It took me a while to get to this NikWax review, because I was waiting for natural opportunities to test out their variety of waterproofing and washing products. If you’re unfamiliar, Nikwax makes wash-ins and applicants for tech synthetic materials such as winter wear, backpacking and camping gear, and tents and shelters. Their products are environmentally friendly and help protect your expensive gear and wear by prolonging their life.
NikWax Basewash is a product designed for cleaning synthetic base-layers. I used it all last winter as I washed and rewashed our ski base-layers. You can pour the wash right into your washing machine soap dispenser, or you can use it as a hand wash in a sink or tub. You’ll want to use one full cap per load. After an entire winter of washing base-layers, ours are usually a bit loose and pilly; this wasn’t the case last year. For less than $12 a bottle at Amazon, BaseWash is a worthy investment for taking care of those expensive base-layer garments.
You don’t want to use BaseWash on waterproof clothing items, however. For those, you’ll want TX Direct, also available at Nikwax. I used their TX Direct Wash-in, which works similarly to the BaseWash…just add it to your wash. The TX Direct adds water repellency to clothing as well as renews it. I tossed two of my sons’ lightweight LL Bean windbreakers into the wash with it, hoping to add to the water resistant material before an early summer trip to Canada. (The coats showed no sign of cosmetic damage.) We tested out the result during a rainy bike ride along Vancouver’s Sea Wall, and the kids had no complaints. I watched the water bead up on the coats and roll off. TX Direct is water based, so it’s eco-friendly, too. Use it on GoreTex, Sympatex, and other microfiber fabrics, and you’ll want to reapply after 6-8 regular washes. (Nikwax recommends using their Tech Wash in-between TX Direct washes, but we did alight with regular detergent for these not-so-technical clothing items.) I’ve tried spray-on waterproofing clothing, and wash-in is much easier! Plus, it doesn’t fill the air with chemicals. It’s $13 at REI or CampMor.
Lastly, I tried NitWax’s Tent and Gear Solarproof Concentrate. This stuff is cool: you apply it to tents, awnings, and other synthetic shelters and gear and it both aids water repellency and doubles as a UV protector to give the material a longer life from sun damage. It’s a concentrate, so you’ll want to dilute it with 2 parts product to 5 parts water. Erect your tent and apply with a sponge or spray bottle. I used a spray bottle to treat our 3 person backpacking tent, and though it will take more time to know how it worked against sun damage, we turned the sprinklers on in the backyard to test the water proofing. The water beaded on the fabric nicely, and NikWax’s claim that treated tent material dries faster seems to be true. Within minutes in the sun, our erected tent was dry again. Try it for only $14 at Amazon.
Amy Whitley is a freelance creative and travel writer and founding editor of the family travel website Pit Stops for Kids. An avid lover of the outdoors, Amy makes her home in Southern Oregon, where she, her husband, and three school-aged children spend much of their time backpacking, camping, skiing, and hiking. When not exploring her own backyard, Amy and her family hit the road for travel reviews of resorts, tour operations, and hotels across the country and abroad. Follow Amy Whitley on Twitter and Facebook.
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