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Celebrating National #GetOutsideDay

Nikwax user Carys Rees, aka @this.girlwalks, loves maps and has been a fan of Ordnance Survey (OS) for as long as she can remember, so you can imagine how thrilled she was to be brought on board by them as an OS Champion! This year, Ordnance Survey and Mountain Rescue England & Wales announced a new partnership to emphasise the importance of navigation skills and having the right equipment when enjoying days out in the hills, mountains, and countryside. As a member of the
Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team, this partnership is a particularly exciting one for Carys. Below, she tells us a little about herself, and shares her recent #GetOutsideDay interview with OS…

I have been lucky enough to have spent a lifetime hiking through the rolling hills of Wales and while there are more epic peaks to conquer, I feel most at home in the Bannau Brycheiniog. My parents always encouraged me to spend time outdoors. Growing up, my sister and I would often be found sitting up in some tree or riding our bikes. I did my Duke of Edinburgh in secondary school and still to this day, my
76-year-old father comes out with me on our favourite hike around Llyn y Fan – he’s actually quicker than me on those inclines!

Wales is a place of myth and legends, with dragons living in our hills and ladies in our lakes. I absolutely adore that there is a magical story for almost every area of the national park. Sometimes I feel more at home outdoors than I do under my own roof, and I feel a real longing for it when I’ve been away for too long. However, lets be honest, the weather isn’t always the best and so I have been using Nikwax all of my adult life to take care of my kit – one of my coats is over 20 years old and is still waterproof thanks to Nikwax! Take care of your kit and it will take care of you.

Spending time outdoors has always been incredibly important to me and I’m a huge advocate of getting out in the fresh air. I hike, wild swim, camp and paddleboard, but sometimes just going for a walk in nature has massive benefits. There have been studies which demonstrate that spending time outdoors can not only help with depression and anxiety, but also lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and asthma. 

This year’s National #GetOutsideDay lands on Sunday 24th September so I thought I would speak to Helen from OS to find out what it’s all about!

What is Get Outside Day and why did OS set it up?
National #GetOutside Day is a celebration of the great outdoors: a day to come together and showcase that people of all ages, background and abilities can get outside. ​

It’s a day for the industry to join forces; providing inspiration for getting outside and showcasing that everyone can enjoy outdoor activities, especially those that struggle through lack of connection, access or skills. We believe the outdoors should be accessible to all.

We (Ordnance Survey) set it up to help get the nation outside and enjoying the physical, mental and social benefits the outdoors has to offer. It’s tied to our mission “to encourage more people to get outside more often”, which continues to sit at the heart of what we do today.

When did it launch and how has it grown over the years?
​National #GetOutside Day was launched in 2017 and has grown to become a well-known autumn campaign that sees the outdoor industry come together with one clear goal. Over the years, more organisations have got involved to support the campaign – and not just those in the outdoor industry! National #GetOutside day has become an unmissable event in many people’s calendars and a chance to rally up their nearest and dearest for a great day out.

Why is it important to spend time outdoors? 
Getting a regular dose of fresh air does wonders for our physical, social and mental wellbeing. Being outdoors lowers stress levels, improves mental health, and increases levels of serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin. A recent report* found that walking just 5,000 steps a day can bring noticeable changes to our physical health and improve life expectancy. Outdoor activities also connect people socially and help form lasting memories and friendships.

Where can people can find inspiration of things to do on Get Outside Day?
Our #GetOutside website has a huge bank of outdoor articles to help people plan their next adventure. Our activity guides provide ideas and inspiration on what to do and where to go as well as information to help people brush up on their outdoor skills, safety and navigation.

Do you have any ambassadors / celebrities taking part?
Our OS Champions continue to be our biggest advocates of the great outdoors. They come from all walks of life and have an unrivalled passion for the outdoors. We have paddleboarders, horse riders, wild campers, dog walkers, family adventurers and more! They’ll be sharing their precious places and outdoor activities for others to enjoy too.  

For more information on National #GetOutside Day, visit os.uk/getoutsideday

For more information on Nikwax aftercare products, visit nikwax.com

*https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-66440424

 

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The Bushcraft Show 2023

Everybody loves an outdoor adventure, and there is nothing better than learning the skills to become a true survivalist. Maybe you want to give archery a go or discover more about foraging, or perhaps you’d like to learn about native and common tree species on a guided walk? There is truly something for everyone at The Bushcraft Show.

Held at Stanford Hall in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, the show spans 3 days in a beautiful location that is only occasionally open to the public. For an unforgettable experience, you can camp in woodland or in a family-friendly open space, and there is also a caravan park area. Kids under 7 go free, whilst kids under 14 camp for free, and the event is dog-friendly too!

Enjoy a toasty campfire after a day spent axe-throwing, zorbing, weaving, wood carving, wild swimming, or enjoying many of the other exciting activities available on-site. There are plenty of activities for children within the woodland Kids Zone and you can relax within the natural surroundings on candlelit woodland walk.

At the event you have the chance to meet the author of the SAS survival handbook, John Lofty Wiseman, who will be telling many of his survival stories, plus, Ray Mears will be in attendance, talking about his bushcraft career and signing copies of his latest book!

For information on the event and ticket prices, click here

In collaboration with The Bushcraft Show, we have an exciting competition with 2 x adult weekend tickets, with woodland camping, up for grabs for one lucky winner! The winner will also receive a Nikwax Outdoor Complete Protection Kit – perfect for keeping your wet weather gear in peak condition. Plus, 5 runners up will each receive a Nikwax Outdoor Complete Protection Kit.

For your chance to win one of these prizes, enter the competition now by clicking HERE

 

 

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Step Up Your Game: A Guide to the Different Types of Shoes and Their Uses for Every Activity

Established in 1938 in Scotland, Trespass is a leading outdoor retailer in the UK, providing clothing, footwear, and equipment for all your outdoor needs. Nikwax took a moment to tap into their expertise about all things footwear! Sit back, read on, and discover the perfect shoe for every activity with their comprehensive guide to the different types of shoes and their uses.

Did you know that wearing the right footwear can make or break your performance? Unfortunately, wearing the wrong kind of shoes can be detrimental to your health, as well as your performance and comfort. You can improve your performance in any activity by always having the right shoes for the job and familiarising yourself with the types of footwear suitable for your chosen activities. With our advice, you will be able to find the ideal pair of shoes for any event and ensure that your feet are never subjected to discomfort.

But it’s not just about choosing the right shoes; it’s also about keeping them in good condition. That’s where Nikwax comes in – their products are designed to protect the materials and keep them looking their best. Nikwax aftercare is ideal for all types of footwear, from running shoes to work boots, hiking sandals and even casual shoes. Their products offer waterproofing, UV protection, and dirt and stain repellency, to keep your shoes looking and performing their best. Nikwax will keep your footwear clean and in good condition for longer, no matter the activity.

Different types of shoes and their uses

Walking Shoes:
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires walking regularly and suitable shoes will make all the difference. Cushioning to lessen the stress on your feet and joints, as well as arch support for added comfort, are two features that should be included in high-quality walking shoes. In addition, you should search for shoes with sturdy outsoles that provide a decent grip, allowing you to walk securely on wet or slippery terrain.

Key features:

  1. Cushioning for comfort and support
  2. Arch support
  3. Sturdy outsoles
  4. Grippy surfaces for good traction.

Trespass offers a wide selection of comfy, cushioned walking shoes with arch support and grippy outsoles that keep your feet feeling wonderful on your walks.

Hiking Boots:
You should, of course, invest in a good pair of hiking boots if you enjoy hiking! Try to find boots that offer excellent cushioning, protection against water, and that have a strong grip. Additionally, you should seek boots with adjustable lacing systems to suit the size and form of your foot.

Key features:

  1. Cushioning for comfort and support
  2. Waterproof membrane to protect your feet from moisture
  3. Sturdy outsoles with a strong grip
  4. Adjustable lacing system for a precise fit
  5. Supportive midsole construction

Trespass is proud to provide a wide range of high-quality hiking boots, striking the ideal balance between convenience and safety for use in the great outdoors. Our collection offers excellent cushioning, waterproof membranes and sturdy outsoles for your protection.

Trainers: 
When exercising, a good pair of running shoes or trainers is essential. Look for shoes that offer plenty of ventilation, cushioning and support, since this will help keep your feet from overheating. Running shoes should also have plenty of grip on their soles, which will help prevent slipping on difficult terrain. Need a new pair of trainers to boost your performance? Check out the Trespass range of running shoes, perfect for fitness enthusiasts.

Key features:

  1. Flexible and responsive sole for natural foot movement
  2. Stability and support for your foot’s arch
  3. Shock-absorbing midsole for reducing impact
  4. Breathable upper materials to keep your feet cool and dry
  5. Removable insoles for custom fit and support

Trespass offers a wide variety of trainers for men and women with all of these features.

Casual:
Casual shoes should be as comfortable as they are practical. Look for lightweight shoes with ample cushioning and arch support, enabling you to walk comfortably. We recommend choosing shoes with rubber soles since they offer superior traction and are more durable.

Key features:

  1. Lightweight construction
  2. Ample cushioning and arch support for comfort
  3. Breathable materials to keep your feet cool and dry
  4. Rubber soles for superior traction and durability

You’ll find casual shoes for men and women at Trespass, perfect for everyday wear.

The benefits of using Nikwax on footwear

Nikwax products help protect your footwear from the elements, prolong its life, and keep shoes looking great. Nikwax’s unique waterproofing properties allow water to bead up and run off the fabric instead of absorbing into it, increasing breathability and preventing water absorption.

Key features:

  1. Waterproofing – Nikwax helps keep water out of your shoes, so your feet stay drier and more comfortable in wet weather.
  2. Breathability – Nikwax also allows sweat to escape and evaporate away from the foot.
  3. Protection – Nikwax forms an additional layer against dirt, grime, and other environmental factors that can damage and age your shoes prematurely.
  4. Durability – Nikwax helps to extend the life of your footwear, keeping it looking better for longer.

Ultimately, Nikwax is ideal for anyone looking to keep their footwear in top condition. If you want your shoes to stay waterproof, breathable and protected against the elements, Nikwax is the perfect solution. You can find the full range of Nikwax products at Trespass:

If you take time to research the many different kinds of footwear on the market, you will have a better idea of the most suitable type for your chosen activity, ensuring your feet are always relaxed and comfortable outdoors. Happy exploring!

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My Saturday Mornings in The Lakes

Introducing Jonathan James, Lake District dweller and Nikwax user. Jonathan has lived in Cumbria for over 10 years and takes to the hills most weekends to exercise, decompress and take in nature. With some of the UK’s most stunning scenery right on his doorstep, Jonathan gives us a flavour of how a typical Saturday morning unfolds – and leaves us dreaming about a life in the Lakes…

My regular, early alarm goes off on a Saturday and it is always with a little trepidation that I look out of the window to see what weather the morning may bring. I am Digital Director for an advertising agency, with offices in both Kent and Cumbria, and my busy weeks consist of travelling up and down the country between offices and meetings, juggling workloads and managing client deadlines. Whilst I love my job, I often get to Friday evenings feeling quite drained!

So, over the past few years I’ve got into a routine of getting up early on a Saturday as often as I can and taking myself off for a few hours on the nearby hills – my version of going to the gym. I find it a great way to decompress, clear the mind, leave the previous week’s worries behind and recharge.

We are lucky enough to live in North Cumbria with the northern Lake District hills, or fells as they are called up here, on our doorstep. Whilst the fell weather forecast the night before may suggest good conditions, even a short walk can herald a multitude of seasons and the weather can change in minutes. The only consistency is, usually, rain. After all, as the saying goes up here – ‘No Rain, No Lakes’!

I always pack my bag with full wet weather gear, regardless of the day, except during the height of summer. Also, even though I know the area around here like the back of my hand, I always take a map and compass, just in case. If the weather changes and visibility is minimal, you need to be able to navigate. It’s rare that an early morning walk doesn’t require a warmer top layer and my Rab® Microlight Alpine jacket generally does the trick. It has a Nikwax Hydrophobic+ down fill and retains great warmth, even if caught in a light shower. I love Tech Wash® and always use that for cleaning my walking kit when I get home. Every month or so I also find it important to use TX.Direct® Wash-In to reproof my kit. It is invaluable to keep my kit both clean and waterproof, essential up here!

One of the great things about the far northern fells is that whilst they are very accessible from the M6 motorway, Carlisle, or some of the bigger towns of the Cumbrian west coast, they are far enough away from the honeypot villages of the south lakes to remain fairly tourist light – especially during the winter months. I have a few regular walks, but a 10km route around and up High Pike (2,159 ft) is one of my favourites, a real hidden gem. There is a small parking area by a cattle grid at the farmstead in Calebreck, a few miles away from the villages of Hesket Newmarket and Caldbeck. From here, an old mine track loops around the northeast base of the fell and the views slowly open up as you gain height on the northern side of the fell. The Caldbeck fells around here have been mined since the 16th century, copper and lead being the main ores extracted, and the historical evidence is now littered across the fells. Rather than being unattractive and a scar on the landscape, I find it adds a ruggedness to the area and gives a glimpse into the very non-touristy use of the fells of years gone by. Walking around the rocky, sandy soil heaped fell-side, with the various old mine workings now sealed off with wooden fencing, in the height of summer it can feel a little like being in a spaghetti western set. Whereas during the cold winters, it makes you realise the hardships that the local miners must have had working there in all weathers trying to earn a living. It makes my own previous week’s hardships pale by comparison!

Turning off in a southerly direction from the mine track and joining the main path from Caldbeck, you then take a well-trodden yomp directly to the fell summit. From the roads nearby, High Pike can seem quite unassuming, but being the most northerly Lakeland fell over 2,000 ft, the views from the top can be impressive – north over the city of Carlisle and Solway Firth towards the Scottish Borders, east to the Pennines, and over the nearby, more famous, fells of Blencathra and Skiddaw towards the southern Lakes. Of course, there are many times when you have to imagine what the view is like! An unusual and touching element of this particular summit is a slate bench, which bears the inscription “In memory of Mick Lewis who loved all these fells”. He died in 1944 aged 16 and a small, recent addition is dedicated to the memory of his mother, who died in 1970. Both lived in Nether Row, a small hamlet at the foot of the fell, and it makes you ponder just how many stories there are that live in the hills and valleys in sight of where you are standing.

Heading down in a southerly direction from the top you follow Carrock Beck, which hugs the southern side of the smaller West Fell. On the way down, the fell opens up to a wider valley between High Pike and Carrock Fell, it’s slightly higher neighbour. Doing this walk regularly, it’s wonderful to see how differently it can look during the changing seasons. In summer, the way the light hits the fellside, breaking through clouds whose shapes race in the wind across the lower farmland, with an abundance of wildlife dotted around the land and buzzards soaring high in the warm air. Through to cold, harsh winter with crisp, silent snow covering the higher landscape, frozen becks and only a few glimpses of visiting winter birds and the hardy Cumbrian Herdwick sheep. Both climates are very different but neither more beautiful than the other.

Following the beck down it eventually takes you back to the parking area where the walk started. Most of my Saturday walks have a habit of ending up in the little village of Uldale, at the wonderful Mae’s café for breakfast. Another hidden gem! It’s located in the old village schoolhouse, often with the log burner roaring, and it is a welcome spot to dry off, warm up and add back the calories just burnt off.

Heading home with that wonderful feeling you have after being out and about exercising in nature, knowing the rest of the weekend is ahead of you, really does make that early Saturday morning alarm worthwhile.

Buy Tech Wash and TX.Direct now

 

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Is Iceland on your bucket list? Don’t forget the Nikwax

Charlie Smith is a designer, filmmaker and cold weather adventurer with a penchant for heading into frozen and hostile environments. Having led expeditions in the Arctic; including dog-sledding across Scandinavia and travelling extensively in Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Greenland, Charlie is no stranger to uncomfortable journeys in the cold. Working alongside leading adventure brands such as Arc’teryx, The North Face, Montane, Aclima, Black Crows & Land Rover, Charlie has been documenting his artic adventures, expeditions and endurance challenges for the last 8 years. Recent trips include the inaugural Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra, steep skiing & touring in Lofoten, Norway, and Europe’s toughest dog-sled race – the Finnmarkslopet.

Charlie has been hailed as one of ‘The New Shackleton’s: Britain’s Next Generation of Explorers’ by Gentleman’s Journal, and featured in Wired for Adventure’s list of ‘Most inspiring young Explorers in Britain’ – we are extremely excited to feature his story in our newsletter, and to read that he uses Nikwax!

It’s been two weeks since we returned from hiking ‘The Laugavegur’ in southern Iceland. It’s a trail I’ve done multiple times in Summer and Winter, however, this time I was tasked to take my girlfriend and her family. Now, I know that taking any group of people on a hike should not be taken lightly but having led a group of 37 between the ages of 16yrs and 55yrs across the same trail some years earlier, I was more worried about my potential in-laws getting slightly damp than I was about anything going drastically wrong with the group of 37! My worry was heightened when my friend, Brandur – Chief Coordinator of Iceland Search and Rescue – told me, “Any relationship that can last a hike in Iceland can last a lifetime”, which I’ll admit at the time sounded more like a warning than a threat. This was followed up with, “Oh, and you’re taking the in-laws? Good Luck my Friend!”

Seven people, four days, one trail seemed easy enough. My girlfriend’s family are an athletic group – they keep themselves fit, they’re all passionate about the outdoors and, uniquely, my girlfriend is a doctor who wants to go into expedition medicine. I felt our bases were covered in terms of health & wellbeing. So, what was I worried about?

Well, in preparing for this hike I asked them each to prepare a gear list detailing what equipment they owned, when they had bought it, and how long it had been since they last used it.

Studying their lists was more akin to a ‘Greatest Hits’ album by Slush and Pebble rather than kit that would be up to the challenge of a four-day hike during the shoulder season in the highlands of Iceland. Streaming rain, temperature fluctuations between -5C and +20C, snow, sleet, hail and sun – we could expect to experience it all.

Meteorologically, the Icelandic highlands are an interesting place, located perfectly at the juncture between the relatively warm weather systems of the North Atlantic and the cooler, frigid systems of the Arctic North. There is a gargantuan tussle between these two mammoth meteorologs as they slog it out above any hikers that dare to walk through the mountains there. At just a moment’s notice, the blue skies and sunlight you’ve been basking in can sporadically decide to change and take the metamorph a little too literally – saturating you with rain, sleet and frost-fog that’s been hiding behind the mountains to the north. It’s why the Laugavegur trail closes to all but the most intrepid hikers in September and sometimes doesn’t open again until the following June. It’s a cacophony of volatility, beauty and one hell of an adventure – packaged into a four day hike just 2.5 hours from London by air.

Recalling the words of Brandur during another conversation (“Iceland is where gear goes to die”), I had to make sure that my girlfriend and her family wouldn’t suffer the extremities Iceland has to offer. And so the challenge was set – how could I prepare their kit for the unpredictable climate ahead?

This is where Nikwax came in. I’ve been using the brand for years – not just because of its recognizable green-capped bottles lining the shelves in my dad’s shed before I even knew what DWR stood for, but because like the Icelandic weather, most of my adventures happen sporadically. I usually embark on long, dark, wet and cold Arctic expeditions in the winter, which effectively means that for 9 months of the year, my most important [sic. expensive] gear is in storage – airtight chemical tubs, Really Useful Boxes and packing crates galore.

Upon returning from the cold wilderness, the wholly separate, yet equally important, phase of preparing my equipment for its period of hibernation begins, which means washing, cleaning, drying, and airing everything…

My detergent drawer is cleaned more thoroughly than a military rifle. My merino wool base layers are washed with (copious) Wool Wash and then air dried. My merino fishnets (Woolnets) are doused in a bath of hot water and Wool Wash – I can’t risk them in even the gentlest of washing machines. My waterproof layers are washed with Tech Wash® followed by TX. Direct® Wash-In and then a cursory spray of TX. Direct Spray-On for good measure. My down jackets, admittedly, don’t get too much attention, just for the fact that I usually run hot and end up lending them to whichever poor soul has followed me into the cold this time. However, I have good memories of using Down Proof and endlessly kneading my favorite Montane® Down jacket after it was used and abused in the northeast of Greenland.

I’m well aware this may read like the diary of a person beginning a borderline obsession, however, in Arctic environments you quickly discover there is a thin line between freezing in saturated clothing and being safe in dry warmth – that thin line is usually called GORE-TEX® and it doesn’t work unless you look after it – and look after it well. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned on my journeys is that if you look after your kit, it’ll look after you back.

So, it’s five days before we are due to leave for Iceland on a hike that purportedly will not only make or break my relationship, but also all the equipment I’ve brought to endure the next four days of volatility (the weather, not the in-laws). The team have also dropped off their own kit with me, which I have volunteered to prime, and so the washing, cleaning, drying, airing and protection process begins. The waterproof jackets go through their two wash cycles and are doused in a fine mist of TX. Direct Spray-On before being flung over any available hook, merino wool base layers in all shapes and sizes are left to dry on towel rails, radiators and DIY internal washing lines, and down jackets, thankfully, are nowhere to be seen!

Seven people, seven jackets, seven pairs of trousers, seven sets of waterproof mid layers and bottoms, fourteen base layers, twenty-eight socks, countless gloves, hats and beanies… the list went on.

Just one garment slipped through the net of my makeshift launderette – a black, cotton pajama top sneaked its way into the waterproof wash and now showcases waterproofing properties to make even the latest GORE-TEX jacket green with envy. 

As the mountain of clothing became a molehill, it didn’t feel like a chore at all – in fact, I enjoyed it. Be it the thought of keeping the potential in-laws sweet, or pre-adventure enthusiasm/anticipation, preparing all of our kit with Nikwax felt like getting my armor ready for battle – a way of physically channeling my inner explorer’s excitement in a methodical and (most importantly) useful way.

Header image: ©Philip Lindberg, Unsplash

 

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My Coastal Life – Nikwax’s Rose Cawte

There is always salt in the air, it’s that distinct smell you notice when you arrive at the coast. I love the pureness of it. My favourite feeling is stepping off the train from London and taking a deep breath of the freshest, cleanest air. Those big, bright, clear skies that you only find by the sea. The kind of wind that feels like it clears your entire body out. 7 miles of sandy beach and, on a normal day, only a handful of people to share it with. These are my favourite parts of living in Camber.

But this is an English coastal village and owning a dog – especially a dog like mine – means, regardless of the weather, you always have to go out. Coastal weather can be unpredictable, and it is important to make sure that I am always prepared for 4 seasons in one dog walk. Combining that with a windy day – we get plenty of those – and going up and down the sand dunes, everything comes back with a layer of salt and sand.

This certainly has an impact on the clothing and footwear I use on the beach as it always requires more cleaning. Because I rely on my gear so much, I make sure I use a technical cleaner like Nikwax Tech Wash® and Footwear Cleaning Gel, so I’m not replacing jackets and shoes every year. The years BN, or ‘before Nikwax’, I used to notice my footwear falling apart: leaking, jackets letting water through, and zips stiffening after just one winter. Both the combination of salt and using regular detergents would speed up the degrading of the fabrics and components. The added bonus of using Nikwax cleaners is that you rarely get caught in the rain with leaking jackets. Often a wash revamps the waterproofing of my coat and if it does ever start to ‘wet out’, a quick wash and re-proof with TX.Direct® does the trick.

The same goes for my running trainers. I am lucky to have some beautiful run routes on my doorstep; from the promenade along the sea defence, the beach itself, and a huge golf course on the western side of the village. This means lots of different terrain to manage, so I have both road and trail shoes and both get equally as dirty! Dusty in the summer and muddy in the winter, alongside the running shoe stink from sweat! I use Footwear Cleaning Gel and Fabric & Leather Proof on my waterproof trail shoes and Sandal & Sports Shoe Wash on the road (non-waterproof) trainers. This keeps them in top condition, breathable, and comfortable as I get the miles in.

We’re an active family. Alongside the dog walking and running, we regularly jump in the sea for a swim. In all honesty, we are quite fair-weather swimmers, but we do take an annual Christmas Day swim – or surf if we are lucky with the waves – and there’s nothing quite like celebrating the start of a new year with a New Year’s Day dip! Autumn and winter swims are so invigorating, building up the courage to get in is the hard part, but it is always so worth it. We found the dry bag from the Nikwax Outdoor Complete Protection Kit is great for stashing valuables whilst you’re in the water and then, in turn, to hold your wet swimwear afterwards.

Living in this little coastal village can sometimes feel very isolated and certainly has its downsides. You get used to washing your windows and cars more often to keep the salt off, the constant battle against sand in your house, especially after a windy day (and having a dog that loves to run in the shallows on the beach), or the difficulty keeping a garden thriving with the salty air, harsh elements and lack of rain in the warmer months. But, as long as I can wrap up warm and stay dry, you will always find me on the beach – even on the wildest days in the middle of winter. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

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Eric Lindemans: my favourite Nikwax product…and more…

This month, we’d like to introduce you to Eric Lindemans, our long-standing Nikwax Head of Sales in the Benelux region. We haven’t seen as much of Eric as we’d have liked to over the past two years, due to you-know-what, so we were thrilled to finally catch up with him again in person last month at our East Sussex HQ. Here, Eric tells us why he loves using Wool Wash, fills un in on the Nikwax cabin in Reewijk, and shares a bit about himself…

How long have you worked at Nikwax and what is your role at the company?
I have worked for the brand since 2006, as Head of Sales for the Benelux region, which comprises Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Before Nikwax, I worked somewhere completely different – for Media Markt, which is a German multinational chain of stores selling consumer electronics. They have over 1000 stores in Europe. 

What do you think is the best thing about Nikwax?
Nikwax is a very honest and transparent company, which is hugely important to me. Quite simply, we do what we say we do, and have done for over 45 years.  

What is your favourite Nikwax product and why?
Wool Wash is without doubt my favourite product! I love wool as a material because it keeps me cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and Wool Wash keeps my woollen clothing in perfect condition. The weather in the Netherlands can change rapidly without warning – from cold to hot, from light rain showers to storms so it is essential that my clothing delivers for me (I live in a country where frogs thrive!). Woollen clothing that has been treated with Wool Wash dries 70% faster than wool that hasn’t been treated, and I also I use it occasionally on synthetic base layers.

What activities do you enjoy in the great outdoors?
I really enjoy skiing and walking as well as sailing, diving, snorkelling and kayaking – I spend a lot of time on the water!

Tell us about the Nikwax cabin in a Netherlands nature reserve…
A few years ago, we decided we needed a showroom that resonated with Nikwax values and an opportunity came up to rent a cabin in Reewijk, near to the river De Lansing. This beautiful, award-winning nature reserve can only be reached by boat, covers over 5 hectares and is home to protected flora and fauna, including yellow irises, orchids, crab warblers, grass snakes, polecats, natterjack toads, carp, kingfishers, and owls. We rent the cabin for a minimal cost because we help take care of the nature reserve, which feels truly reflective of who we are and what Nikwax stands for. Visitors to our cabin experience Nikwax in nature and gather a deeper understanding of the Nikwax brand and products.  

We are also proud that our Nikwax cabin has virtually no carbon footprint. We use solar panels for power, a dry toilet for composting, UV tarps above the deck protect visitors from UV light and provide shade, and we cook on wood where possible.

Is there a memory of working at Nikwax that particularly stands out for you?
4 years ago, I attended a European meeting in the UK. Since I was travelling to the UK anyway, I decided to plan my family holiday around this trip and explore the beautiful countryside of Southeast England. Very generously, Nick Brown, the Founder of Nikwax, invited my family and I to stay in his home for two weeks as his guests, whilst we explored the area. This memory, particularly, stands out to me because Nikwax feels very much like a family.

Where is your favourite place to walk/hike in the Netherlands?
Definitely (north) Texel and The Slufter, which is a large salt marsh plain positioned between two sand dikes. It is unusual due to its location along the North Sea coast – only plants that tolerate saltwater grow here and it turns purple in the summer from the flowering sea lavender. Eider ducks and sky larks also nest in the area.

I first came to Texel when I was 15 years old and that summer I made lifelong friends. I try to visit Texel at least once a year and my dream is to retire there so I can walk the beautiful trails a few times a week rather than just once a year!

©Sam te Kiefte (Unsplash)

And your favourite place to walk/hike in the UK?
The National Trust’s Lydford Gorge Walk in Devon, which has an amazing 30m waterfall called the White Lady. I really loved my visit to that place – beautiful vegetation everywhere and never a straight path. I want to go back there and explore some more!

Tell us about an environmental cause that is close to your heart
In Zeeland, where I live, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) issued a warning that we should not be eating more than one fish a year from the ocean due to the risk of ingesting PFA’s. The average Dutch person already ingests too many of these harmful substances through food and drinking water and there is a push, in Zeeland, to reduce the intake of PFA’s as much as possible. This is something I really believe in, and I have adjusted my diet in line with the RIVM’s advice.

©Dennis Möller (Unsplash)

Tell us something about the Netherlands we don’t know…
Everybody always talks about Amsterdam as the must-visit place, but in Texel and Rotterdam you will discover the real Netherlands. Texel delivers on beautiful beaches and nature reserves, whilst Rotterdam has some fantastic modern architecture and is famous for its port, which is the largest in Europe. I would recommend these places to visitors over Amsterdam any day!

 

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An adventure with Jenny Tough

Adventurer, mountain runner and cyclist, Jenny Tough, tells us about her recent expedition and invaluable tips for planning your own trip…

The Caucasus Mountains have been calling me for years. In my global, long-term project to run solo and unsupported across a mountain range on every continent, the Caucasus were always one of my planned expeditions. With international borders, strict no-go zones, and autonomous regions, they were always going to be tricky, and the thrill of true adventure captured my imagination. Unfortunately, as this expedition was originally planned for 2020, I had to let it go, but this year I finally had my chance to visit.

I went out to Tbilisi with my mountain bike, packed as lightly as I could get away with, and a grand plan to try and cross the High Caucasus from west to east, skipping out Abkhazia and South Ossetia. When Azerbaijan didn’t meet their proposed deadline to open their land border, I had my first spanner in the works. When the Caucasus experienced some of the worst June weather on record, I had my second.

Adventure, by definition, shouldn’t go to plan. Landing in Tbilisi with a route already loaded to my bike computer and discovering that route would never go – a closed border and many closed mountain passes left a flimsy small amount of trail that I would never get to ride – I had to pivot my plans.

In hindsight, the weeks I spent bikepacking in the Caucasus Mountains was an objective failure – I set out to ride the length of the mountains range, from sea to sea, and I didn’t get to do that. But am I disappointed? Not really. In the end I did some fantastic riding in western Georgia and then some more fantastic riding around the Lesser Caucasus in Armenia – a country and region I had not even originally considered. I had an incredible time bombing around hidden trails, hauling my bike through thick mud in the middle of intense storms, hiking it up snowy passes, and staying in welcoming and charming small villages. I didn’t meet my main objective – two years on, a full traverse of this culturally rich mountain range remains elusive to me – but I still had an adventure.

Trip Planning
Researching routes, making lists, booking tickets, and finally packing your kit – adventure prep is easily one of my favourite parts of the experience. I’m lucky to work in the outdoor industry, meaning that I am almost perpetually unpacking from one journey before washing my kit out and repacking for the next one. I’ve got my systems dialed, my luggage always ready to go. One thing that is absolutely essential to keeping well-loved gear in motion is to treat it right. With proper care and love, your favourite outdoor products should last you years, and keep you dry and comfortable on many, many adventures.

Packing for my bikepacking trip in the Caucasus Mountains was tricky – I knew I would hit scorching heat, intense thunderstorms, and perhaps even snow or hail, often in the same day. That’s how it goes in the mountains in June. I needed my good waterproofs, my warm insulation, and my coolest wicking base layers. The other factor is, of course, that on a trip lasting a few weeks where I’ll be unsupported in the wilderness is that I won’t have access (or inclination, if we’re being honest) to laundry facilities. My gear needs to be solid. Here’s my routine for what I needed to pack on this adventure:

  • Cycling clothing: My favourite sweat-wicking t-shirt from Velocio is a go-to for mountain biking. A wash with Nikwax BaseFresh®
    enhances and revitalises its wicking properties, so it will hopefully last me three weeks of sweaty riding.
    (As a side note – I always somehow get chain oil on my jerseys, and Nikwax BaseFresh magically cleans that off!).
  • Waterproof: I’ve always maintained that if you can only invest in one item, it should be your waterproof. However, without taking proper care of your waterproof jackets, they will be rendered useless over time. Between trips, I always freshen my jacket with Nikwax.
  • Sleeping bag: To keep my bivvy system light, I usually go with just a hydrophobic down sleeping bag, and no tarp. The trick is to continually treat the bag a couple times a year with Nikwax Down Proof. Sleeping bags should last you a very long time!

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A Trustworthy Partnership: Therm-a-Rest & Nikwax

Across all of their products, Therm-a-Rest’s philosophy is a pretty simple one. The brand, who turn 50 this year, advocate for a better rest outdoors, and build each piece of gear to not only meet the basic needs of sleep, but to exceed them. 

For Therm-a-Rest’s sleeping bags, this philosophy is dialed down even further; the outcome of which is a range of down and synthetic bags that are highly durable and packable and support aall types of adventurer on any type of adventure.

When designing each sleeping bag, designers Jim Giblin and Katie Nash deliberate over every possible thread, cut and filament, with every corner thoughtfully considered to ensure the finished product delivers maximum comfort, warmth and robustness.

Alpinists are deliberate with every piece of gear, from their cams and ice tools to their sporks, before heading up a climb,” says Jim. “We brought that same level of consideration into the design of each sleeping bag.”

The designers’ remit for sleeping bag fill was simple: source a partner that could deliver high-quality, sustainably sourced down that would meet the brand’s needs across multiple temperatures and bag types. The outcome was a long-serving and rewarding partnership with Nikwax – one which started in the early 2010’s and extends well into Therm-a-Rest’s future plans. With a commitment to the Responsible Down Standard, the choice to partner with Nikwax was a simple one to make; for Therm-a-Rest’s down sleeping bags to be considered reliable and tough against even the harshest of environments, their partner not only had to produce the highest quality of down, but be an advocate of impeccable design and responsibility.

Therm-a-Rest Hyperion -6°c sleeping bag. Photo Credit: Scott Rinckenberger

Just one example of this partnership bearing fruit for the brand is the lightweight, highly-versatile Hyperion range of down sleeping bags, available in 0°c for milder Spring nights and a -6°c option for when temperatures start to dip. Packed with 900 fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (NHD), the Hyperion strikes the perfect balance between packability and comfort, while NHD performs 90% better than untreated down when wet, which means that a change in climate doesn’t have to impact sleep. Fill power refers to the relative quality and loft of down and it measures the amount of space one ounce of down will occupy in cubic inches. The higher the fill power, the warmer the item will be because there are more pockets in the down in which air can get trapped – thereby insulating the user. Trust in NHD performance means Therm-a-Rest can deliver a sleeping bag that stays dry and retains loft to keep you protected in both wet and dry conditions. 

Therm-a-Rest’s new Parsec 0°c sleeping bag. Photo Credit: Dan Patitucci

Therm-a-Rest continue to utilize Nikwax Hydrophobic Down across their full assortment of down sleeping bags, the latest of which was launched in 2022 with updated 100% recyclable shells. The 2022 Parsec range, complete with 800 fill Nikwax down, cement Therm-a-Rest’s partnership with the Nikwax brand, and ensure this alignment of quality, durability and responsibility continues.

 

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How to camp like a pro with Ben Phillips, Nikwax Product Feedback Executive

Since the boom in sales of camping gear in 2020, people are continuing to plan holidays and time away ‘under canvas’, with the Camping and Caravanning Club reporting that Easter 2022 bookings are up 33% on Easter 2019*. If you are thinking of getting away from it all, take a leaf out of Ben’s book and be as prepared as possible. Here, he shares his top camping preparation tips…

With spring in the air and the days getting longer, what better time to dig your tent out of its winter hibernation? I need to do that again after a busy 2021 enjoying several camping trips with my children, and I’ll be glad I did. There’s always something that needs fixing or replacing, and making sure the rest of the family are comfortable when we arrive at our destination is, of course, more relaxing for me! We’re off to the Gower in Wales this July, with several other adventures away planned between June and September.

Size can be everything…
Making sure your tent is suitable for your needs can make or break your holiday. For family campers, being sure you have enough space for all the gear you want to take away, as well as some space for the little ones to play in if it’s cold or wet, is essential. We all hope for great weather but, as we know here in the UK, we’re not always lucky! For those travelling light, ensuring there is sufficient space for you (and any friends) plus packs, will ensure a worry-free night’s sleep. I’ve heard stories of campers who have purchased a compact, lightweight tent, only to find there’s not enough room in it to keep their backpacks and footwear safe and dry.

Always check your tent before heading off…
It sounds obvious, but, if the tent is new, practise putting it up! If it has been used before, check for any areas that are mouldy or have been damaged by wet/dirt that may have been trapped when it was last packed away. Treating your tent in advance with Nikwax products suitable for synthetic or cotton materials will not only ensure your tent is fresh and clean when you reach your destination, they will also provide added protection against both wet weather and higher levels of UV rays.

  • Tent & Gear SolarWash® cleans synthetic and canvas tents, removing all the dirt that masks durable water repellency. It prepares tents for re-proofing and has the added benefit of providing UV protection.
  • Tent & Gear SolarProof® is the reliable way to add water repellency to synthetic tents (even from new). It increases the tear strength by protecting the fabric from harmful UV rays and doubles the useable lifetime of your gear.
  • Cotton Proof waterproofs canvas tents and equipment, improving the fabric tear strength and extending the useable lifetime of gear.

Other things to check include…

  • Tent pegs – are there still enough, are any damaged, are they adequate for the conditions or environment you’ll be camping in?
  • Poles – are any damaged or bent? Poles can split or show signs of wear after time, so regular checks are important (if you have an air tent, check for leaks in advance!).
  • Tent floor – check for any small holes or tears that you can repair before you leave.

When you’re there…
If you have room to take one, laying down a tarpaulin or ground sheet first is a great way to add extra protection to your tent floor, plus it acts as a clean storage area for any part of the tent that doesn’t have flooring. It’s also a good idea to pitch your tent on a gentle slope, if possible – just a couple of degrees can help prevent water from building up inside it during wet conditions. Its sensible to avoid setting up camp directly underneath trees, which can be risky in windy weather.

For extra comfort, pack a pillow (or a small storage bag that can double as one) and make sure your sleeping bags will be warm enough for your destination. Remember too that the ventilation points on your tents are not there for decoration – use them to prevent moisture build up but bear the weather conditions in mind.

Finally…

  • Even for the most lightweight of camping trips, take a pack of cards!
  • Pre-prepare some meals – spaghetti Bolognese, tortilla wraps, and even custard can be warmed through in a pan and will make your life a lot easier.
  • Twist any tape-type guy lines a few times as this stops them from ‘clapping’ together in the wind and keeping you awake.
  • The famous five: tea bags, tea towel, clothes pegs, biodegradable wet wipes and a torch are all little things that make a BIG difference when camping.
  • Leave no trace. Always take a bin bag so you can dispose of your rubbish responsibly or take it home and remember to thoroughly check the camp site before you leave to ensure you’ve left nothing behind.
  • Even if you only camp once a year, make a checklist of everything you need and keep it safe for reference next time. You can always add any items you’ve forgotten so you don’t forget them again.

Happy camping!

*Zoe Wood, The Guardian online 22.02.22