Buying Advice Backpacks

10. September 2020
Buyer's guide, Equipment

If you want to buy a backpack nowadays, you are suddenly faced with a huge number of different models and applications. There are daypacks, travel backpacks, trekking and touring backpacks, extra ski touring and climbing backpacks.

However, what is hidden behind all these terms and what kind of backpack do I need for myself? We will try to answer these questions in the following article.

BASIC

No matter which backpack you choose, the most important thing is always that the backpack fits well and is comfortable to wear. Otherwise it can quickly lead to pain or tension.

To carry the backpack as comfortably as possible, it is important that it is adjusted correctly. It must sit close to the body and compact.

Due to the different anatomies of men and women, some manufacturers offer extra women’s backpacks. This makes sense and should be considered when buying.

But now to the backpacks:

DAYPACKS

We start small with the so-called “daypacks”. As the english name suggests, these are backpacks for day trips to carry food, drink and clothes for one day. So these backpacks are quite small. They settle between 10 and 30 liters pack volume.

You can find them in all price ranges from 20 Euro to 200 Euro and more. Carrying system and hip belt are recommended if you want to use the daypack also for hiking. This is not absolutely necessary for a gentle stroll through the city.

Many daypacks can be folded very small, so they are easy to transport or store. Especially when travelling, this is highly recommended, because you don’t have to carry around a big backpack all the time.

In summary, you can recommend daypacks to everyone, because it is always handy to have a small backpack at hand, which can be used in many different ways. Here is an overview of the types of use:

  • Everyday life
  • City stroll
  • Day hikes
  • Additional backpack for travelling

TRAVEL BAGS

Travel backpacks are characterized by large volume as well as compact and robust construction. Most travel backpacks have an adjustable back length in order to fit exactly to the carrier. However, some manufacturers also offer different fixed sizes to choose from. They are available in all sizes from 40 liters to 110 liters.

Compared to trekking backpacks, travel backpacks have a cut similar to a travel bag, i.e. they are wider rather than deeper.

The pocket-like design is reinforced by side openings. This type is especially recommended for long-term travelers, since you can quickly access the complete main compartment.

Due to the size of these backpacks, they are all equipped with a carrying system.

Some travel backpacks have a removable daypack backpack integrated in addition to the main compartment, which can be fixed to the large backpack. So you only carry one backpack instead of two. As an example there are the backpacks, “Overland” from Bach or the “Waypoint” from Osprey.

But there are also other types of travel backpacks. Vaude for example offers with the Tecorail 80 a special highlight. This backpack can be used as backpack or as trolley. It has an integrated roll system with an extendable handle – and is therefore a perfect mixture between trolley and backpack.

Intended use:

  • Travel
  • Trekking

TOURING BACKPACKS, TREKKING BACKPACKS

The difference between tour/trekking backpacks and travel backpacks is not too big. With many tour/trekking backpacks there is an additional rain cape for absolute waterproofness, so that you can be on the way even with long rain of dry backpacks.

An important question to ask yourself: what kind of tour do I want to do? For a multi day tour with food I need a backpack with at least 70l, but for hut tours 40l are already enough.

With the large backpacks (70l+) it is recommended to pay attention to a head recess, so that you can move your head freely even with a full backpack. Another special feature of some of these backpacks are divided main compartments to accommodate the sleeping bag or clothes in the lower part. This has advantages, you can divide your stuff into 2 parts and both are accessible from the outside. However, this makes the backpack a bit heavier.

The carrying system is adjustable. However, even more importance is attached to comfortable carrying, because they were designed for long hikes and heavy luggage. For this purpose, there are backpacks with flexible hip fins to distribute the force evenly evenly during heavy passages. These hip fins also consist of several layers of foam to adapt as anatomically as possible.

In order to avoid excessive sweating on the back, a system is built into the backpack which pumps air through the existing foam by the movement of the running person and thus ensures air balance.

Most trekking backpacks are compatible with a hydration system.

Use of tour/trekking backpacks:

  • Trekking
  • Multi-day hikes
  • Hut tours

SKI TOURING BACKPACKS

Ski touring backpacks are available in different versions. On the one hand, there are backpacks for high-altitude and multi-day tours, which have a large pack volume, up to 60 liters, and are equipped with many fastenings to attach helmet, skis, rope, ice axe and other things to the outside of the backpack.

The other big category are backpacks for day trips, which are smaller and can also be used for freeriding. Depending on the model, they are also available with many attachments for the above mentioned equipment. Many of these backpacks also have an integrated back protector to protect the back. They stand out due to their beautiful and stylish design with intelligent space allocation.

Almost all ski touring backpacks have a separate compartment to store shovel and probe. This compartment is easily accessible from the outside to have everything you need at hand in case of emergency.

As additional safety, both categories are available with avalanche airbags, such as Pieps’ Jetforce, as well as avalanche backpacks made by ABS and Mammut.

In cooperation with Ortovox, ABS has developed a clever system that allows you to carry the ABS airbag with you at all times. However, the size of the backpack can vary depending on the tour. For this possibility the ABS backpack must be equipped with the M.A.S.S. system. With this system, you can “zip on” the airbags with backpack pockets of different sizes. For example, the Ortovox Free Rider 24 ABS Avalanche Backpack can be used as a basic frame.

You can find more information about avalanche backpacks here.

Intended use:

  • Ski-/High tours
  • Freeriding

CLIMBING BACKPACKS

There are again several categories of climbing backpacks. It is important to consider what you want to use it for, whether for sport climbing or for multi-pitch climbing. Of course you can use any backpack for anything, but there are certain advantages and disadvantages.

Backpacks for sport and indoor climbing, like the Black Diamond Shot or the Mantle, are built like bags. They have a carrying system. However, they do not have a lid pocket and can be opened to their full length. This allows a good overview in the backpack. In addition, extra loops are sewn on the upper end to which the exes are attached so that they do not go around in the rucksack. The rope is tied to the outside of the rucksack.

There are also climbing backpacks like the Black Diamond Demon or the Edelrid Cragbag II, which are backpack and rope bag in one. Both have a tarpaulin for the rope attached to the backpack. So the only question is where to put warm clothes and food.

Haglöfs – Roc Rescue 40 – backpack
Climbing backpacks guarantee sufficient freedom of movement

Another category are multirope length backpacks. These backpacks are designed for maximum freedom of movement. The center of gravity is set so that it has as little influence as possible on the climber’s balance. For this reason, they are cut narrowly and fit tightly to the body. They also have removable hip fins, as these are often disturbing. The carrying system is flexibly constructed so that the rucksack can follow complex movements. Anatomically shaped shoulder straps also increase freedom of movement.

The pack volume varies between 12 and 35 liters. The small versions (12l) resemble light daypacks, the large versions are more like trekking backpacks.

The third category is the haulbags. They are for all those who want to make long tours in the wall or who have to climb technically and therefore have to pull material behind them. The Haulbags are like robust sailor bags, but they have a removable carrier system. This allows you to carry the Haulbag to the wall, and when the carrier system is removed, the Haulbag cannot get caught anywhere on the wall when pulling material behind it.

Intended use:

  • Sport Climbing
  • Indoor climbing
  • Multi pitch tours

TRINKING BAGS

Drinking backpacks are backpacks that are only designed to hold the hydration system and maybe a few bars. These backpacks are very popular with trail runners, because they are usually very, very light and are almost unnoticeable or annoying even when jogging.

The drinking backpacks are also available in versions with more packing volume. However, they can then be called daypacks, as there are no striking differences.

You can find more details in the Buying advice for a drinking backpack in our online store.

Intended use:

  • jogging/trail running
  • Everyday life
  • Hikes

If you still have questions, our customer service will be happy to help you. Daniel is our backpack expert here. You can reach him under the number +49 (0)7121/70 12 0 or by e-mail.

There is a lot going on in the climbing and outdoor sector. New products are invented, existing ones are revised or improved and we also learn a lot every day. And of course we want to pass on our knowledge to our customers. Therefore we regularly revise our articles in the base camp. So don’t be surprised if after a few months a few things are different. This article was last revised on 03.03.2016.

The crash pad

3. September 2020
Buyer's guide, Equipment

Burrito, taco, hard foam or preferably something soft? How big should it be, how important is the carry system, and what actually distinguishes the good pads from the bad?

For bouldering, you actually don’t need much gear: a pair of climbing shoes, chalk, comfortable trousers and a beanie. That’s basically it. If you want to go bouldering outside, though, you actually also need a bouldering mat, also known as a crash pad. But because they’re big, and often expensive, too, perhaps you shouldn’t decide on the model too quickly.

We’ve put together a bit of information for you that should make the decision easier.

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MTB shoes buyer’s guide: How to find the right shoe

31. August 2020
Buyer's guide

Mountain bike shoes for tours, trails and downhill

Choosing the perfect mountain bike shoes is really easy. To find the perfect shoe, all you have to consider is your shoe size, the design, area of use, and pedal system, the weather and the season. Easy, right? But seriously. When it comes to MTB shoes, there are actually so many different models and designs that you can quickly get lost in this shoe jungle. To stop you getting confused, let’s suss out all the factors that are important when choosing the perfect bike shoes, one by one.

The pedals: Flat pedals or clip-in pedals

Depending on the pedal type, mountain bikers need shoes with relatively flat and grippy rubber outsoles which the pins of the flat pedals can “bite into” properly.

With clip-in pedal systems, like for example the popular SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) from Shimano, the MTB shoes are firmly attached to the pedals for optimal grip. They are connected with what is knows as cleats or pedal plates, which are screwed onto the soles of the mountain bike shoes. For perfect power transfer, mountain bikers clip their shoes into the pedals and can detach from the connection again with a gentle sideways twist.

Some shoes can even be used to ride on both clip-in and flat pedals. Occasionally, hybrid pedals are used, too, which have pins on one side of the pedal and are fitted with a clip system on the other. Usually, though, mountain bikers specialise in a particular area such as downhill, racing or freeride, and choose the pedal-shoe system accordingly.

The area of use: dirt, racing, downhill or touring

Of course, there are no fixed rules about who, where, when and on which routes which shoes should be used. Nevertheless, certain preferences for particular kinds of shoes and pedals can be more easily discerned in some disciplines than in others. Most mountain bikers head out with flat pedals for dirt jumping and in bike parks. This is because for some jumps it’s important to be able to take your feet off the pedals and then “catch” the bike with your shoes. For controlled jumps from the bike, mountain bikers can react much better and faster with flat pedals than with fixed pedals.

For mountain bike racing and touring, on the other hand, many cyclists rely on the efficient power transfer of the clip-in pedal. For downhill, enduro and on trails, mountain bikers like riding with both systems. While some value the better bike control and perfect grip of mountain bike shoes with cleats, others swear by comfortable cycling sneakers with their versatile flexibility.

The weather conditions: between heat, rain and icy cold

Most cycling shoes are perfect for medium temperatures and dry road conditions. This means that from spring through autumn, they’re fantastic for riding on most days of the year. It gets harder in particularly wet weather conditions, especially during winter in ice and snow. Normal MTB shoes are not insulated and, especially with clip-in pedals, an uncomfortable cold bridge forms. In rain and mud, waterproof mountain bike shoes are at least pretty good at keeping the foot dry.

Waterproof and breathable cycling overshoes are more effective. They not only ensure that the feet stay dry, they keep the entire cycling shoe itself from getting wet. Because they’re open at the sole, you can clip into the pedal with no problem.

In very low temperatures, mountain bikers can to an extent make do with warm socks and cycling overshoes. There are, however, also special winter shoes for mountain bikers that have special insulated soles. Depending on the model, these can even be comfortably worn to ride in temperatures of -20°C.

Mountain bike shoes are constructed completely differently according to the pedal system, recommended area of use and weather conditions. Not only does the design range from urban styling to futuristic high-tech looks, the construction and composition of the sole, outer material and lacing are tailored to the different areas and systems.

The sole: soft and grippy or stiff and dynamic

Flat-pedal shoes from Five Ten, adidas or Giro are equipped with soles made from special rubber compounds that provide the best grip on the short pins. The sole construction is really flat, reminiscent of skate shoes or sneakers. This means that mountain bikers can take perfect advantage of the large area of the flat pedals and adjust the placement of their foot really easily while riding without losing contact with the pedal. Flat pedal shoes are comfortably cut and guarantee good cushioning. In comparison to skate shoes, however, for mountain biking the rubber compounds from Vibram or Five Ten are significantly more durable.

MTB shoes for clip-in pedals have a completely different sole design. The rigid nylon soles are made for mounting the pedal plates and guarantee the best-possible power transfer.

Depending on whether mountain bikers tend to be riding long tours or are fighting for every last second in a competition, the soles can be a little softer or harder. Softer soles usually mean they’re more comfortable, while harder soles usually transfer power better. Modern mountain bike shoes are fitted with profiled soles which are also suitable for short passages on foot, offering good grip even on slippery forest floors. Here, the cleats are mounted so they don’t protrude beyond the profile. This means that they won’t annoy you while you’re walking and they enable a comfortable gait. The stiff nylon soles are, however, unsuitable for longer hikes.

The composition of the shoe: different materials and shaft heights

Mountain bike shoes can be made from the most varied of materials. From synthetic leather, smooth leather or suede through to synthetic fibres or mesh fabrics, manufacturers of high-quality mountain bike shoes such as Shimano, Mavic and Vaude use every possible material.

Depending on the shoe design, the companies place particular importance on good fit, stability and good ventilation. Sporty mountain bike shoes are often equipped with mesh inserts for comfortable ventilation, while all-round and touring shoes tend to put more emphasis on good weather protection. MTB shoes are reinforced around the toe area and at the heel to protect the shoes from damage and to give the foot the stability required.

Most all-round and racing shoes feature a low-cut shaft, which enables high freedom of movement and comfortable ventilation. Insulated winter shoes, on the other hand, are cut higher and come past the ankle. Downhill shoes are also sometimes cut ankle high, because this provides extra stability for the feet, and better protection from injuries if there’s a crash.

The lacing: classic or fast lacing system

While flat pedal shoes often provide the right level of stability and comfort with normal lacing, and sometimes with an additional hook and loop fastener, clip-in pedal shoes come with a diverse range of creative closure systems. Laces, fast lacing systems with a twist closure, hook and loop fasteners, zip fasteners and ratchet closures are combined in different ways to find the perfect combination of comfort and performance.

Practical ratchet, hook and loop, and twist closures are quick and easy to use. Ratchet and twist closures can be readjusted individually while travelling without having to take the foot off the pedal. This makes putting on and taking off the mountain bike shoe particularly quick and easy.

Along with a secure, firm fit, these closure systems guarantee the best possible performance when mountain biking with clip-in pedals. With fast lacing systems, mountain bikers fortunately no longer have to worry about loose laces getting wrapped around their pedal axle.

Ask Alpinetrek!

So, when buying MTB shoes, there can be a few things to consider. When all’s said and done, though, the choice of MTB shoe depends on what exactly you want to use it for and your own judgement. If you have any more questions, though, we are here to help you and our customer service team is at your service. You can reach our customer service team from Monday to Friday from 10 to 17 on +49 (0)7121/70120 or by email.

 

Bannock bread – the classic of the outdoor kitchen

27. August 2020
Tips and Tricks

Since the Middle Ages in Europe, bread has been the quintessential food. It’s not only at the bakery that the options are endless – there are also undreamt of possibilities for making it yourself, both in terms of the style and the preparation. A real classic of the camp fire and the gas stove is bannock bread. Bannock comes from the Scottish Highlands, and is a kind of flat bread that can basically be made from two ingredients. Hanna from the Alpinetrek online editorial team is here with some tips on how to make it taste the best and what you should pay attention to when preparing it.

Bannock breadWhat you need for bannock bread:

  • Must-haves
    • Flour (2 parts)
    • Water (1 part)
  • Nice-to-haves
    • Salt
    • Oil
    • Baking powder, bicarb or dry yeast (in which case, some sugar, too)
  • Practically decadent
    • Spices (helpful here: the spice shaker with 6 compartments!)
    • Herbs (wild garlic, dandelion…)
    • Chopped nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, beechnuts…)

Tipps for the bread dough

Know your cup. Nobody takes a measuring cup or scales with them on tour – but you’ve always got a cup. You can check at home what quantity it holds. You might even want to mark where 100 ml of water or 250 g of flour come up to.
Don’t knead in all the flour at once, always leave some extra in case the whole thing sticks to your hands. If the flour/water ratio is correct, your hands will be clean when you’ve finished kneading.
It’s easier to knead with oil. Well-organised bread bakers have a plastic bag (preferably zip-lock) of oil with them. You can even knead the dough in it without touching it with your skin at all – just put all the ingredients inside and then knead the bag.
When all the ingredients have been mixed together a bit but the whole thing hasn’t yet been kneaded until it’s soft, you can divide it into portions and knead smaller pieces – this makes it super quick to get the first loaves into the oven.
To do this, press the dough as flat as possible and fill it into the “baking tin” properly.

Caution when baking

The classic method for the gas stove is to cook it in a pot or a pan. If possible, use a lot of oil so the bread doesn’t burn. It’s best if it’s moved around constantly. And don’t let it get too hot!
If you make a fire, you have more options. The original bannock bakers simply pushed the dough into the hot ashes and dug it out again a few hours later. An incomparable aroma! Like with a gas stove, a pot can also be placed in the embers. In that case, it’s best to lay rocks beneath the pot so that it doesn’t all get burnt (but something will always burn). If you’ve had some tinned food and you can wash out the empty cans, you can also bake rolls in them. This is best with lots of oil inside so that the bread practically fries, and so it doesn’t stick. For a fire, there are of course also specialities like the Dutch oven and the ranger’s oven (ultralight for touring – you build it yourself). An interesting in-between is the bushbox, which can be folded up.

A few pro tips

The possibilities are endless. Hardcore survivalists make their own flour and use white, cold ashes as leavening. For home-made flour, you need a dish cloth or cotton t-shirt, a stone, patience and your choice of beechnuts, roots, clover or acorns (all gluten free). You have to leach the latter a lot, though, until they are usable, so either boil them out several times in hot water or put them in running water for 24 hours (e.g. in a stream in your socks).

Two boots und four paws – hiking with your dog

24. August 2020
Tips and Tricks

Whether in the lowlands, on the coast or in the mountains – walking with your dog is a great experience and really enriching for both the human and the hound. To ensure that dogs and their masters or mistresses can enjoy rambling without a care in the world, it’s sensible to consider and prepare a few things before dog owners set off into the mountains with their four-legged friends.

The following ten questions, frequently asked by dog owners and hikers with an affinity for the great outdoors, show what you should think about and look out for when hiking with dogs.

How old does my dog need to be to go walking in the mountains?

There is no universal answer to the question of how old a dog should be to go walking in the mountains. Longer hikes can lead to increased stress on joints and knees for very young dogs and puppies. With older dogs, the dog’s general fitness and any ailments it may have will decide the type and length of the walks. Older dogs with back or hip problems in particular should be looked after in this respect.

Of course, it’s not just age and physical condition that play an important role, but also the breed and disposition of the four-legged fellow.

Which breeds are best for mountain walks?

Some dog breeds are, generally speaking, more active than others. Dogs are also different in terms of their frame, size and constitution, so not all of them are suitable hiking companions. In this respect, it is not necessarily recommended that a sausage dog, pug or Chihuahua accompanies you on your upcoming hut tour or Alpine crossing.

Working or hunting dogs, on the other hand, are better qualified. They are also readily used in alpine farming to help with sheep, goats and cows. Others help people as trained rescue dogs, search dogs or avalanche dogs.

Dog breeds with a medium to high shoulder height and good physical condition are ideal companions for strenuous mountain touring. Whether the Australian Shepherd, Siberian Husky, Bernese Mountain Dog or the Labrador Retriever – many thoroughbred dogs make perseverant and intelligent hiking dogs.

How do I prepare my dog for longer hikes?

Through long strolls and short hikes, dog owners will soon get a first impression of how fit their particular dog is, and how much it likes walking. When doing this, it is of course important not to overextend your dog and to ensure that there are enough breaks with plenty of fresh water, especially at the start. Really high temperatures should also be avoided if possible so that the soon-to-be hiking dog isn’t stretched to an unhealthy extent.

How long you can hike for with your dog depends on many different and very individual factors.

Which hikes are good for dogs?

Dog owners have to adapt their hikes to the condition of their dogs so as not to endanger their health. In addition, the planning of the tour always requires some care and caution: passages that are too narrow where there is a risk of falling and especially via ferrata must of course be avoided.

Steep and stony paths are no problem for many dogs. Of course, steep ascents are just as challenging for dogs as for human hikers, but they are doable.

Summer hikes with shady passages and running water to cool down in and to drink from are also optimal.

What food is suitable for hikes?

Because of its shelf life, dry food lends itself better to longer or multi-day hikes than wet food. The dog should be fed the usual quantity and in the rhythm that it is used to.

Nevertheless, it’s better not to feed your dog right before a strenuous hike in the mountains. When hiking, dog owners should plan in at least a one hour break for their four-legged friends for digestion and regeneration.

With the increased exertion, getting enough fluids is extremely important. Plenty of water for the dog, a water bowl in your walking backpack and regular drink breaks are therefore of utmost importance. Especially in summer heat, dogs quickly run the risk of getting heat stroke. Some hikes are therefore better done in spring or autumn.

What equipment is important for hiking with a dog?

On stony paths, sharp rocks can cause uncomfortable lacerations and cuts to the paws. A first aid kit for dogs should therefore always contain a disinfectant, the most important bandaging materials, and tweezers. A pair of tick tweezers and an extra towel so you can dry your dog if necessary should also be packed for any longer hikes. The low weight and packed dimensions of microfibre towels make them especially suitable for both dogs and people.

Food, a drinking bowl and enough water are likewise indispensable when hiking with dogs. A dog toy and perhaps a light dog blanket will of course also find their way into your pack on longer tours.

Dogs can even carry a few small things themselves with the appropriate dog panniers. Of course, whether the panniers disturb them while they’re walking and how much weight they can carry varies from dog to dog.

A leash and a comfortable harness or collar are also important for dogs when you’re hiking.

Which leash is right for hiking with dogs?

In many situations, a lead is very helpful when you’re hiking, and in some regions it’s even mandatory. Nature reserves and cow pastures are particularly sensitive mountain areas when it comes to this.

Whether your dog can or should in general run free when hiking depends on many different factors. To do this, the dog must be very obedient and reliable. Depending on their breed and character, some dogs might look ahead more, while others are rather clumsy. Surefootedness and the ability to recognise and assess danger are not possessed by every dog to the same degree.

When hiking, dog owners can choose between flat leads and flexible leashes. Flat leads are only suitable for hiking in the mountains to a limited extent because they aren’t comfortable to handle for a long time, and the leash tends to get tangled and caught.

To keep your hands free when you’re hiking with a dog so you can use walking poles, for example, flexible leashes can be attached to your backpack’s harness. If you do this, though, both dog and hiker should be equally sure-footed and experienced.

In dangerous areas, hikers are best advised to undo the fixed connection to the harness in order to avoid accidents.

What should be considered if dogs and cows come into contact?

Again and again, you hear reports of incidents where cows have attacked dogs. If walking paths lead through cow pastures, caution is advised, especially in spring. At this time, mother cows are bringing their calves into the world, and are very concerned for the safety of their young. From the perspective of a cow, a dog poses a threat to their offspring, which must be protected by any means possible.

When travelling through cow pastures, hikers should cross quickly with their dogs on a short leash. The hiker should neither run, nor lose sight of the mother cow (but don’t stare them directly in the eyes, either, so as not to further alarm them). If it’s possible, grazing cows can be walked around with a wide berth.

If a cow does attack hiker and dog, the dog should be let off its lead immediately. This way, both human and animal will have a better chance of getting away quickly.

Can you stay overnight in a hut with a dog?

As a general rule, dogs aren’t allowed to stay overnight in the sleeping quarters or rooms of a hut. But, if dog and owner don’t want to be separated even in the mountain hut, dog owners should get in contact with the manager of the hut in advance. This way you can ask whether there is anywhere to sleep that is appropriate for dog owners. Especially in the low season, good, mutually agreeable solutions can be found.

What else should be considered when hillwalking with dogs?

Targeted training and particular commands help the human-dog team to travel through the mountains as safely and efficiently as possible. When going uphill, dogs usually walk in front. At confusing or dangerous points, the dog should be tightly secured by the collar, harness or on a short lead.

When climbing downhill, it’s often helpful for the dog to go behind the walker. This means that difficult passages can be negotiated together, and the stress on the dog’s joints isn’t as high as when it’s running and jumping quickly.

Conclusion

Whether a day trip, a weekend of hiking or a walking holiday with a dog. With the right equipment and a bit of training and preparation, the days in the mountains will turn into an unforgettable experience for hiker and hound. Many camping sites and holiday rentals are specially equipped for the needs of dog owners.

Additional information about hikes suitable with dogs, as well as current regulations, can be found at the local tourist office, information point or the town hall.

If dog owners are not sure if their pet is fit enough for a longer walk, they should consult their vet beforehand just in case. Only when both dog and human are motivated and in good physical condition is walking in the mountains fun!

Choosing the right cycling glasses

20. August 2020
Equipment

The trails are muddy and dirt is flying up from all sides because of the terrific tempo – and you keep having to screw your eyes shut because you left your cycling glasses at home again. Something like this has happened to every mountain biker, especially when you’re starting out.

Cycling glasses are one of the most important accessories when you’re out on a mountain bike – or on a road bike, too. We’ll now explain why you should always have them with you, and what eyewear is right for you!

 

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How to pack your rucksack

Flyweights for the back –  the world of ultra-light backpacks

17. August 2020
Equipment

Can you still remember your first trekking tour or multi-day hike? For me it was like this: I borrowed the backpack, and it was actually much too big for the tour I wanted to do. But since you famously can’t set off with your backpack only half full, I ended up managing to pack in a load of bits and pieces, so in the end the backpack was full to the brim. This of course had nothing to do with being ultra-light; in fact, it was ultra-heavy! This meant that the backpack – despite having a good carry system and many other comforts – became not just a burden, over time it became a real problem.

Anyone who has had a similar experience has surely sworn: “Next time I’m taking less and lighter equipment in my backpack!” How do you do this sensibly, though, if you don’t just want the contents to be lighter but to reduce the weight of the backpack itself? To answer this question, let’s dive down deeper into the world of (ultra-)light backpacks.

What makes a traditional backpack different from an ultra-light backpack?

The ultra-light class is characterized by one thing above all: minimal material usage. In the trekking field, for example, to make a backpack with approx. 70-litre capacity that weighs under a kilo, everything that isn’t absolutely necessary is discarded. This includes mainly the internal frame along with thick padding. Another important way of reducing weight is the materials used.

This is now starting to sound really crass and like a really crappy backpack that can’t do anything. But of course, this isn’t really true. So let’s take a look at where weight can be spared in backpacks, and what the details might look like.

The frame and the carry system

Backpacks from the ultra-light segment usually have no frame. The reason for this is remarkably simple: the less is in it, the lower the weight. Because of this, sophisticated frame designs and the carry systems that often go with them are intentionally forgone. To make sure it’s still comfortable to wear, it’s therefor important that the rest of the backpack isn’t loaded too heavily and, for good measure, that it’s packed perfectly. We’ve put together the most important dos and don’ts of packing a backpack in a separate article. But I’ll give a simple trick away right now:

Your sleeping mat (in the ultra-light world, foam mats are usually used) can be used to reinforce the back panel. Not only does this ensure the backpack is well stabilised, the mat is also stowed away neatly. Companies such as Exped also offer conventional backpacks, like for example the Mountain Pro 40, that can be slimmed down as required, and can be lightened by nearly a third of their own weight.

Compartments and pockets

It is indisputable that having several compartments in and on a backpack make it more organised. At the same time, though, the compartments themselves also add more weight and often cause the backpack to be packed according to its own organisational system rather than from a functional perspective. This is why the majority of ultra-light backpacks mostly do without extra compartments. This means that the backpacks often come with only one large main compartment and 1-2 smaller compartments or pockets. Many ultra-light backpacks also have a roll closure, so there’s no lid compartments or anything similar. Depending on the model, ultra-light backpacks may also have ways of attaching pieces of equipment to them. A holder for trekking poles or ice tools has practically become standard here. You won’t have to do without compression straps on most larger ultra-light backpacks, either. Especially in the region of volumes of around 45 litres, this is a time-proven construction. Backpacks of this size are usually also absolutely enough for multi-day touring.

Materials

It’s also possible to spare some weight when it comes to the materials. Lighter, which often also means thinner fabrics don’t always have to be worse than their heavier colleagues. Through the use of materials such as Dyneema, a good and, above all, durable result can also be achieved in the lightweight segment. It’s important here, though, that the backpack isn’t overfilled, but that would render the concept of the ultra-light backpack absurd, anyway. Sharp and pointy objects have no place in your backpack, either, and, unless they’re packed well enough, should be fastened to the outside of the pack. If you want to see a good example of a large-yet-light walking backpack that’s made to last, we recommend the Radical from Ferrino. With this large walking backpack, it’s not only that everything that adds extra weight has been discarded, lightweight materials such as Cubic-Tech and Dyneema have also been used, making the backpack robust and hardwearing despite its low weight.

Prejudices and misunderstandings

Sometimes it seems like the world has been divided into two camps: the ultra-light disciples and those who have a fetish for robustness. At least, when exchanging experiences with friends and acquaintances and also when researching this article, I keep coming across countless prejudices, half-truths and open questions. This is why I’ve presented three of the most frequent topics of discussion below. In doing so, I do not wish to take sides with either the “ultra-light” faction, nor the “ultra-heavy” club.

  • Prejudice 1: ultra-light = ultra-expensive

The short story: this isn’t true. The somewhat longer story: it’s not always true. In the ultra-light sector, there are of course pieces of equipment that, because of the materials, the design, or the innovative technologies, come with a heavier price tag – excuse the pun – than other comparable pieces of equipment. But this also happens in the realm of “standard weight” equipment. Especially with backpacks, though, because the design is usually rather simple (no elaborate carry system etc.), ultra-light backpacks come off well in terms of their price compared to their conventional counterparts.

  • Prejudice 2: ultra-light = ultra-flimsy

This prejudice must also be contradicted. But the following question also needs to be asked: what do you actually want from the backpack? If you’re looking for a super robust backpack for spelunking and chimney climbing, then, admittedly, it’s going to be difficult to find something in the ultra-light backpack range. Especially for (multi-)day hikes and trekking tours, though, there are many ultra-light backpack models that can compete with their heavier cousins when it comes to durability.

  • Prejudice 3: ultra-light = ultra-uncomfortable

Admittedly, adjusting from a backpack with a sophisticated carry system to one with a simple contact back was a bit strange at first for me, too. This was, however, also because I had always imagined that you had to carry a lot of weight. But this is not what ultra-light backpacks are designed for. It wouldn’t make any sense at all to first remove every possible gram of weight from the backpack itself, and then to carry a lot of weight on your shoulders anyway because of the heavy equipment you’re taking with you. You have to make a clear distinction. If you want to set out with lightweight and minimalistic gear, and if the planned tour allows for this, then an ultra-light backpack is definitely a good choice. But if your tour is such that, along with a considerable amount of equipment, you also need to take e.g. food and water (which is crazy heavy since unfortunately they haven’t managed to dehydrate it yet), a backpack designed to carry larger loads is definitely needed. In this case, it’s better to try to keep the weight of the contents to a minimum.

Conclusion

Ultra-light backpacks certainly have their place. Depending on what you’re using them for and what you put inside them, they can make a significant contribution to a carefree and successful tour. If you want to get into the ultra-light game, the backpack is certainly the piece of equipment where you can save the most weight. But it’s also important to make sure that the desired model is suitable for what you’ll be using it for and your own personal needs, too. So what are your experiences with lightweight backpacks? Are there any other misconceptions that you would like to clear up once and for all? Write a comment and let us know!

Climbing and bouldering in Scandinavia

Training tips for strong fingers

13. August 2020
Tips and Tricks

“How on earth are you supposed to hold on there?” This is a question I get asked sometimes, and that I ask myself much more often when I’m faced with routes that are clearly beyond my limits. I now know the answer: Amongst other things, it comes down to a good deal of finger strength combined with a really good climbing technique.

Without doubt, finger strength counts as one of the most dominant factors in being able to climb really difficult tours. This can also be seen if you take a look at elite climbers. As different as the physical appearance of these “super humans” may be, they all have one thing in common: They can grip quite small holds damned well, and have a lot of experience with this. But there is hope for us mere mortals. Even though genetic components play a major role in how strong and susceptible to injury our fingers are, with a little time and patience, they can become really well trained.

Perhaps I shouldn’t begin extra training yet?

Before we get started, a few words for beginners of our great sport. To you I would say that climbing is more than just pure strength. In the first few years, all aspects of climbing can be improved really well just by climbing. Targeted finger training is linked to a high risk of injury for beginners. So instead, it’s better for you to first concentrate on technique, tactics, getting a feel for the movements, your mental capacity etc.

Sound strength building requires a lot of time

Even if it may seem like the hand ends at the wrist, its extremely complex system extends through many joints right to the shoulder. It’s important to know that the hand’s musculoskeletal system is made up of a large number of complexly interconnected bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles.

The latter gives us the strength to grip small holds. They can be trained easily and make progress quickly. But it’s a different story when it comes to the tendons and ligaments in our hands and forearms. They require higher training stimuli and also a great deal longer to develop the same capacity. Finger tape doesn’t help with this either, only time does!

If we begin finger training at an early stage in our climbing careers, our muscle power develops too quickly and can lead to injuries when climbing. The injury process then happens as follows: The hand and arm muscles are trained and capable of gripping small holds, but the tendons and ligaments in the fingers are not yet tough enough. But with your new strength, you now embark on your long-term goal of finally reaching the top.

But suddenly, at the crux, your foot slips and you absorb the momentum with your upper body. Either you hear a “pop” straight away, and you’ve got acute trauma to one of your annular ligaments, or you repeat this scenario and cause chronic strain. Both cases are typical patterns of injury for climbers and increase the risk of injuring yourself again in the future.

It turns out that you should take a rather conservative approach to the subject of finger strength. Keep in mind that an injury will set you a long way back; the healing process for fingers can take six months or longer.

Reasons to strengthen your fingers

It makes sense that strong fingers can grip smaller holds. But finger strength has an additional benefit. You can hold on for longer. Why? The reason is maximal strength. This is the maximum force that you can initiate in a muscle through purely deliberate effort. Through good training, you can get your discretionary capacity closer to the limits of your emergency power reserves. This means that the muscle cells are supplied for longer and you can stay longer on the wall. Long story short: the stronger your fingers are, the smaller holds can be before the performance of your muscular system is reduced.

Start training right

For finger training to achieve its full effects, you must be well prepared. Part of this is a sufficiently long break between the finger training sessions. It’s recommended that you do finger training a maximum of twice per week. So, between the training sessions, you can take a 48-hour break and you still have time for climbing or bouldering.

On the training days, it’s especially important to do a proper warm up. It’s best to start with exercises such as jumping rope or doing jumping jacks to get your circulation going. Then you can dedicate yourself to your fingers, with repeated hangs on large holds and a little stretching (<10 second strain).

When you are hanging correctly, or training on a fingerboard, you put weight on both your fingers and your shoulders. This is why it’s important to hang onto the board with the right technique. You should therefore consider the following criteria:

  • Only hold the training board with open hand, or with the fingers in half crimp and not supported by the thumbs.
  • To stop your shoulders from getting overburdened, it’s important to tense your shoulder muscles. This is especially true for training with added weight!

Through the repeated hangs and stretches, you reduce the risk of injury and increase your capacity for the next training.

It is recommended that the following training programs be followed for four weeks each, and that you take a break for at least a week afterwards. Then you can either use the same programme and increase the intensity, or do one of the other two programmes. Of course, you can also get used to your new strength first and let a few weeks go by without any finger training. We’re not pros, and we don’t have to keep to perfect training regimes.

Training for maximal finger strength – you don’t always have to completely drain yourself

The following training methods are different in terms of length, intensity (hold size/added weight) and rest time. Each variation of these factors has a different training effect on the finger muscles, as well as on the tendons and ligaments.

To train your maximal strength, the training stimulus has to be very high intensity, which means the exercise can only be done for a short time. A longer rest is then necessary so that you can do the next round at full capacity again. After a training session like this, you’ll feel unexpectedly fit. But don’t be fooled, your body has done a lot and needs a break.

With these kinds of training routines, it’s above all your nervous system that gets a workout. The effect is ultimately that your body improves the activation of your muscular system. This can mean that more nerve impulses are sent to your muscular system, more muscle cells are activated at the same time, and more powerful types of muscle fibre are activated earlier. This neuromuscular adjustment is a qualitative feature of the performance capacity of the muscular system, and, in this case, of your grip strength.

Eva Lopez’ minimal board training

Eva Lopez researches training methods for climbing. Based on her studies, she has recommended the following training programme for maximal finger strength. For this, you need a large range of training boards. She uses, for example, the Progression training board. A little less choice isn’t bad, either. From amongst the holds, choose one that you can hang from for just 15 seconds at maximum effort. This is your training hold. It will be your friend for the next 4 weeks.

  • 12-second hang
  • 3-minute break
  • Repeat 4 times

Points 1 to 3 make up a set. After a 5-minute rest, you can do another set. Beginners should leave it at 2 sets. The advanced can do up to 5 sets using different holds.

Advanced climbers (UIAA 8 to 9) and boulderers (Fb 7a) can use this protocol as an introduction to fingerboard training and make significant progress.

Maximum strength training with added weight (after Eric Hörst)

After you have done the first programme over several training cycles, the holds that you can hang from will be very small, and at some point also very painful. Now if not before, it’s come to the time to choose bigger hold in the board again and to increase the training intensity through added weight (an extra 10 to 50 kg). When adding the extra weight, remember that this is supposed to be about sensible training and not about impressing anyone else. First choose a training board that you can hang from with the first phalanx. Add enough weight so that you can hang onto it for just 13 seconds.

Soon I’ll show you how to choose the right weight in a video on our YouTube channel. Using this board, you train with the weight as follows:

  • 10-second hang
  • 3-minute break
  • Repeat 4 times

Then rest for 5 minutes and do another set.

Keep the amount of added weight the same for at least 4 weeks; then you can check if you need to adjust it.

Strength endurance – when “getting drained” works

When you’re climbing, you don’t just want to be able to grip the smallest holds, you also want to get to the top of the route. For this, you need to repeatedly grip onto holds and let them go again. The longer the route, the more often we have to keep gripping. You feel your forearms getting tighter and tighter, and they begin to burn. The following programme will make it easier to tough this phase out.

Intermittent hanging (repeaters)

The Beastmaker (Ned Feehally) may well have made this training programme famous, or at least, I see a lot of people training using the Beastmaker app’s programme/intervals. A lot of people also talk about the good results that they’ve got with this method. Essentially, this programme is really good at training your fingers specifically for climbing, but it’s wrongly labelled finger strength training. Because of the high number of repetitions and the comparatively low intensity, it should be categorised as strength endurance training. This becomes particularly apparent from the physical reaction to the training.

The gripping and releasing corresponds to the pattern when you’re climbing, and “pumps” the forearm. It is precisely this pumping that shows that we’re in the realm of energy production through the “lactic anaerobic system”. This means that the muscle gets its energy primarily from partial glycolysis. It is partial because the energy needs to be available more quickly than the biochemical process can supply it.

This process is not a problem for the body. It just leaves a few things behind, including lactate. This lactate accumulates in the muscle, and can only be broken down again at a particular intensity. As soon as the intensity of the exercise exceeds this threshold, the muscle starts to burn. Above a certain lactate threshold, the muscle will ultimately fail.

Through the following programme, you train strength endurance by improving this break-down process and the muscle’s lactate tolerance. You have two options for doing the programme:

  • Option 1: Get yourself a Beastmaker and the app that goes with it (the intervals suggested are quite challenging, so they shouldn’t be integrated into a bouldering or climbing day).
  • Option 2: The Eva Lopez method. This can be integrated into a bouldering or climbing day.

For the training, choose a hold that means that you can only just grip it when you get to the last repeater of a set. This means that you need to do a session first to find out the right hold.

  • A repeater is a 10-second hang and a 5-second rest
  • You do this repeater four or five times in a row
  • Then you rest for a minute and repeat these actions three (not too bad) to five times (quite hard), depending on your training level.

Regardless of the training programme, please do remember: tendons and ligaments don’t adapt as quickly as muscles. This means that, when we’re climbing, we have the ability to grip smaller holds, but the load-bearing capacity of the finger is not necessarily guaranteed. This is why you should be particularly careful directly after a finger strength cycle so that you don’t hurt yourself while climbing or bouldering. It’s also important to strengthen the finger flexor muscles’ antagonist muscles. You can find out how this works by reading our article on antagonist training.

 

What does breathable mean?

10. August 2020
Equipment

In the outdoor sector, it often feels like you hear this word all the time, and it always seems like the egg of Columbus when it comes to the functionality of outdoor apparel.

But what is actually behind the term breathability? Does the clothing actually breathe? And what does it breathe? The outside air, or perhaps our sweat? Why is it so important?

We’ve collated the most important information on the subject of breathability for you.

(more…)

Hillwalking, hiking, trekking & Co. A pocket guidebook to the Babylonian confusion

6. August 2020
Tips and Tricks

Walking, hillwalking, long-distance walking, trekking, hut-to-hut trekking, hiking, long hikes, speed hiking, mountain hiking, backpacking, fastpacking, pilgrimages: these are terms that all more or less describe walking in the great outdoors. Why so many words to describe this wonderful, simple activity where all you do is go outside somewhere and put one foot in front of the other? What differentiates all these “disciplines”? Are there actually any differences worth mentioning? It’s precisely these questions that we want to answer, so we’re taking a closer look at the different disciplines. In doing this, we’re limiting ourselves to movement at a walking pace and without equipment on your feet (such as snowshoes or skis).

Not all walking is the same

An initial answer to the question could be as follows: Outdoor activities on foot are becoming more and more popular, so they’re becoming more and more diversified, too. The spectrum ranges from simple day trips in rural areas close to home to week-long ventures in Central Mongolia. The options vary in terms of their length and the geographical location, as well as according to the effort required and the difficulty. A further differentiating factor for categorising outdoor walking activities is the equipment used. The reason for setting out can also serve as a distinguishing feature. Some people just want to have a nice time, others want to achieve sports goals, while others still want to find themselves or higher meaning. These religious or spiritual motives have become a mass phenomenon with the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela along the Way of St. James.

Awkward descriptions, German anglicisms and cool neologisms

The fact that today every variation on moving your feet in nature has been given its own name is likely because we humans like to categorise things. The marketing campaigns of tourism and outdoors companies are definitely not without blame, either, since a wide spectrum of activities naturally brings with it a wide spectrum of equipment and products. Add to this anglicisms from other languages, such as German, which also muddy the waters. These anglicisms can be very practical for German marketing teams, and make it all sound very sexy. At least in comparison to some real German words, which can seem somewhat awkward and outdated to their original audience. So, “speed hiking” seems more impressive than “Hochgeschwindigkeitswandern” (high-speed hiking), and the neologism “fastpacking” rolls off the tongue more easily than “trail running with ultralight packs”, no matter what language you’re speaking!

Nevertheless, this linguistic richness creates vague terminology that can’t always be transferred easily from language to language or marketing campaign to marketing campaign. If you try to, confusion can ensue. For example, the German “Wandern“ can simply be translated as “hiking“ (which, to add to the confusion, can also be “hillwalking” in the UK), while what Germans call “Trekkinghose” are “hiking trousers” or “walking trousers” in English. So are “trekking”, “walking” and “hillwalking” all a little bit different? So it would seem. Then why are “trekking poles” classified as hiking equipment, and why do Germans translate “Trekking pole” as “Wanderstock”?

As if this all wasn’t confusing enough, as well as “trekking”, “hiking” and “walking”, let’s also throw “backpacking” and “fastpacking” into the mix. While the former can include being on the move with a vehicle if we’re talking about tourism, the latter also involves going somewhere with a backpack. “But wait a minute,” you might say. “When I’m hiking or hillwalking I also have my rucksack on my back.” So is it all just rubbish? No, it’s a question of how different regions and countries use the terminology.

Anyway, so far we’ve determined that the terms hiking and hillwalking are identical to Wandern in German. They are always translated like this when, for example, hiking opportunities are touted on a tourism bureau’s multi-lingual website. According to Outdoor Magazin, both describe “daytrips for which a backpack/daypack with a volume of 20 to 30 litres is used”. And for both, you usually return to a fixed place to sleep in the evening. Tours with an overnight stay (in a hut) can thus be defined as hiking tours.

The many other terms for walking in the countryside do not overlap quite so much, but they still cannot always be “cleanly” separated. So perhaps we shouldn’t compare them so much, but instead simply unravel the terms one after the other – then the differences will surely become apparent:

Hiking and hillwalking

If a walk lasts several hours, you can call it a hike. The German Ramblers Association (DWV) sets the more or less arbitrary limit of one hour. Apart from this, the DWV adds “appropriate planning, the use of specific infrastructure (…) (and) suitable equipment” to the definition of hiking.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re walking through woods and meadows, across hills and over mountains, or along rivers, coastlines or beaches. The difficulty is kept in check, since you only walk on “good, marked paths that do not feature any alpine challenges”. The terrain can be traversed without aids, or with minimal ones such as trekking poles. This last thing is, however, no longer part of standard equipment, which is limited to robust, appropriate footwear and clothing that is suitable for the climate of the area.

And that there is a definition that is as beautifully uncomplicated as hiking itself.

Mountain hiking

Here, the definition is already contained in the name: we’re dealing with hiking in mountainous terrain. Marked or at least clearly recognisable paths and trails are generally used, which can usually be travelled along without a need for climbing equipment. Exposed areas are often secured, and pathless passages are usually short.

The line between hiking and mountain hiking is just as blurred as that between mountain hiking and mountaineering. Attempts to determine it according to individual criteria such as altitude or difference in elevation just wouldn’t make sense either because they could never do justice to the variety of landscapes and all the possible itineraries. So a great number of criteria, such as the equipment required, the length and the planning effort involved, or the demands on fitness, navigational skills, surefootedness and having a head for heights, must also be brought into consideration and compared. The only thing you can say here is that the bar for all these criteria is “set a little bit higher” than when you are “just hiking”.

The range of mountain hikes is very wide, extending from walking along wide forest roads to a managed alpine pasture in the foothills of the Alps, through to ascending an ice-free 3000m peak on the main Alpine ridge. There are also many variations such as high-altitude hiking, which takes place at high altitudes without big differences in elevation; or traversing, which usually progresses from one alpine hut to the next.

Trekking

The word “trek” means to “march”, “walk” or a variety of other kinds of travel by foot. If you look up “trekking” in the Cambridge Dictionary, it is defined as follows“the activity of walking long distances on foot for pleasure”.

This would mean that trekking was just the same as hiking, and that trekking, hiking and hillwalking were therefore all interchangeable synonyms. So is it all just rubbish after all? No, of course not! With trekking, you conquer longer distances with more luggage. If nothing else, then, there are differences in the criteria of duration and equipment. According to Trekkingguide.de, there are also other differences in terms of movement and the “means of transport”:

“For us, trekking is a journey over the course of several days on foot, or with simple, muscle-powered vehicles such as a canoe or a bicycle, usually with luggage. You could of course call the whole thing ‘multi-day hiking’, ‘multi-day boating’ and ‘multi-day cycle touring’.”

The destination can also serve as another distinguishing feature:

“Remote, less developed areas in largely untouched natural environments with traditional culture are thus the preferred destinations for trekking.”

This also matches the classic idea of trekking as a kind of precursor to an expedition into isolated areas that are often also culturally “original”. As well as a place to sleep (in the form of a tent), you also take a greater quantity of provisions with you.

But Outdoor Magazin, which is certainly a voice that carries some weight, has it’s very own perspective. According to them:

As soon as you stay overnight – whether in a hut, a guesthouse or a tent – Outdoor talks about ‘trekking’.

A somewhat more exclusive point of view, but still completely legitimate. So let’s agree that trekking often leads you to countries far from the Alps such as Nepal or Canada, and happens further from “civilisation” than classic hiking. And you also have substantially more luggage with you, and sometimes you also cross through real wilderness.

Long walks and long-distance hiking

Long walks and long-distance hiking could be defined as putting long stretches behind you over several days or even weeks – and it’s another one of those  phenomena that is currently thrusting itself before the public eye like a pop-up window. If you take a look at social media or on the blogosphere, the whole world seems to be off somewhere on an Alpine or a longitudinal crossing at the moment. Why is everyone so eager to march around for days or even weeks? The web portal wandern.com might have an answer:

When you put a long march behind you where you’ve managed 30 kilometres or even more in one day, when you reach your accommodation with burning feet and an aching back, completely at the end of your strength, your soul rejoices and your heart sings. Thanks to this achievement – and not least because of the high levels of oxygen in your blood – you experience a real rush of happiness.

The accommodation is also the crucial factor in distinguishing long walks from trekking: unlike the trekker, the long-distance walker never travels through completely undeveloped terrain. And when your long walk doesn’t return to the accommodation that it started from, the Germans further differentiate this as long-distance hiking.

The German and Austrian Alpine Clubs’ trail guide draws the distinction in terms of the length: Long-distance hiking trails are over 500km long and travel through at least three countries. Long walking trails are over 300 km long and travel through at least three states or counties. Of course, these precise specifications don’t prevent anyone from constructing a route that covers as many national and regional long-distance walking and hiking trails as they want!

Because of the connection of long-distance trails to local resources and infrastructure, people who go on these hikes play a much bigger economic role than the trekker. Accordingly, the former are courted much more than the latter. This economic component is also one of the less romantic explanations for the long-distance hiking boom. In this context, more and more paths are being connected to long-distance trails, marked, developed and marketed.

Pilgrimages

“Long-distance hiking with a spiritual motivation“ – this phrase could sum up the pilgrimage. More than any other, the paths that make up the Way of St. James in Spain, with its atmospheric landscapes and the extensive network of lodgings, attracts long-distance hikers from all over the world. The most famous of them leads from the Pyrenees to St. James’ tomb in Santiago de Compostela.

Speed hiking

We recently dedicated a whole article to “turbocharged hiking”. This intensified kind of hiking often takes you onto difficult terrain, often with sturdy poles and lightweight equipment. The poles provide stability and strengthen the muscles of the upper body.

At first, speed hiking was mainly done as a recreational sport or training method for other kinds of mountain sports such as ski touring or trail running. Recently, however, it’s increasingly come to be seen as its own type of sport, through which you can develop really good conditioning and coordination skills. Speed hiking also suits the current ultra-light trend. Of course, it now has its own competitions with various distances and degrees of difficulty for the growing number of athletes at different levels.

(Nordic) pole walking

At first glance, this kind of brisk walking with pointed poles may seem to be the same as speed hiking, since here, too, poles are brandished and the walking pace is heightened. But Nordic walking rarely tears through many metres at altitude or particularly long distances. Upon closer inspections, the terrain covered and the speed are also decidedly more comfortable. So, Nordic walking may be located somewhere between strolling, hiking and jogging.

In contrast to speed hiking, this kind of walking, also sometimes called pole walking, has a somewhat sedate image, so you seldom encounter young (Nordic) walkers in the woods and meadows. As a mountain sport, Nordic walking barely gets a mention. Its devotees tend to prioritise its health aspects and the social factor.

Fastpacking

Just like speed hiking, fastpacking also swims dangerously close to the waters of the ultra-light concept. Fastpacking is a mixture of (speed) hiking, trekking and mountain running. The motto here is “fast and long”. This means that it happens over several days, on foot, through mountain terrain that is off the beaten track, over steep summits and undeveloped mountain ridges. Ideally, you sleep in a bivvy, or, if you’re a purist, in the open air.

Fastpacking is not for those with no mountain experience, because its minimalism requires an advanced level of training and the ability to handle your equipment with experience and creativity. The light-and-fast attitude of fastpacking is based on the alpine style of mountaineering. Despite this ambition, it is also about minimising the total expenditure without neglecting safety or comfort.

Creative and exotic varieties

Geocaching is the treasure hunt or game of hide and seek for adventurers who are young or young at heart. Playing around a bit with technology and using your GPS device creates a little bit of extra excitement which can even lure people outside who are not so crazy about nature. The GPS device helps to track down the “caches” (treasures) that are now even hidden all over the mountains. Through geocaching, (mountain) hikes seem a little less off-putting, even for young gamers.

Barefoot hiking doesn’t add anything to hiking, it takes something away – the shoes, that is. What is a nightmarish thought for some represents a liberation from constraints for others. Beginners are best off going only a short distance at first, on a suitable surface (grass, sand or soil), so as to feel their way around it, so to speak. Of course, there’s always the option of putting on shoes that you’ve taken with you.

As you can see, the list of activities in the “hiking family” is getting longer and longer. And since we humans keep on tirelessly inventing new outdoor activities , we can only wait in anticipation to see which unorthodox hiking discipline will next be added to the list. So that means: to be continued…

Walking day trip checklist

Hiking clothes: the basics

28. July 2020
Alpinetrek-Experts

Which socks should I wear with my walking boots today? The striped ones or the ones with the flowers? Should I take the red or the blue jacket? I mean, it should match the shoes and socks. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the topic of the right sunglasses, okay?

Yes, these things are really important. After all, on the mountain, everything has to be perfectly coordinated. All kidding aside, the choice of the right hiking clothes should be well considered. One moment you might be hauling yourself over the mountain top soaked, through with sweat, while the next you’re freezing cold. What’s to blame? The wrong clothes.

The different elements of a hiking outfit should all complement each other. If, for example, you wear cotton underwear, the entire chain of breathability is broken from the very beginning – but you probably already know that. No? We’ll help you, then!

So, what are the right hiking clothes like? When you’re hillwalking or trekking, how do you deck yourself out from head to toe in a way that is both stylish and functional? We’ve got to the bottom of it.

Practically decked out from head to toe for hillwalking and trekking

When in the 18th and 19th centuries people in Europe gradually started to discover their enthusiasm for hikes through different cities, countries and landscapes, they wore completely ordinary everyday clothing. The clothes of the first hikers were trousers and shirts made of linen or hemp fabrics, shawls made of wool and, later, jackets and coats made of cotton, too. Partly for pleasure and partly out of scientific interest, they began to explore the world on foot. Their leather shoes may have been comfortable, but it took several decades until the invention of waterproof membranes and non-slip soles.

This made the hikes difficult and gruelling from today’s perspective, for the clothing was very heavy even when it was dry, and, after a solid downpour, it was even heavier. Windproof and well ventilated at the same time? No chance! Small packed dimensions yet still robust? No way! Functional layer system? No such thing!

Far from any of the comforts that modern hikers are loathe to sacrifice, the pioneers covered considerable routes over several hundred kilometres that even with today’s trekking gear would be challenging. They thus sowed the seeds for a popular sport that has spawned many functional innovations and which in the 21st century has experienced a downright boom with its outdoor companies and hiking tourism.

Comfortable walking boots with good grip

Instead of analysing hiking clothes from “head to toe”, this description starts with the feet and then works its way slowly up the hiker. Without doubt, walking boots are the decisive “garment” in distinguishing between those going on a hike and those taking a stroll, as well as people in everyday and leisure clothing. There are many different kinds of walking boots, but they all have one important thing in common: a grippy outdoor sole that guarantees secure footing and perfect grip on hiking trails and terrain.

Soles for walking boots have a strong tread and are made of rubber compounds, which also ensures good grip on muddy forest paths, loose scree and slippery roots. Alongside many different inhouse designs and rubber compounds, many companies draw on proven sole technology from Vibram or Michelin. Some walking boots can also be resoled, providing an even longer life span.

There are big differences in the design and construction of hiking boots and outdoor shoes, from lightweight multisport shoes with permeable mesh fabric, to low-cut approach shoes with pronounced rock guards, through to hiking and trekking boots with high shafts and multi-zone lacing. For quick hikes on easy terrain, lightweight walking shoes are ideal. On challenging tours with a heavy backpack, high walking boots provide ankles with the required stability and protection against injuries.

Light hiking shoes and durable trekking boots are usually available with or without a waterproof membrane. Walking boots without a membrane are usually very well ventilated. At the first wet meadow, though, they quickly become soaked through. With walking boots that have waterproof Gore-Tex membrane or another comparable laminate, on the other hand, your feet stay reliably dry even in sustained rain and on snowfields in the mountains. Despite this, water vapour can still escape through the microporous membrane, ensuring they feel comfortable to wear. Since breathable membranes require a certain temperature gradient to best transport the moisture away, breathability may be restricted in hot and tropical areas. This does not, however, impact on how waterproof they are – that’s always a given.

Different companies and shoe styles use different lasts. This means that some walking boots have a somewhat wider design, while others provide the perfect fit for narrow feet. The cushioning and footbed are also optimised to do what they’re designed to do best, so the shoes might feel very close fitting and firm or particularly soft and comfortable. When choosing walking boots, it’s therefore worth considering the terrain in which you’ll be using the shoes the most. When trying on shoes, it’s best to put them on for a while in the afternoon or evening (on account of the fit, since feet are often somewhat swollen then) and walk around in them in your home. After about an hour or two, you’ll quickly be able to tell whether the walking boots fit nice and comfortably. When you’re going out into the country to wear your shoes in, you should do the first few kilometres on easy terrain before going on your first big hike. Over the course of the first few hikes, the shoes will keep adjusting better to the shape of your feet, and will usually become a bit more soft. This process is a little faster for walking boots made of synthetic materials than for pure leather shoes. Once they have adjusted perfectly to your feet, though, leather walking boots have a particularly comfortable fit. To make the choice of shoe even easier, here is an even more detailed buyer’s guide for walking boots.

Well-fitting walking socks

Without the right walking socks, even good walking boots are only half as good. It is only through the interplay between shoes and socks that you can achieve a high level of comfort and a pleasant microclimate around the feet. The choice of walking socks depends on the choice of walking boots. If there is a low shaft and for sporty shoes, the socks can also be shorter and more sporty. For high hiking boots, on the other hand, you want longer socks with cushioning reinforcements on the shaft, heel and around the toes. In any case, the walking socks must reach past the top of the boot to prevent pressure points forming.

Walking socks are either made of synthetic materials, which allow for a particularly good fit, merino wool, or a blend with merino wool and synthetic fibres. Merino wool creates a particularly comfortable climate for the foot, and provides warmth when it’s damp or even wet. Merino wool is also naturally odour resistant. After a multi-day tour, though, you’d rather stick your nose in socks made of synthetic fibres than in merino socks. Socks made of synthetic material have the advantage that they dry more quickly than walking socks made of merino wool. Whatever choice you make in terms of the material, the walking socks need to fit perfectly or pressure points and blisters can form. A good walking sock shouldn’t slip down, wrinkle up, pinch or squeeze, and still feels great even after a challenging tour in the mountains. You can also find all the important criteria explained in detail in the buyer’s guide for walking socks.

Comfortable base layers

Base layers serve various purposes when you’re hillwalking or hiking. They keep you nice and warm in cool weather, and on hot days they dry fast and quickly wick moisture away from the body. And they always fit comfortably, never chafe and don’t leave behind any pressure points. According to what’s required for the weather conditions, base layers for hikers are available in long-sleeved and long-legged versions, as boxer shorts, practical briefs, t-shirts or tank tops.

Alongside a good fit with comfortable elastic and stretchy materials, high-quality workmanship with flat seams is always strongly recommended. Sport shirts und base layers are predominantly made of merino wool, polyester, and blends with other durable und elastic synthetic fibres. Merino wool feels really great on the skin as the bottom layer of clothing, and provides comfortable warmth in the cold while also cooling you down when the outside temperatures are warm. Even when wet, merino wool keeps the body warm and, thanks to its natural odour-inhibiting qualities, base layers made of merino wool are still comparatively fresh even after a multi-day hike.

Synthetic sport shirts and underpants, which are often a little lighter, can wick moisture away even more quickly. This is why they often feel a little cooler against the skin. Some t-shirts and trousers come with odour-resistant technology that imitates the natural effect of merino wool. Both pure materials and a range of blends are popular with hikers, and it largely depends on which material feels best to you. It’s better for hikers to avoid underwear made of pure cotton and t-shirts made of cotton, though. Cotton gets saturated quickly and takes a really long time to dry out again. This means that it cools the body down unpleasantly and is uncomfortable to wear. To this add the fact that breathable hiking jackets and trousers can only wick moisture away properly if the base layer is also good at conducting dampness away from the body. With cotton underwear, the entire chain of breathability is broken from the very beginning. If you are not sure whether synthetic fibres or merino wool is better for you, you can find additional information and suggestions in the blog article on base layers.

Walking trousers, zip-off trousers and hiking shorts

Good functional walking trousers are characterised by good freedom of movement, a comfortable fit, and durable materials that are fast drying and quickly wick moisture away from the body. A range of materials is used for this, from cotton and various synthetic fibres through to Tencel, true hemp and elastane. This makes some walking trousers particularly elastic and others extra robust. Mountaineering trousers with Schoeller fabric and the robust G-1000 material from Fjällräven are just two examples of well-known, high-quality blended materials. Sometimes, walking trousers are specially reinforced at the knee and in the seat so that stressed areas are well-protected from abrasion and damage while keeping the trousers very breathable and flexible. Ergonomically preformed knee areas, elastic gusset inserts and individually adjustable waistbands round off functional walking trousers. To make it easier to choose the right walking trousers, you can find even more information on the different outdoor trousers available here.

Zip-off trousers, that is, walking trousers with detachable legs, are very popular with hikers because they offer a lot of flexibility. When it’s still cold in the morning when you’re starting out on a hiking tour, but the temperatures will keep climbing around midday, practical zip-off trousers can be transformed into short or knee-length hiking shorts in less than no time. Usually you don’t even need to take off your walking boots. These flexible trousers are also perfect for multi-day tours in variable temperatures and weather conditions, making your backpack much lighter since you can avoid having to pack extra pieces of clothing.

On warm summer’s days, hikers prefer to reach straight for short or knee-length hiking shorts. In terms of their material and their design, they’re similar in every respect to walking trousers with long legs. Breathability and freedom of movement are also the most important criteria for shorts. With elastic designs and practical crotch gussets, they support the sporty hiker in any terrain.

Weather protection is also an important factor for hikers. Many walking trousers provide good protection against the wind and have a water-repellent DWR treatment (Durable Water Repellent). This makes droplets of water simply roll off the surface instead of being absorbed by the material. In heavy downpours, though, even a water-repellent surface treatment has its limits. This is why hikers prefer waterproof outdoor trousers when it’s raining continuously. Hardshell trousers with breathable GORE-TEX® membrane or other waterproof laminates ensure dry legs even in heavy rain. In changeable weather conditions, lightweight hardshell trousers are particularly practical because they can be worn over normal walking trousers if necessary. Waterproof trousers with side zips are perfect for this as they’re easy to put on and take off. Lightweight hardshell trousers are very compact, and with their minimal weight they’re barely a burden in your walking backpack.

When you’re walking through wet meadows or snow, waterproof gaiters are a great alternative to waterproof walking trousers. They protect you from the calf up, preventing snow or water from getting into your hiking boots from the top. The practical hiking gaiters only weigh a few grams and can be put on quickly when you need them without your walking boots having to be removed. If you need more advice in the choice of hardshell trousers and gaiters, the buyer’s guide for gaiters and the buyer’s guide for waterproof trousers are sure to be of help.

Hiking shirts, softshell vests und hardshell jackets

Plaid shirts made of quick-drying, functional material have been popular amongst hikers in the summer for a long time. These breezy shirts are really comfortable on warm days, easy to clean and robust at the same time. Sport t-shirts made of synthetic materials or merino wool will also stand you in really good stead. In cool and windy conditions, hikers often like to reach for softshell jackets or softshell vests and gilets. Functional hiking vests and gilets are very popular because they offer a good mixture of wind protection for the neck and upper body, but are well-ventilated around the arms and ensure comfortable freedom of movement. Many softshell jackets and outdoor vests and gilets are protected with a water-repellent treatment, too, so they also stand up to light rain well.

In long-lasting, heavy downpours, a weatherproof hardshell jacket with a well-fitting hood is just what you need. Waterproof rain jackets and outdoor jackets are equipped with breathable membranes by GORE and other companies, ensuring that the rain doesn’t penetrate the jacket while still allowing water vapour to escape. Many hardshell jackets also have extra ventilation openings, for example zippered ones under the arms, ensuring extra ventilation on strenuous ascents. Waterproof jackets for hikers vary in terms of how light and robust they are. For tough mountaineering and walking backpacks, your hardshell jacket should be just as robust. As an accessory for day touring, on the other hand, what is often useful is a lightweight design that can be folded up and stowed away compactly. As well as classic waterproof jackets, some hikers also like to use rain ponchos or trekking umbrellas to protect themselves from the rain. Both have the advantage that your backpack’s straps and back panel won’t get wet in persistent rain. This is why some hikers also use a handy outdoor umbrella in addition to waterproof backpack covers and hardshell jackets, to prevent water from getting between their jacket and their backpack.

On particularly cool days, fleece jackets or insulating synthetic jackets are the perfect addition to your hiking outfit. They can either be worn “solo” over the base layer or as a practical mid layer under a hardshell jacket or softshell vest. Fleece jackets dry quickly, are soft, warm and easy to clean, so they are always really popular with hikers. The buyer’s guide for fleece jackets will help you find the right one from the wide selection.

Beanies, sunglasses and gloves

With this basic gear, you’ll already be really well equipped. Add to this the right walking backpack, maybe a pair of walking poles, and a water bottle or a hydration system, and let the tour begin! Because, however, the selection of backpacks and poles is just as diverse as the range of hiking clothes, we’ve dedicated entire articles to these topics: a buyer’s guide for backpacks and a buyer’s guide for  walking and trekking poles. But first, a few little helpers and accessories to complete your hiking outfit. It’s very important to choose the right headwear. A warm beanie or a soft headband made of fleece are perfect when it’s cold and windy. On clear, sunny days, a cap or sun hat helps protect against sunburn and sunstroke. Many hikers underestimate the intensity of the sun in the mountains. If the air is a little cooler, or a pleasant fresh wind is blowing, headache and nausea are practically inevitable. This is why it’s better to protect the head than to let yourself be roasted the whole day.

Perhaps it’s not exactly clothing, but when you’re hillwalking by the water or in the mountains, high-quality sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation are just as indispensable as good footwear and functional clothes. For most hikers, comfortably fitting sunglasses in category two or three are the right choice. If you’re hiking at high altitude and on snow and ice, you should even go for category four. You can read even more information on sunglasses and glacier glasses in the detailed buyer’s guide for sunglasses.

Lightweight fleece gloves or windproof softshell gloves are a fantastic addition on cold days. The thin gloves have a comfortable thermal rating while also guaranteeing good sensitivity when using walking poles. Many outdoor gloves are touchscreen-compatible, so they don’t have to be taken off to use a GPS device or smartphone.

A neck warmer, scarf or tubular cloth might not be needed on every day tour in the summer, but, whenever the weather turns, they will warm you up nicely and offer good wind protection.

Perfect functionality through an optimal combination of hiking clothes

Hiking boots, walking socks, trekking trousers, and hardshell jackets – walking clothes are a team and they all have to work together; their functional synergy is only as good as their weakest member. In plain English, this means that walking gear has to be coordinated, and can’t have any weak links. The best shoes are uncomfortable when your socks don’t fit, and a breathable waterproof jacket can’t wick away any vapour if the base layers have absorbed moisture underneath. A good fit and a comfortable feel are the sum of all (clothing) parts and make your life as a hiker more comfortable, easier and more pleasant.

Tips and tricks for sleeping in a hammock

21. July 2020
Tips and Tricks

Do you still remember Magnum, the TV series from the 1980s? If so, an image might immediately flash before your eyes of the eponymous main character, private investigator Thomas Magnum, Hawaiian shirt, dashing trademark moustache and all. Why this digression on the ideal world of childhood television, you may ask? Simple: we’re talking about hammocks! And when it comes to this topic, that TV hero immediately comes to mind: I see him happily lounging in a hammock while sipping a cocktail from a pineapple and smiling at the camera.

A comfortable overnight stay in a hanging sleeping area is, however – especially for hammock camping on outdoor tours – not as simple as the Hawaii-based TV detective makes it look. Whether it’s mosquitos, the cold or that you’re lying in the wrong position, many factors can interfere with sleep in a hammock. So this offers a few pointers on how you can make yourself really comfortable in your hammock.

Which hammock is the most comfortable?

Before we thrust ourselves into the hammock like a bearded Stoick the Vast for a well-deserved slumber, though, it’s important to first clarify which type of hammock provides the most comfortable forty winks.

Let’s start with the uncomfortable candidates. Rod hammocks, that is, models where a spreader bar stretches the sleeping area, are perfect for reading and hanging around in the garden, but not to slumber in for a longer time. Because your body weight is not distributed over the entire sleeping area but is instead located at individual points on the suspended surface, it becomes uncomfortable after a while and causes unpleasant muscular strain in the neck and back.

The rod hammock is also open at the sides, so you quickly grow cold. For the restless sleeper, it also harbours the danger of you rolling out in the night. Another disadvantage that stops you getting a good night’s sleep: the strong tension of the sleeping area means that every movement transforms into an annoying wobble. Another kind that is uncomfortable for long periods of time is the large-meshed rope hammock. If you lie in them for a long time, individual ropes press into your skin uncomfortably, even if there’s a blanket underneath you.

If you’re looking for a comfortable hammock to sleep in, it’s best to reach for a hammock made of a solid material or a fine-meshed rope hammock. Versions made with a solid material are stable, comfortable and keep you warm underneath. Fine-meshed rope hammocks fit to the body really well and ensure great ventilation from the bottom and the sides – perfect for humid nights.

Well hung – how to hang your hammock correctly

Before you can doze comfortably in your hammock, it must be hung up. This doesn’t take much more than two trees, stakes or similar set the right distance apart. The right distance means between 3.5 and 5 metres – the length of the hammock itself plus about a metre at each end. Of course, the branches or trees that you’ve sought out for yourself should be neither rotten nor should they house woodworms, and they need to be strong enough to bear your body weight for a long time.

To attach the hammock, there are special tree protector straps and suspension straps that prevent damage to the tree bark. The two attachment points should be located at the same height so that the hammock ends up hanging horizontally. For the suspension height: The higher the hammock hangs, the cooler it will be. If a humid summer’s night is in store, go ahead and hang it a big higher.

Usually, the straps are hung between 1.7 and a maximum of 2.0 metres high. Make sure that when you attach the hammock, it doesn’t sag too much – remember that there’s still your own weight to come! When it comes to the curvature, if your hammock looks like a banana then you’re on the right track. This results in a roughly 30° angle, which allows a comfortable lying position and ensures the right tension under load. When you’re inside it, the sleeping area should hang approximately 50 cm from the ground.

Me gusta! – The right way to lie in a hammock

Once the hammock is hanging comfortably in the air, it’s finally time for a cosy slumber! But how? There is a pervasive cliché about hammocks that they are at best only good for a short midday siesta, and that a restful sleep in one is practically impossible. It will quickly become clear that this preconception is actually a misconception – provided that you sleep in the right position.

Lying in the right position is crucial to ensure that neither back nor neck pain mess up the next day of touring. The sleeping position we’re familiar with from our matrasses at home, where you’re aligned parallel to the sides, will quickly lead to discomfort when sleeping in a hammock, because the back and the neck area are forced into a strenuous curve. An small but important trick provides relief and, in the best-case scenario, a sleeping position that is better for your back, more comfortable and healthier than on the old matrass you’ve got at home.

Lay yourself in a slightly diagonal line in the hammock, with your feet a little to the left or right and your head in the other direction. This position ensures an optimal distribution of weight over the sleeping area and thus that the hammock has the perfect tension.

At the same time, the fabric will adjust perfectly to a lying position that is relaxing and good for you back. People in many South and Central American countries spend practically their entire sleeping careers lying like this in a hammock. More and more people plagued with back pain in Europe are also finding relief sleeping in a hammock.

And if you’re afraid that you’ll get seasick sleeping in the sack, I can give you the all-clear. A study by the University of Geneva has proved that gentle swinging or rocking movements leads you to fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply – even for people who have trouble sleeping.

Camping under the stars – the hammock replaces the tent

It’s undeniable that the idea of exchanging a musty, man-made tent for heaven’s tent on multi-day tours, and being rocked to sleep in a comfortable hammock has a certain allure. If you do choose hammock camping, you can also save a bit of weight since the tent is left at home.

Sometimes, even a very practical consideration calls the tune when opting for a hammock. If you’re going out into heavily wooded or uneven terrain, it’s sometimes hard to find an even surface for a tent. A hammock can be lashed up quickly and easily between two trees or another suitable option for attaching it, and your tent alternative under the twinkling starry firmament is ready! Ok, so maybe that’s a bit romanticised, and gnats, mosquitos and similar creatures might have a thing or two to say. Not to mention that a night-time rainstorm isn’t exactly conducive to a good night’s rest, either.

But you can get tarps for weather protection when you’re in a hammock. These are waterproof awnings that are stretched over the sleeping area. Just like the hammocks themselves, tarps come in all kinds of shapes and materials. From tarps made of silicone-treated nylon or extremely lightweight, high-performance laminate, through to low-priced tent tarpaulin, the market has everything on offer to protect you from the wind and the weather. The latter option is, however, not exactly portable, since they are relatively heavy and require quite a bit of space in your backpack.

Weather and mosquito protection in the hammock

For light showers, asymmetrical, rhomboid tarps are recommended. These parallelogram-shaped tarpaulins are ideal for stretching over a diagonal lying position and have great ventilation. The disadvantage is that these tarps give up ship in heavy downpours or storms. Diamond-shaped or square tarps stay dry even in heavy rainstorms, and are really simple because they are only anchored at two points.

In strong winds, though, rain can blow in at the sides. Bigger tarps remedy this, but they also add more weight to your pack. Six-corner tarps offer amazing weather protection, but they are complex to put up because they need six clamping points. All-round, four-season tarps can be closed at the sides and attached close to the ground, ensuring comprehensive protection from the wind and weather. These companions are, however, comparatively large, heavy and difficult to attach. We’ve taken a closer look at tarps in another article.

If you’re going touring where biting bugs will make you lose sleep, you need to take a suitable mosquito net with you. There are special hammock nets for this that are stretched around the whole sleeping area and are closed with a drawstring or zip. Some models might need some additional tensioning first, and then you’ll be well-protected from aggressive, winged troublemakers.

If an extra bit of warmth is needed, there are hammocks with slots for sleeping mats, or self-inflating insulating hammock pads. Of course, it is possible to use a sleeping bag in a hammock, but it will soon get uncomfortable. The thermal performance will also suffer: because of the large surface pressure, the insulating material cannot trap much air, so thermal bridges form easily.

If it’s really cold, there are what is known as underquilts for hammocks. These are blankets and quilts filled with down or synthetic fibre, which are hung beneath the hammock. This means that nothing gets flattened, and the hammock is insulated from the bottom and sides. Together with a normal quilt for a blanket or a sleeping bag if necessary, you can thus even camp in a hammock in frosty minus temperatures – depending on the kind of underquilt and your own limits, too. For further information on hammocks that are suitable for outdoor use and the different kinds of outdoor hammocks available, we invite you to take a look at our hammock buyer’s guide. After so much reading, you now really deserve a comfortable snooze in a hammock! Sweet dreams!

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