Global leader in safe, high performance waterproofing, cleaning and conditioning for outdoor gear


Leave a comment

Chop wood, stay warm (and other tips to survive the weather)

polar-vortex-black-coat

The Polar Vortex may have come and gone, but we’re still a solid three months out from warm weather in the majority of the continental U.S. Short of packing a flask of whiskey or investing in one of those full down Sasquatch-y outfits, we present cheap and easy ways to stay warm when Arctic temps dance into our temperate existence.

  • Shovel snow. You’ll heat up instantly, plus a 150-lb person will burn 206 calories shoveling snow for a half an hour.
  • Stay hydrated. There’s a logical, if not somewhat expansive, relationship between staying hydrated and staying warm in the cold. In a nutshell, blood vessels constrict in order to moderate body temperature, which results in increased blood pressure. The kidneys counteract the raised blood pressure by producing more urine.
  • On the flip side, go pee when nature calls. The body spends a lot of energy keeping your core warm. A full bladder hogs heat that may otherwise be spent on your limbs and toes and fingers.
  • Free your sleeping bag from its winter slumber and use it as a throw for the couch. You likely sleep under down comforters, why not cozy up under down for your “Breaking Bad” marathon?
  • Eat spicy food. Seriously.
  • Stock up on the $1.99 hand warmer packets. The secret is to put them in your mittens before you go outside. They’re most effective when you never allow your hands to get too cold in the first place.
  • If you’re down to only one hand warmer, place it against the back of your neck – held in place with your T-neck or scarf. There are differing physiological explanations as to why this helps. It won’t significantly affect your comfort level, but it will take away the chill.
  • Not into the store-bought hand warmers? Zap fingerling potatoes in the microwave and stow them in your pocket for warm fingers on short walks.
  • Keep a back-up hat, pair of gloves, pair of socks and extra core layer in your car. They’re there in case of emergency.
  • Invite the dog onto the bed.
  • Let the cat sneak under the covers.
  • Indulge in nostalgic thoughts. According to researchers from the University of Southampton, reveling in pleasantly nostalgic memories can positively change our perception of the current temperature.

Stay dry. There cannot be a more important mantra in cold weather than this one. Keep your gear in shape with Nikwax and keep extra layers close at hand for sweaty activities and accidental slips in the slush.


Leave a comment

Back From the Dead: How to Clean Your Ski Jacket

It's... ALIVE!

It’s… ALIVE!

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

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

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

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

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

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


Leave a comment

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.


1 Comment

Get Fit, Don’t Stink: Keeping Your Workout Wear Fresh and Clean

CrossFit_pull-up

Between mud season and daylight savings time, we’re finding more and more excuses to exercise inside these days. Don’t worry—we’re not checking out entirely. We’re just taking advantage of indoors cross training to bridge the gap between snow and summer.

And, as anyone who has ever sweated through a high-octane crossfit schedule or soaked their technical clothes during a spin class knows (we’ll ask again: why is riding a stationary bike so hard?), one of the biggest challenges is keeping workout wear fresh and clean.

Whether they’re bunched in the bottom of your gym bag, or diligently tossed in the laundry later that night, the funk of indoor workout wear is exacerbated by the inevitable byproduct of an indoors workout: sweat.

In a climate-controlled environment, sweat is almost guaranteed. Outside, there might be a breeze. Or fluctuating temps. Or something else to keep the wet at bay. (Or not, we’ve ended many a plein air workout drenched, and, truth be told, it is highly satisfying).

Either way, it requires TLC to take proper care of your apparel.

(Special note: when you’re working out indoors, your feet will likely be sweating up a storm too. If you’re going sockless—a popular trend these days—pull out your insole after a workout to let it dry. If you’re just using insoles that came with the shoes, rinse them with BaseWash.)

So what does TLC for gym wear look like? A special detergent that will get rid of the grime without compromising the gear. And by that, we mean Nikwax BaseWash—a great way to keep your shirts and shorts fresh and clean.

Why a special detergent?

BaseWash cleans, deodorizes, inhibits the build up of body odors, accelerates drying, and improves cooling efficiency of synthetic base layers.

We know that’s a tall order for a cleaner. But it’s true.

BaseWash cleans and conditions simultaneously. It help prevent odor build up, which keeps your duds fresh. It also enhances and revitalizes the wicking properties of synthetic base layers, which increases breathability and helps fabric spread sweat and dry quickly. Get where we’re going with this? Think positive feedback cycle.

Put simply, regular detergent just doesn’t perform as well. Sure, it can clean. But it won’t provide the same results.

Think of it this way: you take good care of yourself with exercise, so do the same for your workout wear.


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

Down Revival: How To Teach Old Feathers New Tricks

850-Fill-Power-Goose-Down

Purchasing down gear is rite of passage for us outdoor types. Remember the joy of stuffing your first down sleeping bag into its impossibly small stuff sack after years of struggling with a monster synthetic bag? Or the first time you donned the down coat that you saved for years to be able to purchase?

You should. Buying down represents achieving the “next stage” of outdoorsiness. Anyone who spends time sleeping, skiing, hiking, or otherwise adventuring outside understands that a down coat (or bag, or booties, or gloves, or, yes, even hats) can mean the difference between basic survival and enjoyment. Down offers an unbeatable warmth to weight ratio. It’s perhaps the best insulator out there. Did we mention it’s cozy?

It also required care and attention to extend its lifespan.

or_trance_sweater_300Here’s the good news: Down care is easy, affordable and guarantees a long lifespan for your gear.

What’s the best way to take care of your down gear?

Wash: Gear performs better when closest to its original, pristine state. Case in point: the birdbath. Birds know that their down will best protect them when it is clean. Down, specifically, requires a gentle, detergent-free cleaner. We recommend our very own, Nikwax Down Wash, which is specially formulated to launder down feathers without weighing down the loft (also see Down Proof, below).

Rinse: So long as there isn’t a center-mount agitator, a special washing machine isn’t required for down gear. If the washer is large enough to handle the load, it’s good to go. Regardless if you’re hand washing or using a machine, the hard and fast rule is rinse, rinse, then rinse again. Ensure the effluent water runs clear.

Dry: Relax to the rhythmic sound of a tennis ball tumbling through the dry cycle. The down will be clumpy from its time in the washer, and drying it completely is critical. Tossing a clean tennis ball in the dryer provides a gentle “smack” to break up the clumps. Fair warning: this is not a short process and you will likely have moments of clumpy terror when you check on the progress. Keep resetting the timer until your beloveds are lump-free and fully dry.

Results: When you pull your newly revived jacket out of the dryer, not only will it be gleaming with cleanliness, it will also be puffier then when you began the day. By gently cleansing the delicate feathers, Nikwax Down Wash revives loft and reinvigorates the down’s ability to trap air once again. Voilà!

Store: Hang it all out there. Just say no to storing down gear in tight stuff sacks. Over time, perpetually “squished” down feathers will become more resistant to re-lofting to their original air-trapping excellence. Store down apparel and sleeping bags hanging freely with plenty of space or hanging in large, breathable bags.

Additional resources:

  • Cleaning instructions from http://www.shop-denali.com/down_care.aspx.
  • Always read and follow the label instructions for temperature and other considerations.
  • Down is only effective when dry. Periodically apply Nikwax Down Proof, which both revives the outer fabric’s DWR, AND adds water repellency to the down itself, without adversely affecting the insulating properties.


Leave a comment

Winter Layering 101

crosscountry

We’ve said it before: the key to staying comfortable in cold weather is layering. Whether you’re skinning up several thousand feet to a snowy summit, braving slushy roads for a ride, or hitting the Nordic track on skate gear, chances are you’re going to begin your workout colder than you end it.

The body expends a lot of energy during athletic pursuits. That energy floods your body with heat, which makes you sweat and feel, well, warm. (Generally followed by a release of elevating endorphins—one of the reasons we here at Nikwax remain avid athletes, no matter what the weather outside is doing).

Starting cold means you’re unlikely to overheat right out of the gate. Once you get going, being warm is good. Being hot is not. And wet? You most definitely do not want to be wet.

Managing your body’s heat can mean the difference between a good workout and a bad one. Why do you want to manage it? Simple.

  1. Comfort. Who wants to stew in damp clothes? Not us, and not you, either.
  2. A matter of life and death. Sounds extreme? Maybe. But those who don’t wick away sweat risk getting chilled. The chills can lead to frostbite (bad) and even hypothermia (worse).
  3. Performance. Your movements are more precise when you can concentrate. When you body gets cold and soggy, your thoughts focus on your discomfort and take away your prowess.

How, then, do you keep dry and cool—not cold, not too warm—during your workout? Through careful layering and proper care of your different layers.

Start with a technical base layer that wicks sweat away from the body and stays relatively dry to the touch. There’s a multitude to choose from: wool or synthetics. Care for these with our BaseFresh or Wool Wash.

Next, add an insulting layer. Fleece or a wool sweater. Think warm and fuzzy.

Follow with a shell that breathes. And then wash that shell regularly. We know what you’re thinking: really? Yep. If you don’t wash it regularly, your shell can get gunked up with sweat, grime, dirt, and the like. A gunked up shell won’t breathe, and that leads to soggy misery. Take care of it with our Tech Wash.

What else is good in your quiver? Warm gloves and a pair of lighter liner gloves. A hat. A pair of dry socks. A thermos with a warm drink and a full water bottle.

Use this system, and you’ll give yourself the edge you need to get outside and keep your heart rate up all winter long.


Leave a comment

Shoveling 101: Looking Good, Feeling Better

Layering is key to stay dry doing winter chores. Photo courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/annaustin/

Layering is key to stay dry doing winter chores. Photo courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/annaustin/

It’s almost President’s Day Weekend, which means families around the country are gearing up to take the Christmas tree down. Or is that just us?

Forget skiing and ice climbing, mundane outdoor tasks take up far more checks on our honey-do list than all of the rad adventures we wish could be top priority. When you add up all the hours in a winter, shoveling the drive, throwing a Frisbee for the dog and walking to the bus take up a lot more space in our pie chart of activities than all the “cool” things we define ourselves by.NW_PieChart

Here at Nikwax, we’re proud that our products are as relevant for chores around the house as they are on multi-day expeditions. We think “how to layer for cleaning the gutters” is just as compelling as “how to layer for your 8th ascent of the Eiger.”

At the core, they offer the same challenges:

  • Manage moisture from the weather and from your own sweat,
  • Maintain a comfortable body temperature based on exertion and layering options, and
  • Choose your outerwear wisely for the best experience.

So move over Conrad Anker. Step aside Gretchen Bleiler and Chris Davenport. We’re impressed; you know we are. But today we salute the heroes of the cul-de-sac: the every day men and women who gauge the difficulty of their ascent by how deeply buried the ladder is in the garage.

How to Dress for Shoveling: Looking Good, Feeling Better

1.    Never underestimate the power of moisture-wicking base layer.

Keep performance and lose the stench with: Nikwax BaseFresh or Wool Wash

2. If you listen to Willie Nelson, watch old Westerns or have ever been on a sports team, you know that certain relationships trump all others. A man and his horse; a cowboy and his sidekick; your feet and your boots. Shoveling is hard work, so it’s not too likely that your tootsies will be cold. Wet, however, is a different story. Nobody likes prune toes.

Keep your feet dry with our range of Footwear Products

3. That fancy new cold weather shell does work for shoveling! It may lack the panache of say…a Glad bag…but it will let the sweat out and keep the snow from getting in. Here’s the not-so-secret tip that has been at the center of a long-held misunderstanding for technical outerwear: WASH IT. Yep, the biggest performance hindrance to breathability in outerwear is the build-up of oils, dirt and grime on the fabric. The key is to wash with a gentle formula designed for technical gear. While it’s a good idea to re-waterproof as needed, washing is the first critical step.

Mangy to marvelous with: Tech Wash

4. Stay hydrated. Every high level performer cares for their body’s internal wellness.Our good friends at Nuun make that task fun. We love doctoring up a boring glass of water with their electrolyte replenishers. And following that, we’re always game for the hydration duo power pack: Coffee (morning) and beer (afternoon).

Enjoy that beer with the knowledge that you’ve just burned 408 calories (assuming you weigh 150-lbs and kept at it for an hour), and you were home in time to tuck your kids into bed.

Here’s to you!

Love,

Nikwax


1 Comment

Clean your stinky sandals!

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! Get Sandal Wash for your very own here!

Stay dry! (and clean!)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.