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Keeping your shoes clean, it’s easier than you might think!

Now, I’m not one to normally clean my shoes with regularity, however, not too long ago I acquired a pair of super cool 5.10 approach/ parkour shoes. I’m no parkour aficionado, but I do get out to climb a bit, so I was psyched for some new kicks. The downside was that these shoes were white, meaning they would stay white for about 5 minutes after I took them out of the box. Sure enough, after an outing or two, they were downright filthy.

My awesome 5.10 kicks, while a stylish white, turned a dirty grey brown.

In order to bring my shoes back to a state that would at least be appropriate for frequenting a dive bar, I turned to my Nikwax arsenal to get them clean. In order to prepare for the overhaul, I removed the laces and insoles in order to get better access to all parts of the shoe. Good thing too, as you can see the tongue was particularly filthy.

removing the laces makes the shoes easier to clean

Remove the laces and insoles.

The next step was to get the shoes good and wet- like wetting your hands before soaping them up.

wetting your shoes help the cleaning gel to work properly

Get those shoes good and wet!

Then, I grabbed Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel and went to town.

Great for all types of footwear!

Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel to the rescue!

I scrubbed like a mad person.

Footwear Cleaning Gel gets sudsy!

Scrub your shoes!

Then, I rinsed off the Cleaning Gel suds. I was amazed at how much cleaner they were!

Rinse all the soap off

Sparkly!

Now, these shoes will never be waterproof. As you can see, they have holes all over them and there is no Gore-Tex membrane either. However, in order to help prevent further dirt and mud from corrupting my shoes, I thought, “it couldn’t hurt”! So I grabbed a bottle of Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof Spray-On (as the shoes are of the textured leather persuasion). I sprayed the shoes thoroughly and evenly.

Nubuck and Suede Proof waterproofing

I used the spray-on version.

Then, I set the shoes on a protected surface so they could dry. I also put some paper towel (newspaper works too) inside them in order to help them dry faster and soak up any water that got inside. You never want to accelerate the drying of your shoes with heat, as it can damage the uppers, as well as compromise any glued parts.

Dry your shoes with paper towel or newspaper in them

Drying time!

After a couple minutes I checked on them and removed any excess (pooling, etc.).

Make sure to remove all excess product

Dab to remove excess.

I let them dry over night. the next day gave them a little spritz to check the water repellency- They look great!

waterproof suede

Look at that beading action!

Now to go get them filthy again!

Climbing a dog and a beer

Ready for action!


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Dear Professor Nikwax: How do I care for my footwear?

Dear Professor Nikwax,

My summer plans have me climbing several peaks, riding my bike along the California coast, and wearing my sandals to the Farmer’s Market. Of course I’ll also be logging a lot of time in the office. I’ve invested in some good shoes for the different sports, but I want to take care of them so they last through the season and beyond. Help!

-Wanderluster

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

Dear Wanderluster,

Your instincts are correct; even the highest-quality footwear needs regular cleaning and conditioning to last.

Congratulations on taking the time to learn about the best steps for caring for your kicks.

I’ve put together a handy chart to remind you about what to do for different shoes and when. Print it out and hang it in your gear closet!

Then, read on for a break down by sport.

Back_room_poster_footwearv4

Hiking/mountain climbing

As you know, stable boots or hiking shoes with lateral support, excellent tread, and waterproofing are priority number one when you’re heading to the high country.

Leather: Before you do anything, clean ‘em with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel. This gets rid of the dirt and establishes a clean slate for the next step: waterproofing.

Are they pretty beat up? Treat them with Conditioner for Leather, which is absorbed into the leather and helps keep the material supple.

Then, even if your boots come with a waterproof membrane like Gore-Tex, waterproof them. We’ve got both a wax and liquid waterproofing product, and both can go directly onto wet leather. So sit down, clean, waterproof, and leave to dry.

Finally, send me a picture from one of the peaks you climb this summer.

Fabric and leather combo: Whether we’re talking about your ultra light trail runners or your low-top hiking shoes (which is what I use in all but the most epic mountaineering adventures), this leather and fabric combo needs to be cleaned with the Nikwax footwear cleaning gel and then treated with our Fabric & Leather Proof product. I guarantee this will add water repellency and keep your shoes in better condition, longer.

Biking

Until recently, I thought high-end, leather cycling shoes were the purview of professional cyclists. Then I got a pair. Wow. They’re comfortable, lightweight, and they make me feel powerful. I, like you, want to return the affection. So I use the same products on my leather biking shoes that I do for my leather hiking boots: clean, condition, waterproof.

Sandals

The worst thing about sandals is the stench. Sporty sandals with a rubber sole and technical fabric upper can collect stinky bacteria and, put simply, reek. Fortunately the Nikwax Sandal Wash deodorizes and sanitizes those bad boys.

Office/Daily wear

Are your office shoes nubuck or suede? Then treat them with the Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof waterproofing. Leather? See the instructions for leather footwear above.

I hope that answers your questions. Follow these tips and your shoes will last far beyond this summer.

Happy travels!

Best,

Professor 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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Dear Professor Nikwax: How do I care for my footwear?

Dear Professor Nikwax,

My summer plans have me climbing several peaks, riding my bike along the California coast, and wearing my sandals to the Farmer’s Market. Of course I’ll also be logging a lot of time in the office. I’ve invested in some good shoes for the different sports, but I want to take care of them so they last through the season and beyond. Help!

-Wanderluster

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

Dear Wanderluster,

Your instincts are correct; even the highest-quality footwear needs regular cleaning and conditioning to last.

Congratulations on taking the time to learn about the best steps for caring for your kicks.

I’ve put together a handy chart to remind you about what to do for different shoes and when. Print it out and hang it in your gear closet!

Then, read on for a break down by sport.

back_room_poster_4_2010.indd

Hiking/mountain climbing

As you know, stable boots or hiking shoes with lateral support, excellent tread, and waterproofing are priority number one when you’re heading to the high country.

Leather: Before you do anything, clean ‘em with Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel. This gets rid of the dirt and establishes a clean slate for the next step: waterproofing.

Are they pretty beat up? Treat them with Conditioner for Leather, which is absorbed into the leather and helps keep the material supple.

Then, even if your boots come with a waterproof membrane like Gore-Tex, waterproof them. We’ve got both a wax and liquid waterproofing product, and both can go directly onto wet leather. So sit down, clean, waterproof, and leave to dry.

Finally, send me a picture from one of the peaks you climb this summer.

Fabric and leather combo: Whether we’re talking about your ultra light trail runners or your low-top hiking shoes (which is what I use in all but the most epic mountaineering adventures), this leather and fabric combo needs to be cleaned with the Nikwax footwear cleaning gel and then treated with our Fabric & Leather Proof product. I guarantee this will add water repellency and keep your shoes in better condition, longer.

Biking

Until recently, I thought high-end, leather cycling shoes were the purview of professional cyclists. Then I got a pair. Wow. They’re comfortable, lightweight, and they make me feel powerful. I, like you, want to return the affection. So I use the same products on my leather biking shoes that I do for my leather hiking boots: clean, condition, waterproof.

Sandals

The worst thing about sandals is the stench. Sporty sandals with a rubber sole and technical fabric upper can collect stinky bacteria and, put simply, reek. Fortunately the Nikwax Sandal Wash deodorizes and sanitizes those bad boys.

Office/Daily wear

Are your office shoes nubuck or suede? Then treat them with the Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof waterproofing. Leather? See the instructions for leather footwear above.

I hope that answers your questions. Follow these tips and your shoes will last far beyond this summer.

Happy travels!

Best,

Professor Nikwax


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Spring hiking preview

Nkwx Coast-31

It’s officially spring, which means that hiking season is here. Which means it’s time to bust out your boots (and if you didn’t store them properly last fall, time to clean and waterproof).

Got it? Great. Now the fun starts.

Whether you’re heading out for a leisurely stroll or a multi-day wilderness trek, planning your adventure is the first step. If you’re not sure where to go or you’re looking to add to your lifelist, we’re here to help. Check out the following must-dos and get those feet moving.

Easy Day Hike: Mount Independence, Orwell, Vermont

Visit one of the sites from which the British hightailed it back to Canada during the Revolutionary War, and enjoy the lush hillside vegetation on Vermont’s iconic Mount Independence. This family-friendly day hike is 2.9 miles round trip. It gains 200 feet and tops out at 306 feet above sea level. There are even a few nearby trails with wheelchair access. For more info on Mount Independence, click here.

Recommended footwear: Choose a low-top hiking shoe with lateral stiffness, grippy tread, and waterproofed upper like the La Sportiva FC ECO 2.0 GTX.

Advanced day hike: Three 14ers in a day: Colorado’s Democrat-Cameron-Lincoln Loop

A rite of passage for aspiring mountaineers, summiting a Colorado 14er earns you a spot in a special “club.” But why stop at just one? This three-peak test piece was chosen by Backpacker as the best Colorado Day Hike in 2009. Don’t be fooled by the low mileage (6.95 total) The high alpine exposure and extreme elevation gain will make you work for it. Plan on encountering snow if you attempt this route before mid-July, and absolutely get an early start. Essential info about this route can be found here.

Recommended footwear: A light-weight ankle boot that breathes well will keep your feet going for miles. The La Sportiva Xplorer Mid GTX features great cushioning, lateral stability, a high traction rubber outsole, and an articulated heel cuff to ward off blisters.

Weekend Backpacking Trip: Kibbie Lake, Yosemite National Park, California

A friendly introduction to backpacking, this eight-mile, round trip route winds through some of Yosemite’s most beautiful scenery. Expect multiple stream crossings as you climb up to the lake. Camp at the shore (permits are available through the Yosemite NP permit desk) or head to the granite outcroppings south of the lake to escape mosquitos. More info can be found here.

Recommended footwear: A sturdy ankle boot that offers enough flexibility to keep feet comfortable without compromising stability is a solid choice. We like the La Sportiva FC ECO 3.2 GTX (women) or the FC Eco 3.0 GTX (men).

Multi-day Backpacking Trip: Wonderland Trail, Washington

Circumnavigating Washington’s captivating Mount Rainier, this 93-mile loop takes about two weeks to complete. Hikers log roughly 22,000 feet of elevation gain, and the highest point tops out at the 6,750 feet Panhandle Gap. You’ll cruise through high Alpine and sub-alpine terrain, spruce, pine, and fir forests, and plenty of river crossings. Three non-wilderness and eighteen trailside campsites are available for overnight stays with the proper permit. Visit the National Park Service site for more details.

Recommended footwear: A durable, leather hiker that’s durable, supportive, and protective, such as La Sportiva’s Omega GTX are versatile enough to go the distance and light enough to not weigh you down.

High-Alpine Mountaineering: Gannett Peak, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Wyoming’s highest peak, Gannet, 13,804 feet, lords over the state’s rugged Wind River Range. Not for the faint at heart or inexperienced, the main route summiting the peak is a 40-mile out and back. You read that right. Forty miles. Ropes, crampons, ice axes are essential to ensure safety over the varied terrain. Glacier crossing, scrambling and cross-country hiking is all part of this high-alpine experience. For the best climbing conditions, plan to summit in early summer June/July. More info can be found here.

Recommended footwear: A lightweight, burly mountaineering boot that’s waterproof, and features extensive support and torsional rigidity will get you to the summit. Check out the La Sportiva Trango S Evo GTX boot.

Speed Hike/Trail Run: North Valley Trail System, Idaho

Short on time or just looking to get in an intense heart racing workout? Check out Idaho’s North Valley Trail System. This network spans 30-plus miles through the Boulder Mountain Range from Ketchum to the Galena Lodge. Select the length and intensity of your speed hike/trail run while surrounded by meadows, streams and mountain peaks. The trails are also used for XC skiing in the winter. Click here for more info.

Recommended footwear: A neutral, stable, all-terrain shoe with a rock guard in the front and a sticky outsole like the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor keeps the miles coming.


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End of Season Care for Winter Gear

snowboarder-cartoon-thoughtThe days are getting longer and the powder days are soon going to fade into memories. As winter winds down, we here at Nikwax urge you to take advantage of the remaining snowy days. Make turns while you can! Skip work for a snowy backcountry adventure!

And then, when you’re ready to call it quits, be kind to your cold weather gear.

In other words, before stashing it away, give it a good cleaning so it will be fresh and ready to wear when the snow starts to fly next season.

How should you prep your winter gear for storage?

That depends on the gear. Read on for gear-specific tips:

Down jacket

Love your puffy?

Clean it with our Down Wash in front-loading washing machine. Make sure to follow the care label on your jacket!

To dry, toss your jacket in the dryer at low heat with two clean tennis balls (or “sock balls”) to help “refluff” your coat. Keep in mind that your jacket may take 2-3 hours to dry.

If desired, follow up with Down Proof wash-in waterproofing.

Shell pants and jacket

Got Gore-Tex? Your ski jacket and pants have likely seen some good action this winter, so before stashing them away, give them a cleaning in your washer with Tech Wash.

If the care label allows, dry in a regular dryer at a low temp, or hang out to air dry.

Softshell

Spring skiing and snowy adventures are often softshell weather, so take care of those pieces with our Softshell DuoPack, which contains Tech Wash to clean, followed by Softshell Proof to waterproof.

Close to the skin

Last but not least, don’t neglect those next-to-skin base layers and techy ski socks! Run them through a cycle with our BaseFresh then fold ‘em up, store ‘em in the drawer and bid them adieu until next winter.


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The Nikwax Faction Welcomes Adam Foss

Adam Foss, photo courtesy of Francesca Pirolo/Seacat Creative

Adam Foss, photo courtesy of Francesca Pirolo/Seacat Creative

Adam Foss, photo courtesy of Cam Foss/Seacat Creative

Adam Foss, photo courtesy of Cam Foss/Seacat Creative

The Nikwax Faction is a compilation of extraordinary outdoor enthusiasts. These athletes are passionate participants in all types of outdoor sports and disciplines. They represent Nikwax as evangelists by taking their Nikwax treated gear out into some of the harshest elements and coming back with photos, feedback, and songs of praise. Today, we would like to introduce you to our newest Faction member, Adam Foss.

Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Adam began bow hunting at the age of 12. By the age of 14, he was following his father, Tom, on weekend expeditions into the Rockies in pursuit of Bighorn Sheep. In addition to hunting, his passions include hiking and photographing the natural world, but it isn’t often he’ll turn down an opportunity to spend time outdoors to do just about anything from snowboarding to fly fishing. In 2012, he became the youngest person to take all four species of North American Wild Sheep with a bow. As the Conservation Director for Seacat Creative, a creative agency and media firm, he is encouraged to spend nearly 100 days in the field a year – an opportunity he takes full advantage of. Throughout the year, Adam welcomes a backpack tent as his second home, whether that’s in the backcountry mountains of Montana, the wilds of British Columbia, the Mackenzie Mountains of Canada’s Northwest Territories, or anywhere else he finds himself.

When asked what Nikwax products he uses, Adam replied, “I religiously apply Waterproofing Wax for Leather to all my Schnee’s leather boots throughout the season. I wash all my GORE-TEX® products in Tech Wash. Hunting is hard on gear, whether it’s the smoke from a campfire or blood from field dressing an animal. Wool Wash is awesome for all my merino baselayers, socks and underwear. On a ten day backpack hunt where I’m working hard and sweating a bunch, merino is a necessity. Having the proper formula to wash these pieces in keeps them fresh and lasting much longer than regular detergents.”

Not only is Adam representing Nikwax, he also represents Schnee’s Boots, is a Sitka Gear Athlete, a Leica Hunting Pro, a Mystery Ranch Backpacks Hunting Ambassador, and a Friend of Hilleberg the Tentmaker.

Right on, Adam! Right. ON.