Review: Waterproofing down with Nikwax

They say there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. But good clothing which can’t stand up to showers is going to kill your outdoors buzz pretty fast. Enter Nikwax, here to waterproof and protect your kit like a boss. And now they’ve turned their waterproofing prowess to Rab’s Continuum jacket, filled with their water-repellent down.

Review: Waterproofing down with Nikwax

Nikwax has been on my radar for ages, and many hardened outdoorsmen and women I know swear by their eco-friendly and reliable waterproofing magic. I personally am usually way too lazy to carefully proof my clothing, often paying the price when caught in storms. Even my beloved Barbour jacket is lucky if it gets a rewax every decade, and I admit that the idea of having to spend hours washing my kit with special formulas when I could be down the pub does not appeal.

But I’ve been swayed by the Continuum jacket from Rab, £220, filled with Nikwax’s pre-treated Fluorocarbon free hydrophobic down and designed for useless people like me. I love Rab’s jackets (so much that I named them one of my ten top pieces of cult outdoor kit for Red Bull), and so does every peak-obsessed British climber I know. Their lightweight and instantly warming down layers are perfect for popping on and off quickly when climbing or worn under a waterproof shell on winter hikes.

Review: Waterproofing down with Nikwax

But down midlayers can also be a big hassle, because they are completely useless when wet. On a changeable day in the hills you don’t want to worry that a sudden downpour could catch you and reduce your comfy jacket to a feathery pulp which will instantly wick away bodywarmth. So down which can withstand a sudden shower or put up with a deluge if your outer shell proves to be less than 100% waterproof is a godsend.

I’ve been wearing my Continuum everywhere: on cold sunny climbs, on multi-day hikes and out on the bike – and so far, so waterproof. I’ve yet to submit it to torrential rain or accidentally falling in the river, but then again, that might be a little unfair, as I’d always pair a down layer with a waterproof outer shell in really bad weather. Rab’s design isn’t cheap, at £220, but if you’re off on mountainous travels it’s a very good buy.

Review: Waterproofing down with Nikwax

Waterproofing technology doesn’t last forever, of course, especially if your kit gets dirty, so Nikwax have launched Down Wash Direct, which cleans down and helps keep it hydrophobic. It’s one of my dreaded wash-in liquids, but this one is worth the time and effort to ensure you stay dry and warm at critical moments on the hills. And if your current down layer is now seeming a little lacking, you can also treat regular down with Nikwax’s Down Proof, adding water repellency to the outer layer.

I’ve been testing out more of the Nikwax range, and besides taking more care over my down I’m definitely opting for the lazier option – their waterproofing spray pumps make it a doddle to regularly protect the rest of your kit. Keep a bottle of TX Direct spray with your jackets and use Fabric and Leather proof for shoes – products are water based, fluorocarbon-free and ehtically sourced, too, so you can feel all smug about using them.

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