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Get DOWN with yo’ bad self! (Or how to clean your down jacket).

As I was looking through online reviews of Nikwax products, one review really caught my eye. It simply stated, “Don’t ever wash down. The benefit is never worth the cost.” Now, I couldn’t disagree more, but it got me thinking about how nerve-wracking cleaning expensive outdoor gear can be. I thought to myself, “Self, how can we make this process easier on our friends out there?”

So, here is the first in an ongoing series of Gear Care posts, where I’ll put my own beloved gear on the line to provide detailed instructions and photographic evidence of the results of good gear care. So here we go, read on to learn how to clean and care for your down jacket.

I’d like you to meet my Moonstone puffy down jacket. This jacket is SO AWESOME that once, while I was standing at a bus stop, an otherwise sane looking man stopped his car in traffic to talk to me about it.

100% nylon shell, 100% polyester lining, 100% goose down insulation

The Situation: I’ve owned this down jacket for about 5 years and since I got it secondhand, it’s likely older than that. To my knowledge, with the exception of getting caught in a surprise rain shower (I know, this is Seattle, is it EVER really a surprise?), I don’t think this down jacket had ever been cleaned. Evidence below.

Gross streaky stain

The above picture is a bit hard to see, but I’m hoping that you can tell that something had been poured down the left shoulder/sleeve. I can’t tell you WHAT this is – given my lifestyle it is most likely beer or coffee, but it’s impossible to know for sure. Many down enthusiasts may be tearing up at this point. “It is LOST,” they lament. “Retire this one to the great gear garage in the sky!” these folks might exclaim. Not so, I say!

The Washing: My beloved down jacket was tossed in our office washing machine (a front loader) accompanied by 50mL (just shy of 2 oz or 1 cap-full) of Nikwax Down Wash. I then ran a regular/normal cycle.For a front-loading HE machine - 50mL/ a scant 2oz/1 cap full

The Proofing: Then, because I think the idea of water-resistant down is the neatest thing since sliced bread, I followed up with 150mL (5 oz or 3 cap fulls) of Nikwax Down Proof. This went right into the washing machine detergent dispenser while my coat was still sitting inside – all wet. I ran a second regular/normal cycle.

150mL/5 oz/3 cap fulls

The Drying: Now, because all Nikwax products are water-based they do not require heat to cure or activate them. However, your down gear loves your dryer like a backcountry junkie loves fresh untracked¬† pow – it’s meant to be. Drying down takes a long time, so be patient. I always put my down in for one more drying cycle after I think it’s dry, just to be sure (damp down = clumping issues and mildew down the road).

This jacket spent about 3 hours in the dryer on medium heat.

IF your gear is particularly old or gnarly OR it has been cleaned improperly in the past, toss a couple of CLEAN tennis balls in the dryer to help re-separate and re-loft the feathers ( I didn’t on this one).

The Result: The stain (whatever it was) is gone. And, though I took no scientific measurements, it seems like the jacket is puffier than it was before! Check it out for yourself.

Left arm post cleaning… no more grossness!

Check out that beading action!

Still fluffy!

The Moral of the Story: If you don’t clean your down gear (properly) you are not getting the maximum performance. The stuff we excrete (sweat, body oil), the stuff we get into (mud, dirt, dust, pond scum, beer or coffee) and the stuff we put on (hairspray, perfume, body lotion, cologne) will all inhibit the performance of our technical gear. SO WASH IT!! ūüôā

Stay Dry (and warm)!

We welcome your gear care questions! Follow us or chat us up on Twitter @professornikwax

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Nikwax Faction member Jen Segger is making tracks in Costa Rica!

Think you’ve had a busy week? Canadian endurance athlete and Nikwax Faction member Jen Segger (www.challengebychoice.ca) will run 250km before the week is out. Jen, along with 12 other Canadian athletes,¬†is in the final stages of the 250km staged endurance run in Costa Rica.

As the¬†Canadian ambassador for the race and the coach¬†for several of the other runners, Jen’s wearing several hats, er, shoes?¬†Follow her progress¬†(as well as that of her team) through the Coasta Rican jungles via¬†her blog and¬†Facebook (as internet connection allows):

http://challenge-by-choice.blogspot.com/

Race Website:

http://www.thecoastalchallenge.com/

Live coverage:

http://leadadventuremedia.squarespace.com/tcc/

The race gets began Saturday, January 30th and finishes today. Stage lengths ranged from 30km to 50km each day.  Jen is hoping that the hilly course profile will play to her favor but with other top female endurance athletes in the race, things should remain exciting right through the finish.

We wish Jen and her team the best of luck and the speediest of feet!

Are you an aspiring endurance athlete yourself? Check out Jen’s training tips AND her killer soon-to-open¬†Vancouver training facility:

www.challengebychoice.ca

Find out all about Jen’s training, coaching and motivational speaking at www.jensegger.com.


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Introducing… the Nikwax Faction

The Nikwax Faction Pro Team When we started thinking about developing a Nikwax¬†Pro Team, we focused on the type of people we would want to represent the brand. We talked a lot about how we were interested¬†in building a community of outdoor enthusiasts and how we wanted representatives who were natural connectors; individuals who would take their Nikwax-treated gear into harsh conditions, use it to death and come back with honest feedback and great stories and photos to share. To that end we’d like to introduce you to the Nikwax¬†pro team, henceforth to be known as The Nikwax Faction.

Heath Bailey – Los Alamos, New Mexico – Heath is a National Park Service Archaeologist, cultural & environmental steward, avid rock climber and outdoorsperson. Recently he served as a Resource Advisor and Archaeologist¬†on the Gulf Oil Spill Incident.¬†Heath “runs¬†his gear through the ringer”¬†on a regular basis, whether on backcountry survey or a 5.13 lead and as a result is exactly the kind extreme tester and enthusiastic connector we were looking for.

Ash Christensen¬†– Salt Lake City, Utah – Ash is a tightrope walking snowboarder who has been¬†featured¬†in Warren Miller’s “Cold Fusion” and “Journey”.¬†He has also been published slacklining/tightroping¬†in National Geographic Adventure and has been published¬†in Snowboard, The Snowboard Journal, WhiteLines, Frequency, Fluid, Couloir, and Backcounty. Check out photos and video from Ash’s adventures.

Mike Desisto –¬†Leavenworth, Washington – As former ski (snowboard) patroller, Mike makes it a¬†point to strap on the board whenever he¬†can. Trouble is, between teaching Outdoor Emergency First Aid courses and leading backcountry¬†climbing and snowboarding trips, sometimes it’s hard to find the time.

Norm Hann¬†– Squamish, British Columbia, Canada – You’re most likely to spot Norm if you happen to be¬†out paddling in British Columbia’s GreatBear Rainforest.¬†Norm runs Mountain Surf Adventures, a standup paddleboarding¬†company. He is a sponsored Canadian paddleboard athlete and is committed to preserving wild spaces like the GreatBear Rainforest via his conservation organization Standup4GreatBear.¬†He spends a lot of time training, racing, exploring remote locations on his SUP, surfing and continuing to pioneer the sport in Canada.

Genevieve Hathaway – Seattle, Washington – Genevieve is The Nikwax Faction’s Ice Queen. This¬†moniker has nothing to do with her bubbly, friendly personality and everything to do with the fact that the lady loves ice. Vertical ice. And lots of it. When she isn’t ice climbing, Gen spends her time mountaineering, skiing and climbing non-frozen media. Follow her adventures on her blog . Or follow her on Twitter @icebella_climbs.

Ben Pritchett РCrested Butte, Colorado РThis is the guy you want on your next backcountry ski trip. Ben is former ski patroller and a current avalanche expert, instructing and coordinating avalanche education for the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) and the Colorado Avalanche Education Center. He spends his summers mountain biking and running his own guide service.

Jen Segger РSquamish, British Columbia, Canada РThe odds of spotting Jen Segger standing still fall somewhere between slim and non. She is a motivational speaker, coach and professional endurance athlete. Additionally, this month will mark the opening of her performance training center, Challenge by Choice Performance Training, in British Columbia.  Jen is currently racing for USA adventure racing team, DART-nuun-Sport-Multi and for Salomon Canada as a solo endurance competitor. She also blogs about her training and racing adventures.

Glen Young РBellingham, Washington РIt would be hard to guess which Faction member has the most stamps in their passport, but Glen would certainly be a frontrunner. In addition to guiding trips to tackle 6,000+ meter peaks around the globe, Glen also leads international trips for a local high school. When not airborne, Glen spends his time mastering Mui Thai kickboxing and working with Odyssey Wilderness Programs which offers therapeutic wilderness programs for troubled youth. Keep up with Glen via his blog.

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