Downlite, U.S.-based, supplier of down to the outdoor industry, was the first down finishing company in North America to tap in to the Nikwax process for producing Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (NHD).

NHD is a water-resistant form of down produced in an environmentally friendly way, Downlite says, without persistent chemicals such as PFCs. The company has also developed a system for tracing the origins of down, like others, to ensure it has been ethically sourced without live plucking.

Now, Downlite is signing an agreement with Nikwax whereby it would ensure that fluorocarbon water-repellents are excluded form every part of the Downlite production process. This will mean that NHD from Downlite can be used in the future by consumer brands to progress their commitment to zero PFCs in production and Zero Hazardous Discharge.

“We have been highly impressed with the waterproof performance of the Nikwax Hydrophobic Down. Had that not been the case, we would have been nervous about making this commitment to zero PFC in our production,” said Chad Altbaier, VP sales and business development at Downlite. “We know that ultimately all outdoor brands want to take the most sustainable route, so we believe that this is not only a good moral decision, but also a good business one that’s excellent for the consumer,” said Altbaier.

Not unlike other “waterproof” downs, Nikwax Hydrophobic Down provides the optimum outdoor insulation solution of water-resistance, low weight, and high insulation without the use of hazardous persistent chemicals.

The company’s talking points include:

  • You can shake HND with water for 1000 minutes and it still will not sink.
  • You can wash it at least five times with Nikwax Down Wash Direct and it will maintain its water-resistant and insulation properties.
  • NHD is not only a high performance material, but also a material that will give products a long and useful life.

Nick Brown, CEO and founder of Nikwax, said, “This is a great step on the road to showing that the best available technology can also be the most sustainable technology, and moving PFC products out of the outdoor market.”

NHD Plumule

Nikwax Hydrophobic Down can only be produced with materials that have been screened for ethical sourcing.

Nikwax said it has pioneered the move away from PFC water repellents and continues to demonstrate that high-performance waterproofing can be achieved with minimum environmental effect. Additionally, Nikwax Hydrophobic Down can only be produced with materials that have been screened for ethical sourcing.

Nikwax was founded in 1977 by Brown, a hiker and traveler who designed his own waterproofing wax to keep his leather mountain boots dry. Subsequently Nikwax has become the global leader in environmentally safe aftercare and waterproofing solutions that extend the life and performance of technical footwear, clothing and equipment.

Nikwax care products are distributed to 50 countries and are the only major aftercare company to have never used aerosols or fluorocarbons. Nikwax products are all fluorochemical-free, use advanced elastomer technology, are not tested on animals, and are non-persistent in the environment. Nikwax received numerous awards including the prestigious Queen’s Award (4x), Sunday Times Best Green Award (3x), the Green Apple Award, and is ISO 9001 and 14001 certified. In 2014 Nikwax won the Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development.

Downlite is a manufacturer of down and feather, and synthetic bedding products such as comforters, pillows, mattress pads, and feather and fiber beds sold under private label in leading department stores, specialty stores, catalogs, and under major national brand names. Downlite also supplies high-quality bulk fills to furniture, outerwear and sleeping bag manufacturers around the globe. Downlite is a Bluesign system partner and member of the American Down & Feather Council (ADFC).