Posted on Leave a comment

How to extend the life of your waxed cotton jacket

Waxed Cotton jackets are known for being incredibly durable and having that ‘timeless’ style. Although they are primarily synonymous with country pursuits, the waxed cotton jacket is also now in use across town and country lifestyles because of its versatility.

Whether you already own one or are looking to purchase your first to add to your outdoor kit, it is essential that you know how to maintain it. After all, nothing lasts forever without love and attention!

Firstly, never wash your waxed cotton jacket in the washing machine or dry it in a tumble dryer – both methods can cause irreversible damage to the waxed coating that gives you the protection you need.

Clean and Proof with Nikwax

Our easy-to-use aftercare is the effective way to  keep your waxed cotton jacket waterproof and in great condition, so you stay dry and comfortable time and again. A clean with Tech Wash®, followed by a proof with Wax Cotton Proof will ensure your jacket stays as good as new.

Just see how simple it is….

Posted on Leave a comment

How to keep sports kit as good as new!

You’ve invested in new base layers and sports shoes to help you reach peak performance whether running or cycling, or spending time at the gym. Why is it then after just a few activity sessions your gear is smelling bad, even though you only recently washed it?

The answer is simple – you have not been using appropriate aftercare!

Standard detergent and fabric conditioner will not care for your gear effectively. If you wash your technical clothing and base layers ‘normally’ then the products you use will impair their wicking capabilities. Why? Because they will prevent your sweat spreading across the fabric and drying quickly, whilst also causing body oils to build-up and encourage bacterial growth, which is what causes the smell.

The same applies to footwear – tempted as you may be to put sports shoes in the washing machine, please don’t! Their breathability will be reduced and your standard detergents will prevent moisture from being directed out, resulting in damp and stinky footwear which, over time, might even start to fall apart due to degradation.

Nikwax is the reliable, and cost-effective, means to keep your gear in prime condition – sports kit will last longer and save you money…

How do you use it? Very easily is the answer!

Watch our quick videos to see how our market-leading products will enhance the performance of your kit – without breaking the bank – ensuring you stay fresher and drier for longer.

BaseWash® – the high performance cleaner for all synthetic base layers

Sandal & Sports Shoe Wash – the ultimate deodorising cleaner for all non-waterproof footwear

Posted on Leave a comment

How Nikwax keeps your feet feeling fresh in walking boots, sports shoes and sandals

July is officially sticky season, with time spent outdoors in the sunshine resulting in sweaty, smelly feet. Throw some walking boots into the mix and keeping your feet feeling fresh and comfortable on the tracks and trails presents even more of a challenge. Our water-based, PFC-free cleaning and waterproofing products have been developed to help maintain the breathability and longevity of your footwear, whether you walk in boots, trainers or sandals.

 STEP 1 – CLEANING
Whatever footwear you choose for your outdoor adventures this summer, by keeping them clean, you’ll be one step closer to having fresh, comfortable feet…

Footwear Cleaning Gel
Walking boots and shoes naturally gather dirt and contaminants through use, which, unfortunately, impair their ability to repel water and breathe. Keeping your waterproof footwear clean, therefore, is paramount to stopping your feet feeling clammy and uncomfortable.  Footwear Cleaning Gel not only cleans very effectively, but it also revitalises the Durable Water Repellency (DWR) – causing water to bead up and roll off your footwear – and maintains breathability.  Read more here.

Sandal & Sports Shoe Wash
Trainers and sandals are particularly unforgiving when the weather is hot and sunny. Over time, their contact with your bare feet or sweaty socks leads to a build-up of dirt, sweat and body oils, which in turn leads to bacterial growth and bad odours! Sandal & Sports Shoe Wash is a highly effective cleaner and deodoriser for non-waterproof footwear, including insoles and footbeds. Repeat-use will keep your feet feeling fresh and comfortable in the height of summer. Read more here.

STEP 2 – PROOFING

When cleaning alone no longer does the job, it’s time to re-proof your footwear. Whatever your boot or shoe type, we have the product for the job…

Leather walking boots/shoes
Whilst leather footwear is hardwearing, breathable and provides a high level of support, without regular maintenance its breathability is reduced – particularly if your boots become wet. As summer downpours can often catch us by surprise, it is vital to be ready for all weather eventualities! Waterproofing Wax for Leather not only revitalises the breathability of leather footwear and maintains its suppleness, but it also provides instant waterproofing. Read more here.

Fabric & leather walking boots/shoes
As with leather-only footwear, boots and shoes made from more than one material require specialist treatment to keep them performing at their best. Clammy, uncomfortable feet can be easily avoided if you regularly treat your combination footwear with Fabric & Leather Proof. It leaves a flexible, water repellent treatment on the individual fibres of the fabric and leather whilst allowing moisture vapour to pass through, maintaining breathability. Read more here.

Nubuck & suede walking boots/shoes
Nubuck and suede leathers are softer and fuzzier than traditional smooth leathers and should be protected with a product that is gentle as well as robust. Nubuck & Suede Proof has been specifically designed and optimised for these more delicate materials, providing reliable DWR and improving breathability without compromising their special textures. Read more here.

Don’t just take it from us that our products are the best in the business, read what footwear giants Merrell®, Anatom® and KEEN® have to say about Nikwax…

Merrell works with Nikwax because the global #1 outdoor footwear brand wants to work with the global #1 footwear aftercare brand! Caring for your shoes ensures they will continue to perform as well as they did fresh out of the box. Plus, Nikwax’s environmental approach, carbon offset and fully recyclable packaging is something the whole industry can aspire to.”

“At Anatom, we see waterproofness, breathability, and aftercare as a concentric circle. Without aftercare, the waterproofness and breathability of footwear suffers greatly. We have worked with Nikwax from day one because they are a company who share the same values as we do in terms of the environment, and our impact on it. We also appreciate the fact Nikwax is water-based, which makes it very easy to use! Their footwear cleaning, conditioning and proofing products are the best in the world and that is why we promote Nikwax to all our new customers and established users.”

KEEN is a leader in the footwear industry and we recommend treating your shoes with an environmentally safe waterproofing product like Nikwax to keep them protected and stain-free.”

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Camp happy under canvas this summer with Nikwax Cotton Proof

Now the camping season is underway, with (finally) longer, warmer and drier days, if you haven’t already, it’s time to dust off your tent and prepare it for a summer of cool boxes and campfires…

Nikwax are masters in the art of caring for camping kit and our Tent & Gear waterproofing products clean and protect synthetic tents the world over. 

However, did you know we also cater for cotton canvas tents? Whilst they come with a higher price tag (and weight) than traditional synthetic tents, the benefits of canvas tents are vast, with people choosing them for their sustainability, weather reliance, spaciousness, strength, and breathability.  In fact, circular canvas shelters have existed in various forms for hundreds of years!

Despite their inherent durability, like all wet weather fabrics, cotton canvas tents still need to be cared for if they are to keep performing at their best and keeping you warm, dry, and comfortable. Nikwax Cotton Proof is the ultimate waterproofing product for tents, gazebos, awnings and hammocks, and is extremely easy to use by hand. The result? Fabric durability, breathability and waterproofness are all enhanced, improving the quality of your camping trip.

To clean your tent and protect it from the degrading effects of UV exposure, follow these three very easy steps:

PITCH

Trust us when we say that cleaning and proofing a cotton canvas tent that is flat on the ground is a palaver! To do the job quickly and properly, we highly recommend you pitch your tent first. This will also help you identify any areas for repair.

CLEAN

Spray Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarWash® evenly over the outside of the cotton canvas fabric and rub it in well (a cloth or sponge will do the trick) before rinsing it with clean water. This will not only clean, but also add UV protection to your tent, preventing UV deagradation and extending the life of the fabric.

PROOF

Whilst the fabric is still wet, mix Nikwax Cotton Proof with water (1 part product to 9 parts water) and apply the liquid evenly to the outside of your tent with a sponge or brush. After a couple of minutes remove any surplus product and allow your tent to dry completely before packing it away. Job done! 

Check out our ‘how to’ video for a visual guide…

To celebrate National Camping Month, we’ve teamed up with tree tent brand Tentsile® to offer Nikwax subscribers 10% off all orders over £200 at www.tentsile.com. With a huge range of tree tents, hammocks, and accessories to choose from, your camping holiday could be about to get a lot more fun!  Use code Nikwax10 when placing your order online.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

How to protect and revitalise your wet weather gear with Nikwax

There is nothing better than escaping into nature for fitness, relaxation, and general wellbeing. However, wet weather gear that is not properly cared for can impede your enjoyment of it. Regularly cleaning and proofing your clothing and footwear with Nikwax will not only keep it performing better, for longer, it will also save you money and help keep textile waste out of landfill.

So, to beat the April showers and get the very best out of your waterproof kit this spring, read up on our aftercare guidance below…

Why do I need to clean technical waterproof clothing and footwear regularly?
Because general wear, weather conditions, terrain, dirt, and contaminants will all take their toll. No matter the cost or technicality of your wet weather gear, the durable water repellent (DWR) coating (that prevents water absorption) will wear away and items will start to absorb water over time.

It is this reduction in DWR that causes you to feel clammy when active as moisture is unable to escape (breathe) through the material, causing it to build up inside your clothing or footwear instead. Plus, without due care and attention, your gear may start to degrade as bacteria can cause its material(s) to rot.

Is it difficult or expensive to clean and re-proof my gear?
Not with Nikwax! Our reliable and easy-to-use aftercare is also affordable, rejuvenating your gear and allowing you to get back outside in no time.

The Nikwax Outdoor Complete Protection Kit has everything you need to ensure you are fully protected when heading out on an adventure.

Caring for waterproof clothing
Firstly, avoid normal detergents! They are simply not suitable for technical clothing with DWR as they will leave water-attracting residues on the fabric, going against what the garments are there to do in the first place – repel water…

Tech Wash® and TX.Direct® are market-leading aftercare solutions that will enhance the performance of your waterproof gear, ensuring you stay drier for longer and your clothing remains as good as new.

To see just how quick and easy it is to clean and re-proof your wet weather gear, watch this video now.  

Caring for waterproof footwear
The same principle applies to footwear – avoid detergents that are not specifically designed for technical boots and shoes, in order to prevent water absorption and degradation of the materials.

Following a tiny bit of prep – removing excess mud – our aftercare duo will completely revive combination (fabric & leather) footwear. Clean it first with our Footwear Cleaning Gel, then follow up by proofing it with our Fabric & Leather Proof. It really is that simple.

Watch this video for the best tips on cleaning and proofing your combination footwear.

What are the benefits of using Nikwax products?
First and foremost, they are environmentally friendly aftercare solutions. They contain no PFCs or hazardous chemicals and are water-based. A key factor for us considering our love for the outdoors and our desire to protect it.

Simply cleaning with Nikwax can revive DWR, so you don’t have to re-proof every time you clean. It is only when cleaning alone no longer prevents water beading up on clothing or footwear that you should re-proof with the appropriate waterproofer.

You can save on energy. Heat is not required to develop the DWR – items can be left to air-dry.

Your clothing and footwear will last longer, which is a win-win! You don’t need to replace your favourite gear as often because our aftercare will maintain its performance, breathability, and water repellency. The result? You can enjoy the outdoors staying dry and comfortable (without over-heating, feeling clammy or feeling too cold).

Posted on Leave a comment

Prepare your kit for the upcoming snow season

Are you super-prepared and ready to hit the slopes this ski season, or, like most of us, struggling to find the time in busy lives to get snow-organised? Don’t stress, use Nikwax! The easy and cost-effective way to clean, freshen and waterproof your gear for maximum enjoyment in the mountains, Nikwax is guaranteed keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. Just follow our simple preparation steps and you’ll be ready to go…

Step 1: Clean your outerwear
Jackets and salopettes pick up more dirt than you think and if you didn’t clean them after your previous ski trip, it is most definitely time for a freshen up – hard-earned sweat and those après-ski spillages can quickly degrade waterproofing properties. First, clean the garments in your washing machine with Tech Wash® (check the garment care labels first!).

If your gear was wetting out before its clean, Tech Wash will help revitalise its Durable Water Repellency (DWR). However, if wetting out continues to occur after the cleaning cycle, it is time for a proper re-proof with TX.Direct® Wash-In. This can also be used in your washing machine, on a separate cycle. Note that for wicking linings we recommend TX.Direct Spray-On.

 

Paul Telling, Programme Director at Team Evolution, an Austrian-based British Ski Academy says:
“We tend to wear our team kit for 200-250 days a season, so we really need it to last and protect us from the wind, rain and snow. Our gear is made from high quality materials; however, it takes such a battering from the weather it is important we keep its waterproofing topped up. Whenever we clean our jackets we use Tech Wash & TX.Direct. Not only does Nikwax re-waterproof the kit and keep it breathable, it’s also simple to use. It doesn’t matter if we’re in France or South America, in a hotel or hand-washing our kit in a basin, we’re able to ensure our kit stays protected, and can therefore do its job protecting us.”

Nikwax is not heat-activated, so you can simply air-dry your gear after the cleaning and proofing process, or tumble dry it if the care label allows. It is essential to ensure your gear is completely dry before putting it away or packing it in your suitcase.

Step 2: Clean your synthetic base layers
Dirt, sweat, make up and oils from your skin all build up on base layers, which can impair their technical wicking capabilities, making temperature regulation more difficult. Regular detergents can have the same impairing effect, so it is vital you use the best cleaner for the job if you want to optimise your gear.

As Tech Wash does for outer garments, BaseWash® gently cleans synthetic base layers. Not only that, it conditions the garments too. Perfect if you have many base layers that need washing.

If you only have a couple of synthetic base layers, then pop them in a normal laundry wash and replace your regular conditioner with BaseFresh®. This high-performance conditioner allows your regular detergent to clean your items without compromising their functionality. Both BaseWash and BaseFresh will deodorise your base layers – removing built-in odour and sweat – whilst also enhancing the wicking and drying properties. Garments stay fresher for longer.

Step 3: Clean your gloves and socks
Ski gloves also pick up a lot of dirt on the slopes, which can affect their DWR resulting in damp, cold hands. Clean gloves will stay waterproof and breathable, which keeps you far more comfortable zig zagging down the mountains. After cleaning with Tech Wash, proof with Glove Proof, which is suitable for synthetic, full-grain leather, fabric & leather, and membrane fabric gloves.

In the same way hands suffer if they get damp, so do feet! Many snow sports enthusiasts choose Merino wool socks thanks to their temperature regulating and wicking properties, which need specialist care. Wool Wash – cleaner and conditioner in one – deodorises and enhances the wicking and drying performance of woollen gear, piste after piste.

“Keep your gloves and socks away from radiators! Put them next to a warm heat source instead, with enough space for the heat to circulate. If you must put your kit on a radiator, always lay a dry towel down first so you don’t have melted gloves in the morning.” Paul Telling

Step 4: look after your boots and equipment
If you are lucky enough to own a pair of boots, skis, or a snowboard, it is a good idea to service them before each trip to ensure your feet stay fully protected in all conditions. Clean the inners of your ski or snowboard boots with Sandal & Sport Shoe Wash to remove any unwanted odours and improve their wicking quality (as with socks, wet feet quickly become cold feet!).

If ski touring is your thing, you should waterproof your ski skins with Ski Skin Proof, a treatment that prevents ice building up on ski skin fibres, reducing saturation to improve glide and reduce kick.

Servicing your skis and board should, of course, include a re-wax and edge sharpen.

These recommended steps will safeguard the technical qualities of your snow sports gear, enhancing their properties and extending the life of the garments/equipment. Ensuring the longevity of your gear will not only save you money but it will boost your sustainability credentials too as you’ll be helping to keep garments out of landfill.

Posted on Leave a comment

5 key pieces of advice on how to choose and care for a down jacket…

It’s been a warm start to winter but now the weather is getting colder you can officially start the search for a new, cosy jacket if your current one has reached the end of its useable life with you. There is nothing worse than feeling the chill in plummeting temperatures and down reigns supreme for its ability to keep you insulated. There are several key things to consider when purchasing a down jacket – far more than just style, colour and fit! Check out our tips on how to make the best choice for your needs…

 1. Think carefully about the activities you will use your down jacket for…
Consider the environment you will be wearing your down jacket in and the level of activity you undergo. Will it be for daily use, such as dog walking, the school run, or travelling to work? Or will it be for occasional use whilst walking or hiking? Perhaps you have a climbing or skiing trip to look forward to, or even a winter camping expedition…

High energy activities warrant a down jacket that is lightweight, won’t restrict your movement, and won’t cause you to overheat when working hard. Less strenuous activities suit a thicker down jacket.

2. Pay attention to fill power & weight…
This is the terminology used to describe the volume of down when it is fully lofted (at its fluffiest!). A jacket with a higher fill power means the down clusters take up more space and therefore trap more air, which equates to a higher warmth-to-weight ratio (900-fill power is a better insulator than 550-fill power).

However, be aware that a high fill power doesn’t always result in a super warm down jacket. It also depends on the amount of down used. For example, an item that has 150g of 700 fill power will be less warm than an item with 300g of 550 fill power.

The benefit of lighter items is that they can be compressed down and stored away, which is useful for mountain activities where space-saving is key.

Down filled gear should always display a fill power rating so be sure to check before you buy:

Medium

400 – 500

Good

500 – 550

Very Good

550 – 750

Excellent

750 – 900

 

3. Understand the difference between natural down and synthetic fibres…
Down is an excellent insulator because it traps air between its fibres, which is what makes you feel warm and cosy, whilst being easy to compress and pack down small. However, it is susceptible to rain and snow, and down jackets that are not treated will absorb water, resulting in the down clumping, becoming heavy, and making you cold from loss of loft and insulation. It can also take a long time to dry out a down garment and restore its loft. Hydrophobic down is regular down that has been treated with a water repellent coating, meaning it has an improved ability to deal with moisture.

Synthetic fill is cheaper than down and easier to clean. However, it tends to make a jacket heavier and (sometimes) bulkier than one containing down fill. Synthetic fill is less susceptible to moisture so could be considered better for use in wet conditions. However, the jacket will not be as warm as down and may be harder to pack away if needed. It is a good solution if you suffer from allergies.

4. Buy your down jacket responsibly…
The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) aims to protect ducks and geese used for down, by incentivizing the down and feather industry to treat these animals humanely; allowing companies to know what’s in their products so they can report truthfully to consumers, and rewarding those organizations leading the way.

The key factors:

  • Live plucking is prohibited
  • Force-feeding is prohibited
  • Respect for the animals’ welfare, from hatching to slaughter is in place
  • RDS down and feathers are identified (ensuring non-RDS down is not mistaken for RDS-certified)
  • Each stage of the supply chain is audited by third party certification
  • Only products containing 100% certified down can carry the RDS logo.

5. Care for your down jacket with specialist products…
Down items require expert care to keep them performing at their best time and again; definitely do not put them in the wash with normal detergents, as these can damage the down by leaving hydrophilic (water-attracting) residues on the fabric and fill.

Nikwax Down Wash. Direct® has been created specifically for hydrophobic and regular down filled gear. It thoroughly cleans and removes all dirt and contaminants that have built up on both the outer fabric and down fill of your jacket, whilst reviving its breathability and insulation. In the case of hydrophobic down, it also revitalises the durable water repellency (DWR).

When it is time to re-proof your down jacket (when water no longer beads up and runs off it) we recommend you use Nikwax Down Proof, our high performance wash-in waterproofer. It adds DWR to the fabric and down fill, and improves the natural, insulating properties of down.

All Nikwax products have been formulated for use in a washing machine, making your life easier! After washing your down jacket on a gentle cycle and spin drying it, we recommend a tumble dry. Down jackets should never be left wet, which risks permanent damage to the delicate down fill.

Posted on Leave a comment

Nikwax – the Hydrophobic Down and aftercare specialists

Did you know that Nikwax has enhanced the performance of nature’s best insulator (down) to create the lightest, most efficient, water-resistant down? Nikwax Hydrophobic Down + and Nikwax Hydrophobic Down Recycled were launched in 2020 to keep people warmer and drier without the use of harmful fluorocarbon (PFC) chemistry…

  • Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (NHD) + is the world’s best performing hydrophobic down! It is up to 250 times more water resistant than standard down, conserving its natural insulating qualities even when wet.
  • NHD+ keeps users warm, dry and comfortable in a wider range of conditions. It will not wet out from rain, snow, or condensation produced whilst exercising or camping. NHD+ also keeps users warmer and drier in extreme cold, making it perfect for use whilst alpine trekking and mountaineering.

  • NHD+ is the first and only hydrophobic down to exceed 10,000 minutes on the industry IDFB 18a Shake Test. That’s 7 days constant exposure to water! (Standard Down lasts a maximum of 20 minutes shake time. To be considered hydrophobic, treated down must reach a minimum of just 40 minutes shake time).
  • Nikwax Hydrophobic Down Recycled was created to support our brand partner Rab®, who wanted to use recycled down with a high performance hydrophobic material, so their customers do not have to choose between high performance and a sustainable product.
  • Nikwax Hydrophobic Down Recycled was the first and only recycled down to achieve 1,000 minutes on the IDFB 18a Shake Test.
  • All down (not just NHD) can be maintained with Nikwax aftercare!

Nikwax has been supplying the likes of Rab, Haglöfs® and Therm-a-Rest® with NHD for nearly ten years. Used in their jackets and sleeping bags, our Partner Brands supply extreme explorers with expedition clothing and gear that must survive arctic temperatures and extreme weather conditions. Here’s what they have to say about us:

“As the Masters of Insulation, our customers expect our products to deliver superior performance for longer. That’s why we chose NHD treatment to dramatically reduce the negative effects that moisture can have on the down insulation and ensure our jackets absorb less water, dry faster, and retain their loft for longer, whatever the conditions.” RAB

“With the Hydrophobic Down water-resistant treatment in our sleeping bag range, Therm-a-Rest’s customers know they are buying into long-lasting quality and performance. Our long-term partnership with Nikwax is vital to the brand and what we stand for.” Therm-a-Rest

“When we heard about the hydrophobic down increased shake time of 10,000 minutes, it felt like the natural way to go. And for us to work with a company that is also driven by sustainability, it feels like the perfect match.” Haglöfs

NOMAD is taking another step forward in the process of creating innovative and sustainable products by working with NHD+.” NOMAD

Did you know that Nikwax down aftercare products have been cleaning and proofing down gear for over 25 years? Nikwax extends the life of down filled jackets and sleeping bags by restoring and protecting their insulating properties and water repellency. Easy to use in a washing machine or by hand, Nikwax is water-based and PFC-free.

Down Wash.Direct® is a technical cleaner that revitalises the durable water repellency (DWR) and insulating properties of both hydrophobic and regular down filled clothing and sleeping bags, without damaging the delicate structure of down. Down Proof is a speciality waterproofer that protects and improves the natural insulating properties of down filled gear from wet and damp conditions. Our high performance down care duo will optimise the performance of down items in wet weather whilst minimising weight gain due to water absorption.

Old gear? Clean it first with Down Wash.Direct before replenishing its DWR with Down Proof, which will cause water to bead up on the outer fabric once more. When used on NHD-filled items, the loft, insulation and breathability are also all maintained.

New gear? If your jacket or sleeping bag is relatively new, or has been recently treated with Down Proof, cleaning it with Down Wash.Direct will not only remove contaminants – such as dirt and body oils that can cause the fabric to attract water – but it will also revitalise insulation, breathability and DWR.

However, don’t just take it from us that our products are the best in the business, see what our customers have to say about Down Wash.Direct and Down Proof:

“I finally got around to using Down Wash.Direct on my Arc’teryx Thorium jacket. I am currently serving as an infantry soldier in the army reserve and have used the jacket for several exercises over the winter. Typically for down time or while on stag (sentry duty) worn under my combat jacket. It has taken a fair bit of punishment and duly picked up a fair bit of mud/sweat/tears along the way. Before using Nikwax in the washing machine, I ran a quite empty cycle to rinse any detergent. The jacket came out fully cleaned and after a cool tumble dry was puffed back up and suitably clean. The outer waterproofing has reactivated well and when last worn in light rain the water beaded up and ran off well in droplets. In summary, I will definitely use this again. I’m always a bit nervous about washing down jackets as they give the impression that they won’t come back to life, but, in this case, Nikwax Down Wash.Direct has performed really well.” James Bees

“Great performing product! Easy to apply either by hand or machine wash and lasts for several months of use or even when stored and not used. The warmth in my jacket and pants have not been lost and the down remains full and fluffed up.” Connor Duckworth

“I feel the protection and waterproofing it gives my outdoor clothing is the best available. The water repellent coating it leaves on my clothing is second to none.” Stephen Reilly

“I find Down Proof to be very effective at keeping my down jackets’ waterproofing in working order.” Gillian Craig

I am always impressed by quality of the products that Nikwax produce, and the current version of Down Proof is exceptional. Alan Cole

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Is Iceland on your bucket list? Don’t forget the Nikwax

Charlie Smith is a designer, filmmaker and cold weather adventurer with a penchant for heading into frozen and hostile environments. Having led expeditions in the Arctic; including dog-sledding across Scandinavia and travelling extensively in Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Greenland, Charlie is no stranger to uncomfortable journeys in the cold. Working alongside leading adventure brands such as Arc’teryx, The North Face, Montane, Aclima, Black Crows & Land Rover, Charlie has been documenting his artic adventures, expeditions and endurance challenges for the last 8 years. Recent trips include the inaugural Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra, steep skiing & touring in Lofoten, Norway, and Europe’s toughest dog-sled race – the Finnmarkslopet.

Charlie has been hailed as one of ‘The New Shackleton’s: Britain’s Next Generation of Explorers’ by Gentleman’s Journal, and featured in Wired for Adventure’s list of ‘Most inspiring young Explorers in Britain’ – we are extremely excited to feature his story in our newsletter, and to read that he uses Nikwax!

It’s been two weeks since we returned from hiking ‘The Laugavegur’ in southern Iceland. It’s a trail I’ve done multiple times in Summer and Winter, however, this time I was tasked to take my girlfriend and her family. Now, I know that taking any group of people on a hike should not be taken lightly but having led a group of 37 between the ages of 16yrs and 55yrs across the same trail some years earlier, I was more worried about my potential in-laws getting slightly damp than I was about anything going drastically wrong with the group of 37! My worry was heightened when my friend, Brandur – Chief Coordinator of Iceland Search and Rescue – told me, “Any relationship that can last a hike in Iceland can last a lifetime”, which I’ll admit at the time sounded more like a warning than a threat. This was followed up with, “Oh, and you’re taking the in-laws? Good Luck my Friend!”

Seven people, four days, one trail seemed easy enough. My girlfriend’s family are an athletic group – they keep themselves fit, they’re all passionate about the outdoors and, uniquely, my girlfriend is a doctor who wants to go into expedition medicine. I felt our bases were covered in terms of health & wellbeing. So, what was I worried about?

Well, in preparing for this hike I asked them each to prepare a gear list detailing what equipment they owned, when they had bought it, and how long it had been since they last used it.

Studying their lists was more akin to a ‘Greatest Hits’ album by Slush and Pebble rather than kit that would be up to the challenge of a four-day hike during the shoulder season in the highlands of Iceland. Streaming rain, temperature fluctuations between -5C and +20C, snow, sleet, hail and sun – we could expect to experience it all.

Meteorologically, the Icelandic highlands are an interesting place, located perfectly at the juncture between the relatively warm weather systems of the North Atlantic and the cooler, frigid systems of the Arctic North. There is a gargantuan tussle between these two mammoth meteorologs as they slog it out above any hikers that dare to walk through the mountains there. At just a moment’s notice, the blue skies and sunlight you’ve been basking in can sporadically decide to change and take the metamorph a little too literally – saturating you with rain, sleet and frost-fog that’s been hiding behind the mountains to the north. It’s why the Laugavegur trail closes to all but the most intrepid hikers in September and sometimes doesn’t open again until the following June. It’s a cacophony of volatility, beauty and one hell of an adventure – packaged into a four day hike just 2.5 hours from London by air.

Recalling the words of Brandur during another conversation (“Iceland is where gear goes to die”), I had to make sure that my girlfriend and her family wouldn’t suffer the extremities Iceland has to offer. And so the challenge was set – how could I prepare their kit for the unpredictable climate ahead?

This is where Nikwax came in. I’ve been using the brand for years – not just because of its recognizable green-capped bottles lining the shelves in my dad’s shed before I even knew what DWR stood for, but because like the Icelandic weather, most of my adventures happen sporadically. I usually embark on long, dark, wet and cold Arctic expeditions in the winter, which effectively means that for 9 months of the year, my most important [sic. expensive] gear is in storage – airtight chemical tubs, Really Useful Boxes and packing crates galore.

Upon returning from the cold wilderness, the wholly separate, yet equally important, phase of preparing my equipment for its period of hibernation begins, which means washing, cleaning, drying, and airing everything…

My detergent drawer is cleaned more thoroughly than a military rifle. My merino wool base layers are washed with (copious) Wool Wash and then air dried. My merino fishnets (Woolnets) are doused in a bath of hot water and Wool Wash – I can’t risk them in even the gentlest of washing machines. My waterproof layers are washed with Tech Wash® followed by TX. Direct® Wash-In and then a cursory spray of TX. Direct Spray-On for good measure. My down jackets, admittedly, don’t get too much attention, just for the fact that I usually run hot and end up lending them to whichever poor soul has followed me into the cold this time. However, I have good memories of using Down Proof and endlessly kneading my favorite Montane® Down jacket after it was used and abused in the northeast of Greenland.

I’m well aware this may read like the diary of a person beginning a borderline obsession, however, in Arctic environments you quickly discover there is a thin line between freezing in saturated clothing and being safe in dry warmth – that thin line is usually called GORE-TEX® and it doesn’t work unless you look after it – and look after it well. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned on my journeys is that if you look after your kit, it’ll look after you back.

So, it’s five days before we are due to leave for Iceland on a hike that purportedly will not only make or break my relationship, but also all the equipment I’ve brought to endure the next four days of volatility (the weather, not the in-laws). The team have also dropped off their own kit with me, which I have volunteered to prime, and so the washing, cleaning, drying, airing and protection process begins. The waterproof jackets go through their two wash cycles and are doused in a fine mist of TX. Direct Spray-On before being flung over any available hook, merino wool base layers in all shapes and sizes are left to dry on towel rails, radiators and DIY internal washing lines, and down jackets, thankfully, are nowhere to be seen!

Seven people, seven jackets, seven pairs of trousers, seven sets of waterproof mid layers and bottoms, fourteen base layers, twenty-eight socks, countless gloves, hats and beanies… the list went on.

Just one garment slipped through the net of my makeshift launderette – a black, cotton pajama top sneaked its way into the waterproof wash and now showcases waterproofing properties to make even the latest GORE-TEX jacket green with envy. 

As the mountain of clothing became a molehill, it didn’t feel like a chore at all – in fact, I enjoyed it. Be it the thought of keeping the potential in-laws sweet, or pre-adventure enthusiasm/anticipation, preparing all of our kit with Nikwax felt like getting my armor ready for battle – a way of physically channeling my inner explorer’s excitement in a methodical and (most importantly) useful way.

Header image: ©Philip Lindberg, Unsplash

 

Posted on Leave a comment

My Coastal Life – Nikwax’s Rose Cawte

There is always salt in the air, it’s that distinct smell you notice when you arrive at the coast. I love the pureness of it. My favourite feeling is stepping off the train from London and taking a deep breath of the freshest, cleanest air. Those big, bright, clear skies that you only find by the sea. The kind of wind that feels like it clears your entire body out. 7 miles of sandy beach and, on a normal day, only a handful of people to share it with. These are my favourite parts of living in Camber.

But this is an English coastal village and owning a dog – especially a dog like mine – means, regardless of the weather, you always have to go out. Coastal weather can be unpredictable, and it is important to make sure that I am always prepared for 4 seasons in one dog walk. Combining that with a windy day – we get plenty of those – and going up and down the sand dunes, everything comes back with a layer of salt and sand.

This certainly has an impact on the clothing and footwear I use on the beach as it always requires more cleaning. Because I rely on my gear so much, I make sure I use a technical cleaner like Nikwax Tech Wash® and Footwear Cleaning Gel, so I’m not replacing jackets and shoes every year. The years BN, or ‘before Nikwax’, I used to notice my footwear falling apart: leaking, jackets letting water through, and zips stiffening after just one winter. Both the combination of salt and using regular detergents would speed up the degrading of the fabrics and components. The added bonus of using Nikwax cleaners is that you rarely get caught in the rain with leaking jackets. Often a wash revamps the waterproofing of my coat and if it does ever start to ‘wet out’, a quick wash and re-proof with TX.Direct® does the trick.

The same goes for my running trainers. I am lucky to have some beautiful run routes on my doorstep; from the promenade along the sea defence, the beach itself, and a huge golf course on the western side of the village. This means lots of different terrain to manage, so I have both road and trail shoes and both get equally as dirty! Dusty in the summer and muddy in the winter, alongside the running shoe stink from sweat! I use Footwear Cleaning Gel and Fabric & Leather Proof on my waterproof trail shoes and Sandal & Sports Shoe Wash on the road (non-waterproof) trainers. This keeps them in top condition, breathable, and comfortable as I get the miles in.

We’re an active family. Alongside the dog walking and running, we regularly jump in the sea for a swim. In all honesty, we are quite fair-weather swimmers, but we do take an annual Christmas Day swim – or surf if we are lucky with the waves – and there’s nothing quite like celebrating the start of a new year with a New Year’s Day dip! Autumn and winter swims are so invigorating, building up the courage to get in is the hard part, but it is always so worth it. We found the dry bag from the Nikwax Outdoor Complete Protection Kit is great for stashing valuables whilst you’re in the water and then, in turn, to hold your wet swimwear afterwards.

Living in this little coastal village can sometimes feel very isolated and certainly has its downsides. You get used to washing your windows and cars more often to keep the salt off, the constant battle against sand in your house, especially after a windy day (and having a dog that loves to run in the shallows on the beach), or the difficulty keeping a garden thriving with the salty air, harsh elements and lack of rain in the warmer months. But, as long as I can wrap up warm and stay dry, you will always find me on the beach – even on the wildest days in the middle of winter. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.