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How To: make fleece water resistant with Nikwax

Fleece keeps us warm during autumn and winter, whether we wear it as a top, jacket, gloves, scarf or hat. The fibres trap body heat, keeping you feeling cosy and warm when the temperatures are low outside.

However, water and fleece are not great companions… If you are caught in the rain wearing untreated fleece, the fabric will rapidly absorb water, gain weight and lose vital insulation. In extreme weather this can be dangerous – causing body temperature to drop and even leading to hypothermia.

Protecting your fleece gear with Nikwax is the best way to make clothing and accessories more versatile as the seasons’ change.

PolarProof is a wash-in waterproofer that treats all of the fleece fibres with a flexible water repellency to prevent water absorption. It is so effective that it allows moisture to escape from the body whilst trapping the heat that keeps us warm. Breathability and insulation are maintained when fleece is treated with PolarProof.


Plus, PolarProof will help prevent the build-up of pilling on fleece – which can make fleece gear look worn and tired – thereby your fleece will have a prolonged useable lifetime and look newer for longer.

How to use PolarProof

  • Clean the item first with Tech Wash – washed according to the care label.
  • No need to dry the item after washing.
  • Remove any detergent build-up from the washing machine dispenser.
  • Use 50ml for 1 fleece item, 100ml for 2-3 items and pour the treatment into the washing machine dispenser.
  • Wash again according to the care label.
  • Preferably air-dry the garment for energy saving, but you can tumble dry on a low setting if the care label allows.
  • Cleaning fleece regularly with Tech Wash after proofing will maintain its water repellency. Do not use normal household detergents once a fleece item has been proofed – they leave water-attracting residues on the fabric.

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Do you own a Páramo® clothing system yet? If not, you should… Páramo is the award-winning outdoor gear brand that optimises your garments for unpredictable weather by using Nikwax Analogy® waterproof fabric. Thanks to Nikwax Analogy, Páramo clothing is extremely durable and ultra-efficient at keeping outdoor enthusiasts and workers (such as Mountain Rescue volunteers) dry and comfortable in multi environments and varying conditions. It does this by directing liquid water and moisture vapour away from the body, meaning wearers can stay active and comfortable in wild conditions for longer – all thanks to one, single, versatile garment.

The Nikwax Duology innovation, however, goes one step further by combining two garments (layers) to form one system – ensuring an even broader range of protection, with no extra weight. The top layer consists of a Nikwax Duology Windproof, which is a tightly woven 100% polyester microfibre treated with Nikwax PFC-free Durable Water Repellency (DWR). Its primary function is to keep out the wind, of course, and to deflect rain, although it also protects from the sun and biting insects. The second, inner, layer consists of a Nikwax Duology Fleece, also treated with Nikwax PFC-free DWR, which provides insulation and directs moisture away from the body.

Worn alone, these layers are fully appropriate (especially in the summer months), but when combined, the Windproof enhances the insulation of the Fleece and the Fleece enhances the water repellency of the Windproof. The Duology system can withstand an impressive 4 hours of simulated rainfall in the Leeds University Rain Room and will keep its wearer warm and dry on a cold, wet day (for those not in the know, the ‘Leeds University Textile Department Rain Room’ was donated by Nikwax to assess outdoor fabrics and garments for wet weather suitability. Click here to read more about the testing process).

Ultimately, Nikwax Duology is an additional Páramo waterproof system for outdoor enthusiasts and workers. It is adaptable to the changing – and frequently unreliable – seasons, and the escalating issue of climate instability. In the ‘old days’ we could predict fairly accurately when winter or summer would begin and end, however, it is not uncommon now to experience warm weather in December and to see the mercury plunge in March. Thus, in return for combining a Nikwax Duology Windproof and Fleece, you are guaranteeing adaptability on your adventures.

Depending on your use, there are three different garment solutions available. Multisport users should wear the Ostro or Alize combination, which is ideal for lightweight, high-energy activities. For hillwalkers and hikers, the Bentu or Zefira combination is best. For high-mountain, climbing and alpinism, look no further than the Enduro or Ventura combination. Check them all out here.

Nikwax Duology is quiet, soft, puncture tolerant, field repairable and is free of PFCs and other persistent chemicals of concern. The waterproof performance is indefinitely renewable with Nikwax Aftercare giving a longer wear life, with lower environmental impact. All Nikwax Duology fabrics are recyclable.

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How To: stay cosy and dry in your fleece

Many of us are having to spend more time at home right now, why not make the most of this opportunity to clean and proof your winter gear with Nikwax, so that you stay warm and dry and really enjoy the time you spend outdoors.

Fleeces are often an overlooked item when it comes to specialist aftercare. They are thrown in the wash with a normal load and whilst this is fine for day to day use, given a little extra care your fleece will perform even better, last longer and even protect you from the odd unexpected shower!

Fleece is a very popular mid-layer because of its insulating properties and because it is also highly breathable – helping to wick away moisture that has been directed outwards from your base layer.

If your fleece has not been cleaned or proofed in a while, you could find that you get soaked if you get caught in the rain. Fleece is moisture resistant but not fully waterproof – it can hold up to 50% of its own weight in water and if it is soaked, it won’t be keeping you warm.

Caring for your fleece with Nikwax will not only enhance its performance to ensure you stay warm, but, we have a specialist product that will make your fleece water repellent, so you can stay dry too!

Follow these easy steps to use Nikwax to revive the performance of your fleece.

Clean your gear the Nikwax way

Tech Wash® is proven to be the best way to clean outdoor gear. Unlike other detergents, it will not leave any water-attracting residue on fleece. Cleaning ensures all dirt and contaminants are eliminated and will prepare your fleece for proofing. You can even pop your waterproof in with it!

  • Pop your fleece in your washing machine (you can also wash by hand!)
  • Ensure there is no detergent build-up in your dispenser, as this could prevent effective washing
  • Use 150ml Tech Wash in medium/hard water areas, or 100ml in soft water areas
  • Wash your fleece according to its care label
  • No need to dry before you proof.

Proof with Nikwax for impressive high performance

PolarProof® is the only specialist waterproofer designed specifically for fleece. Just like Tech Wash, it is water-based and completely safe for the user and the environment – now that’s a good reason to have these products in your cupboard!

  • Once the cleaning cycle has finished (or once you have finished cleaning by hand) simply pop in 50ml of PolarProof for one fleece item, or, 100ml for 2-3 items

  • Set the cycle according to the care label
  • After proofing you can leave the garment(s) to dry naturally. Heat is not required (e.g. a tumble dryer) for the treatment to develop, so it will save you energy. However, you can use a tumble dryer on a low setting if the care label allows.

Your fleece is now protected with a water repellent treatment! Not only that, PolarProof will maintain breathability, so moisture can escape from the inside to prevent you feeling damp. Plus, PolarProof will actually help prevent pilling on the fabric – this means your go-to insulating gear will look as good as new and last you longer.

Now you are ready to step outdoors and stay nicely warm and dry…


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Polartec® and the evolution of fleece as a go-to mid-layer

Most of you probably own a fleece item that you bring out every winter season as a versatile, warming layer – be it garment, hat or gloves. We all know it to be that soft, comfortable fabric that just makes you feel lovely and snug when outdoors in winter! Made from synthetic fibres, fleece is breathable – letting moisture escape whilst preventing the cold from getting in and disrupting your body temperature. But, what is the story behind this go-to fabric of outdoor gear?

The origins of fleece
40 years ago, outdoor company Patagonia® collaborated with a textile manufacturer known as Malden Mills. They came up with a soft, double-faced polyester fabric that had reduced pilling and was softer than what was currently in the market – fleece was born!

Patagonia named it ‘Synchilla’ and brought its first garments to market in 1981.  Malden Mills called it ‘Polarfleece’. By the end of the 1980s, fleece had become the cornerstone for insulating materials, with the brand Polartec established by Malden Mills in 1991. Even today, fleece remains a premier insulating fabric that’s versatile. Polartec fleece was even named by Time magazine as part of its Top 100 of the ‘20th Century’s Greatest Inventions’.

In 2021, Polartec is not only celebrating 40 years since the invention of fleece, but also the stream of innovations that has inspired.  Polartec’s campaign – “Peaking since 91” – launched on the 1st February 2021, celebrates 30 years of invention by the brand.

30 years of Polartec
Polartec is an industry leader in post-consumer recycling. In 1993, two years after the brand was established, the first fleece made from recycled plastic bottles was launched. To date, Polartec has recycled over 1.8 billion plastic bottles, saving them from landfill and turning them into premium fabrics.

In recent years, we have all become more environmentally conscious and focus has turned to the impact of materials that release microfibres. Microfibre Shedding is where materials, such as polyester, release tiny particles into water when washed, leading to microplastic pollution in the environment (primarily the ocean). Something we would all like to see reduced, and ideally, prevented in the future.

Polartec’s latest innovation – Power Air – focuses on providing more sustainable options for the market. It harnesses the qualities of fleece but reduces microfibre shedding during washing – by over five times that of a traditional mid-layer fabric. 

Key achievements during 30 years of Polartec:

  • 1981 Fleece:  first synthetic fleece. Ever.
  • 1993 Recycled Fleece:  the first fleece fabric made from recycled plastic. Ever.
  • 1998 Power Grid – the first bi-component knit structure
  • 1998 Power Shield – the first real soft shell that would become the one truly air permeable NeoShell
  • 2001 High Loft – the first fleece modification – an extra lofted fibre fabric
  • 2012 Alpha – the first Active Insulation fabric
  • 2015 Delta – the first Evaporative Cooling fabric
  • 2018 Power Air – the first Anti-Shedding fabric

Why is fleece important as a mid-layer?
It is all about insulation! It is not ideal being outdoors if your gear does not help keep you warm and comfortable so you can just enjoy yourself. Your mid-layer garment will manage the moisture/sweat your base layer has drawn outwards – if moisture soaks in, then your garment will be ineffective and you will get horribly clammy and cold. This is why caring for your mid-layer properly is just as important as caring for your base layer or waterproof, so that you can regulate your body temperature.

There are other fabrics used for mid-layers, these include Merino wool – which you can wash less frequently than a synthetic garment and has odour-reducing properties. Down – which is lightweight and easy to pack down, but does not always cope well if it gets wet. Synthetic – which will wick moisture out and dry quickly, but could lead to bacterial odour build-up, resulting in you washing items more often.

Fleece mid-layers come in different thicknesses, so you can definitely find the one most compatible for your outdoor needs. If you’re a fleece fan like us, you’ll have multiple fleeces of differing thicknesses – who says less is more! It is a versatile fabric to keep you comfortable in a range of weather conditions.

Don’t forget to care for your fleece with Nikwax
Fleece, in general, is a durable fabric that will keep you warm year after year if you look after it correctly. There is one very easy way to keep your fleece gear in prime condition…

Nikwax offers specialist aftercare for fleece that can also make it water repellent, if you’ve ever had a pair of fleece gloves and they’ve got wet, you will know how ineffective wet fleece is!

Rather than using standard washing detergents and fabric conditioners, which will attract water and allow the fleece to become soggy, use Nikwax water-based aftercare so you stay drier and warmer for longer.

We recommend that you clean your fleece with Nikwax Tech Wash®, you can throw it in the wash with your waterproof jacket, or any other outdoor items that require cleaning. Then proof the item(s) with Nikwax PolarProof® – to help keep your fleece performing at its best.

Overall, PolarProof will help enhance the performance and increase the usable lifetime of your fleece gear by:

  • Providing water repellency, thereby preventing fabric weight gain
  • Enhancing breathability and reviving insulation
  • Reducing the pilling of fleece fabric
  • Optimising performance in wet weather.

PolarProof is PFC-free, made with care for the environment.

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The Technology Behind PolarProof

Fleece fabrics, made from manmade synthetic fibres, are used to make lightweight insulating mid-layers, as well as warming hats and gloves. They are fantastic items to wear over Autumn and Winter because the fabric’s construction means air is trapped between the fibres and then warmed by body heat – providing comfortable insulation for the wearer.

In recent years, the fleece has become ever more popular as a chosen item of clothing, with key outdoor brands championing such garments, which were once considered less fashionable. No longer is the fleece just to be worn if out hiking, instead it is becoming a staple in everyday wear because of its laid-back tailoring, versatility and comfort.

Why fleece is great at keeping you warm
Fleeces come in different weights – micro (lightweight), mid-weight, and textured (thicker). All have one thing in common – they are designed to keep you warm and are breathable, to allow moisture to escape. However, most fleeces will not keep you dry if you get caught out in the rain. The fabric will hold water in the spaces between the fibres, meaning that insulation will be reduced and the item will be heavier due to the water absorption. Fleece can hold up to 50% of its weight in water – that would make the wearer highly cold, uncomfortable and could even lead to possible hypothermia.

How to look after your fleece
Nikwax PolarProof is the safe, easy to use, high performance waterproofing product that will protect fleece garments and enable the user to stay warm and dry during the colder months.

PolarProof is water-based and contains no fluorocarbons (PFCs), making it safe for the user and for the environment. Designed specifically for fleece fabrics, its innovative technology contains elastic water-repellent polymers that bond to fabric fibres, leaving the spaces between open and breathable. They stretch and move with the fabric so they work better and last longer. PolarProof will not change the look or feel of the fabric.

Some fleeces may now contain a durable water repellent finish (DWR), but without maintenance this will wear off over time. PolarProof leaves a flexible water repellent finish on all the individual fleece fibres – this allows breathability to be maintained and moisture can pass through the garment, preventing the user from feeling clammy. The treatment will add or replenish the item’s water repellency, to help prevent the absorption of water if caught out in the rain.

How to avoid your fleece pilling
Additionally, its formulation will help prevent the fabric from pilling – where abrasion damages fibres which then break away from the fleece, resulting in the item’s durability being reduced. PolarProof will keep your fleece items looking as good as new and they will last longer.

Easy to use in your washing machine, the water repellency will develop upon air-drying, so no need to use a tumble dryer, meaning energy is saved.



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Nikwax adapts for abrupt climate change

The weather has gone completely mad and protective clothing needs to adapt: Nikwax brings new, “Nikwax Fleece & Windproof system” two-part, PFC treatment free waterproof clothing technology to adapt to abrupt climate change

Recent years have seen highly variable weather in the UK:  the 2012 drought and the greatest downpour in 250 years accompanied by widespread flooding over last winter [2013/2014].  What does this mean?  The seasons are now much less predictable than they were and changes are coming fast.

For outdoor wear this means versatility and the ability for our gear to change with the weather.  Enter, the Nikwax Fleece & Windproof system, a dual water-resistant fabric system that provides the absolute optimum flexibility and versatility. 

Nikwax Fleece fabrics, on their own, offer protection against mist and humidity, whilst remaining cool because of their high air permeability and exceptional breathability.  So the fleece will work, depending upon your activity level, and wind levels, at a temperature range below zero to + 15 degrees C.

Nikwax Windproof Fabrics will cut out a gale force wind, and can be used on their own with a base layer to protect against summer showers and squalls. The temperature range is zero to 25 degrees C.

The Nikwax Fleece & Windproof combination gives full waterproof protection for up to five hours of heavy rainfall (rain room tested) and extends the temperature range of the combination to -10 to +15 degrees C.

All of this is achieved with a pair of jackets that together weigh less than a kilo. Added benefits of the system are that it’s PFC treatment free, made from 100 percent polyester and is therefore recyclable, and its waterproofing can be restored indefinitely in the washing machine by using a Nikwax care product.

With the weather becoming increasingly unpredictable, there’s a need for maximum protection for minimum weight. Nick Brown, CEO of Nikwax said, “The Nikwax Fleece & Windproof combination will take you through the broadest range of weather challenges. I have used it in both the Himalayas and the Andes, where climbing 2,000 metres can change the ambient temperature from 25 to zero degrees, in one day. However, I also use it for low level walks in spring and autumn, when I know that the weather is going to be unpredictable and I want to be able to stay cool, yet have real weather protection when I need it.”  He adds “By combining the practical versatility with the extreme durability of the system, and the ability to recycle it, I think we have something that is entirely appropriate to modern outdoor challenges.”

The Nikwax Fleece & Windproof system is currently available through the Páramo brand ( Nikwax hopes that as the concept becomes more accepted, it will be adopted by other outdoor companies.