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How Nikwax keeps your feet feeling fresh in walking boots, sports shoes and sandals

July is officially sticky season, with time spent outdoors in the sunshine resulting in sweaty, smelly feet. Throw some walking boots into the mix and keeping your feet feeling fresh and comfortable on the tracks and trails presents even more of a challenge. Our water-based, PFC-free cleaning and waterproofing products have been developed to help maintain the breathability and longevity of your footwear, whether you walk in boots, trainers or sandals.

 STEP 1 – CLEANING
Whatever footwear you choose for your outdoor adventures this summer, by keeping them clean, you’ll be one step closer to having fresh, comfortable feet…

Footwear Cleaning Gel
Walking boots and shoes naturally gather dirt and contaminants through use, which, unfortunately, impair their ability to repel water and breathe. Keeping your waterproof footwear clean, therefore, is paramount to stopping your feet feeling clammy and uncomfortable.  Footwear Cleaning Gel not only cleans very effectively, but it also revitalises the Durable Water Repellency (DWR) – causing water to bead up and roll off your footwear – and maintains breathability.  Read more here.

Sandal & Sports Shoe Wash
Trainers and sandals are particularly unforgiving when the weather is hot and sunny. Over time, their contact with your bare feet or sweaty socks leads to a build-up of dirt, sweat and body oils, which in turn leads to bacterial growth and bad odours! Sandal & Sports Shoe Wash is a highly effective cleaner and deodoriser for non-waterproof footwear, including insoles and footbeds. Repeat-use will keep your feet feeling fresh and comfortable in the height of summer. Read more here.

STEP 2 – PROOFING

When cleaning alone no longer does the job, it’s time to re-proof your footwear. Whatever your boot or shoe type, we have the product for the job…

Leather walking boots/shoes
Whilst leather footwear is hardwearing, breathable and provides a high level of support, without regular maintenance its breathability is reduced – particularly if your boots become wet. As summer downpours can often catch us by surprise, it is vital to be ready for all weather eventualities! Waterproofing Wax for Leather not only revitalises the breathability of leather footwear and maintains its suppleness, but it also provides instant waterproofing. Read more here.

Fabric & leather walking boots/shoes
As with leather-only footwear, boots and shoes made from more than one material require specialist treatment to keep them performing at their best. Clammy, uncomfortable feet can be easily avoided if you regularly treat your combination footwear with Fabric & Leather Proof. It leaves a flexible, water repellent treatment on the individual fibres of the fabric and leather whilst allowing moisture vapour to pass through, maintaining breathability. Read more here.

Nubuck & suede walking boots/shoes
Nubuck and suede leathers are softer and fuzzier than traditional smooth leathers and should be protected with a product that is gentle as well as robust. Nubuck & Suede Proof has been specifically designed and optimised for these more delicate materials, providing reliable DWR and improving breathability without compromising their special textures. Read more here.

Don’t just take it from us that our products are the best in the business, read what footwear giants Merrell®, Anatom® and KEEN® have to say about Nikwax…

Merrell works with Nikwax because the global #1 outdoor footwear brand wants to work with the global #1 footwear aftercare brand! Caring for your shoes ensures they will continue to perform as well as they did fresh out of the box. Plus, Nikwax’s environmental approach, carbon offset and fully recyclable packaging is something the whole industry can aspire to.”

“At Anatom, we see waterproofness, breathability, and aftercare as a concentric circle. Without aftercare, the waterproofness and breathability of footwear suffers greatly. We have worked with Nikwax from day one because they are a company who share the same values as we do in terms of the environment, and our impact on it. We also appreciate the fact Nikwax is water-based, which makes it very easy to use! Their footwear cleaning, conditioning and proofing products are the best in the world and that is why we promote Nikwax to all our new customers and established users.”

KEEN is a leader in the footwear industry and we recommend treating your shoes with an environmentally safe waterproofing product like Nikwax to keep them protected and stain-free.”

 

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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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Look after your gear and it will look after you

Whether you’re gearing up for the three-peaks challenge, striding out along a coastal path or enjoying a local ramble, the blue skies, patchy sunshine and gentle breezes of late spring make for perfect hiking and walking conditions. However, making sure your gear works hard for you is key to a successful excursion.
Below, we’ve singled out footwear and backpacks for special attention – arguably your most essential pieces of kit for staying comfortable outdoors…

Your footwear
Firstly, make sure you are wearing the right socks for the activity. Is it a long hike? Then look for a pair of close fitting, padded socks. Are you planning an energetic walk in warm weather? Breathable, wicking socks will do the trick. Will the conditions be cold and snowy? Look for insulated socks made of materials such as wool.

Choosing the right footwear is also essential for your comfort and enjoyment on the hills and mountains. Different materials offer different benefits, and a well-fitted boot or shoe will ensure your feet are supported, comfortable and safe. However, even the best brands can agitate your toes and heels, rubbing them and causing blisters – particularly if your feet overheat and get damp.

You can reduce the chances of discomfort by ensuring your footwear will perform at its very best. If it is dirty there is a risk of reduced breathability, which can cause your feet to feel damp and increase the risk of rubbing. Cleaning your footwear regularly with a specialist cleaner, such as Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel, which is designed to revitalise the water repellency and breathability of all waterproof footwear, will help to keep your feet dry and comfortable. Specialist cleaners also care for the integral components of your shoes, such as glues and seams, without risk of damage.

After cleaning your footwear, you should concentrate on proofing it, as boots and shoes that let water seep in will contribute to an uncomfortable hike. For leather footwear we recommend our Waterproofing Wax for Leather, which adds instant waterproofing to all smooth leather footwear. For combination (fabric and leather) footwear, Nikwax Fabric & Leather Proof is the go-to product. Don’t underestimate the importance of aftercare to protect your shoes – and your feet! Plus, the added bonus of Nikwax footwear aftercare is that it will increase the useable lifetime of your boots and shoes, so you can enjoy them for longer.

Your backpack
A decent backpack enables you to carry your hiking belongings safely, but how do you choose the right one for you? Whilst size and features are key, fit is the most critical factor. Go Outdoors recommends you load, adjust and wear your pack around the house before leaving for a trip – a correctly fitted backpack should carry 70-80% of the weight on your hips with the rest on the shoulders. The weight should be held close to your back and remain there without excessive movement when you move up and down, or side to side.

As for size, although much of this depends on the terrain of your route, and the weather, a pack sized between 10L and 25L will hold your water bottle, picnic, jacket and sunscreen, which are usually sufficient provisions for a daytrip. For all the campers out there, a 20L – 30L pack is generally suitable for a multiday hike that entails camping and cooking for yourself, whilst serious adventurers should consider a 35L pack. The longer the hike the higher the chance of extra gear, as well as unpredictable weather, tiredness, and clothing changes.

Most backpacks are waterproof, lightweight and flexible, providing maximum protection for the products inside them whilst keeping you comfortable. However, did you know that a dirty backpack can affect its performance, as well as that of your jacket, fleece or base layer? Keeping your pack clean and renewing its durable water repellency periodically will stop it, and your clothing, from wetting out in rainy weather.

Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarWash® is the only cleaner designed to revitalise the water repellency of weatherproof textiles. Recommended for all synthetic and canvas tents and gear, it will clean your backpack effectively, increase its tear strength and protect against UV deterioration. Follow with Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof® for added water repellency and extra UV protection. Using the right aftercare for your backpack will keep it working hard for you, whatever the weather, and extend its useable life.

Look after your gear and it will look after you! Happy hiking and remember to stick to the Countryside Code.