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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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Nikwax and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award: The Perfect Outdoor Partnership

For the last 12 years, Nikwax and the Duke of Edinburgh Award’s (DofE) have joined forces to help many hundreds of thousands of participants stay comfortable and dry on their DofE expeditions. Not only that, but every purchase of Nikwax products fuels the charity’s mission by funding the next generation of DofE participants – empowering them to push boundaries, acquire lifelong skills, and discover newfound confidence. This remarkable partnership is forging a path for the responsible and eco-conscious explorers of tomorrow!

The DofE: Empowering Young Adventurers
Founded in 1956, by the late Prince Philip, the DofE Award has since expanded to more than 140 countries.  Designed to inspire and challenge young people, this programme offers a great opportunity to develop new skills, take participants out of their comfort zone and reach their full potential through a series of outdoor and community-based activities.  With diversity in mind, the programme is made up of four core components: volunteering, physical fitness, skills development, and adventurous expeditions.  The end result not only being a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award, but also valuable life skills and a deeper appreciation of nature and the great outdoors!

More recently, the DofE has embarked on ‘Youth Without Limits’, a powerful new strategy which champions inclusivity and accessibility for all.  It reaches out to those who may be marginalised in society or held back by disabilities – the programme means DofE can be available to everybody.

Nikwax: Protecting Nature, Preserving Adventure
Nikwax have been proud to play a part on the DofE journey.  Producing high-quality and environmentally friendly waterproofing and cleaning products for outdoor clothing and gear, it makes us a perfect partner for the DofE. 

Our products are designed to extend the life of your outdoor gear, keeping it performing as new for the long haul.  With reliable waterproofing, your gear remains protected and comfortable even in unpredictable weather. Additionally, by not having to purchase new items every year, you can reduce waste and save money, bonus!

The combination of our product range and longevity of our DofE partnership means together we are able to endure the most challenging adventures.

Nikwax and the DofE
We share common goals through our collaboration.  As well as nurturing a generation of responsible adventurers, Nikwax is committed to protecting the environment with use of recycled plastics, reducing and off-setting carbon emissions, as well as supporting environmental and social causes by donating 1% of our sales to charity.

Our partnership reinforces responsible exploration and environmental stewardship, demonstrating the importance of taking care of our wild isles with young adventurers witnessing first-hand the importance of preserving natural spaces for future generations. 

The future is in their hands
Together, the DofE and Nikwax empower young adventurers to embark on a journey of personal growth, leadership, and environmental stewardship.  Our planet can only benefit from a new generation of eco-conscious and adventure-driven explorers.

Viva the outdoors and all it has to offer!

To learn more about cleaning and caring for Expedition gear, visit:

General kit care advice
Sustainable kit care
Waterproofing and kit care poster

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Top Camping Tips for your Summer Staycation

Sometimes you just need to be outside – enjoying nature, the peace and quiet, and time away from your everyday routine. If you are planning an affordable, summer camping staycation this year, read up on our top tips to ensure it is everything you need it to be…

PLAN AHEAD
Finding the location that is right for you is crucial; whether you yearn for peace and quiet, family fun, the wild outdoors, or campsites with firepits and frills, then researching in advance will ensure you can find the best spot to pitch up.

Note down your top 5 essentials and after some research online you will be well on your way to locating the best spot to sleep under the stars.

WILD CAMPING
Recently, wild camping has been in the headlines with the ongoing discussion over Dartmoor National Park. Recently, the High Court declared that it is illegal to wild camp on Dartmoor Commons, mirroring other national parks in England and Wales.  Currently, Dartmoor National Park are looking to appeal this decision, but they have secured a permissive camping system – learn more here

Don’t think that you can pitch up your tent anywhere you please – if you have found a good location then either check in with the landowner or look online to see whether camping is allowed.

Be sure to respect your surroundings and Leave No Trace – the outdoors should be left as pristine as you found it (for both wildlife and other outdoor enthusiasts).

CHECK YOUR GEAR
How long has it been since you last used your tent? Don’t just pack it in the car and hope for the best upon arrival! Check before you go that you have all the tent pegs and poles and check your equipment to ensure it isn’t still dirty from its last use – this could hamper protection from the rain for one thing! If it needs a clean, use Tent & Gear SolarWash® and Tent & Gear SolarProof® to keep it in prime condition. You can buy our Camping Care Kit here and save 15% this month!

KEEP AN EYE ON THE WEATHER
We all know that weather in the UK is changeable. Even on the most glorious of days, we can be hit unexpectedly with a thunderstorm or downpour out of nowhere. You should be prepared for anything when living life outdoors, so be sure to have your waterproofs to hand, plus some entertainment to keep yourself (and the children) amused should it rain and you are confined to your tent… If your waterproofs have not been cleaned in a while, then ensure they are ready for your trip by cleaning with Tech Wash® and re-proofing with TX.Direct® – you don’t want to end up cold and wet if you get caught in the rain.

PACK THE ESSENTIALS
Remember key items of kit! A torch for when you need to navigate to the toilets in the dark of night; bin bags to ensure you take all your rubbish away when you pack up; a first aid kit in case of any scrapes or bumps; camping chairs to relax comfortably outside of your tent; cutlery and cooking utensils when cooking over your campfire; wet wipes for easy cleaning; sunscreen and insect repellent; and, a mallet to help get tent pegs into hard ground, are some of the key pieces we recommend.

 SWITCH OFF
We all spend a lot of time on our phones and laptops, connected to a digital world where hours can just fly by…. Take the time to put your devices down and just enjoy the simple power of nature. Stop and listen to the birds singing, get up early to watch the sunrise whilst other campers sleep, take long walks to explore your surroundings… Quite simply, take time to yourself – being outside is so beneficial for our physical and mental wellbeing!

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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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Nikwax leads with sustainability

One planet – that is all we have. And it’s imperative now, more than ever, that we look after, protect and not pollute our natural environment. At Nikwax, we have, from the very beginning, focused on creating high performance products which have minimal environmental impact and those core values stay with us to this day.

As a passionate hill walker, Nick Brown wanted to help others enjoy their time in nature without the use of  chemicals that could harm the environment. When he created his first ever Waterproofing Wax for Leather, he took care not to use chemicals that could cause harm. We have never used PFCs, nor will we. We strive to help those endangered ecosystems and habitats critical for this world, and we do our best to minimise any impact we could possibly have upon the environment.

We spent some time with UK Climbing, speaking with them about how we have led the way in the outdoor industry for many years, and, will continue to do so…. Take a look at our video now!

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vb5s5Y8mfrw[/embedyt]

 

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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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Nikwax’s Pick of National Trust Destinations

As Europe’s largest conservation charity, the National Trust looks after nature, beauty, and history, preserving it for everyone to enjoy. Whether you enjoy walking in the countryside, learning about historic buildings or simply taking in the splendour of nature, the National Trust has something for everyone – including Nikwax staff!
We canvassed our UK team to pull together Nikwax’s top 5 National Trust destinations, local to our HQ in
East Sussex and further afield…

 

Castle Drogo, Devon
“Castle Drogo differs from many National Trust properties in that it is a 20th Century house made to look like a castle. Designed and built by Edward Lutyens as a home for the Drewe family, it is inspired by the rugged Dartmoor tors that surround it and is full of clever design features that would have been the height of luxury back in the day. The main draw for me is I can actually see myself living there – the castle has its own hydroelectric supply and there are literally hundreds of plug sockets dotted around the place as well as a unique heating system. Brilliant! The castle’s gardens are colourful in all seasons and there are dozens of fantastic walks crisscrossing the ancient Teign Gorge.”
Richard Portman Smith, Global Retail Marketing Manager

Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters, East Sussex
“If big skies and coastal landscapes are your thing, Birling Gap is a must-visit! The beach here, reached by steps, is set at the base of the chalky Seven Sisters cliffs and the views cannot be bettered – they are just as spectacular from the bottom as from the top. I regularly enjoy a fabulous circular walk from nearby East Dean (where I leave my car) that takes me up a hill and across rolling fields to Birling Gap. It is a popular and relatively gentle hike but with plenty of room to lose other walkers and I’ve been enjoying it for years. Top tip: finish off with a pint in the Tiger Inn – a charming 15th Century pub, just a short walk from the cliffs.“
Jennifer Fowler, Group Product Information Manager

Red House, Bexleyheath, London
“Red House is simply wonderful, being commissioned, created and lived in by William Morris (the celebrated Arts & Crafts movement founder). It is a house that boasts not only extraordinary architecture, but it is also socially significant. Red House has original features and furniture by both William Morris and Philip Webb and I love the way that most of the ceilings have painted patterns on them – the house is filled to the brim with delights and colours. Patterns and hues extend to the garden too, which is a compact yet perfectly formed haven bursting with flowers and plants (for me, the small outdoors can be just as uplifting as the great outdoors!). An absolutely fascinating house and garden.”
Megan Stanford, Marketing Coordinator

 

A La Ronde, Devon
“A La Ronde is delightfully different! Although small, it is beautiful, elegant, and very unusual. It is a sixteen-sided house that has a magical and childlike charm. It was built for two unmarried cousins, Jane and Mary Parminter, on their return from a tour of Europe in the late 18th century. There are an abundance of treasures and souvenirs to discover in a huge floor-to-ceiling cabinet of curiosity, alongside several paintings and prints which act as mementos of their travels. Be sure to look out for the ‘speaking tubes’ and concealed dumbwaiter on the upper floor. Each room feels very intimate and reveals more and more about these unusual ladies’ lives. Outside, there is an orchard, hay meadow and colourful borders, finished off with stunning views over the Exe Estuary.” 
Claire Berry, Director of Human Resources

Bateman’s, Kent
“I absolutely love Bateman’s near Burwash in Kent. Bateman’s is a 17th century Jacobean house and was the home of the famous author Rudyard Kipling. The rooms remain much as he left them, with oak furniture, Persian rugs and artefacts reflecting his strong association with India. Bateman’s is very much a family home that feels as though the Kiplings have just gone out for the day. In addition to wandering around the house and learning about its famous owner, you can wander around the beautiful gardens, walk around 300 acres of estate, or visit close-by Park Mill which has been recently restored.”
Thomas Redfern, Creative Director

Aira Force, Cumbria
To me, the Lake District is a magical place to visit, with such majestic scenery all around that you are simply spoilt for choice of where to visit! When you think National Trust, you often just think of properties. However, the National Trust also covers many wonderful outdoor places and Aira Force waterfall is one of them. At any given opportunity I love to visit waterfalls – there aren’t many here down south to be honest. They are a photographer’s dream and differ throughout the year, depending upon rainfall levels and whether you are visiting them on a bright sunny morning, or a cloudy autumn afternoon. When a waterfall is in full force the noise is so powerful – it makes you truly marvel at the beauty of the natural world. Aira Force is on a trail of approx. 2.1 km – you can park at the National Trust carpark – and is ok for most activity skill levels, although in wetter months you should take the steps with care as they can be slippery. When visiting a National Trust location such as this, it is best to be prepared and have at least a light mac in your bag – after all, it is situated in the Lake District and there wouldn’t be any lakes without rain!”
Kim Paterson, Executive Assistant

We’d love to hear from you on social media with your own National Trust recommendations, get in touch with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!