Choosing the Best Snowboard or Ski Bag

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Toting your new powder skis across the country these days is a breeze. With new padded designs to protect your freshly waxed skis or snowboard and perfectly placed pockets for your helmet, boots, bindings and accessories, you can check your baggage worry-free. If your heading to the mountains on the weekends via car, there are plenty of styles that will keep your jackets, fleece and other accessories organized and away from dirty boots. The House is fully stocked with countless ski bags and snowboard bags in a range of sizes, features, prints and colors. Bag material, zippers, padding, straps and handles, stitching, durability and wheels all come into play. Before we get into more detail about bag specifics, consider the questions below…

  1. Will you be using the bag every weekend?
  2. Will your skis and boots get thrown into the car or on top of the car?
  3. Will you be carrying one pair of skis/snowboard or two?
  4. Do you plan on taking your skis or snowboard on an airplane?

Padded vs. Unpadded
A padded bag typically has 5mm to 10mm of closed cell polypropylene foam in certain areas of the bag to add durability and protection. They run just beyond the entire length of the skis or snowboard. In some ski or snowboard bags there is only light padding added to make sure that the ski/snowboard bindings don’t puncture the fabric should they drop on the pavement by the airline baggage crew. Many ski bags designed to carry two pairs, there is a padded divider in the middle that prevents the two pairs from clanking together. Price does matter. A higher price usually does yield more padding, pocketing, features and better zippers. Although it is a personal choice, padded bags aren’t essential for weekend car trips. For airline travel, however, padding is definitely recommended. Keep in mind that many padded ski and snowboard bags will not fit in a rooftop carrier.  Read Snowbard Bag Review: Burton Wheelie Gig Snowboard Bag

Unpadded bags also have their cons. They cost less than padding and for some people, it’s all that is necessary to protect their skis or snowboard. You can certainly check an unpadded bag on an airplane, but it is highly recommended to generously ‘pad’ your gear with your jacket, snow pants, fleece and other gear. Unpadded bags are also great for weekend car trips, whether your skis or snowboard are going in the back of your SUV or in a roof system. Some people like to store their gear in the off-months in an unpadded bag to keep it from getting dusty or exposed to moisture.

Cargo Bags
Cargo bags are pretty awesome for keeping your ski and snowboard gear organized and separated from each member of your crew or family’s gear. Sure, you can just toss your jacket, fleece, neck gaiter and hat in the trunk, but it’s going to take away from precious time on the slopes when your digging around for your other glove. Put your goggles in a fleece lined pocket, your hat and gloves in their own compartment and fold your extra clothes for easy access in the main compartment. Some cargo bags even have a separate, lined bottom compartment for dirty boots. Cargo bags can be checked onto an airplane, but be sure to remove any detachable straps before doing so.

Sleeves
Sleeves are the simplest measure of protection for your skis or snowboard. They are usually constructed with a lightweight material, sometimes neoprene. They will not accommodate multiple pairs of skis or snowboards. Sleeves can cost as low as $20, making them great for car transport only. Sleeves are very popular for youth involved in a ski or snowboard club where their equipment will be tossed under a bus. For roof racks, sleeves also work great.snowboard bag with wheels

Ski and Snowboard Bags With Wheels
If you’re planning to fly with your gear, wheels are a must! They are easy to steer, safer for the back to carry and incredibly efficient. You’ll be glad you threw down a few extra bucks for the wheels! One thing to keep in mind – the wheels are not designed to roll in snow, so don’t plan on rolling your luggage from your car to the lodge. The wheels are designed for pavement and airplane travel.

Sizing
Many people assume that a larger bag will just allow them to pack it full of more gear. This is true to some extent, but if the bag is not fully packed there will be a lot of extra play in the bag allowing your gear to slide around. The sizing on ski and snowboard bags actually allows for more room for your gear that the length states. For instance, if you have a 146cm snowboard and purchase a 146 cm board bag, there will still be some room at the end (5-8cm) for some gear and easy loading/unloading. We don’t recommend a bag longer than 10cm beyond your skis or snowboard unless you are certain you’ll be packing it to the brim with every use.

How To Wax Cross Country Skis

Traditional striding cross country skis will need regular waxing on the center third of the base to enable them to perform properly on the snow. Wax will keep dirt out of the base, prevent the base from drying out and will keep your skis gliding fast. Some cross country skis, however, are waxless. These are less common and grip the snow via an embossed base. Although not necessary, a thin layer of glide wax can be applied to a waxless base to help the skis move faster and to help keep snow from sticking to the base. For traditional waxed skis, the procedure is more involved. The following waxing instructions will not only aid in selecting and applying wax, but will also ensure that you get the most out of your skis this winter!

Choose a Wax
You’ll want to chose a wax that is best suited for the outside temperature. The most popular, hard waxes resemble a large crayon and perform best when temperatures are low and snow crystals are sharp. They are color coded for the appropriate temperature range. Klister waxes have a glue-like consistency and come in tubes. They are for warmer temperatures and snow that has been repeatedly melted and frozen. Lastly are spray waxes. These are a quick parking lot fix to be used only as a temporary wax.

The tips and tails of classic skis and the entire base of skate skis should be glide waxed. The kick zone (center third) of classic skis should be waxed with a grip wax.

Clean the Base
Before waxing, you’ll need to clean the base of the skis with a fine, steel brush to remove dirt and old wax. Always work tip to tail when waxing cross country skis. That will get the little micro hairs on the base laying down in the direction of travel on snow so you won’t be slowed down. Then use fine copper brush to clean it up a bit more.

When waxing the kick zone, mark it off with masking tape then scrape the area with a plastic scraper. Next, apply a small amount of base cleaner to the kick zone to remove more dirt and excess wax. Then, rub the area with a fine grade of sand paper wrapped cork.

Apply the Wax
To apply hard wax, rub a stick of hard wax on the kick zone of the base on each ski then buff with a cork. You can repeat two or three times, buffing after each coat. If you have an electric waxing iron, you can also apply binder wax as the first coat in the kick zone. Heat the iron to 110 degrees, then run it over the wax and let cool until it has reached room temperature again. Then, buff with a cork, and follow with wax. Buff the final coat with the cork, and, optionally, brush with a special nylon brush.

Once the kick wax has cooled, apply liquid glide wax to the nose and tail of the skis (the areas other than the kick zone.) Glide wax often comes in an applicator bottle with a sponge end, so you can apply it easily even in the parking lot of a ski area.

For klister wax, rub the kick zone with a sandpaper cork. Apply base klister in diagonal strips on either side of the groove. With a waxing iron set at 110°F, warm and smooth it onto the base, then let it cool and cork the area. Last, apply a universal or temperature-specific klister in the same pattern. Spread it out with a plastic scraper or a cork.

Use the wax temperatures listed on various waxes as a guideline. Let your own experience decide which wax works best for your conditions. In general, if the skis skid and slip rather than grab, the wax is too hard. If snow starts sticking to them, the wax is too soft.

Basic Waxing Principles

  • Work from tip to tail for ironing, scraping and brushing in glide wax areas on the ski.
  • Before waxing, make sure base is clean. This can be done via the brush method and/or with base cleaner.
  • Triple check the iron temperature as too much heat can permanently damage the base.
  • Never put an iron on a ski base that doesn’t have wax on it.
  • When ironing, never stop the iron on the ski base.
  • Wipe the iron before use to remove old wax or dirt.

Check out our Cross Country Accessories and Equipment for product details.

Dressing in Layers

Dressing in Layers

The most ideal way to regulate your body temperature and to remain comfortable in the outdoors is to dress in layers. It’s a proven concept that works! The best part about dressing in layers is that it’s easy to remove or add a layer when you’re on the trail or on the slopes. Instead of having to decide whether to dress super warm or on the lighter side, you can prepare for any temperature with layers. Just peel off a fleece if you get too hot or add a down insulator on the coldest days. Before we get too deep into it, let’s break down the various types of layers…

Base Layer – Moisture Wicking

Sitting directly against the skin base layer is sort of like an extra coat of skin. It is your temperature regulator. It makes sure to keep perspiration away from your body and out of your clothes. In other words, base layers draw moisture from the body to prevent chilling and then transport it to the outer edge of the fabric (hence, wicking). Some are also designed to trap air to keep you warm. For the warmer months, keeping the body dry is important to stay cool and comfortable. Cotton is an awful base layer fabric since it retains moisture and can lead to wet, clammy and later cold body conditions.

Now, here’s where base layers can get confusing. They’re not just for days on the slopes or sledding hill. These days, you can find underwear, boxers, tanks, tees, lightweight long-sleeve shirts, heavier shirts, and even hooded shirts in base layer fabrics of various weights. Hit the pavement running this summer with a base layer tee that will wick the moisture away from your body during the entire 10K. And don’t be caught doing anything active without some base layer boxers or briefs!

Base layer (women’s) is available in three popular fabric – wool, silk, or synthetic. If you’re a heavy sweater, look for a base layer with maximum moisture wicking abilities, with wool or synthetic fibers. If you tend to run cold on the slopes, go for base layers with higher insulating properties like wool or silk. The House has a wide selection of base layer tops and bottoms from top selling brands likes Patagonia and Burton with a ton of style options.

Mid-Layer – Insulation

On top of the base layer, lies the mid-layer for insulation. It will protect you from the cold by trapping air and heating it by keeping it close to the body. Mid-Layers are often made with quick drying materials, like polyester, to add to the moisture management. Insulating layers are available in a few different fibers – natural fibers, classic fleece, and wind fleece. Natural fibers such as wool and goose down are excellent insulators and are the warmest option. Wool is unique because it continues to insulate even if it gets wet. Goose down, on the other hand, must be dry in order for it to insulate. Down is a popular mid-layer because it has a an extremely high warmth to weight ratio and is best for the coldest days.

Classic fleece, like wool, will continue to insulate even if it gets wet. It’s typically made of polyester and dries extremely quickly if it does get wet. The main downside to fleece is that it can be bulky. These days however, manufactures like Patagonia, The North Face and Marmot have designed various weights in their classic fleece offering – lightweight, mid-weight and expedition weight to meet the needs of various conditions. Lightweight fleece is ideal for aerobic activity like skate skiing or mild temperatures. Mid-weight fleece is best for moderate activity like snowshoeing and moderate temperatures. Expedition weight is ideal for low activity like winter camping and cold temperatures.

Finally, wind fleece is another option for a mid-layer. It is exactly what it sounds like – a fleece with wind blocking abilities through a membrane embedded in the fabric. The fleece will still have all of the quick-drying and insulating properties as a classic fleece. Look for Polartec WindPro™ or Gore WindStopper™ within The House’s huge selection of fleece.

Shell Layer – Weather Protection

The shell layer is the outermost layer of clothing that is your first line of defense against the elements – rain, snow, sleet or wind. Shells can be as simple as a rain jacket or as technical as a $500 mountaineering jacket. All shells are designed to be breathable and to keep the outside moisture from seeping inside your jacket. Most shells are treated with DWR, or durable water repellency, which causes water droplets to bead off the fabric. A shell layer is a must-have for any precipitation or temperatures over under 4o degrees. There are several fabric and weight options to choose from:

  • Insulated – A synthetic or natural layer of insulation is built in to insulated jackets for cold conditions. While it will keep you warm, it’s not the best choice for optimum body temperature regulation. It can get quite toast inside your jacket should your aerobic level rise, regardless of the outside temperature.
  • Waterproof/non-breathable – These lower priced shells are typically made of a polyurethane coated polyester that will keep the rain out, but won’t allow your perspiration to exit the jacket. Such jackets are good for sedentary uses like fishing, tailgating or watching your son’s rainy soccer game.
  • Softshell – For maximum breathability and range of movement, soft shells are ideal for high aerobic activities in cold weather like skate skiing or snowshoe racing. They aren’t completely waterproof like a technical shell, but they will certainly keep more rain and snow out than a fleece.
  • Waterproof/Breathable Shells – These are the most common type of shells and are the best defense against virtually any weather condition. Waterproof/breathable typically have a higher price tag, but they’ll last far longer than a shell that’s not breathable and they’ll live beyond their expectations in terms of keeping you dry and protected. Skiiers, snowboarders and alpine climbers are attracted to waterproof/breathable shells since they will shield their bodies from anything mother nature throws at them. For the coldest days, a down insulator or high loft fleece can be work beneath a shell for bomber protection.
  • Water-resistant/Breathable Shells –  A step down from a waterproof/breathable shell in terms of price and function, water-resistant shells are usually made of tightly woven fabric that block wind and light rain. These are great for mild weather and moderate aerobic activity.

 

 

Types of Tents for Camping

Types of Tents

Types of Tents

Like toothpaste, there are dozens upon dozens of tents to choose from these days! Before you set out to enjoy the great outdoors, choosing the ideal tent for your trip will add to the enjoyment and long term use of your new purchase. Here is a quick breakdown of the modern world of tents…

Summer Tents
Also known as 2-season tents, summer tents are intended for warmer weather use. They are fairly basic typically using only two poles, extremely breathable and weigh in around 4-8 pounds. Summer tents are the best choice for keeping you cool and comfortable at night. There’s nothing worse than waking up in a sunbaked, steamy tent! The downside to a summer tent is that they cannot be used for inclement weather since they are so lightweight. Summer tents are not recommended for damp or cold climates mountainous climates.

Three Season Tents
For weather conditions that simulate a typical spring, summer and fall, a three season tent will exceed your needs. Since they are fairly lightweight, 5-10 pounds, they can easily be carried on a backpack for overnight trips in the mountains. Three season tents can withstand mild weather conditions such as rain and light snow. A detachable rain fly will allow the rain to drain away from the tent or will add extra warmth. Large mesh windows allow for nice cross flow ventilation of fresh, backcountry air.

Four Season Tents
If you’re planning to winter camp or to sleep outdoors regardless of any wether conditions, a four season tent, also known as a mountaineering tent, will keep you protected. They have more durable poles than a three season tent and are constructed with thicker and stronger materials. Four season tents can withstand heavy rain and snow in addition to remaining stable in higher wind environments. While a four season tent is heavier than a three season tent, it is still possible to pack it in your backpack. On the flip side, they do not offer as much ventilation as a three season tent, so you might want to think twice about brining it to a music festival in July!

Family Tents
If you are camping with five or more people, a family tent or five person tent is usually the best choice. These tents are large enough to hold multiple people and a fair amount of supplies. Family tents are much taller than other types of tents as well, which allows more room for movement inside. An average sized person can actually stand up comfortably in some of the larger models! They are also rather heavy and are not recommended to be carried on a backpack.

Tent Materials
Once you have chosen the type of tent that is best for you, the next step is deciding what material is best for your adventures. Some tents are a blend of fabrics with nylon walls and polyester floors and rain fly.

  • Nylon – For tents intended to be carried in a backpack, nylon is the material of choice. It’s lightweight, durable and naturally sheds water. It’s also very breathable making for comfortable slumbers.
  • Polyester – Choose a polyester tent fabric if you’re setting up in a campground where you’re planning to stay for days or weeks. While polyester is not as strong as nylon, it is more resistant to degradation from ultraviolet light.

Tent Styles
The final choice you will need to make is the style of tent. If you know where you plan to use your tent most frequently, choosing a style is the easy part!

  • Dome – A dome tent is useful if you expect to encounter high winds or precipitation, as its shape will allow it to hold up better in these conditions.
  • Cabin – A cabin tent is best if you normally camp in established campgrounds with some protection from the elements. These offer more vertical space than other designs, allowing them to hold more items and be more comfortable to move around in.
  • Hoop – Lastly, a hoop or tunnel tent are the best choice for hikers or anyone else that needs a very small, lightweight tent with room for only one person.

Since most people shop by tent size, The House has broken tents down into capacity – 1 person, 2 person, 3 person, 4 person and 5 person. Now that you’re armed with the knowledge you need to choose the right tent, get out there and start looking! Finding the perfect tent for you and your family will make your camping trips more comfortable and enjoyable.

 

How to Choose Downhill Skis

We’re very fortunate to live in an age with technological advances in gear that allow us to link turns early on, float through powder and to ski fast. When deciding how to choose downhill skis, there are many factors to keep in mind. Poorly fit skis can lead to injury, so take some time to educate yourself on the various types of skiing, skis and sizes. Check it out…

Downhill Skiing
First, determine what type of terrain you will be skiing most. Trails only? Woods? Open powder fields? Most downhill skis can be used on any type of terrain, but they will preform best on the specific type of terrain for which they were designed.

  • Alpine – The majority of downhill skiers and skis will fall under the Alpine category, which consists of groomed runs with varying levels of difficulty. Basically, any run at a resort is considered Alpine skiing.
  • Sidecountry – Sidecountry terrain sits just outside the groomed runs at a resort. It’s lift-accessible, unmarked terrain that is often marked by a small gate where skiers are somewhat on their own. It may or may not be patrolled, depending on how far away the skiers stray from the resort or groomed runs. One may have to hike to get back to the lifts at the base.
  • Backcountry –  With no lifts, no snowcats, no patrol and no lodges, the backcountry is the real deal and appeals to expert skiers and outdoorsmen. The terrain can be unstable with avalanche potential, so it’s critical to be prepared and to be knowledgeable of backcountry safety. Backcountry skiing is also where skiers will find untouched powder, no crowds and a what some may argue is a life changing experience.

Skiing Styles
Next, you’ll want to consider what type of skiing best describes your style. Do you like to primarily carve and go fast? Do you prefer to take your time and ‘cruise’ groomers? Or do you like jumps and moguls? Again, there is some crossover with ski styles. If you like to a bit of everything look for an all-mountain Alpine ski.

  • Alpine – Resort skiing with groomed runs best describes alpine skiing. Skiiers heels remain locked into the skis at all times. The majority of skiers, especially beginners, fall into this category. Serious skiers always have a pair of alpine skis and often have a second or third pair from one of the styles below.
  • Backcountry – Backcountry consists of rugged terrain with no marked trails or lifts. Skiiers often must hike or be dropped off by a helicopter to get to the backcountry. Once at a desired peak, they can drop into chutes, tree runs or powder fields. Randonee or alpine touring (AT) skiing has a binding system where the heel can unlock for ascending slopes with skins on the base of the skis. Once the skier is ready to drop back down the mountain, the heel is locked back into place for backcountry skiing. Telemark skiing uses a free heel technique for ascending and descending. Telemark skis are popular on groomed runs as well.
  • Park and Pipe – Manmade snow structures, jumps and obstacles make up park and pipe. Skiiers preform aerial maneuvers and tricks on park and pipe specific skis.
  • Freeride – Freeriding utilizes a mountain’s natural features, like a wind lip or a cliff. Skiiers jump or launch themselves from such features often performing tricks in the air. Freeriding is sometimes referred to as “big mountain skiing.”
  • Freestyle – Freestyle skiing generally consists of mogul skiing combined with aerials, often performed in a competitive environment. However, freestyle skiing does cross over into terrain park skiing or performing tricks on powder.

Ski Length

The general rule of thumb when sizing skis is to stand the ski upright on the ground and the tip  should touch somewhere between your nose and your eyebrows. There are a few exceptions, however. Longer skis help heavier skiers or big mountain skiers to “float” over the snow, while shorter skis help lightweight skiers, like kids, to maintain balance and control. For novice skiers, err on the shorter side. They’ll be much easier to initiate and link turns, thereby allowing newbies to pick up skiing much faster. In general, the more length you add to your ski, the faster it will go and the larger your turns will be. For tight trees or twisty runs, shorter skis will be easier to maneuver.

Ski Camber and Rocker

Camber is the traditional shape for skis where a slight arching upward curve with the bend or curve upward in the middle. Camber provides excellent turn initiation and handling on on-piste slopes. Rocker is sometimes known as reverse camber and is the exact opposite of camber. Rocker skis offer superior float in the powder and are now used all over the mountain.  Rocker is no longer just for powder or park.

Types of Skis
In comparing different types of skis, consider how you will use them most. It is more common these days to own several pairs of skis for different types of terrain. For beginners or those who go out a couple times a year, stick to an all-mountin ski for the most versatility. Let’s break down the different types of skis a little further…

  • All-Mountain – This is your best “do everything” ski that will perform well on groomed and powder runs alike. It’s an easy to turn ski with great edge hold.
  • All-Mountain Wide – Still a ski that can go anywhere, but all-mountain wide skis are just at home in backcountry powder as they are on groomers. If you spend a fair amount of time ducking ropes to find powder, but you’re not a weekly backcountry skier, then all-mountian wides will be your best choice. For days when the woods aren’t so hot, these skis will also excel on groomed runs.
  • Powder – Save your powder skis for…um…powder days! This would be a second or third ski for most owners. They perform best in light, fluffy powder. However, if you end up spending half the day on groomed trails, the won’t let you down.
  • Backcountry (Randonee or Telemark) – Ligher than alpine skis, backcountry skis are best for out of bounds, no lift access excursions. They will excel in powder and are carry well on a pack for hiking since they are so lightweight.
  • Twin Tip/Freestyle – Reverse take-offs and other tricks in freestyle skiing are made possible with twin tip skis. Both ends of the ski turned upward allowing for progressive aerial maneuvers and tricks. Once thought of as a fad, twin tip skis are now made by almost every major manufacturer in the ski industry. The turned-up tail allows the skier to use less pressure to release from turns and to land safely after twisting jumps.

Long Lasting Skis

Durability should be at the top of your list when it comes to narrowing down your selection of new skis. Solid equipment that lasts and delivers year after year is essential with any sporting gear. Atomic, SalomonK2, and Rossingol are The House’s most popular manufactures. Atomic has been in business for fifty six years and continues to deliver great products to meet the demands of all skiers. Salomon is one of the most trusted and reliable brands in the industry. K2 skis are highly sought after due to their high performance, great look, and comfortable feel. Rossingol offers an amazing selection from beginner to advanced for children, ladies, and gentlemen.

Be confident in your decision and remember that any ski can technically be ridden on most terrain. Determine what type of terrain you’ll be riding most, how often you’ll be skiing and be sure to size your skis correctly. You’ll be stylin on the slopes in no time!

How To: Technical Fabric Care

So, you bit the bullet with some new technical clothing! The higher price tag on waterproof, breathable, moisture wicking and wind blocking clothing will be well worth the investment and deliver for years with proper care. Read on to learn more about how to care for your sweet new ski parka…

Basic Care For Technical Fabrics

  1. Above all, always refer to the manufacture’s label in the garment. A warranty would be invalid should something happen to your dope new jacket with improper cleaning. Some outerwear also might come with additional care instructions on the hang tag.
  2. Many manufactures approve the use of cleaning and care products like Granger’s, Nikwax and Sport-Wash. Such products leave no residue and rinse cleanly. You can always call customer service for a particular brand to verify which cleaning products they recommend.
  3. Before washing, close zippers, seal velcro and turn article inside out. Front loading washing machines are best for washing outerwear so as to reduce the likelihood of abrasion and excessive twisting (diminishing the cleaning effectiveness).
  4. Heavily soiled items should aways be washed separately. Soil particles break into smaller pieces and could dirty other garments.
  5. Oil stains on synthetic materials like nylon or polyester should be treated as quickly as possible to minimize staining. Treat the stain with an approved stain remover. If stain remains after washing, do not dry the garment. If you are in the lodge, away from your trusty stain remover, blot the stain with water and ice.
  6. Never use fabric softeners on performance or technical fabrics. They break down the technical properties of the garment diminishing water repellency, breathability and wicking ability.
  7. Use powdered detergent.

Down Jacket Care

Many people prefer to have a down jacket cleaned by professionals since it’s somewhat of a task. Never dry clean down. If you’d like to launder down at home, fill a front loading washing machine with warm water. Add the jacket and allow it to wash in plain water, so that dirt and debris are safely removed. When cycle is complete, remove garment and hand squeeze any remaining water. Fill the washing machine with warm water again and run cycle with a gentle down safe detergent (refer to manufacture for recommendations) so as not to break down the feathers. When cycle is complete, squeeze out excess water, then lay jacket flat and blot with a dry towel to remove as much moisture as possible. Dry the garment on low for 15 minutes, then remove and fluff with your hands, so feathers remain evenly spread throughout. Tennis balls can be added to the dryer to aid in ‘refluffing’ the feathers. Return garment to dryer for another 15 minutes on low and repeat until nearly dry.

Fleece Care

First off, fleece is very heat sensitive, so never dry your fleece on high or iron it. Fleece should be washed inside out to avoid pilling in lukewarm water with a mild powdered detergent. Hang to dry or dry on low.

Softshell Jacket Care

Softshells can be machine washed with either warm or cold water using powdered laundry detergent that contains no fabric softeners. As mentioned earlier, washing reactivates the DWR treatment, so don’t be scared to wash your softshell jacket or pants! Additionally, soft shells breath better when clean. Tumble dry on low for 15-20 minutes or line dry. Never iron your soft-shell.
Always remove faux fur trim. Most are attached with buttons or a zipper.

Patagonia Torrentshell Parka with DWR

Patagonia Torrentshell Parka with DWR

Rainwear or Waterproof/Breathable Care

Regular cleaning of your rainwear allows it to preform at your best. How often it should be cleansed depends on how often you wear it. For Portland and Seattle residents, you may need to wash it once a month. As a generally rule of thumb, wash your rainwear at least once a year. Washings enhance breathability and reactivate DWR (water repellency coating). Over time however, say after a dozen washings, the DWR can loose it’s effectiveness and an approved waterproof spray should be applied. Like all other outerwear, close the zippers, turn the garment inside out, use a front loading washing machine with powdered detergent and treat stains immediately with cold water then a stain remover. Let the water and detergent mix before placing the garment inside. Two rinses are recommended to remove all residue. Dry on low for 15-20 minutes, then hang dry if still damp.

DWR (Durable Water Repellent) Care

Many people are pleasantly surprised to learn that DWR actually reactivates with each washing and drying. Removing dirt, oil and debris helps to expose the DWR, thereby making it more effective. Low heat for 15-20 minutes reactivates DWR effectiveness. Of course, after a dozen or so washings, DWR will break down. If at that time, you notice that water is no longer beading off the surface of the fabric, it’s a good time to apply a DWR finish from Granger’s, Nikwax, Sport-Wash or ReviveX.

Synthetic Base Layer Care

Synthetic base layers can certainly be washed with your regular clothing. However, it is strongly advised to use mild detergents that advertise as being “free” or “clear” from fragrances or excessive cleaning agents. Eco-friendly and biodegradable detergents tend to be far less harsh than low priced “regular” detergents. Be sure to use only the recommend amount of detergent, if not slightly less. Excess soap may leave a residue behind on the garment, thereby reducing it’s wicking and breathability properties. Since base layers can be vulnerable to snagging, do not wash with anything containing zippers or velcro. Wash with cool or warm water and dry on low for 15-20 minutes or line dry. Never use fabric softeners or bleach.

Wool Care

The biggest concern with wool is shrinkage. To be on the safe side, lay wool garments flat or hang to dry. Socks, however, can be dried with regular laundry on low as most wools sock manufacturers today have agreed. Like synthetic base layers, wool is also susceptible to snagging, so avoid washing with other garments with velcro, zippers or buttons. Stick to washing wool with knits.

 Gore-Tex Maintenance 
A full Gore-Tex manual on how to wash, treat and take care of this material.

Choosing the Best Trail Running Shoes

best trail running shoes

So What Makes the Best Trail Running Shoes?

Now that the snow has melted, trail running is a great way to stay in shape while spending time in the beautiful outdoors. Different than running shoes, trail running shoes have more protection, like stiffer soles to protect the feet from roots and rocks, and better traction to boost a runner’s stability on uneven terrain. Their recommended use is for off-road running, walking and light hiking. There are quite a few variables to consider before making a final decision on a trail running shoe. Keep reading to learn how to find the perfect trail running shoe…

When and Where Will I Use Trail Running Shoes?
If you’re planning to run up some serious inclines with more difficult terrain and obstacles, a shoe with more support, structure and protection is ideal. Such shoes offer tough, protective toe counters to help avoid stubbing a toe on a root or rock. They tend to be a bit heavier, however, so super long runs might not be as comfortable. For early spring runs in wet, muddy conditions, seek out a shoe with widely spaced lugs that won’t trap mud, thereby increasing a sure foot hold. If you’re racing or keep a very fast pace, a lighter shoe might be your best bet, but protection and support may suffer.

Do I Need a Waterproof/Breathable Liner?
This is a personal question with variable answers depending on where you live, when you plan to wear your shoes and whether or not your feet tend to get sweaty. A shoe with Gore-Tex™ or eVent™ will certainly keep the wet elements outside of your shoe, but they won’t breath as well as an unlined shoe. For humid, dry conditions, a waterproof/breathable liner likely won’t be necessary. On the other hand, many people wear trail running shoes as their year-round everyday sneaker. In such cases, definitely opt for a shoe with Gore-Tex™ or eVent™ to keep your feet warm and dry!

How Do I Determine the Best Fit?
Fit is the most important factor to consider when buying any type of footwear. Generally speaking if a particular brand fits you well, their other models will also fit like a glove. This is because every company uses a “last”, which is a wood or plastic form of what they feel represents the typical human foot. Now you know why the same size in different brands can feel drastically different! Trying on several different brands and models is the best way to fit a trail running shoe properly.

What’s the Difference Between Hiking Shoes and Trail Running Shoes?
Hiking shoes and boots have more support and are generally made of leather, which lasts longer than synthetic materials. They tend to be heavier and have bulkier soles. Trail running shoes look more like beefed up running shoes, but can also be worn for light hikes and backpacking trips with loads under 20 pounds. They’re much lighter weight and feel more like a sneaker. The House has a deep selection of the latest hiking and trail running shoes!

How to Wax Downhill Skis

In this article we will discuss a simple, easy, and effective way to wax your downhill skis for optimal performance. Waxing your skis is probably the single most important thing you can do for your new purchase to ensure a longer life span that performs. Regular waxing is also essential for speed. Even if you don’t like to go too fast, wax should regularly be applied, otherwise the skis will dry out and literally stick to the snow. This could cause a nasty injury to the skier!

It takes about 10 to 15 grams of hot wax for one pair of alpine skis, which means if you purchase a 100 gram wax pack, you will have 6-8 applications. We usually recommend hot wax application because it will last longer and give you a good base layer foundation. Rub on wax is only a quick fix and should only be used when you’re in a pinch.

  1. First you need to fix your skis onto a flat surface. Keeping your skis flat and secured is important so that you can easily apply the wax. Take a ski specific wax iron and heat it to a temperature hot enough to melt the wax, but not too hot that it burns the wax. If you see smoke you need to turn down the temperature. Wax is a petroleum product and is harmful if inhaled.
  2. Next, take your hard wax and melt a nice line of wax right down the middle of the ski. Try to keep a steady flow of wax so that it can cover the entire ski.
  3. Once you have a nice line of wax down your ski you will want to melt the wax. Rub your iron across the entire surface of the ski, from tip to tail. Take your time and melt the wax into the base.
  4. After the wax cools for at least 30 minutes take a sharp plastic scrapper, we prefer plastic to glass because it won’t cause as much damage to your skis. Scrape the wax off from tip to tail. There shouldn’t be much excess wax, but it won’t be completely devoid of wax. Repeat this three or four times until the surface is nice and even.
  5. The final step is to brush the wax with a heavy duty scouring pad from the structure of the base. This will allow water to slide through it more easily.
  6. Your skis are finished and can be used immediately!

Tips for Waxing your Downhill Skis

  • Be sure your skis are at room temperature before starting the waxing process. If they are cold, the hot wax and iron could permanently damage the base.
  • Higher performance skis need to be waxed more often than entry level skis. Entry level skis have bases that are designed to hold onto wax for a longer period of time, but they don’t go as fast as intermediate or advanced skis.
  • Always wax in a well ventilated area.
  • Consider waxing your skis in a heated garage or basement. It makes a mess as you scrape the wax off, so if it’s done in your parent’s living room, be sure to lay down a drop cloth!
  • The plastic scraper should have a sharp, 90-degree edge when you scrape. Use a metal file to flatten the edge of the plastic scraper for efficient wax removal.

Choosing the Right Hiking Boots

Choosing Hiking Boots

Choosing Hiking Boots

One of the trickier aspects of hiking is choosing the right boots. With so many styles and types available, it can be difficult to figure out which boots will be best for you. Rather than solely relying on online reviews, it’s best to first break down hiking boots as a whole and decide what exactly you are looking for in a hiking boot, how often you’ll be hiking, where you’ll be hiking and dialing in your foot print (wide, narrow, high arch, etc.). Read on to educate yourself in finding the perfect hiking boot…

Types of Hiking Boots 

  • Light Hiking Shoes – Mostly for day hikes, light hiking shoes look more like a beefed up sneaker. They can be useful for longer hikes so long as you aren’t carrying a pack loaded with several days worth of gear. Light hiking shoes are also popular for everyday wear.
  • Hiking Boots – Hiking boots are either mid or high cut. They are constructed of leather or man-made uppers and often have mesh panels for extra ventilation. Hiking boots can be worn for day hikes or weekend light backpacking trips.
  • Backpacking Boots – Looking like a more traditional boot for hiking, backpacking boots are designed for hikes that will span multiple days. Backpacking boots are extremely popular and somewhat essential for long multi-day backpacking trips where the hiker will be carrying a heavy pack. With a heavy load on your back, you’ll need the shock absorbing soles and extra support found in backpacking boots for all day long comfort. Heavier than light hiking shoes or hiking boots, backpacking boots work well for hikes on or off designated trails.
  • Mountaineering Boots – Also good for carrying heavier loads, mountaineering boots intentionally weigh more than the previous three types of boots. They work well with crampons, which are essential if you’ll be hiking in an icy area. They are the most durable type of hiking boot and also the least popular since most people aren’t backcountry hiking on the regular.

Low, Mid or High Cut Boots?

  • Low Cut Shoes – For day hikes on well-maintained trails, low cut shoes are perfect. They fit more like a sneaker, so they won’t protect your ankles from trail debris. Low cut boots provide less roll resistance for ankles, but hikes with a light load, they’re perfect.
  • Mid Cut Boots –  These boots wrap low around the ankle and offer some cushioning and protection from debris, sand and mud. They best suited for day hikes, or short multi-day hikes with moderate loads.
  • High Cut Boots – For people who carry heavy loads or steer off of maintained trails, high cut boots are key. They offer the best protection from debris, and drastically enhance balance and ankle support. They do require some breaking in, so it’s best to buy them and wear them before going on a hike.

Materials

The boot’s weight, breathability, durability and water resistance are directly affected by the materials used to upper portion of the boot also known as the ‘boot upper’ or ‘upper material.’ Different boot uppers can achieve the same or similar result, so preference is often the main factor when deciding on a boot upper. Let’s check out the various types of boot uppers….

  • Full Grain Leather – Durable and supportive, full grain leather It is used in the construction of midweight backpacking or heavyweight mountaineering boots. It’s the best material for hikers who will be carrying bigger loads over unstable terrain. Full-grain leather footwear is heavier and less breathable than lightweight hiking footwear, but is generally more durable and provides more water protection. Be sure to break your full grain leather boots in before wearing!
  • Nubuck Leather – Nubuck leather is a full-grain leather that has been sanded or buffed to resemble suede. It is very soft, durable, and resists water and abrasion. Like full grain leather, be sure to break in Nubuck before hitting the trail.
  • Nylon, Mesh and Split Grain Leather – Such materials typically don’t need time to break in. They are breathable and lightweight making them great for summer day hikes. Synthetic materials are less expensive and perfect for newbies or those who won’t use them on a weekly basis, but they won’t provide as much water protection as full grain or nubuck leather.

Waterproof Protection

Waterproof barriers are built into many hiking boots and shoes to enhance water resistance. From lightweight hikers to heavyweight mountaineering boots, the performance of these waterproof barriers depends on the type of waterproof material used and how well you care for your boots or shoes.

  • Waterproof Linings – Waterproof/breathable membranes such as Gore-Tex® or eVent® are often built into hiking shoes or boots to prevent moisture from passing from the outside materials through to your feet. The downside is that such boots are often a bit too warm for hot summer hikes.
  • Waterproof Leather – Some leather is topically treated to resist moisture. However, if the boot is of poor quality with faulty seams, water will find it’s way into the boot. Check for lose threads on the seams. Also, if soaked for extended periods, the boots will eventually become very wet.
  • Waterproof Construction – For extremely wet climates or multiple encounters with water obstacles on the trail, waterproof construction with seam sealing or specialized stitching is beneficial to keep your feet dry. Such construction is usually combined with topical waterproof treatments for maximum moisture resistance.

Dial In a Perfect Fit

The most important factor to consider when buying hiking boots is how they fit. You should have room inside of the boot to wiggle your toes easily. The boots should not be so wide that your feet slide around, nor should they be so loose that your feet slip inside of them. You should not have any heel lift when walking. This is why it’s especially important for women to stick to women’s specific hiking shoes.

When trying on hiking boots, you should wear the socks that you would be wearing while hiking so that you can get a feel for how the boots will actually fit you. You should also lace them however you would lace your boots while hiking, and take some time to walk through your house so that you get a good idea of what the boots will feel like as you are hiking.

There you have it! Now you’re set with the most important basic knowledge of how to choose the best hiking boots for your feet. Check out The House’s selection of men’s and women’s hiking boots!

Hiking with Dogs

hiking tips
When hitting the trails, there’s no need to leave your four legged friend at home. Hiking with dogs is a great way to explore the great outdoors and to get some solid exercise for both of you. There are a few things to consider to keep your dog safe in the outdoors and to be knowledgable of his or her physical limitations.

Plan Ahead

Before leaving for your trip, look up whether or not the park and specific hiking trail you are planning to take allow dogs. There are many that do, but those usually have extra rules pertaining to dogs that are important to remember. For example, most parks require dogs to be leashed. Additionally, leashes should generally be less than six feet in length. Even if your dog is leashed on a trail, it’s proper etiquette to keep your dog under control when other people and dogs are passing by. You do not want to intimidate any fellow hikers and having good control of your four legged friend is considered polite.

Is Your Dog Ready for a Hike?

Make sure your dog is physically in shape enough to do the hike. This is especially true if you will be having your dog carry their own bag full of treats and water. Start small, by taking short walks with a pack around the neighborhood and work up from there. If your dog is older or in poor physical condition, they will probably be happier left with a friend or at home.

First-Aid for Dogs on the Trail

Be prepared. Take a lesson from the boy scouts and be ready for anything. You will likely be far from the closest vet so it is important you know how to react should anything happen. Petco and the Red Cross offer first-aid classes for pets, while the internet is also a great source for educating yourself on how to care for a wounded dog on the trail.

Dog Packs

Dog packs are specifically designed for mobile hydration and for carrying dog snacks. They are best for day hikes or trail runs. For backpacking trips, you’ll want a dog pack with more padding, cushioning and bigger volume. Young and healthy dogs can carry up to 25% of their weight in their pack. Some can carry more, but it’s not a bad idea to run it by your vet.

What to Pack for your Dog

Keep your pooch well hydrated and nourished on the trip. Dogs need water while hiking just as much as we do. As mentioned earlier, there are packs that dogs can carry where you can pack their food and water. Some of these packs come with a compressible water dish or it can be purchased separately. Instead of packing a food dish, it is recommended to simply place the food on a rock. This will help save some weight when hiking. Additionally, bring filtered water. Water from lakes can have algae or parasites that can make your dog extremely sick, so it is important to keep an eye on what they drink.

If you are headed out on an overnight trip, there are a few things to remember. First, depending on the temperature, you may consider purchasing clothing to help warm your dog. Some dogs prefer to sleep in clothing rather than a sleeping bag on cold nights outside. In addition, depending on the terrain, your dog will appreciate foot protection. Dog boots are available in various sizes, so be sure to find the right one that will stay on your dog’s feet while running on the trails.

Many dogs like to swim, however not all of them are comfortable around water. Depending on your dog’s swimming abilities, or if you will be around water at all, it is a good idea to bring a doggie PDF (personal floatation device). PDFs also increase your dogs visibility should he or she get caught downstream and they’re easy to grab onto should your dog jump into a moving current.

Waste Disposal

Just like humans, your dog’s waste should be buried at least 200 feet away from water sources. Cleaning up after your pooch in the woods is proper trail etiquette!