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Environmentally friendly aftercare for outdoor clothing – without PFCs!

Our guest blog comes from Author Anne Engelhardt, who is the founder of Germany-based blog “outdoorjoker.de”. Outdoorjoker test and write about new and/or very special products and great gadgets for use in the outdoors. All authors are passionate outdoor enthusiasts, are working on a non-profit agreement but, instead, are practicing honest journalism.

Our demands on technical outdoor clothing are admittedly quite high. This functional gear should be made from an ultra-modern, functional fabric, be as breathable and comfortable as possible, have a low weight, and ideally suit a range of activities. Good technical clothing not only has a significant impact on the success of an expedition, but is simply the life insurance when hiking under adverse conditions. It is under extreme conditions, such as rain and cold, that differences in materials and innovative technologies become noticeable. Even more essential is choosing your perfect weather gear to make your outdoor adventure a great success.
With intensive use, it is not only the functions of the clothing that affects its technical performance but its adequate maintenance. Dirt, mud and sweat can cause even the most technical jacket to reach its limit. The success of an expedition can therefore be dependent upon selection of the appropriate clothing care product. Our two editors – Eva and Olli – had this experience last year whilst touring Ireland. With backpacks they explored the island for five days, which is not exactly known for fine weather. Despite high-performance outerwear with a corresponding water column, Olli’s raincoat quickly failed in the extreme conditions. This caused the membrane to lose its breathability, meaning sweat could no longer escape and allowing heat and moisture to build up inside.

Looking for suitable cleaning and waterproofing care for outdoor clothing, here at Outdoorjoker we came across the wide range of products from the British outdoor aftercare manufacturer Nikwax. Our favourite: Nikwax Tech Wash. The `All-rounder` cleans clothing (and backpacks) thoroughly, whilst reviving the breathability and water repellency. You particularly notice a great difference on technical clothing that has been worn for a while and has not been washed. The durable water repellent (DWR) coating applied to technical clothing in the factory wears off over time and is destroyed by both dirt and use of conventional household detergents. This is evident in extreme situations, such as on the ski slope, when the upper material becomes clammy, compromising the clothing’s functionality and leaving the wearer cold. Tech Wash ensures that the original water repellency remains intact for longer. Nikwax TX.Direct can then be used to replace lost water-repellency. The powerful combination of Tech Wash and TX.Direct would have given Olli’s jacket a one or two percentage point lead.

Nikwax aftercare is not only intended for outdoor clothing, even lifestyle brands such as the British manufacturer Barbour, recommend the cleaning and waterproofing products of Nikwax.

What we also like about the Nikwax range is that all substances have been developed without animal testing. They also do not include PFCs (perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals). These are chemical compounds that are produced synthetically and do not degrade in the environment. PFCs find their way into food and drinking water, subsequently getting ingested and accumulating in the body. Research results have shown PFCs can cause not only a general weakening of the immune system but also reduced fertility. The devastating effects are detailed in a report by Greenpeace published in January 2016, entitled Leaving Traces.

Nikwax aftercare works effectively on all varieties of functional materials and technologies, prolonging the life of clothing and equipment and consequently saves valuable environmental resources. For this reason, this British company quite rightly deserved to win the Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development.