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No Water Allowed!

Rhona Lewis

We use waterproof things all the time, and you’ll find them especially useful in camp. How waterproofing works and how it makes our lives easier

Wednesday, July 06, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock

“I was the first to jump into the pool on the first day in camp and I was also the first to jump out. Yup… you guessed it. I’d forgotten to take off my watch. Boy, was I happy when I saw waterproof on the back!” says Yisrael from Lakewood.

 “The first day it rained last winter, I forgot to put the plastic cover over my school bag. By time I got home, all my books were wet,” says Tirtza from Beit Shemesh. 

“Last winter, we put plastic bags over our feet before we put on our boots. When we came home after playing in the snow, our clothes were soaked but our feet were still dry,” says Yossi Jakobovits from Yerushalayim. 

Yisrael, Tirtza, and Yossi are all using things that are waterproof — water cannot get through them. We use waterproof things all the time, and you’ll find them especially useful in camp. Here’s how waterproofing works and how it makes our lives easier. 

What floats your boat? 

When you’re out on the lake in a boat or kayak, you might want to think about waterproofing. If you’re using an old, wooden rowboat, take a peek at the joints between the planks (where the planks meet). To ensure that no water seeps in, the shipwright (boat maker) stuffed cotton and hemp (strong plant fibers) between the planks. The fibers in the sides and bottom were then covered with putty, while those in the deck were covered with melted pitch (that sticky stuff from pine trees). Today, chemical sealants like silicone are used. 

Now take a look at your kayak. Kayaks were first used for hunting by the Inuit in Alaska and Greenland. (Inuit is the correct name for Eskimos.) They made kayaks from seal skins stretched over a wood or whalebone frame. Seal skin is strong, light, and — thanks to the oil in it — waterproof. You’ll still find some kayaks made from canvas or synthetic fabrics like ballistic nylon, but most kayaks today are made of polyethylene — the scientific word for plastic. What’s your kayak made of? 

Fun Fact: If your watch strap is nylon, it’s probably ballistic nylon. Ballistic nylon takes its name from its origin: in World War II, soldiers wore jackets made of this nylon to help protect them from flying (ballistic) fragments.

Photo: Shutterstock

Take a Hike! 

After the first summer shower, you’ll be grateful for… 

Waterproof Backpacks 

First impressions count, right? So you’ll probably be tempted to choose your backpack because of its zany colors or built-in MP3 connection. But you may want to think again. A backpack made from nylon fabric will keep the rain and snow out. And for added safety, look for a backpack whose seams have been welded together using radio frequency. RF (radio frequency) welding melts together the molecules of a material so you have a seal nothing can penetrate. “I tied my car key remote into a sandwich baggie and put it into my shirt pocket,” says Yechiel. “It was fine… until the river I was wading through deepened and the water rose to my chest. A waterproof pouch would have saved me a lot of trouble.”

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