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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.


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Avalanche Awareness: Not just for skiers

Avalanche awareness is critical in any winter snowsports endeavor.

Avalanche awareness is critical in any winter snowsports endeavor.

It’s winter, and for most of us that means spending much of our free time on the snow—on skis, snowshoes, snowboards, sleds, or any other contraption with a sliding surface. We’re a cold-climate tribe, like-minded folks who understand the reward of bundling up and pushing our bodies through the elements.

As we go, many of us venture into the unknown, to the next summit, the next ridge over. And as we do, we may cross from a relatively safe zone into a more dangerous one where risks are greater. Perhaps the most threatening of all is an avalanche.

Tragically, avalanches kill people each winter. Some of the victims are well-known industry experts. Others are less known. They’re out with their friends and succumb to changing conditions, unpredictable circumstances.

Here at Nikwax hearts go out to anyone affected by avalanches in the backcountry. Experience tells us that it isn’t just the extreme skiers who are affected. It’s the cross-country enthusiast. The snowshoeing bird watcher. The snowmobiler.

In the hopes of spreading the word about avalanche safety, we here at Nikwax offer the following tips to our intrepid customers and friends. Please, stay safe in the backcountry.

  • Educate yourself: Avalanches can occur with as little as a few inches of snow. The contributing factors in an avalanche include slope angle, snow conditions, and the type of snow crystals closest to the ground. Snow scientists spend a lifetime studying these phenomenons. You don’t need a Ph.D., but check out the American Institute for Avalanche Safety to learn how to recognize and avoid scenarios that are primed for an avalanche.
  • Take a course: The American Avalanche Institute has been teaching professionals and recreationists how to stay safe in the backcountry since 1973. Check the website for a course near you.
  • Gear up: Avalanche beacons, snow shovels, and probes are de rigeur in the backcountry. However, they’re only as good as the person using them. Buy a beacon—an electronic tracker that emits signals and also tracks them to find bodies buried in an avalanche. Then practice using it.
  • Choose your route wisely: We’re not saying to avoid avalanche terrain. Some of the best backcountry huts, ski slopes, and basic trails traverse avalanche paths. What’s important is to know the risks of your route and do your best to mitigate them using the skills you picked up in your avalanche course.
  • Choose your partners wisely: Make sure you trust the folks you recreate with to make educated decisions.

If this seems extreme, consider this: if you’re in the backcountry anywhere near a slope with an angle, you could be at risk of an avalanche. We don’t want to scare you. We don’t want you to stay home. But we do want you to be safe.

Getting out in the winter is one of life’s most joyful activities. Coming home in one piece is even better.


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The Gear Closet Archetypes

If you are a lover of the outdoors and the activities associated, it goes without saying that you have an assortment of gear. How people store their gear, however, widely varies. Which type are you?

The Gear Decorator:

Your friends may not understand it, but you believe there’s no better way to store your gear than to artfully arrange it, on your living room wall. “I think the ice axe looks lovely hanging over the television; it really ties the room together.”

The OCD:

You have a place for everything and everything IS in its place. Or else. “Can’t you SEE the outlines for each item I’ve neatly drawn on the wall?”

The Mobile:

“Yeah, I’m just gonna leave it in the car.”

The Old School:

Your gear is all at least 20 years old, but it is meticulously maintained, and loved. You always put it away clean. “You can have my external frame backpack when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”

The Gear Shed/Garage/House:

You have a dedicated storage facility/fortress for your massive gear collection. “What? You don’t keep all your gear in a climate-controlled, highly secured environment? Me? Oh, I sleep in my car.”

The Chaos:

“Where’s the tent? Where’s the @$&! tent?!?”


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Tent Care

Why should you care for your tent?

UV exposure can, for many tent fabrics, be devastating to their performance. In some cases only two weeks exposure can lead to a reduction in the tear strength of the tent fabric by half.

Weathering, dirt and dust can cause water to be absorbed into the fabric of the tent itself, as the Durable Water Repellency (DWR) become less effective. It is at this point that you will find water leaking through vulnerable areas such as seams.

When water, dirt or dust sits on the tent fabric it reduces its breathability. When breathability is reduced, water vapor inside the tent is no longer able to pass through the fabric, and instead condenses on the inside.

What should you do?

Before your camping trip, set up your tent to check its waterproof condition. This is also the perfect time to give your tent a little extra love by cleaning it with Nikwax Tech Wash. If you notice your tent is no longer repelling water, treat it with Tent & Gear SolarProof. Tent & Gear SolarProof provides superior waterproofing and doubles the useful life of fabrics by protecting against UV damage.

How should you do it?

  • Tents are best cleaned, waterproofed and UV protected when pitched. Never machine wash or tumble dry them!
  • Place the tent in an area that will drain easily and is free of excessive dirt or dust.

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Cleaning

  • Add Nikwax Tech Wash (100ml in 6L of water) to a bucket of water and mix until foamy. Sponge all over the tent.
  • Rinse off thoroughly until the water runs clear.
  • Allow to dry naturally (if not applying waterproof and UV protection). Ensure it is completely dry before packing the tent away.
  • Don’t forget to sweep/ shake out the inside of the tent.

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Waterproofing and UV protection

  • Ensure you have the right volume of product. As a guide, 1L of Tent & Gear SolarProof will protect approximately a large 8 person tent (70 square meters). If using the new Concentrated Tent & Gear SolarProof, dilute as per the instructions.
  • Apply the Tent & Gear SolarProof to a wet, clean tent ensuring that you pay particular attention to any seams.
  • Wipe away any excess with a clean cloth.
  • Allow to dry naturally

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Nikwax Concentrated Tent & Gear Solarproof : Complete protection for your tent at a better value

New Nikwax Concentrated Tent & Gear Solarproof provides high performance UV and waterproof protection to double the life of your tent or gear, at a great low price per square meter.

  • Waterproof performance to the maximum testable standard
  • Long lasting UV protection
  • Easy to apply even to a wet tent
  • Safe WaterBased, non flammable and fluorocarbon free
  • Easy to carry and store concentrated formula

Nikwax tent UV protection


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Reuse again and again and again! Nikwax for the whole family

We at Nikwax know that outdoor adventurers come in all ages and sizes AND that keeping all those little fast-growing  trail-monsters outfitted can be both a logistical and an economic challenge. Then there’s the environmental impact of discarding all those tiny boots and mittens! Not to worry, parents, Nikwax can help!

Get outdoors with our family

Never again worry about accepting those hand-me-down boots from the lady at work or wonder how much life is REALLY left in that little jacket you picked up at the thrift store. Nikwax makes all sorts of products that can breathe new life into tired outdoor gear and help it last long enough to pass down to the next kid in line. We’ll help you clean and waterproof footwear to extend the life of your family’s shoes and ensure that they don’t have to be replaced as often. Our Glove Proof will keep everyone’s hands dry during your adventures, and help make those gloves last long enough to be handed down.

Make sure to regularly clean your family’s outerwear too! Regular cleaning alone can do wonders for extending the life and performance of your outdoor gear! Use products like TX. Direct, Softshell Proof, and Polar Proof to replenish or add durable water repellency (DWR) to your outerwear and make older items perform like new ones.

It’s easy! With proper care, outdoor gear can last much, much longer, saving your family money and preventing those items from piling up in the landfill. We apologize in advance to the baby – see that jacket on your big brother? That will be yours some day! Wear it well, kid…

Stay Dry out there!

~The Nikwax Team