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Hides, Rain, and Shrinkage

AmericanIron

One of the Regulars
Messages
119
Location
United States
Hi everyone,

Had a quick question for some of the folks in here who've owned their leather jackets for a few years. I'm curious to know how getting caught in serious rain has effected your jackets.

I had a 613 in Steerhide which fit fairly loose when I purchased it. Over the course of a year and change I had been caught in severe rain (the type that required me to pull over and wait) at least 4-5 times where I would arrive at my destination with a jacket twice it's normal weight due to water retention. I live in the Northeast (Boston) and so these types of storms fly in and fly out often times without warning.

With regard to tending to these garment afterwards, I checked the Schott forums for info. The Schott website endorses no products whatsoever so as to avoid any flack from someone who treated a garment improperly (which I suppose I can understand from a legal standpoint.) However, after a particularly intense storm and a full day of drying at room temperature the jacket would become quite stiff and I'd treat it with a tiny bit of this stuff http://www.otterwax.com/collections/leather-care/products/leather-oil to help keep the jacket from drying out or cracking.

I swear that this jacket underwent some shrinkage from these storms, but can't seem to find any conclusive evidence that this would happen based on what I've read. Seems there are beliefs on either side of the coin and none have facts beyond dispute. I can say however, that the waist of the jacket per Schott's sizing chart should be 40" and mine is sitting at 38". I use this particular measurement because my waist is 36" making this the only area of the jacket that would not be stretched back out by my body and thus if it were to shrink, said shrinkage would remain.

Is this normal or is my jacket the exception?

Also, this is a steerhide jacket. Would love to hear from those who own Horse, Naked Cow, Goat and maybe even some crazy Buffalo owners if you're out there haha.

Thanks and ride on!

-Nick
 
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Seb Lucas

I'll Lock Up
Messages
7,562
Location
Australia
A good leather jacket is meant to be worn rain or shine. Like others I have washed many of mine in a washing machine with soap to loosen them up. Over 30 years not one has ever shrunk. Water shouldn't hurt leather. Some say that naked cowhide shrinks. Mine have not but I can't really comment on the experience of someone else.
 

ykurtz

One of the Regulars
Messages
277
Location
Idaho Falls, ID
Sounds like you ride a motorcycle. And that your leather jacket(s) have been soaked and retained water. In my experience it's best to waterproof leather with Pecards/Renapur prior to getting the jacket wet. While it doesn't make the jacket 100% waterproof, it will keep things dryer. Each time leather gets wet and dries, it loses some of its protective qualities. So keep that in mind; a jacket that has gotten wet/dried several times: you might think you're protected but your leather jacket might end up falling apart like paper mache in a crash. YMMV.

I have a naked Elk jacket I use for casual purposes, not riding. It really absorbs water so I try to avoid getting it wet. Suede in rain: forget it. Cow treated per above sheds water pretty well. My goat seems to shed water the best. I'll be riding with a kangaroo café racer soon and I anticipate it shedding water the best of any of my leathers. Hate to say it but well made textile jackets are probably the best for foul weather.
 
Messages
10,924
Location
SoCal
Yes, I've heard of some jackets shrinking from rain, but the amount seems to depend on how it's dried. If you wear it while it's still a bit damp you can stretch it back out a bit. I'd also recommend Pecards if its a bit stiff after it has dried.
 

Corsair42

One of the Regulars
Messages
196
Location
United Kingdom
Steerhide shouldn't shrink as such but exposure to rain or soaking in water will speed up and set in creases in the leather. Areas like the sleeves etc will appear to shrink but will just have shortened as the creases set in. The body can do this to a degree also so it's worth bearing in mind when sizing it from new or panicking early about a small excess in sleeve length. Lambskin or nappa leather will shrink when soaked and dried, particularly if it is exposed to heat as part of the drying process.
 

tropicalbob

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,954
Location
miami, fl
I've had a FQHH Aero jacket for three years and have been caught in the rain several times. No problems at all with it, and I've never treated it with anything.
 

Peacoat

*
Bartender
Messages
6,269
Location
South of Nashville
In my experience, naked cowhide (Schott jackets) will shrink even if exposed to light rain/mist. A month or so ago when it was warmer, I wore my Schott on a short ride. When I came back, I unintentionally left it on the trunk of my car overnight. The next day when I discovered it, I didn't think too much about it as there had been no precip overnight. Well, the dew was enough to have shrunk the body a size or two. The sleeves had already shrunk a bit because of light rain shower a few years ago. The jacket now fits like a 40/42 and is sized as a 46. It sometimes covers my belt if I stand up straight and pull my jeans up. Barely enough room for a thin vest underneath.

I haven't had this problem with finished hides. I will never have another naked cowhide jacket.
 

navetsea

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,697
Location
East Java
I was wearing my orangey/tan sheep leather jacket (I'm not well versed in leather tanning process but it was one that is dyed but not coated/ painted.) in a downpour once and I rode in it until I reached my aunt's place probably 15 minutes soaked and blasted by tropical heavy rain, it was dripping dye allover the place when I hanged it over their rattan chair, and the result was awesome!!, it developed dark and light parts all on the right places :) and much less orange than it was, much more natural, also in texture, and probably I kinda feel it is somewhat tighter around my arm since it was slim to begin with. I'm happy how it looks and how it fits now but won't think about doing it for the second time. Since then I reconditioned and coated it with mink oil, supple again, a little bit darker again, but the gradation is still there and the sleeves are still full with creases :)
 

Seb Lucas

I'll Lock Up
Messages
7,562
Location
Australia
In my experience, naked cowhide (Schott jackets) will shrink even if exposed to light rain/mist. A month or so ago when it was warmer, I wore my Schott on a short ride. When I came back, I unintentionally left it on the trunk of my car overnight. The next day when I discovered it, I didn't think too much about it as there had been no precip overnight. Well, the dew was enough to have shrunk the body a size or two. The sleeves had already shrunk a bit because of light rain shower a few years ago. The jacket now fits like a 40/42 and is sized as a 46. It sometimes covers my belt if I stand up straight and pull my jeans up. Barely enough room for a thin vest underneath.

I haven't had this problem with finished hides. I will never have another naked cowhide jacket.

That's an astonishing story.
 

IXL

One Too Many
Messages
1,284
Location
Oklahoma
I've heard of naked cowhide shrinking after a good soaking but have not experienced this. My Schott Easy Rider jacket has been caught out in the rain a couple of times with no ill effects. When I got home it was hung on one of those giant, five-inch wide hangers from Aerostitch, and allowed to slowly dry over several days.
Granted, the jacket is a size 42 and I'm a 40, so I might not be aware of a small amount of shrinkage, but it feels just the same as it always has.
I have no doubt that those who state they have experienced shrinkage, have, so I don't know why "some do, and some don't" when dealing with these jackets.
 

AmericanIron

One of the Regulars
Messages
119
Location
United States
Awesome feedback from everybody so far, thanks for sharing your stories on this! Was curious to know what had been experienced as I'm going to be purchasing a new jacket soon and wanted to make sure I account for any potential shrinkage that may occur. I recently purchased a horsehide jacket that I fear is one size too big for me and was willing to keep it if I thought it might shrink to fit a bit better, but based on these responses it seems unlikely.
 

jerseyboy

New in Town
Messages
7
Location
jerseyshore
My opinion is that if the leather is damp when you wear it the jacket will mold itself to your body shape. However you should wear it until the jacket has dried out a bit.
 

RJR

Messages
10,620
Location
Iowa
AmIron,IMO the horsehide will certainly mould to your shape with wear and will likely shrink slightly if it has been really wet.
 

bretron

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,518
Location
NW
Leather will absolutely shrink. Having successfully shrunk an A2 myself I can attest to it. However, the conditions I did it under were controlled using a hot water soak then a hot tumble dryer. If a jacket gets wet in the rain, just be sure to let it dry under cool conditions. Otherwise, you'll risk having something happen like Peacoat
 

Azog

Familiar Face
Messages
87
Location
Melbourne
I've mentioned it before but a sure way to tell if a (zipper) jacket has shrunk is if the zipper goes wavy.
I bought a new Eastman house veg tanned goat A2 a few years ago which was probably the best box opening experience I've had with a jacket with their very impressive presentation and packaging. Jacket looked and smelt fantastic and had Eastman's typical precision cut and stitching.
Zipper was dead straight until I got it soaked in the rain. The veg tanned goat soaked up water like a sponge, darkened when wet but lightened again when dry. I also found the zipper became wavy when it dried. No heat or anything. I definitely preferred the jacket before getting it wet in the rain.
 

AmericanIron

One of the Regulars
Messages
119
Location
United States
Leather will absolutely shrink. Having successfully shrunk an A2 myself I can attest to it. However, the conditions I did it under were controlled using a hot water soak then a hot tumble dryer. If a jacket gets wet in the rain, just be sure to let it dry under cool conditions. Otherwise, you'll risk having something happen like Peacoat

Wouldn't doing this take the finish off the leather? Horsehide has a shiny coating applied which helps to waterproof the leather. Worried that a dryer would do harm to the jacket. The waist is at 42 and I'd like to lose about 2 inches off it. Same with the chest. Is that too much shrinkage to expect?
 
Messages
16,347
Not that I don't believe you guys but I never had a jacket shrink in the tiniest bit. My Schott steer jacket (165, older Multi-pocket model) has been caught out in the rain more times than I can remember and I know for a fact it didn't shrink because that jacket has always been too small for me, skintight really, wide barely enough so that I could zip it up and in all these years I've had it, I never felt it fit any differently. And when it did meant I've gained some weight.

Nothing ever seemed to have happened to my other cowhide jackets that got soaked... I've had a Schott Dur-O-Jac CR that was way too large and I attempted the hot water soak and tumble dryer method but it didn't do nothing to that jacket. Only thing that happened was that the jacket lost some of the shine, but even that came back after a while.

From my experience, zipper can get wavy quickly with wear, even if the jacket doesn't see one drop of rain.

But I understand it's entirely possible that I've never had any luck with it...

AmericanIron, 2 inches is a waaay too much shrinkage to expect from a water and tumble-dryer treatment, or from any other method short of having the jacket tailored for that matter. From reading other peoples testimonials - there's an extensive thread on Filmjackets.com forum about the matter - best you can hope for is an inch of difference, and that's if you're really lucky. Keep in mind that the jacket might not shrink uniformly as different panels of leather will react differently, as in, some might shrink a lot, while others will not be affected at all, so you might end up with one sleeve longer than the other, etc. Also, the jacket might get back to its original size with wear so you'd have to repeat the process, which is all a pretty crappy deal.
 
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Bern1

One of the Regulars
Messages
219
Location
West Coast
I have had a Lost Worlds Easy Ryder heavy HH jacket for over 10 years. I've ridden it in all kinds of weather, including rain. (Yes, even here in California.) Last moto camping trip it actually got soaked all the way through. No shrinkage.
 

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