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Nikwax Hydrophobic Down – the world’s best performing hydrophobic down – Chosen By NOMAD®

NOMAD chooses Nikwax Hydrophobic Down for its iconic yellow sleeping bags, taking performance to a new level in extreme cold and wet conditions

New for Autumn/Winter
NOMAD have launched a range of new high performance sleeping bags for Autumn/Winter 20-21 filled with Nikwax Hydrophobic Down+ (NHD+). This is the beginning of a new brand partnership with NOMAD, who plan to expand the use of NHD+ in their range of sleeping bags for 2021. Products featuring NHD+ will be appearing on NOMAD’s new look website and in their upcoming ‘I am NOMAD’ campaign. 

The world’s best performing hydrophobic down
Nikwax Hydrophobic Down+ is prepared using a high performance, completely PFC-free Nikwax  treatment process. It is up to 250 times more water resistant than standard down, conserving its natural insulating qualities even when wet.

Nikwax has taken nature’s best insulator and made it even better. NOMAD have chosen NHD+ as it is the best performing hydrophobic down available. NHD+ is the first and only hydrophobic down to exceed 10,000 minutes on the industry IDFB 18A Shake Test, keeping its loft and maintaining its insulation properties after 7 days constant exposure to water. NHD+ is PFC-free and is only used in conjunction with Responsible Down Standard (RDS) and Traceable Down Standard (TDS) certified down.

NHD+ keeps users warm, dry and comfortable in a wider range of conditions. It will not wet out from rain, snow and 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.

Tim Pickering, Head of Product Development at Nikwax says, “We’re proud to be partnering with NOMAD, a brand with a really rich heritage of innovation in down sleeping bags. The addition of Nikwax Hydrophobic Down+ to NOMAD’s range will enable adventurers to stay warmer and drier for even longer.”

NOMAD choose NHD+
NOMAD, have partnered with Nikwax and will now be using NHD+ in their down gear – proudly using the world’s best performing hydrophobic down to fill their Orion 900, 1200 and Gemini 750 and 1100 sleeping bags.  

“NOMAD is proud to be taking another step forward in the process of creating innovative and sustainable products by working with Nikwax Hydrophobic Down+.”  

To find out more about our ‘Chosen By’ campaign take a look at our dedicated website:



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Interview with Chad Altbaier of Downlite

This month we took time out with Chad Altbaier, VP for Downlite Outdoor, a family-owned and managed company in the US, which focuses on down processing. Nikwax have partnered with Downlite for the production of Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (NHD).

Downlite have over 100 years’ experience, with knowledge of every facet of the down industry, and work with many leading brands and retailers within the outdoor industry. They are committed to sourcing down responsibly, with additional focus on using eco-friendly chemicals and being sustainable – things that Nikwax consider to be of high importance within this industry. 

Read on to learn more from Chad, who gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of Downlite, and shares how their focus on high quality production and strong ethical values are at the heart of their business.

How long have you worked in the Down industry? 
I’ve been with DOWNLITE for just shy of 17 years.  As a family business, however, I did have some exposure to the Feather & Down industry prior to that – even when I was not working for the business directly.

What lead you to work in the industry?
Who wouldn’t want to work with bi-products of waterfowl for a living?

What is Downlite’s relationship with Nikwax?
DOWNLITE is a licensee and user of the Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (NHD) PFC-free DWR product for treating down supplied to the apparel and sleeping bag industries.

How long ago did Downlite start working with Nikwax?
We had initial conversations with Nikwax approximately 5 years ago, and signed our initial supply & license agreement at the end of 2015.  We now offer NHD treated down from both our processing mill in the USA, as well as our partner facility in China.

Why did Downlite choose Nikwax to work with?
Quite simply, the NHD PFC-free DWR treatment is the best performing DWR treatment on the market.  This product performance, coupled with Nikwax’s consumer brand awareness and unmatched environmental stewardship, made the decision quite easy.

Why should customers choose Downlite products?
DOWNLITE has built its long-standing reputation on the core pillars of quality, integrity, innovation, unmatched service, and environmental stewardship.  With over 100 years of experience in down processing, and global sourcing and processing scale, we are a trusted partner in all the channels we serve – including finished filled bedding for the retail and hospitality markets, and material supply for our Outdoor division.

What are the benefits of Downlite/Hydrophobic down items (from Downlite’s perspective?)?
When down saturates, it can lose its loft, insulating value, become heavy/smelly, and generally does not perform as it should.  When a high performance DWR treatment is applied to the down, this dramatically reduces the water absorption of the down clusters – which can often occur in damp environments, or when participating in a physically demanding activity.   The Nikwax offering is the safest, highest performing PFC-free DWR treatment that we’ve tested.

What are the key principles of responsible down?
Outerwear brands looked to DOWNLITE to help collaborate on the leading down traceability certifications in the market today, and we were the world’s first RDS and TDS certified down processor.  Even before these standards were created, our proprietary down-trac™ process ensured complete traceability and the highest levels of animal welfare requirements, including strict animal husbandry criteria that must be achieved.

What should customers look out for when selecting an item made from down?
The quality of the down is critical.  This is both technically measurable – in terms of down cluster, fill power, etc – and also in terms of the supplier itself.  Consistency and integrity are critical within the supply chain, as is the environmental stewardship, experience, and scale of the organization.  Not all down and not all down suppliers are created equal.



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DoMoreWithNikwax – Part 3!

As you may know, this summer we undertook a challenge to #DoMoreWithNikwax, where we teamed up with 3 top athletes and got them to cycle / hike / camp in 10 countries across Europe in just 21 days! Markus Stitz was our first challenger and then Fredrika Ek took over for part two. Finally it was the turn of Jenny Tough to take the helm of the #DoMoreWithNikwax challenge. Jenny is an endurance athlete who grew up in Canada but now lives in Scotland, and adventure is in her blood. Currently her focus is on running solo over a mountain range in every continent – that is quite some project to take on!

Read on for Jenny’s week and be inspired to #DoMoreWithNikwax

Day 15: Jenny Tough takes over from Fredrika Ek in Gothenburg, Sweden! Sweden is not just about ABBA – if you have never been then there is plenty to explore. Gothenburg is the largest non-capital in the Nordic countries for one! There is plenty to do no matter what the season in Sweden – rock climbing in the Archipelago, walking in local parks, ice skating in winter…The Swedes love getting outdoors at all times and the scenery is inspiring throughout the year.

But there was no hanging around for Jenny – she had to make her way into Denmark, so the race for her was on!

372km later and Jenny arrived in Vordlingborg, Denmark. That was a pretty good start to the cycling for just day one and for somebody that does not truly consider themselves a cyclist!

Day 16: Another 300km took Jenny from Denmark over into Germany – to Tangermünde on the Elbe river, which runs from the Czech Republic, through Germany and all the way to the North Sea!

Day 17: Today’s ride from Tangermünde was one that was wrought with potential delays as Jenny seemed to encounter road repair season in Germany. What with that and the hot sun beating down, the cycle was a challenge!

In hot conditions you need your gear to perform for you and if you are someone who likes to cycle, or do any kind of energetic activity on a very regular basis, then you need to know your next-to-skin clothing will keep you cool and definitely not make you smell! Nikwax BaseWash is the aftercare we recommend for washing all technical base layers. It is far kinder than normal detergent – which can leave a water-attracting residue on fabrics and basically prevent the wicking capabilities from working, plus it does not fully remove odours but just masks them with scent. This means you would sweat when being active, but your garment would not dry quickly enough, so you end up smelling and feeling damp! BaseWash effectively removes odours from base layers and next-to-skin clothing, helping to prevent bacterial build-up. Also, it softens your base layers so they are always comfortable, whilst its specialist formula enhances the drying capabilities – meaning the fabric will wick away sweat and help regulate your temperature. Perfect if being active in warm conditions like Jenny was doing!

250km later leads Jenny to Triptis, Germany. Day 3 was another successful day!

Day 18: Jenny’s 4th day of the challenge and it was time to head south, from Triptis down through Schmidmühlen in the Bavarian region of Germany. The rolling hills began forming a backdrop to the cycle route and we knew that the Alps were not far away. The focus today was to make it to the destination for the hiking element of the challenge and she did it! Jenny pedalled a distance of over 200km, keeping up the power despite the summer sunshine.

Day 19: So, this was the last hiking element for the #DoMoreWithNikwax summer challenge! This was the day that Jenny Tough would climb Germany’s highest mountain peak – Zugspitze!

Standing 2,963 metres above sea level, Zugspitze houses three glaciers, as well as Germany’s highest ski resort. So if you fancy some winter snow sports then perhaps this is the location for you? Even if skiing does not call to you, then the view on its own may be enough to entice you to don some walking boots. From the top of the Zugspitze you can see across more than 400 mountain peaks. Now that would make for some amazing photographs!

The weather was in our favour – blue sky and sun – making the mountainous landscape full of colours and shadows. The summit was reached and what an accomplishment to achieve.

Jenny summed it all up quite nicely:
Crawling up the ridge of Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany, was one of those mountain moments that leaves you breathless (and out of breath from that final scramble!). I sat down and took my time to absorb the insane view, and thought about how lucky I am to be able to do these things – to have the health that carries me to the top of a mountain, the freedom to travel the planet, and access to these incredible outdoor spaces that sometimes seem to be disappearing before our eyes. Not everyone on the planet has all those three things, and I know I’m incredibly lucky, and also responsible for looking after our wild places. I want everyone to get outside and do more, and I hope that generations to come are still able to do that. Everybody needs a good mountain moment in their life!”

That night was spent sleeping under the stars – something we all need to experience at least once in our lives! Jenny was kept toasty warm in her Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (NHD) filled sleeping bag. NHD is the PFC-free down fill that gives you 50x more water repellency for your down items compared to standard down, ensuring you stay warm and dry even in extreme cold conditions.

Day 20: Back on the bike to cycle from Lake Eibsee (by Zugspitze) north. In just 2 days Jenny would be ending her mammoth challenge in Rotterdam, so it was time to get pedal power underway. Another 200+ km later and she reached Ulm, Germany.

Day 21: The penultimate day of #DoMoreWithNikwax and Jenny got some scenic views as she cycled through vineyards, making her way further north. The destination was Mannheim, a city situated between the rivers Rhine and Neckar. Mannheim is a creative and cultural location, but it also contains a magical nature reserve with its own forest so you can easily step away from city culture and unwind amongst nature. The best of both worlds, some could say! Jenny finished the day with 216km clocked up.

Day 22: So this was it, the last day for Jenny where she leaves Germany and her week’s adventures behind to return to Rotterdam, ready to travel back to the UK. The week has been filled with sunshine, thunderstorms, an array of landscapes, the highest peak in Germany and fantastic memories created. Jenny cycled 1,800km and hiked 2,963 metres and ended the challenge on a high.

Whatever activities you do we just want to encourage and inspire you to keep getting outdoors. Nikwax’s full aftercare range can protect you in all weather, so you can just keep enjoying being outside. There is so much to experience out there!

Also, we urge people to take a moment to learn about EOCA (European Outdoor Conservation Association), who we support wholeheartedly. They donate thousands each year towards protecting and conserving amazing natural habitat all across the world. We don’t want to lose the great outdoors, so perhaps you can help and pledge your support to EOCA here.

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Nikwax Hydrophobic Down™ (NHD) Wins 2018 OutDoor Award

Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (NHD) technology was entered in the sleeping bags category within this year’s OutDoor Industry Awards and we can proudly announce that OutDoor selected NHD technology as a winner within this category, recognising the superior water repellency that 100% PFC-free NHD gives down sleeping bags and jackets.


What is Nikwax Hydrophobic Down?
Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (NHD) is a technology designed to resist water. Individual down fibres are treated with Nikwax, meaning Nikwax Hydrophobic Down is 50x more water-repellent than conventional down. It maintains its ability to insulate you even after being shaken with water for 16 hours, extending the range of conditions in which you can use your favourite down clothing and gear.

Nikwax Hydrophobic Down leading industry partners:
PFC-free, NHD technology is used by leading outdoor brands in down sleeping bags and jackets, including Rab, Berghaus, Alpkit, Nemo, Mountain Hardwear and Therm-A-Rest. Look for the NHD on the label.

Why NHD and how does it work?
Although down offers superb insulating properties, it clumps together if it gets wet, leaving you feeling cold. Nikwax’s revolutionary Hydrophobic Down is a water resistant down fill that retains loft and recovers quickly after a downpour; all without adding weight.

It works by adding a flexible Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish to each individual down filament, thereby reducing the absorption of moisture – whether from the inside (perspiration, condensation) or the outside (rain and snow). It maintains its high performance loft and insulation properties in cold and damp conditions.

Wet down loses its insulating properties because water conducts heat away from the body up to 25 times faster than air
It’s also heavier and loses its breathability, resulting in a cold, wet and uncomfortable experience. But a reduction in insulation can also be dangerous and in severe cases can lead to hypothermia.

That’s why Nikwax Hydrophobic Down is the optimal down fill for sleeping bags, jackets and gilets. It’s down that has a water resistant treatment applied to it which is at least 50 times more water resistant than standard down, maintaining loft, breathability and an ability to continue to insulate.  Furthermore, because it stays moisture free, there’s less bacteria trapped inside a garment, which can result in the breakdown of damp down. This increases the useable lifetime of clothing and gear and also provides odour resistance.

Nikwax Hydrophobic Down’s radical features offer clothing manufacturers more versatility as their products can be used in a much wider variety of conditions
The increased performance of Hydrophobic Down in comparison to similar down filled garments means Nikwax treated down will continue to be effective in conditions where conventional untreated down filled items would fail.


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Caring for your down sleeping bag

The change in seasons is not a reason to stop enjoying and experiencing the outdoors, or prevent you from undertaking a weekend camp or a challenging expedition. You just need the right gear and if you plan to be sleeping out under the stars then a quality down sleeping bag is definitely an essential item in the colder months.

Down is a great choice for sleeping bags as it provides lightweight yet effective insulation to keep you warm when you need it most. Warm air from your body heat gets trapped between the filaments of down, helping to keep you toasty! It’s also easier to transport than synthetic bags which are bulkier.

Depending upon your outdoor requirements, there are many types of down filled sleeping bags to choose from, with factors such as temperature rating, weight, design and size to take into consideration. By and large sleeping bags are categorised by Season Ratings – 1 to 4: with 1 being used generally in summer months with warm weather, 2 for late spring or early autumn, 3 for autumn and early winter with chilly nights, and finally 4, for extreme cold winter nights with chance of frost or snow.

Combine this with comfort ratings and you can start to find your perfect sleeping bag. Comfort ratings relate to the optimum temperature for you to feel warm and comfortable when sleeping, whilst the Extreme rating will be the limit the temperature of the bag will work to keep you alive without causing ailments; think climbing a mountain such as Everest, you would need a high extreme rating sleeping bag!

Recently introduced to the market is Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (NHD). This is the PFC-free, high performance water resistant down fill that you can now find in a number of sleeping bags and down apparel by Berghaus, Rab and Therm-a-rest, amongst others.


NHD uses a specialised environmentally friendly formulation which adds no weight to the down, but enhances the performance by absorbing 90% less water than regular (untreated) down, due to the water repellent treatment covering each individual down filament. This ensures that your down sleeping bag would stay dry and retain loft up to 60 times longer than standard non-treated down filled sleeping bags.

Once you have found what you consider is your perfect down filled sleeping bag you may face one more slight challenge – maintaining its performance. If a sleeping bag is filled with regular down you can quickly find that if it gets wet, you will be cold and uncomfortable, and be at risk if sleeping in very cold conditions. This is because down absorbs moisture, causing it to clump together, gain weight and rapidly reduce its loft and level of insulation. It will also take a long time to dry out. Down can be easily ruined if it’s not dried as quickly possible.

But don’t let this put you off owning a down sleeping bag, help is at hand, and with the correct aftercare you can enjoy your down items and keep them performing better, for longer.

Nikwax Down Wash Direct is a specially formulated cleaner for down filled items. Regular detergents can impair down – stripping it of its natural properties, whereas Down Wash Direct protects these. Follow our simple guide below to caring for your down sleeping bag:

1: Washing.
Sleeping bags are best hand-washed in a bath (or equivalent) but check the manufacturer’s aftercare recommendation on the label. Clean with Down Wash Direct – applying 150ml in medium/hard water areas, or 100ml in soft water areas. Before you wash the item, be sure to remove all excess loose mud or dirt and do up zips / close flaps.

2: Spinning.
After washing it is best to spin-dry the item multiple times, each time increasing the speed of the cycle. This will ensure the maximum amount of water will be expelled from the sleeping bag. As down gains weight when wet you could find by spinning the item too quickly it ruptures the internal baffles of the down.

3: Drying.
If the care label allows, tumble drying on a low setting is recommended as you want to dry the down as swiftly as possible. You can add drying balls (or tennis balls!) in to the drying process to help reduce any clumps gathering in the down fill. If tumble drying is not an option then place the sleeping bag flat on a drying rack in a warm, ventilated room, but regularly tease apart clumps to help restore the loft to the down fill. This way could take up to 24 hours to guarantee the down has dried completely. Once the item is dry it is best to leave it to air in a warm, dry space for at least a day before looking to store it away.

4: Storage.
Any down items should be stored loosely in a dry place. The compression sacks provided with sleeping bags are for use when carrying them but are not appropriate to store them in for a long period of time, as the compression will reduce the loft and subsequently its insulation.


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Berghaus partners with Nikwax Hydrophobic Down

Berghaus and Nikwax are two of the longest established British Outdoor brands, having started in the 1970’s. When it comes to providing outdoor people with comfort and safety in extreme environments, Berghaus and Nikwax know all about the need for high performance gear. Both brands are also committed to the lightest possible environmental footprint; so when Berghaus learned that Nikwax had developed a process which could make down exceptionally water-resistant, without using persistent organic pollutants, they were delighted. After testing confirmation, Berghaus has decided to include Nikwax Hydrophobic Down in its new Extrem range for winter 2016.

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Down is the optimum material for very cold conditions, providing exceptional insulation for the absolute minimum of weight. But until recently its big drawback has been its vulnerability to water. When down gets wet it loses all of its ability to keep you warm. However, Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (NHD) provides the optimum outdoor insulation solution – water-resistance, low weight and high insulation, without the use of hazardous persistent chemicals.

  • You can shake NHD with water for 1000 minutes and it still will not sink.
  • You can wash it at least five times with Nikwax Down Wash Direct and it will maintain its water-resistant and insulation properties.
  • Combine this performance with excellent Berghaus clothing design and you have an elite product.

Nick Brown, CEO of Nikwax said “I am delighted to be working with Berghaus on this project. This is a great step on the road to showing that the best available technology can also be the most sustainable technology, and moving PFC products out of the outdoor market.”

Paul Cosgrove, Extrem Category Manager at Berghaus said “Berghaus and Nikwax are leaders in providing innovative, efficient and sustainable technical solutions to outdoor problems. We are extremely pleased with this fantastic leap forward in performance down insulation and look forward to working with Nikwax into the future.”

Nikwax has pioneered the move away from polluting PFC water repellents and continues to demonstrate that high performance waterproofing can be achieved with minimum environmental effect.