Different types of Nikwax: what they do, and what the heck is BaseFresh anyway?

different types of Nikwax: Nikwax lineup
Some of Nikwax's most popular products (Image credit: Nikwax)

Knowing the different types of Nikwax products and what they are used for is knowledge your outdoor gear will thank you for. Waterproofs, down jackets, base layers and footwear are the items that we rely on most for performance, particularly during cold and wet winter adventures. They’re also the more expensive items in our kit bag and are well worth looking after properly

This is where Nikwax come in, with a range of products to help enhance the performance of – and extend the lifespan of – your outdoor gear. With a reputation for quality and sustainability, they are many people’s go to for when their kit needs a little TLC.

Founded in 1977, it's probably best known for its Tech Wash and TX.Direct Wash In, which combine effectively to fully reproof forlorn waterproof jackets. However, they have a huge range of products, with everything from down and tent care to footwear cleaning gel.

A brand that cares for the environment, it is the only major aftercare company to have never used aerosols, fluorocarbons, nor harmful volatile organic chemicals. All Nikwax’s products are fluorochemical-free, use advanced elastomer technology, are not tested on animals, and are non-persistent.

Waterproofing

Nikwax’s flagship products are its Tech Wash and TX.Direct Wash In, which are often sold together and add a new lease of life to stricken waterproof jackets or rain pants.

Nikwax TX.Direct and Tech Wash

(Image credit: Nikwax)

Whether GORE-TEX, Pertex Shield, eVENT or a brand’s proprietary technology, a waterproof jacket will eventually start to let water through. Fortunately, you can reproof your rain resistant shells when you come to launder them. Tech Wash first cleans, enhances breathability and maintains a jacket’s water repellency. TX.Direct is then used to renew a jacket’s DWR (Durable Water Repellency) and is specifically recommended for GORE-TEX and eVENT products.

Nikwax have a whole range of other proofing products, such as its spray on Fabric & Leather Proof, which adds water repellency and enhances breathability for leather and fabric footwear. When paired with their Footwear Cleaning Gel, you’ve got the complete package for caring for your hiking shoes and the like.

different types of Nikwax: Outdoor Complete Protection Kit

The Outdoor Complete Protection Kit contains Tech Wash, TX.Direct Wash In, Fabric & Leather Proof, Footwear Cleaning Gel and a brush for deep cleaning (Image credit: Nikwax)

Its Outdoor Complete Protection Kit contains all of the above, as well as a brush for deep cleaning. It also sells Waterproofing Wax for Leather and spray-on Tent & Gear Solar Proof, designed to protect against UV damage, as well as improving the water repellency of your tents. Beyond this, they also have water repellence products for gloves, ski skins, ropes, soft shells and cottons.

Down care

In October 2022, Nikwax introduced its Down Care Kit, designed to help you to care for your down jackets and sleeping bags. Just like other items of clothing, down needs regular cleaning, as dirt will build up, eventually attracting water and reducing its thermal properties and breathability.

Standard washing detergents will negatively affect a down jacket or sleeping bag’s water repellence, and therefore its ability to stay dry and insulate effectively. Down Wash.Direct is a specialist detergent designed specifically so that your down product retains its ability to resist water.

different types of Nikwax: down care kit

Nikwax's Down Wash. Direct and Down Proof are the ideal duo for giving that bit of TLC to your down jackets and sleeping bags (Image credit: Nikwax)

However, eventually the DWR (durable water repellent) coating of your down gear will fade, even when using specialized detergent. When this happens, you can reproof your items using Down Proof, which is a wash-in waterproofer that not only adds a DWR coating to the outer fabric but to the down itself too.

The Down Care Kit contains a liter of the Wash.Direct and 300ml of the Down Proof for all your down rejuvenation needs. Nikwax recommend that Down Proof is used for every 5-10 washes.

BaseFresh and BaseWash

Other types of Nikwax include their products for base layers. At Advnture, we’re often asked: what the heck is BaseFresh? Well, if you’ve got a base layer that requires a bit of reinvigoration, BaseFresh is what you need. It’s the only conditioner designed to both deodorise and enhance the moisture-wicking and drying capabilities of your synthetic or woollen base layers. Simply use it in a mixed wash and voila!

Whether your top is woven from merino, bamboo or polyester, after being put through the wringer repeatedly on backcountry missions, its performance will start to suffer. Also, even though bamboo and merino have excellent odor-repelling qualities, they won’t stay fresh smelling forever. BaseFresh gives a base layer a lift both in terms of performance and its ability to be pleasing on the nose.

BaseWash performs a similar task. As its name suggests, it’s ideal for washing base layers, whereas BaseFresh conditions and reinvigorates their performance. To use a hair washing analogy: think of BaseWash as the shampoo and BaseFresh as the conditioner.

Alex is a qualified Mountain Leader, adventure writer and content creator with an insatiable passion for the mountains. A Cumbrian born and bred, his native English Lake District has a special place in his heart, though he is at least equally happy in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands or the European Alps. Through his hiking, mountaineering, climbing and trail running adventures, Alex aims to inspire others to get outdoors. He is currently the President of the London Mountaineering Club, training to become a Winter Mountain Leader, looking to finally finish bagging all the Wainwright fells of the Lake District and hoping to scale more Alpine 4000ers when circumstances allow. Find out more at www.alexfoxfield.com (opens in new tab)