Global leader in safe, high performance waterproofing, cleaning and conditioning for outdoor gear


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Why You Should Pay Attention to Chemistry on this Earth Day

It's up to all of us to do our part to take care of the earth. Photo: NASA

It’s up to all of us to do our part to take care of the earth. Photo: NASA

Chemistry is hard. That’s why most American students put it off until the end of their K-12 years. That’s why university professors allow cheat sheets. That’s why Nikwax employs a gaggle of white lab-coated PhDs on our research and development team.

Those scientists have dedicated more than 30 years to developing Nikwax formulas that produce effective and non-harmful chemical reactions for waterproofing and cleaning.

By “non-harmful,” we mean intentionally avoiding any chemical content or reaction that may be noxious to humans or the environment.

Nikwax is clear on our stance: we believe fluorocarbons have a deleterious effect on humans and the environment, so we don’t use them in any of our products. We have pages and pages of scientific resources on our website to support our belief.

External studies support our stance. Specifically, a 2012 independent scientific study that was commissioned by Greenpeace found perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), in every piece of name brand rain gear they tested.

The apparel industry uses PFCs for coating and finishing outdoor garments or sporting goods, or for the production of breathable membrane. The report calls these PFCs, which do not occur in nature, “environmentally damaging toxins.” What’s more, the report calls for more stringent regulation of all PFCs.

Conclusions from the 2012 study include the following:

  • There is an urgent need to ban PFCs from outdoor wear production.
  • The outdoor clothing industry must continue to develop safer alternatives [to PFCs] and use them in processing their products.
  • PFCs and other chemicals reach drinking water, food and ultimately human blood and breast milk from such various sources as manufacturing and household wastewater, dust and the disposal of textiles.
  • The outdoor clothing industry can go without using PFC and nevertheless manufacture items that meet most customers’ demands for functionality.

That last one really spoke to us. After all, at Nikwax, we’ve been saying that since our inception. We know it is possible to keep our clients dry and warm without dousing their outerwear with toxic chemicals.

Nikwax is 100% fluorocarbon-free, and we will always oppose the inclusion of fluorocarbons in water repellency formulations.

When it comes to chemistry, it’s okay to be confused by the scientific specifics. We don’t expect everyone to understand the chemical makeup of fluorocarbons and their varied derivatives. You may or may not understand the distinctions between the C8 and the C6 carbon chains.

We get it. But we fervently believe that as a product manufacturer we can’t pass the buck. It’s our responsibility to ask the hard questions and to take a stance when the answers show ever so clearly that we should.

That can be the difference between clean water and polluted water. Or between a sick family and a healthy one.

We leave you, on this celebration of Earth Day, with a quote from a chemistry professor, on the tumblr site Chemagical:

“In the sciences, all of these ideas were developed over decades. If this stuff were common sense, we would have had all of this stuff figured out before the 1800’s. These concepts can be difficult, and it’s a hell of a lot better to ask a question and sort out your (and possibly others’) confusion than to wallow in ignorance.”

Here’s to taking charge of our own health, and taking responsibility for the sustainability of our passions and the well being of the environments we love.

Happy Earth Day!


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Nikwax on the Road from Cape Town to Paris with GlobeRiders

Helgeonbike

Nikwax ambassador, Helge Pedersen, is on yet another life list adventure. He’s currently motorcycle touring from Cape Town, South Africa, to Paris, France. Along for the 25,000-kilometer ride are three other riders, a supporting vehicle and several of GlobeRiders technical staff.

La Paz photo shoot and pelicansTo those who know Nikwax from the human-powered, outdoor adventure realm, our motorcycle contingent often comes as a surprise. We have a strong relationship with the motorcycling community; our cleaners and waterproofers are often key parts of their safety kit. Adventure riders wear durable fabric outerwear; apparel that can take a beating, keep riders warm and dry, and shed moisture in torrential downpours. That’s right—it’s not that different from your backcountry skiing kit.

Imagine heading out to play in the heat, the rain, the mud and the dust. Now imagine doing it at 70 mph. Your gear takes a beating.

In order for your gear to bear the burden as opposed to your skin, taking precautionary care of motorcycle outerwear is critical.  If not properly cleaned, dust and dirt can damage the fibers of technical outerwear. Sweat, dust and dirt can also mask the durable water repellent finish, causing garments to attract water rather than repel it.  We recommend cleaning with Tech Wash and using TX.Direct to add water-repellency (spray-on or wash-in, depending on the manufacturers washing instructions).

Currently the Globeriders team is nearing Kirundo, Burundi. The weather there may be warm, but there are rain showers in the forecast for the next week. We hope Helge and crew are staying as dry as possible on the road!

If you’d like to live vicariously through Helge, or if this GlobeRiders’ African odyssey spurs your own trip planning into high gear, follow their adventure on the GlobeRiders Live!Journal web page.


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Caring for your Wax Cotton Jacket

Wax cotton has a reputation as an old school waterproofing technology. However, with the recent resurgence in “heritage” design, wax cotton is making quite the comeback. This renaissance is amplifying the popularity of wax cotton jackets and bags from brands such as Filson, Orvis, and Barbour. Like any waterproof technology, it is a good idea to take proper care of your wax cotton gear. With that in mind, we present the following photo essay on how to re-waterproof you wax cotton jacket using Nikwax Wax Cotton Proof.

Dirty Wax Cotton JacketThis Orvis Wax Cotton jacket was filthy! As you can see, it wasn’t repelling water as well as it should.

Clean Wax Cotton JacketThe first step is to wash the jacket in Nikwax Tech Wash. This jacket was so dirty that it took multiple cycles to get it clean! While it’s still wet, lay it out on a protected surface.

Waterproofing a Wax Cotton JacketStart spraying Nikwax Wax Cotton proof on the jacket. The waterproofing will be opaque and white, but don’t worry, it will dry clear!

Waterproofing a wax cotton jacketKeep spraying the jacket. Ensure maximum coverage, especially seams and hard wear areas.

rub in the wax cotton waterproofingOnce covered, rub the Wax Cotton Proof into the jacket. Make sure to remove all excess waterproofing!

waterproof the back of the wax cotton jacketFlip the jacket over and waterproof the back.

Ensure even wax cotton proof coverageBuff the entire jacket, making sure to get even coverage and to remove any excess.

Waterproofed wax cotton jacketLet jacket hang dry. It may take a day or two to dry completely. Voila! Clean and Waterproof.

wax-cotton-hunterAnother Satisfied Customer!


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The Nikwax Spring Break Checklist

2palmsIt’s that time of year again: spring break! After drifting drearily through the murky winter months, it’s finally time to get out and go somewhere exciting. You know you want spring adventure, but where to go? Head to the mountains for some spring snow? Catch surf and sun in some tropical country? Wherever it is that you decide to go, we’ve got your gear covered. Here’s our handy checklist to help you prep for your trip:

 Mountain adventures:

  • Re-waterproof your ski skins. You won’t know your skins need this until they fail. Hit ‘em up proactively.
  • Substitute your big, insulated ski jacket with a shell and a light insulated layer for layering versatility. Wash both in Tech Wash to get ahead of the game.
  •  Consider wool for your base layers in the volatile spring weather. Wool is an effective thermo-regulator, keeping you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. Plus, since warmer springtime temps mean more sweat, wool is naturally anti-bacterial and won’t stink as much as synthetics. Bonus: Nikwax has a special Wool Wash that will preserve all of these awesome qualities.

 Tropical adventures:

  • Pack enough sunscreen to cover every inch of your lilywhite body. While you’re at it, find your sunglasses and a sun hat. Your eyes and head need as much protection from the sun as the rest of your body.
  •  Go get yourself an ENO Hammock. These super packable little hammocks hang very nicely between two palm trees.
  • Bring a tube of Nikwax BaseWash Travel Gel. It’s packaged to be TSA compliant, and it will come in handy to keep swimsuits, swim trunks, and your other travel clothes from smelling sour. Bonus: no washing machine needed! With the travel gel, you can do your wash in the sink.

General camping and biking adventures:

  • Set up your tent BEFORE you go. Did you lose some stakes? Snap a tent pole? Pack the rainfly when it was wet? Figure it out before you’re racing against nighttime and an incoming storm. While you have that tent up, consider spraying it with Tent & Gear SolarProof. We know you aren’t praying for rain on your vacay, but it never hurts to be prepared for it.
  • Air out your sleeping bags. Though it’s recommended that you store down bags by hanging them up in the open air, who has that kind of space? Pull them out and shake lightly to loft the down. If needed, wash them with Down Wash and Down Proof. The combo will add loft and water repellency, and leave your bag smelling sweet after a winter of exile.
  • If cycling is on the agenda, it’s time for a tune-up. If you rely on professionals for regular maintenance, hit them up before the spring break rush.
  •  They call it “mud season” for a reason. Even if you’ll be exploring a relatively dry area, the shaded areas will likely still have some snow or mud. Waterproof your shoes and boots now, so spring break happy hour can legitimately live up to its name.

Like the wise Helen Keller once quoted, “Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” Now get out there and have some fun, you crazy kids!


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What the wax? Why Nikwax comes with leather gloves and how to use it.

BurtonAKsachetSo, you just dropped a chunk of change on a new pair of leather gloves. You take them out of the packaging and wait, what is this little packet of…Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather? Why is it here? What do I do with it? These are good questions, and we will address them one at a time.

What is Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather? Waterproofing Wax for Leather is a waterbased waterproofing cream for smooth leather. It provides instant durable water repellency (DWR), maintains breathability, and works on wet or dry leather.

Why does it come with your gloves? Glove companies, such as POW, Burton, Dakine, Black Diamond, and FlyLow offer it to help take care of their gloves… or, now, your gloves. The leather is not always waterproof. A waterproof, breathable membrane, like Gore-Tex, is what’s keeping the water/moisture from getting to your hands. Using Waterproofing Wax for Leather will add water repellency to the leather thus providing extra protection from the elements. It will also prolong the life of your gloves!

How do you use it? Well, you can use it sort of like hand lotion. Tear the sachet at the top, put on your gloves, and squeeze about Hershey’s Kiss amount into your palm. Then, like hand lotion, rub the cream evenly all over the gloves. Make sure it is fully absorbed into the leather and pressed into the seams. If you think you missed an area, apply a little bit more.

Now what about cleaning the gloves?

How do you clean them? So you made a snowball and the snow contained… some kind of animal excrement. Or perhaps you dropped the gloves in a mud puddle. Obviously, your gloves need cleaning. The best thing to do is put on the gloves, wet them with lukewarm water and scrub ‘em up with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel. (Yes, we know it’s called Footwear Cleaning Gel, but it’s made to clean leather and all types of fabric and it works GREAT on gloves). Rinse and gently squeeze out the water without twisting.

How do you dry your gloves? Dry them in an upright postion, maybe over an empty beer or soda can. DO NOT dry your gloves with a hair dryer, or next to a heater, or go Kramer style and put them in the oven. If the gloves have liners, remove them for easier and faster drying time.

How often should you clean your gloves? It’s best not to wash them too frequently. If they are muddy, or you spilled your beverage on them, clean them. Otherwise once or twice a year is probably a safe bet.

Back to that little Wax packet, how often should you be using it?

Are you are paranoid about the leather EVER getting wet? You should probably invest in a few tubes of Waterproofing Wax for Leather. Carry one in your ski bag, keep a backup in your glove compartment, and stash yet another at home so that you can attack at the first sign of water absorption.

Are you one to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation? Once a month is the recommended usage for a pair of POW gloves and it’s a pretty safe recommendation for other leather gloves too. One tube of Waterproofing Wax for Leather should set you up for the season. It’s only $8.50 and can be purchased at pretty much any outdoor retailer.

Are you more of a laid back, “it’s cool, I’m sure the gloves will do their job” type? Then at least apply the Waterproofing Wax for Leather the day you purchase the gloves or before their inaugural pow day. The gloves do COME WITH the packet! Sheesh.

Looking for new leather gloves? Check out the selections from our partners: Dakine, POW, Black Diamond, Burton, FlyLow, 686, Howl, Marmot, and Eddie Bauer.


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Meet Helge Pedersen. He May Be Living Your Dream Life.

Ride to Sosusvlei

There’s a map of the world on Helge Pederson’s website that shows what seems to be countries’ borders outlined in red. Then it hits you. The red lines aren’t boundaries; they are a crimson visual of all the miles Pederson has traveled on his BMW R80GS motorcycle.

Over the course of 10 years and 250,000 miles, Pedersen rode his way around the world. Though his circumnavigation was complete, his wanderlust and curiosity were far from sated. Between his original trip and ensuing adventures, he’s visited over 100 countries on six continents on his bike.

Recently, Pedersen joined the Nikwax Faction pro team. With his home base in Seattle, Pedersen still spends plenty of time exploring the world with other travel enthusiasts, via his motorcycle touring company Globeriders. “Enthusiasts” and “touring” are far too subtle terms for the type of riders and adventures Globeriders caters to.

Take for example the first trip Globeriders offers in 2014: Cape Town to Paris. Yes, that Cape Town. South Africa to France via the east side of Africa, a swing through the deserts of the Middle East and on to hug the coast of the Mediterranean Sea before hanging a right to the City of Lights. Pedersen and three other riders will take 115 days to cover 25,000-km. This is not a tour. This is an expedition.

As of this posting, Pedersen is en-route to South Africa. When they start their engines to begin the African-Middle Eastern-European odyssey, you can follow along via a Live!Journal on the Globeriders site.

Nikwax is proud to sponsor Helge Pedersen in his pursuit of modern-day adventure and global understanding. We’ll be following the trip with wonder and fair shake of envy. Safe travels!


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How To Clean and Waterproof Fabric and Leather Combination Gloves

waterproof glovesCleaning and waterproofing your gloves is easy with Nikwax!

Why should you take care of your gloves? Well, it extends their life and saves you money. Think about it—you don’t buy a car and never service it or change the oil! Taking care of your gloves is kind of the same thing.

How, exactly, should you clean your gloves, especially when they’re made of both leather and fabric?

Easy. Grab some Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel (seems odd, but trust us!), wet your gloves and scrub away! Rinse, and there you have it: clean gloves.

Now to the part you were waiting for: waterproofing! Use Nikwax Glove Proof for waterproofing all fabric & leather combination gloves. While your gloves are still wet, apply the Glove Proof all over. Wait a few minutes, wipe off any excess and let them air dry.

Easy, right? Footwear Cleaning Gel to clean, Glove Proof to keep ‘em dry.

How frequently should you do this? At least twice a season (beginning and end), but it can’t hurt to do it more regularly.

Your hands will thank you.

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