How to Take Care of Your Sleeping Bag

How to Take Care of Your Sleeping Bag

19. September 2017
Care tips

There are some products that you can’t just buy on a whim. They’re either too expensive or so complex that you have to do all sorts of research before determining which one is right for you. When it comes to sleeping bags, both apply: Not only can they be unbelievably expensive, but there is quite a bit you need to take into consideration before buying one. After all, you want it to last, right? Right.

But how? Well, you’ve come to the right place! In the following, we’re going to tell you how you can get the most out of your sleeping bag.

First, it is important to know what kind of sleeping bag you have. There are two basic types: Down and synthetic sleeping bags. Both have their advantages and disadvantages in terms of functionality and care, but each works in the same way: They trap your body heat, thereby keeping you warm.

Storage

The most important rule of all: Do not store your sleeping bag compressed. That way, you won’t reduce the bag’s loft, and the bag will be able to return to its lofty self when in use. This applies to down sleeping bags in particular.

A sleeping bag usually has two sacks to its name: a storage sack and a stuff sack. The storage sack is larger and made of mesh, cotton or a different lightweight, breathable fabric. This is the size your sleeping bag can be packed down to. The great thing about storage bags is that they double as transport bags if you’ve got a vehicle and aren’t not worried taking up extra space. The stuff sack or compression sack, on the other hand, is much smaller, constructed from a durable material and often has external compression straps to compress the sleeping bag down even more. As long as the bag isn’t kept this way for long periods of time, it won’t have a negative effect on the insulation.

A tip from a professional

Hang your sleeping bag up in a dry place by the loops at the bottom end. Do not expose it to direct sunlight. That way, you won’t compress the insulation at all when the sleeping bag is not in use, guaranteeing a long lifespan! If you don’t have a lot of space to work with, store your sleeping bag under your bed. It will stay lofted and won’t get in your way.

Proper use

Try to keep your sleeping bag clean and protect it from wear and tear. Presumably, you’ll be using your bag in your tent for the most part, so that bit shouldn’t be a problem. Make sure to keep your dirty boots away from it and never step on it with shoes on.

If your sleeping bag happens to get wet (regardless of the source), be sure to dry it thoroughly. Otherwise, it could develop a funky smell, and nobody wants that!

Again: try not to expose your sleeping bag to direct sunlight because the UV rays could damage the material. Yeah, but sometimes, laying it out in the snow is the only way, especially if you’re camping in the snow! We get that, but don’t make a habit of it! Don’t compress the bag when it’s wet. This is particularly important for down sleeping bags because compressed wet down can’t loft out until it’s dry.

How to wash your sleeping bag

Let’s face it: Your bag is going to get dirty, regardless of the pains you take to keep it clean. After all, what do you expect after a long day of walking? It’s going to get dirty, stink and eventually need to be washed. As down and synthetic sleeping bags aren’t washed in the same way, this is where it really does matter what kind of bag you have.

For down sleeping bags, you’ll need a special down wash, such as Nikwax Down Wash. Down has a special natural oil coating for protection and allows it to loft out in order to trap air. If the down gets dirty, it loses its ability to fully loft. When that happens, your sleeping bag will lose the warmth you need for a good night’s sleep! Using special down wash is crucial, for even though normal detergent will get your sleeping bag clean, it will strip the down of its oils in the process, causing it to get dirtier more quickly and to lose its ability to loft as it did before. Down wash helps the down maintain these oils as well as its insulation properties. If you’d like to more about how to wash down, you’ll find a detailed guide here.

For synthetic bags, it’s best to use Nikwax base wash, which is made for cleaning synthetic fabric. It will clean both the inside and the outside of your bag, whilst simultaneously increasing its lifespan.

Repairs

So, you’ve got a hole in your sleeping bag? Fortunately, there are several different options to rectify such problems. One such solution is using Renovative Self-Adhesive Tape from Sir Joseph. This tape adheres well to nylon and is so flexible that you won’t have to worry about ruining it after pulling it in and out of your stuff sack.

Duct tape is always a good quick fix, but it won’t stand the test of time. Because it loses its stickiness over time, you’ll need to keep replacing it, which in turn can result your inadvertently enlarging the hole every time you stuff it in or pull it out of your stuff sack.

The best – and, unfortunately, most expensive – thing you can do is send it back to the manufacturer for professional repair. They’ll charge you for it, but it’ll be worth your while. If you buy a high-quality sleeping bag and take care of it, it will last for years!

This article was not written by your friends at Alpinetrek. The original was written by Matt Park for our partners at Backcountry.

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.

My favourite bouldering spot: Petrohrad

My favourite bouldering spot: Petrohrad

12. September 2017
The Bergfreunde

Far removed from the city of Prague, you’ll find a stunning area of rolling hills full of the finest granite boulders you’ll ever set eyes on. It’s called Petrohrad, a place one of our customer services reps Daniel has declared his favourite bouldering spot.

In other words, I guess it’s safe to assume it has quite a bit going for it. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have made such a bold declaration.

The simple fact that you’re basically free to climb to your heart’s content, even in nice weather, is reason enough to go, wouldn’t you say?

Petrohradske´ – Petro what?

Not as well known as Fontainebleau, Zillertal or Ticino, but not at all less appealing, the Czech bouldering paradise, Petrohrad, is somewhat hidden. The village to which the area owes its name is located about 71 kilometres or 44 miles west of Prague, so if you happen to be in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit! In Petrohrad, you’ll find 3000 boulder problems of varying difficulty levels and rock of excellent quality.

Where to stay

In the nearby village of Jesenice, you’ll find a renovated and affordable campsite. Here, you’ll even find a bouldering guidebook you can buy! If you’d rather go without a tent or camper, you can even rent a small bungalow.

There is only one restaurant in the area and is just a few minutes’ walking distance from the campsite. Here you can try some Bohemian food, and it’s a great place to go if you want to end the day with a nice, cold beer. There’s a small supermarket as well. But, make sure to withdraw some money before you go to Petrohrad. The next ATM is about an hour drive from there.

How to get there

If you’re planning on driving to Petrohrad, we recommend getting a map and not watching any horror movies before you take off.

Why? Well, to get to the sector called Hrbi-tovní Kameny, for example, you have to follow the following directions: “Drive past the psychiatric clinic towards the cemetery, park and walk along the wall of the cemetery into the forest.” So many things go through your mind when you hear a sentence like that, but as soon as you see the first boulders, those awful thoughts are long gone.

All of the boulders are granite of the most exceptional quality. The friction is fantastic and most of the holds still have sharper edges and pretty grippy. Even in warmer temperatures, you won’t feel like your climbing shoes are slipping. The boulders are marked with white arrows indicating the height and position of the start. The boulders are composed of sharp, slopy and crimpy granite.

You’ll have to go without big overhangs, though. In addition to the countless number of blocks, there are also a some climbing rock with some protection. But, these are quite old and are largely neglected.

The rock in and around Petrohrad has a lot of potential for even more development as well. If you look around, you’ll discover even more gems hidden under moss and grass that are just dying to be cleaned and climbed! However, there’s really no need to search high and low for new lines and problems. The ones already there will meet you’re every desire. There are challenging lines and problems for climbers of all levels, but some of the classic hard problems would be Karma 7C or Amulet 8A, just to name a couple.

A hidden gem

For me, Petrohrad is still somewhat of a hidden gem when it comes to bouldering locations. Even on more beautiful days and weekends, it’s not unlikely that you’ll find a spot you can climb all by yourself. Since the rock is fairly sharp-edged and rough, the skin on your fingers will definitely feel it after a while, though, so it’d be a good idea to plan a day off. And, use it wisely! There are so many things to see in the vicinity. For example, you could take a trip to Prague or Pilsen, see the nearby castle or clear boulders of moss! I promise: you’ll never get bored.

And, if you happen to be close by, it’s worth going to Saxon or Bohemian Switzerland for a (climbing) trip as well. Just thought I’d mention that. Anyway, grab your brush, chalk and crash pad and head out!

Everything you ever wanted to know about Pertex fabrics

Everything you ever wanted to know about Pertex fabrics

7. September 2017
Equipment

The 1970s were a decade in which a wide variety of new fabrics became available on the market, leading manufacturers in the outdoor industry to jettison those more traditional fabrics, such as cotton and wool, in favour of these new, more advanced materials. These functional fabrics had a clear advantage over traditional fabrics: they have a much smaller pack size and were significantly lighter as well. One of these functional fabrics was Pertex.

Ever heard of it? If not, you’re in luck. In the following, we’re going to talk a bit about Pertex, including everything from its origin to variations and the properties thereof to its area of use.

Pertex is the result of a collaboration between Hanish Hamilton, a British mountaineer and Perseverance Mills, a company that had specialised in the manufacture of nylon fabrics for parachutes. With Pertex, these two managed to create a lightweight and tear-resistant fabric that is moisture-wicking to boot. And so the Pertex we know today was born. And this material has remained an integral part of the outdoor industry ever since. Of course, there have been further developments to the fabric over the years, resulting in new fabric variations that are extremely lightweight and highly breathable. Now, there is a family of Pertex fabrics on the market, the members of which are used in all sorts of different areas.

Sleeping bags and insulated clothing

The original Pertex fabric is still available today – with slight changes – as Pertex Classic. Not only is this fabric lightweight but it is very durable as well. As a result of its special composition, the material also happens to be windproof, water repellent and extremely breathable. Thanks to these key features, Pertex Classic is often used as the outer shell for down and synthetic jackets as well as sleeping bags. Plus, it’s very well suited for lightweight windproof jackets as well.

Pertex Microlight boasts properties very similar to that of Pertex Classic, but it is much lighter. This material comes with a DWR coating and thus offers more weather protection than Pertex Classic. Plus, this fabric is extremely downproof. As a result of the softness of the material and reduced weight, down and synthetic insulation can fully loft.

One of the lightest, but still strong and durable fabrics is Pertex Quantum. Like Pertex Classic, this fabric is also perfectly suited for down and synthetic jackets as well as sleeping bags. The incredible thing is that Quantum is significantly lighter than Microlight but still manages to be strong and durable. The lightest option is Quantum GL. This material boasts the best strength-to-weight ratio and is thus primarily used in for ultra-light activities.

If you plan on travelling with a sleeping bag or down jacket in regions where the annual rainfall and humidity are high, the insulation therein needs much more protection. This is where Pertex Endurance comes in. This water-resistant and high-performance water-repellent nylon laminate provides excellent protection from moisture for sleeping bags and jackets alike. Plus, the material has excellent breathability and heat retention. Manufacturers like Montane or Exped use this material for things like high-quality and weatherproof down sleeping bags. Of course, Endurance is used in down jackets and all sorts of insulated clothing as well.

Softshells

Pertex has a fabric designed to be used for softshells as well. This fabric is called Pertex Equilibrium. One of the key features of this fabric is the duplex weave construction, which not only provides excellent weather protection but also is highly breathable as well. The tough outer fabric also features a DWR finish, which works together with the double weave to keep light rains and wind at bay. Plus, due to the more open weave on the inside, moisture can be moved away from your body more quickly to ensure comfort on the interior. This fabric also boasts a great weight-to-performance ratio and is best suited for light softshells with maximum performance and a high level of comfort.

Hardshells

Inherent to all hardshells is the ability to shield you from snow, rain and wind. And of course, they should be breathable as well. After all, what difference does it make if you get wet from the outside (from rain or snow) or from the inside (due to sweat)? This is where Pertex Shield comes in. As all Pertex fabrics, Pertex Shield is extremely breathable. However, what’s different about Perxtex Shield is the fact that it has a membrane, which works together with a DWR finish to provide reliable weather protection.

The clever thing about this is that the combination of a highly technical outer fabric and a microporous coating ultimately led to the development of a strong and functional fabric. But the fun doesn’t stop there. With the fabric Pertex Shield+, Pertex took it one step further. Not only is this fabric lighter than the original Shield version, but it also has a PU membrane, which serves to provide a very high level of breathability that increases the harder you work. As a result of this dynamic breathability, this fabric is primarily used for lightweight and waterproof clothing.

I know it’s hard to believe, but Pertex Shield AP takes the breathability thing to a whole new level. This material is exceptionally strong and combines maximal weather protection with optimal breathability. This is due to the special constitution of the membrane. It has a microporous structure, which allows water vapour to escape but does not allow moisture to get in. In addition, the fabric is also very tough and durable. Thus, it is best suited for long periods of use in extreme conditions, all the while ensuring reliable protection over the course of the garment’s entire lifetime.

Conclusion

Pertex is not just one fabric. It’s an entire family of fabrics, the individual members of which are used in a wide array of areas, ranging from down sleeping bags to hardshell trousers. In addition to the plethora of other characteristics of the individual fabrics, their key features include a high level of breathability and light weight.

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.

Gore Windstopper: Your bulwark against wind

Gore Windstopper: Your bulwark against wind

29. August 2017
Equipment

An icy wind’s a-blowing over the piste, and the snow is being whipped over the mountains like a sandstorm. You’re shaking in your boots at the mere sight of it, knowing full well that you’ll have to leave the toasty warmth of ski lift station and venture out into the storm. So, you zip up your ski jacket, put your hood over your helmet and head bravely toward the door…

If you’ve ever found yourself in this or a similar situation, I’m sure you were relieved you were sporting your trusty windproof clothing. And, in all likelihood, both your trousers and your jacket bore the distinctive red, octagonal Windstopper logo from the company W.L. Gore & Associates, who also happens to be responsible for those oh-so famous Gore-Tex laminates. But, the American company doesn’t just specialise in waterproof jackets – they’ve set all new standards in all things windproof gear as well.

Windstopper: completely windproof and very versatile

Similar to their big waterproof brothers, the Gore Windstopper laminates consist of three layers as well. The core thereof is the ePTFE membrane (expanded polytetrafluoroethylene), which has numerous pores: around 1.4 billion pores per square centimetre, to be precise. These are so small that they are impenetrable to wind and liquid water, but still allow water vapour molecules to pass through. The fabric is completely windproof, water resistant and breathable. Perspiration can escape easily through the breathable membrane. Pretty cool, right?

So, it will come as no surprise that this advanced membrane makes up the core of various laminates:

  • Windstopper Active Shell is particularly lightweight, space-saving, completely windproof and very breathable. Thus, it is ideal for highly aerobic activities, such as trail running, running or cycling.
  • Windstopper Soft Shell products are those that offer a balanced combination of windproof protection, breathability and flexibility to conform to your movements. Products with this laminate are perfect for just about every physical activity.
  • Windstopper Technical Fleece combines the advantages of a windproof membrane with those of fleece. It won’t let any air pass through and simultaneously provides warmth and breathability. This is effective as a mid-layer or outer layer.
  • Windstopper Insulated Shell, unlike other laminates, consists of not three but four layers. The additional layer provides lightweight, breathable synthetic insulation and is thus the warmest in the Windstopper family. All while retaining its breathable and windproof properties! This is used in functional jackets like the Vanguard Jacket from Mountain Equipment.

The commonality among all laminates is that they get water-repellent properties from the membrane. Plus, a DWR treatment provides the additional protection of water repellency as well. This coating must be renewed after multiple washes. You can read about how that works and why it’s important here.

As a result of their versatility, Windstopper laminates are found in just about every kind of outdoor clothing. They’re especially popular among fans of ski touring because it not only provides protection from the cold, but offers mobility, can withstand snow and is breathable as well. It’s also used for base layers, such as the Craft Active Extreme WS Shirt, which was designed primarily for cyclists who often have to battle strong headwinds.

Defy the wind chill factor

Windproof active wear is an absolute must. After all, it will protect you from the wind’s chilling effect! The wind-chill is the difference between the perceived and actual temperature depending on the speed of the wind. In other words, the stronger the wind blows, the colder it’ll feel. It sounds fairly harmless in theory, but it can become a huge problem in practise, especially if you don’t have the proper windproof clothing. Even with the slightest decrease in body temperature resulting from wind-chill, you may experience reduced blood flow to your extremities and your circulation may become unstable, resulting in numbness and shivering. But, if you don’t give the wind a chance to get between you and your clothing in the first place, it won’t be able to take all that precious heat away from you!

Windproof clothing also plays a crucial role in layering and should not be underestimated. Even though waterproof jackets are always windproof as well, they pale in comparison to Windstopper clothing in terms of their breathability. For this reason, you should really make sure you have a long, hard think about whether you’d rather opt for a lighter, but windproof jacket on your next adventure in the mountains.

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.

A buyer's guide to bike lights

A buyer’s guide to bike lights

28. August 2017
Buyer's guide

As nice as it is to cycle by day beneath a brightly shining sun, it’s really nothing more than a pipe dream, especially in Britain. British cyclists are all too often forced to ride in foggy and rainy conditions, and if you’re a cycle commuter, you most certainly have to ride at night, so dealing with poor visibility is the order of the day for majority of you.

With that in mind, it is incredibly important to have the best bike lights. And, since there are so many to choose from, we thought it’d be helpful to break down the rules and regulations as well as the most essential features for you.

The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations (RVLR)

According to the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations (RVLR), every bike must have 1) a white light showing from the front, 2) a red light showing from the rear as well as 3) reflectors, a white one in the front and a red one in the rear. Other reflectors not required by the RVLR include the yellow or white reflectors on the sides of the wheels. It’s a good idea to keep these on, though, as they make your bike more visible at night. That’s something we like to forget: bike lights are not just there to enable us to see where we’re going but also makes us visible to other road users.

Simply put: your bike needs lights. That’s all well and good, but what kind of lights? Well, first of all, you need to know what kind of bike you ride. Fortunately, most city and trekking bikes often come with hub dynamos and lights already built in. Road bikes and mountain bikes, however, usually require action on your part.

So, the question is: what kind of light would you rather go with?

Hub dynamos or battery-powered lights?

Let’s keep this simple: If you have a bike with a dynamo, then you should use it to power your light. After all, a good hub dynamo is low maintenance and smooth-running. Whenever you need the light, all you have to do is switch it on. When you don’t, it’ll be there for when you do. You won’t even notice it. Hub dynamos seem to be the most widespread type of dynamos now, but spoke dynamos and bottle (or sidewall) dynamos can be used as well.

If your bike doesn’t have a dynamo and you’d prefer not to have one for whatever reason, your only other option is to use a battery-powered light. The advantage here is that they are relatively inexpensive and easy to mount on your bike. The disadvantage is, of course, that you’ll always have to make sure that the batteries are charged enough for you to arrive at your destination safely. So, you may be forced to take a replacement battery with you, which can be a bugger.

Regardless of whether you opt for battery-powered lights or hub dynamos, there are several factors you need to consider. So, on with the buyer’s guide!

Light output – the more the better?

The most fundamental characteristic of a light is certainly how bright it is.

Many manufacturers use lux to indicate the light intensity level. The normal amount seems to be around 40 to 80 lux. Of course, not all lights have the same output. There are lights out there that throw out significantly more or less lux (e.g., the Lupine Betty R with 4500 lumens, which at a distance of 5 metres and a beam angle of 35° is equal to 495 lux).

Despite the high output some lights have, it’s important to know that some lights may not permitted for use on the roads, as they can dazzle other road users. When flying downhill, brighter lights are an absolute must, though.

However, even the brightest light can be pretty useless if the light is not distributed accordingly. There are lights that have a wide beam, lighting up the area directly in front of the bike, and those that cast beams on objects that are further away. Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t provide any information on this, as it is very difficult to measure. However, there are several articles online that compare and contrast different models. Plus, there are all sorts of photos and videos on lights that provide insight into almost every bike light on the market.

But, before you start comparing each and every light out there, allow us to give you a couple more pointers to make your search easier!

Stand-light

Battery-powered lights only last until you shut them off or the battery dies. If you power your light with a dynamo, your light will shut itself off once the bike has stopped moving. This can obviously cause some problems in traffic. After all, it’s not all that uncommon to have to stop at a red light! One such problem is the fact that once the light’s off, you’re practically invisible to other road users. But, worry not! Manufacturers have heard our cries and developed something called a stand-light. This is a built-in capacitor that continues to power your light once the dynamo stops doing so. Thus, your light will stay on for a brief period of time, even once you stop moving! Pretty nifty, is it not? However, this capacitor usually only powers one LED, but that’s enough to remain visible to others in traffic.

So, when perusing bike lights, be sure to buy one with a stand-light feature.

Mounts

Battery-powered lights can be attached to your bike by way of a mount. The mount should be as stable as possible because if it’s wobbly, the light may shift or fall off the bike completely as a result of the slightest bump, jerk, etc. You wouldn’t want to have to readjust your light every time you ride over a kerb, right? A good company to go with is Busch & Müller, who is known for manufacturing very durable and stable mounts and lights.

USB port

As mentioned before, a hub dynamo generates power as soon as it moves. During the day, the light is usually off, so any power generated by the dynamo simply goes unused. What a waste! Fortunately, there are manufacturers out there who install little devices in their lamps that make this power useable. For example, Busch & Müller have designed the Lumotech IQ2 Luxos, which comes equipped with a built-in USB port you can use for your smartphone, GPS device, MP3 player or other compatible electronic devices. Of course, the charging power yielded by these devices pales in comparison to what you would get at home, but at least the power doesn’t go completely unused.

Note: If you’d like to use your dynamo primarily for generating electricity, we recommend using devices specifically designed for this purpose, such as the Busch & Müller E-Werk along with a backup battery.

A bike light’s most important feature

Just because a light can be mounted on your bike doesn’t mean that it complies with UK standards. The good thing is that, in most cases, you can safely assume that any bike lights you buy from a reputable dealer inside the UK do comply with the standards put forward by the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations.

Conclusion

There is a wide variety of lights for bikes, which can make the search quite daunting, but don’t let that get you down! Since bike lights are usually tailored to a specific discipline, such as mountain biking or road cycling, you can filter out the ones you have no use for fairly easily. Also: remember the brightness of a light’s beam isn’t as important as you may think; it’s much more important to have a good distribution of light than an extremely bright beam.

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.

Repairing your fleece

Repairing your fleece

22. August 2017
Care tips

We outdoorsy folk tend to get a lot of use out of our fleece garments, so it goes without saying that they’re subjected to quite a bit of wear and tear. Regardless of whether your favourite fleece has burn holes in it from those nights by the campfire or is just beginning show signs after years of wear, worry not. There’s plenty of life in it yet! In the following, I’m going to give you a few tips on how to make minor repairs to your fleece and broken zips. Plus, as a little extra, I’ll let you in on a secret of how to make your garment look as good as the day you bought it, even after years of use! So, keep reading – it’s worth it!

So, you have a burn hole in your fleece – what now?

It happens so fast, doesn’t it? There you are sitting by the campfire, and all of the sudden sparks fly your way and burn your fleece or your mate accidently burns a hole in your jacket with his cigarette. We’ve all been there. Unfortunately, warm and cuddly fleece fabric is usually made of a type of polyester, so it is particularly sensitive when it comes to burns. The worse thing about burn holes is not that they look bad (because they do) – but depending on the size, they can also have very negative effects on the functionality of the garment and even expand with time, making everything worse. What to do, what to do.

Luckily, smaller holes can be closed back up by using fabric glue. But, before doing so, be sure to remove any singed fibres with a pair of scissors. Then, turn the garment inside out and glue the hole shut. Let it dry and, hopefully, you won’t be able to see the burn hole anymore. In an emergency, you can also use a less aggressive kind of superglue. The important thing here is to make sure the glue doesn’t contain any solvents, which could damage the synthetic fibres or elastane – if there is any – in the fabric.

Unfortunately, if you’re dealing with bigger holes, this method won’t work. So, try to remember any handyman skills you’ve acquired over the years and darn that darn hole. You can do this more or less professionally, depending on how motivated you are. If you want it done right, you’ll need a needle, a darning mushroom and darning yarn in the appropriate colour. A darning mushroom? Yes, indeed! It’s just a tool shaped like a mushroom that keeps the hole open so that you can mend it. Since a darning mushroom is not something you’ll find in everyone’s household, you can use a coffee cup, an empty yoghurt cup or a can of ravioli instead. The important thing is that the substitute for your darning mushroom have a slightly curved surface. Lay the part of fleece you need to mend over your darning device so as to keep the hole open. And, get to work! Darning a hole means to weave thread or yarn across the hole. And, if you want to do it correctly, you need time. Weave your needle in a straight line in and out of the fabric. After your first pass, turn the needle in the other direction and repeat next to the first line you did. After you’ve covered the hole with stitches in one direction, you have to weave through these to form a net. The more precise you work, the better the result will be! Because a darning session can take up your entire evening, I recommend pouring yourself a glass of wine and watching something on Netflix.

For larger holes, the only thing you can do is use those good ol’ fabric repair patches. These are available in sewn-on or iron-on versions. But, be careful if you opt for the latter. As we’ve already established, fleece is relatively sensitive to heat, so there are a few things you should keep in mind. If you use iron-on patches, be sure to set the iron to the lowest setting and don’t let the iron come in direct contact with the fleece. Put a cotton cloth between the patch and the iron instead. Do not apply too much pressure, as you could damage the pile. If you have a functional fleece garment, such as Windstopper fleece, there are special patches you can use. By the way, the patching method can be used for other kinds of holes as well. It’s not just for burn holes.

What to do when a zip quits on you

When a zip calls it quits, refuses to close or keeps getting stuck, you may feel it’s time to stop using the garment altogether. After all, what do you want with a jacket that won’t close? Fortunately, there are a couple of things you can do to fix it, so don’t toss it yet!

If the zip is stuck, the culprit is usually a bit of fabric or lint caught in the zip. If that’s the case, try to pluck it out and tug down on the zip in one fell swoop. Sometimes a pencil can help, too. Yeah, that’s right! A pencil! Graphite acts as a kind of lubricant, so it should get your zip unstuck. Start by rubbing a sharpened pencil tip up and down the teeth of the zip. This should remove any dirt or whatever else is caught in there and allow the zip to slide over the teeth more smoothly.

Another reason for a defective zip could be that the teeth will no longer close. To test this, zip your jacket open and closed and see where the teeth no longer come together. If one or several teeth are bent, you can try gently bending them back into place with a pair of small pliers . The slider can also be the culprit. With time, the slider, which is supposed to form the connection between the teeth, can get bent as well. This will prevent the zip from closing properly. A pair of pliers can help here, too: Squeeze the slider together, see how it closes and repeat, if necessary. If the slider is broken and has to be replaced or individual teeth are missing, the whole thing gets a lot more complicated. The best thing to do in such situations is to consult an expert, such as a cobbler or tailor. They’ll fix the zip for you for very little money and can even replace it, if necessary.

Whip your fleece back into shape

Pilling or little balls of lint can build up on the surface of your fleece over time, which will not only make it look rather ugly and old, but it will feel that way as well. That soft, fluffy fleece you once knew will be long gone before you know it. True, pilling can be prevented if you carefully wash your garment, but sooner or later almost every fleece will fall victim to pilling. Fortunately, once your fleece does begin to pill, there are ways to remove the irritating little fuzz balls.

One thing you can do is use a lint remover or a lint brush on the garment. This will help to loosen up the knots and remove any dust or little hairs from the fabric. Another way of going about this is to use a fabric shaver. Available at just about any fabric or department store, these work much in the same way as electric razors, cutting off those pesky fuzz balls whilst not causing any damage to the surface of the fabric.

Not bad, right? Once you’ve patched up those burn holes, bent your zip back into place, removed pilling and replaced any missing buttons, your fleece jacket or jumper will look (almost) brand new!

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.

Care tips for clothing with a Sympatex membrane

Care tips for clothing with a Sympatex membrane

15. August 2017
Care tips

If you’re planning on staying indoors today because dark grey skies and continuous rain are dominating the weather where you are, I beg you to reconsider. Instead of mulling over the adventures that could have been, grab yourself a jacket with a Sympatex membrane, head outdoors and make them a reality! After all, Sympatex membranes thrive in bad weather! Of course, you’re probably wondering, “but what if it gets dirty in all that rain and mud?”

You wouldn’t believe it, but just toss it in the washing machine! Wait, won’t that ruin the membrane? Isn’t there a whole laundry list of dos and don’ts when it comes to washing jackets like this? Indeed there is. When it comes to outdoor clothing and membranes in particular, unanswered questions abound. But worry not! It’s a completely different story when it comes to Sympatex. In the following, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about caring for Sympatex membranes.

What is Sympatex and how does it work?

Let’s start with some theory. Anybody who has any interest in the great outdoors is bound to have heard of Sympatex at some point or another. But, what exactly this rather odd word refers to remains a mystery to many. So, let’s briefly describe what Sympatex is. Sympatex is a nonporous, waterproof and breathable membrane that is usually laminated onto the another fabric. Such textiles are absolutely windproof and waterproof, making them bulwarks against bad weather. Plus, they offer extremely good moisture transfer, are durable and, most importantly, easy to clean.

How does all this work? Well, the membrane has hydrophilic and hydrophobic components. Sounds complicated, I know, but it’s actually quite easy. Hydrophilic just means water-attracting or moisture-directing. This just means that such fabrics take sweat and release it to the outside where it can evaporate. In other words, the fabric breathes, hence the term breathability. The hydrophobic, water-avoiding components, on the other hand, prevent water, such as rain, from getting in from the outside.

Washing Sympatex clothing is easy

So far, so good, but what was that about Sympatex being easy to clean? You may not believe it, but it is! Since a Sympatex membrane is nonporous, there are no pores to be clogged. Neither sweat nor dirt nor detergent residue can negatively affect the performance of the membrane. This means that you can wash your Sympatex clothing in your washing machine without blinking an eye! All you have to do is follow some easy instructions and nothing will stop you washing your expensive jacket – on a gentle cycle mind you!

Gentle cycle is the key word here. Sympatex textiles should be washed on a gentle cycle at 40 °C. When doing so, be careful not to overload the washing machine. If you’re wondering about detergent, your standard mild detergent will do just fine. The important thing here is not to use brighteners or bleach. If you’d rather err on the side of caution, you can also opt for special detergent for functional clothing. In order to preserve the treatment, you should not use fabric softener, either. On some machines, you can select an additional rinse cycle. As nonporous membranes are not susceptible to detergent residue, an extra rinse won’t hurt. Excessive spinning could, however, damage the garment, so be sure to select a lower spin speed.

Dry cleaning, drying, ironing and reproofing

As I mentioned before, Sympatex is very easy to clean. So, does that mean you don’t need to dry clean it? Dry cleaning is possible but not at all necessary. You can just rely on your good old washing machine! How easy is that? In some cases, dry cleaning a garment can even damage it. So, if you think dry cleaning your clothing is necessary, do have a look at the care label beforehand!

The membrane is just as easy to dry as it is to wash. Just toss your jacket or trousers in the dryer have a cuppa while you wait! The only thing you need to remember is not to use excessive heat. The same thing goes for ironing. Less is more! Everything over 100°C is off limits! The good thing about the heat generated by the iron or the dryer is that it reactivates the water repellent as well.

Speaking of water repellency, if moisture no longer rolls off the surface of your garment and is being absorbed by the fabric instead, the DWR coating needs to be renewed. This can be achieved in one of two ways. Use either a wash-in product or a spray. As you can imagine, the wash-in method is extremely easy. All you have to do is pour the product in where you would usually pour the fabric softener and wash the garment according to the instructions. Sympatex HigH2Out textiles, however, don’t respond well to this method of reproofing. For these, it is extremely important to take a look at the care label before reproofing. The spray isn’t at all difficult to apply, either. Just spray it on your garment, let it dry and that’s it! However, do remember to apply the spray in well-ventilated rooms or, preferably, out in the open. And don’t inhale the fumes! After the wash-in or spray method, throw the garment in the dryer so that the water repellent can be activated and set in. That’s all folks!

If you’d like to know more about how outdoor garments are washed and proofed, you can find some more information in our care tips.

What about shoe care?

Shoes with Sympatex membranes also happen to be extremely easy to clean. As long as you follow these easy steps, you won’t need to worry about ruining your expensive brand-name shoes! To clean the shoes, all you need to do is use a brush and lukewarm water. For stubborn stains, there’s a bevy of special cleaning agents you can buy. Afterwards, air dry the shoes at room temperature. Then you can reproof them to restore water repellency. Before using any of the DWR sprays or care products, do make sure that the respective product is suitable for the shoe’s fabric. If you do, your leather shoes will stay in tiptop shape for a long time to come!

So, what are you waiting for? Start washing, proofing and drying your Sympatex gear! But, don’t forget to take them outdoors and really dirty them up first!

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 wash and care for your synthetic insulated jacket properly

How to wash and care for your synthetic insulated jacket properly

8. August 2017
Care tips

Much like the choice between a synthetic or wool base layer, trying to decide between a jacket with down or synthetic insulation can be quite difficult.

Luckily, we’ve come to a point where there are so many manufacturers designing hybrid jackets that incorporate treated down or a combination of different materials into one jacket that the decisions we have to make as avid outdoorsman have become a bit easier.

Nevertheless, many of us still choose to wear classic synthetic jackets with their light and fluffy synthetic insulation! But, as is often the case when it comes to outdoor gear, we sink into despair as soon as we read the care label. Fortunately, caring for synthetic jackets is much easier than you may think. Read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know in order to keep your jacket in tiptop condition. One of the advantages synthetic jackets have over their natural down counterparts is how easy they are to clean!

How to wash your synthetic jacket

Jackets with synthetic insulation usually consist of a windproof outer with a smooth or slightly rough surface. These very light fabrics are treated, making them water-repellent. The synthetics used for the insulation are ultra-thin with a continuous filament, which weaves around, interlocking with itself. In the air spaces in between, warmth is retained, resulting in an insulating effect. You could compare the insulation in such synthetic jackets to a wad of cotton.

When cleaning synthetic jackets, it is important to wash it – as you would all your functional textiles – at 30°C and refrain from using fabric softener. If you wash it at a higher temperature, the fabric can thin out, become matted or damaged in some other way. The same thing will happen if you use fabric softener. What’s more, if you don’t care for your garment properly, any damage to your clothing will no longer be covered by warranty. In other words, be sure to care for your expensive gear properly. It’s worth it! You should also wash your gear yourself, as giving it to the cleaners will result in you losing warranty coverage as well.

To wash your garment, turn it right-side out, zip up everything, including the pit zips and pockets, and loosen up the hook-and-loop fasteners and drawcords (keep both closed just not tight) and toss it in the washing machine. Then use a detergent for functional apparel. You have a choice between your standard care product or wash-in treatment (a 2-in-1 detergent). In contrast to down jackets, synthetic jackets don’t need a special kind of detergent. After washing, spin the garment at a maximum of 800.

Then, you’ll have to reproof the face fabric of your wet garment with a spray (to apply it, hang it up), provided that you didn’t use a wash-in treatment. Keep in mind that regardless of whether you choose to use a spray or a wash-in treatment, the result will be the same. One is not better than the other! It’s all subjective. After applying the water-repellent, the garment will have to be exposed to warmth for the treatment to fully set in. The easiest way to do this is to use the dryer. By the way, heat has the added plus of rejuvenating the fill power of the insulating material. So, put your wet and treated jacket in the dryer at a low temperature for about 45 minutes. Afterwards, your jacket will be just like new!

How often to wash your garment

The same goes for synthetic insulated jackets as for all your outdoor gear: As frequently as necessary, but as seldom as possible! In other words, don’t wash your jacket every other day because every wash will take a toll on the fabric. Of course, all that salt, oil and dirt left on the garment from all those outdoor adventures can have a negative effect on your garment’s performance as well. Thus, synthetic jackets should only be washed when you’re convinced that you’ve really put them to good use – and you have sweat, dirt and mud stains to prove it! There’s no general rule as to how often or when you should wash your outdoor jacket. Some may have to wash it immediately after a hill walking trip at the weekend while others may do so after weeks of cycle commuting to work. It’s different for everybody.

Thus, as with your sport shirts or fleece jumpers, wash your synthetic jacket when you feel like you should! If you just wear your jacket casually and don’t use it for sports, then you can wash it about every three months or so.

Caring for and repairing synthetic jackets

If your synthetic jacket is only dirty on the outside, you can usually just wipe it off (carefully) using a cloth and some water or neutral soap. Unfortunately, getting the stank out of a synthetic jacket is not easy as getting it out of a down jacket. You can’t just hang it up outside over night. You have to wash it.

On the plus side, though, if your synthetic jacket happens to get damaged, it’s much easier to fix than down products. So easy if fact that if it gets torn one of your trips, all you have to do is just tape it up with some duct tape. Because the material is connected, you won’t need to worry about losing any insulation if you just tape it kind of haphazardly. With down, it’s a different story. You have to make sure to seal the tear or hole completely. Otherwise, you may lose all the down in that particular baffle. If you find that there’s a tear or hole in your synthetic jacket before you head out on a trip, you can repair it with a needle and thread. You can use a patch as well. Since the fabric is only water repellent and not waterproof, you don’t need to use any special kind of repair tape or patch. But because such patches are self-adhesive, you can use them as well. After all, they make the procedure a whole lot easier.

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.

Finding the right outdoor trousers

Finding the right outdoor trousers

1. August 2017
Buyer's guide

With public interest in the outdoors on the rise, the selection of outdoor gear has become larger and more diversified as well, especially when it comes to textile industry. Those trousers we referred to as outdoor trousers just ten years ago can now be clearly divided up into one of several categories according to the fabric it’s made of, the fit, its features and the intended area of use.

Because trousers, like other outerwear, have to fit with your layering system, personal preferences and how you intend to use them, we thought it’d be useful to give you some tips on how to find the right outdoor trousers to fit your needs. So, brace yourself as we delve into the jungle of softshells, hardshells, walking trousers, climbing trousers, running tights and much more.

Outdoor trousers today can be divided up into the following categories:

Softshell trousers

Softshell trousers are characterised by their versatility. Made of elastic synthetic fabrics, these trousers are available with or without a membrane and with or without lining. Softshell trousers with a windproof membrane are just as unsusceptible to rain as models without a membrane, but not waterproof. Those with a lining have a loose mesh or soft fleece lining and are best suited for use in autumn or winter

Softshell trousers are so versatile because they boast an excellent combination of breathability, weather protection (water-resistant and usually windproof) and comfort (elasticity, soft to the touch, no swishing noises). They are usually worn directly against your skin. You can also wear them underneath a pair of hardshell trousers or along with some long underwear in the wintertime as well.

Softshells come in numerous varieties, so choose a pair that is in line with your needs. As a general rule, the thicker, rougher and less elastic the fabric is, the tougher these trousers will be. Such models are usually a bit looser and best suited for mountaineering, ice climbing, alpine climbing, winter mountaineering and high-altitude mountaineering, ski mountaineering and demanding trekking.

Thinner models made of soft, stretchy fabric are more for (alpine) climbing in the summer and mountaineering, hill walking, trekking, travelling and cycling. They have a slim, ergonomic fit and will conform to your every move.

Softshell shorts and 3/4 length shorts are just as readily available as long trousers. There are even a few models that come with a zip-off feature. Some models are available in short or tall sizes as well.

Hardshell trousers

Similar to their jacket equivalents, hardshell trousers are much more than just waterproof outerwear. As the name already suggests, hardshell means that the garment has a tough and protective outer shell. Hardshell jackets and trousers are primarily worn as the outermost layer and serve to provide long-lasting protection from the wind and rain. They are incredibly hard-wearing, breathable and have a smooth surface. On the interior, hardshells are usually fitted with either a fleece or mesh lining (lined trousers), a brushed laminate (3-layer trousers) or a smooth interior with a coating (2.5-layer trousers).

Such trousers are used as emergency weather protection (overtrousers) for all sorts of activities or as a tough pair of trousers built for use in harsh conditions. For protection from sudden rainfall, most would resort to a lightweight, compact pair of 2.5-layer hardshell trousers. These consist of a laminate with a membrane and have a smooth coating on the interior to protect the membrane. They are usually worn over a pair of cycling, walking, softshell or other kind of trousers in bad weather only.

Three-layer models are much more robust, since they have an entire laminate layer on the inside protecting the membrane. Such hardshell trousers are designed for long periods of use on your mountaineering, ice climbing, high-altitude mountaineering, backcountry skiing or challenging trekking trips. Since you have them on for the duration of the trip, you would usually only wear them with long insulated underwear or models made of fleece for cold conditions.

Lined hardshell trousers have a mesh or fleece lining on the interior and are good for virtually all areas of use. The same goes for three-layer hardshell trousers, but only in persistently cold conditions. These, of course, don’t necessarily have to be worn along with long underwear or fleece trousers. Hardshell trousers are generally baggier so that there’s room for more layers underneath.

There are some hardshell shorts as well. These are supposed act as overshorts for summer activities, like cycling or walking, when rain is flying at you from the front and you just want to keep your thighs dry to prevent them getting cold. Hardshell trousers usually only come in one length.

Trekking and walking trousers

Since softshell trousers can be worn for hill walking and trekking and there are even special softshells specifically made for these purposes, we’re going to use the term walking trousers for all trousers made of blended fabrics and intended for backpacking. These trousers are usually constructed from soft, usually non-elastic fabric, consisting of synthetic fibres like polyester or polyamide interwoven with organic cotton. This results in an incredibly tough, durable, breathable and soft pair of trousers. Depending on how they are made, these trousers offer moderate to strong weather protection (some even completely windproof) and are usually resistant to thorns, mosquito bites and other strains.

For better weather protection, some models are waxed as well. This natural treatment sticks to the fabric longer than synthetic treatments, making the trousers stiff and giving them water-repellent properties. The incorporation of cotton not only makes the trousers very soft but also serves to cool your skin. The synthetic portion of the fabric provides breathability, quick-drying properties and abrasion resistance. The trousers themselves are a bit looser, as walking trousers are rarely elastic.

For warmer conditions, there are also walking trousers made of thinner, usually non-elastic synthetic fabrics, but these do not fall under the category of softshell trousers. In contrast to softshells, these are not water-resistant but quick-drying and suited for backpacking in the summer. Due to their small pack size, these trousers are the perfect backup for adventures of all kinds.

Trekking and walking trousers are available as shorts or long trousers. Plus, there are plenty of tall models and ones you can shorten yourself. 3/4 length shorts and zip-off trousers are available as well.

Trousers for specific sports

These trousers include climbing and bouldering trousers as well as running and cycling trousers/tights.

Climbing and bouldering trousers are usually made of slightly elastic cotton. Sometimes, polyamide, elastane, polyester or hemp is mixed in to improve the flexibility of the fabric or the amount of time it needs to dry. The thickness of the fabric is rather thin, the abrasion resistance high and the fit relaxed. As a result of the casual design, these trousers are great for slacklining, lying around on the couch or hanging out by the campfire in the summertime. The great thing about cotton is the fact that it has a cooling effect and makes the climbing trousers nice and soft. Climbing trousers are made to be nice and light, so they’re perfect for everyday wear in the summer or when travelling. Of course, climbing trousers are available in all lengths and can be shortened if necessary.

Running trousers come in either slim, but not formfitting models, or skin-tight tights. Even though one has some clear advantages over the other, it’s mostly just a matter of taste which one you pick. If you’re looking for durability, the models with no elasticity are more robust and thus more suitable for runs in more rugged terrain. Running bottoms are made of a blend of synthetic fabrics and range from being hardly elastic (running trousers) to very elastic (tights). Breathability, comfort and light weight are the most important characteristics here. There are few models that are windproof (with a membrane) or that have been treated with a water repellent. Most are fast drying. Running trousers are available in all lengths.

Cycling trousers are also available as tights (short, long, 3/4 length) or as shorts (MTB). Long trousers with a more relaxed fit are more of an exception in this category. Tights are suited for cycling trips of all kinds and are available with or without a bib. They are constructed from very elastic and breathable synthetic fabric and come with a chamois. The more relaxed shorts are made for mountain biking and available in various lengths (even above the knee). They are available as overshorts or shorts with removable padded inner shorts. These are tough and protect the padded shorts underneath from wear. Plus, they’re pretty casual looking.

Winter trousers

Winter trousers are insulated trousers. These include the lined softshell, hardshell and walking trousers mentioned above as well as warm fleece, down and synthetic models. Fleece trousers are available as close-fitting trousers made of stretchy fleece or more relaxed models made of traditional fleece. They’re a great thing to wear underneath another pair of trousers or to relax in on cold winter evenings. As for down and synthetic trousers, they are particularly lightweight and very warm. These go over your trousers when you’re stationary and in need of warmth in cold weather or when building a belay station when ice climbing. These trousers have a much looser fit.

Casual trousers

All jeans-like trousers, corduroys and casual shorts that are not climbing trousers fall under this category. These are great for slacklining or hanging out at the park, in town or at a bothy. They are usually made of cotton with some synthetics, and the fit is usually looser but not too baggy.

Some more important details on outdoor trousers

In addition to fit, fabric and model, other important factors to consider when buying outdoor trousers are the pockets and closures. For example, is there a side zip for an easy on-off? Are there belt loops or maybe even an integrated belt? Sometimes, a flat elastic waistband or just a drawcord (climbing trousers) will do the trick. Lastly, you may also want to look for reinforcements, elastic panels, ventilation openings, gaiters and reflectors for added comfort and safety!

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.

First aid for your sleeping bag

First aid for your sleeping bag

25. July 2017
Care tips

A quality sleeping bag is one of the most important part of your kit, especially if you’re travelling with a tent. After all, if you are unable to sleep and regain your strength by night, you won’t be able to perform by day. In other words, a good sleeping bag is key. But, what if your beautiful bag happens to get damaged? How would you go about repairing zips or patching tears or burn holes? And, what in the world would you do about flying feathers and down?

No idea? Well, let us delve into the world of repairs.

Avoiding damage

You can prevent or at least limit damage to your sleeping bag simply by taking care of it and storing it properly. A step in the right direction would be never storing your sleeping bag in the stuff sack. Why? Well, the compression causes the insulation to be pressed together, which can have a negative effect on the loft and the insulating power of the bag. So, you can imagine that if you were to store an sensitive down sleeping bag in this way, you’d most definitely damage the fill as well.

Speaking of down, if you ever happen to notice down or feathers poking through the fabric, never pull them out. If possible, shove them back inside the sleeping bag. You need that stuff! Besides, if you were to pull them out (especially thicker feathers), it could result in small holes forming in the fabric, which would not be good.

When carrying or transporting your sleeping bag, it’s important to make sure it doesn’t get damaged. This is where your stuff sack comes in. When carrying it around, you should always use a tough stuff sack. And, this probably goes without saying, but try to keep any sharp objects away from your sleeping bag as well. You don’t want anything poking it!

Fabric tears and holes

But, these things do happen, and it happens more quickly than you think. One second of inattention is enough to poke a tiny hole in your precious sleeping bag. Fortunately, small holes aren’t that big of a deal. It’s the longer tears and cuts in down sleeping bags in particular that can lead to a major loss of insulation material. If you’ve ever slept in a sleeping bag with a tear like that, you’ll know what I mean. When you wake up the next morning, it looks like a fox was asked to guard the henhouse, doesn’t it?

Smaller (burn) holes can be sealed quickly and easily using a sealer like Seam Grip. However, if there is a larger cut or tear in the outer fabric, you’ll need to be more thorough. For this, though, you can forget the needle and thread. More major damages are usually taped. Before you begin, try to find out what caused the damage in the first place. If it’s due to material fatigue, taping up tears can be quite difficult, as the damaged spot usually covers a large area of the bag. Damage caused by wear and tear can be patched using patches and repair tape. Brands like McNett sell repair kits , but do make sure that the material in the kit matches that of your sleeping bag. Not every patch will stick to every surface!

Patches and sealing tape are usually self-adhesive, so they are fairly easy to work with. Keep in mind that a patch should always be cut at least one centimetre larger than the damaged area in every direction. But, before you apply the patch, don’t forget to thoroughly spot clean the damaged area! A could way to do that is to use alcohol wipes. After drying the spot, you can then proceed to patch up the tear. Make sure that there are no wrinkles and that the patch is securely glued to the fabric. This repair method is very effective and will hold up for a long time.

By the way, the patches are available in a variety of colours, so you can pick one that matches the colour of your sleeping bag.

Damaged zips

Zips with minor damage are usually pretty easy to repair yourself. The zips on sleeping bags are more susceptible to damage because of the pressure they’re often put under. All that pressure can eventually lead to the zips getting worn out. If the zip tends to get off track when you open and close the bag, all you have to do is adjust it a bit. This can be done by using a pair of pliers. Just pinch the sides of the slider together and voilà! But, do be careful not to put too much pressure on the slider – you might break it! If the zip is torn or the elements are damaged, there’s nothing else you can do but replace it. Refrain from doing replacing it yourself, though. Get an expert to help!

Tips for when you’re out and about

Regardless of whether you’re trekking, mountaineering or cycling, the weight of your pack always plays a crucial role. That said, it’s understandable that most of us are hesitant to add extra weight to our packs by lugging around a whole bunch of repair materials. However, it is important to have something, especially since down sleeping bags tend to require immediate attention once they’ve been damaged. If you don’t take immediate action, you can say goodbye to the precious down fill! In emergency situations such as these, tape is a camper’s best friend. Tears, holes and cuts can be fixed and sealed up pretty nicely with duct tape or finger tape. This technique, however, should only be used when you have no other option. The tapes’ adhesive sticks so well to the material that you’d waste a lot of time and effort trying remove it.

Professionals at work

There are problems that even the handiest of handymen couldn’t fix. That’s why, there are experts. But, be careful because repairs performed by experts can be pricy. So, before sending it in for a repair, it’s best to consult the retailer you bought the sleeping bag from first. Retailers can usually tell you whether it’s covered by warranty and often even help you find the appropriate repair service, if needed.

Conclusion

Damaged sleeping bags can look pretty bad. And, if you don’t take immediate action (and the proper steps), you can lose a good amount of your sleeping bag’s fill. A good, long-lasting repair doesn’t have to be expensive. You can even perform it yourself, provided you have the proper materials. But, if you find that the damages are major, you should consult an expert or maybe even replace it with a new sleeping bag.

Remember: certain defects can be prevented by storing and transporting your sleeping bag properly!

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.

Common sport climbing mistakes to avoid

Common sport climbing mistakes to avoid

20. July 2017
Tips and Tricks

Now that winter has come and gone, we can finally see the sun shining down upon our favourite crag in Kochel, Germany. As one of the route setting teams, we had long since rung in the new sport climbing season before large groups of sport climbers started to arrive. Unfortunately, as more climber started to hit the crag, the more shocked I became. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Even the more experience climbers were making the most awful mistakes. Just the other day, I witnessed something you’d usually see at the gym: the belayer kept moving away from the base of the wall as the climber ascended. All of the sudden, the climber falls from the last bolt and slams into the wall.

“Ah, so that’s what facing the rock head-on feels like.” Fortunately, it was nothing serious. Another example: A belayer said to his partner, laughing: “good thing I’m using an assisted-braking device! I just completely let go of the rope ‘cuz the quickdraw hit my hand.” Of course, we can’t really do anything about our reflexes, but come on. I know what you’re thinking: “amateurs…” But, the thing is such silly mistakes aren’t unique to beginners. In fact, we more seasoned climbers tend to make mistakes precisely BECAUSE we’ve been climbing for so long. It’s like a kind of tunnel vision! So, before we kick off the new climbing season, it seems now’s a better time than any to reacquaint oneself with the most common mistakes made in sport climbing.

Done it a thousand times before…

I was out climbing with a friend and thought to myself, “Wow. Training at the gym was obviously worthwhile since my leader’s up there doing a no-hands rest. What a cool cat, I say to myself. After all, the route was by no means easy. Only later did I realise that it was more or less an involuntary break during which he quickly finished tying his knot. Yeah… Tied ‘em a thousand times before… “Good thing I noticed it after the crux”, he said soberly. Do we really have to start doing the “partner check” again after ten years of climbing?

Apparently, we never should’ve stopped! Double checking is not just useful when it comes to knots but other integral bits of your gear as well. For example, it can help you find other mistakes like when the rope is not threaded properly. Other mistakes can be weeded out simply by getting new gear. For example, if your belayer tends to forget to screw screw-gate carabiners shut! In such a case, I’d recommended giving him or her a twist-lock or ball-lock carabiner that has a safety wire too. It’s money well spent – promise! The same goes for investing in a new climbing harness with a smart buckle system. Most new models have something similar to the Rock&Lock system by Singing Rock, so you won’t have to double back. Another potential error eliminated!

Much too little and then much too much

Lead climbers like to nag. One minute you’re not paying out enough rope and doing so too slowly, and the next you’re paying out much too much and way too quickly. Maybe that’s why so many belayers stand so far away from the wall? To be prepared for anything and everything? Regardless, not giving the appropriate amount of slack can really get a climber’s knickers in a twist – and understandably so! But still, who wants to be “bitched at” in their free time? Well, nobody, really, but try to be a good belayer, anyway! That means you shouldn’t give too much slack because, in the event of a fall, your climber will go for a long ride, which could be fatal! Far too often, we underestimate how much a fall can be lengthen by too much slack.

Here’s another example of a situation from the gym you’re probably all familiar with: one second the lead climber was just about all the way up top and now he’s dangling about a metre above the ground. Come on, people, stand adjacent to the wall and keep your head up! After all, a stiff neck will heel a lot faster than broken bones! Maybe you could even get a neck massage? Another fatal error is when there’s too much of a weight difference between climbing partners, something that tends to be more pronounced in the winter. In other words, it’s okay to ask! Of all the places where you wouldn’t ask a woman how much she weighs, climbing gyms aren’t one of them. That’s how important it is to know your climbing partner’s weight!

Look up

Ah, distractions, distractions. I was hanging just below the crux and was hesitant, so what do I do? I look down at my belayer for reassurance, but what I get is the exact opposite… My belayer is indeed looking up, just not at me! I guess somebody else had the better arse! To be fair, this level of distractedness is by no means unique to my belayer. As I look around, I notice how little the belayers are paying attention to their partners! When I think about it, all of the mistakes mentioned before could fall under this category. We all know better, but for whatever reason, we still allow ourselves to get distracted.

And for good reason, I mean, there are so many beautiful people with beautiful bodies, with some wearing less than others, and climbers attempting to redpoint your project and much more. In fact, it can be so difficult to concentrate sometimes that one could claim that trying not to listen or watch something or someone is harder than climbing itself! However, this is not the cause of all missteps. It’s also true that there’s often not enough communication between partners. When lowering off, for example, communication is incredibly important. Unfortunately, there have been far too many accidents – some fatal – as a result of poor communication. Communicating clearly with your partner could save your or his or her life! If you’re going climbing with someone you usually don’t climb with, it’s crucial that you agree on climbing commands beforehand!

We all make mistakes

Despite all the precautions you may take, your gear can end up failing you, too. So, it’s always a good idea to inspect your rope after your winter break and check the “expiration date” on your belay loop. In other words, check your gear for wear and tear. None of us want to end up like Todd Skinner, whose belay loop was so worn that he tragically fell to his death. Even carabiners can wear out over time, resulting in very sharp edges. Falling onto a sharp-edged biner should be avoided at all costs because the rope could rip. So, do check them for wear on occasion. It’s as easy as running your fingers over them.

The same goes for the protection on the wall. Bolts can take quite the beating over the years, so it’s incredibly important to watch out for wear and corrosion caused by weather conditions and sunlight. Always err on the side of caution when building a belay as well. When in doubt, just leave your gear behind. By the way, a good thing to use as an extension on the wall is the Kong “Prog”, the long-awaited arm extender. No genetic engineering required!

Rocks break

As we all know, water shapes rocks. As a result of the freeze-thaw process, this can have an effect on us climbers as well. Another instinct that always seems to fall by the wayside as a result of climbers’ winter hibernation is the awareness of the risks of rock fall. You don’t see that all too often at the gym, do you? Spring, in particular, is a time when it’s not at all uncommon to see “pebbles” flying by when your stand at the base of a wall.

You may also come across several loose nuts on bolts. Before committing to them, do make sure they’re tight. After all, what’s more embarrassing than getting injured as a result of foolishness? All that being said, let’s kick off the climbing season with some common sense, shall we?

Build your very own bouldering wall

Build your very own bouldering wall

18. July 2017
Tips and Tricks

Recently, I awoke with the urge to build something again. And, since our attic was being expanded anyway, I figured I’d seize the opportunity to build my very own bouldering wall. It seemed like a good idea at the time and, admittedly, a lot easier than it really is. Contrary to what I had initially thought, building a bouldering wall (one you’ll actually be able to climb around on) requires a lot of planning and attention to detail. So, if you’re like me and have been thinking about building a bouldering wall of your own but don’t know where to start, here are some tips to help you get started.

Materials, size and construction

The first thing worth mentioning is the following: even though a small bouldering wall might look pretty spiffy, it’s virtually useless when it comes to training. At the very least, the wall should have a surface area of 6 m² . But, the bigger, the better. If children are going to be using the wall too, it’s very important that the height of the wall not exceed 3 metres, since the fall height would be too high. As for the material, plywood works great. However, do keep in mind that the plywood sheets should be 18-22mm thick. Also: the substructure supporting the wall must be extremely strong, since it will be forced to support very heavy loads, both live and dead loads. If the boards are not directly mounted to a concrete wall, a substructure consisting of wooden beams or steel support structure is your best bet.

What your (sub-)structure supporting your bouldering wall should look like depends on several different factors. In addition to the angle, height and other factors, different wall panels require different substructures. So, what the frame of a bouldering wall should look like is hard to say. Interestingly, all artificial climbing structures used by the public must comply with the European standard EN 12572. This standard defines the wall height, dimensions for falling space and the dimensions of the impact zone beneath. Obviously, this standard is not binding in our case, because we’re just DIY-ing it, but it is a great reference tool full of useful tips on how to build your own wall.

Here’s the most important info at a glance:

  • Wall height: max. 4m (free-standing, can be climbed over), max. 4.5m (can’t be climbed over)
  • There shouldn’t be any electrical cables in the falling space
  • There should be sufficient falling space and impact zone to the side of, in front of and beneath the bouldering wall. You should also be sure to cushion any posts or beams.
  • The falling space should be flat and free of any hindrances and sufficiently padded (with pads/mats, etc.) Also: make sure that there are as few gaps as possible between the pads, as these could increase your risk of injury (you could sprain your ankle or wrist). As dangerous as larger gaps are, smaller ones can wreak just as much havoc on a climber. 8-20mm gaps, for example, may not sound like a big deal, but they’re the perfect size for your fingers to fit through. Yikes! Not your precious fingers!

Of course, none of this explains how many supporting beams you need for your panels, nor does it tell you how thick they should be! As was mentioned before, different materials have different requirements. In other words, it’s hard to say what you need without knowing exactly what you have to work with. For simple overhanging climbing walls, people tend to use beams with a thickness of 10x8cm, which can be supported by laths. It’s definitely worth stopping by your favourite DIY or home improvement retailer for some advice. If you’re planning on building something a bit wilder or more ambitious, you might want to consult a carpenter as well. If your using pre-made climbing wall panels, the manufacturer’s installation guide should give you all the information you need. The important thing is that the wooden panels are attached to the substructure, not just the laths.

The wall sheets

The grid – for the perfect distance between holds

If you’re not planning on using pre-made climbing wall panels for your bouldering wall, you’ll need to drill holes for your holds. How and where to do that is what we’re going to talk about now. Industrially made climbing walls usually have about 15-25 centimetres between the holes, resulting in about 25 to 50 holes per square metre. If you’re doing it yourself, you might want to use a similar pattern. This will not only allow you to set different routes but also customise them as you see fit. The typical pattern is the staggered grid.

This grid is incredibly easy to make. All you need is a tape measure, a pencil and a drill. Mark all the holes for your grid on the back of the sheets. The important thing is that the holes in the top and the bottom row are far enough away from the edge and that there is the same amount of space on the left and right-hand sides as well.

Now, draw in horizontal lines across the sheet followed by vertical lines so that you end up with a checked pattern. Once you’ve finished, you can start marking the holes. For the top row, use the points at which the lines intersect. In the next row, mark the spot for the hole on the horizontal line between each of the vertical lines (see image). You can think of this point as the middle of an X. Then mark the rest of the holes in the same way.

You can also do without the grid if you’re only using screw-on holds that are secured with wood screws. These will save you loads on time, money and effort!

Painting your wall

If you haven’t done so already, it’s now time to paint the front of your sheets. If you’re just looking to brighten up your wall with a bit of colour, you can use any standard wood stain. However, if you’d like to add some texture to the wall, you need some special paint or coating:

  • A paint job using a two-component anti-slip coating

For this, you use special kind of paint. In addition to the standard pigments, this paint has a grain, which makes for a rough and thus stickier surface (akin to rough sandpaper). This kind of paint should have a slip resistant rating equivalent to R11. You can simply apply the paint by using a paintbrush or a roller.

  • Coat of epoxy and silica sand

This option involves mixing epoxy, which is suitable for the outdoors, with silica sand. It’s important that the mix ratio be about 5:1 and the silica sand have a grain size of 0.7-1.2mm. This mixture is then applied to the surface.

Nuts

Once you’ve drawn in your grid and painted the sheets, you can drill the holes for the nuts in the spots we talked about earlier. It’s important to note that there are two different types of nuts in the world of climbing walls: Flange and T-nuts If your wall is intended for your own private use and won’t be unscrewed/repositioned, T-nuts are the way to go. These are affordable alternatives to flange nuts and often come with holds “for free”, as with Metolius climbing hold packs. For T-nuts, you’ll have to drill 12mm holes.

Professionals tend to use flange nuts. These are extremely strong and don’t twist after repeated repositioning, since they’re usually secured by small screws on the back. Plus, larger holes (14 mm in diameter) have to be drilled for flange nuts.
Once you’ve drilled all the holes, flip the board over and stick the nuts in and secure them. When installing T-nuts, it’s a good idea to “pull in” the nuts tightly using the very same bolts (M10) that are supposed to keep the holds in place.

When drilling the holes, you can put a piece of wood on the back side of the board to prevent the wood splintering when the bit goes through the other side.

Raise the roof

Once the wall panels are finished, they can be attached to the substructure you’ve already installed. For metal substructures, you can’t go wrong with nuts and bolts. If you’ve got wooden beams, your wall panels can be secured using standard countersunk wood screws. And don’t be afraid to go all out! It’s really important to use a enough screws.

Once your panels are in place, you can begin installing your holds. Since you usually start off in a sitting position when bouldering, you can install footholds only up to height of about 60cm. Once you’ve done that, go head and start setting different holds that correspond with the type of wall you have and your own personal climbing skills.

Tip: Since the size and height of DIY walls are usually limited, it’s a good idea to refrain from setting routes that go more or less straight up. If you’d like to improve your endurance, we recommend setting routes that can be climbed in a circle. That way, not only can you do multiple “laps”, as it were, but also practise down-climbing.

If you’re unsure how to set your routes, you can always ask route setters at your favourite climbing gym!