There is never a good time to reproof your waterproof jacket. It is one of those annoying chores you talk about forever and then see through the winter with your less than adequate, water-attracting jacket and then miraculously find time in the summer (or during a Pandemic lockdown), when it is no longer essential. 

This is exactly what happened to us, except, we have the added motivation that when we can eventually set off on our hiking adventures, it will be essential to have rain jackets that are ready to face some good old fashioned British summer rain. 

The jackets in question are our 100% Nylon Outdoor Research Helium II jackets that we purchased for walking the Appalachian Trail 3 years ago. They served us well, but it is about time they had some TLC. There are quite a few water-proofing products out there, but we chose Nikwax after hearing good things and reading that the treatment is water-based and eco-friendly. For the purpose of our Nylon jackets we required Nikwax’s two-wash system. 

How to Reproof a waterproof jacket with Nikwax

Nikwax recommend using the combination of the Nikwax Tech Wash and the Nikwax T.X Direct Wash-In for Gore-Tex, SympaTex, eVent, Nikwax Analogy products.

The instructions to machine or hand wash can be found on the back of each bottle. It is surprisingly easy to reproof a waterproof jacket, coming down to simply washing your jacket with the Nikwax products twice and then allowing to dry. (We recommend following the instructions as they differ depending on whether you’re in a soft or hard water area or if you prefer to hand wash).

The Experiment

Tom washed his jacket, first with the Nikwax Tech Wash, and then with the Nikwax T.X Direct Wash-In. He then set out the experiment using our Nutri-Ninja cups and a few elastic bands (it was all very scientific).

We poured water on the taught material and left both for an hour. We then inspected the differences between the two jackets.

Our Nikwax experiment in action. A portion of material from the treated and non-treated jackets were placed over two cups and left with water pooling on the surface for an hour to test their water-repellency.
The Nikwax treated jacket [left] and non-treated jacket [right] were left with water pooling on the surface for an hour.

The Result

It turns out, Nikwax does work. There was a noticeable difference in the absorption, with mine, the untreated jacket, definitely absorbing more and holding onto more water droplets on the surface of the fabric. Not what we want when we are hiking in a rain shower. But the testing was not over. Tom decided we needed to get all ‘Top Gear’ about it. 

The REAL Test

For the next test Tom managed to lure an innocent bystander in to really put the jacket to the test – me. He called it the ‘rain test’ but in the same breath told me that I might want to get my rain skirt too…

Two massive buckets, 20 litres of water, brain freeze and flashbacks of Cornish surfing attempts later, the jacket held up well. I survived the attack and the testing was over (a little like our marriage.) No, after 11 years it will take a bit more than a tidal wave to the face to get rid of me. 

Thanks, Nikwax, for keeping things simple and me, dry-ish (tougher when your hood is blown off by the blast of water), we are now ready and confident we can handle some rain hiking when it happens. 

Stay safe, stay dry and stay tuned for the next gear test. 

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FAQs

Does Nikwax work?

Yes. Water-repellency on outdoor gear doesn’t last forever so reproofing waterproof items like waterproof jackets is important to prolong their efficiency.

How do you use Nikwax?

For Nylon products use Nikwax Tech Wash and the Nikwax T.X Direct Wash-In. Follow the instructions on the bottles but the basic idea is to simply wash your items with the two products and then allow them to air dry. See their website for a full range of products and find the one suited to your item.

Can you use Nikwax on Gore-Tex?

Yes. Nikwax recommends this treatment for Gore-Tex, SympaTex, eVent, Nikwax Analogy products.

What other products do Nikwax offer?

They have a full range of waterproofing, cleaning and conditioning products, see them all on their website.

The Nikwax products

In this video, we test Nikwax products including:

Nikwax Tech Wash – To clean the material.

Nikwax TX Direct – To apply Durable Water Repellency.