Waterproof, Clean, Explore with Nikwax

The picture includes the Down Duo Pack, TX. Direct Wash- In, and the Nubuck & Suede Proof  products by Nikwax. All available In-store and online! www.alpineshop.com
The picture includes the Down Duo Pack, TX. Direct Wash- In, and the Nubuck & Suede Proof products by Nikwax. All available In-store and online! www.alpineshop.com

    Ever suffer from water stains, leaky tents, or dirty coats?  Sounds familiar to me as well!  There is an easy solution to all of those problems, it’s been hiding right under your nose, it’s called Nikwax.  Nikwax is a line of products that range from cleaning, waterproofing, conditioning, and UV protection without the harsh side effects that traditional cleaning detergents can have on gear.  The brand has come out with a vast array of products that target a specific function that can be added to technical materials.  We want our outdoor clothing to go through it all: rain, snow, wind, and dirt. Nikwax is a valuable product that lets us improve and re-vamp our favorite outdoor wardrobe while getting down with all the elements. Here are a few of our favorite Nikwax products!

Down Wash is a product used on down filled items such as sleeping bags, jackets, and even bedding. You simply add the soap based biodegradable cleaner into the wash cycle and viola! Your gear will come out clean, without clumping together like it can when cleaned traditionally (throwing a couple of tennis balls in the dryer adds loft back into the down as well!). This gentle formula will protect the down and the technical material as well as keeping the water-resistance intact. This product comes in an optional bundle pack with the Down Proof which adds a wash-in layer of water-repellent as well as breathability.
Wetter weather conditions are just around the corner and it will soon be time to break out the Gore-Tex.  While the Gore-Tex products are high quality, it never hurts to amp up your waterproofed garment. T.X. Direct can be used in two ways, either added to the wash for waterproof/breathable fabrics or sprayed on for gear with wicking/absorbent liners.  Both methods are quick and easy, while causing no damage to your gear.

Let us not forget the winter boots, especially suede!  When fabrics such as these get wet, water spots can leave stains on the fabric. You can save yourself from those unsightly spots while adding a quick layer of waterproofing with Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof.  It is the best accessory when buying a new pair of suede boots or shoes. This product sprays on easily, keeping your boots looking great and your feet dry all winter.
All of these Nikwax products among others can be found at the Alpine Shop and online www.alpineshop.com.

When you want to extend the life and look of your favorite gear, choose Nikwax!Nikwax

MadRock Shark 2.0 Review


Assistant Manager for the Columbia store and avid climber, Ryan Gajewski, dishes out some pretty awesome hands on experience for the new MadRock Shark 2.0 climbing shoe!


Over the past four months I have been testing the new MadRock Shark 2.0 climbing shoe. What is new this year is the split sole technology. The idea is to make the shoe more aggressive which aids in over hangs. I have found this to be the first time Mad Rock has put this technology in their shoes.
First things first, where were they tested? I tried to climb in multiple areas with different rock quality in order to get a real idea of how good the new style worked under different conditions.
I started in three gyms such as Boulder Gardens (Columbia, Mo), Upper Limits (St. Louis) and So Ill (St. Louis).


Outside locations included:
-Sandstone: Sam’s Throne, AR, Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, AR, Obed/Clear Creek, TN and Eldorado Canyon, CO
-Granite: Leavenworth, WA
-Limestone: Providence, Warsaw , Wilton,  and Columbia, MO

Types of routes that were climbed:
-Sport climbing & Bouldering
-Bouldering, Sport and Trad

Here is what I found.

-Price point. Every other split sole shoe retails around +$180.00 making the modest $119.00 very attractive.
-Fit. They are a very true fit, meaning you don’t have to guess and go down two shoe sizes like a lot of other bands. This makes finding your fit a lot easier and less frustrating. I found I only downsized 1/2 my street shoe.
-Comfort. Most split soles are very aggressive, this means you usually have to sacrifice comfort. The mad rocks fit very well with a super comfortable heel, and even though your toe are curled there are no pressure spots.
-Aggressive. These shoes even feel confident before you leave the ground, especially on overhanging boulders, I found they were very helpful when powering through thin lip turns and wild heel hooks.

-Heel “mowhawk” is a neat concept but it only works well on specific types of heel hooks. I found that it sometimes would pop my heel off the rock when doing very small, smearing heel hooks.
-The rubber is not as sticky as La Sportiva’s Vibram or 5.10’s stealth rubber.
-It’s pretty specialized, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but a new climber would not enjoy these because of their aggressiveness.

These shoes are the perfect buy for the climber who is ready to jump to a more aggressive shoe, but doesn’t want to blow their entire paycheck. I feel this shoe really comes alive on the boulder wall in the gym. The rubber is not as good as others, therefore I found myself reaching for my higher end Sportiva’s and Evolve’s while outside.
The Sharks are a must for the aspiring climber who wants a second more aggressive shoe but doesn’t want to break the bank. These shoes can cruise you up your 5.7 and V0 warmup and then take you to your 5.13 roof or V8 problem without a hitch. And, on a closing note, they also won editor’s choice in Climbing magazine!

Send hard,
Ryan Gajewski


What’s the Best Boat for You? You Can Paddle Day is Saturday, May 4

We took two of Alpine Shop‘s best paddlers out to Simpson Park in St. Louis County to test their opinions on what is the best light touring kayak for the St Louis area. Mike Morin and Jake Parr – both Shop managers and certified ACA instructors do their best to tell you which boat they prefer and why.

Mike prefers the Jackson Journey due to it’s comfortable seat, ample cargo space and displacement style hull. Jake prefers the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 because of its speed, it’s hard-chine hull and comfy cockpit.

Which boat is best for you? It could be either kayak, or perhaps a completely different boat. The point is, until you paddle it, you can’t know for sure. That’s why we have events throughout the spring and summer like our You Can Paddle Day on Saturday, May 4, 2013, and our demo days throughout the rest of the season.

You wouldn’t buy a car without driving it. Don’t buy a boat without paddling it first. We’re the only company in the area with such a wide range of boats – whitewater kayaks, touring kayaks, rec kayaks, canoes and even Stand Up Paddle Boards – that offers test paddles to its customers.

Come find out why we’re the best paddle store in the St Louis area.

Staff Pick of the Month!

Patagonia Kamala Skirt

Though there may be snow on ground, spring is just around the corner! Spring vacation is the perfect opportunity to break into some of the new spring apparel. Whether it’s hanging out at the beach, enjoying the view from a cruise, or dressing up for dinner; this multi-optional skirt and dress is perfect! Patagonia’s Kamala skirt comes in an array of colors and fun patterns to match almost any top. If you simply unfold the top part and tie the string around the neck, it tuns into a lovely halter dress. The material is lightweight organic cotton/Tencel making it extremely comfortable and easy to pack!  Meghan Fazio, the store manager of our Chesterfield Shop has made this her top pick of the season, come in and see if it’s yours as well!

To Wool or not to Wool? That is the question! Smartwool Merino Wool Socks

Why does Alpine Shop recommend merino wool socks, specifically the Smartwool brand?

Merino wool is an extraordinary fiber that out-performs cotton and synthetics in several ways. Moisture management is superior. Merino will wick away sweat and won’t retain moisture meaning it keeps you comfortable in any weather condition no matter you’re activity level. This also means less stink, since there’s no moisture to trap odor-causing bacteria in the wool fibers.

Smartwool socks on Half Dome - Yosemite National Park
Taking a rest at the top of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, with my Smartwool Socks.

For a first-hand account on the benefits of Smartwool socks and merino wool, here’s a story from Alpine Shop’s Marketing Director, Todd Oswald:

The last time I was in Yosemite National Park, I experienced the benefits of Smartwool socks first-hand. Part of the fun involved with working at Alpine Shop is getting to try out new gear and I brought along a new pair of a competitor’s socks to try as I hiked to the top of Half Dome. Less than two hours into the 10-hour journey, these socks (a synthetic sock from a brand we no longer carry) were soaked in sweat and blisters were starting to form on my heel.

I took a brief break, took care of my feet and put on a pair of Smartwools that I had brought along as my back-up socks. Problem solved immediately. I made it to the top of Half Dome without a single blister forming after that. And even though the heat just kept increasing, my feet were dry and comfortable the entire time.

I haven’t worn a different brand of socks since.

If you’re looking to discover the benefits of Smartwool’s products, consider trying on a pair of Smartwool’s PhD socks. The 4 Degree Fit System is a four-point support system that provides an incredibly secure, comfortable fit around the heel, arch and instep. Translated: these socks won’t move around while you walk. They won’t fall down into your shoe. They won’t bunch up and cause blisters. In short, they stay where you want your socks to stay.

And even better, unlike many wool products, Smartwool socks can be throw in the washer and dryer without worrying about shrinking.

Smartwool has engineered all of their socks with details that will increase your comfort and enjoyment in all your everyday activities. If you haven’t tried a pair yet, we think you’ll be surprised at just how much you’ll love them.

Freedom to roam in your Smartwools!

Why You Could Use a Pair of Superfeet Insoles

I recently had the opportunity to attend Superfeet University in Ferndale, Wa., just an hour and a half north of Seattle. It was amazing experience to learn about the company and all it has to offer those who need good quality insoles without the price and hassles of custom orthotics. I was able to gain a significant amount of knowledge to help our customers back in St Louis and Columbia feel better on their feet – no matter what type of footwear they’re wearing.

Superfeet can be used in almost any type of footwear.

Superfeet will not only change the way you think about insoles but also the way you walk.

These are the best over-the-counter insoles you can buy for your feet. For those with moderate to severe problems such as plantar fasciitis, bunions or heel spurs, Superfeet help alleviate the pain and discomfort of these issues. But Superfeet aren’t just for people with known foot problems. Fully 90 percent of the people we fit for shoes and boots will benefit from a Superfeet insole because it places your foot in a neutral position. This aligns everything in your lower body and prevents your feet from both pronation or supination, reducing massive amounts of stress on your feet, your knees and your back.

Superfeet are also enormously popular with elite-level athletes for that same reason. We’ve custom fit Superfeet in-soles for members of the St Louis Blues and Cardinals as well as local collegiate soccer players and more!

Personally I have had Superfeet for about a year and have already seen the difference in my walking and running and am excited to purchase my next pair. I have put Superfeet in all my shoes, and I am on my feet all the time. They feel great!

Steve Worthy
Kirkwood Alpine Shop Training Manager & Trail Runner Enthusiast


Alpine Shop’s Pedorthist Picks Footwear for the Fall

Introducing Angie Bono, Alpine Shop’s certified pedorthist and senior bootfitter. (We’ll explain what that means in just a second.) We asked her to give us some background on what she does and what she likes for fall in the footwear department at Alpine Shop.

Where does my passion for helping people with their feet come from?

Angie Bono C.Ped.
Angie Bono – Certified Pedorthist and master morel hunter. Angie has helped hundreds of people across Missouri with all kinds of foot problems. Find out how she can help you today. (But, no, she won’t tell you where she found the morels.)

I have worked at Alpine Shop for 13 years. About three years into my employment here, the Shop sent me to a professional boot fitting class as part of its efforts to improve the quality of our service for our customers. That class taught me my first lessons about the biomechanics of the human foot, boot anatomy, how to dial in a fit and where the majority of common foot problems originate .

About the same time, my mom started having a terrible time with her feet, suffering from both plantar fasciitis and tarsal tunnel syndrome. She worked for 32 years at the phone company walking on concrete floors and climbing metal ladders. She always just wore a pair of simple white tennis shoes. Watching a loved one suddenly having to hobble around like an old woman because of excruciating pain just killed me.

Then a light went on: If I could help people with their feet through my job… Maybe they wouldn’t have end up with the same problems like my Mom!

I’ve spent the last eight years continuing to further my education and my skills regarding the footwear we sell here at Alpine Shop and the correct way to fit that footwear to best help our customers.

I’m now a Certified Pedorthist, which means I am a professional health care specialist dealing in the use of footwear and supportive devices to address conditions which affect the feet and lower limbs. I’m trained in the assessment of your lower limb anatomy and biomechanics, and also the appropriate use of corrective footwear, including shoes, shoe modifications, orthotics and other devices.

I’ve helped everyone from professional athletes to 70-year-old men just starting to hike to try to stay in shape. I’ve outfitted hundreds of boy scouts and helped many, many others along the way with everything from flip-flops to dress shoes. My passion is being able to help others with their feet. If I’d known back then what I know now, maybe I could have prevented my Mom’s problems from developing. Now, I’m here to help you!

Angie Bono C.Ped.

What’s cool this fall and winter in footwear?

Dansko Clog in fashionable, limited-time only colors
How about the paint splatter pair?

From my closet to yours:

One of my favorite days of the retail year is when we get in our new Danskos. If you don’t have a pair yet; they will change your life. Eight different Dansko collections carry the American Podiatric Medical Association seal of approval. (That means they have been found beneficial to foot health.) As Alpine Shop’s Certified Pedorthist, senior boot fitter, and general “I can totally help you with your feet!” person, I LOVE Danskos.

This season’s fall lineup of Danskos looks really, really nice. And, by the way, some of the colors are in limited edition!  Come in and get that pair of Paint Splatter; they won’t be here for long.

The North Face Back to Berkley Boot at Alpine Shop
TNF Back to Berkley Boot

The COOLEST Men’s Winter Boots

The North Face Back to Berkley 68. It speaks of The North Face’s History and roots. BUT it doesn’t just look cool; it’s loaded with sweet features and EXTRA RED LACES!
It has Primaloft® insulation to keep your feet warm, and looking good!
The bottom of the shoe (the outsole) is made out of a temperature activated rubber, that gets harder as the temperature gets lower. It’s called IcePick® technology, because the rubber becomes spiky points that dig in to slippery snowy or icy terrain.

So: Good looking, super warm, and it bites into the weather conditions.

Trail Running. Salomon is where it’s at.

Salomon XR Mission Trail Run shoe
Salomon XR Mission Trail Run Shoe (blue) for women

Introducing the Salomon XR Mission for Men and Women.

These shoes are designed for slightly less technical trails than some of the previous options we have carried from Salomon. It is absolutely perfect for harder packed surfaces, like well defined trails in drier weather. It is bulked up with all of the cushioning that would take you from light trail to road runs.

This shoe has “muscle,” and by muscle I mean three areas of scientifically placed cushion that roll you through heel strike, mid foot stance, and on your toe-off phase of gait.

Lastly this shoe has an amazing fore-foot fit. (Say that three times fast!) It’s new to Salomon and it’s called Sensi-Fit. It’s a stretchy area in the forefoot that helps fits medium to a wider fore-foot. More importantly it allows the forefoot to expand naturally upon impact.

So far this is my favorite new Salomon, just ordered my pair yesterday in this color:

That’s what’s hot for this fall in footwear!

Smith Variant Brim Helmet Sets Standard for Snowsport Helmet in 2011

Looking to protect your noggin while heading down the slopes this year? Alpine Shop‘s snowsport buyer, Jake White, wanted to give you a look at one of the best options out there for you in 2011.

I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about one of the best-fitting ski or snowboard helmets on the market this year, the Smith Variant Brim. When shopping for protective headwear designated for alpine conditions certain features give you peace of mind and this helmet has all of them. First and foremost, it needs to be extremely comfortable. If it’s not, you’ll take it off at every opportunity. The helmet also needs to have a great adjustment system to be able to custom-fit to your head, as it needs to fit as tight as it can without creating pressure points. Another important feature is venting. Helmets in most cases replace any type of hat you would use to keep your head warm and being able to let some air in without taking it off can be a beautiful thing.

The Variant has one of the best “out of the box” fits I’ve ever experienced. It uses Smith’s hybrid shell construction which has proven to be the best way to fuse the inner and outer materials of the helmet together. (It is not an easy thing for these companies to do without compromising the feel of the helmet.)

The company has also contracted Boa Cable Technologies for the sizing/adjustment system. This gives the fit system greater capabilities to adapt to your noggin by increasing the number of contact points the size-ring draws from, not to mention it’s hard to get more durable than a Boa Cable.

The air flow/venting system for this helmet is outstanding and one of a kind.  The vents are on the tops and sides of the helmet with a switch for each of the two regions that operate individually.  Each side has three positions:  open, half-way and closed. That equals a ton of cooling/warming options for you while you’re on the slopes.

By integrating these features, Smith has, in my opinion, mastered the equation involved in making a helmet. Whether its replacing that old one that doesn’t fit like you want it to, or buying your first helmet, Smith has made it an easy choice.

–Jake White

Ambre’s Picks

Ambre Tiggs of Ginkgo Adventures recommends her favorite gear to anyone interested in camping, hiking, backpacking, climbing, and paddling.  Ambre’s Picks include basic gear that is essential for most outdoor adventures.


Ambre’s Top Picks:

Camelbak Mule

Eagle’s Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Hammock

Jetboil Group Cooking System

McNett Aquamira Water Purification Tablets

MSR Whisperlite International Stove

Outdoor Research Coastal Sombrero

Outdoor Research Ultralight Ditty Sacks

Petzl e-lamp Headlamp



Ambre founded Ginkgo Adventures, an outdoor adventure company based in St Louis in 2006. In addition to running Ginkgo Adventures she is also an adjunct instructor at Meramec, Wildwood, and St. Charles Community Colleges teaching Backpacking/Hiking and Camping/Paddling.  Ambre is a Wilderness EMT and American Red Cross instructor in CPR, Standard First Aid, and Wilderness First Aid.  She backpacks, rock climbs, canoes, kayaks (whitewater, sea, and flat water), mountain bikes and snowboards.

Ambre Tiggs

Ginkgo Adventures





Comparing Cycling Sunglasses: Oakley vs Smith

Oakley Jawbone and Smith Parallel

I’ve recently gotten in to cycling, and like any new activity, I’m realizing there are products out there that could make it more enjoyable.  I own more sunglasses than a person should, kind of an addiction actually, all however in the “fashion” category. I quickly realized I needed something more practical for riding and narrowed it down to two styles:  the Smith Parallel, and the Oakley Jawbone.

Smith includes three lenses with this frame – the main style lens you choose along with Clear and their Ignitor lenses which are great for overcast days –  while the Oakley’s come with two lenses – your main choice of lens along with a light grey option. Never underestimate how important it can be to be able to choose the best lens for your cycling conditions that day.

Price is another factor: the Parallel sits at $129 with just about any lens option- including polarized lenses. The Jawbones cost $200 with their base lenses while the polarized option adds another $60 to the price.

Sizing could also potentially slide someone’s decision. With Smith, you can choose among (from smallest to largest) the Parallel, Parallel Max, and Parallel D-Max. With this Oakley frame, you can choose between Oakley’s “standard” and “Asian” fits.

While both Oakley and Smith feature their own proprietary hydrophobic lens coatings which reduce smudges and repel water from the lenses, Oakley also offers their Transition® or photochromic lens option (at $260 as well) that changes the color of the lens from dark to light depending on outside light.

All in all, both are great frames for all types of cycling.  If money wasn’t a factor, my decision may have been different, but I went with the Smith Parallels this time around. I’ll give you an update on them in the near future.

What decision would you have made?

Jake White
Buyer/Assistant Manager