THE BREAKDOWN: PFAs w/ Klättermusen

Apr 28, 2024

What does is mean to have PFA free DWR?

Welcome to the big wide world of fluorocarbons. You've probably heard whispers about these chemicals, especially with their upcoming bans and restrictions. I’m going to try to navigate through this maze without falling down too many rabbit holes. 

Lucky for us, we’ve got the help of Sara Hult, Production Manager at Klättermusen. Sara has years of experience in the outdoors industry (around 12 of those at Klättermusen) and is extremely well versed in fabric innovation. We met over video call from Klättermusen’s ski resort home Åre, Sweden.

Earth conscious practices are at the heart of what Klättermusen has done since it’s inception in 1975 and in September 2017 they became the first outdoor brand in history to have a completely fluorocarbon free collection. They are the epitome of practicing what they preach.

So what are we even talking about? In short, PFA’s are a group of chemicals with excellent water and dirt repellant properties. They are widely used in waterproof garments , membranes and DWR (durable water repellant). The incredible downside of these chemicals is that they’re toxic,  having adverse effects on our environment, animals and ourselves; including reproductivity, birth weights, immune systems and more. They are also known as ‘forever chemicals’, because they are extremely persistent, both in nature and in humans. It seemed a no brainier for us at Heatwave to only stock PFA free DWR.


We share a snippet of our chat with Sara about how Klättermusen dealt with their trailblazing change.

Alice: Was there a defining moment that prompted Klättermusen to begin the process of removing PFAs?

Sara: Well that was before my time even. We started maybe 15 years ago, even more. When I started, we had already begun phasing it out, we didn’t have it in our membranes and we were working on getting rid of it in the DWRs.

Alice: And what were some of the biggest challenges in removing PFAs from your DWR?

Sara: The biggest challenges were performance and to get our suppliers to try something new. The issue with changing chemicals is that it’s difficult to understand before what difference in performance the fabric will have. For example, a big problem was seam slippage. Seams were falling apart…we had to test over and over and over. It was also a big thing for the fabric suppliers, because they were working with a product that they knew, so it saves a lot of time and money for them to use the same type of product all the time. So a big credit to the fabric suppliers who actually wanted to do this with us.

Alice: How long did this process take, to get to end product?

Sara: I would say at least 5 years from the first to the final fabric.

Sara tells us that during this process they even found that there were PFAs in their zips. Showing just how prevalent these chemicals are.

Alice: What sorts of processes did you have to go through when sending these new products to market. I imagine there was speculation around this new DWR?

Sara: We came from a good place because we were very small. The ones that knew about us knew that we tried to work as much as we could on sustainability when it comes to chemicals and what type of fabrics we are using. So I think people that bought our things at that time were very open minded and that helped a lot. We were also very open about it and communicated in our work books, had a lot of workshops with retailers and communicated with our customers. On top of that we also did all this testing.

Although PFA containing DWR is very good at it’s job, the longevity of the chemical doesn’t necessarily correlate to the longevity of the waterproof properties of a garment. These fabrics are tested brand new and don’t take into account the real world uses and wear and tear. It rubs off over time and the longevity of the chemicals instead have harsh impacts on us and our environments. Garments will still need to be re treated, same as PFA free garments.

Talking to Sara, it was clear how much she cared about her work. Not afraid of challenge and not one to take an easy way out, she was a great example of a person and a company that stands by what they do and are constantly innovating. We’re excited for the future of Klättermusen at Heatwave and are stoked to be able to back their products.

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Top Tips On Caring For Your Klättermusen Products:

 -Wash your garment at least once a year to maintain the DWR coating and to keep the membrane free from dust and grime.

-Wash more often if you’re using your garment for strenuous activities.

-Apply heat after wash in order to re-activate the DWR coating and improve the water repellent of the garment

-Retreat your garment at least once a year with PFC free DWR, or as soon as the DWR effect is not to satisfaction. This will give that extra resistance to moisture and provide good breathability.



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