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The Gear Closet Archetypes

If you are a lover of the outdoors and the activities associated, it goes without saying that you have an assortment of gear. How people store their gear, however, widely varies. Which type are you?

The Gear Decorator:

Your friends may not understand it, but you believe there’s no better way to store your gear than to artfully arrange it, on your living room wall. “I think the ice axe looks lovely hanging over the television; it really ties the room together.”

The OCD:

You have a place for everything and everything IS in its place. Or else. “Can’t you SEE the outlines for each item I’ve neatly drawn on the wall?”

The Mobile:

“Yeah, I’m just gonna leave it in the car.”

The Old School:

Your gear is all at least 20 years old, but it is meticulously maintained, and loved. You always put it away clean. “You can have my external frame backpack when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”

The Gear Shed/Garage/House:

You have a dedicated storage facility/fortress for your massive gear collection. “What? You don’t keep all your gear in a climate-controlled, highly secured environment? Me? Oh, I sleep in my car.”

The Chaos:

“Where’s the tent? Where’s the @$&! tent?!?”

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Hot Drinks for Cold Weather

HotdrinkWinter – wonderful winter! We look forward to it for a variety of reasons, such as skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and snow angels. And sometimes, it’s just nice for the change of weather and wardrobe.  But one thing we LOVE about winter is a hot, toasty drink on a crisp, cold day. Whether it’s packing your trusty Stanley Thermos for a day on the hill or for a sledding trip with the kiddos, nothing beats the feeling of having a warm, delicious drink.

At Nikwax, not only are we aftercare and waterproofing experts; we are also experts when it comes to tasty hot beverages. (Or so we’d like to believe). Here are a few of our favorite recipes, both old and new, to fill your Stanley and warm your bones.

Creamy Junior Mint Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

2 cups milk

2 cups Dark Chocolate Almond Milk

½ cup finely grated chocolate

½ cup Junior Mints

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions:

  • Pour milk and chocolate almond milk into a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add grated chocolate, stirring to combine. Add Jr. Mints stirring until melted. Reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Pour cream and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Whisk until stiff peaks form.
  • Ladle hot chocolate into cups and top with homemade whipped cream and sprinkle with additional grated chocolate.

Makes 4 Servings

The Hot Choc-Colada (Alcoholic)

 Ingredients:

For the Hot Chocolate:

1 can (13.5oz) coconut milk

1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup dark chocolate unsweetened cocoa powder

1 pinch of kosher salt

3/4 cup pineapple juice

3/4 cup Captain Morgan Spiced Rum

4 cup water

For the Spiked Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy cream (cold)

3 Tbsp granulated sugar

3 Tbsp Captain Morgan Spiced Rum

For the Garnish:

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup toasted coconut

Instructions:

  • For the Toasted Coconut:
  • Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Pour bag of sweetened coconut flakes onto large baking sheet. Bake for 60-90 minutes, turning every 15 minutes until brown and toasted! Store in ziploc bag with all the air pressed out.
  • For the Spiked Whipped Cream:
  • In a cold mixing bowl, whip heavy cream on medium-high until soft peaks form. Beat in sugar and rum until fully incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • For the Hot Chocolate:
  • In a large pot over medium heat, whisk together the coconut milk, condensed milk, cocoa powder, salt and pineapple juice. Do not boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add rum and water. Continue heating until desired temperature.
  • To serve:
  • Place honey in small saucer. Put toasted coconut in a small bowl. Dip rims of glass into honey, letting the excess drip off. Immediately press rim into toasted coconut, coating rim completely. Pour hot chocolate into glass, about 1 inch from rim, depending on style of glassware. Pipe whipped cream onto each glass and sprinkle with excess toasted coconut.

Werther’s Chai Tea for Fall

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups hot chai tea

1/2 cup 1% milk

6 chopped up Werther’s caramels, divided

Whipped cream

Instructions:

1. Pour the very hot chai tea into the mug and stir in 3/4 of the chopped candy until it is dissolved. Then pour in the milk and top the chai with whipped cream.

2. Garnish the whipped cream with the remaining chopped candies and serve!

*Why Stanley? Because they make the most durable, classic thermos on the market. Your grandfather probably had one. So did his. And here’s why: Stanley transcends all demographics and does the one thing you demand from your thermos. They keep your hot drinks hot for a very long time, and we experts on hot drinks really appreciate it!

For more ideas and recipes on delicious hot winter drinks, visit our Pinterest board!


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Waterproof your Cotton Tees

We all know the old saying: “cotton is rotten.” And to a certain degree, it’s true. While it’s a perfectly fine material for a T-shirt or a hoodie, cotton may be the single worst fabric you can wear in any potentially wet outdoor situation.  Any moisture tends to rob even the thickest cotton garment of its warmth, and good luck getting it to dry in anything less than a few hours.

The Denim Diehard. Photo by John Johnston

The Denim Diehard. Photo by John Johnston

Yet, every day on the ski hill you will see folks who, despite all of the arguments to the contrary, brave the elements in all sorts of cotton. There are many reasons, from style to economy to pure toughness, that folks still choose to rock cotton out in the elements. In fact, it’s a good bet that someone you know falls into one of the following categories:

The XXXXXXXL Steezball: This cotton lover is a product of modern trends in freeskiing fashion more than anything else. Taking the baggy, colorful “skittle-thug” look to its logical extreme, these stylish park-rats can be seen hucking cork-9s and backside lipslides off booters, rails, and boxes decked out in neon-colored XXXL hoodies or T-shirts from the big-and-tall section of the thrift store. For a further breakdown of the XXXXXXXL Steezball’s clothing and habits, check out this helpful infographic.

The Denim Diehard: The Denim Diehard believes in tradition. They’ve been rocking jeans and a sweater (or, if they’re a child of the ‘90s, a starter jacket) since they first strapped on skis, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The Spring Skiing Joker. Photo by Frank Kovalchek

The Spring Skiing Joker. Photo by Frank Kovalchek

The Workhorse: Carhartt Jacket. Dickies pants. Work gloves. Safety glasses. If it’s good enough for the construction site, it’s good enough for the ski hill.

The Spring Skiing Joker: This dude is a fair weather cotton type. Come late spring, with the snow melting into a slushy mess and the silliness factor on the hill rising, he’ll don wacky, not nearly waterproof getups. It can be a whole lot of fun, but it’s a dangerous game, seeing as the spring conditions can be as wet as they come.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, Nikwax has a great solution to keep your garment warm and dry, even while being battered by the elements. Nikwax Cotton Proof wash-in waterproofing adds water repellency to all cotton and polycotton garments while maintaining breathability. It’s the perfect solution to keep your style factor high AND dry, even if you’re rocking an XXXL hoodie on a wet, snowy day.


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The Sustainability of Ski Resorts

Pure backcountry skiers need only look at their gear’s supply chain and their own tracks in the snow to see the environmental footprint of their fun. For those of us who enjoy the occasional chairlift ride and hot soup mid-mountain, the sustainability of skiing infrastructure becomes more complex.

Ski Area Management 101

Snowflake 1

Credit: Brenda Starr~’s Photostream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/brenda-starr/)

Most ski areas in the United States operate at least partially on land leased from the Federal government. Base areas will often be on privately owned land, thereby granting slightly more leniency with the management of that infrastructure. It’s fair to say that most Federal oversight focuses on safety and ski area interactions with Federal laws, such as the Endangered Species Act.

The bottom line, environmentally speaking, is that ski areas are pretty much just like any other corporation: they establish their own environmental ethics.

National Sustainable Slopes Initiative

Stepping in to facilitate an in-progress, industry-driven movement, the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) – a trade association for ski area operators – collaborated on a “Sustainable Slopes Environmental Charter” in 2000. Along with its solution-oriented principles, the charter doesn’t dance around the fact that “…ski areas have some unavoidable impacts.

Updated in 2005, the charter outlines broad philosophies and values. It defines industry-held principles to be used as guidelines for: ski area operations, planning, design, construction, water usage and quality, summertime activities, energy usage and conservation, waste management, fish and wildlife management, forest and wetlands management, air and visual qualities, related transportation, and education and outreach.

The charter even touches on climate change. In 2003, the NSAA partnered with the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) for a “Keep Winter Cool” program. (Ed. Note: The program no longer exists in its original form.) The NSAA doesn’t mince words.

“Through this policy, we aim to raise awareness of the potential impacts of climate change on our weather-dependent business and the winter recreation experience; reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions; and encourage others to take action as well.”

It goes on to say that not only should ski areas operators voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they should also advocate for national reductions through legislative and regulatory means.

Ask Your Home Area

A list of “endorsing resorts” is on the last page of the online Charter. But to find out what is truly happening on the ground, as opposed to general principles, check out the website for your home area.

Take Aspen Skiing Company, for example. The tony resort may make the news for Charlie Sheen outbursts and other celebrity sightings, but of real interest is its longstanding environmental commitment. The organization has had a vice president of sustainability, Auden Schendler, for over 13 years.

Among the myriad awards and the simple steps like recycling efforts and retrofitting lighting systems, Aspen Skiing Company dives in head first on big projects, too. In 2012, the company earned its sixth Golden Eagle Award for ‘Overall Environmental Excellence.’

The award was earned in large part from a creative collaboration with unlikely suspects: coal and energy utilities. The three entities invested $5.5 million on a methane (a greenhouse gas) capture system at a nearby coal mine. The methane project eliminates the equivalent of three times the carbon pollution the ski resort would otherwise create each year in energy use. Additionally, the project generates carbon negative electricity equal to the amount of energy used by Aspen Skiing Company annually. This is expected to hold true for at least 15 more years. (This paragraph paraphrased from www.aspensnowmass.com/environment. Click through for more comprehensive info.)

What is your local ski area doing to mitigate its environmental impacts? Check into it, and do what you can to help.

Nikwax applauds all efforts – small and large. Sometimes the least recognized achievements have the greatest impact.


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Misadventures in Winter Golfing

In 2010 I made a deal with my husband that I would take golf lessons for one month. If I liked it, great! I would buy clubs and take up the sport at a leisurely pace. If I hated it, he would have to leave me alone and never say another word about it. Well, as it turned out, I was halfway decent and with a little coaching and practice, I would probably break 100.

Going to the driving range was a blast. It was covered and in a heated facility. I didn’t have to be wet, or cold, and I didn’t have to walk anywhere. I didn’t even think about what I needed to wear. Fast-forward to Super Bowl Sunday, 2011: My first day of “winter” golf. It was to become the worst day of golf that I have ever had.

The Pacific Northwest is notorious for its copious amounts of rain and overcast winter weather. Having said that, it does not stop people from golfing in the winter because the golf courses in the PNW are open all year around. This is precisely why I found myself golfing on Super bowl Sunday. When I got dressed that morning, I thought I was being sensible for the rainy weather. I dressed in layers, wearing my Patagonia capilene, a Helly Hansen waterproof softshell, regular khaki pants, wool socks and leather tennis shoes. However, by hole number 3, I was starting to get concerned.

golf1

It wasn’t long before my softshell was no longer repelling the rain and my shoes were starting to take on water.  By hole 9, I was MISERABLE and screaming at my husband. I was having a hard time focusing and my swing was suffering. I was starting to get cold, my jacket was starting to stick to me, and my glove was wet. By hole 14, my pants were soaked up to my knees, my jacket was saturated, my shoes and socks were so soggy that I could barely walk, and I might as well have just thrown my leather glove away. I think I even started crying and may have attempted to murder my husband with my golf club. golf2I won’t reveal what I shot by the time the day was over. I had a total meltdown and vowed never to be that wet and miserable on the golf course ever again.

golf3

After that disaster, I learned to be proactive. Now I make sure to wash my softshell in Tech Wash frequently. I treat it with Softshell proof when it starts showing the smallest sign of wetting out.  I purchased a sweet pair of saddle style golf shoes from Adidas and religiously clean them with Footwear Cleaning Gel and treat them with Waterproofing Wax for Leather. I have also treated my leather golf gloves with Waterproofing Wax for Leather and my fabric and leather gloves I treat with Glove Proof. My husband also has gotten into the habit of making sure all of his gear is cleaned and waterproofed, especially his shoes.

I haven’t been that wet and miserable since. I can happily say that I have not attempted to throw my clubs at my husband, or anyone else. I also have yet to break 100, which now I cannot blame on being wet and miserable.