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


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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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Attack of the killer detergent: The Nikwax Difference

killer-detergent

It begins innocently enough. First, you figure what harm could it possibly do? I’ll wash my jacket just this once with my regular laundry detergent. Before long, that harmless “regular” laundry detergent has become a gateway to the serious stuff: fabric softeners, boosters, oxidizers…

And your outdoor excursions become significantly less comfortable.

We’re not out to bash grocery store detergents. They are effective cleaners for a good majority of our clothes, just not our performance gear.

Think of it this way: You don’t buy a $200,000 Ferrari for use as a family truckster. You buy it for performance. It follows that you wouldn’t toss 200-Gs on a car and fill it up with regular gas that’s designed for a Ford Fiesta. You maintain the Ferrari with premium gas and oil that will keep it performing as it’s designed to perform.

Let’s bring that example a little closer to home. The average cost for a high performance, all-weather jacket is about $400. Washing it with detergent equates to diminishing returns on your investment with every rinse and spin cycle. The basis of all of this boils down to the chemistry of soaps and detergents.

Gettin’ down with chemistry

Believe it or not, but the first barrier to cleaning any garment is water. Specifically it’s the surface tension of water. When left to its own devices, water prefers to stick together by forming droplets. Good when you’re outside in a storm. Bad when you’re trying to clean your jacket.

To remove the oils, sweat, dirt and grime that inhibit our gear’s performance, we need a cleaner of some sort. Water alone will not cut the mustard. Literally.

That leaves two options: a soap (such as Nikwax products) or a detergent (typical grocery store brands laundry cleaners). Soaps are derived from botanical oils or animal fats. Detergents are derived from synthetic or petroleum-based oils. They both work to break down the surface tension of water so the cleaners can connect with the dirt and oils on the fabrics.

You can see where this is leading, right? A life of confusion.

Soaps and detergents each have molecules that are amphiphilic – having both hydrophilic (water-loving) and hydrophobic (water-hating) ends. One side distracts the water by breaking down its surface tension, while the other side makes a pass at the oils the water won’t associate with.

As the hydrophobic side of the cleaner (chemical energy) dances with the oils, the warmth of the water (thermal energy) and the agitation of washing machine (mechanical energy) helps to break down and separate the mess.

At this stage it may seem like the only advantage soap has over detergent is the “natural” derivation.

Just wait. There’s more.

Along comes the rinse cycle

Remember how the molecules of both soaps and detergents have hydrophilic and hydrophobic sides? No big deal if you’re washing a cotton T-shirt. But if you’re washing a $400 jacket, you want that puppy to exit the washing machine with a serious case of hydrophobia.

This is where Nikwax cleaners excel.

Conventional laundry detergents can leave behind hydrophilic (umm… water-loving) residue, which counters the performance of the durable water repellency (DWR). Nikwax soap-based cleaners do not.

Nikwax cleaners are specially formulated for the different types of fabrics they treat. In the case of waterproof/breathable fabrics, like Gore-Tex, Nikwax Tech Wash is a soap-based cleaner that will not leave behind hydrophilic residue.

Since Nikwax does not leave that residue, it will not impede your jacket’s water-repelling performance. Great, right?

We think so.

Bottom line

With your safety and comfort on the line, not to mention the notable economic investment of your outdoor apparel, it is worth the effort to wash your jacket with Nikwax. This guarantees not only a clean piece of gear, but also additional protection and enhanced performance. And who can argue with that?


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The Fine Art of Tailgating

tailgate

The ball crosses into the End Zone. High fives and cheers surround you. Someone picks you up and raises you over the crowd. A cooler full of Gatorade pours down over your head.

Wait a minute.

That’s not Gatorade. You didn’t score the winning touchdown. You’re in the parking lot listening to the big game on the radio with the rest of your fellow coeds who would rather save money for tuition, books or a ski pass.

And don’t fool yourself; that was a can of PBR your buddy shook over your head. Just because you’re not throwing down for tickets at the fifty-yard line, doesn’t mean you’re not going to tailgate with the best of ‘em.

This. Is. College.

Tailgating is an art, albeit an interpretative one. There are a few non-negotiables: a cooler, a barbeque within a three-car range, some body paint, beer (or sodas, naturally, for the parents who are reading) and a die-hard attitude. Tailgaters don’t give up if sun beats down. Tailgaters don’t run for cover when the skies open up. You are a tenacious breed; you are a fan.

For ice, go cubes only, no blocks. The barbeque? Charcoal hibachi all the way. Body paint is up to you, but please remember photos on the Internet are forever.

Where does Nikwax come into the ritual?

Nikwax gives you the confidence of knowing that you’ll be dry and comfortable regardless of what the skies serve up. Whether you show up to campus with the swankiest waterproof/breathable jacket, or you pack your trusty fleece pullover that’s been with you since your Sweet 16. We’ve got you covered.

Since you’re in the mode, here’s a pop quiz:

1. What Nikwax product should you use to waterproof your outerwear?

a)    TX.Direct, for waterproof/breathable fabrics and synthetics

b)    Down Proof, for down jackets and vests

c)    Softshell Proof, for… use your applied logic

d)    Cotton Proof, to add oomph to a fabric not known for it’s water-beading ability

e)    Polar Proof, for fleece

f)      All of the above

2. Is applying Nikwax as easy as running a cycle in the dorm washing machine?

a)    Yes.

b)    No

Answers:

1.    F

2.    A

Let’s hope that’s not a duplicate to your first semester grades.

You are now tested, proven and ready, uber fan! Waterproofing for game day may mean protecting your outerwear for more than inclement weather. We’re just sayin’.

So save money, be confident and suit up. There’s a game going on and a bratwurst with your name on it. Get out there and have fun. Your team needs you to be worry-free, come rain, snow or carbonated adult beverage.


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A Four-Stage Plan for Preventing Cold Hands

NW_GloveCareHow can we put this delicately? Cold hands suck.

If our subjective analysis isn’t persuasive enough, check out the medical proof. The ulnar and radial arteries deliver warmed blood to the hands. As ambient temperature drops, vessels constrict and blood flow slows overall. With less blood going to the extremities, they get cold. That is uncomfortable.

If you’re a woman or an athlete, there’s a good chance you may already have lower blood pressure than other folks. If that’s the case, your body auto-corrects in cold temps and directs blood flow to the heart and away from your fingers and tootsies. Warm heart, cold hands.

That doesn’t mean you’re doomed to suffer through frigid extremities. With a little groundwork to find the right mitts and some consistent TLC throughout said mitt’s lifetime, you can keep your digits warm. Warm fingers, happy heart.

Stage 1: Preparation. Armed with medical proof and forgoing the option of eating a bacon-only diet to raise your blood pressure, stage one is simple. Buy good gloves. That means you should not skimp. That means plunking down at least a C-note on the right gloves.

This might seem extreme, but good gloves incorporate high-tech materials, innovative water-proofing, and superior insulation. This matters because if there is anything we can say with more certainty than “cold hands suck,” it’s that wet gloves are a direct route to miserably cold hands.

Stage 2: Proof. After plunking down a small fortune on quality gloves, the next logical step is to make your investment last. It’s not just an investment in sweet gear; it’s an investment in comfort, well-being and the ability to stay out longer and play harder.

We recommend adding your own waterproofing regimen at home using the Nikwax Glove Proof or Waterproofing Wax for Leather.

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Black Diamond Kingpin Glove

Stage 3: Play. If this isn’t self-explanatory, please step outside for inspiration.

Stage 4: Prolong. Add years to your mitts (and warmth to your hands) with some easy care tips.

  • After every use, allow them to thoroughly dry in the open air. Don’t overdo the heat (a.k.a. blast them with a hair dryer) if they’re leather.
  • Apply waterproofing as frequently as your climate demands.
  • Before storing for the summer, take a close look. Do you need to clean or condition the leather? While ski gloves rarely need an intense cleaning, some gloves for motorcycles and other activities will highly benefit. Add a deep waterproofing treatment and allow to dry. If possible, store flat without squishing.

Bonus: Daily Tips for Warm Hands

  • When you know you’re looking at a cold day of Arctic proportions, start out with portable hand warmers. The best strategy is to never let yourself get cold in the first place. Warmers keep the edge off.
  • Manage sweat. Nikwax will keep the elements from getting in, but you’re on your own when mitigating sweaty paws. Take gloves off whenever you have a moment to cool and dry hands.


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Nikwax Supports Recent Greenpeace Report to Ban Harsh Chemicals

A recent study by Greenpeace reports on levels of perfluorinated compounds (also known as PFCs) used in the production of outdoor apparel. PFCs are bio-persistent chemicals that are linked to a range of human health problems (see selected bibliography for studies). Many companies use PFCs to add water repellent finishes to apparel and gear.

Nikwax has been arguing against the use of fluorocarbon chemicals (PFCs) in aftercare products for over ten years. We have highlighted their environmentally persistent nature, and the studies linking them to reduced fertility, damaged immune systems in children and other negative health impacts.

In the industry, a so called “C8” chemistry to define PFCs is considered harmful. More commonly, we hear that a “C6” version is safer. At Nikwax, we have not seen any convincing evidence to support this. And, in line with the recommendations of the Greenpeace report, we will continue to exclude ALL (including C6) PFCs from our products.

We would like to reassure our customers, dealers and industry partners that NONE of the products in the Nikwax aftercare range contain PFCs of any kind. Most PFCs used in the industry until now have been based on so called “C8” chemistry. It is now common to hear the argument that shorter PFCs, such as the “C6” versions are safe. At Nikwax we have not seen any convincing evidence of this, and in line with the recommendations of the Greenpeace report, we will continue to exclude C6 PFCs from our products.

Many look to “eco labels” to determine the chemical safety of products. Greenpeace warns us of the dangers in assuming an “eco label” automatically means PFC-free. Most of the common standards do not currently prohibit the use of PFCs.

Part of the Greenpeace report calls on the Outdoor Industry to find immediate alternatives to PFCs. The good news is that alternatives exist because PFCs are not necessary to achieve high standards of effective waterproofing. All Nikwax waterproofing products are a safer alternative.

Please view our environmental page for detailed information. Feel free to write us with any questions or concerns.