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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.

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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

 

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Give your ski gear an end of season MOT

As the European ski season comes to a close, we want to highlight the importance of looking after your gear before safely packing it away until next winter. So follow these steps to ensure your gear goes away safely, ready to serve you well again the next time.

Step 1: Clean your outerwear
Your ski jacket and salopettes pick up more dirt than you think. From hard-earned sweat to those après-ski spillages, if left they can quickly degrade the waterproofing properties. First wash in the washing machine with Tech Wash®, making sure to follow the instructions on the care label.

If your gear had been wetting out before the clean, Tech Wash itself can revitalise the durable water repellency (DWR) but if it is still wetting out, it is time to re-waterproof! TX.Direct® can be applied directly in the washing machine in a separate cycle. Alternatively if your gear has a wicking lining, we recommend using the spray-on TX.Direct. Nikwax does not need heat to activate it so you can just hang you gear to air dry after cleaning and proofing, you can of course tumble dry if the care label allows.

For down-filled items, use Down Wash Direct® in the washing machine to clean and follow with Down Proof to add DWR. We recommend tumble drying down items to fluff them back up, this can be a bit of a process as you will need to tease the down clumps apart at intervals in the drying process but it’s worth it. It is vitally important to make sure all gear is completely dry before packing away.

Step 2: Clean your gloves and socks
Like your outwear, your gloves will pick up a lot of dirt on the slopes. Clean gloves will ensure that they stay breathable and waterproof, stopping water lingering on the inside of your gloves and making your hands feel cold. It takes a long time for extremities to warm back up again once they are cold, so it is important to keep them warm. After cleaning, you can apply Glove Proof to synthetic or leather and synthetic combination gloves. For full leather gloves, use Waterproofing Wax for Leather.

In the same way that hands can quickly get cold if they are damp, the same goes for feet. A lot of snow sports enthusiasts use Merino wool socks for their temperature regulating and wicking properties. These types of socks need different care to synthetic ones. Make sure to clean according to the care label and use Wool Wash, our speciality cleaner and conditioner designed to deodorise and enhance the wicking and drying performance of woollen items. For synthetic socks, look to BaseWash and BaseFresh® to gently clean, condition and deodorise leaving them fresh and ready for the next winter.

Step 3: Clean your base layers
Sweat, oils from your skin and dirt will build up on your base layers after working hard in them on the slopes. This can cause the technical wicking to become less effective, making temperature regulation more difficult. Regular detergents can build up on clothing and have the same effect, so it is important to use a speciality cleaner to ensure your gear is performing at its best. BaseWash will gently clean and deodorise synthetic base layers, whilst Wool Wash will do the same for your woollen pieces. BaseFresh is the only fabric conditioner designed to deodorise and enhance the wicking and drying properties, rather than regular conditioners which can attract water to give the soft feel. Using these types of cleaners and conditioners will ensure you are dryer, warmer and more comfortable whilst smelling fresh too!

Step 4: look after your equipment
If you are lucky enough to own your own boots and ski’s or snowboard, it is a good idea to service them at the end of the season so they are set and ready before being packed away. Clean the inners of your snowboard or ski boots with Sandal & Sports Shoe Wash to remove any unwanted odours and to improve their wicking quality. As with your socks, wet feet very quickly come cold feet!

Servicing your skis and board can include a re-wax and edge sharpen, but if ski touring is your thing you can waterproof your ski skins with Ski Skin Proof. This treatment is designed to prevent ice build-up on the fibres and to reduce saturation on all ski skins to improve glide and reduce kick.

Following these steps will safeguard the technical qualities of your snow sports gear for future use, enhancing their properties and extending the life of the garments. The longer you can use the gear for, the less you will have to purchase and the more sustainable your use would be. Our last tip and perhaps the most important – make sure all your gear is thoroughly dry before packing away until next season!

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Newsflash – Haglöfs have partnered with Nikwax on their new Nordic Expedition Down Hood Jacket

We are excited to share that Swedish outdoor clothing and apparel brand Haglöfs has chosen us to supply the down for its new and award-winning Nordic Expedition Down Hood Jacket! Filled with H Platinum Down, which features Nikwax Hydrophobic Down+, the jacket takes weatherproof insulation to the arctic level.

“Haglöfs is focused on high performance and driven by sustainability, like Nikwax. When we heard about NHD+ with the improved shake time of 10,000 minutes, it felt like a natural choice for us. We know the performance of NHD+ will mean a lot to our customers, who can now stay out for even longer.  To work with a company that is also driven by sustainability is a perfect match for Haglöfs.” Jenny Spiik, Haglöfs Textile Designer

Combining the qualities of Nikwax Hydrophobic Down+ with super conductive graphene (an allotrope of carbon), the jacket was awarded Product of the Year at this year’s coveted ISPO awards for providing unparalleled protection and insulating performance:

“If you want excellence from the science in textiles – this is it!  A function-first design that hides a wealth of technology…”  ISPO Jury

Nikwax Hydrophobic Down+ is an evolution of our Nikwax Hydrophobic Down, which provides high performance, environmentally friendly and PFC-free insulation, and is the first hydrophobic down to exceed 10,000 minutes in the industry-recognised down shake test*, which mimics the equivalent of seven days constant exposure to water. 

Down is, by nature, susceptible to humidity so when it gets wet it clumps together, causing it to lose its loft and insulation qualities. However, Nikwax Hydrophobic Down+ filled gear keeps users warm, dry and comfortable for longer in a variety of conditions. This is because it won’t wet out in rain, snow, or condensation caused from perspiration, which makes it perfect for use whilst alpine trekking and mountaineering.

Nikwax Hydrophobic Down+ has a flexible and durable water repellent finish on each individual down filament that helps to retain its natural structure and maintain insulation, even after seven days constant exposure to water.  This increases the range and extremities down garments can be used in, and increases their longevity as the down doesn’t absorb water.

Even better, the efficacy of Nikwax Hydrophobic Down+ filled gear can be infinitely renewed and maintained in a washing machine using Nikwax aftercare products…

Down Wash Direct® is the specialist technical cleaner for regular and hydrophobic down filled gear. It removes all dirt and contaminants that have built up on both the outer fabric and delicate down fill without harming them. It also effectively revives durable water repellency.

Down Proof is the high performance wash-in waterproofer that adds water repellency and revives insulation in down filled gear whilst maintaining breathability to keep you drier and warmer.

Watch our ‘how to’ video here

*The shake test works by shaking down continuously in a canister of water. Whereas untreated down becomes soaked in just 20 minutes, NHD+ excells over 10,000 minutes.  Read more here.

 

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How to clean a sleeping bag with Nikwax!

Ah, the sleeping bag. Your bed-away-from-home. Your cozy refuge in the wild.

Adventures will inevitably get it a bit dirty, but don’t fear, it’s easy to wash your sleeping bag.

There are two main types of sleeping bags, down-filled and synthetic-filled. Here are some tips and tricks to keeping them both clean and fluffy.

A handy Nikwax cleaner volume guide for your sleeping bag

Down-Filled Sleeping Bags
Cleaning down bags can seem intimidating. But with proper know-how, it’s easy. The first thing to note: use a big, front-loading washing machine, generally found at a launderette. Home washers are too small and don’t allow proper circulation of water through the bag, making for ineffective cleaning. Always use a front-loading washer, as top loaders have an agitator that can tear up down baffles. Gentle is best!

  1. Put bag in washing machine.
  2. Add proper cleaner. Nikwax Down Wash Direct® is formulated for both normal and water-repellent down. It cleans dirt away while maintaining loft and revitalizing water repellency. (Volume Guide: for a 1-2.5lb bag, add 100ml, for a 2.5-4.5lb bag, add 150ml, for a bag 4.5lbs or heavier, use 200ml)
  3. Wash. Throw in an extra spin cycle or two to get excess water out of the bag.
  4. Dry! This is key for down bags. Your bag will emerge from the washer looking like a drowned rat. Run multiple dry cycles on low heat with clean tennis balls, or dryer balls, to fluff the bag back up.

Synthetic-Filled Sleeping Bags
Synthetic-filled bags are a tad less fussy than down bags to clean. You still need a big washer though, so pack up and head to the launderette.

  1. Put bag in washing machine.
  2. Add proper cleaner. Nikwax Tech Wash® is great for synthetic-filled bags. It cleans dirt away while revitalizing water repellency. (Volume Guide: for a 1-2.5lb bag, add 100ml, for a 2.5-4.5lb bag, add 150ml, for a bag 4.5lbs or heavier, use 200ml)
  3. Wash. Throw in an extra spin cycle or two to get excess water out of the bag.
  4. Dry. You can use a dryer on low heat to speed up the process, or hang to dry if you have the space.

There you have it! If you want to go longer in between washes, use a sleeping bag liner. It will help keep body oils (and odours) off your bag and can be washed at home.

Stay toasty and dry!

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End of Ski Season Checklist – How to Store Ski Gear Properly

It’s the time of year when snow is out of the picture. Before you enter summer mode completely, take a moment to clean and store your ski and snowboard gear. Many people don’t know how to store their ski gear properly. This end of ski season checklist can help avoid delaminating jackets, funky smells, rusty edges, and warped gear. Follow these 5 tips to make sure your planks and outerwear stay in great condition and are ready to go when the lifts start to spin again.

End of ski season checklist:

1. Wash your outerwear

It is okay to wash waterproof jackets and trousers. It really is! Your ski jacket and salopettes get dirty throughout the season: sweat from going big, grease from a breakfast binge, ketchup stains, and spilled Après beverages are all contributors. If left unwashed the sweat, dirt, bacteria, and beer stains fester and degrade the waterproofing and fabric of your outerwear.

  • For hardshells or synthetic insulated outwear, first clean with Tech Wash and then re-waterproof with TX.Direct.
  • For down-filled puffy items, Down Wash Direct will remove grime while protecting delicate feathers, and add water-repellency. For jackets place items in the dryer and tumble on air dry. In three 20-minute intervals remove the jacket and massage the baffles to help fluff the items back up. For sleeping bags air dry and intermittently massage the baffles.

 2. Love your gloves
Gloves and mittens take a beating on the hill, from abrasive snow to runny noses. These inhibit the water repellency and shorten their lifespan.

 3. Clean your base layers
Why store stinky things? Wash and deodorise your dirty layers and buffs before putting them away.

  • Use BaseWash to clean and deodorise your synthetic layers. Wool Wash will take care of your wool layers, ensuring they are ready to perform at their best next season.
  • TIP: If you use your base layers year round for running, hiking, and camping trips, use BaseWash with every load of synthetics to keep them performing and in great condition.

4. Care for your Skins
Uphill ski traffic has exploded in popularity! To get the maximum life from your skins be sure to dry them and fold them correctly after each tour.

5. Store boots buckled or laced. Important!

  • Store your boots in a dry, cool place with the buckles buckled and straps strapped to help the plastic shell or leather outer retain its shape. If stored unbuckled boots can warp and become (even more) uncomfortable.

Goodbye sweet ski season. We miss you already. But Hello Summer!

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The Best Outdoor Events Of 2020 For Your Diary!

Get the most out of them with Nikwax, the global leader in safe, high performance waterproofing, cleaning and conditioning for your outdoor gear #DoMoreWithNikwax

FEBRUARY

THE MANCHESTER WINTER WARMER RUN: 2nd February, 2020 @ Heaton Park, Manchester
Lace up those trainers, don your motivational cap and embrace this opportunity for a winter keep fit session in the 600 glorious acres of Heaton Park! Ideal for runners of any level, the race is raising money for the charity Shelter. Entry benefits include full race chip timing, medals, trophies, surprise goodies – and a load of fun and high fives along the way. Make sure your running gear is cleaned, conditioned and waterproofed in advance with Nikwax to ensure you stay warm, dry and comfortable – whatever the weather. INFO: letsdothis.com/gb/e/the-manchester-5k-and-10k-winter-warmer-run-186029

 

MARCH

WILD SKI WEEKEND: 13th – 15th March @ Glenmore Lodge, Aviemore, Scotland
From the Lodge’s base at the foot of the mighty Cairngorm plateau, you can spend the weekend exploring on skis the classic tours, descents and gullies of the Northern Corries and beyond. Venture into one of the biggest ski wildernesses in Scotland! Hosted by some of Britain’s top ski coaches, instructors, guides, freeriders and athletes, this weekend will take you beyond your ski boundaries for a truly memorable adventure. A down jacket could be an outer layer of choice for this event and to maintain that snuggly insulation and warmth, whilst protecting the garment from wetting out, be sure to clean your down jacket with Down Wash Direct® before you go!
INFO: glenmorelodge.org.uk/backcountry-skiing/wild-ski-weekend

APRIL

DEVIZES TO WESTMINSTER INTERNATIONAL CANOE RACE: 10-13th April @ Devizes, Wiltshire
This ultra-marathon on water takes place every Easter weekend and is the longest non-stop canoe race in the world! Kicking off from the market town of Devizes in Wiltshire, the race is 125 miles long and includes numerous locks; as well as arduous paddling, there is also a considerable amount of running involved too. Junior crews and single craft can only race in stages over four days, but senior doubles crews can opt for the hardcore non-stop race – paddling and running continuously throughout the day and night until they arrive in Westminster. INFO: dwrace.co.uk

MAY

CAPE WRATH ULTRA®24th – 31st May @ Fort William, Scottish Highlands
The Cape Wrath Ultra is a once in a lifetime, 8-day ultra-running expedition race that takes you 400km through breathtaking scenery in the Highlands of Scotland. Starting in Fort William, participants experience an incredible journey, linking ancient footpaths and remote tracks to the furthest northwesterly point of the British Isles – Cape Wrath. This event is supported with overnight camps, providing meals and tented accommodation. To continue feeling fresh as you run through the wilderness, you should use BaseFresh® on your technical base layers. BaseFresh removes odours and deodorises the fabric, inhibiting further odour build-up to ensure you smell fresh. It also enhances the wicking, allowing sweat to spread and dry faster, so you will stay comfy!
INFO: capewrathultra.com


JUNE

THREE PEAKS YACHT RACE: 13th June @ Barmouth, Gwynedd, Wales

Sail up the wild West Coast and run to the summits of Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis – the highest peaks of Wales, England & Scotland in this classic adventure race for runners and sailors. Teams of four or five per yacht sail from Barmouth, Wales to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. The land stages to Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis involve running 54.8 miles, cycling 40 miles and climbing 16,500 feet in 3 or 4 action packed days!
INFO: threepeaksyachtrace.co.uk


JULY

IRONMAN UK: 12th – 13th July @ Leigh, Bolton
Dubbed one of the UK’s friendliest towns, Bolton is the home of England’s only full-distance IRONMAN. The beautiful 2.4 mile lake swim takes place in Pennington Flash Country Park. Cyclists will then embark on a 112 mile, two-loop journey into the breathtaking Lancashire countryside, taking on the famous Sheep House Lane climb twice, where spectators can get up close and personal with the athletes in true Tour de France style. The 26.2 mile run begins at Queens Park and finishes in Victoria Square in the heart of historic Bolton. INFO: ironman.com/im-uk-course

AUGUST

DARTMOOR WALKING FESTIVAL: 22nd – 30th August @ Dartmoor, Devon
Enjoy nine days of walks, runs, rides, talks, demonstrations and other outdoor events, set within the stunning Dartmoor National Park. Partake in Nordic walking, archaeology visits, children’s walks and ranger-led walks; there are also Trampers (all-terrain mobility scooters) available for those who may have difficulty walking. Be sure to clean and re-proof your outdoor footwear beforehand! Footwear Cleaning Gel thoroughly cleans and revitalises the water repellency on footwear. If your boots need re-proofing then use Waterproofing Wax for Leather on smooth leather and Fabric & Leather Proof on combination footwear to keep your feet dry and comfortable!
INFO: moorlandguides.co.uk

 

SEPTEMBER

TREKFEST: 19th September @ the Brecon Beacons, South Wales
Take on the TrekFest charity challenge – choose your distance, choose a charity you want to raise funds for and make every step count! With 25km and 50km routes to choose from, whether you walk, jog or run, you’ll be challenging yourself in one of the UK’s most beautiful national parks – the Brecon Beacons. Full of incredible scenery, rolling countryside and impressive mountains, the area is also an SAS training ground so expect stunning yet challenging terrain! Sign up solo or with a group – the team spirit flag will be flying high! INFO: trekfest.org.uk

 

OCTOBER

ROYAL PARKS HALF MARATHON: 11th October @ Central London
The stunning 13.1 mile route takes in the capital’s world-famous landmarks on closed roads, and four of London’s eight Royal Parks – Hyde Park, Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens. The money raised by the Royal Parks through this event helps to keep the magic of the Royal Parks alive through restoring monuments and playgrounds, teaching children about the natural world and caring for wildlife. Race day is also as green and sustainable as possible with 66% of all waste from the event being recycled and avoiding landfill sites. To take part                 in the 2020 event you need to enter a ballot, so head to the site to find out more! INFO: royalparkshalf.com

NOVEMBER

KENDAL MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL: 19th – 22nd November @ Kendal, Cumbria
This four day celebration of outdoor culture includes a world-class programme of films, speakers, literature and art – both homespun and international. The most diverse festival of its type in the world, KMF brings together adventurers, filmmakers and lecturers in the uniting aim of inspiring more people to explore, enjoy and represent mountains, wilderness and their cultures. Wet weather is likely so give your waterproof clothing some TLC in preparation… Tech Wash® will clean away all dirt that could be masking your jacket’s water repellency, whilst TX.Direct® will fully replenish the water repellency and maintain the garment’s breathability. INFO: kendalmountainfestival.com

 

DECEMBER

CHRISTMAS WALKS: Throughout December @ a National Trust coastline near you
The great British countryside remains resolutely open over Christmas and is an opportunity for the National Trust – Britain’s largest coastal landowner and Europe’s largest conservation association – to promote its 780 miles of coastal walks. Popular outings include the two-mile hike along Arnside Knott on the Lancashire/Cumbria border, which affords stunning views over Morecambe Bay, and the four-and-a-half-mile trek on the White Cliffs of Dover, which guarantees great views and refreshing airs. INFO: nationaltrust.org.uk

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How to choose a down jacket this season

Winter is coming and now is a great the time to start shopping for your new winter jacket. Nothing beats down for its ability to insulate you and keep you warm. It’s lightweight and incredibly cosy. After all, there is nothing worse than really feeling the chill when you are outdoors and the temperatures have plummeted!

Did you realise that there are a number of elements to consider if purchasing a down jacket? It is not just about the style, colour or fit; so to ensure you can find the perfect down jacket to suit your needs, then read on for all the advice you need.

Activity
Think about where you would wear your down jacket the most. Would it be for daily use – dog walking or going to work? Perhaps it would be for regular hiking trips you may take, or because you are going climbing or skiing. High energy activities mean you should ideally have a down jacket that is relatively light, because thicker down jackets will end up feeling bulky, potentially restrict your movement and possibly make you feel too hot. Less strenuous activities would suit a thicker down jacket.

Fill Power & Weight
This is the terminology used to describe the volume of down when it is fully lofted (that means at its fluffiest). Down works as an insulator because air gets trapped between the fibres, which in turns is what makes you feel toasty. Down jackets and other down items should always display what the fill power rating is on the item when you go to buy it.

A down jacket with a higher fill power means that the down clusters take up more space and therefore are capable of trapping more air – which means better warmth to weight ratio. So a jacket with 900 fill power would be better quality than a down item containing 550 fill power down. An item weighing less means it can be compressed down and stored away (in a backpack for instance) – useful for activities such as climbing, because you need warmth, easy mobility and the ability to pack the item away compactly and easily when conditions change.

A way to view the quality of fill power can be as follows:

400 – 450

Medium

500 – 550

Good

550 – 750

Very Good

750 – 900

Excellent

However, don’t be fooled by thinking a high fill power rating means you have a really warm down item. It also depends upon the amount of down used within that item. For instance, an item that has 150g of 700 fill power would be less warm than an item that contains 300g of 550 fill power down, however the latter would be a much heavier and bulkier garment.

Down or Synthetic?
You will find similar jackets that have a synthetic filling. How do you know which to choose?

Down is a natural insulator and will provide you much more warmth, whilst being easy to compress and is also lightweight. However, regular untreated down is susceptible to water. When it rains or snows, it will absorb water, making the down clump together, making the garment heavy and making you cold. Water inhibits the properties of regular down from performing as it should and it can take quite some time to dry a down garment out and restore the loft.

Synthetic fill is less expensive than down and could be considered easier to clean. It’s also a good solution if you have an allergy to down. However, this fill will tend 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 to use in wet conditions, yet the items will not be as warm as down and may be harder to pack away if needed.

Hydrophobic down
Hydrophobic down is regular down which has been treated with a water repellent coating, meaning it has an improved ability to deal with moisture.

Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (NHD) is a leading example of water repellent down that will keep you dry, warm, comfortable and safe. It is environmentally friendly, formulated without any fluorocarbons (PFCs) or harmful chemicals, so NHD safely prevents down from absorbing water. Down jackets and gear such as sleeping bags that contain NHD will resist water up to 50 x less than regular untreated down. It also means that the down jacket or gear will resist water much more effectively, will dry much faster and retain its loft and ability to insulate you

The benefit to you? Well, you can use your down jacket or gear in a wider range of conditions that you would normally be able to and stay dry and warm when you need to most. Also, because of the technical formulation of NHD, it protects the down fill from microbial action which can actually cause damp down to breakdown – this means your down jacket will have a prolonged life!

Look for responsible, ethical down filled items
Unfortunately there are practices out there whereby down is sourced by the means of plucking the down feathers from a live bird, causing unnecessary harm and suffering to the animal. As a consumer you want to be safe in the knowledge that any down filled item you purchase is not one where the animal has suffered.

This is where the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) comes into play. This is a global voluntary standard which encourages companies to certify the down products they produce contain down which has not been sourced from birds which have been subjected to inhumane treatment. RDS aims to make companies morally accountable and lead to consumers trusting in those products which are RDS certified.

The main key points of the RDS are:
Live plucking is prohibited.
Force-feeding is prohibited.
Respect for the animal welfare from hatching to slaughter is in place.
RDS down and feathers are identified – to ensure that non-RDS down is 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.

Nikwax will only work with down manufacturers who hold all necessary certification under the RDS certification systems and are audited under such systems, to ensure that the down used for Nikwax Hydrophobic Down is ethical and safely sourced. Look for the following logo to check if a down item you are interested in purchasing is safe and has followed the practise for animal welfare.

Don’t forget to care for your down jacket
Down items do need specialist care if they are to remain in their utmost condition and keep you dry time and time again. Don’t just put your down jacket in the wash with normal detergent! This could harm the down, plus you also do not want to damage the jacket by putting it on the wrong wash cycle.

Nikwax Down Wash Direct is the specialist aftercare, created specifically for all hydrophobic and regular down filled items. All dirt and contaminants which have built up on the outer fabric and down fill of your down item will be thoroughlyremoved – this alone will revive the natural breathability of your item, whilst revitalising the insulation and, in the case of hydrophobic down, revitalise the durable water repellency.

Once you need to re-proof your down jacket then Nikwax Down Proof is the high performance wash-in waterproofer that can be used safely and easily in a washing machine.  It will add durable water repellency, therefore improving the natural insulating properties of the down fill.

Just be sure to wash your down items on a gentle cycle, then spin dry multiple times (each time increasing the speed of the cycle) in order to remove water from the down according to the care label. Drying is key! Tumble drying is recommended, if the care label allows, to ensure it dries as quickly as possible. Down should not be left wet otherwise it could be permanently damaged.

Pick the right down jacket and use the appropriate aftercare this winter and you can just get outdoors feeling warm, comfortable and dry with a jacket or gear that goes on and on.

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Get your gear ready for the half-term winter break

The half-term holidays are not far away and lots of us will take the opportunity to get away on a short winter break. Whether you choose to travel abroad to spend time on the wintry slopes, or even just have a staycation here in the UK, we guarantee you will be taking key pieces of winter kit with you – you just never know what the weather will have in store!

Winter’s break in the Nordic countries or a spot of skiing in the Alps?
Half-term has proven to be a popular time for families to visit the lands of the northern lights, with prices often being slightly cheaper than around Christmas. Perhaps some huskie sledging in Finland? Or, you just prefer to head to the slopes for some skiing in the Alps?

Either way you all need to be kitted out appropriately to keep warm and dry in such cold conditions.

Down jackets can benefit you in really cold, and damp, conditions
If you already have an insulated down jacket, then check it now to see if it needs preparation for your trip, or have you used it already over the start of winter? If items have been used a number of times then they could use a clean, in order to ensure optimum performance whilst on your break.

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Nikwax Down Wash Direct
People may feel nervous about cleaning their down jackets, for fear of the down fill clumping and not returning to its original condition. Fear not! Even if your jacket is not hydrophobic, Down Wash Direct will efficiently clean it without harming the item in any way. Dirt and body oils are removed from the outer fabric and the down fill, whilst durable water repellency is restored. Your down gear will have a prolonged life and its performance will be optimised in cold and wet conditions.

  • Down Wash Direct can be used on your jacket easily in the washing machine.
  • Dry the item thoroughly afterwards. We recommend you spin dry the item a number of times, in order to get as much water out as possible.
  • If you have a tumble dryer, and if the item’s care label allows, then this is the perfect way to ensure the down is completely dry after cleaning.
  • Remember to tease apart any down clumps during the drying of the item – it will help restore the loft so that your jacket is back to normal ready for use.
  • Air the item in a warm environment for a day or so after drying.

After your trip, and when it comes to putting the down jacket away until next season, be sure to store it appropriately. Folding your garment away in a bag will compress the down. Ideally you need it to have plenty of room in order for the loft to be maintained and also keep within a warm environment.

Tempted by a staycation this February?
Wherever you may choose to stay in the UK for this winter break, there is a very strong chance of rain. However, there are still plenty of activities to keep you busy and allow you to continue enjoying the outdoors.  

Wet weather gear should be a must-have for this February half-term. Waterproof items are covered in what is known as a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating – this is what causes rain to ‘bead up’ and roll off the garment, instead of being absorbed into the fabric, which causes it to ‘wet out’. Some people think they cannot wash their waterproof items for fear that this coating will be damaged, when actually it will be reduced if the items are not kept clean.

Nikwax Tech Wash & TX.Direct
The perfect aftercare companions to ensure all of your family’s rainy day clothing is kept in top condition and therefore keep you safe, warm and dry if you experience a wet half-term break.

  • Dirt will eventually prevent the DWR from working, which is when you will get cold and damp in your waterproof clothing.
  • Normal household detergents actually leave water-attracting residues on the fabric, so cleaning with these will not help your waterproof clothing to stay waterproof.
  • Tech Wash is the no.1 high performance cleaner, designed especially for wet weather gear. Cleaning away all dirt, it will revive the DWR on the outer fabric, whilst making sure that garment remains breathable.
  • Eventually, after lots of use, the DWR will need replenishing on waterproof items.
  • TX.Direct is the easy to use wash-in, or spray-on, waterproofer. It leaves a flexible water repellent treatment on the item, while making sure moisture can escape through the fabric from the inside.
  • The result? Your clothing will work again at its full potential.

When the season turns and you plan to put your wet weather clothing away, try to keep it hung up loosely. Don’t be tempted to put it into a stuff sack, because this could lead to the items becoming creased, which in turn could lead to the DWR starting to wear off.

Don’t forget your feet!
Wherever you spend your half-term break, footwear cannot be forgotten. If your feet get wet and cold, then inevitably the rest of you will feel this too. Keep the following Nikwax staple items in your cupboard so your shoes can be cared for too.

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Footwear Cleaning Gel & Waterproofers
Suitable for all outdoor footwear, Footwear Cleaning Gel is a sponge-on aftercare product easily applied by hand to clean away all of the dirt, which may be causing your shoes to absorb water.

  • Rinse shoes to dampen the footwear, then apply Footwear Cleaning Gel generously over the area to be cleaned.
  • You can use a stiff brush to help remove tougher dirt or mud.
  • Rinse well with clean water.
  • Leave the shoes to dry naturally, whereupon the DWR will be revitalised and your shoes will remain comfortable, breathable and supportive.
  • If waterproofing is then required, ensure you use the appropriate product for your type of footwear – these can be used whilst the shoes are wet.
  • Waterproofing Wax for Leather: designed for all smooth leather footwear – perfect for leather hiking boots for example. It keeps leather shoes waterproof, prevents them from stiffening and maintains breathability so feet do not get sweaty inside.
  • Fabric & Leather Proof: for combination outdoor footwear. You can either sponge or spray on to the footwear to provide instant DWR, which will develop when the shoe is left to dry naturally.
  • Nubuck & Suede Proof: provides the same high performance as our other footwear aftercare, but is optimised for nubuck and suede shoes.

Keeping all of your kit cleaned and proofed with Nikwax aftercare will help ensure your clothing will last for much longer and allow you to stay dry and warm when you are enjoying all of your outdoor adventures.

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The Nikwax Expert – Learn About Down

Jamie Maguire, Key Account Manager at Nikwax discusses down, how it works and how to care for it, with key information that could benefit your customers when they are searching for that perfect winter jacket or sleeping bag. Learn about the power of award-winning Nikwax Down Wash Direct® – safe, high performance cleaner for all conventional and hydrophobic down clothing and gear  tokeep it working at it’s best .

What is down?
Down is the layer of fine feathers found underneath the exterior feathers of birds. Duck and goose down is most commonly used in down jackets because of the fantastic warmth it offers. Out of all natural fibres, down arguably has the greatest warmth-to-weight ratio and possesses excellent abilities to compress and recover, making it a great insulator. Down feathers are rounded in shape and made up of soft plumes, prongs and nodes that air.  Whereas feathers are flat, rigid and aerodynamic for flying. As down also has a three dimensional shape it can ‘loft’ and trap more air than any synthetic material. By trapping air down, warmed by body heat it can keep the  heat you generate inside your  jacket, keeping you warm and toasty.

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Are down jackets waterproof?
Probably not, but some down jackets and sleeping bags handle rain better than others. There are down jackets that have a waterproof, breathable outer material but they are few and far between, most down jackets are made with a windproof fabric that has been coated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment. A DWR coating makes water bead up on the surface of the jacket and roll off, this means your jacket will shrug off a bit of snow and light rain but will become overwhelmed in really wet conditions. Water has long been the enemy of down. When down soaks up water it loses its loft, collapses, traps water and no longer offers any insulation. Recent advancements in chemistry, such as Nikwax’s development of ‘Hydrophobic Down’ which can resist up to 50 x less water than standard down is down that has been treated with a PFC-free solution that prevents down from absorbing water. If down doesn’t  absorb water then it won’t lose its loft, if the down can loft then you stay nice and warm. Simple.

Should you clean your down kit?
Most definitely yes. Regular cleaning of your jacket or sleeping bag will ensure it a long life and make sure that it keeps performing at its best. Dirt on the outer fabric and body oils trapped on the inside of the jacket or sleeping bag stops the DWR working and will attract water, will stop the down lofting and these all need to be cleaned away. As a down jacket or sleeping bag is a specialist piece of kit made with delicate natural components and high-tech synthetic materials it’ll come as no surprise to you that there’s a very specific way of cleaning it. Don’t worry though as it’s really simple to do at home.

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Nikwax Down Wash Direct is the best product to clean all your down kit and clothing as it’s specially formulated for hydrophobic and conventional down. It will effectively clean the item and restore its water-repellency at the same time safely and easily in your washing machine.  Like all Nikwax products, its water based, PFC-free and doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals so it’s kind on the environment.

It’s best not to use conventional household detergent as the chemicals and perfume they tend to contain can damage down and they leave behind residues that will impair the DWR and loft of the down.

Anything else?
Remember the water repellent treatments on the jacket and the down? Well they wear off. Don’t panic though. Regular cleaning with Nikwax Down Wash Direct will revive  the water repellency on both fabrics and down that is lost through normal wear and tear.

If you haven’t kept on top of cleaning your down jacket and a top-up from Down Wash Direct isn’t enough to restore the water repellency then all is not lost. Nikwax make a product called Down Proof that will apply a fresh DWR to down jackets and sleeping bags and will even make non-hydrophobic down water repellent. Just follow the instructions on the bottle and all will be well with your kit again.

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