1. Techwash: I unloaded the washing machine the other day and there was my Goretex rainshell jacket. I'd thrown it in by mistake - household detergent strips the waterproofing right out. The only thing I could do to make it worse would be to dry it with dryer sheets or fabric softener - which makes the fabric porous. They are virtually useless in this state. Thankfully Nikwax make two products, Techwash and TX Direct Wash. Use as directed and it makes breathable rain-gear like new again. $15
This made me think of a few other easy and cheap ways to weatherproof my bod.
2. Sealskinz Gloves: These are pretty amazing. 100% waterproof and they feel like a regular glove. By keeping water away from the skin, they protect from heat loss, so the fingers stay warm. They are around $50. If you want the same and are willing to sacrifice some comfort and fashion. Visit a Fuel/truckstop or Hardwear store and get the gloves that truckers use for putting on snow-chains. They do the same thing for about $10.
3. Ziplock bags: I've yet to find an expensive stuff sack that works as well as Ziplock bags for electronics and everything. A variety of sizes will keep food, maps, keys, electronics as dry as a bone.
4. Trash compactor bags: Trash bags (as pack liners) tend to rip. Trash Compactor bags are 0.3 mm thick and they withstand wear and tear. I've had a whole season out of one bag - and you can buy five for about $6. If you put an extra one in the bottom of the one you use as a pack liner, then you've got a great piece of equipment, should you or someone else have an emergency.
5. Waterproof chapstick: This makes a good difference in rain. My favorite brand is Dermatone 23 SPF. A Dermatologist recommended it. Lips get sore and crack when they are wet for extended periods of time. This stuff really works. For an extra comfort, if you draw a line of chapstick accross your brow, from temple to temple, it will direct water from your forehead, down the sides of the face and away from the eyes. Keeping water out of the eyes makes a big difference over time. $5
6. Peaked Waterproof Hat: Makes a big comfort difference to keep the rain off the face. Hoods are good too, but they flop around and restrict vision. For super rainy conditions - using both works well. $15 - $20.
I enjoy being warm and comfortable in the mountains and these simple tips have really helped. Hope they might be of usefulness this winter!