproof. Your outerwear and canvas tents are items where weatherproofing your gear will make your experience at LARP events and reenactments much better. A modern product that we offer here is the Snow Proof Silicone Water & Stain Repellent Spray. This product and similar ones have a great benefit in their ease of application. You just have to spray the product onto your gear and let it dry. That’s it. This spray works on multiple materials and is relatively easy to acquire. Again, the main trade-off of this product is that it is not historically accurate. This could be an issue if there is an event that requires full historical accuracy.
There are historical materials that would have been available to a medieval or Renaissance person. The three most common materials would have been beeswax, lanolin, and boiled linseed oil in the form of oil cloth. The main benefits and downsides of beeswax and lanolin are the same as mentioned above. That leaves oil cloth. Its main benefit is its historical accuracy; however, there are a couple of cons to the product. So, what is oil cloth?
Oil cloth in the medieval or pre-20th century meaning is a cloth, usually canvas, covered in boiled linseed oil. Tents and outdoor products were common applications for boiled linseed oil. Boiled linseed oil would help the cloth to resist water. This oil consists, of course, of linseed oil as well as other products. In the medieval world, those other products would have included lead compounds. So, a rather toxic material historically speaking.
Making oil cloth usually involved stretching out a fabric and coating it in the boiled linseed oil. This was a fire hazard and still is to this day. Linseed oil when drying or oxidizing creates an exothermic reaction and can spontaneously combust. In the modern day, pretty much any container of linseed oil, especially raw linseed oil, will carry a warning about proper storage because of this problem. Boiled linseed oil can still catch fire during use, especially if you fold up oil cloth before it is completely dry. So, in summary, oil cloth is historically accurate but rather flammable.
If you are interested in how to weatherproof your steel gear, please see our article on the do’s and don’ts of steel armour. When comes to weatherproofing your fabric and leather gear, we hope that we have given you multiple ideas on how to do so for your next LARP event or reenactment. From modern products to historical materials, there are many ways that you can go about it. There are pros and cons to every method, so whichever one you choose will be up to you and what you feel will work best for your needs.