Packing list: Trekking

Packing list: Trekking

16. January 2018
packing list

The vastness of nature and the feeling of being in the great outdoors and carrying your home on your back for multiple days (or even weeks) are things you can only experience by trekking. The kit you need may vary depending on the region, season and length of your trip. Regardless of whether you’re travelling in spring, summer or autumn, it’s important to consider the weather in advance. Of course, good planning is half the battle!

The following is a basic kit list that you can adjust according to the demands of your trip.

The big four




Clothing in your layering system

1. Layer (underwear):




2. Layer (insulation):

3. Layer (weather protection):







Food: Eating and drinking










Hygiene





Other items













Optional (depending on the trip and time of year)




If you still have room in your pack



The word trekking is usually used to describe long-distance, multi-day walks. The cool thing about it is how independent you are. Neither time, nor place is really a factor. Plus, you’re far removed from civilisation as well. Trekking is about the challenge of having to depend on yourself, being completely exposed to the elements, doing your own thing and experiencing nature in a completely new way! There is nothing better than feeling one with nature in all its various facets. True, you may find a bothy or some other kind of shelter along the way (depending on the country you’re in), but for the most part, you’re on your own!

Thus, you have to pack accordingly. Your kit will consist of the basics (similar to a hut trip) along with the “big four” (rucksack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat) and cooking supplies for your trip. Of course, it’s important to choose the appropriate footwear as well. At the very least, you should have an ankle-high pair of shoes for additional stability. That way, you can avoid tearing any ligaments (like from rolling an ankle) along the way. The shoes should also have a softer, more flexible sole than mountaineering boots, since you’ll be tacking on more kilometres than you would be in the high mountains and usually won’t have to do any scrambling or climbing.

Now, we’re going to talk about some practical little gadgets, which may not seem as useful at first glance as they actually are. Stuff sacks! Stuff sacks are something you should definitely have with you in addition to waterproof zipped bags for electronics and documents. That way, you’ll be able to keep the contents of your pack organised. Stuff sacks are available in a wide variety of sizes and colours so that you can quickly identify which sack is for laundry, clean clothes or your medication. Another must-have: duct tape. Whether you’ve got a hole in your tent, your shoes are falling apart or you just can’t get your travel buddy to shut up ;), duct tape can pretty much fix any problem. Just as useful is a couple metres of Paracord or a thin accessory cord. These cords are extremely tear-resistant and can be used as laces, a belt or a clothesline. Elastic bands and a couple of zip ties are also incredibly useful and hardly take up any room. They can help you tie and secure all sorts of things – perfect for whenever you need to improvise! Last but not least: tampons. And yes, for men too. Tampons can be used as a makeshift pad for deep cuts or can be used as a tinder to start a fire. Usually, just one spark is enough to get a nice, warm campfire started.

If you’re a perfectionist, we recommend opening up Excel and putting together a list tailored to your individual needs: By listing weight information, quantities and food (including calorie data), you will get a good overview of how much your pack weighs, how much room you may have to spare for additional items, but also (and most important) which items may prove to be completely useless! Once you’ve got everything together, you should go through each and every item and ask yourself whether or not you really (!) need it. First-time trekkers tend to pack a lot of things they never end up using over the course of a trip, but as the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Usually, you’d begin with shorter trips in more tolerable climatic conditions, anyway, so that you can figure out what you do and don’t need for future treks.

Thus, a packing list in this form can serve as a point of reference when you’re preparing for each trekking trip. In sum, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Excess gear on a trekking trip have an effect on multiple areas: a large rucksack and a corresponding amount of weight, sturdier shoes, (due to the increased amount of weight on your back), gear and clothing for all eventualities. A properly packed and organised rucksack can be a huge help (use colour-coded stuff sacks in different sizes!)
  • A very important thing to consider while trekking is food: If you think about just how much your grocery basket weighed last week, you’ll know why (light and high-calorie) trekking foods were invented.
  • Since you’ll be far removed from civilisation, it’s incredibly important to think about your safety as well as first aid in the event of an emergency. Thus, it is advisable (especially for first-time trekkers) to choose a trek that you know you can complete and to take a mobile phone with emergency contacts with you on your trip. This is even more important if you’re going out alone. And, don’t worry if you don’t finish. Any experience or knowledge you gain about yourself as a trekker, the weather and your equipment is valuable. It will help you not only to pack more efficiently and to optimise your approach in the future but will even give you the know-how necessary to improvise to certain extent later!
MIPS - Brainy helmet technology

MIPS – Brainy helmet technology

3. January 2018
Equipment

With the development of new technology and the acquisition of scientific knowledge, we see advancements in both our beloved sports as well as the gear we use for them. This is especially true for skiing. The sport is getting faster and faster, the ski runs are getting steeper, and skiers are becoming more and more daring, as is evident by their massive jumps and crazy tricks.

That’s all fine and dandy, as long as ski safety technology can keep up! And, so far, it has, thanks in large part to the MIPS helmet system.

In the following, we’re going to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about this technology!

What does MIPS mean?

MIPS is a safety system for helmets in general. It was developed by 5 Swedish scientists from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and is the result of 30 years of hard work.

MIPS stands for Multi Directional Impact Protection System. Wow, that’s a mouthful. In simple English, MIPS is a system that was designed to manage energy from rotational and angular impact. These different directions of force are generated when the helmet is hit at an angle.

Regular helmets are best at absorbing static (straight) impacts that hit the helmet at right angles and do not generate any rotational force.

Since skiers usually don’t experience direct, vertical impacts on their head but rather hit objects at oblique angles, a helmet was needed that was capable of absorbing these kinds of impacts, thereby protecting the skier from more serious head injuries. And, the MIPS system does just that, absorbing both static and rotational impact.

How do rotational forces occur?

When impact occurs at an angle, the forces from the impact are directed not in a single direction but in several. This is how rotational forces come to be, and these forces hold great risks because they cause the brain to hit against the outer wall of the skull, resulting in a concussion or worse.

How does the MIPS system work?

The MIPS system was modelled after the human brain. To protect the brain, there is a fluid between it and the cranial bone. Upon impact, the resulting rotational forces are absorbed by this layer of fluid, which acts as a cushion for the brain and thereby prevents these forces transferring to the brain.

MIPS is basically a copy of this layer. It consists of two layers, the second of which moves. The second shell sits directly on the head.

When a helmet with this technology is subjected to an angled impact, the resulting rotational forces are not transferred to the head but reduced by the rotational motion of the first and second helmet layer.

This system is very effective and can be incorporated into any helmet.

What are the disadvantages?

Since the system is still relatively new and is only starting to be used by helmet brands, it remains very expensive. What’s more, there is no data on the lifespan of the system or whether or not it should be replaced after every accident. Another issue has to do with how snug the helmet has to be in order for it to provide optimal protection.

Apart from these concerns, the only thing you could call a “disadvantage” is that the helmets are 50-100 grams heavier than regular helmets, but I think for some extra safety, we’re all willing to carry some extra weight, right?

That said, I guess it’s safe to claim that there aren’t really any disadvantages, since the only thing we could think of is not to our detriment but for our own safety.

Who’s the system for?

All sorts of top athletes have been testing the system in their respective disciplines, but it’s not only intended to be used by professional athletes. The system is for anybody looking for extra protection. There are already plenty of cycling helmets with MIPS technology. Since the system can be built very compactly, there are no restrictions on who can wear it, either.

Things to consider when shopping for a MIPS helmet

Apart from being stylish, your helmet should fit perfectly as well. Other than that, the same “rules” apply as when you’re buying a normal helmet.

Where can a buy a helmet with MIPS technology?

You can find helmets with the MIPS system from all sorts of different brands in our online shop. Brands such as POC, Giro and Sweet Protection offer helmets with MIPS technology, so there’s quite the nice selection and something for everybody.

The great thing about this technology is that, even with the incorporation of MIPS, you won’t have to sacrifice any of the useful features you’d have in other helmets. In fact, most of them have the very same features as conventional helmets. A good example of such a helmet is the POC Helmet Receptor Backcountry MIPS Ducroz Edition, which you can find in our online shop. Apart from having MIPS technology, this helmet is compatible with Beats by Dr. Dre headphones and comes equipped with detachable ear pads and an integrated Recco reflector. Plus, the size is adjustable, so it can “grows with” a growing head size – perfect for kids!

Another great option is the Trooper MIPS ski helmet from Sweet Protection, which is an all-purpose helmet designed for skiing and snowboarding that comes with a size adjustment system, carbon outer shell, shock absorbent liner and ventilation.

The future of MIPS

The MIPS system is bound to be the standard, if it’s not already, and will continue to be reworked and improved. It’s a technology that not only significantly increases our safety but is also compatible with helmets for any sport.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask our experts in customer service. They are available on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at +49 (0)7121/70 12 0 or via e-mail.

There’s a lot going on in the climbing and outdoor industry. New products are being invented, existing ones are being reworked and improved, and we, too, are learning more every day. And, of course, we would like to share this knowledge with our customers. That’s why we regularly revise the articles at base camp. So, don’t be surprised if a post changes a bit in the coming months. This article was last edited on 01/02/2016.

A buyer's guide to waterproof trousers

A buyer’s guide to waterproof trousers

22. December 2017
Buyer's guide

Bad weather can really put a damper on an outdoor adventure, regardless of whether you run into a seemingly never-ending drizzle or extremely heavy bursts of rain. But, you know what? It doesn’t have to! Just slip on your waterproof trousers and keep on moving! Wait, you don’t have any? If you’re one of those folks who have managed to get by without a pair of waterproof trousers but are interested in getting some, we’re here to help! In the following, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about waterproof trousers in this short guide.

True to the adage about bad weather and bad clothing, we’re here to tell you that a reliable outer layer is an absolutely indispensable part of your gear in adverse weather conditions. This goes for both your upper and lower body. These non-insulated overtrousers fall under the category of hardshell trousers. They come equipped with a flexible band at the waist and long zips on the legs that allow them to fit over all other trousers and even thick boots.

But, remember: One pair of waterproof trousers is not like the next! They have much more to offer than waterproof protection! Like a protective shield, waterproof trousers have to be capable to withstand all weather conditions and provide you with reliable protection in windy and cold conditions as well, preventing you getting cold. Plus, they should be breathable, easy to slip on and off and their pack size and weight should coincide with their performance.

How to find the right trousers

In the face of the abundance of waterproof trousers available on the market today, even the most knowledgeable of us can get overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. The first (two-fold) question you should be able to answer before purchasing a pair is the following: What am I going to use them for and what should they be able to withstand? After all, there is no single pair of waterproof trousers that can do it all, so do make sure that they are tailored to your intended area of use. Things to consider could include: short distances vs. multi-days, scattered showers vs. pouring rain, walking vs. cycling, muddy flatlands vs. rocky ridges. As with other functional clothing, the thicker and heavier the trousers, the tougher they are.

Solid mid-range trousers for walking and cycling

Lighter overtrousers like the Fluid Pants II from Vaude or the Resolve Pant from The North Face are great for day trips in unpredictable weather conditions, a walk in the forest on a rainy day or a middle-distance cycling. A commute to work is a good example of the latter, because the distance is manageable, and if the sun does happen to come out, you can stuff the trousers in your pack at any time.

If you’re looking for a pair of waterproof trousers for a day-long trip out in the open or in rugged terrain, you should definitely opt for something more robust like 2.5 or 3-layer hardshell trousers. Both are windproof and will prevent your body getting cold. Thus, such waterproof trousers are the perfect addition to your outdoor gear, especially in stormy weather.

Waterproof trousers for the mountains

Since even the most experienced mountaineer is bound to work up a sweat some point or another, it is absolutely crucial from them to have a pair of waterproof trousers that not only keeps them protected from water on the outside but also allows moisture to escape from the inside. To meet this demand, manufacturers use fabric that is breathable and equip the trousers with side vents to help keep the temperature on the interior balanced. And, if they don’t have extra zip vents, you can open the ¾-length or full-length zips on the legs for extra ventilation.

Waterproof hardshell trousers are also a perfect addition for trips at high altitude. Basically, if you’re travelling in a region where temperatures can drop in the blink of an eye or you could run into a snowstorm, hardshell trousers are a great option to have as an extra layer over a softshell. Plus, you can wear them as an outer insulating layer over your long underwear when ski touring as well.

Hardshell trousers with braces are suitable for activities that require a lot of movement, like climbing. These models may not be as easy to slip on and off, but they do provide reliable protection in wet conditions.

Waterproof trousers for all-weather cyclists

Braces aren’t just important for mountaineers – they’re of interest to cyclists as well. Why? Well, since cyclists lean forward toward their handlebars when cycling, both their buttocks and lower back are exposed and often forced to bear the brunt of the bad weather. The braces on hardshell trousers are there to remedy this and keep these areas nice and protected. Plus, special waterproof cycling trousers also come complete with reinforced panels at the seat and crotch. For improved visibility and overall safety on the roads, they also have reflective elements.

A standard feature on most waterproof trousers, but particularly important for cyclists, is tight cuffs or adjustable hook-and-loop fasteners on the bottom trouser leg, which serve to prevent the fabric getting caught in the chain.

Waterproof trousers – you can’t live without them

Waterproofs can be a nuisance, I know. I mean, who hasn’t tried to justify not wearing their waterproof trousers with excuses like, “Oh, it’s just sprinkling a bit” or “It’ll be over soon, anyway.” We’re all guilty of this, but as soon as our walking trousers get wet, we realise our mistake. After all, once they get wet, it’s too late to put on your waterproof pair. And, if the rain somehow gets inside, you’re in for a really bad day. Add to that the water dripping down from your jacket and your trousers will soon be soaked in no time. What a nightmare. In other words, don’t let laziness get the better of you! Put on your waterproof trousers before it’s too late!

Here’s another little tip: When purchasing waterproof trousers, make sure they’re somewhat longer than the trousers you’d wear underneath. Alternatively, you can protect them from water by way of a tighter cuff. If the trousers underneath are peaking out, cold air and water will start creeping up the inside leg. Another option is to fold up the trouser leg so that it will stay dry.

If you stay indoors, you’re missing out

Regardless of whether up in the mountains, cycling or in the flatlands, a quality pair of waterproof trousers should be an integral part of your gear, especially on multi-day trips and at high altitudes. So, yes, the old adage is true. There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Besides, there’s something about hill walking in the rain, don’t you think? It’s quite nice! Plus, you won’t run into as many people!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask our experts in customer service. They are available during the week from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at 03 33 33 67058 or via e-mail.

How to set up a slackline without trees

How to set up a slackline without trees

14. December 2017
Equipment, Tips and Tricks

Slacklining is so easy to do. All you need are two trees! Wait, but what if you can’t find two trees strong enough to be your anchors? I mean, you can’t use any old thing. Your anchor points have to be capable of withstanding the extreme loads they’re put under. And, that’s no exaggeration. You can find out just how severe these loads are using our trusty new calculator:

>> Calculate the loads on the anchors in your slacklining setup here!

So, since most of us know how to set up our slacklines with trees around, we’re going to talk about setting them up without them and without doing a lot of damage to the neighbourhood or the surrounding area in the process.

If you have the right tools and material, it’s not as difficult as it may sound. In fact, if you’ve got the right ground anchors or the necessary frame, it’s easy to set up a slackline without trees. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof!

Forces in slacklining

In slacklining, there are some pretty gnarly forces at work that you really need to take into consideration when setting up your line. More specifically, it is important to make sure that your line, surrounding technology (whatever that may be) and anchor points are strong enough to withstand the load. So, before looking for possible alternatives to trees, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the forces involved and how they come to be.

The first and certainly easiest force to understand is pretension, which is the force generated when the slackline is tensioned. Another force is generated by the weight of the slackliner as well as the sag of the slackline. There is also something called a dynamic force, which has an effect on the entire setup. This is brought about by the slackliner’s movements and increases with the degree of activity. Thus, these reactionary forces are much higher as a result of jumps than they are when a slackliner simply walks or turns around.

With the help of our calculator, you can calculate the anchor point loads quickly and easily. This will help you to familiarise yourself with the forces at work before setting up your slackline as well as give you an estimate as to whether a potential anchor point is capable of withstanding the load.

Slackline frames

Of course, we can’t forego anchor points entirely. Even slackline frames need some kind of anchor. Strictly speaking, these handy and self-supporting systems can be installed everywhere. When using one of these frames, the slackline is tensioned between two anchor points by means of an integrated ratchet. Frames of this kind are either made out of metal or wood and usually consist of several modules that allow you to save space when you store them. A good example of such a frame is the Slackrack from Gibbon. This three-part set allows you to set up a 2 or 3 metre long line.

Since these are generally self-supporting systems, no further fix points are required. The frames are built in such a way as to be sturdy on level ground and easy to handle. Slackline frames are therefore ideally suited for fitness as well. They’re a great alternative to the usual slackline setups for schools, clubs and families as well. Of course, the coolest thing about these systems is the fact that they can be used indoors as well, no matter whether you set it up in your child’s room, a make-shift gym in your cellar or a regular gym. You’ll always find a place for it!

Securing the ground anchors

If you prefer to pursue your hobby in your own garden or at a park, but you can’t seem to find any anchor points, you should have a closer look at the free-standing options with anchors. These kinds of sets are made by a number of different brands, but all of them follow the same basic principle: Two ground anchors are screwed into the ground, the slackline is mounted onto it and brought up to the desired height using the two frames. Then, all you have to do is fully tension the slackline, and voila! Let the fun begin!

The cool thing about this is that the length of the slackline can be adjusted however you like it. You can also adjust the height and then choose between several clamping heights. Another great thing about this kind of setup is how quick and easy it is to disassemble. Plus, once you’ve taken it apart, it packs down nice and small. When used properly, the ground anchors hardly leave any traces in the ground. Thus, systems like the Frameline Set from Slackline Tools are ideally suited for any slackliners who want to be as mobile as possible and not have to rely on trees.

Setup options for gymnasiums and climbing centres

Since slackline sets with ground anchors can only be used outdoors and trees rarely grow in gymnasiums and climbing centres, the following question basically asks itself: How would you set up a long slackline indoors?

Well, if the building has strong concrete walls, it shouldn’t be a problem. There are plenty of different anchors and setup options. These are usually bolted to a wall with several heavy-duty anchors. Thus, by using permanent wall hooks, you can set up a line from one wall to another. But, this will only work if the walls are sturdy enough and may require the opinion of a stress analyst beforehand.

When it comes to gymnasiums, there are even more interesting options. Similar to the setup with ground anchors, a slackline can be attached to the floor anchors for horizontal bars. For more height, two small crates are pushed underneath. This setup is particularly suitable for school classes or clubs. Since the slackline runs over the crate at both ends, it’s much easier for kids to get on. Plus, the setup is much quicker and easier since you’re using the existing infrastructure of the gymnasium and permanent installations are not necessary.

Conclusion

It is not impossible to set up a slackline without trees. In fact, as we’ve seen, there are plenty of options out there that’ll do just that. Whether you’re looking for something for indoors or outdoors, big or small, or beginners or professionals, the market is full of all sorts of clever slackline kits. Speaking of clever, there are even slackline systems that have been designed to be used in physical therapy with the aim of improving the mobility of those who have been in accidents or have chronic illnesses. To tension these slacklines, you don’t really even need to use that blasted ratchet anymore, either. These are often included in complete sets, but can also be replaced with an Ellington pulley system, provided you have the proper material.

Packing list for camping

Packing list for camping

packing list

What we mean here is going camping by car or public transport, so basically any camping trip where you don’t have to carry your kit by yourself. There’s a whole other list, namely one for trekking, for those trips that require you to carry your own gear.








Sleeping






Eating and cooking













This is what you always need







Optional (depending on the trip and time of year)












If you still have room in your pack/vehicle







Yeah, it’s quite the daunting task to write a packing list for camping, especially if you’re not going on foot. There’s no limits to the luxury you can afford yourself! Luxurious camping is often referred to by purists as glamping. Anyway, the aim of our list is to provide you with some info on the bare essentials you need for your camping trip. It’s completely up to you whether you take more or less with you!

Buy Camping Equipment >>

How to break in your walking boots properly

How to break in your walking boots properly

9. December 2017
Equipment, Tips and Tricks

No matter what kind of walking boots you have, it is absolutely essential to break them in before heading out on a trip. This process will soften the material, allowing the boot to mould perfectly to your feet. But, before you break them in, you need to find the perfect pair among the countless number of walking boots on the market today. This can be time-consuming, but it’s incredibly important to make a thorough search of it because our foot shapes are just as numerous as the lasts used by shoe manufacturers. For example, some shoes are a bit roomier or narrower in the toe box, whilst others are narrower at the heel or have an overall more compact shape. 

In addition to the last used to construct the shoe, there are a variety of other factors you should consider when shopping for walking boots, such as the material (leather or synthetics), the height of the ankle support (e.g, mid or low-cut) and the stiffness or flexibility of the sole, to name a few. Once you’ve figured out what kind of shoe you want – be it a lightweight walking shoe, a trekking boot or a crampon-compatible mountaineering boot – it’s time to really start shopping!

Finding the perfect walking boot – the perfect size, width and shape

Only a walking boot in the right size and proper width and shape can be broken in properly. For walkers and hikers, it’s always a good idea to try on the shoes with the socks you’ll be wearing on your trip and using to break in the shoes. Walking socks are made out of all sorts of different materials, including merino wool, synthetic fabric and fabric blends. They should be comfortable, moisture-wicking and fit securely. Remember: your walking boot is only as good as your walking socks.

Once you have the right pair of socks, you can start trying on walking boots. You’ll notice that the walking shoes vary in size and width from brand to brand. The differences aren’t huge, but oftentimes it’s wise to try on a half size larger or smaller in order to achieve the perfect fit. If you’re having a difficult time deciding, it can be a big help to try on a size 9, for example, on one foot, and a size 9.5 on the other. That way, you’ll be able to compare them directly without having to take them on and off.

It’s also very important to tie the shoes properly, meaning the tongue should be in the centre and the shoes tied moderately tightly. Even though only you can know whether a shoe fits properly, we thought it might be useful to put together some important points you can tick off before making your final decision.

  • Does the walking boot have the proper length? – Your toes shouldn’t rub up against the front, but you shouldn’t have too much room, either. This would cause your foot to slide forward, and you wouldn’t get enough support.
  • Does the walking boot have the proper width? – You shouldn’t have too much room on the sides, nor should they pinch or feel too tight.
  • Does your heel feel secure in the boot? – Your heel should not slip to the side or out of the boot when tied. You shouldn’t experience any pinching or unpleasant pressure, either.
  • Is the collar comfortable? – Of course, you should be wearing a sock that extends past the collar of the boot. If the collar or upper is a bit stiff, no need to worry. You can usually break these in quite easily. But, if you feel any uncomfortable pressure anywhere, take the boots off and try on a different model.

Breaking in your walking boots properly

Once you’ve chosen the walking boots of your dreams, it’s time to get ready for your first steps in them! As mentioned above, be sure to wear the walking socks you plan on wearing during your trip and tie your shoes as you normally would. Your legs and feet are supposed to make the boots’ material more flexible, and your shoes need to be tied in order to do that.

Before heading outdoors in your brand spanking new walking boots, you should wear them around the house for a few hours. Once you feel that your feet have become accustomed to your new kicks, you can take them for a leisurely stroll in the park or on easy, flat terrain. With time, these mini adventures will turn into longer strolls and more intense walks with some elevation gain and more uneven terrain. Only after all that preparation will your boots be ready for all-day trips and adventures in the hills.

Breaking in leather or synthetic walking boots

Synthetic walking boots do not mould to your foot as completely as leather boots do. That’s why, breaking in non-leather footwear often seems less time-consuming. Leather shoes, on the other hand, need more time to loosen up, gain flexibility and adapt to your individual foot shape. However, you can do things to speed up the process. If you dare, you can venture out into the rain or in the morning dew. The water will soften the leather, allowing the leather to adapt more quickly and easily to your foot. Of course, you’ll need to walk in your wet boots for a while before anything happens. But, if your walking boots are waterproof, this shouldn’t be a problem.

There’s also the possibility of widening your leather walking boots after breaking them in, if you feel that the shoe is still too tight. A professional cobbler can usually stretch your leather boots by a couple of millimetres.

There’s really nothing better than really comfortable, broken-in walking boots. No blisters, pinching or general discomfort even after hours walking is the dream of walkers, hikers and trekkers everywhere. Thus, once you’ve found your dream pair of walking boots, make sure to care for them properly so that you can enjoy them for a long time to come. Proper care, proofing and shoe wax can really work wonders!

Barometric and GPS-based altimeters

Barometric and GPS-based altimeters

7. December 2017
Equipment, Tips and Tricks

Isn’t it irritating to have trekked through the mountains all day or mountain-biked your way over some tough single track only to find at the end of the day that you have know idea how much elevation you’ve gained? Fortunately, those days are basically over. In recent years, manufacturers of outdoor hardware have been incorporating altimeters into watches, cycle computers and GPS devices that usually calculate the elevation gain and loss you’ve accumulated over the course of your ride, run or walk.

There are two types of altimeters: GPS-based and barometric altimeters. We’re going to take a closer look at both of these technologies and tell you what the pros and cons of each are!

Barometric altimeters

The basis for this method of measurement is air pressure. The barometer measures the air pressure and figures out the altitude out based on that. Atmospheric pressure drops as you gain altitude – if you want to know how much, you can use our handy altitude conditions calculator.

One advantage of this kind of measurement is its accuracy in stable weather conditions and constant temperatures. In conditions such as these, measurement errors are not as drastic those made by GPS-based device. The disadvantage of this method is that a point of reference is required, meaning a pre-determined location above sea level at which the air pressure is measured. Both mountain huts as well as passes are good references points because more often than not you can find the actual altitude by looking at a map. If you recalibrate your barometer in such places from time to time, the information you receive will be accurate within a few metres.

GPS-based altitude measurement

As the name suggests, GPS devices use the American Global Positioning System (GPS). The exact position of the device is determined by means of the signals from various satellites in the earth’s orbit. However, in order to receive information on the current altitude, the receiver requires the signal from at least 4 satellites. The accuracy of this geodetic triangulation of your location also depends to a large extent on the quality of the signal. If there are several available satellites, the receiver will be able pick and choose, giving you the best or strongest signals. However, if your device only receives four satellites, it is possible that both your position and altitude information will strongly deviate from the actual values.

This is due to the fact that a GPS signal behaves physically similar to light. Clouds weaken the signal, and deep canyons can even isolate the receiver completely. Even a dense forest can weaken the signal. The signal can also be reflected off walls. All these things can have such a negative impact on the determination of your position and altitude that they can even result in deviations of up to 100 metres.

Which device is better

In our opinion, that depends entirely on what you plan on using it for. Here are some examples of possible uses and the best device for those particular activities:

Example 1: You’re a mountain biker or hill walker and would like to know how much elevation you’ve gained over the course of your outing:

For this purpose, a barometric altimeter would clearly be your best choice. Your device would measure the air pressure in defined time intervals, thereby determining differences in elevation and subsequently adding them together. When the weather conditions are relatively stable, atmospheric pressure is a reliable source for elevation calculations and perfect for calculating elevation gain and loss. The actual altitude is not usually the most important factor for such excursions, so you don’t have to calibrate your device beforehand.

Example 2: If you’re going on day-long trips with major differences in altitude (a thousand metres or more) and would like to know the altitude of your current position:

For this purpose, we would recommend using a GPS-based device. A GPS-based device may only be able to determine the elevation with an accuracy of 20 to 25 metres, but your position is constantly recalculated and the error will be balanced out in most cases. With a barometric measurement, it’s possible that the device was calibrated incorrectly after the first day, resulting in a deviation of 20 metres for every subsequent measurement. If you don’t have a known position at which you can recalibrate the device, the error could continue and the deviation could even increase. In such a case, a barometric altimeter would be even more inaccurate than GPS.

Example 3: You tend to go on adventures in places where the weather and temperature play a major role:

As was already touched upon, weather and temperature can have a major impact on air pressure. If the air pressure varies as a result of these factors, it’s better to use GPS. However, it’s important to mention that some devices have integrated storm warning systems: if the air pressure drops rapidly, this usually means that a low pressure area is approaching, which often leads to bad weather. Some devices warn you in advance. A barometer can make reliable short-term weather predictions that can be incredibly useful for mountaineers.

In sum, barometric altimeters are great if you’d like to know the elevation profile of your route. The fluctuations are much smaller and the accuracy is better than GPS-based devices. However, as mentioned above, it is imperative to calibrate the devices beforehand in order to receive precise data. For longer trips, we recommend verifying the elevation data at huts or on maps to get the best results.

If you are more interested in absolute elevation, GPS is the better choice. Even though they don’t need to be calibrated, GPS devices may not be as accurate in remote, isolated (mountainous) regions. However, devices with both GPS and GLONASS can often remedy this. The Russian counterpart to the American navigation satellites, which is actually called NAVSTAR, fills the occasional gap in the satellite network, especially in Eurasian and Asian regions.

Other GPS devices combine the advantages of the different methods by measuring altitude barometrically and repeatedly comparing it with the GPS data.

A buyer's guide to approach shoes

A buyer’s guide to approach shoes

5. December 2017
Buyer's guide

The approach to your very climbing spot is often a rocky one, so it’s particularly important to have a solid pair of shoes. More specifically, you need some quality approach shoes! Wait, what are those? Well, approach shoes are multi-purpose shoes that have been designed to cope with the challenges of the approach to the crag or via ferrata (as well as your descent). But do we really need a different pair of shoes for everything little thing? Can’t we just wear some sturdy walking boots? Let me think about that for a second…no! In the following, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about approach shoes, including what you need to consider before you buy and why every climber has one pair at the very least in his or her kit. So, keep on reading!

What are approach shoes anyway?

Approach shoes are usually a pair of sturdy low-cut shoes. They help you to cope with steeper grades of rock and terrain of varying difficulty. After all, most “paths” to your favourite spot are presumably not paved or well-maintained trails but full of debris, rock, grass and whatever else nature feels like throwing at us. For this kind of terrain, we need a real all-rounder! And, that’s precisely where approach shoes come in.

When walking boots and climbing shoes love each other very much, what you get is a pair of approach shoes. That’s basically how you could describe where approach shoes comes from. All joking aside, approach shoes are a hybrid between both types of shoes. They’re made to cope with any terrain. They provide the foot with support on both steep and more well-maintained paths. Not even short climbing sections are a problem for these shoes. They are designed to be comfortable and provide traction, giving you the surefootedness you need to make it to your favourite crag. If you’re in the market for such a shoe, here’s a brief overview of what you should keep in mind before buying.

An approach shoe’s most important characteristics

If you’ve ever worn the wrong shoes, you know exactly where your feet end up at the end of the day: in the ice bucket. Since an approach can take even longer than the climb itself, it’s extremely important to find a comfortable approach shoe to get you to the crag. They should be secure and fit well and not feel constrictive or cause chafing. Even the baddest of climbers (I know that’s not the grammatically correct superlative) would rather have a solid pair of approach shoes than a bunch of yucky blisters on their feet.

Two of the more important contributing factors to a good fit are the footbed and the lacing. The higher-quality models have laces that extend all the way up to the toe of the shoe. Why? Well, this has the advantage that the shoe can be adjusted ever-so precisely to your individual foot. Another important factor is the lock down at the heel, which can be achieved by way of special heel inserts. These serve to keep the heel in its natural position whilst simultaneously absorbing shock.

Upper material, weight and lining – other important details

As with all outdoor shoes, an approach shoe’s upper is extremely important. Usually, manufacturers opt for a flexible synthetic material that is extremely tough and fit to withstand contact with rock and the like. There shouldn’t be any shortage of functionality and weather protection, either. Some weather protection will definitely not hurt. After all, your shoes are bound to get wet as you make your way to the crag. Plus, if your shoes are water resistant, you won’t have to struggle with putting your climbing shoes on with wet feet.

Functional materials like Gore-Tex provide excellent weather protection and keep the interior feeling fresh and comfortable. As you probably already know, Gore-Tex is breathable as well, so any moisture or sweat on the interior will pass through to the outside where it will evaporate. And your feet will stay nice and dry! But, more importantly, your feet won’t stink, either! That may sound trivial, but it’ll keep your climbing shoes from stinking as well.

In terms of weight, less is always more, as it so often is. Lighter approach shoes are much easier to stuff in your backpack or hang on your climbing harness when they’re not in use. There’s no reason to weigh yourself down!

The climbing zone and sole of the shoe

In order for you to be able to cope with short climbing sections, you need a capable approach shoe, and that’s where the climbing zone comes in. This is a treadless or flat area at the front of the approach shoe for edging on more difficult terrain. Yet another advantage approach shoes have over ‘normal’ walking shoes.

Now, let’s move on to the most important part of an approach shoe: the sole! The approach to the crag is no walk in the park. You usually have to traverse rough, sloping terrain and/or walking paths and asphalt. In the best-case scenario, your shoe will have a sole capable of dealing with both harsh conditions as well as paved sections. A sole that offers the same grip on slick, wet and dry surfaces. The perfect combination of flexibility and stability.

Usually, approach shoes have a sole made primarily of natural rubber like a Vibram sole. The tread shouldn’t be too deep, as that would impede the grip on the rock, but not non-existent either. As for cushioning, approach shoes are hardly cushioned – if at all – in the front. When it comes to the sole’s stiffness, it’s completely up to you.

The most important stuff at a glance

If you’ve managed to make it this far or are just skimming because you’re strapped for time, here’s a summary of the most important features:

Quality approach shoes are tough all-purpose shoes for various terrain. A robust and flexible upper is just as important as sufficient weather protection and breathability. A secure lacing system that extends down to the the toe provides a snug fit. A low weight is essential because you don’t want to have to carry around extra weight on your feet or your harness. A climbing zone at the front is never a bad idea, and the sole should offer a good combination of flexibility and stability. In sum, regardless of which model you end up buying, the most important thing is that it fits both your foot and your needs!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask our experts in customer service. They are available during the week from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at 03 33 33 67058 or via e-mail.

There’s a lot going on in the climbing and outdoor industry. New products are being invented, existing ones are being reworked and improved, and we, too, are learning more every day. And, of course, we would like to share this knowledge with our customers. That’s why we regularly revise the articles at base camp. So, don’t be surprised if a post changes a bit in the coming months. This article was last edited on 03/03/2016.

Packing list for hut-to-hut trips

Packing list for hut-to-hut trips

29. November 2017
Equipment, packing list

For a lot of fans of the great outdoors, it’s much more appealing to enjoy the outdoors during the day and have the luxury of returning to the shelter of a hut at night than to have to tough it out all by your lonesome on a long trekking tour. The advantage of a hut-to-hut trip is definitely how much weight you save as a result. You can just leave your food, tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat at home! Some huts even offer food and drinks as well!

We’re well aware that a lot of our fellow Alpine Trekkers are experienced travellers, but we thought we’d give all of the beginners out there some assistance as to what to pack when embarking on a hut-to-hut adventure.

Clothing

1. Layer (base layer):




2. Layer (insulation):

3. Layer (weather protection):





Food





Hygiene & Health








Gear









For the hut



If you still have room in your pack








Let’s just start off by saying that our packing list is merely a suggestion. If you’ve already gone on a hut trip before, not only do you know what you need and what you don’t, but you are fully aware of what you’re capable of carrying and what you can leave at home next time. The most important thing to consider is the duration of the trip. If you’ll be travelling for more than four days, we recommend taking spare clothing and travel detergent with you.

Of course, the region in which you plan on travelling plays a significant role as well, e.g. in Scandinavia or the Alps. When it comes to weight, the general rule of thumb is that your rucksack shouldn’t weigh more than 8kg without drinks for a multi-day trip, especially if your route has a lot of elevation gain.

Rucksacks with multiple compartments are incredibly helpful, but if you don’t have one, you can use lightweight stuff sacks to compensate for the lack of compartments. We recommend packing your belongings according to how you’ll need them over the course of the day. Keep your water bottle and food within reach, and if you think you might run into to bad weather, store your waterproof jacket and trousers in an easily accessible compartment.

When choosing clothing and gear, you need to keep your route in mind. Will you be crossing a glacier (gaiters, crampons, snow spikes, glacier glasses, etc.), will it be raining or will it be mostly dry? Do remember to take gloves with you for routes secured with steel cables, since they’re not fun to hold onto in cold and wet weather.

If you’ve never travelled in this way for multiple days at a time, you should practise beforehand to see how you get along with your kit. For in contrast to daytrips, any poor decisions you make can end up being a pretty big deal. You don’t want to have to call it quits because of some silly mistake!

A huge advantage of hut-to-hut trips is the food and drinks. Depending on the hut, you can stop for a bite to eat and a cold drink at an affordable price. That way, you won’t have to lug a whole bunch of extra weight with you for food. The only thing weighing you down will be the food you plan to eat over the course of the day.

So, that being said, have a fun trip!

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How polarised sunglasses work

How polarised sunglasses work

16. November 2017
Equipment

A polarising filter is something every photographer is familiar with. It increases contrast and decreases reflections. But, does the same go for polarised sunglasses? What is the purpose of polarised sunglasses and how do they work? And above all: do your sunglasses really need to be polarised?

The human eye is capable of adapting to changes in brightness to a certain extent. However, if it gets too bright, we need some sort of aid, and sunglasses do just that. In extreme conditions, such as during glacier crossings, we need glacier glasses of the highest category. These glasses hardly let any light through and provide the eye with the protection it needs.

Many of these glasses happen to be polarised as well. However, this doesn’t have as much to do with protecting the eyes as it does with safety during activities in the mountains. What polarised glasses do is, increase the contrast we perceive. If you’d like to find out more about how polarisation works, keep on reading!

What are we really talking about?

We’re talking about light. In physics, light is described as an electromagnetic wave. A wave is an oscillation in space. The plane on which the oscillation takes place is called the polarisation plane of the wave. Polarisation is thus a property of a wave and any wave for that matter, since every wave can be traced back to an oscillation. Light is therefore always polarised.

Scattering and reflection change the polarisation of light. Sunlight that reaches the Earth’s atmosphere is scattered by every molecule in the air and broken up and reflected in the tiniest of water droplets. And, the polarisation planes get mixed up in the process. The light on the ground is described as unpolarised. This is obviously not completely correct, since light is always polarised. However, the light on the ground has a non-uniform polarisation. And that’s what matters.

When light hits a surface, some of the light is reflected and some is absorbed. Take a body of water as an example. The light is reflected on the surface of the water, but some light penetrates into the water as well, which is something you’ll certainly be familiar with if you’ve ever been snorkelling or scuba diving. The same goes for a glacier or a window pane. Some of the light is reflected and some penetrates into the boundary.

What is reflected and what is absorbed depends in part on the polarisation of the light. The boundaries act kind of like a polarising filter because if a certain polarisation is preferentially absorbed, then certain polarisations are reflected as well. Thus, a “preselection” of sorts takes place.

Now let’s get back to our polarised glasses. Like the boundary surfaces mentioned above, polarised glasses are also polarising filters. They have a defined polarisation plane and only let light with the same polarisation plane through.

Think of it like this: If you throw a thin stick at a net consisting of only vertical lines, the stick will always fly straight through it, provided it is vertically aligned and you happen hit the gap between two lines dead-on. If the stick is horizontal or diagonal, it’ll simply get caught in the net.

The same is pretty much true when it comes to polarised light as well. When light reaches your sunglasses, it will only be able to pass through if it has the same direction of polarisation as the glasses themselves. Of course, this comparison is only partly true. For light with a different polarisation plane won’t be completely blocked but reduced down to the bit that does have the same polarisation as the glasses. This is due to the simple fact that we’re talking about electromagnetic waves and not a stick. After all, you don’t want me to bust out a bunch complex formulas, do you?

So, instead of throwing sticks at nets, let’s find a wall with a slit in it to throw our sticks at. Once you’ve found one (I’m kidding), throw the stick at the slit. If you hit the target, the stick will pass right through. If the stick hits the slit at an angle, the part that touches the wall will be cut off whilst the part that hits the slit will still be able to go through. Just as the stick ultimately decreases in size, so too does the light that hits our sunglasses decrease in intensity.

What do polarised glasses do?

For a start, they reduce the intensity of the light that reaches your sunglasses. In other words, they make things darker. However, this effect is less significant than you would think because our perception of brightness is not linear. Simply put, when the amount of light that reaches our eyes is cut in half, we don’t perceive it as being half as bright. This is due to the composition of the human eye. Our eyes can perceive differences in brightness much better in the dark than they can in bright light. But that’s a different topic altogether. Even though most of us only wear sunglasses when it’s really bright out, the dimming effect is not the sole effect of polarised glasses.

Much more important for us outdoorsy folk is the ability of polarised sunglasses to help us better perceive contrasts. To illustrate this fact, imagine you’re doing a glacier walk. Here the sun is shining brightly, right in your eyes. But the sun doesn’t stop there: The sunlight hits the ground and is reflected off the surface as well. As was already mentioned, the amount of reflected light depends on both the polarisation of the light as well as the the makeup of ground itself (rock absorbs more light than snow and is thus darker) and the angle of incidence.

The opposite is also true. The intensity and polarisation of the reflected light depends on the surface and the angle of the reflection of the light.

For example, if there is a step covered by snow on the ground right in front of you, the light reflected by that plane has a different polarisation than the light reflected by a slope. These different polarisations are then filtered by the glasses to varying degrees with the result that you perceive these zones with varying degrees of brightness. The step is thus seen more clearly with polarised sunglasses than with a unpolarised pair of glasses, as the latter only makes things darker. That’s not to say that you wouldn’t see the step with unpolarised sunglasses. It’s just that the amount of light that is not let through is the same for all zones. Polarised sunglasses reduce the intensity of light differently depending on the angle of incidence.

Areas of use

Polarised sunglasses make a major difference on water. They filter the light that is reflected off the surface of the water differently, resulting in us perceiving waves more clearly. Thus, polarised sunglasses are beneficial in places where reflections need to be perceived differently. In other words, they’re perfect for bodies of water and the mountains. Whether or not you really need polarised glasses is obviously up to you. But, since they allow you to better identify the makeup of the surface you’re walking on, they will increase your safety, especially in the mountains. Glacier glasses should definitely be polarised, though!

Here’s a concluding remark on the perception of polarised light in general: The human eye is not capable of identifying the state of polarisation of light. The only exception is the phenomenon of Haidinger’s brush where many people can see a visual pattern in light after looking at completely polarised light for a longer period of time and then looking at a surface that is as neutral as possible.

It’s a completely different story when it comes to insects. Karl von Frisch discovered that honey bees are able to detect polarisation patterns and orient themselves using this ability along with the position of the sun. Cool, right?

About the author

Johannes is 24 years old and enjoys cycling in remote regions of the world. Three years ago, he completely fell in love with photography and began studying the topic and documenting his trips in the process. After 5 years of studying physics, he is quite familiar with most of the phenomena associated with light.

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How self-inflating sleeping mats work

How self-inflating sleeping mats work

7. November 2017
Equipment

There’s no way around it: a self-inflating sleeping mat is an absolute must on every expedition or trip in the mountains. Not only are self-inflating mats very packable, but they’re extremely comfortable as well. In contrast to a normal sleeping mat, self-inflating ones weigh only slightly more. Plus, they have a bit more to offer than their non-inflating counterparts.

But, how do self-inflating sleeping mats work? What kind of models are there? And finally, what should you keep in mind when caring for and repairing them? In the following, we’re going to answer these questions so that you can find the right mat for you!

How self-inflating sleeping mats work

Although the term self-inflating sleeping mat may sound somewhat complicated, their basic function is quite simple. On the inside of the mat, there is a special kind of PU foam. This foam has open cells. When rolled up, the foam is extremely compressed. Once you roll it back out, the foam expands. When you open the valve, the sleeping mat literally self-inflates because of the vacuum created by it having been compressed. Air is sucked in from the outside into the pores of the foam. Of course, after the mat is completely inflated, the valve should be closed to prevent any air escaping when you lie down on it.

How to regulate the amount of air in your mat

Since some people like their mattresses firm and others soft, you can regulate the firmness and thickness of a self-inflating sleeping mat. As ground conditions can vary, this option is a very useful one to have. In order to get more air into the sleeping mat, all you have to do is blow air through the valve or through a mouthpiece. However, when inflating a mat with your mouth, keep in mind that the air you breathe into the mat can lead to a build-up of moisture and bacteria, which can eventually end up ruining the mat. This is due to the fact that mildew can form on the interior, which can have a negative impact on the foam and the insulating properties. But, mildew is not the only downside. The moisture can also end up freezing in low temperatures, thereby reducing the insulation capacity of the mat. And, believe me, that’s no good.

If you have a mat with foam and down insulation, such as those from Exped, you should make sure that no moisture gets in the mat at all, since it would cause the down to stick together and lose its insulating properties.

If all that sound pretty terrifying and you’d like to keep moisture out of your mat, there are various ways to inflate them without using your mouth. For example, there are integrated pump systems or those involving the use of the mat’s stuff sack as a bellows. The systems vary from brand to brand.

If you like your mat softer, all you have to do is let as much air out through the valve as you want.

How to store your sleeping mat when not in use

When you wake up – hopefully after a good night’s sleep – you’ll usually want to get things going as quickly as possible. To pack your sleeping mat down as small as you can, you’ll have to let all the air out. You can do this just as you would with an air mattress. Just fold the sleeping mat two to three times and then open the valve. As a result of the pressure applied to the mat by your folding it, air will be released through the valve. After doing this, close the valve and roll the sleeping mat up, starting at the foot of the mat. This will cause the rest of the air that is left in the mat to accumulate at the top. When you open the valve again, this air will be able to escape as well. When all the air’s out and the valve is closed, you can store the mat for transport. Oh, and it’s best to keep the mat rolled up during transport. When transporting or carrying the bag, you should definitely use the stuff sack to provide it with enough protection as well.

Self-inflating sleeping mats in different thicknesses

As you can imagine, the thickness of a sleeping mat can have a major impact of the its overall comfort. Mats usually have a thickness of anywhere from 3cm to 10cm. Mats with a thickness of 3cm are really only suitable for shorter trips, as they offer little in terms of comfort. What they lack in comfort, though, they make up for in their extremely small pack size! Much more comfortable are mats with a thickness of 4-6cm. When combined with a high-quality sleeping bag, a mat like this can give you all the comfort you need for a good night’s sleep! Even more comfortable, however, are sleeping mats with a thickness of 10cm or more. The obvious downside to these mats is their much larger pack size.

How to clean and repair your sleeping mat yourself

Since sleeping mats are used exclusively on hard and rough surfaces, it’s not at all rare for them to get torn or scratched up. Even if your mat’s been reinforced and you’re super careful, there’s really no way around this. It’s annoying, I know, but fortunately these minor battle wounds are easy to patch up yourself. Most sleeping mats come with a special repair kit you can use when you find a tear in your mat. The kits usually consist of patches for the top and bottom as well as a special adhesive to secure the patch to the material. That way, you can seal up holes and tears in the mat’s material with a few easy steps and go along your way without missing a beat!

Cleaning a sleeping mat is just as easy. Since sleeping mats are used exclusively outdoors, cleaning your mat regularly is a must, especially if you want it to last. To do so, all you have to do is wipe your mat with a cloth and a mild household cleaning agent, but make sure to do so when the mat is inflated and the valve is closed. Then rinse off the residue thoroughly. To prevent the growth of mildew, be sure to let the mat dry completely before deflating it and rolling it back up. If you follow these simple directions, you’ll be able to enjoy the comfort of your self-inflating sleeping mat for a long time to come!

If you have any questions about self-inflating sleeping mats, feel free to ask our experts in customer service. They are available during the week from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at 03 33 33 67058 or via e-mail.

Walking day trip checklist

Walking day trip checklist

3. November 2017
Equipment, packing list

So, what do we mean by day trip? Well, a day trip basically means that you don’t have to take all your gear with you, but rather just enough to get through the day until you make it back to where you started. The most important thing is to take enough gear with you for the day (without an overnight stay). Here it is, our walking checklist:

Clothing







This is what you need













Optional (depending on the trip and time of year)











If you still have room in your pack









The biggest advantage of a day trip? If you forget something on your list, you only have to go a single day without it! Nonetheless, there are a few essentials that you absolutely must take along on your trip. All other items fall under the category of “personal preference” or “weird habits” :-).

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