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What’s Your Rider ID? Take Our Quiz to Find Out

bikers2

Are you a one trick pony, or is your garage a veritable shelter for your bike quiver? Fixie or mountain bike? Do you pedal a state-of-the-art, custom ride? Do you consider brakes “old school”?  Do your besties tell you to wear more natural fiber and less Lycra?

In the words of the great 21st century philosopher, Stephen Colbert, “Facts matter none at all. Perception is everything.”

Face it, if you love bikes, there’s some part of you that can be called a dork. (Trust us, here at Nikwax, we’re all a bit dorky for bikes).

But within that giant cycling umbrella, we all fall into a range of niches. What kind of cyclist are you? Take our quiz to unearth your Rider ID.

First answer the short list of questions, and then add up your scores below to learn your Rider ID.

1. When you dress for a ride, your go-to clothing is:

  1. My full Euskaltel-Euskadi kit. It’s cool because I’m 1/96th Spanish on my mom’s side.
  2. It doesn’t matter, as long as my GoPro is charged.
  3. Dress for a ride? Cycling clothes are so bourgeois. My skinny jeans are all I need.
  4. I opt for the latest in breathable, wicking fabrics. But as long as I have my rear view helmet mirror adjusted, I’m good to go.

…………………………………………………………………

2. When you come up behind another rider, what do you say?

  1. Hold your line! Hold your line!
  2. Dude, on your left.
  3. Talk to another rider? Why?
  4. Hi-da-lee-ho neighbor. Great day to be on the bike, huh?

…………………………………………………………………

3. How do you fuel up for a ride?

  1. A balanced meal of protein and carbs, like two egg whites with steamed veggies and an avocado for healthy fat.
  2. Bacon and Twinkies, which I bought a yearlong supply of on Ebay.
  3. Double espresso
  4. I like to stop by the Farmer’s Market for whatever’s in season.

…………………………………………………………………

4. What about a post-ride recovery meal?

  1. I own every formulation of Hammer Nutrition
  2. PBR – tall boy
  3. The latest pop-up restaurant, or the Thai-Argentine fusion food truck
  4. I like to stop by the Farmer’s Market for whatever’s in season.

…………………………………………………………………

5. On a rest day, how would we find you passing your time?

  1. After a gentle, low cadence spin, I’ll be studying with Rosetta Stone so I can pronounce every European riders’ name without sounding like an idiot! Can you imagine not being able to pronounce Yevgeniy Npomnyachshiy? The horror!
  2. Oh, I do a lot of stuff. I do river trips. I’m starting my own Vimeo channel. You know, the usual.
  3. I’m studying nihilist philosophy and working on a start-up with my roommates.
  4. I like to stop by the Farmer’s Market for whatever’s in season.

…………………………………………………………………

6. What was the biggest after-market upgrade you’ve made to your bike?

  1. Aftermarket? My bike was never prior-market or during-market. Nothing on my ride is standard. I had the frame welded to my measurements and built it out with THE BEST bike builder in town.
  2. An extra 10-mm of travel on my forks.
  3. Removing the brakes and that pesky derailleur.
  4. A hand-woven basket from Bolivia. The trade supports a women’s compound and sales from the baskets bring economic freedom. I found it at my local Farmer’s Market.

…………………………………………………………………

7. If you were to ride a different discipline (road to mountain to track to commuter) – from your preferred discipline – for a day, which would you choose?

  1. Velodrome. I’m not going to waste my time on any discipline that’s not developing more power and a higher VO2 max.
  2. Dude, I’d totally try a fixie.
  3. I don’t live to ride; I ride to live.
  4. Any! The freedom of a bicycle is pure joy, don’t you think?

…………………………………………………………………

8. What’s the best bike movie of all time?

  1. Breaking Away
  2. Breaking Away
  3. Breaking Away
  4. Breaking Away

…………………………………………………………………

9. Who is the greatest cyclist of all time?

  1. Eddie Merckx
  2. Ned Overend
  3. Albert Einstein
  4. My kids

…………………………………………………………………

10.  If I were to plan a cycling-themed vacation, I would… (fill in the blank).

  1. Follow Le Tour de France route, on an Alpe D’Huez year
  2. One word: Moab and Fruita. Oh, that’s two.
  3. Vacations are so bourgeois. But I’d still go to Portland.
  4. Ride across Ireland or wait, maybe a Napa wine tour. No, no. I’d for sure do a philanthropic trip delivering bikes to rural communities.

…………………………………………………………………

Scoring:

If you answered mostly “1,” your bike ID is “Lycra Lovin’ Roadie.”

If you answered mostly “2,” your bike ID is “Dirt Bag Mountain Biker.”

If you answered mostly “3,” your bike ID is “Hipster, Fixie Guy/Gal.”

If you answered mostly “4,” your bike ID is “Safety First Commuter.”

Lycra Lovin’ Roadie:

Lycralovinroadie You know who you are. In July, you wake up at 5:30am to watch the full coverage of the Tour de France before you head out on your training ride. You have little tolerance for “no drop” rides, especially when you’re feeling strong. Criteriums are good training, but the real mettle is in a road race – mano a mano. There’s more science built into your training regime than exists in all of NASA. And speaking of NASA, several of your components were originally conceived of for space missions. Before, that is, they were improved by Campagnolo engineers.

Dirt Bag Mountain Biker:

dirtragMtnBiker You’d hate the “dirt bag” cliché if you didn’t embrace as heartily as you do. No one (save for the hipsters) has ever worked so hard to look like they’ve put so little effort into looking “good.” You love a dirty ride almost as much as you love the BBQ and beer afterward. BMX still holds appeal, with the likelihood of participation in inverse relation to your age. Your dirty little secret is that you’re actually really serious about riding, but that can always be cloaked under your frequent, verbal dismissals of roadies.

Hipster Fixie Guy/Gal:

hipstertumblr_lukbxrms3h1qj1y05o1_500You secretly long for brakes and a derailleur, though the associated social stigma keeps them securely out of reach. Irony runs so deep that you’re beginning to question if it would be more ironic to no longer be ironic… hmm? Your circle of friends looks like they stepped out of Nylon Magazine photo shoot and your Tumblr blog is really taking off. Portlandia was more entertaining before it went mainstream, and Chuck Palahniuk is an under-rated genius. Truth be told, you have wicked good fitness under your scissor-cropped jeans and big-framed glasses.

Safety First Commuter:

commuterYou’re excited about riding and likely have a passable road bike and a mountain bike, along with your commuter. Most of all, you think biking is the most responsible option for the health of the planet and your own body. You’re not too cool to wear a helmet to the grocery store (not to mention in the grocery store) and you volunteer for all the local trail work. You do good things, even if they don’t scream “cool.” You could care less about how fast you are. The feel of the wind in your face every morning on your way to work does more for your sanity and happiness than winning a race ever could.

Regardless of your tongue in cheek Rider ID, the most important thing is that we all continue to define ourselves as bike lovers, riders, cycling geeks and biking advocates. Here’s to you, our two-wheeled friends. Let’s ride.


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Nikwax on the Road from Cape Town to Paris with GlobeRiders

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Nikwax ambassador, Helge Pedersen, is on yet another life list adventure. He’s currently motorcycle touring from Cape Town, South Africa, to Paris, France. Along for the 25,000-kilometer ride are three other riders, a supporting vehicle and several of GlobeRiders technical staff.

La Paz photo shoot and pelicansTo those who know Nikwax from the human-powered, outdoor adventure realm, our motorcycle contingent often comes as a surprise. We have a strong relationship with the motorcycling community; our cleaners and waterproofers are often key parts of their safety kit. Adventure riders wear durable fabric outerwear; apparel that can take a beating, keep riders warm and dry, and shed moisture in torrential downpours. That’s right—it’s not that different from your backcountry skiing kit.

Imagine heading out to play in the heat, the rain, the mud and the dust. Now imagine doing it at 70 mph. Your gear takes a beating.

In order for your gear to bear the burden as opposed to your skin, taking precautionary care of motorcycle outerwear is critical.  If not properly cleaned, dust and dirt can damage the fibers of technical outerwear. Sweat, dust and dirt can also mask the durable water repellent finish, causing garments to attract water rather than repel it.  We recommend cleaning with Tech Wash and using TX.Direct to add water-repellency (spray-on or wash-in, depending on the manufacturers washing instructions).

Currently the Globeriders team is nearing Kirundo, Burundi. The weather there may be warm, but there are rain showers in the forecast for the next week. We hope Helge and crew are staying as dry as possible on the road!

If you’d like to live vicariously through Helge, or if this GlobeRiders’ African odyssey spurs your own trip planning into high gear, follow their adventure on the GlobeRiders Live!Journal web page.


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For 2014: Our commitment to environmental stewardship continues

Increased temperatures resulting from a warming climate will cause an increase in sea ice melt.

Increased temperatures resulting from a warming climate will cause an increase in sea ice melt. Photo courtesy National Center for Atmospheric Research

While science without passion may be dull, passion without science can tilt dangerously toward ignorance.

As we enter our 37th year, Nikwax remains as dedicated as ever to backing our passion with science for the good of the environment and your family’s well being.

In November 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put out its fifth annual report titled, “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis.” This report underscores the impact of a changing climate, and, we hope, will have the effect of increasing awareness of our responsibility to curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Consider:

  • Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.
  • Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.
  • The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.
  • [There is a very high confidence in the reliability of models that] reproduce observed continental-scale surface temperature patterns and trends over many decades, including the more rapid warming since the mid-20th century and the cooling immediately following large volcanic eruptions.

We cannot debate the earth is in a warming trend. The only conceivable debate – which seems to be driven more by politics than science – is how human behaviors are affecting the rate of change. To this, the IPCC report finds:

  • Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes. This evidence for human influence has grown since [the last IPCC report in 2007].
  • It is extremely likely [emphasis provided by IPCC] that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.
  • Warming will continue to exhibit interannual-to- decadal variability and will not be regionally uniform.
  • The global ocean will continue to warm during the 21st century. Heat will penetrate from the surface to the deep ocean and affect ocean circulation.
  • It is very likely that the Arctic sea ice cover will continue to shrink and thin and that Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover will decrease during the 21st century as global mean surface temperature rises. Global glacier volume will further decrease.
  • Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped. This represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of CO2.

We quote these findings as the deep snow mecca of Lake Tahoe in California is experiencing temperatures in the 50’s and historically low snowfall. Many Washington ski areas are trying to scrape by on fewer than 20-inches of snow. We concede these are but two microclimates and other regions may be at normal snowfall levels. But the inconsistent and dramatic weather patterns year-to-year are impossible to ignore.

It’s a new year and another opportunity to make a difference. As a responsible manufacturer of a global product, we acknowledge that we are part of the problem of increasing carbon emissions and a host of other environmental implications. In accepting responsibility, however, Nikwax remains steadfastly committed to minimizing negative impacts on the environment and human health.

We are:

  • The only major outdoor aftercare company to have never used aerosols or fluorocarbons.
  • Dedicated to making products that are fluorochemical-free, derived from nature-based ingredients, not tested on animals, and biodegradable.

Inherent to our philosophies and, more importantly, our practices as a company is that our environmental ethos has been central to our mission since 1980. For three years (1977 founding – 1980), Nikwax was focused solely on creating the most effective product. With our expanding consciousness regarding global environmental concerns in that time period, we made the deliberate decision to maintain our commitment to quality while only adopting formulations and practices that would not put human health or the environment at risk.

We are passionate about protecting the wild lands of the world and allowing future generations to enjoy them in the same (or better) state of health and well being. Our dedication to producing a product that is safe for your family and non-toxic to the environment is as strong as ever.

Call us fuddy-duddies, buzzkills or science geeks. We’ll take them all – so long as we can be part of the solution to protecting our natural world and encouraging your enjoyment of it.

To a healthy and happy 2014!

Further resources:

IPCC Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis


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Nikwax Guide to Winter Glamping

Whitepod-14

If snow caves have no place in your lexicon of outdoor adventure, you’re in the right place. Don’t get us wrong. Many of us here at Nikwax are avid winter campers. But there are just as many for whom “no camping after Labor Day” is as hard and fast a rule as the “no whites after Labor Day” dictum was for our grandmothers.

Alas, missing out on the night sky for four months out of the year is unacceptable. The derisive chuckles aimed at “glampers” in the heat of summer turn to piqued interest as the winter solstice wanes. Perhaps those pleasure pusses are onto something? Luxuries like heat, feather beds and fully functioning wood stoves seem far less superfluous when the Arctic jet stream bulldozes its way into your weather pattern.

Winter camping? Not so much. Winter glamping? You bet! In the spirit of appreciating the great outdoors from a heated and well-apportioned indoors, here are a few ideas for winter vacation spots that will have you reveling in the beauty of nature without fear of frostbite or freeze-dried beef stroganoff.

Whitepod, in the Swiss Alps. If an opening image of a dome-shaped tent high above the clouds in a snow-covered Alpine valley doesn’t sell this place for you, try the first three tabs of the website: Sleeping, Eating and Having Fun. If you’re up for making a few turns, this luxury eco-resort is smack in the middle of the Alps.

Heli-assisted ski touring. The beauty of a helicopter assist is that your trips begins deeper in the wilderness. Even though you’ll be powering your own adventure from there on out, you can relax in the promise of never crossing another person’s track. Lodges range from rustic to 5-star, but either way you’re living in wintertime wilderness luxury.

10th Mountain Division Huts. Colorado’s 10th Mountain Huts range from rustic to very nice. Since you pack in your own food, libations and sleeping bags, the “glamorous” aspect comes from the romance of your very own cabin in the woods for a night or two.

Bon voyage!


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Waterproof Your Gift Wrap

Wrapped_gift_water-drops

What’s the latest in chic gift giving? Double duty, reusable wrapping paper, naturally. Do you think Martha or Oprah or the Gwyneth-diva, herself, would EVER be caught in a rainstorm without a sumptuously wrapped hostess gift? Naturally not!

We want to shield you from the looks of disdain when you show up on a sleety December night for the office Secret Santa party toting a sopping, ink-bleeding box of ugly. Why? Because we love you.

Anyone who is anyone is waterproofing their gift wrap.

After all, in a world that puts no pressure on us to be perfect or ideal parents or domestic divas/dudes or wildly successful businesspeople, what’s another 24-hours and 15 bucks to ensure your beautifully adorned package can withstand a little torrential downpour?

We know there’s nothing you’d rather do with that excess time and money!

Very simple steps to waterproofing your festive gift wrap:

  1. Buy festive gift wrap. Don’t worry. The paper you choose is only supposed to represent your level of class, taste, sophistication and socioeconomic standing. No pressure.
  2. Return home and begin a gourmet, five-star meal that your family can eat picnic style. The dining room table will be dedicated to waterproofing printed snowmen this eve.
  3. Cover aforementioned dining room in old sheets or black plastic. Nikwax may be biodegradable and non-toxic, but we are not messy. If the temps are warm enough, you may contemplate setting up shop outside for ease.
  4. Using  Nikwax TX.Direct Spray-On, spray one side of the wrapping paper to achieve full, ample coverage. Now, channel your inner, angst-ridden artiste and smooth the TX.Direct with a clean paint brush.
  5. Allow to dry.
  6. Make a martini.
  7. Enjoy the martini.
  8. Flip paper over and repeat steps 4-7.Once both sides are dry, water flicked onto the wrap will bead up – just like your favorite outdoor gear.
  9. Wrap that present and walk through rain, sleet, snow or hail with the glory of your ultimate green fashion on display.
  10. Smile with self-satisfied smugness… and make darn sure nobody rips that wrap when they open the present.

You are the ultimate environmentalista. It only takes time and money. And, who doesn’t have both of those in spades?

Happy Holidays,

Your fashionable green-loving friends at Nikwax

P.S. We may be joking around in this post, but Nikwax TX.Direct Spray-On is sincerely an effective waterproofer for paper. If you think you can teach your kids not to rip through gift wrap, this may be a legitimate option to reuse it for many years to come. Better than a holiday-themed landfill, at any rate. Even better, paint your own affordable butcher paper before waterproofing with TX.Direct Spray-On. Now you’ve got an afternoon of fun, gift wrap and frame-able art. Happy Holidays!


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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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10 Ski Tours That Will Blow Your Mind in the Best Way Possible

Hauteroute

Sure, we know there are probably more than ten, but we believe that you won’t be disappointed with this list of ski tours. We’ve compiled the tours (in no particular order) from our own wish lists, though we’re highlighting the areas with at least minimal infrastructure to support your trip. Ten ski expeditions to not see any evidence of humanity? That’s a noble, but entirely different list.

1. Japan: Hakkoda-san Range.

Why: Massive snowfall. If you haven’t caught the Japan skiing bug yet, what are you waiting for? The moisture-filled air from the South Pacific collides with Siberian cold fronts and results in over 550-inches of snow per year. Near the better-known Niseko resort area, Hakkoda-san is range comprised of eight mountains. There is a single gondola and guides are available, or you can slap on your skins and head out on your own. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $5.24

2. France/Switzerland:The Haute Route.

Why: It’s a classic for good reason. Bonus: wine and cheese. We could be contrarian and leave the Haute Route off the list, but that only serves to omit one of the most storied and gorgeous tours on the planet. Routes vary from primarily skiing to full-on winter mountaineering with mandatory roped climbs. So don’t mistake the popularity of this 6-8 day tour for ease or accessibility. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $6-7

3. Norway: Sognefjord Region.

Why: Because you’d live here if you could. The skiing history of Norway makes it a must for any skier anyway. For touring, the city of Sogndal is the epicenter of day-tripping at its finest. The town sits directly on the water of the fjord, yet you can still ski out your front door. A relatively stable snowpack and some of the highest peaks in Norway are right behind you. Enjoy. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $10.10

4. Romania: Bucegi Mountains.

Why: Options, options, options. Bonus: who doesn’t want to ski in Transylvania? In the Southern Carpathian mountains, butting against Transylvania, lies the Bucegi Range. From a touring perspective, it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. Once you reach the high plateau, you have a 360-degree choice of open mellow sweepers to steep adrenaline lines down. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $1.45

5. Chile: Volcano Touring the Andean Lake District of Southern Chile.

Why: Boatloads of snow on a “normal” year. Exquisite views. You know that feeling when you look into the distance and know that you need to ski a certain line or aspect? Now imagine if each of those lines was off the side of a free-standing, perfect triangle of a volcano pushing into sky. Scattered refugios and ample hostels make this an affordable region for travel, too. Best time of the year is typical mid-September to mid-October. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $2.22

6. New Zealand: Tour the “Other” Alps.

Why: Everyone familiar with the area insists the Southern Alps are one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world. Traverse the heart of Middle Earth in a four-day trip across glaciers, mellow pistes and endless views. The New Zealand hut system is extensive, easy-to-use and highly affordable. So if planning isn’t your forte, this is a worthwhile spur-of-the-moment style tour. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $3.71

7. United States: Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division Hut System.

Why: Steeped in history and with varying degrees of luxury, this system of 34 huts links 350-miles of backcountry terrain. Between Colorado snowpack being predictably unpredictable and the popularity of the huts, most people book a single hut for a few nights as opposed to touring from place to place. Either way, you’re promised a high likelihood of Colorado’s finest attributes: solitude, blue skies and deep snow. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $3.75

8. Canada: Helicopter-to-hut outside of Golden, British Columbia.

Why: A 15-minute helicopter ride delivers you deep in the mountains. From there on out, it’s all legs and lungs. Several outfits have similar operations, so choose your poison (aka terrain). Most of these set-ups require that you travel with a guide. We’ve had our eyes on Mistaya Lodge, after several friends have reported thigh deep conditions and a candy store level of terrain choices. Bonus: this is a perfect choice for groups of varying skill levels. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $4.43

9. Greenland: 16-hour ski days in Uummannaq.

Why: Skiing from peak to ocean over 500-km north of the Arctic Circle. March and April are the best months for skiing, and the daylight hours in April grow longer by over four minutes every 24-hour period. We’re also willing to bet you could go for months without crossing another ski track. If you can’t make it all the way to Uummannaq, the terrain outside of the capital, Nuuk, is packed with open fields and short, fun chutes with relatively stable snowpack. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): $10.94

10. Antarctica: Anywhere.

Why: Did you not see March of the Penguins?  With some 20,000 tourists visiting annually, Antarctica is hardly “the last frontier.” But there is still something so untamed, so dramatic and so darn cold about the notion of it. As far as we can tell, it’s near impossible to organize this trip without hiring some kind of permitted outfitter. Two words: worth it. Cost of après-tour beer (in USD): Considering you just paid five figures to get there, you better hope the beer is included with the boat.


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Giving thanks to our gear

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We are gathered here today to give thanks to our gear, which cares for us through sleet and snow.

To you, dear mountaineering pants, thank you for no longer being woolen knickers. Sure, those trousers of yore had a certain panache, but why so stingy in the calf protection department? Calves need protection, too.

To you, sweet, sweet polypro:  We’ve had some touch-and-go moments with stink, but those are so far overshadowed by how you tenderly keep me dry even when I’m soaking you to the core. Pay no mind to the shade thrown at you by my old cotton T-shirts. They’ll learn to forgive… in time.

To you, my fat, semi-rockered skis, god bless. I used to fake my joy of skiing powder. I couldn’t get the balance right; I sat back; my thighs burned; my toes turned black. Then you entered my life in one, portly, waterski-like wave. You’ve taught me how to love again, fatties. You are my new truth.

To you, my itsy-bitsy bundle of feathered joy: my utmost gratitude. Dearest down vest, thank you. I used to run through down vests like a one legged man in an alligator swamp: fast and not looking back. Then I discovered I could wash down, and it was like the sun rose for the first time ever. Thank you for always bouncing back to your lofty and fluff-filled self.

To you, my new soft-as-a-baby’s butt Merino wool base layer: a hearty huzzah! I slighted your kind for years. Memories of scratchy, hot, heavy sweaters fueled my crusade against your goodness. Boy what a difference a century makes! You’re warm. You’re cool. You’re warm when I’m wet. I’m so happy you’ve got my back.

And last, but not least, to you: my beloved partners in crime, leather boots: my sincerest thanks. You’ve not changed much over the years, because you haven’t needed to. You were my first significant outdoor purchase. I knew that we could have a long, happy life together once you gave in a little, and I vowed to take good care of you. Season after season, year after year, together we’ve traveled untold miles of trails, mountains and deserts. Thank you for never changing. You’re living proof that the best gear can last a lifetime, with a little care and a lot of love.

Thank you for the adventures!  —Brook Sutton


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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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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!