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Back to School Lessons in Responsible Thriftiness

Back-to-School-photos

Every good parent knows that raising respectable, upstanding children requires love, integrity and the periodic dose of deceit. Marketing, peer comparisons and shiny, new things influence kids, just as they do adults. This is extraordinarily evident during this period that retailers like to call Back to School.

To hear J.C. Penny tell it, everyone needs a new everything before that first recess bell rings in the classroom.

We at Nikwax welcome all kids – young and old – to be part of the environmental and social solution by investing in the longevity of our purchases. We are proud to be 100% fluorochemical free, thereby providing safe alternatives for your in-home cleaning and waterproofing. With so many formulas to choose from in the Nikwax line-up, your biggest challenge to keeping your kids’ outdoor gear in good shape will be how fast those little people tend to grow. Buy less, experience more.

And in case you need a little help imparting that lesson, read on:

Exhibit A: What once was old is new again.

Aliases: Hand-me-downs, older sister/brother’s stuff, re-runs, saving money

Teachable moment: Look! You finally get to own the rain jacket you always used to “borrow” from your older sister. It’s all yours and she’ll have to ask you if she can borrow it now.

What kids hear: Take your sister’s gnarly old slicker. You’ll never have anything nice.

Positive spin: Restore the piece with some Nikwax gear rehab (we suggest Tech Wash and waterproofing), and then customize it somehow. Sew a sweet patch on it. Write the new owner’s name in permanent marker on the inside. If all else fails, pull a “Portlandia” and put a bird on it.

Lesson learned: Dignity is not found in amassing “stuff,” it’s found in honoring everyone and everything around you. Reusing and repurposing should be the norm, not the exception.

Exhibit B: Yes, dear, of course your beloved [insert item here] is still good.

Teachable moment: If you want [item] to last, you need to care for it. Just like you need to feed Mrs. Goldfish so she stays alive, it’s important to take care of your things if you want them to continue to work.

What kids hear: If something isn’t working mom or dad will fix it.

Positive spin: If you want a puppy, you’re going to have to show me that you can take care of the things you already have. Specifically, please show me that you know how to use the washing machine and how to read your clothing tags.

Lesson learned: It’s easier, less expensive and far less wasteful to care for something well, than to replace it with something new.

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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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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.


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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


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You Don’t Need a New Jacket!

You may know this story. You buy a brand new jacket. It is shiny and wondrous.

Bling bling!

You love your new jacket. You go places together, and it keeps you dry and toasty.

Time passes, as it inevitably does, and suddenly your jacket is no longer shiny. As a matter of fact, it seems to have become more absorbent than a sponge. Even if your jacket is Gore-Tex, if it wets out, you will be unhappy. The jacket will weigh you down with its soggy fabric. It will no longer be breathable. The rain might not get through to your skin, but you’re miserable all the same.

What do you do? This jacket was supposed to be waterproof. You storm back to the store and berate the employee who sold this jacket to you. False advertising is unacceptable!

However, the store associate knows her business. She tells you that like a car, outdoor gear needs proper maintenance. She shows you this stuff called Nikwax.

It’s easy to use! Just throw the offending jacket in the washer with Tech Wash first to clean it. Sometimes just cleaning will make your jacket work like new again. Dirt, oil and other grime can muck up the performance of your jacket, making it wet out. Be careful about cleaning your outdoor gear in detergents, they can leave behind a residue that will attract water to your gear, which is a bit counter productive! Tech Wash is a non-detergent cleaner and gets rid of grimy crud and detergent residue! Follow the instructions on the bottle so you know how much to use!

Washy washy!After that cycle is done, you have two options.

#1. You can call it good, and (if the care label allows) put your jacket in the dryer. This will help revitalize any factory applied DWR (durable water repellant) coating. That’s the stuff on the outside of your jacket that makes the water bead up. That’s what failed and allowed your jacket to soak up water. If your jacket is pretty haggard, you might just want to skip to option #2.

#2. You can run another cycle with Nikwax TX. Direct. This will add more of that wondrous DWR to your jacket. Follow the instructions on the bottle to know how much you need to use!

With TX.Direct you do not need to put your jacket in the dyer afterwards. You can if you want to, and the care label allows it, but it is not necessary with Nikwax waterproofing products, as they do not contain fluorocarbons! (Fluorocarbon-based waterproofing requires heat to activate). Save some energy and hang dry.

That’s it! After those steps your jacket will be happy and ready for the next adventure. This process can help you keep your jacket performing year after year! No need to throw it out, no need to buy a new jacket. Save money! Keep your gear out of the landfills! Also, all Nikwax products are created to be safe for you to use, and safe for the environment.

Now get out there and have fun outdoors!

Woohoo! Adventure!~The Nikwax Team