Video Review – Nikwax Cotton Proof

You’d be forgiven for not realising that the really expensive Gore-Tex jacket you’ve just bought will eventually soak up water like a sponge and take ages to dry after a good soaking. That’s because so-called breathable-waterproofing has nothing whatsoever to do with the outside of the jacket. What you need in order to stop rain soaking into the fibres themselves is something called a DWR (Durable Water Repellent). And that’s what Nikwax is.

Now Nikwax has been around for donkey’s years, but I confess that I’ve never actually used it, so this test/review was designed to push the limits of the coating to see just how good it is.
I cut an old pair of jeans in half, hand-washed half in Nikwax, sewed them back up and then went for a walk in the rain.

The results were astonishing. The Nikwax-coated leg of the jeans repelled the light rain for over an hour, whilst the other leg soaked it up and became heavy, grippy and uncomfortable. I deliberately kept the jeans slung low and walked through wet grass, and the difference in the amount that each leg soaked up from the ground was also impressive – with the Nikwax leg ending up with 5-inches of wet bottom as opposed to around 12 inches on the un-treated side.

I had thought that wax coating jeans would end up with them feeling clammy and slippery on the skin, and I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t the case. There was a very slight difference in feel in both legs, but not so much that you’d notice if you weren’t told.

SUMMARY: Nikwax Cotton Proof was subjected to a pretty demanding test, probably far greater than what it’s designed for (tents, jackets) and it performed superbly. I was genuinely impressed by how much better than I thought it would be that it actually was. I’ll be looking to test some of Nikwax’s other proofers in the future.


Tags and search info for this review: This is a waterproofer review. tests and reviews waterproofers, waterproofing, outdoor gear and camping equipment.

  • Carrig Suleman

    When I was in a university hiking club we used to use this to treat the outers of the Vango Force 10 tents. Its great stuff, makes a HUGE difference to the moisture absorbtion and on the tents used to hold out Lake District autumn rains with no questions asked. Only problem with using it on the tents was they tended to need a few weeks to air out so you didn’t wake up with a cracking headache in the mornings!

    • Andy

      That’s interesting re the headaches – I have a meeting with Nikwax tomorrow – I’ll ask about that.