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Reviews > Do It Yourself > Nikwax Hardshell Duo Pack > Test Report by Richard Lyon

NIKWAX HARDSHELL DUO-PACK
Test Report by Richard Lyon

Initial Report May 19, 2020
Long Term Report May 25, 2020

PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

Male, 73 years old  
Height: 6' 3" [1.91 m]
Weight: 210 lb [(93 kg])
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Outside Bozeman, Montana USA, in the Bridger Mountains

I've been backpacking for half a century, most often in the Rockies. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp.  Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences. I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Winter backcountry trips are often planned around skiing opportunities.

INITIAL REPORT - MAY 19, 2020

nikwax1Nikwax markets the DUO-Pack as "All you need to safely clean and add water repellency to wet weather clothing without wicking liners." The duo are Tech Wash, a soap-based nondetergent cleaner, and TX-Direct Wash-In, a waterproofing treatment. The pack includes a 300-ml [10 fl oz] plastic bottle of each; the Duo is also available with one-liter [34 fl oz] bottles, MSRP $49.95.

Manufacturer: Nikwax North America, Inc., nikwax.com
Weight, measured: 13 oz [369 g] per bottle
Size, measured: Each bottle is a cylinder 7 inches [18 cm] high and 3 inches [7.5 cm] in diameter
MSRP: $20.75 US
Related product: TX.Direct is also available in a spray bottle.
Note: Each of these products is available separately

The DUO-Pack arrived shortly after my ski season ended and warmer weather loomed - time for cleaning up the waterproof-breathable [WPB] outerwear that I mistreated all winter. The guinea pig candidates are, in no particular order: Norrona lofoten GORE-TEX pants and insulated jacket; Norrona falketind GORE-TEX jacket; 66 North eVent pants; Westcomb Mirage eVent jacket; Bergen of Norway Storen jacket with Dermazax NX WPB treatment. [I have submitted an Owner Review on each of these products on this site, if more information is desired.] The one thing all have in common is a winter's accumulated grime.

Directions for washing and drying are printed on each bottle. Washing directions differ slightly in dosage, maximum load, and settings for top loading washers, front loading washers, and hand washing. [This last calls for wearing gloves.] I have a no-agitator top-loader, so this Report will describe the first of these.

For the Tech Wash - Maximum six garments. After the machine is filled with water add 150 ml/5 fl oz of Tech Wash, low water level, for 1-3 garments, or 250 ml/8.5 fl oz of Tech Wash, medium water level for 4-6 garments. Set the controls to heavy soil level and warm water. If following the wash with TX.Direct, drying is unnecessary; the waterproofing can be run immediately. If not, the garments should be air-dried or, if the product label says machine drying is OK, tumble-dried on low heat.

For TX.Direct - Maximum three garments. After the machine is filled with water [low level] add 300 ml/10 fl oz of TX.Direct. Set the controls to heavy soil level and warm water. Drying directions mirror those for Tech Wash.

My washer adds soap automatically after the water level reaches the set level, and I can adjust the soil and water levels to comply with Nikwax's directions. All six candidates will be washed and treated. GORE recommends tumble drying GORE-TEX garments, so those three will go into the dryer on low. The labels on the eVent and Dermizax garments recommend air drying, and that's what they'll get.

My out-of-the box reactions:

  • Nikwax makes a large number of cleaning, waterproofing, and gear treatment products, each pitched to a particular product [leather, camping gear, down garments and gear, rugs], fabrics [WPB, cotton, DWR, synthetic], or function [cleaning, waterproofing, UV protection, conditioning]. I've used many, in many different categories, over many years, and have never been disappointed. I'm looking forward to cleaner and rejuvenated ski outerwear.

  • I like the idea of washing in the waterproofing treatment. My prior product calls for spraying immediately after washing, a messy and hit-and-miss process. In theory at least a full run through the washer should provide a more thorough and even application.
LONG TERM REPORT - May 25, 2020

Testing protocols

A rainy morning late last week and a clutch of dirty outerwear prodded me to test the Duo. I discovered that I had a second bottle of TX.Direct, which would allow cleaning and treating six garments in accordance with Nikwax's capacity limits. The test proceeded as follows:

1. With seven candidates, maximum capacity six garments if I was to follow the manufacturer's direction, I had to make a cut. The laundry tag on my lofoten insulated jacket warned against tumble drying, so with three other GORE-TEX pieces in the mix that was the one treated separately. 

2. I loaded the other six garments, each with zippers fully closed, in my top loader; set the program to heavy soil, warm water, and extra rinse; added 250 ml [8.4 fl oz] of Tech Wash [5/6 of the bottle's contents], and let 'er rip. About ninety minutes later the wash was done.

3. After transferring the three GORE-TEX garments to hangers hung in the basement shower, I reset the washer as before but without the extra rinse, poured the contents of the TX.Direct into the dispenser, and restarted the washer with the three non-GORE-TEX pieces in the chamber. When this cycle ended, I hung each of the garments on a hanger for air drying in the basement shower.

4. A couple of hours later I returned the GORE-TEX garments to the washer and repeated step 3. At the end of the cycle I dried the guinea pigs in the dryer set on low heat.

5. The next morning the non-GORE TEX garments were completely dry. [Humidity is low here in the mountains - laundry dries quickly.]

6. I didn't forget the insulated jacket. 50 ml [1.6 fl oz] of Tech Wash remained, by coincidence Nikwax's exact dosage for hand washing one garment. Following Nikwax's instructions, I soaked the jacket in warm water, added the TX.Direct, agitated the water, let the jacket soak for ten minutes, then rinsed three times with cold water. After the rinse onto a hanger and into the shower for air drying. The following day I treated it with the contents of a sample bottle of TX.Direct Spray that I had on hand. 

Observations

Nikwax2Cleaning was extremely good, and that's on several garments that were genuinely dirty. In my experience dirt accumulates most often and most persistently at the cuffs and hem of jackets and at the cuffs of trousers.  These areas were nearly spotless, and I don't lay any blame on Nikwax for what little remained. That's on the owner for not washing frequently enough. Surface smudges and rubbed-in dirt were entirely gone. The only things Tech Wash didn't remove were a few small but heavy stains of long standing, again not the product's fault. Pictured is my Norrona falketind GORE-TEX Pro jacket, which I chose because it's more than a decade old and its light grey color makes it easier to see what's discolored. Note that the hem and cuffs are almost entirely free of grime. A couple of bloodstains remain, as they have remained after many other washings over many seasons. [I think they give the jacket character.]

The cleaning process is as easy as running an ordinary load of laundry.

Waterproofing treatment is almost as easy. TX.Direct has a somewhat milky appearance, and I noticed in my older bottle that the product can congeal a bit at the mouth of the bottle. A good shake or two and it became liquid again. [Nikwax recommends looking for this and shaking when using TX.Direct in a front-loading machine.] When the cycle was finished I noticed that one or two garments had streaks of TX.Direct, which I easily wiped away with a damp cloth.

Raw weather the day following the test gave me a chance to challenge the waterproofing. I had set some time aside to plant nine lilac bushes in my yard, so of course the entire day was great spring weather - high 30s F [4 C] and a steady mixture of rain, sleet, and snow. My newly-treated Bergen's jacket kept me nice and dry.

For convenience it's tough to beat the Duo - simply run the washer cycle twice, check for streaks, and either hang up to dry or pop in the dryer. Not having to allow the garments to dry before treating them is a big time and trouble saver. And washing in the waterproofing treatment is not only simpler than spraying it on, it reduces the risk of missing an underarm or other small spot, something that has happened more than once in the decades I've been spraying.

In summary, I have nothing but praise for this combination of products. It's a bit pricey, about $5 per garment based upon the MSRP [one Duo and an extra bottle of TX.Direct for six garments], but it's easy to use and it works, at least out of the gate. I'll definitely buy some more.

Notionally my Test Report ends here, but I plan to file a supplement after the summer's use of the treated jackets. Thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Nikwax for the opportunity to test these products.












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