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How to add warmth to your Halloween costume

Unless you live in Southern California or Miami, chances are you are freezing your buns off every year on Halloween. And every year you think to yourself, “Man, I need to come up with a way to add warmth to my costume. Why am I wearing this sexy French maid outfit anyway? Are French maids notoriously sexy?”

At Nikwax, we are in the business of keeping people warm, dry and comfortable during cold, snow, or rain; so it comes as no surprise that we have a ton of ideas to keep you warm on Halloween. Whether you are dressing up as the sexy French maid, Mrs. Doubtfire, or Dr. Frank-n-Furter, the following tips and ideas will keep you warm when the Fireball shots run out.

  • Tights are your best friend. Most women are up-to-speed on this one, so we’re talking to you, Mr. Cross Dressing dude. Nylons (aka stockings or pantyhose) and tights are not the same thing. Tights or leggings will keep you warmer than a pair of nylons. Money-saving tip for the outdoorsy types: Instead of buying fashion leggings that you’ll never wear again, opt for a pair of performance tights or long underwear in Merino wool. The wool will complement your Halloween finery and be ready for a detoxifying cold weather run on Nov. 1.
  • Wigs are surprisingly effective hats. That’s about it. Sport a wig to complete your costume and you won’t need a hat. It’s “method” costuming at its finest.
  • Thrift store finds are not one-trick, costume ponies. Take it from Seattle’s own, mega-rap star, Macklemore – fur will be your best friend, whether you’re drapin’ a leopard mink or rockin’ a wolf on your noggin.  When you hit up your local secondhand or vintage store, or even your grandparent’s closet ask yourself three questions:
    • Will this pull my costume look together?
    • Will it prevent frostbite?
    • Does it have the cool, sassy, “je ne sais quoi” style that I can wear with panache when I’m not dressed in costume?

If the answer to all three is yes, cop that coat, flannel onesy, velour jumpsuit or leather jack and wash and treat it immediately! Thrift stores are full of looks from eras when people weren’t afraid of a little color or a little pattern. As long as it’s machine washable, Nikwax has you covered on the cleaning side. Some of our favorite—not to mention most admired—down vests came directly from the unwanted bin at our local thrift store. After a wash and a waterproof, they stole the Halloween show and have provided years of distinguished style and warmth.

Yet another stay-warm idea would be to pick a costume that is actually warm. In the words of the late Jermaine Stewart, we don’t have to take our clothes off to have a good time, oh no. So here are some not so scantily clad, creative, fun, and WARM costume ideas that you can rock this Halloween.

 Difficulty Level: Easy

Thing 1 and Thing 2: Get yourself a couple red troll wigs and some blue fleece tops and bottoms. For a little extra protection, waterproof that fleece with Polar Proof. Not only will it help you stay waterproof and warm in the rain and snow, it will also help protect your costume from the beer-spilling drunk idiots out there.

Breaking Bad: The Hazmat suit version, not the shirt tucked into the underpants – we are talking about staying warm people!

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: Flannel and Fleece Galore!

Inspector Gadget: A Trench Coat and Fedora – 2 things every adult should already own.

Shaun White: Red-headed curly wig, and your ski or snowboard gear. Add an obscene amount of fake medals and you are good to go.Shaun white

Difficulty Level: Medium

Ron Swanson and/or Ron Burgundy: What they have in common is incredible quotes, fantastic hair, and wicked awesome mustaches.

Gandalf: A long gray robe, beard, hair, and sweet wizard hat will surely keep you cozy and safe. Besides, who doesn’t want to yell out, “You shall not pass!”

Gumby & Pokey: This takes a bit of work, but the results are fantastic.

Teen Wolf: You will be covered in fur. Enough said.Teen Wolf

 Group Costume Ideas:

Ghostbusters: The difficulty level on this one is of medium intensity but it would be totally rewarding.

The Royal Tenenbaums: This one is easy because the likelihood that you have all the costume items in your closet is very high. Really. Everyone owns a tracksuit, a polo shirt, and some kind of suit. Everyone.

Team Zissou: Another from the Wes Anderson film collection. Baby blue shirt and pants and a red knit hat, how easy is that?

The Golden Girls: Grandma’s are always dressing in layers and wearing a gray grannie wig will keep you super warm.

DJ Lance Rock and the creatures from Yo Gabba! Gabba!: This one will take some work, a crazy amount of fleece, some imagination, and mad sewing skills or just set you back about $100 buying the costume. But just think how awesome your group would look especially if you treated all the outfits with Polar Proof. You would all be mystical, magical, waterproof creatures.

Have fun, be safe, and to all the parents out there, remember: always negotiate for your kids’ good candy earlier, rather than later.

Words to live by, from your friends at Nikwax.

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Attack of the killer detergent: The Nikwax Difference

killer-detergent

It begins innocently enough. First, you figure what harm could it possibly do? I’ll wash my jacket just this once with my regular laundry detergent. Before long, that harmless “regular” laundry detergent has become a gateway to the serious stuff: fabric softeners, boosters, oxidizers…

And your outdoor excursions become significantly less comfortable.

We’re not out to bash grocery store detergents. They are effective cleaners for a good majority of our clothes, just not our performance gear.

Think of it this way: You don’t buy a $200,000 Ferrari for use as a family truckster. You buy it for performance. It follows that you wouldn’t toss 200-Gs on a car and fill it up with regular gas that’s designed for a Ford Fiesta. You maintain the Ferrari with premium gas and oil that will keep it performing as it’s designed to perform.

Let’s bring that example a little closer to home. The average cost for a high performance, all-weather jacket is about $400. Washing it with detergent equates to diminishing returns on your investment with every rinse and spin cycle. The basis of all of this boils down to the chemistry of soaps and detergents.

Gettin’ down with chemistry

Believe it or not, but the first barrier to cleaning any garment is water. Specifically it’s the surface tension of water. When left to its own devices, water prefers to stick together by forming droplets. Good when you’re outside in a storm. Bad when you’re trying to clean your jacket.

To remove the oils, sweat, dirt and grime that inhibit our gear’s performance, we need a cleaner of some sort. Water alone will not cut the mustard. Literally.

That leaves two options: a soap (such as Nikwax products) or a detergent (typical grocery store brands laundry cleaners). Soaps are derived from botanical oils or animal fats. Detergents are derived from synthetic or petroleum-based oils. They both work to break down the surface tension of water so the cleaners can connect with the dirt and oils on the fabrics.

You can see where this is leading, right? A life of confusion.

Soaps and detergents each have molecules that are amphiphilic – having both hydrophilic (water-loving) and hydrophobic (water-hating) ends. One side distracts the water by breaking down its surface tension, while the other side makes a pass at the oils the water won’t associate with.

As the hydrophobic side of the cleaner (chemical energy) dances with the oils, the warmth of the water (thermal energy) and the agitation of washing machine (mechanical energy) helps to break down and separate the mess.

At this stage it may seem like the only advantage soap has over detergent is the “natural” derivation.

Just wait. There’s more.

Along comes the rinse cycle

Remember how the molecules of both soaps and detergents have hydrophilic and hydrophobic sides? No big deal if you’re washing a cotton T-shirt. But if you’re washing a $400 jacket, you want that puppy to exit the washing machine with a serious case of hydrophobia.

This is where Nikwax cleaners excel.

Conventional laundry detergents can leave behind hydrophilic (umm… water-loving) residue, which counters the performance of the durable water repellency (DWR). Nikwax soap-based cleaners do not.

Nikwax cleaners are specially formulated for the different types of fabrics they treat. In the case of waterproof/breathable fabrics, like Gore-Tex, Nikwax Tech Wash is a soap-based cleaner that will not leave behind hydrophilic residue.

Since Nikwax does not leave that residue, it will not impede your jacket’s water-repelling performance. Great, right?

We think so.

Bottom line

With your safety and comfort on the line, not to mention the notable economic investment of your outdoor apparel, it is worth the effort to wash your jacket with Nikwax. This guarantees not only a clean piece of gear, but also additional protection and enhanced performance. And who can argue with that?


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Back From the Dead: How to Clean Your Ski Jacket

It's... ALIVE!

It’s… ALIVE!

The world is full of frights that the rational mind can’t reconcile with reality: cheese in a can, the zombie apocalypse, that ski jacket you left unwashed, dirt-covered and and reeking at the bottom of your gear closet.

While experts are quite unified in their classification of canned cheese food, zombies and abused ski jackets inhabit a purgatory of confusion. In the words of one zombie expert, “The undead are notoriously difficult to kill.”

But in the words of… well… us: “Old ski jackets are a piece of cake to revive.” Much like the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, Nikwax can bring your (supposedly) deceased ski jacket back to world of the living. So without further ado, here is how to revive your gear:

  1. For waterproof/breathable hard shells or soft shells without a wicking liner*: place the gear in the washing machine and fill with water at the temperature recommended on the tag (or simply warm- to be safe). Set your cycle to “regular” or “synthetics,” as determined by your washer.
  2. Add Nikwax Tech Wash. In a top-loading machine, add three full caps for 1-3 garments or five full caps for 4-6 garments. In a front loader, it’s best to add no more than two garments with two capfuls of Tech Wash. Special note: If you live in an area with hard water, toss in an extra capful of Tech Wash. If you have an HE machine, use about half the recommended amount so you don’t suds up the place.
  3. Sit back in your zombie bunker with a good book and a glass of wine/beer/hot cocoa as the machine runs its course.
  4. More often than not, this single cycle will be enough to have rebuffed your ski jacket’s near death experience. If the old girl was in really bad shape, you may consider leaving it in the washing machine and running a second cycle. In the second cycle, replace Tech Wash with TX.Direct Wash-In waterproofing.
  5. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions as to whether your garment should be line or tumble dried. Nikwax does not require heat for activation, so you’re good to go either way.
  6. Put your jacket on; admire your kickin’ style in the mirror and grab a crow bar. Get outside and have some fun. Special note: The crow bar is for if you encounter a zombie and has nothing to do with your gear.

So long as zombies have human flesh to feast upon, they will survive. And so it is with your cold weather gear. So long as that coat gets a regular Nikwax bath, it will continue to be the well-working, warmth-giving waterproof undead of your closet.

*Wicking liner: a jacket lining that is intended to soak up your sweat. Usually fuzzy in texture.


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Preparing for a Successful Hunting Season – It’s more than a list

AJF_6037

Photo courtesy of Adam Foss

Preparation. It’s one of the best parts about planning a trip. You make a list, you add to it, subtract from it, and then you refine it and then refine it again. You lay out all of your gear before you, ponder over it, and think to yourself, “am I forgetting anything? I better not be forgetting anything. If I forget something, I could be stranded and then I would have to forage for food. Maybe I should bring that book I just got about foods of the forest. Oh god, what if I eat the wrong wild potato seeds and die like Chris McCandless. I better look at the list again.”

What we are saying is: Preparation is important. It is paramount for hunters and it’s much more than a list. That brings us to Adam Foss, The Fossman. He’s part of the Nikwax Faction and we thought we would catch up with him to see how he prepares for his hunts. He’s a good source, as he’s been hunting most of his life and he’s a professional hunting athlete, sponsored by some big guns (pun totally intended) like Sitka Gear, Leica Hunting, Mystery Ranch, Hilleberg the Tent Maker, and Schnee’s Boots. In 2012, at the age of 24, he became the youngest person to take all four species of sheep with a bow.

Talking with Adam, you can tell he LOVES hunting. He hunts more days than some folks ski, logging anywhere from 80-100 days a season. He’s currently planning for a 14 day sheep hunt in Alaska. When we asked him what he does to get prepared, he said it depends on what kind of trip he is going on. His preparation depends on whether he is going for a weekend elk hunting trip or a 14 day sheep hunting trip; the difference is between a 20 pound pack and a 70 pound pack and exactly what goes in those packs to keep him safe, dry, and warm.

The physical demands of hunting are much more intense than most people think. Granted, while he and his pals are in the upper echelon of hard-core hunting athletes, it’s still a very physical activity for all levels of hunters. Adam is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast and tends to stay in shape in the off-season by trail running, and does a lot of hiking in the mountains scouting new country. He said when hunting season starts, he pretty much checks out of the gym because each hunting trip gets him in better shape for the next. Hunters can cover up to 20 miles in one day, bushwhacking their way up a face of a mountain in some pretty harsh conditions. They do what they have to do and go where they have to go to achieve their goal. That also means eating plenty of calories, staying hydrated, and having really good equipment that is lightweight, breathable, and durable and all of that has to fit in a pack.

Adam Yukon 3

Photo courtesy of Adam Foss

So, how does one achieve that? Let’s break it down.

Adam says efficient meal planning and hydration is key. He likes Mountain House meal pouches. They supply plenty of his daily calorie requirements without being too heavy in his pack. For more energy he eats Cliff Shot Blocks and Honey Stinger Chews and he eats a lot of them, often. He also drops Nuun tablets in his water. The electrolytes help keep him hydrated when his body is working over time.

Adam believes that layering is everything and hunting is no different than mountaineering or skiing in this regard. He prefers Sitka Gear’s merino baselayers when he is on a long trip. He says merino helps regulate your body temperature really well and he can wear it for 10 days straight and be fine. With synthetics, the smell really starts to build up after a couple of days and that doesn’t bode well for longer trips. He’ll wear synthetic base layers for short, weekend trips, but for the 10-14 day trips he’s really doing his hunting partners a favor by wearing merino. He uses Nikwax Wool Wash to properly clean and care for his merino baselayers, socks, underwear, and hat and glove liners before going out for his long hunts.

Adam Yukon 9

Photo courtesy of Adam Foss

With bow hunting you are generally out in the wildness for a long period of time, and having 10 days of good weather is lucky. Adam says that sometimes you have to spend 1-3 days playing cards and staring at the walls of your tent to shelter yourself from a storm. He also doesn’t feel that he needs to shave off a couple of extra pounds on his back to sacrifice being warm, dry, and comfortable in the middle of nowhere. He likes to carry a down sleeping bag and cleans it with Nikwax Down Wash before he heads out for a couple of weeks. Nikwax Down Wash revitalizes loft and insulation without damaging the structure of the down. It also maintains breathability and the original water repellency.

As a professional hunting athlete, Adam is lucky to get new gear at the start of every season. But during the season, he is pummeling that gear. It gets campfire smoke, sweat, and blood from dressing animals on it. When he gets back, he washes his jackets and packs in Tech Wash because it effectively removes the tough bloodstains and smoke, making his gear look and perform like new again. He also religiously applies Waterproofing Wax for Leather to all of his Schnee’s leather boots throughout the season.

Photo courtesy of Adam Foss

Photo courtesy of Adam Foss

Hunting as a sport is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Adam says hunting has come a long way from the idea of rednecks in their 4-wheelers or trucks. The new hunter has gotten younger and more conscious of where their food comes from. They feel good knowing that they harvested an animal themselves. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg has taken up the sport and Eva Longoria boasts the fact that she can skin anything from a rabbit to deer!

With that in mind, we asked Adam what kind of advice that he has for new hunters or folks that are thinking about getting into hunting. He said that the big thing is not to be intimidated.  Anyone can get a copy of the hunting regulations for their state. Take hunter’s ed courses, do your research, use apps and info that is available on the web, get onto hunting forums, and take the time to find the right products, and most of all go far and deep and have fun.

While Adam is a lucky duck and gets new products at the start of every hunting season, we have advice to help out those less fortunate hunters that have to wear the same products for a few seasons.

If the DWR on your outer layers are in need of a bit of extra TLC, even after a cleaning with Tech Wash, wash it in TX.Direct. It will add water repellency to the shell and maintain breathability so that you continue to stay warm and dry from the inside out.

Now not everyone is a merino guy like Adam, so to keep your synthetics from stinking try BaseWash. It does the same job as Wool Wash; safely cleaning the high performing technical fabric, as well as enhancing and revitalizing its wicking abilities.

If your tent has taken a beating each hunting season and isn’t performing as well as it once was, try Tent & Gear Solarproof. It not only adds water repellency to the tent, it protects it against UV degradation. For that matter, use it on your hunting pack for the same reason.

Now that we have you all educated – get out there!