Nikwax Down Wash Direct
As one of this year’s Trek and Mountain Stok Kangri expedition sponsors, Nikwax kindly gave team members a supply of their products. These included footwear proofing and a supply of wash in proofers and cleaners for clothing and fabrics. Peak Mountaineering have been users of Nikwax products for years because we value their long term commitment to producing fluorocarbon free (CFC) products (they explain their reasons for this clearly here) and because they also produce products that work incredibly well. So, given that we are such big fans already, it was really good to have their support for this adventure.
Among the goody bag of products they dished out was some of their brand new Down Wash Direct which is, not surprisingly given the name (!), a wash in proofer for both hydrophobic and regular down products. I’ve always shied away from washing my own down gear as I've been too worried it will clump together or something will go wrong and the down will never loft as well again. Would the down proof ever get used?
Despite having a lovely new Rab Neutrino 800 sleeping bag sitting in our gear room, I decided to take my trusty old phd Hispar to Ladakh. This bag has seen a lot of use over the last few years and I’m embarrassed to say it has never been cleaned once. However, it still performs well enough and I knew that, although it would cope with a month’s use in dry and dusty Ladakh, this would also probably be it’s last trip. It kept me warm during the expedition but, as I pulled it out of it’s stuff sack back in the UK, the odour sent my family running and I realised it really did now either need to go to sleeping bag heaven or be cleaned. As I wasn’t going to be too devastated if this bag didn’t survive the cleaning process, I decided it was a good opportunity to try the Down Wash Direct.
I needn’t have worried. I followed the care instructions really carefully and was particularly careful to ensure the bag was thoroughly dried (down master Emma from Rab had shared some details on down cleaning with the Stok team at our training weekend and she had highlighted the importance of very very thorough drying). Once all the process was finished I have to say I couldn’t have been more impressed. The bag looks and feels as good as new again. The cleaner has removed the hot chocolate stain that was on the front, the toothpaste that was clogging the zip, general dust and grime.....and it even smells fresh again. More importantly, the down seems loftier and lighter again having presumably been cleansed of all those body oils I've spent years coating them with (I have to admit that, as good as they are, I never use a sleeping bag liner because I usually end up hopelessly tangled up them). I really can’t fault the results in any way. As I settle in to using the Neutrino (review coming soon) this bag is now going to be used by one of the Peak Mountaineering junior team, although I’ve warned them that it looks like it might have a few more expeditions in it yet!
Nikwax have, not surprisingly, just won their first industry award (details here) for Down Wash Direct and I’m sure there will be more to come. More details about how the cleaner works its magic are available here (although their website also has loads of good information on all their other products which you can access here). You can even get some products to try for free if you try their web quiz here. Thanks for supporting our expedition and for resurrecting my Hispar Nikwax :)
Posted by Paul
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