Environmental superheroes – Nikwax


That well known superhero Spiderman once said that ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ and, of course, he was right.  Anyone in a position to influence and guide the way others act surely should be the best role model possible.  For manufacturing companies this is especially important in relation to their ethos of environmental protection.  

Peak Mountaineering is a tiny fish in a very big pond and yet we have always aimed to do our best.  We are well aware that most of our operations have a negative environmental impact and so we try to balance that as much as possible by demonstrating and influencing good practice whenever and however we can.  The bigger fish can have the same ethos and yet spread their message much wider.  

In the outdoor industry some fish do more influencing than others and we think they should be celebrated and applauded.  Of course, companies may simply push their good environmental practices as a marketing tool, but it is usually easy to see those that are genuine in their intentions – and these are the ones we are interested in.  So, in this new occasional Peak Mountaineering blog series we celebrate those Environmental Superheroes who, like Spidey, take their great responsibility seriously…..and first up is one of our favourites.


I have a long history with Nikwax.  They have been in business 40 years and I remember they were the product I was encouraged to use, as a young scout, on my very first pair of walking boots.  Now I can’t deny that was a fair few decades ago and yet it was clear they were a force to be reckoned with even way back then.

The brand was set up by Nick Brown in 1977.  Nick was a keen backpacker and saw a market gap for a good quality leather proofing product.  Soon, Nick also saw the need to minimise environmental impact and from very early in their history the brand focussed on creating a water based range that was both user friendly and avoided harmful aerosols.

In my earlier years I must admit that environmental focus completely passed me by and I was simply looking for products that worked.  Effectiveness is still a major factor for me, but being planet friendly is now a major reason I always choose Nikwax products for my proofing needs and, as a business, they are the only proofing brand we use.  

In a recent interview Nick said that consumers increasingly ‘will want the brands they choose to have a history they can be proud of’ and he is so right.  Nikwax stacks up extremely well on all proud history parameters and the brand is now a global leader in enviro friendly aftercare and waterproofing solutions.

Nikwax is distributed in 50 countries, has never used aerosols or fluorocarbons, their products aren’t tested on animals and they are constantly innovating to improve and develop the sustainability and performance of their offerings.  It is a proud history and, even after 40 years in business, a very bright future awaits for a company founded simply by a globe trotting student with an idea.

I say a bright future because that’s the future Nikwax is now focused on.  The company has an impressive tally of industry and enviro awards and has just added the prestigious Outdoor Industry Sustainable Innovation Award for their BaseFresh laundry conditioner.  BaseFresh, along with WoolWash, BaseWash and SandalWash is a range designed for all technical base layers and wicking clothing and is offered under their Sweatproofing banner.

We all have a choice to make in the brands we choose and the products we use.  However, in the product area Nikwax operate in I’m not sure their are many other obvious options.  The company produce great products and give back in every way – through the EOCA and World Land Trust they are protecting tropical forests and have, amazingly, encouraged enough vegetation regeneration to offset all their carbon emissions for the time since they first went into business.

Nikwax products are also used in areas you might not even imagine.  Many brands use their PFC-free hydrophobic down in their sleeping bags and jackets and Paramo use Nikwax for their waterproofing systems.  We always use Rab sleeping bags and the hydrophobic treatments have revolutionised the down performance in the moist climates we often work in.

The Nikwax website is a brilliant resource (available here).  All their environmental credentials are clearly explained and supported by relevant scientific test data.  Nikwax also offer a clear insight into their philosophies and there is lots of information about how to care for your garments.

We are excited to be currently testing a selection of the Nikwax ‘Sweatproofing’ range and will report back in due course.  Even better, Nikwax have offered us a batch of products from the range for Peak Mountaineers to try.  We’ll have all the details on our Latest News page by early next week.

We need more Environmental Superheroes in all aspects of our life, but for outdoor activists the desire to protect the wild places we hold so dear is vital.  We also can’t avoid the need to use proofers and chemical products to protect us from the elements.  The question is how we can balance the two – fortunately Nikwax is on our side.

Posted by Paul