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The Nikwax Spring Break Checklist

2palmsIt’s that time of year again: spring break! After drifting drearily through the murky winter months, it’s finally time to get out and go somewhere exciting. You know you want spring adventure, but where to go? Head to the mountains for some spring snow? Catch surf and sun in some tropical country? Wherever it is that you decide to go, we’ve got your gear covered. Here’s our handy checklist to help you prep for your trip:

 Mountain adventures:

  • Re-waterproof your ski skins. You won’t know your skins need this until they fail. Hit ‘em up proactively.
  • Substitute your big, insulated ski jacket with a shell and a light insulated layer for layering versatility. Wash both in Tech Wash to get ahead of the game.
  •  Consider wool for your base layers in the volatile spring weather. Wool is an effective thermo-regulator, keeping you cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. Plus, since warmer springtime temps mean more sweat, wool is naturally anti-bacterial and won’t stink as much as synthetics. Bonus: Nikwax has a special Wool Wash that will preserve all of these awesome qualities.

 Tropical adventures:

  • Pack enough sunscreen to cover every inch of your lilywhite body. While you’re at it, find your sunglasses and a sun hat. Your eyes and head need as much protection from the sun as the rest of your body.
  •  Go get yourself an ENO Hammock. These super packable little hammocks hang very nicely between two palm trees.
  • Bring a tube of Nikwax BaseWash Travel Gel. It’s packaged to be TSA compliant, and it will come in handy to keep swimsuits, swim trunks, and your other travel clothes from smelling sour. Bonus: no washing machine needed! With the travel gel, you can do your wash in the sink.

General camping and biking adventures:

  • Set up your tent BEFORE you go. Did you lose some stakes? Snap a tent pole? Pack the rainfly when it was wet? Figure it out before you’re racing against nighttime and an incoming storm. While you have that tent up, consider spraying it with Tent & Gear SolarProof. We know you aren’t praying for rain on your vacay, but it never hurts to be prepared for it.
  • Air out your sleeping bags. Though it’s recommended that you store down bags by hanging them up in the open air, who has that kind of space? Pull them out and shake lightly to loft the down. If needed, wash them with Down Wash and Down Proof. The combo will add loft and water repellency, and leave your bag smelling sweet after a winter of exile.
  • If cycling is on the agenda, it’s time for a tune-up. If you rely on professionals for regular maintenance, hit them up before the spring break rush.
  •  They call it “mud season” for a reason. Even if you’ll be exploring a relatively dry area, the shaded areas will likely still have some snow or mud. Waterproof your shoes and boots now, so spring break happy hour can legitimately live up to its name.

Like the wise Helen Keller once quoted, “Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” Now get out there and have some fun, you crazy kids!

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Nikwax Guide to Giving Gifts that Keep on Giving

Christmaspresents

In terms of gift-giving, what is important this holiday season is giving your beloved family something they’ll love and that will last. The best gifts have a personal, perhaps even hidden, meaning that take the art of giving to inspired levels. And we’ve got a few thoughtful gift ideas that will leave those on your list feeling merry and bright! 

For: Your mom who is always cold

Gift: Merino wool sweater

Stocking stuffer accompaniment for longevity: Nikwax Wool Wash

Brownie Points: 10 of 10

Wool hasn’t experienced this level of popularity since the Shackleton era. It’s not the cycles of fashion. It’s because wool is nature’s star performer and top of the line Merino wool apparel companies are sticklers for quality. The soft hand, the sleek silhouette and the incomparable warmth will earn you an extra slice of pie, if not a larger slice of the inheritance.

For: Your dad who complains about the thermostat being too high

Gift: A lightweight, stretch fleece

Stocking stuffer accompaniment for longevity: Nikwax Polar Proof

Brownie Points: 8 of 10 from Dad and 10 of 10 from Mom

Let’s face it. As a gross generalization, dads don’t get overly excited about clothes. Just explain that this comfy piece of Americana will go directly from his morning jog, to watching football on the couch, to working on his pet project in the backyard. One-stop dressing=brilliant! Bonus: Mom’s Merino wool get-up is bound to be warmer than Dad’s lightweight fleece, thereby solving the age-old argument of where to keep the indoor temperature. You’ve saved Christmas and a marriage. Well done, you!

For: Your recent college graduate sister who is moving to a resort town for “just one year” while she finds herself

Gift: A down puffy jacket

Stocking stuffer accompaniment: Nikwax Down Wash and Down Proof

Brownie Points: 10 of 10… eventually

She doesn’t know this yet, but no one escapes the siren song of a resort town in “just one year.” She also doesn’t realize that her rent and heating bills will be exorbitant, even after splitting them evenly among her five roommates. Nor has it settled in that her down jacket will be her go-to layer every day this winter. It may take her some time to accept these realities, but she’ll thank you eventually.

For: The annoying uncle who snorts with laughter over the humiliating stories of you as an awkward pre-teen

Gift: Nikwax Rug Proof

Stocking stuffer accompaniment: Nothing! He’s lucky you kept him on your list in the first place.

Brownie Points: Depends how earnestly you can deliver the present

You’ll say it’s for protecting the horse blankets at the thoroughbred stables he bought for your bratty, spoiled cousin. But we all know it’s for that rat-tastic toupee he sports with no sense of irony or dignity.

Editor’s Note: Nikwax neither recommends nor condones use of Rug Proof as a toupee cleaner. 


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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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The Fine Art of Tailgating

tailgate

The ball crosses into the End Zone. High fives and cheers surround you. Someone picks you up and raises you over the crowd. A cooler full of Gatorade pours down over your head.

Wait a minute.

That’s not Gatorade. You didn’t score the winning touchdown. You’re in the parking lot listening to the big game on the radio with the rest of your fellow coeds who would rather save money for tuition, books or a ski pass.

And don’t fool yourself; that was a can of PBR your buddy shook over your head. Just because you’re not throwing down for tickets at the fifty-yard line, doesn’t mean you’re not going to tailgate with the best of ‘em.

This. Is. College.

Tailgating is an art, albeit an interpretative one. There are a few non-negotiables: a cooler, a barbeque within a three-car range, some body paint, beer (or sodas, naturally, for the parents who are reading) and a die-hard attitude. Tailgaters don’t give up if sun beats down. Tailgaters don’t run for cover when the skies open up. You are a tenacious breed; you are a fan.

For ice, go cubes only, no blocks. The barbeque? Charcoal hibachi all the way. Body paint is up to you, but please remember photos on the Internet are forever.

Where does Nikwax come into the ritual?

Nikwax gives you the confidence of knowing that you’ll be dry and comfortable regardless of what the skies serve up. Whether you show up to campus with the swankiest waterproof/breathable jacket, or you pack your trusty fleece pullover that’s been with you since your Sweet 16. We’ve got you covered.

Since you’re in the mode, here’s a pop quiz:

1. What Nikwax product should you use to waterproof your outerwear?

a)    TX.Direct, for waterproof/breathable fabrics and synthetics

b)    Down Proof, for down jackets and vests

c)    Softshell Proof, for… use your applied logic

d)    Cotton Proof, to add oomph to a fabric not known for it’s water-beading ability

e)    Polar Proof, for fleece

f)      All of the above

2. Is applying Nikwax as easy as running a cycle in the dorm washing machine?

a)    Yes.

b)    No

Answers:

1.    F

2.    A

Let’s hope that’s not a duplicate to your first semester grades.

You are now tested, proven and ready, uber fan! Waterproofing for game day may mean protecting your outerwear for more than inclement weather. We’re just sayin’.

So save money, be confident and suit up. There’s a game going on and a bratwurst with your name on it. Get out there and have fun. Your team needs you to be worry-free, come rain, snow or carbonated adult beverage.


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Top Ten Ways to Enjoy the End of Summer

Endofsummer

Hey! Back to School shopping: we’re talking to you. You represent the end of the dog days more than Labor Day, more than the equinox and even more than the plummeting mercury in our thermometers. We may be excited for the kids to expand their minds and unleash their daily dose of energy. But as adults, we refuse to accept that summer ends when the school bell rings.

There’s plenty of time to maximize this gorgeous time of year. In no particular order:

10. Let your kids plan the Labor Day Weekend festivities. Three days. Ideal temps. Unlimited imagination. Set a few parameters (or not) and let them come up with their dream way to spend three days. We bet they’ll surprise you with outdoor fun. No kids? Easy. Make your own Labor Day plans with the same unlimited imagination and zeal for adventure.

9. Wake up early. Say what? Summer is supposed to be the season of relaxation and sleeping in. But as the daylight hours shorten, waking up early is the only way to maximize the sun’s Vitamin D-giving goodness. Bonus: if you live near the ocean, the waves are probably getting bigger. If you live inland, consider early rising training for dawn patrol skinning sessions and blissful morning skate skis.

8. Barbeque. There is a caveat: you must use charcoal. Propane grills score for efficiency, but nothing smells of summer like charcoal. Bonus points if you take the Hibachi to the beach or local campground.

7. Pull out your favorite sweater. This may be counter-intuitive to the goal of celebrating summer, but hear us out. After months of hot weather and hiding from the heat, how good does a little chill feel? Really good—for few minutes. Pull on your sweater and cozy up in your big bundle of warmth. Consider this tip your Zen practice for living in the present season.

6. Explore your local wilderness. Summer tends to be the season of extravagant, faraway trips. How much do you know about the wilderness within a four-hour drive of your home? Select one cardinal direction for each of the next four weekends, pack your tent and sleeping bags and hit the (local) road.

5. Nest. Every other animal is busy preparing for winter. No, don’t pack on mega-pounds for hibernation, à la black bears. Instead, think of nesting as organization. When your 3-season tent has seen its last workday for the year, air it out, treat it with Tent and Gear Solarproof and pack it away. Pull out your cold weather gear and proof it for the season. Most manufacturers, as well as retailers like REI, have online recommendations for the proper way to pack and store your summer gear for winter.

4. Celebrate the regional season. In the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast, it’s river and creeking season. In the Southwest, the Rockies and the Northeast, it’s mountain biking time. Most of us choose where we live based in large part on weather. Get outside and enjoy whatever weather your hometown is throwing at you.

3. Set a winter goal and build a foundation now. Do you want to run a marathon in January? Classic ski the 54K American Birkebeiner in February? It’ll be a whole lot easier to start your training in gorgeous late summer weather. Maybe you can throw a barbeque (see Tip 8) at a nearby campground (see Tip 6) and inspire a group of friends to do it with you.

2. Garden. Are you lucky enough to have your own plot in the backyard? Celebrate harvest season with seasonal meals and canning parties. No space or no green thumb? Volunteer at the local community garden. It’s an important time to prepare the soil for next year’s planting. It’s not as glamorous as sowing the seeds, but turning soil is great exercise, outside fun and connects you to the community.

1. Spend every available minute outside. Some days, especially with kids back in school and daylight waning, you have neither the time nor the energy for an elaborate outdoor adventure. Instead of feeling guilty, just step outside. Sit on the deck or walk around the block. Heck, grab a cold beer and appreciate this life you’ve built. Raise your glass to your family, your friends and another beautiful summer. Cheers… to the good life!


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Cycling safe

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Cyclists, are you making good eye contact?

A friendly gaze isn’t just for flirting—it’s perhaps one of the most important things bicyclists can do to bike safely through traffic.

Although it doesn’t appear on standard lists of cycling safety tips, making eye contact with drivers at intersections—the most dangerous spots on the road—is crucial.

Paired with hand signals, a little eyeball time helps communicate your intentions. Plus, you get the reassurance that the driver has registered your two-wheeled presence.

May is national bike month, and we at Nikwax are avid cyclists. We want to share our love of two wheels.

So, what else can you do to stay safe? Read on:

Always wear a helmet. Mary Craig, a coach at Seattle’s Cycle University, follows this ironclad rule: Don’t even sit on your bike without wearing a helmet.

If it’s good enough for the pros, it’s good enough for us.

Be visible. Even during daylight hours, wear a bright top—the flashier, the better. Cycling after dark?  Don reflective clothing and add lights to both the front and rear of your bike.

For the handlebars, choose a light that emits a steady white beam. For the rear light, use a red blinking model to catch drivers’ attention. We love the Planet Bike Superflash: mount it to the bike or clip it on a jacket.

Be predictable. Though it’s tempting to weave through gridlock like a Jet Ski buzzing a flotilla of barges—don’t do it. In the eyes of the law, bikes are vehicles, subject to the same rules and responsibilities as cars.

Ride where drivers expect you to be (not on the sidewalk), and use hand signals as if your life depended on them. Because it just might.

Be respectful. Move over at intersections for right-turning cars, don’t needlessly block lanes, and ride (single-file, please) to the right.

But how far to the right is far enough?

Proven tip: When the city pavement shows grooves worn by car tires, ride in the right one. You’re less likely to get “doored” by parked cars, and drivers will instinctively move out and around you.

Get out there. The more bikes on the road, the safer the streets. Case in point: Downtown Minneapolis saw a 174% increase in bicyclists between 2003 and 2008, but a 20% drop in car-bike crashes for 9 years starting in 2000.

There’s safety in numbers. So grab that helmet, level your gaze, and we’ll see you on the road!


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Through Rain and Sleet and Dark of Night: Five Steps to Keeping Your Kids Dry and Happy on Halloween

For those of us who didn’t grow up on Maui, we’re sadly familiar with the weather crushing our Halloween dreams. Nothing ruins the perfect pink princess dress quicker than a down parka. Don’t even get us started on the wrecked silhouette of a superhero unitard when the rain starts falling. Superheroes don’t wear raincoats!

Alas, mere mortals do need protection from the elements. With Nikwax, parents the world over can protect children from crushed Halloween dreams.

Step One: Check the weather

— With Frankenstorm on the East Coast and snow piling up in Sierras, Halloween 2012 is tipping toward the extreme end of the weather spectrum. If your region’s forecast is aiming blissfully to the high end of the thermometer, follow steps two to five as a contingency plan. If you’re with the rest of us, consider these steps hard and fast rules.

Step Two: Assess the weatherproofing of your child’s chosen costume

— If s/he is going as…say…the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, you’re golden. Toss the costume in the wash with some Down Proof and the kid is good to go. Virtually ignore steps three and four.

— If s/he is has selected a costume less conducive to gale force winds, precipitation – and Ghostbusting proton packs, for that matter – continue on to step three.

Step Three: Run a dress rehearsal

— Determine if waterproof and insulating layers can fit beneath the costume or must be worn as outerwear.

— For cold weather gear that fits below the costume, take a moment to revel in your awesome parenting and the fact that you’ve avoided a probable sugar-induced meltdown initiated by an argument over a costume. Then, move to step four for waterproofing.

— If the battle to wear warm clothes with the costume turns more frightening than a zombie apocalypse, move to step four anyway. As the parent-of-the-year that you surely are, you’ll just need to carry a big bag full of warm, waterproofed clothes for when your trick-or-treater gets chilly in between houses.

Step Four: Prep the gear

— If you’re like us, chances are you’ve been out savoring the last vestiges of summer rather than prepping for inclement weather. Halloween is the ideal time to bust out all your cold weather gear and give it a refresh for winter.

— Waterproof/breathable fabrics are most effective when they are clean. Nikwax Tech Wash is a gentle, high performance cleaner that is specially formulated for these technical materials. In the world’s easiest two-step process, toss the garment(s) in the wash using Tech Wash in place of detergent. After a full cycle, leave your gear in the washing machine and run a second cycle with Nikwax TX.Direct® Wash-In. TX.Direct revives the durable water repellency of outerwear.

— Bonus: If your mini-goblin has designed a cardboard or paper-based costume, TX.Direct does double duty in providing water-repellency to paper. Brush on the TX.Direct and allow it to dry completely, or save time for this particular application with TX.Direct Spray-On.

— Eco-Bonus: Halloween is full of sugar, preservatives, late nights and other scares over which you have little control. With Nikwax, you can prevent your child from being exposed to at least one nasty scare: PFCs. PFCs are dangerous chemicals that are often found in waterproofing compounds (not to mention some non-stick cookware). Nikwax has long been a vocal opponent of PFC usage in waterproofing and our products are 100-percent PFC-free. (For a real scare of the non-Halloween variety, check out this video of how PFCs affect children.)

Step Five: Enjoy the evening!

— You’ve accomplished your mission and your lovable little ghoul (or cowboy or alien) will be dry and comfortable in the foulest of weather. Nothing says, “I love you” like encouraging their creativity in costuming. And don’t be shy to remind them that nothing says, “I love you, too” like a small share of the candy.

Happy Halloween!

Love,

Nikwax