As creative teams in the outerwear design departments of the world’s greatest ski brands look back in time for inspiration for their latest collections, I thought I’d take a glance back to my ‘look book’ circa 1993 and see what gems I could find.

Tested by Hannah James

Embarrassingly, after a series of what I thought were comprehensive decluttering sessions, it turns out I still own a pair of Columbia Titanium Ladies Waterproof Trousers from aforementioned era and for the purposes of this exercise, I snaffled a decade old North Face splash-proof soft shell.

The Restoration Experiment

Could the British household name ‘Nikwax‘ restore these relegated but beloved garments and catapult them back into the premier league with my three week old Helly Hansen gear?


I’ll be honest. I didn’t even bother doing ‘before’ pictures of either item because I know full well they were both well past having any outdoor merit. The primary function of the ladies pants has been for scrabbling around under our motorhome in -15c trying to coax some water out of the old girl on our recent season spent in the Alps. The jacket doubled as an indoor cardigan-type layer on the trip and hadn’t seen fresh air for a few years.

To Work – Nikwax review

First I dutifully lobbed both articles in the machine and washed, as per manufacturer’s instructions, with the Tech Wash and followed this with the TX-Direct (wash in) and hung on the line to dry.


See for yourself.


Above: Ten year old North Face Soft Shell (which was never supposed to be waterproof in the first place)| Below: 25 year old Columbia Titanium Waterproof trouser


I really don’t have anything other than good things to say about this stuff. I like the fact that I feel virtuous – I’ve saved the planet yet again this week (having refused a bag in Sainsbury’s yesterday) and I plan to continue in this vain.

Totally hassle free in terms of the execution of the job. Cold water wash followed by a 30 degree spin and no heat cycle required to activate the product.

As a result, I felt compelled to spend a few hours investigating the environmental credentials of Nikwax. Surely anything this simple and effective must have been made from baby seal eyelashes or the profits of such a company are being used to fund the trafficing of micro-pigs to Chelsea.

Reassuringly, neither of those things seem to be happening at Nikwax and they do seem like a safe pair of hands in the outdoor industry.


I’m really struggling to justify buying shiny new kit. How irritating. I think there are two main things that have come up during this test.

1) Anything new in the market needs to be really quite special for any of us to justify chucking out perfectly serviceable kit that simply needs some TLC

2) Being burdened with an environmental concern means having to face the fact that it’s only 92 days until I’m going to have to don a mint green and lilac onesie… that’s still perfectly serviceable