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End of Summer Sandal Overhaul

I know it’s been awhile since our last post, but, you see, it’s been sunny in Seattle. We’ve only gotten a handful of sunshiney opportunities to get out on the water and up in the mountains and, well, we know you understand.

Anyway, the end of summer approaches (as evidenced by the season mountain pass ads popping up everywhere) and I’m betting you have several pairs of sandals that have put in serious time over the last couple months and could use a little TLC. Blog readers, meet Sandal Wash.

Sandal Wash will make your sandals sparkly clean again but, perhaps even more important, it will also remove odor. Yes, you read that correctly. Thanks to a special monoterpenoid (hello, grown-up word!) known as geraniol, it will also remove even the funkiest funk from sport sandals, fashion footwear and anything else you happen to wear without socks (ahem, minimalist runners, this one’s for you!).

The process is simple.

1) Get your dirty, grimy sandals plenty wet.

2) Scrub-a-dub-dub! For sandals with textured foot beds, like the Chacos pictured here, consider attacking them with a stiff bristled brush.

Use the attached sponge scrubber to scrub all over - inside and out!

Don't be shy - get it all soapy!

3) Rinse!

4) Allow to air-dry. Remember, never rush the drying process when dealing with footwear – tuck some newspaper inside if you HAVE to get them dry quickly.

And remember, this stuff works for ANY type of footwear! Here are a few before-and-afters from the pairs I experimented with. I only wish we had smell-o-vision… then you would REALLY be impressed!!

The black Chacos BEFORE

...and AFTER

How about some stinky red ones? (I can say that because they're MINE)

No prob, Bob!

"But what if my sandals are leather?," you say??

Ain't no thing, chicken wing!

"But what if my stinkiest shoes aren't sandals, at all?"

Clean AND de-stunk. 🙂

All the minimalist runners out there KNOW that these get stinky!

Allllll better!

For any type of shoes at all!

Best wishes to you in dealing with your very own sandal/stinky shoe collections. Just to get you started, for the first dozen people who read this post and send me a message on Facebook or Twitter, I’ll send you your very own Sandal Wash sample along WITH a Nikwax-branded stiff-bristled brush to REALLY get at those footbeds! 🙂

Stay dry! (and clean!)

Kelsey handles Sales and Marketing Operations for Nikwax North America. She travels the country preaching the gospel of gear care as Professor Nikwax. Prior to working for Nikwax, Kelsey spent 7 years working in outdoor industry and footwear retail. She welcomes your gear care questions at kelsey.hulse@nikwax.com. Follow her on Twitter @ProfessorNikwax.

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BIG things happening at Outdoor Retailer!

You could say that Outdoor Retailer is the Superbowl of the Outdoor Industry. Or maybe the New York Fashion Week… with a side of Mardi Gras. At any rate the conference and tradeshow, which will take place August 4-6 in Salt Lake City, Utah, happens twice a year. It is the chief opportunity for outdoor brands to show off their latest and greatest for the upcoming seasons and to make connections to other influencers in the Outdoor world. It’s kind of a big deal. So! Since here’s what we’ve got going on for Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2011:

  • NEW BOOTH! Our new home at Outdoor Retailer is greener (and awesomer) than ever. It was built in the good ‘ole USA of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified plywood and recycled polyester fabric panels. Be sure to stop by booth #16045 to check it out! Not going to OR? Don’t worry, we’ll be posting TONS of pictures!
  • Each day of the conference, we’ll be selling a deluxe product assortment to benefit the Conservation Alliance. Order one at the conference and we’ll take care of getting it back home for you.
  • Nikwax Founder, Inventor and overall Head Smart Guy, Nick Brown will be in attendance. Stop by and meet the man, the myth, the legend!

If you’re planning to be at the show and are feeling overwhelmed by meeting appointments and business obligations you should also review the nightlife guide put together by the darling ladies of Under Solen. If it ain’t on there, it ain’t happenin’. 😉

If you WON’T be in attendance, fear not! We’ll be tweeting (#ORSM11), Facebooking and picture posting the whole time!


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Not JUST for Outdoor Gear

The Situation:

After a weekend walking around in Seattle’s poor rainy excuse for a summer, I noticed that my favorite black flats were covered in white marks. The marks look not unlike the stains that are common from road salt in the winter – and like road salt stains, these were persistent and refused to be rubbed away. The shoes in question are made by Born of a particularly soft leather, with unfinished seams at the heel. In addition to the change in appearance, the texture of the leather had become somewhat brittle. It was time to put on the ‘ole Nikwax thinking cap.

Note the white lines on the upper near the toe and heel

Note the white lines on the upper near the toe and heel

Nikwax products work best when used as a team (cleaner+proofer), so for this job I chose Footwear Cleaning Gel  to remove the white marks and any additional dirt/grime/grit and Conditioner for Leather to restore softness and flexibility to the leather as well as to waterproof the leather so this wouldn’t happen again. Since these flats are one of my favorite (and therefore frequently worn) pairs of shoes, I also enlisted the help of Waterproofing Wax for Leather in Black to restore color at the toe and heel where it had begun to fade.

The arsenal: Footwear Cleaning Gel and Conditioner for Leather

Almost all Nikwax products are colorless. This product was designed to add color back to black leather goods (look for the black cap at your local retailer).

The Process:

  1. Get the first shoe wet. Nikwax products are all water based (and travel on water), so there isn’t any such thing as too much water/too wet.

    Using the faucet works just fine, but if this makes you nervous you can also use a sponge or wet rag to dampen the shoe - just make sure to get it good and wet anywhere that you'll be applying products

  2. Scrub the shoe with liberal quantities of Footwear Cleaning Gel– feel free to use the sponge applicator, your hands, a soft bristled brush – whatever it takes to get all the grime off (be gentle if your shoes are made of lambskin, suede or anything super soft and scratchable).

    It'll look filmy or soapy - like this!

    3. Rinse the shoe well – again use plenty of water.

    Rinse thoroughly - water temp doesn't really matter, just don't use HOT

    4. Apply Nikwax Conditioner for Leather – use the sponge applicator or your hands to work it into the (still wet) leather. Pay special attention to seams or areas where things have been attached like straps, laces, etc…

    All Nikwax products are non-toxic, so don't be afraid to work the Conditioner into the leather with your fingers

    5. Let the product sit on the leather for a couple minutes (literally, 2 or 3 is fine).

    It'll look milky or filmy - don't panic, this is temporary 🙂

    6. Remove excess product and buff with a soft cloth/rag.

    Wipe off/rub in all visible product. If any remains, it WILL be visible after it's dry

    *7. This was the point at which I applied the Waterproofing Wax for Leather in Black. Generally you won’t be able to apply anything AFTER a waterproofer (because it won’t be able to penetrate). But, since I was applying it to badly scuffed/worn areas, I just used a light hand with the Conditioner and then went back over the same spots with the black. IF you choose to use a colored Nikwax product, be careful, the liquid is runny and it can stain.

    The finished product - the white marks are gone and the leather is soft and flexible again!

    7. Repeat with shoe #2.

    BEFORE - looking pretty sad, indeed!

    AFTER - they look new again! Boo-yeah, Nikwax!

     

Any and all of these products can be found online at retailers like Amazon, REI, Altrec, Backcountry. Or use the Dealer Locator on our website to find a Nikwax dealer in your ‘hood.

And… since we are who we are, I couldn’t resist…

CHECK OUT THAT BEADING ACTION!! 🙂

Have fun! Enjoy the sun! Stay dry.


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You probably don’t need those new boots! How to care for your shoes to make them last.

Footwear, as we all know, takes a lot of abuse. Even so, it has always broken my heart a little to see even my most worn-out (yet beloved) shoes relegated to the trash bin. But, what else can you do? They’re toast, right? Wrong.

A boot or shoe is made up (very roughly speaking) of three basic parts: the sole, the upper and the liner. All of these parts can become broken down or worn out without proper care. WITH proper care, however, your footwear can last you a LOT longer, leaving some extra cash in your pocket and a little less stuff in your local landfill. For extremely detailed direction on caring for your boots, check out this article by our friends at REI, Caring for Hiking Boots: Expert Advice.

A good place to start is by finding a good repair person in your town. Dave Page, Seattle-area Cobbler Extrordinaire, agrees, “resole your shoes. Those things are expensive!” As the authorized repair agent for REI, Vibram, Vasque, Asolo, Montrail, One Sport, Merrell, Raichle, Scarpa, Garmont, Salomon, La Sportiva, Technica, Lowa, Zamberlan, Kayland, EMS and Chaco, the man has resuscitated more pairs of shoes and boots than most of us have ever seen.

Awaiting new life at the hands of Dave Page!

At a cost far below what you would pay to replace your footwear, you can have them repaired and resoled, keeping them out of the landfill and preserving that broken-in comfort you worked so hard for. “Replacing climbing shoes every time the sole wears out makes no sense to me. It’s wasteful and you’re always breaking in a new pair!” says La Sportiva (and Nikwax) rep Ed Sampson.

Ed Sampson teaching retail employees about La Sportiva climbing shoes and mountineering boots – and how to care for them

What’s that you say? You say your boots are still practically new? Well, friend, then you’re in luck! Keeping your boots and shoes clean and waterproof prevents grit from getting into the fabric and leather and breaking them down from the inside. Use Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel to remove dirt and grime after use, then follow-up with the Nikwax waterproofer that’s appropriate for your specific type of footwear to maintain the durable water-repellent finish.

Green for Clean!

Purple for Proof!

Waterproofing for fabric and leather combination footwear

Help your footwear work better and last longer. Hike and climb happy and Stay Dry! 🙂

Dave Page is a Seattle-area cobbler who specializes in repairing and resoling hiking and mountaineering boots, climbing shoes and Birkenstocks. If you have a pair of boots or shoes in need of help, contact Dave via his website.

Ed Sampson is a long-time climber and mountaineer who’s built a storied career in the outdoor industry. He is currently part of the Tenaya Group, which represents La Sportiva, Nikwax and Bluewater Ropes in the American Southwest.

Kelsey is the Technical Field Service Rep for Nikwax North America. She travels the country preaching the gospel of gear care as the Nikwax Nerd. Prior to working for Nikwax, Kelsey spent 7 years working in outdoor industry and footwear retail. She welcomes your gear care questions at kelsey.hulse@nikwax.com. Follow her on Twitter @nikwaxnerd.


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Standing Up for the Greatbear Rainforest: Nikwax Faction member Norm Hann

When a Canadian energy company made a proposal to start routing oil tankers through the Douglas Channel and Greatbear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada,  the birds, whales and other wildlife endemic to the area couldn’t stand up for themselves. So Norm Hann stood for them.

Norm and his partners traveled the 400 km tanker route by standup paddleboard, connecting with the Native people that have lived for generations in this pristine wilderness and raising awareness of the impacts of the proposal. His efforts remind us all that there is ALWAYS something we can do and one person CAN make a difference.

For more information and to support Norm’s efforts, visit Standup4GreatBear.

If exploring incredible terrain via paddleboard (or just taking a few lessons) is EXACTLY what you were hoping to do this summer, Norm’s your guy – Mountain Surf Adventures.

This is their story:

Thank you Norm.

Kelsey is the Technical Field Service Rep for Nikwax North America. She travels the country preaching the gospel of gear care as the Nikwax Nerd. Prior to working for Nikwax, Kelsey spent 7 years working in outdoor industry and footwear retail. She welcomes your gear care questions at kelsey.hulse@nikwax.com. Follow her on Twitter @nikwaxnerd.


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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!! 🙂

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.