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


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How often should I clean my jacket?

Q: How often should I clean my jacket? 

A: Every month.

No really. Even GORE-TEX product experts recommend cleaning your jacket every month. Keeping your jacket clean is one of the best ways to preserve its useful life. Dirt, smoke, and even body oils and sweat can wreak havoc on many aspects of your jacket. Your body oils and sweat can cause the seam tape and lining of your jacket to break down more quickly. Dirt, grime, and smoke can mask the water-repellent coating, making your jacket wet out faster. “Wetting out” is when water soaks into the surface fabric of your jacket. This is bad, as a wet jacket is not a breathable jacket, and you will get wet from the inside. (See image below.)

jacket_sandwich_nodwr_colorBy washing your jacket, you remove all these harmful contaminants, thereby allowing your jacket to perform at its best. Be mindful though! Cleaning with regular detergents can lead to other issues. Household detergents leave behind a water-attracting residue that can cause your jacket to wet out; similar to dirt, oil, and grime. The safest bet is to always clean with a technical cleaner, like Nikwax Tech Wash, or Nikwax Down Wash if your jacket is down-filled. Tech Wash and Down Wash are soap-based cleaners that are formulated to not leave behind any water-attracting residue. They are also biodegradable and never tested on animals.

Almost all jackets are safe to simply wash in your washing machine- it’s easy! However, if your jacket is down-filled, make sure to use a front-loading machine, as agitators in top loaders can bash up the delicate down feathers. Lastly: always check your garment’s care label before washing.

Enjoy your clean, high-performing jacket!

how to clean your jacket


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For 2014: Our commitment to environmental stewardship continues

Increased temperatures resulting from a warming climate will cause an increase in sea ice melt.

Increased temperatures resulting from a warming climate will cause an increase in sea ice melt. Photo courtesy National Center for Atmospheric Research

While science without passion may be dull, passion without science can tilt dangerously toward ignorance.

As we enter our 37th year, Nikwax remains as dedicated as ever to backing our passion with science for the good of the environment and your family’s well being.

In November 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put out its fifth annual report titled, “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis.” This report underscores the impact of a changing climate, and, we hope, will have the effect of increasing awareness of our responsibility to curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Consider:

  • Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.
  • Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.
  • The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.
  • [There is a very high confidence in the reliability of models that] reproduce observed continental-scale surface temperature patterns and trends over many decades, including the more rapid warming since the mid-20th century and the cooling immediately following large volcanic eruptions.

We cannot debate the earth is in a warming trend. The only conceivable debate – which seems to be driven more by politics than science – is how human behaviors are affecting the rate of change. To this, the IPCC report finds:

  • Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes. This evidence for human influence has grown since [the last IPCC report in 2007].
  • It is extremely likely [emphasis provided by IPCC] that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.
  • Warming will continue to exhibit interannual-to- decadal variability and will not be regionally uniform.
  • The global ocean will continue to warm during the 21st century. Heat will penetrate from the surface to the deep ocean and affect ocean circulation.
  • It is very likely that the Arctic sea ice cover will continue to shrink and thin and that Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover will decrease during the 21st century as global mean surface temperature rises. Global glacier volume will further decrease.
  • Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped. This represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of CO2.

We quote these findings as the deep snow mecca of Lake Tahoe in California is experiencing temperatures in the 50’s and historically low snowfall. Many Washington ski areas are trying to scrape by on fewer than 20-inches of snow. We concede these are but two microclimates and other regions may be at normal snowfall levels. But the inconsistent and dramatic weather patterns year-to-year are impossible to ignore.

It’s a new year and another opportunity to make a difference. As a responsible manufacturer of a global product, we acknowledge that we are part of the problem of increasing carbon emissions and a host of other environmental implications. In accepting responsibility, however, Nikwax remains steadfastly committed to minimizing negative impacts on the environment and human health.

We are:

  • The only major outdoor aftercare company to have never used aerosols or fluorocarbons.
  • Dedicated to making products that are fluorochemical-free, derived from nature-based ingredients, not tested on animals, and biodegradable.

Inherent to our philosophies and, more importantly, our practices as a company is that our environmental ethos has been central to our mission since 1980. For three years (1977 founding – 1980), Nikwax was focused solely on creating the most effective product. With our expanding consciousness regarding global environmental concerns in that time period, we made the deliberate decision to maintain our commitment to quality while only adopting formulations and practices that would not put human health or the environment at risk.

We are passionate about protecting the wild lands of the world and allowing future generations to enjoy them in the same (or better) state of health and well being. Our dedication to producing a product that is safe for your family and non-toxic to the environment is as strong as ever.

Call us fuddy-duddies, buzzkills or science geeks. We’ll take them all – so long as we can be part of the solution to protecting our natural world and encouraging your enjoyment of it.

To a healthy and happy 2014!

Further resources:

IPCC Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis


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Waterproof Your Gift Wrap

Wrapped_gift_water-drops

What’s the latest in chic gift giving? Double duty, reusable wrapping paper, naturally. Do you think Martha or Oprah or the Gwyneth-diva, herself, would EVER be caught in a rainstorm without a sumptuously wrapped hostess gift? Naturally not!

We want to shield you from the looks of disdain when you show up on a sleety December night for the office Secret Santa party toting a sopping, ink-bleeding box of ugly. Why? Because we love you.

Anyone who is anyone is waterproofing their gift wrap.

After all, in a world that puts no pressure on us to be perfect or ideal parents or domestic divas/dudes or wildly successful businesspeople, what’s another 24-hours and 15 bucks to ensure your beautifully adorned package can withstand a little torrential downpour?

We know there’s nothing you’d rather do with that excess time and money!

Very simple steps to waterproofing your festive gift wrap:

  1. Buy festive gift wrap. Don’t worry. The paper you choose is only supposed to represent your level of class, taste, sophistication and socioeconomic standing. No pressure.
  2. Return home and begin a gourmet, five-star meal that your family can eat picnic style. The dining room table will be dedicated to waterproofing printed snowmen this eve.
  3. Cover aforementioned dining room in old sheets or black plastic. Nikwax may be biodegradable and non-toxic, but we are not messy. If the temps are warm enough, you may contemplate setting up shop outside for ease.
  4. Using  Nikwax TX.Direct Spray-On, spray one side of the wrapping paper to achieve full, ample coverage. Now, channel your inner, angst-ridden artiste and smooth the TX.Direct with a clean paint brush.
  5. Allow to dry.
  6. Make a martini.
  7. Enjoy the martini.
  8. Flip paper over and repeat steps 4-7.Once both sides are dry, water flicked onto the wrap will bead up – just like your favorite outdoor gear.
  9. Wrap that present and walk through rain, sleet, snow or hail with the glory of your ultimate green fashion on display.
  10. Smile with self-satisfied smugness… and make darn sure nobody rips that wrap when they open the present.

You are the ultimate environmentalista. It only takes time and money. And, who doesn’t have both of those in spades?

Happy Holidays,

Your fashionable green-loving friends at Nikwax

P.S. We may be joking around in this post, but Nikwax TX.Direct Spray-On is sincerely an effective waterproofer for paper. If you think you can teach your kids not to rip through gift wrap, this may be a legitimate option to reuse it for many years to come. Better than a holiday-themed landfill, at any rate. Even better, paint your own affordable butcher paper before waterproofing with TX.Direct Spray-On. Now you’ve got an afternoon of fun, gift wrap and frame-able art. Happy Holidays!


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Nikwax Guide to Giving Gifts that Keep on Giving

Christmaspresents

In terms of gift-giving, what is important this holiday season is giving your beloved family something they’ll love and that will last. The best gifts have a personal, perhaps even hidden, meaning that take the art of giving to inspired levels. And we’ve got a few thoughtful gift ideas that will leave those on your list feeling merry and bright! 

For: Your mom who is always cold

Gift: Merino wool sweater

Stocking stuffer accompaniment for longevity: Nikwax Wool Wash

Brownie Points: 10 of 10

Wool hasn’t experienced this level of popularity since the Shackleton era. It’s not the cycles of fashion. It’s because wool is nature’s star performer and top of the line Merino wool apparel companies are sticklers for quality. The soft hand, the sleek silhouette and the incomparable warmth will earn you an extra slice of pie, if not a larger slice of the inheritance.

For: Your dad who complains about the thermostat being too high

Gift: A lightweight, stretch fleece

Stocking stuffer accompaniment for longevity: Nikwax Polar Proof

Brownie Points: 8 of 10 from Dad and 10 of 10 from Mom

Let’s face it. As a gross generalization, dads don’t get overly excited about clothes. Just explain that this comfy piece of Americana will go directly from his morning jog, to watching football on the couch, to working on his pet project in the backyard. One-stop dressing=brilliant! Bonus: Mom’s Merino wool get-up is bound to be warmer than Dad’s lightweight fleece, thereby solving the age-old argument of where to keep the indoor temperature. You’ve saved Christmas and a marriage. Well done, you!

For: Your recent college graduate sister who is moving to a resort town for “just one year” while she finds herself

Gift: A down puffy jacket

Stocking stuffer accompaniment: Nikwax Down Wash and Down Proof

Brownie Points: 10 of 10… eventually

She doesn’t know this yet, but no one escapes the siren song of a resort town in “just one year.” She also doesn’t realize that her rent and heating bills will be exorbitant, even after splitting them evenly among her five roommates. Nor has it settled in that her down jacket will be her go-to layer every day this winter. It may take her some time to accept these realities, but she’ll thank you eventually.

For: The annoying uncle who snorts with laughter over the humiliating stories of you as an awkward pre-teen

Gift: Nikwax Rug Proof

Stocking stuffer accompaniment: Nothing! He’s lucky you kept him on your list in the first place.

Brownie Points: Depends how earnestly you can deliver the present

You’ll say it’s for protecting the horse blankets at the thoroughbred stables he bought for your bratty, spoiled cousin. But we all know it’s for that rat-tastic toupee he sports with no sense of irony or dignity.

Editor’s Note: Nikwax neither recommends nor condones use of Rug Proof as a toupee cleaner. 


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Soft Shell 101

softshell_blog1

In the late 1990’s, soft shell (also spelled “softshell”) outerwear hit the marketplace with a bang. Almost overnight, the stretchy fabric became the telltale mark of “serious” outdoorspeople. Soft shells continue to excel as a go-to piece for outdoor play. Today we present: everything you’ve always wanted to know about soft shell fabrics…

1. What exactly is a “soft shell” anyway?

Any synthetic outerwear with stretch, moderate water- and wind-resistance, and high breathability can be considered a soft shell. As fabric technology evolves, the line between hard shell and soft shell gets murkier. Today, there are hard shells that feel a bit like traditional soft shells with high breathability and stretch. There are also membrane soft shells, which will feel like a hard shell with a bit more stretch.

Recognizable ingredient brand names: Polartec, Shoeller and Gore-Tex Soft Shell, plus many branded options from manufacturers.

2. What are the pros and cons soft shells?

  • Pros
    • Breathability. Soft shells provide plenty of protection from (most of) the elements with greater breathability than hard shells. Excellent for aerobic activities like running and ski touring.
    • Stretch. When you need to have greater freedom of movement, such as with climbing or Nordic skiing, added stretch is a huge bonus.
    • Warmth. Soft shells are not sold as insulators, per se, but in moderate temperatures one soft shell can do the job of a hard shell and a fleece combo.
  • Cons
    • Resistance. Soft shells can be slightly less wind and water resistant than hard shells.
    • Weight. If you require super light gear for your latest epic, soft shells generally aren’t as light as hard shells.

3. Do soft shells require special care?

Nothing beyond proper cleaning and occasional waterproofing! The vast majority of soft shells can and should be washed in the home washing machine (always double check the label). Wash with Nikwax Tech Wash – alone or with other gear for which Tech Wash is appropriate. As needed, do a secondary wash with Nikwax SoftShell Proof to revive your soft shell’s water-resistance back to original levels.

4. Do I need soft shell gear?

If you can answer yes to either of the following questions it may be time to add soft shell gear to your performance wardrobe.

  • Do I participate in sports where I’m likely to sweat a lot?
  • When I’m outside, is it usually snowy or clear, as opposed to rainy or sleety?

Here’s to fun, warm, safe and dry outdoor play!


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Ode to the Fleece

polar fleece

It becomes an afterthought. You throw it on while you pore over stats and specs for this winter’s ski gear. It’s the layer you wear when you go shopping for your new parka. It’s seen the four corners of the Earth, the inside of your local grocery, innumerable National Parks, and more happy hours than any of us will admit.

It’s your fleece. The only thing more ubiquitous than a fleece jacket (or vest) is the near universal attitude of indifference we have toward them.

For those old enough to remember, there was a time when you peacocked your fleece jacket as the mark of a true outdoorsperson. Things were a little bulkier back then and this may have turned the tide of public opinion for a spell. But in the 2000’s, fleece technology and performance has advanced to the point where we know manufacturers by name (we’re talking to you, Polartec). Top brands tout its inclusion as a premium selling point.

In all likelihood your fleece has been with you longer than any other gear, yet somehow you never tell your friends about it or compare performance characteristics with their own version. What it lacks in sartorial appeal, it more than makes for in functional savoir faire. Think about it, your fleece has:

  1. Been with you on every backpacking trip as a lightweight, multi-tasking layer and superior pillow,
  2. Accompanied you so frequently on your globe-trotting adventures that you’re kicking yourself for not having secured a unique air mileage card for it,
  3. Been permeated with the scent of fire, be it from a campfire, barbeque or the mysterious burn holes it’s acquired from a life of unrequited love and hard knocks,
  4. Received more hugs than any other item of clothing because of the sheer number of days it’s been worn. There’s: the post-expedition bro-hug, the first day of school teary hug, the comforting bad day hug, the haven’t seen an old friend in a long time hug, the proud of you for your accomplishment hug and the “I-don’t-care-I’m-covered-in-dog-hair” hug, and
  5. Been up close and personal to every element Mother Nature and her cohort (i.e. you) have been able to conjure up. Water (rain, river trips, morning surf sessions), earth (mountain biking, gardening), fire (see above), and air (the wind on a sailboat, the crisp breeze when summiting a peak).

Be loud, be proud and make peace with your fleece. It’s here to stay and you know that makes you as happy as a two-year old hearing he can bring his woobie on the road trip. We celebrate the humble fleece – the workhorse of the closet and the backpack and the commuter – with our new, reformulated Nikwax Polar Proof.

With a few ounces in the wash, Polar Proof breathes new life into your fleece. It won’t add weight or change the appearance, but the specialized formulation adds water repellency to an otherwise sponge-like fabric. Polar Proof also maintains the crucial air gap between the knit and the weave that is the essence of the highly breathable, warmth-to-weight comfort of fleece.

Your fleece has been around long enough that some cultures would consider you legally bound by default. But we know you’re bound by love and we want to ensure you have a long, happy future together. We’re Nikwax: it’s what we do.


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True confessions: we’ve neglected our gear, too

Just like "Old Yellow," this faithful jacket was abused and forgotten—for a while. Fortunately, we salvaged it before it crawled into the dumpster.

Just like “Old Yellow,” this faithful jacket was abused and forgotten—for a while. Fortunately, we salvaged it before it crawled into the dumpster.

The smell was ungodly. Every time I cracked open my dry bag, the stench brought tears of disgust and pain to my eyes. At first, the smell just made me feel a little dirty – nothing over the top.

It wasn’t until Day 13 of a 16-day mid-August Grand Canyon river trip that I realized the bag had taken on a life of its own. This odor was different. It wasn’t just unpleasant; it was downright rancid. While I recognized something was amiss, I ignored the warning signs. But on that fateful day, the sky opened up and the first rain shower we’d had since the put-in sent us scattering to grab rain gear.

I excavated my cherished lemon yellow raincoat from the offending bag.

Some background: I had coveted this coat since childhood. It was a classic happy yellow, just what the Morton salt girl would wear if she were a Gore-Tex junkie. This coat was my partner. One time, its near-neon yellow visibility saved a group of 30 tourists from careening off a cliff on fog-encased glacier in Switzerland. True story. It held up on a backpacking trip to hell and back. It was neither flattering, nor stylish, but I loved this raincoat with all my heart.

As the rain pummeled us, I slipped it on without a care, though I couldn’t help gagging on the smell.

“Dummy,” I thought to myself. “You put a damp coat into a compressed dry bag for 13 days in 100-degree heat. It’s molded and ruined!” It was moldy, alright, but this mold had nothing to do with being put away wet.

This mold was the result of absolute neglect: a slice of cheese and a dry bag warming to incomprehensible heat in the hot Arizona sun.

You see, the night before the put-in on a raft trip is always hectic event, especially in the rain. You’ve been planning the trip for ages and you’re jockeying to rig boats. When I picked up the cheese slice that someone dropped, I threw it in my pocket… until I could make my way to the garbage cans. At least that was the plan.

I’ve not researched the full catalog of fibers cheese mold can adhere to and successfully colonize, but I can now say with confidence that waterproof/durable, lemon yellow raincoat fiber is one. In the petri dish of a rubber dry bag, heated to a consistency far above average body temperature for a fortnight, that mold will not only survive, it will flourish.

Too mortified to tell anyone that I’d been conducting inadvertent chemical experiments the entirety of our trip, I stealthily pushed my raincoat into a plastic trash bag and rode out the remaining three days of the trip with a lingering odor that people noticed but were too kind to mention.

Back at home, there were only two options for Old Yellow: the trashcan or the washing machine. First, I turned the jet hose on it. The stink was stronger than my will.

As a last ditch effort, I threw it the washing machine and poured in some Tech Wash, as that was my habit. Had I stopped to think about it, I would have poured in the most toxic stink-fighter I could find. Instead, I berated myself for “wasting” the Tech Wash.

One wash with Tech Wash gave me hope. We weren’t in the clear, but you had to bury your nose in the jacket in order to smell the cheesy aftereffects. The second wash brought the world back into equilibrium: zero stink and no evidence of mold. The third wash was really just a hopeful attempt to erase the mold hangover in my mind.

Six years later and I’m proud the say my yellow raincoat is still with me and performing like a champion. I may have put her through the ringer, but sweet redemption is ours from the Great Grand Canyon Cheese Episode. —Brook Sutton