How polarised sunglasses work

How polarised sunglasses work

16. November 2017
Equipment

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

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

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

What are we really talking about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do polarised glasses do?

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

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

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

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

Areas of use

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

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

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

About the author

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

How self-inflating sleeping mats work

How self-inflating sleeping mats work

7. November 2017
Equipment

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

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

How self-inflating sleeping mats work

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

How to regulate the amount of air in your mat

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

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

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

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

How to store your sleeping mat when not in use

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

Self-inflating sleeping mats in different thicknesses

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

How to clean and repair your sleeping mat yourself

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

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

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

Walking day trip checklist

Walking day trip checklist

3. November 2017
Equipment, packing list

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

Clothing







This is what you need













Optional (depending on the trip and time of year)











If you still have room in your pack









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

A buyer´s guide to softshell jackets

A buyer´s guide to softshell jackets

2. November 2017
Buyer's guide

In the outdoor industry, softshells are often praised as the do-everything jacket: They’re highly water-repellent (sometimes even waterproof), windproof, highly breathable, extremely lightweight and conform to your movements, making them perfect for almost every situation. But, can softshell jackets really do everything? What are the differences between them and what should you keep in mind when looking to buy one?

Well, we’ve put together all the pertinent info for you. Welcome to our buyer’s guide to softshells!

What is a softshell anyway?

Well, that’s not an easy question to answer. The amount of softshells on the market is as large as the jackets are versatile. Whilst many jackets are reminiscent of hardshells, others are more like your classic jumper. Softshells make up the mid-layer between a fleece jumper and a hardshell jacket. In contrast to fleece jumpers, softshells are more wind and water-repellent but not waterproof to the extent that a hardshell is. Plus, they are more breathable and elastic.

Manufacture

Most softshells are windproof. This is achieved by way of two manufacturing techniques. There are jackets with membranes, such as the Montura Ski Fighter Jacket with Gore Windstopper fabric, and there are jackets that have such dense fabric that they are windproof like the Tatonka Dorum Jacket. If you’re interested in membranes, we’ve put together an overview of the different ones available here. In other words, a jacket can be windproof as a result of a membrane or the weave. The advantage of a membrane, however, lies in the fact that it repels rain to a large extent, which is something a special weave can’t do. The disadvantage of a membrane is that it doesn’t allow as much water vapour to pass through, so you lose some of that breathability.

Which one is better is something we can’t answer. You have to decide for yourself! If you expect your softshell jacket to protect you from wind and light rains and remain breathable at the same time, a membrane would be your best option. If you’re looking for a jacket that is particularly warm and breathable, shields you from winds but not so much from rain, then a jacket without a membrane would be your best option.

If you’d prefer the one with a membrane, you should ask yourself the following question:

Why not a hardshell?

As was already mentioned, there are softshells on the market today that are pretty much up to snuff with hardshells. They may not be 100% waterproof (and seldom have watertight seams and zips), but they are much more breathable. Another difference you’ll notice is the material used, which is much softer and more elastic. This not only makes it more comfortable to wear but also allows for more freedom of movement. This is the main reason softshells have been so popular:excellent performance and a high level of comfort!

For those challenging multi-day trips with those inevitable heavy rains and no shelter in sight, there’s no way around a hardshell jacket. For all other endeavours, a softshell is a great alternative.

How did these softshells get so comfortable?

Like hardshells, Softshells have multiple layers. The outer fabric is an abrasion-resistant and water-repellent material that transports moisture well but doesn’t absorb any. For this purpose, polyester, polypropylene or polyamide is used. The second layer is often a membrane, which allows water vapour to pass through but repels wind. On the inside of the jacket, you’ll find fleece, fur or wool for comfort, freedom of movement and protection from the cold.

Areas of use

As a result of the plethora of fabric combinations, softshells are just as numerous as their possible applications. In order to find the perfect jacket, you should have a close look at the features. Softshells come equipped with underarm zips, helmet-compatible hoods, drawcords and other cool features, all of which can be pretty useful or pretty redundant, depending on what you need the jacket for.

If you’re looking into buying one for cycling, jogging, trail running or some other highly-aerobic activity, you should definitely get yourself a breathable jacket. If you tend not to cycle or run in the rain, you can do without the membrane. The most important factors are the fit and the venting options (e.g., pit zips). You can also opt for a softshell without a hood for the same reason as above. For cycling or climbing, however, it’s always a good idea to have a jacket with a drop back hem. The Arc’teryx Incendo Jacket, for example, is a classic running jacket: it’s got no unnecessary features and is extremely lightweight and packable. Plus, it will give you sufficient weather protection if you take the long way home!

Jackets like the MaruanM. from Maloja have a special combination of fabrics. The front is windproof, whilst the back is not. Instead, the back is made of breathable fabric, so it’s perfect for all cyclists, runners and ski tourers! For alpine activities, these kind of jackets won’t do, though. You need complete weatherproof protection! The Ultimate Eisfeld Softshell Hooded Jacket from Mammut, for example, comes complete with an adjustable, helmet-compatible hood, ventilation zips and a membrane that is built to withstand light showers with ease. Plus, it is significantly stretchier than a classic hardshell and thus perfect for alpine climbing routes.

Jackets like the Vaude Roccia Softshell Hoodie are intended for everyday wear. They are completely windproof and come with a hood that will shield you from any rain shower. Plus, they’ve got quite the simple, yet stylish design. In other words, with a jacket like that, you’ll get the weather protection you need without always having to take along that swooshing hardshell.

The sheer quantity of different softshell jackets on the market today can make it difficult to keep track. But, if you give yourself some time to think about exactly what you’re looking for, the chance finding the perfect jacket are pretty good!

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

There’s a lot going on in the climbing and outdoor industry. New products are being invented, existing ones are being reworked and improved, and we too, are learning more every day. And of course, we would like to share this knowledge with our customers. That’s why we regularly revise the articles at base camp. So, don’t be surprised if a post changes a bit in the coming months. This article was last edited on 02/11/2017.

A buyer's guide to cycling shoes

A buyer’s guide to cycling shoes

18. October 2017
Buyer's guide

The new cycling season is well underway, and as every year, it’s time to check, renew or add to your cycling equipment.

Today, we’re going to talk about shoes, or more specifically, how to find the right ones for you. After all, it can be quite the daunting task, especially considering how many different models there are now. Fortunately, there are ways to significantly reduce the number of options, one of which is by asking yourself the following simple question:

What kind of bike do I have?

In addition to the question above, you should always ask yourself what you need the cycling shoes for, or in other words, whether you need road bike shoes or mountain bike shoes.

Road bikes

Road cyclists, who always seem to be looking for a boost in speed will find that special road bike shoes have a particularly rigid sole. This serves to provide stability, even when you’re riding aggressively. The sole itself is usually kept smooth and has little or no tread.

Mountain bikes

You’ll notice a difference between mountain bike shoes and road bike shoes the second you look at the bottom. In contrast to road shoes, MTB shoes do indeed have tread because mountain bikers are often places where they’re forced to hop off their bikes and walk. To be prepared for all eventualities, it’s best to get all mountain shoes. Their special tread makes it much easier to climb uphill on foot. Plus, they’re provide the necessary stability and surefootedness as well.

BMX

A special kind of bike shoe is a BMX shoe. These shoes should not only be very tough and dirt-repellent, but lightweight as well. BMX shoes come equipped with a slightly softer rubber sole, which provides the necessary grip on the pedals, whilst simultaneously allowing for freedom of movement for all those cool tricks.

The importance of a bike shoe’s sole

Only by forming the perfect connection between your shoe and the pedal can you achieve optimal power transfer and pedal efficiently. Plus, this connection can reduce or even eliminate fatigue as well as muscle and joint pains on long trips. In general, you can say that the stiffer the sole, the better the power transfer. For this reason, they’re really well suited for fast cyclists and long trips with some elevation gain.

Optimal security thanks to the clipless pedal system

In addition to the construction of the sole and its characteristics, there’s another factor that promotes power transfer and a safer riding style: a clipless pedal system. This is a two-part system, with one part being a pedal with a locking mechanism and the other a cleat that attaches to your shoe. By having your shoe connected to the pedal, you generate power not only by pushing but also by pulling. More specifically, each time you pedal, one foot pushes one pedal downward, whilst the other pulls the other pedal upward. This results in much higher speeds, increased efficiency and thus increased power output.

Bike shoes just have to fit

In addition to all the features and cool technology, your cycling shoes should fit you, as with any other shoe. You don’t have to be a cyclist to be familiar with the consequences of ill-fitting shoes: they pinch, cause hot spots and blisters. This is something you should never underestimate, especially when it comes to sport shoes. Why? Well, as a result of increased activity, the shoe and thus your foot will be subjected to much more significant amount of strain. Pesky blisters can form in a matter of minutes, which can often lead to you stopping whatever is you’re doing entirely. The same goes for cycling shoes. The constant pedalling causes the foot to be strained in exactly the same way every time you’re on your bike. Even if you feel the slightest discomfort, a fun day of cycling can turn into quite the ordeal very quickly. To prevent this, be absolutely certain that the shoe fits perfectly and you don’t experience any pressure.

As with other shoes, several cycling shoes have a removable insole, which you can replace with an orthotic if you so desire. This can really improve the fit and feel of a shoe, which will in turn make for a more enjoyable ride! Besides, who wants to cycle in pain? Not I!

Materials

There may enormous differences when it comes to materials (with the majority being made of modern synthetics and high-quality leather), but one thing’s for sure: your cycling shoes should be breathable. The breathability of the individual models can vary depending on everything from the kind of closure the shoe has to the mesh inserts. For particularly warm weather, summer shoes will be your best bet, because these naturally keep your feet cool. For bad weather, it’s a good idea to get yourself some overshoes!

As for the closure, the majority of shoes today come with either a hook-and-loop closure or traditional lacing. Both allow you to achieve a precise fit and lock down the foot nicely. A combination of both, however, will give you even more security.

Choosing a brand

Since the number of both cycle commuters and actual athletes has been on the rise in recent years, more and more manufacturers are trying to gain ground in the cycling shoe market. Of course, they still have all the already well-established brands like Vaude, Shimano, Scott and Giro to contend with, so trying to make a name for yourself is no easy task. As a result of this ever-increasing selection, things have become even more difficult for us as consumers as well. Fortunately, you have the upper hand here. After all, the most important thing to keep in mind when buying a pair of bike shoes is your personal preference. If the shoe fits, meets your demands and you actually like it, then go with it – no matter what anybody else says!

A buyer's guide to climbing helmets

A buyer’s guide to climbing helmets

12. October 2017
Buyer's guide

They may not be as comfortable as a knit hat or as flattering as well-fitting shirt, but they’re a staple in the world of climbing, and an important one at that. As unpopular and often detested as the climbing helmet might be, it does one thing that nothing else can, namely protect the most important thing we have: our head.

Because virtually every mountain sports brand now offers a wide variety of mountaineering helmets, I thought it was as good a time as any to illustrate the most significant differences between them. It’s weird to think about, but up to just a few years ago, people were just grabbing whatever helmet was available without even thinking about the fit, the colour, the intended application – nothing!

Oftentimes, the fit was so poor that you had to take pain reliever with you! Colour options were no better. But now, all that has changed. Today, there is a wide variety of helmets on the market designed for an even wider variety of applications. Interested? Ok, let’s talk helmets.

“Just” a climber or a multi-sport athlete?

With the market constantly growing and the technology becoming more advanced, there are more and more criteria determining what kind of helmet we ultimately decide to buy. One of the most important criteria is certainly the intended area of use.

Since many of us don’t just do one sport and would rather not have a separate helmet for each, there are now several models that are certified for multiple disciplines.

That’s all well and good, but you do need to consider the fact that this jack-of-all-trades is not a specialist in all areas. It is simply designed to meet the standards required by multiple sports. In other words, it’s a dabbler, and dabbler will never be as good at one thing as the specialist would be at that same thing.

Hardshell, foam or hybrid?

Helmets for mountaineering and climbing have two primary functions: to protect our heads from falling rock and impact from a fall. Mountaineering helmets should be able to do both, but due to differences in their construction, one helmet may focus more on one function than on the other. Which one you need depends entirely on what you plan on using it for.

In the world of climbing and mountain sports, we basically differentiate between two types of helmets. Hardshells and modern In-Mold helmets with a polystyrene foam core. The combination of the two results in a third type of helmet, namely the hybrid helmet, which has a polystyrene foam core under the hard plastic shell.

Hardshell helmets

These are your traditional mountaineering helmets. They’ve been around since the beginning, more or less. You can recognized them by the hard plastic shell.

They are designed to protect your head from rock fall and are pretty robust. However, because of their construction, their ability to absorb lateral energy is quite limited. In other words, they provide little side impact protection. Another disadvantage of these helmets is their weight. They are pretty heavy when compared to the foam helmets.

In-mold helmets or foam helmets

Foam helmets have two important advantages. Not only are they incredibly light, but they also provide optimal impact protection. However, the soft construction makes these helmets less capable of withstanding rock fall because the impact forces cannot be distributed sufficiently. What’s more, they are more susceptible to scratches and dents, so they should be handled with a bit more care so as not to impair their usability.

Hybrid helmets

A hybrid helmet, such as the Black Diamond Vector balances out the advantages and disadvantages of both materials: the foam is enclosed by a thin plastic shell that provides solid protection and doesn’t weigh all that much.

However, the difference between a foam and a hybrid helmet can be rather blurry, as most foam helmets also have a thin shell for protection, the difference being that these thin shells really pale in comparison to a hardshell helmet when it comes to strength.

Not indestructible

Although it’s difficult to make a general statement about the durability of helmets, hardshell helmets tend to have a longer lifespan than foam helmets. Details concerning the durability or lifespan of your helmet can found in the user’s manual. The lifespan provided in the manual is by no means arbitrary or purposefully short in order to force you to buy a new helmet and thus make as much money as possible. According to the DAV (German Alpine Club), the practical lifetime of a helmet is 5 years.

With time, plastics will age, become porous and thus lose their ability to absorb energy, so it’s always important to inspect the condition of your helmet. If your helmet took a hit from a falling rock for you, you should replace it as well. Don’t even think about continuing to use it. Besides, it’s always better to retire a helmet prematurely than to rely on one that is no longer capable of doing what it should: protect your head.

A good fit to combat headaches

The fit of a helmet is incredibly important as well. As a general rule, the helmet should fit the circumference of your head and not wobble or fall off when you have it on unsecured. If you feel any pressure, forget it! It’s not the helmet for you. It shouldn’t give you a headache, either, even after several hours of wear. After securing the helmet to your head, you should try one more thing: Check to make sure that the helmet doesn’t shift backwards when you look upward. This is particularly important, since you usually have your head tilted back when belaying. Your forehead should be covered.

If you wear belay glasses, you ought to test whether you can see past the helmet with your glasses on as well. It’d be a shame if the helmet wasn’t compatible with them and you found out after the fact!

Stylish or practical?

When it comes to climbing helmets, colours are not just there to please the eye. The colour of your helmet fulfils various functions. For example, it can help to prevent overheating. If you opt for a lighter colour like white, the helmet will be much more comfortable to wear in places with lots of sunshine. Black will just make life difficult. The helmet’s colour can also serve as a signal for rescue teams. If you’re going ice climbing in a white helmet, you’re not doing yourself any favours. If you get lost or hurt, your white helmet will just blend in with the landscape. The same goes for black when you’re out rock climbing. Instead, you should go for brighter colours, as these could really save your life in the event of an accident. No kidding!

60% less weight

Weight is certainly another important thing to consider when choosing a helmet. After all, you don’t want it weighing you down when climbing. I mean, imagine having to carry your helmet in your backpack on a two-hour long approach and then wear it an additional 8 hours on a multi-pitch climb. Not to mention your having to constantly look up along the way. It may not sound like a lot in the shop, but there’s no doubt you’ll end up feeling the difference between a 165g helmet and 380g one.

Features

The coolest thing I’ve seen so far is a magnetic closure that makes using one hand even easier. But, a more important feature is a working head torch mount.

Now, there are even helmets designed specifically for women! The Elia from Petzl, for example, is a prime example of such a development. It even has room in the back for a pony tail. Pretty cool if you’ve got long hair!

Last but not least: ventilation

Ventilation plays an extremely important role in a helmet’s overall comfort. Not only do all of the little openings create a pleasant environment underneath, but they also reduce the weight of the helmet. That way, you can spend all day climbing and be comfortable in the process! Try to come with an excuse now not to wear a helmet! :-)

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

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

A buyer's guide to synthetic sleeping bags

A buyer’s guide to synthetic sleeping bags

6. October 2017
Buyer's guide

It’s time for a new sleeping bag. And, not just any sleeping bag. This bag has got to be tough and durable. Its pack size and weight are less important for the time being. Over the course of this gruelling search for a new sleeping bag, you’ll stumble upon heaps of terms, including but in no way limited to down fill, comfort rating and the like. And, you’ll inevitably come across the term synthetic sleeping bag.

And, for good reason: there are plenty of advantages of synthetic sleeping bags, and toughness is one of them. But, you may be asking yourself: what the deuce are synthetics doing in a sleeping bag, anyway? Wouldn’t down insulation be much better? Well, as you’ll find out after reading this article, not necessarily. In the following, we’re going to talk a bit about the advantages and disadvantages of synthetic sleeping bags so that you can pick the one to fit your needs! So keep on reading!

What is synthetic insulation?

The first sleeping bag with synthetic insulation came to market as early as the 1950s. The Norwegian brand Ajungilak, which belongs to Mammut today, was one of pioneers in the development and manufacture of sleeping bags. In fact, they quickly established themselves as the go-to brand for international expeditions and normal outdoor travels. But, ever so gradually, other companies began making sleeping bags with synthetic insulation as well.

As you have probably already gathered, the insulation in this case is provided by synthetic fibres. How? Well, these extremely thin fibres loft and thus trap heat, resulting in an insulating layer. But, in order for the fibre to loft to their full potential, the surface of the fibres has to be as smooth as possible. For this reason, synthetic fibres used for high-quality sleeping bag insulation have a silicone coating. This treatment serves to help the synthetic fibres perpetually repel each other. The smoother and more robust the silicone layer is supposed to be, the more complex the manufacture of the fibres. But, the time and effort put into the process is definitely worth it, because it results in a long-lasting fill that won’t lose its fill power even after extended periods of use. The quality of the fill is one of the main reasons for the major price difference you’ll see every now and again between synthetic sleeping bags.

The advantages

The big advantage of synthetics is that they hardly absorb any moisture. If the sleeping bag does get wet at some point, its synthetic insulation will maintain its insulation properties even when wet. Plus, it dries quickly as well. Another great thing about synthetics is that they’re very resilient, making them incredibly easy to care for.

If you tend to travel in regions with high humidity, this is something you will certainly appreciate. For long trips and expeditions in the winter, you’ll want to opt for a synthetic bag as opposed to down as well because it may be days or even weeks before you’re able to dry your sleeping bag properly. If you were to use a down sleeping bag in such conditions, there’d always be the risk of the down clumping up when it gets wet, which would result in the down losing its insulation properties, leaving you out in the cold for the rest of the trip! A nightmare in icy-cold temperatures, to say the least.

Thanks to the resilience of synthetic insulation, synthetic sleeping bags are perfect for overnights at campsites, trips in warmer regions or when you crash on your mate’s couch at the weekend as well.

Things to consider when shopping for a sleeping bag

Before buying a synthetic sleeping bag, be sure that it has high-quality insulation. Materials such as MTI from Ajungilak / Mammut or G-Loft from Carinthia are of the highest quality and have been tried and tested on various trips and expeditions. So, it will come as no surprise that the Tyin EXP 5-Season from Mammut has established itself as an absolute classic for winter expeditions.

The synthetic insulation in this sleeping bag has been designed for expeditions to damp, cold places. Synthetic sleeping bags often have a “loose shell” construction with off-set stitching to prevent from cold air penetration and give maximum warmth. Synthetic bags also often have “offset quilted layers”, which help to eliminate cold spots, making for a warmer sleeping bag.

As with all sleeping bags, you should always make sure it has the appropriate temperature rating. We recommend paying close attention to the T-Comfort rating, which is the lowest temperature you’ll ever want to use the bag in. That way, you won’t run the risk of freezing. Some manufacturers use the “T-Limit” as the lowest temperature, which can give the impression that the sleeping bag is warmer than it actually is. We know from experience that it can get pretty chilly in many sleeping bags when exposed to these kind of temperatures, so, again, pay close attention to the T-Comfort rating, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman.

Another important factor is the shape of the sleeping bag. If you’re just looking for one to use sporadically for camping or sleeping over at your mate’s, a rectangular sleeping bag with a circumferential zip is your best bet. That way, you’ll be able to convert it into a blanket in no time at all whenever you get too hot. A long zip is a really nice feature, as it will allow you to manually adjust how warm it is in the bag.

If you want the sleeping bag to be as warm as possible, we recommend you go for a mummy-shaped bag. These are more form-fitting, so there is less air around your body and thus less heat needed to maintain a comfortable temperature. Do make sure that the size of the sleeping bag is corresponds with your size. though. You don’t want it to be too long or too short.

The biggest disadvantage of synthetic bags is that they are much heavier and have a larger pack size than down sleeping bags. But, that’s about it. Synthetic sleeping bags are more resilient and easier to care for than their down counterparts. You can even machine-wash a lot of them. Plus, they’re usually less expensive than down, too, which, for many, is the winning argument.

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

Sympatex: Environmentally-friendly windproof and waterproof protection

Sympatex: Environmentally-friendly windproof and waterproof protection

29. September 2017
Equipment

There are countless materials, membranes, systems and other things engineered to keep us dry in the great outdoors, but how are we supposed to keep track of what does what? No worries, not many of us can, nor have to. But, since it is important to know which shoes, jacket or trousers to wear the next time you go on a trip, we figured we’d gradually introduce the most important membranes on the market today. Besides, a couple of technical terms never hurt anybody!

In the following, we’re going to talk about Sympatex and address basic questions, such as what this membrane provides and how it differs from others on the market. Plus, we’re going to touch on environmental protection and what it has to do with membranes.

Functional fabrics and environmental protection – do these two things even go together? It’s not at all rare to hear about membranes that are supposedly harmful to the environment or even carcinogenic. Oftentimes, you’ll hear about membranes that are made of polytetrafluoroethylene (a difficult word, I know), or PTFE for short. The process of making PTFE involves perfluorooctanoic acid, which may be carcinogenic and have a few other negative properties as well. The scary thing is that despite the fact that this substance does not exist in nature, it was detected in Antarctica! The good news? Fortunately, many manufacturers of membranes are now able to exclude this from their products.

If you’ve recently purchased a new jacket, you should check to see whether the manufacturer can exclude PFOA or not, since PTFE per se has not been proven to be harmful to our health. Alternatively, you could look for a membrane free of per- and polyfluorinated chemicals. That would save you a lot of work.

The Sympatex membrane is PTFE-free, recyclable and bluesign-certified!

If you’d rather not use membranes that are potentially harmful to you or the environment, you should definitely have a closer look at Sympatex membranes. These membranes are made by Sympatex Technologies GmbH in the Bavarian town of Unterföhring, Germany. A Sympatex membrane is much like a PET bottle: it’s 100% recyclable!

It’s not made out of PTFE, but rather polyether/ester. Yes, yet another rather difficult word, but it’s pretty simple in terms of its composition. It’s basically a safe, environmentally-friendly compound of polyester and polyether. How do we know it’s safe? Well, if the membrane’s countless certifications are any indication, the word is out – Sympatex is safe. Not only is the Sympatex membrane certified according to the Oeko-Tex Standard, but Sympatex is a bluesign-certified manufacturer as well. The Oeko-Tex Standard ensures that the material is not harmful to our health, and the bluesign certification guarantees that the product was manufactured in an environmentally-friendly way.

How does the Sympatex membrane work?

So, now that we’ve got an environmentally and skin-friendly membrane, it’d probably be a good idea to explain how it works. Is it as reliable as other membranes? Well, in terms of function, Sympatex differs quite a bit from other membranes. For a start, the Sympatex membrane is nonporous. Uh, ok, but what happens to the breathability? The solution: The function of the membrane is based on a physical and chemical principle.

Here’s a quick crash course in chemistry! The hydrophilic components of the membrane absorb moisture and transport it to the outside so that it can then evaporate. The water vapour molecules are transported along the molecule chains through the membrane. The compact molecular structure of the Sympatex membrane swells as a result of the moisture from the outside, thereby providing room for the transfer of body moisture. The requirement for this function is a partial pressure gradient of temperature and humidity from the inside to the outside.

If chemistry has never really been your jam, here’s a brief summary in layman’s terms: If you really work up a sweat during highly-aerobic physical activity, the temperature and humidity underneath the jacket will rise. If the temperature and humidity underneath the jacket become higher those on the outside of the jacket, this is when the Sympatex membrane is in its element. So, the more the body sweats, the more body moisture the membrane can transfer to the outside. We usually referred to this as “breathable”.

Windproof and waterproof protection guaranteed

The Sympatex membrane is 100% waterproof. As it should be! After all, waterproof protection is absolutely essential in bad weather. The measure of how waterproof a membrane is, called hydrostatic head. It measures how tall a column of water the fabric can hold before water seeps through. According to the EN 343, a rating of 1300mm and above is considered to be waterproof. The Sympatex membrane boasts a waterproof rating of 45,000mm, so it’s pretty darn waterproof!

Another important aspect is windproof protection, even if you won’t be travelling in extremely windy conditions, because it will stop the dreaded wind chill before it starts. Why is this bad? Well, wind causes that warm layer of air around your body to be drawn away, resulting in you thinking it’s much colder than it actually is. The windproof Sympatex membrane, however, shields your body from the wind, preventing wind chill and the decrease in performance associated with it.

Of course, as no windproof, waterproof and breathable membrane could go without a quality DWR finish, Sympatex doesn’t either! If you’re unfamiliar with what a DWR does, it provides the water and dirt-repellent protection needed to prevent the material and the membrane becoming saturated. Which DWR treatment is used is completely up to the manufacturer of the finished product and us, the consumer, as we decide which product we use to re-proof our clothing. An important thing to consider when it comes to DWR treatments is, however, the environmental aspect. Even though not all DWRs are environmentally friendly, there are some environmentally-friendly options available on the market today.

What laminates with Sympatex membranes are there?

There are different laminates for different applications. For example, you would need a different laminate for climbing in the mountains than you would for walking the dog or backpacking. For this reason, Sympatex has developed 2, 2½, 3, and 4-layer laminates to suit the specific requirements of users (i.e., usage, performance and properties).

The Sympatex membrane can be connected to several different base materials, such as knitwear, fleece, woven fabrics, leather or even foam to form a laminate for a certain application. For example, a laminate for waterproof shoes consists of (starting from the inside) a soft liner, the membrane, a textile layer and the upper material. The laminate for particularly lightweight jackets often leave out the lining to keep the weight and pack size of the garment to a minimum.

In sum, there are several solid membranes out there, but there is only one Sympatex. If health and environmental protection are things that are important to you, Sympatex is a good choice. After all, topics like sustainability, recycling and environmental protection aren’t going anywhere anytime soon!

How welded seams work

How welded seams work

26. September 2017
Equipment

Dedicated outdoorsmen and women usually don’t plan their trips according to the time of year or even the weather for that matter. As long as the snow isn’t a metre high, there’s really nothing keeping them from going, not even adverse weather conditions. Of course, in conditions such as these, the proper clothing is absolutely essential.

In other words, you need waterproof clothing. But, what makes a garment waterproof and how would you make those weak spots on jackets like zips and seams waterproof, anyway?

It may come as a surprise, but the answer to this question isn’t as complicated as it may seem. To make the seams, which are basically a bunch of holes in the fabric, on both hardshell and softshell jackets and trousers waterproof, manufacturers either weld or tape them. This along with the garment’s waterproof fabric forces water droplets to roll off the face fabric, stopping it penetrating the interior.

Another advantage of welded seams is that they make the clothing windproof as well. If a windproof material is used in the manufacture of the garment, it can then prevent wind getting in through the previously open seams as well, resulting in a garment that keeps you nice and warm whilst simultaneously keeping the bitter cold out.

How welding works

Basically, welding seams works much in the same way as any method used by a welding apparatus, namely by applying heat and pressure in order to fuse two materials together, in our case waterproof material over the edges of a seam. This results in a seamless connection between both bits of material, resulting in a solid surface. Afterward, the seams look like little strips.

Clothing with welded seams should still be breathable

By welding the seams, you basically make them hermetically sealed. Normal seams would still allow air to seep through, resulting in the circulation of air and breathability we outdoorsy folk crave! Since this is prevented by welding the seams, the fabric itself needs to have breathable properties. Only then can overheating and excessive sweating be prevented. As you can imagine, this is absolutely crucial for high-intensity physical activities because it helps to maintain a high level of comfort.

Another way to increase the breathability is to use ventilation zips. Since these are waterproof as well, they won’t allow any water to penetrate when closed. But, when you open them, you feel the wonderful cool air against your body, giving you the relief you need when the going gets tough. This is an excellent feature because it basically gives you a manual ventilation system you can adjust to your liking.

Where welded seams are used

Welded seams are so effective that they are now used for other outdoor gear as well, such as tents. How could it be any other way? After all, you don’t want to sleep in a tent that isn’t up to par with your jacket in terms of waterproof protection, right?

In addition to clothing and tents, you’ll also find welded seams in shoes, which is necessary for obvious reasons. Without that waterproof protection, your feet are bound to get wet, even in lighter rain. Welded seams are also of particular importance in autumn and winter, as trails and forest paths are often wet, muddy and/or ridden with puddles, all of which can soak your feet as trudge through them. If you’ve ever had to walk a good distance with wet, you know how fun it is! For this reason, waterproof walking boots come complete with welded seams to keep your feet dry and protected in wet conditions.

How to repair sealed seams properly and effectively

High-quality functional apparel comes with incredibly durable sealed seams, and that for good reason. The bits of a garment considered to be high-stress areas, such as the shoulders, benefit significantly from said durability. For whenever you wear a backpack, the shoulder straps will rub up against the material used to seal the seams and can, with time, end up damaging them, if they’re not tough enough. Though inconvenient, it’s not that big of a deal if the welded seams do happen to get damaged. Fortunately, you won’t have to buy yet another expensive jacket. You can simply repair them yourself!

To reseal the seams, you need special seam tape. These are sometimes self-adhesive or come with an adhesive coating that reacts to heat. By ironing the seam tape onto the area in question on the inside of the garment, the tape adheres to the material as a result of the heat and reseals it. You should iron it on without putting on a steam setting. And, this method should only be used on heat-resistant fabrics. To prevent more major damage, try it out in a small or less obvious area beforehand.

Also: you can use seam tape to patch smaller tears and holes in your garment. All you have to do is iron them on, thereby sealing the defective area.

Rely on quality and you’ll stay dry

As with all products, there are individual garments that different significantly when it comes to quality. The same goes for sealed seams. Cheaper garments tend to have taped seams as opposed to welded seams. The downside to the former is that they come off fairly easily and don’t really seal up the area very well. So, you can get pretty soaked pretty fast. For better waterproof protection, it’s worth investing a bit more to get something with welded seams. That way, you won’t have to worry about bad weather the next time you head out!

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

How to Take Care of Your Sleeping Bag

How to Take Care of Your Sleeping Bag

19. September 2017
Care tips

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

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

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

Storage

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

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

A tip from a professional

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

Proper use

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

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

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

How to wash your sleeping bag

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

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

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

Repairs

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

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

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

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

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

My favourite bouldering spot: Petrohrad

My favourite bouldering spot: Petrohrad

12. September 2017
The Bergfreunde

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

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

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

Petrohradske´ – Petro what?

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

Where to stay

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

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

How to get there

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

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

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

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

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

A hidden gem

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

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

Everything you ever wanted to know about Pertex fabrics

Everything you ever wanted to know about Pertex fabrics

7. September 2017
Equipment

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

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

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

Sleeping bags and insulated clothing

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

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

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

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

Softshells

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

Hardshells

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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