care-instructions_down-jacket

Care instructions: How to repair your down jacket

9. January 2017
Care tips

The upsides to down jackets are manifold: down provides an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, it’s fluffy and simultaneously compressible. Admittedly, there is one downside that never seems to go away: What happens if a rock tears a hole in your jacket, you accidently burn a hole in it at the campfire or that devilish little dog of yours sinks its teeth into it when you’re not looking? Well, one thing is certain: once a down jacket has a small hole or a tear in it, it can be hard to repair.

But, have no fear: I’ll let you in on a few secrets so that you won’t have to throw away your precious down jacket!

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softshell_membranen

A buyer’s guide to softshell membranes

Buyer's guide

It’s an irritating topic – you wander through the vastness of softshells and the more you familiarise yourself with all the technical stuff, the deeper you delve into the world of confusing details. Leading the pack – the membrane.

In the product descriptions, you always stumble upon terms such as Polartec, Apex, Windstopper, M1, etc. Even more confusing are values like MVTR, RET and hydrostatic head. Luckily, we’re going to shed some light on the dark maze of details.

 

 

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A buyer's guide to sleeping mats

A buyer’s guide to sleeping mats: “As you make your bed, so you must lie upon it”

22. December 2016
Buyer's guide

As hackneyed as this old proverb may be, its relevance is indisputable. For as all of you outdoor enthusiasts know, a good or bad night’s rest can play a significant role in determining your performance and overall well-being in the great outdoors. If you toss and turn at night, feel every little pebble through your sleeping mat or simply freeze your tail off, that’s usually where the outdoor fun stops. Not even the most beautiful of tent pitches could cheer you up!

Imagine finding out in the middle of a multi-day trip that you’ve packed an uncomfortable or poorly insulated sleeping mat. It doesn’t get much worse than that, does it? Anybody who’s ever lain on an utterly useless mat in icy cold conditions knows how energy-sapping and unpleasant it can be, not to mention how harmful to your health.

But, how would you go about choosing the best sleeping mat? Is there an all-purpose mat?

Things to bear in mind

First, ask yourselves a couple of basic questions: What are the temperatures going to be like where you’re going? How will the mat be carried and how much comfort do you need?

All these factors play a significant role in selecting the appropriate sleeping mat. In terms of temperature, there is something call an R-value, which allows you to compare sleeping mats relatively easily.

The R-value measures how well a sleeping mat will insulate your body from the ground. For sleeping mats, the value always indicates the value for the complete mat (the outer material and filling are taken as a whole for completing the measurement). The higher the R-value is, the warmer the mat will be. But, be careful: the measurement is taken in a laboratory setting and does not necessarily correspond to the average person’s perception of cold. Thus, the R-value should simply be regarded as a guideline for selecting a sleeping mat.

As mentioned above, you should think about how the mat is going to be carried. If, for example, you don’t have much room in your pack and are looking to go light, then you should focus on completely different mats than a skier who is planning on pulling a pulk.

And, of course, we can’t forget your personal and very subjective perception of comfort. If you’re more modest and fancy travelling with a light pack, then a lighter and thinner sleeping mat will be more appropriate. Some people even take a very short and small mat along that primarily protects their upper body. In this scenario, your legs would rest on your pack or clothing you brought with you.

If you tend to sleep on your side, toss and turn at night and always feel totally knackered, then I would recommend getting a thicker mat with a thickness of at least 5-6cm. These mats won’t allow your hip to bottom out, and you won’t be able to feel every little pebble through the mat.

Don’t be left out in the cold in the winter – or in the summer for that matter

Out all the seasons, I’d say that winter a special status. So, when selecting an inflatable sleeping mat for winter, you should keep the following in mind. Inflatable sleeping mats can be either manually inflated (using your mouth) or self-inflating, with the latter allowing for better overall inflation. In very cold conditions, however, blowing up a mat with your mouth can lead to water condensation getting into the interior and subsequently freezing inside the mat. Seeing as condensation negatively impacts the mat’s thermal efficiency, traditional and more resilient sleeping mats and mats insulated with down or synthetic fibres that include a built-in hand pump or pump sack are used more frequently in the wintertime.

For winter trips, the combination of a traditional sleeping mat with a self-inflating mat has proved successful, as this combo provides both protection from the cold and plenty of comfort. Speaking of warmth and comfort, in Scandinavia you’ll also see reindeer fur on the outside of rucksacks, but these furs are not only heavier but also tend to shed, not to mention they’re not available at Alpinetrek, nor will they be in the foreseeable future ;-)

Swapping your mouth for a pump or a pump sack is recommended for the summer as well. Why? Well, the air you breathe into your mat can lead to a build-up of algae, which will eventually end up ruining the mat and its insulating properties.

What kind of mats are there and where can they be used?

Foam sleeping mats

For example: the Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite

R-value: 1.5 / Thickness: 4mm / Weight: 390 g

Foam sleeping bag are the traditional sleeping mats. They are reliable and pretty unsusceptible to punctures. Even if you accidently stand on it with your crampons on, it shouldn’t be problem. High-quality sleeping mats are made of a closed-cell foam, such as Evazote. This material is very tough and resilient, won’t go flat and insulates well. It is available in a variety of thicknesses.

Ideal for winter tours; if you need the mat to be very tough and resilient; very versatile, if it needs to be –for example, you could make an insole for your shoe or padding for your rucksack out of it.

Self-inflating sleeping mats

For example the Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus

R-value: 3.8 / Thickness: 3.8cm / Weight: 680 g

Self-inflating mats are produced by several companies in several varieties. Therm-a-Rest invented a line of self-inflating mattresses in the 1970s and is now basically synonymous with self-inflating sleeping mats.Therm-a-Rest. These mats consist of an airtight envelope filled with a sheet of open-cell foam. When a valve is opened, the mat fills itself up with air. Then you simply close the valve – that’s it.

However, the term self-inflating should be taken with a grain of salt, for most mats require you to use your mouth to blow more air into the mattress to increase firmness. Still, it is much quicker and easier than inflating an air mattress.

To pack the mat, all you have to do is open the valve and roll up the mat tightly to force the air out and then close the valve. Depending on the mat of your choice, you’ll be able to get it quite small.

Perfect for trekking tours; great balance of comfort and thermal efficiency; depending on the model, very robust; easy to repair – some patches and Seam Grip and that’s it!

Air mattresses

For example the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite

R-value: 3.2 / Thickness: 6.3cm / Weight: 350 g

For the last couple of years now, these air mattresses have been taking the market by storm. But, the only thing they have in common with the originals now is that the airtight envelope is inflated into an air mattress with several chambers.

For these mats, extremely lightweight and durable material is used. Depending on the construction, the mats feature a baffled internal structure that provides stability and support. Plus, it has heat-reflecting material which traps air and thus prevents a loss of warmth.

Perfect for those who want something lightweight and packable; the thickness makes it very comfortable; considered by some to be somewhat less resilient; easy to repair – patch it and it’s ready to go.

Filled air mats

For example Exped DownMat 7

R-value: 4.9 / Thickness: 7cm / Weight: 860 g

Similar to the “regular” air mattresses, these mats feature airtight fabric with chambers filled with down or synthetic fibres in order to increase their thermal efficiency. Despite how light these mats are, they are exceptionally warm. Plus, they’re extremely compressible.

Perfect for trekking tours where comfort is a must; suited for winter tours (an integrated pump or pump sack makes inflating easy); very well insulated.

Accessories

As is true of almost every product, there is a variety of accessories to go along with sleeping mats. Of course, some are more practical than others.

Those definitely worth mentioning are: the very important repair kit, the abovementioned pump and pump sacks as well as sleeping mat covers to make you feel at home and Vaude’s Navajo Sheet, which makes your camp into a double bed and is compatible with sleeping bags from the Navajo series.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask our experts in customer service. They are available during the week from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at +49 (0)7121/70 12 0 or per E-Mail.

There’s a lot going on in the climbing and outdoor industry. New products are being invented, existing ones are being reworked and improved, and we, too, are learning more every day. And, of course, we would like to share this knowledge with our customers. That’s why we regularly revise the articles at base camp. So, don’t be surprised if a post changes a bit in the coming months. This article was last edited on 25/02/2016.

Carabiner Heroes

A buyer’s guide to carabiners – the unsung heroes of climbing

Buyer's guide

Carabiners are the unsung heroes of climbing. They get beaten to a pulp and still save thousands of lives each and every day without receiving the slightest bit of gratitude or appreciation for their wonderful form and function. Contrary to popular belief, a carabiner is not just there for you to clip your water bottle to the outside of your pack, your keys to your belt loop or your dog’s leash to its collar. Carabiners have a higher purpose! They literally allow climbers to do everything from clipping their ropes into protection, to racking gear, to holding falls. They keep us safe and allow us to move efficiently in the vertical world of climbing.

Who invented it?

The first carabiner was invented by the German climber Otto Herzog on the eve of World War I. Around 1921, the first carabiner for climbers was produced and weighed a portly 130 grams (4.5 ounces). Of course, as a result of technological advances, full-strength carabiners are significantly lighter today, weighing in at around 30 grams (1 ounce).

Plus, they come in a wide variety of shapes, designs and models, all of which serve different purposes in the world of climbing. In this entry, we’ll try to clear up some of the chaos surrounding carabiner models and their areas of use.

The construction

Gate

This is the part of the carabiner that opens and shuts.

Spine

This is the longest side of the carabiner, directly opposite the gate.

Nose

The nose is where the gate snaps shut.

Basket

This is where the rope sits when clipped.

More carabiner lingo

Gate opening

This is the largest possible distance from the gate to the nose when open. It is helpful to know how easy a carabiner is to clip with a rope or how much gear can be racked on the carabiner. This is particularly important for climbers with big hands or for ice climbers who wear gloves.

Cross-loading

Carabiners are designed to be loaded along the major axis (longitudes), for this is the strongest orientation. However, it is possible for a carabiner to be loaded latitudinally from the gate to the spine, which is referred to as cross-loading. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but the carabiner loses quite a bit of its strength, dropping from 20 kN down to 7 kN. So, you should always be careful and try to avoid it.

Gate-open strength

This refers to the strength of a carabiner when open. It can come to an open gate if the carabiner wasn’t closed properly and is nose-hooked or if a rock pushes on the gate in the direction of opening. Even though this rarely occurs, it does indeed occur and is always bad since a carabiner with an open gate only has a strength of 6 kN and can break much more easily.

Materials

For the most part, two types of material are used: aluminium and steel. Steel carabiners are extremely durable but also relatively heavy. Aluminium carabiners are much lighter and sufficiently durable, so they will last for several years, but they do wear out more quickly than steel.

Steel carabiners are mostly reserved for high-use situations, such as quickdraws and anchors in a gym. Aluminium carabiners should never be fixed on routes!

Understanding strength

A carabiner is designed specifically for the demands of climbing, meaning they will be more than strong enough for their intended and proper use. So, there’s no need to worry about the carabiner’s strength rating, as long as it meets the European standard (EN 12275) or the UIAA. To find this, look for the CE and/or UIAA icons on the spine of your carabiner. According to these standards, a carabiner should have a breaking stress of at least:

  • Major Axis (lengthwise): 20kN
  • Minor Axis: 7 kN
  • Open Gate: 6kN

However, some carabiners exceed the norms. Thus, manufacturers tend to laser-etch or forge the ratings into the body of the carabiner. Here, you’ll find the ratings of the 3 orientations: Major axis, minor axis and open gate.

When choosing a carabiner, the strength rating is usually not the main criterion, since all climbing carabiners are significantly stronger than we usually need them to be. But, if you can’t seem to decide between two carabiners, the rating should play a more significant role than, say, the colour.

Shape options

Oval carabiners

This is the original shape of the carabiner, but it is still being produced by some companies. However, they’re hardly being used for climbing anymore. Even though the oval carabiners claim to allow you to rack a lot of gear, they sacrifice strength and are more difficult to use than other carabiners. However, they’re frequently used for tree climbing and industrial applications.

The regular D-shaped carabiners

These are regarded as the second step forward in the evolution of carabiners. Their shape increases their strength and simultaneously makes them easier to use.

Asymmetrical D-shape

Now, it’s getting more interesting. The offset D or asymmetrical D-shaped carabiner allows you to do just about anything, so these should definitely make up 99% of your rack. The asymmetry serves to increase the carabiner’s strength whilst simultaneously reducing the weight. Thus, these carabiners are much lighter than their predecessors. The asymmetry also allows for a larger gate opening than regular Ds, which improves its functionality.

Pear/HMS

Based on their strength, you could use them for just about anything, but the pear/HMS carabiner is intended to be used with belay/rappel devices. The large basket provides plenty of room for a HMS or Munter hitch, hence the name. But, please keep in mind: not all HMS carabiners should be combined with all belay devices. Always have a look at the manufacturer’s specifications beforehand.

Locking vs. non-locking

Basically, carabiners can be divided into two groups: locking and non-locking carabiners. Non-locking carabiners can be opened as long as there is some kind of pressure applied to the gate. The locking carabiners, on the other hand, feature a locking mechanism. Before it can be opened, a climber would have to “unlock” the carabiner.

Within the category of locking carabiners, there are twist lock or auto-locking and screwgate or manual-locking carabiners. Auto-locking can be opened with one hand, an example would be the Petzl Am´D Ball Lock or the Black Diamond Magnetron Vaporlock. There are several different models, but not all are suited for every belay device.

A locking system with a plastic clip or without

This kind of locking system cannot be opened without the climber doing something. Other carabiners without the plastic clip locking system can unlock themselves as a result of a jolt. As improbable as it may seem, it has happened a number of times. Thus, a twist-lock carabiner shouldn’t be used for belaying with a Munter hitch.

The Gate

There are solid gates and wire gates. The solid gates open and snap shut using a spring mechanism.

The wire gate may look a bit more fragile than its solid counterpart, but it’s not. The upside to wire gates is that they have less mass, making them less likely to open under their own inertia.

Bent or straight

The wire-gate and solid-gate carabiners come in the straight or bent gate variety. The straight version is usually used for the bolt-end of quickdraws. Bent gates, on the other hand, are reserved for the rope-clipping end of a quickdraw.

 

F

or quickdraws, you should always use the same carabiner for the bolt-end and another for the rope-end. That’s why many quickdraws consist of two different carabiners so that you can tell them apart. Using one straight and one bent gate on a quickdraw is one possibility.

The Nose

The area where the gate and the basket meet and the carabiner closes is very important not only in terms of strength but also in terms of function and application. Many carabiners have a notch in the nose that hooks onto a bar at the top of the gate. This bar gives the carabiners its strength along the major axis.

However, the notch can be problematic. It is prone to catching on things like gear loops or (even worse) a bolt hanger, which is known as a nose hook.

To solve this problem, the keylock closure system was invented. This is where the gate inserts into the nose of the carabiner like a jigsaw piece. This design used to be available only on solid-gate carabiners, but a few companies have developed similar systems for wire-gate carabiners, such as Black Diamond Hood Wire or the Petzl Ange Finesse.

Size and Weight

Today, carabiners come in a variety of sizes and weights, and colours and price classes. The size doesn’t make that much of a difference. It is more of a matter of taste and only interesting because it affects weight. And, if you have a lot of them, as the professional climbers among us do, you’ll definitely notice the difference between a bunch of heavy quickdraws and a bunch of light ones.

So, which one should you pick?

First, you should decide on a shape, such ‘d’ or pear-shaped. Second, would you like it to be locking or non-locking? What about the gate: solid or wire gate? It is important to think about what you’ll be using it for as well: belaying, quickdraws or racking gear? Would you like to be able to operate and open the carabiner with one hand or two?

What about the colour? The colour really makes sense when you have the same model on each end of a quickdraw and would like to be able to immediately distinguish which side is for the rope.

Lastly, it’s always a good idea to try out different carabiners to see which ones work best for you!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask our experts in customer service. They are available during the week from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at +49 (0)7121/70 12 0 or per E-Mail.

There’s a lot going on in the climbing and outdoor industry. New products are being invented, existing ones are being reworked and improved, and we, too, are learning more every day. And, of course, we would like to share this knowledge with our customers. That’s why we regularly revise the articles at base camp. So, don’t be surprised if a post changes a bit in the coming months. This article was last edited on 17/11/2015.

Washing hardshell correctly

Care instructions: How to wash your hardshell jacket properly

Care tips

Hardshell products are little technological miracles. They’re not only lightweight and waterproof, but also quiet, soft, breathable, windproof, robust and for the most part, nice to look at.

But, when it comes to washing, most of us become hesitant. I, too, have been under the assumption that the complexity of a jacket corresponds to how time-consuming the washing cycle is or how many mistakes there are to make whilst washing (uh, yeah…). And just like that, your new £300 jacket is ruined. Great, thanks for nothing!

But, in actuality, washing a hardshell isn’t all that difficult. I’d even go so far as say it’s child’s play, provided you keep a couple of little details in mind.

Here are some care instructions for the three most popular membranes: Polartec, Gore-Tex and Sympatex. (more…)

How to clean and waterproof your tent

Care Instructions – How to clean and waterproof your tent

21. December 2016
Care tips

It was such a long and hard day with heavy rains and muddy trails! The only thing you can do now is hop in the tent and hope that it won’t be bucketing down again tomorrow! But, as soon as you close your eyes, it starts raining again! All you can think about is how difficult it’ll be to pack away your soaking wet tent tomorrow morning.
This situation may sound familiar to a lot of you out there. In order to prevent this or something similar happening to you, you have to waterproof your tent! But, how? When should you reproof it? Can you do it yourself, or does it have to be done by a professional? These are all questions that I would like to answer in my little overview of how to waterproof tents.

When to waterproof and why?

Nothing lasts forever, and the same is true of a tent’s waterproof coating. Sunlight, heavy rains, weather conditions, abrasion and even Father Time himself can play a role in effectively ruining the waterproof coating of your tent. But, how do you know when it’s time to reproof your tent? If water no longer beads up and rolls off the tent’s surface, it is time to reproof the tent. If you’re planning a long trip, it is particularly important to check the waterproof coating. The easiest way to do so is by using the good ol’ garden hose. If water just beads up and rolls off, all is well. However, if the tent ‘wets out’, meaning it holds the water, the tent definitely needs reproofing. As a rule, you should probably reproof your tent every couple of years. That way, you can be certain that you won’t get any wet surprises on your next trekking or camping trip.

Waterproofing does not necessarily mean waterproof

This needs to be said straightaway. Waterproofing a tent has little to do with the actual waterproofness of the tent. Whether or not a tent is waterproof depends on its coating and whether the seams were waterproofed as well.

So, if water gets in the tent, it is not necessarily due to the lack of waterproofing. It could be due to the fact that the coating is simply done for, that the seams have been split or that there’s simply a rip or tear in the tent. But that’s the topic of another blog entry.

Waterproofing the tent serves to prevent the tent from absorbing moisture. As soon as you pack away your tent, you’ll notice the difference between a heavy, soaking wet tent and one that is basically dry after a hefty shake.

Back to waterproofing

What kind of waterproofing products are there? Well, there are quite a few, but have no fear: they can be divided up into three main categories. For one, there are those that come in liquid form. These are available as an emulsion or as a ready-to-use solution for application. Then, there is the well-tried and tested waterproofing spray, but stick with the ones specifically made for tent fabrics. If absolutely necessary, you can also use shoe spray, but this is by no means a completely reliable alternative. Last but not least, there are plenty of home remedies that promise to protect your tent from rain and condensation. Oh yeah, and keep your distance from wash-in solutions, or waterproofing in the washing machine. A tent does not belong in the washing machine!

Which product for which fabric and the efficacy of home remedies

One thing up front: No matter what products you use, your tent will never be 100% waterproof. When your tent is exposed to very heavy rains and the rainwater literally ends up resting on top of your tent, the outlook is obviously pretty dire. Nevertheless, waterproofing is still essential! The waterproofing makes the water bead up and roll off the tent. And as long as the tent isn’t exposed to torrential rainstorms, you should be ok.

Now, we just need to decide which product is best for which fabric. Synthetic fabrics (usually polyester) are generally already waterproof when you buy them, but this won’t last forever. For these fabrics, waterproofing sprays are the best choice for added protection from water. For poly-cotton blends or pure cotton, water-based solutions should be used. This is important because cotton materials are characterised by their breathability, and using the wrong waterproofer can ruin the breathability. Nevertheless, regardless of your tent’s fabric, always consult the instructions provided by the manufacturer – both the manufacturer of the tent and that of the waterproofing product.

Now, onto the home remedies. The best known, and the most effective in my opinion, is aluminium acetate. Fisherman have been using this for years to waterproof their sailcloth. And what helps at sea couldn’t be bad for a tent. However, this method only works well on cotton fabrics or fabrics with a high percentage of cotton. It isn’t suitable for synthetic fabrics. In addition, you would need to soak the fabric in a solution of aluminium acetate for a while. If that’s not a problem, go ahead and try it out. Other home remedies are far less suitable. Using candle wax as a seam sealer, petroleum jelly or shoe polish won’t do the trick. These are not suited for waterproofing modern and very expensive tents.

How to waterproof a tent properly

Let’s get started. No worries, though, it’s not difficult at all. You don’t even need to be a professional to do it! First, the tent must be clean. It is best to pitch the tent in the garden, fetch some water and a sponge and get started! For stubborn stains, use a natural soap-based cleaner. No chemicals, as these could damage the fabric. Besides, chemicals have no business in nature! Once the tent looks just as clean as it did on the first day – or around there – the waterproofing games can begin! As always, read the instructions beforehand, as some products have to be applied to damp tent fabric whilst others to dry fabric. So, after you’ve read the instructions, you can get started!

Spray

Let’s start with sprays. This is extremely easy. Before you begin, be sure your tent is completely closed. Then, you can apply the spray evenly to the (clean) tent. Once you’ve finished applying the spray, leave it out to dry for several hours. If you want to be absolutely certain it worked, you can repeat this step. But, please always use caution: sprays should only be applied out in the open, and be careful not to inhale the fumes.

Liquid

Now, the liquid products: After you’ve diluted the appropriate amount of the respective product with water, there are two possibilities. Many solutions are applied directly to the clean tent. You can use a brush or a sponge to do so, leave it out to dry and repeat, if necessary. Other solutions, such as the abovementioned aluminium acetate, require the tent to be soaked in the solution. Either the bathtub or using a plastic tub in the garden will do the job. Afterwards, the tent should be hung out to dry. That’s it!

Every tent’s weak spot: the seams

Reproofing a tent is simple, but when it comes to the seams, it’s a different story. Sometimes, it’s even worth buying a completely new tent instead of repairing the old one. The good news is that the coating will last for several years. The seams, however, can become leaky very quickly, but they’re pretty easy to reseal.

If your tent has a leaky seam, water is bound to find its way into your tent. The best way to rectify the problem is to use liquid seam sealers. Which seam sealer is best for your tent depends on the tent’s fabric. You’ll usually find this information in the product description.

Liquid sealers can be applied to the leaky seams from the outside using a fine brush. Then leave it out to dry and the seams will be sealed. By the way, seam sealers are often included with the purchase of a tent.

If the tent is clean and waterproofed, the coating is still intact and the leaky seals have been sealed, then there’s nothing else keeping your from next outdoor adventure. Of course, reproofing can be very time-consuming. But when a storm strikes and you don’t have to pack a soaking wet tent next morning, you’ll be happy you took the time to do it! Promise!
If you have any questions, feel free to ask our experts in customer service. They are available during the week from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at +49 (0)7121/70 12 0 or via e-mail.

Care-Instructions-walking-boots

Care Instructions for walking boots

Care tips

There they are, those unbelievably expensive walking boots. That’s right, the ones that had looked so nice and clean in the shop not so long ago are now covered in mud and grime. Admittedly, it was a smashing time splashing around in all of those puddles of mud like a child, but in the long run, such behaviour is not at all good for the shoes, let alone the leather!

In order for these costly shoes to continue to do the job even after rigorous use, we need to care for them properly. These tips will help you to get the most out of your precious walking boots!

Caring for walking boots: it’s best to do it by hand

One thing can be said straight away: No matter how dirty your boots are, never, ever, ever wash them in the washing machine! Now, you’re left with only two alternatives: Either wait for winter and go on an extensive trekking tour in the snow or literally take matters into your own hands. If you decided in favour of number 2, then you should proceed as follows:

1. Cleaning

Before you begin, remove the insoles and laces from your boots. Then clean off the outside using a gentle brush and lukewarm water to get rid of any dirt. To clean the inside, rinse it out with water and a drop of washing-up liquid. Do not clean the interior with a brush, as this could damage the lining.

2. Drying

The best solution is to leave the boots in a dry place to dry naturally at room temperature for 2-3 days. It is advisable not to use a direct heat source to dry your boots, as this could damage both the leather and any adhesives. To speed up the process, the tried and tested method of stuffing them with newspaper works great. However, change the paper regularly so that mildew doesn’t form in the boot.

3. Care

In order for the leather to get the “nutrients” it needs, you can use either traditional shoe wax, like the Hanwag Shoe Wax, or a liquid product, such as the Fibertec Green Guard Leather. Don’t use leather grease, as it clogs the pores and can dissolve any adhesives.

The wax is usually applied with a cloth or a gentle brush, whilst the liquid is sprayed on or applied using a sponge. Both replenish the leather and help it to retain its water-repellent properties. If you blow-dry the boots (not too hot!), the product can be better absorbed by the leather. Be careful: Don’t let the wax come into contact with the mesh panels, as this would only clog the pores and greatly reduce – if not eliminate –  their breathability.

You can protect the hooks and eyelets from corrosion by applying a bit of Vaseline or wax. As for the upper leather, conventional moisturiser is used, whilst for full leather boots, leather milk is used, which can be applied to the boot’s interior every once and a while. GORE-TEX liners do not require care. If you would like to know how to care for GORE-TEX shoes properly, take a look at this.

4. Post-treatment

If you use wax on the leather, it will look somewhat darker and greasy afterwards. Fortunately, it only looks that way – it won’t at all affect the performance of the boot. Still, if you’d prefer it not look like that, you can gently brush the leather using a wire brush or special suede leather brush to freshen up the leather. If you’re looking to get rid of any unwanted odours, your best bet would be to use a shoe deodoriser, such as Granger’s G-Max Odour Eliminator.

Cleaning your walking boots on the trails

But, what if you’re on a multi-day trip and haven’t got a complete walking boot cleaning kit? It’s always a good idea to air them out at night. To do this, simply loosen the laces and remove the insoles. And, remember: don’t leave them directly in front of the fireplace or another heat source. Instead, leave them out to dry at room temperature.

All the dirt and grime on the surface can be washed off in a brook, or you could use a bowl of lukewarm water if you happen to have one with you. Those of you who’d still like to give the leather a little TLC should get a small tube of wax and pack it in your rucksack for your next trip.

Caring for synthetic walking boots

If you haven’t got any leather on your feet, you can clean your boots as described in steps 1 and 2. Synthetic material doesn’t require any special treatment. All you need to do is apply a waterproofing spray so that the water-repellent properties of the boots’ upper are maintained and the breathability is not impeded.

Storing your walking boots

There’s not much to be said here, either. It is best to store your boots in a shoe box in a dry, well-aired place. As mentioned above, you should keep them away from heat sources, which means you should keep them out of the boot of the car as well. Using a shoetree or newspaper will help the boots preserve their shape.

And what else can go wrong?

This may sound familiar to some of the more avid hillwalkers out there: You purchase a spanking new pair of walking boots, spend all that time breaking them in and wear them for many subsequent years because they fit so well only to discover that the soles have been completely worn down. Fortunately, you can resole most boots. The only thing you have to consider here is that the soles must have stitching around the entire perimeter of the boot in order for them to be repairable. You can either go to the cobbler of your choice or contact the dealer you bought the boots from directly. The latter would then post the boots to the manufacturer who would replace the soles – usually at cost price – within a few weeks. Even the little bits, such as eyelets, can usually be replaced quickly and easily.

Do I really have to follow all these instructions?

Let’s keep this brief: Your walking boots will thank you for it. You have to keep in mind that the leather really goes through a lot on the trails and thus needs a little TLC every now and again – just like us! Plus, if the shoes are properly cleaned and taken care of, they’ll be just like new and will last for years to come!

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

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

How to lace your walking boots

How to lace walking boots properly

Tips and Tricks

Most of us do it on a daily basis. It’s basically become so second nature that we can talk on the phone, eat, drink and even drive whilst tying our shoes (not recommended). A lot of us have been doing it for so long that we don’t even think about it anymore – we just tie our shoes.

So, why start after purchasing a new pair of walking boots and navigating our way up mountains?

For one simple reason: when your feet start to hurt, the trip can get ugly very quickly.

Thus, we’ve put together a few tips and tricks as to how to avoid blisters and hot spots and provide some relief if and when it does come to that.

The right fit is key

In the morning before heading out, there’s usually plenty of time to properly lace your shoes. After about 15-20 minutes, however, the shoe has begun to warm up and consequently to expand. Even though they may have felt very snug but 30 minutes before, now the boots start to rub uncomfortably on a particular area.

Now you definitely need to take the time to lace your shoes again. And, don’t feel bad about making your walking buddies wait on you to do so. At least you won’t be ruining the entire hill walk for them later because of all the pain you’re in. Plus, your companions would probably benefit from some minor adjustments as well!

The tongue should be central

You should always try to keep the tongue of the shoe centred because if it happens to move to the side, it can cause pressure points. So, if you give your tongue a little direction to begin with, it’ll happily do as it’s told.

If the tongue of your shoe is a little stubborn and unruly, you can lace your boots as seen in the photo. However, this method can lead to a loss of pressure in the shaft, which can be a little unpleasant as well.

Lacing lower around your ankle

Particularly when walking uphill, tying the knot a little further down can create more space for your feet to move.
For this, you can guide the laces over the top of the hooks, which will result in the knot being around 1-2cm lower. How much one or two centimetres really matter is unknown, but there are people who swear by this technique.

This will create more tension and the shoe will remain snug and won’t loosen up as quickly, which is certainly a good thing.

Two zone lacing

A lot of walking and mountaineering boots have locking hooks, making it possible to divide the lacing up into zones. Thus, you can lace the instep independently from the shaft.

For ascents, it is recommended that you lace zone 1 a little more tightly for a secure fit and leave the upper section (zone 2) somewhat looser.

For descents, it is better to tighten up both areas so that your foot won’t slide forward.

The oh-so worrisome heel slippage

If your heel doesn’t sit securely in the boot, your heel will rub against the shoe. This will not only destroy your perfectly good socks, but it will also cause painful blisters. In order to prevent this (especially if your heel is particularly sensitive), there is the heel lock technique.

To do this, thread the laces directly through the hooks (without the crisscross pattern). Then guide each lace and loop it under the opposing side. Then pull the laces through until you feel your heel is secure.

Then continue as you would with the crisscross pattern.

More room at the instep

Sometimes you will feel pressure on your instep, which can be the result of a ganglion or an uneven instep (which most of us have). You can alleviate this pressure by freeing up some space at the instep.

T

o do this, just guide your laces through two eyelets on the same side where you feel the tension, but don’t cross them over. This way, you will alleviate the pressure at the instep.

Tightening without hooks

Most walking boots have hooks and thus two zones. But, there is a way to create more lacing zones.

To do this, when crossing your laces over, just cross them over one more time and then continue to thread them through. That way, there will be so much more tension that it is unlikely that the laces will loosen.

But, be careful: this will also create more pressure at the instep.

One more tip to prevent blisters

I have been told that if you tend to get blisters it can help to wear thin cotton socks underneath your hiking socks, in which case the socks will rub against each other instead of against your foot.

However, cotton socks absorb sweat and saturate quickly, which can in turn result in blisters. As an alternative, you could use a pair of nylon socks. Since I never get blisters, I have never had the pleasure of trying it, but other people swear by this technique. But, be careful: You don’t want your shoe to be too tight as a result.

Today, there are even sock brands out there that offer a two-layer design, such as Wrightsocks.

And some more fundamentals

Laces are dynamic, meaning they are flexible. This is crucial, as it allows the laces to adapt to the shoe and your foot. Plus, they have some “give”.

If you replace ordinary laces with rope laces, for example, the lacing will be much stiffer, which can create more tension. If you tend to get blisters and experience pressure points, this shouldn’t be your go-to solution.

Let’s hear about your experience

Do you know any other lacing methods that have helped you? We want to hear about them! We will happily add your experience to the blog. Just send us an e-mail!

There’s a lot going on in the climbing and outdoor industry. New products are being invented, existing ones are being reworked and improved, and we, too, are learning more every day. And, of course, we would like to share this knowledge with our customers. That’s why we regularly revise the articles at base camp. So, don’t be surprised if posts change a bit in a couple of months. This article was last edited on 30/10/2015.

keep-your-merino-in-good-sh

Care instructions for Merino

Care tips

When it comes to base layers, as well as other layers of clothing, more and more outdoor enthusiasts are swearing by merino wool – its qualities are just that convincing. However, uncertainty always rears its ugly little head as soon as the merino garment needs to be washed.

Like down, merino wool is a natural product, and such products are known for being “difficult” to care for. So, many of us have asked ourselves what we’re allowed and not allowed to do with merino garments.

I’ve looked into it and put together some info for you. I can tell you this much already: it’s very easy.

Why merino wool?

The answer is simple: Merino wool combines the characteristics of synthetic materials and wool into one without all the flaws.

Merino wool is soft, it will keep you cool when it’s warm and keep you warm when it’s cold, it doesn’t smell, it doesn’t itch, it doesn’t retain much moisture and quickly wicks it away, it retains its shape, it’s easy to wash, it’s lighter than regular wool, it’s a natural fibre, so it’ll grow back, and it doesn’t require any oil for its production.

An attentive reader would probably ask for the catch at this point. It seems a little too good to be true, does it not? But it is! True, that is.

There is a “but”, though. There’s a pretty horrible procedure among merino wool farmers called mulesing, which is – to put it lightly – very unpleasant for merino sheep. I won’t go into detail here, but you can find a rather detailed report on it on Wikipedia.

An increasing number of the leading merino wool manufacturers in the outdoor industry, such as Ortovox or Icebreaker, are dealing with this issue and guarantee that mulsing is not being carried out on their sheep. Some brands, like Ortovox, are even actively involved in creating conditions in which mulesing is not necessary.

Other than that, there’s no catch!

So how do we care for it?

In contrast to its two siblings, conventional wool and down, merino wool is extremely easy to care for and wash.

As individual products can differ, it is always better to read the care instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Here’s a short summary:

Washing merino wool:

Wash the garment in a normal wash cycle between 30°C and 40°C using regular powder or liquid detergent. For merino wool, you don’t need wool detergent. This is intended for conventional wool and can thus damage you merino wool! Don’t use bleach or fabric softener, either!

As always, it is advisable to wash lights and darks separately.

Zips should always be closed prior to washing and products with prints should always be turned inside out.

Icebreaker explicitly states that they prefer machine wash over hand washing because the latter can enable the build-up of residue, which may cause the garment to produce odours after all.

Drying:

Do not tumble dry merino garments! Instead, line dry them. Merino usually retains its shape, but it wouldn’t hurt to lay in flat to dry.

How to prevent pilling:

Sometimes shorter fibres work their way to the surface of the fabric. As these shorter fibres make their way to the surface, pesky clumps form. These are known as pills.

Pilling can be prevented by periodically washing your merino product with a coarser fabric, such as jeans. With time, the fabric will improve, as the shorter fibres will be removed before they pill. But, before doing so, make sure that all zips on your jeans are closed.

And what about the smell?

It’s become somewhat of a sport to brag about how long you’ve worn your merino garment without washing it, claiming that “it didn’t even stink after three weeks!” Whether or not it’s an impressive feat not to wash your shirt for three weeks is neither here nor there; the fact is: merino wool is pretty much odour-free.

This is due to the fact that wool fibres work on the human body just as they do on a sheep’s. The wool fibres draw sweat away from the body, absorb it and then release it, so there is no sweat on our skin and thus no odour!

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

There’s a lot going on in the climbing and outdoor industry. New products are being invented, existing ones are being reworked and improved, and we, too, are learning more every day. And, of course, we would like to share this knowledge with our customers. That’s why we regularly revise the articles at base camp. So, don’t be surprised if a post changes a bit in the coming months. This article was last edited on 15/12/2015.

A buyer's guide to outdoor jackets

A buyer’s guide to outdoor jackets

10. November 2016
Buyer's guide, Equipment

There are so many outdoor jackets out there, but not every model is perfect for every kind of activity. Of course, there are some that are suitable for multiple activities, but some are clearly better than others. In the following, we’d like to provide you with a bit more detailed information on what to look out for when choosing a jacket for your activity of choice.

We love helping our customers decide what to buy, and jackets just happen to be one of those categories where we can really knock ourselves out! For there are jackets not only for mountaineering and hillwalking but also cycling and trail running!

 

 

 

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Care-instructions-softshells

Care instructions for softshells

Buyer's guide, Tips and Tricks

By now, softshell textiles have already found their firm spot in almost every outdoor wardrobe. No matter if you’re on the bike, skiing or climbing in the mountains – due to their great and wide ranging properties, it would be hard to imagine outdoor trips without them.
Comfortable and stretchy, they allow for great freedom of movement and are moreover for the most part almost entirely windproof and water repellent. But here we are at the big distinction from hardshell clothing, which are always fully waterproof.

 

 

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Tips & Tricks_Waterproof vs. water repellent

Tips & Tricks: Waterproof vs. water repellent

Equipment, Tips and Tricks

Worst case scenario: It’s the second day of a two-week camping trip. Your backpack is stuffed with the necessary equipment and the only clothing you have with you is what you’ve got on your back. Extra clothes get left behind to save weight and space. But then, the weather takes a turn for the worse and doesn’t look like improving any time soon. The worst thing that can happen to you now is your clothes get wet. You have nothing to change into and you don’t know when you might get an opportunity to let things dry. You’ll have heard the annoying cliché that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”? Well, there’s a lot of truth in it. In a situation like this you need a good waterproof layer to protect you from the rain and the cold and of course the hotspots from rubbing rucksack straps and clothing. But how can you tell the difference between good and bad waterproof clothing? What will really keep you dry?

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