running-shoes

Care instructions for trail running shoes

23. February 2017
Care tips

There are lots of trail runners who love it muddy. Who wouldn’t? After all, you get to bring out your inner child! You know, the one who loved running through puddles and playing in the mud?

But now as adults, after running on muddy trails for hours on end, we’re repeatedly faced with the problem of what to do with our muddy trail running shoes. That’s why we’ve taken it upon ourselves to put together some advice on how to properly care for your trail running shoes.

Let’s just get one thing out of the way straight away: forget about throwing your shoes in the washing machine. They’ll usually be able to withstand one wash cycle, but this could bite you in the bum should you ever want to return the shoes or get them repaired, since most manufacturers explicitly advise customers against washing trail running shoes in the washing machine.

Care instructions for your trail running shoes

Cleaning trail running shoes isn’t really all that difficult, but luckily, that doesn’t mean you need to make them spick and span after each and every run. But, it is a good idea to clean them every once in a while, because only then can get the most out of your trail running shoes. So, here are four easy steps for cleaning those begrimed shoes of yours:

1. Superficial cleaning

Before washing, always remove the insole. Then remove the surface dirt with a brush and warm water. As long as the shoes don’t have a Gore-Tex membrane, you can rinse out the interior as well, since dirt tends to get through by way of the mesh upper. Oh, and steer clear of detergent! It could ruin the adhesives!

2. Busy work

That may be enough for some of you out there, but for those of you who plan on polishing up the shoes so much that they could go with your best three-piece suit, here are some more tips: Take a damp cloth and wipe the fine dirt and dirty water off the surface. If you want to clean the tread and small grooves more thoroughly, a toothbrush works wonders! Try it!

3. Drying

Before you go for your next run, it’s really important that your shoes dry properly. To do so, stuff the inside with some kitchen paper (change every couple of hours) and dry them in a dry place at room temperature until both the inside and outside are completely dry.

4. Tending to the sole

Trail running shoes are usually made of synthetic materials, so the don’t require any special care. However, you should tend to the sole. The tread, or more specifically the lugs, are often roughened up a bit to improve traction. After wearing the shoes a few times, the grip will usually wear off. Did you know you could reverse the wear? Indeed you can! All you have to do is take some sandpaper or a wire brush and carefully scuff the tread a bit. But don’t brush off too much material, just roughen up the lugs.

To get rid of any unpleasant odours, you can spray the insides of your shoes as well. We’d recommend using the Toko Eco Fresh Deodoriser.

Now for the finishing touch: Apply a water-repellent spray. This will prevent dirt and water from sticking to the surface so quickly. Plus, it’ll give you some extra time before you have to clean them again. A good spray would be something like Holmenkol.

Trail running shoes are easy to clean

If you’ve already taken a gander at our care instructions for walking boots, you must have notice how much easier it is to clean trail running shoes. This is primarily due to the materials used. Since synthetic materials used for trail running shoes don’t require special care and trail running shoes themselves are not made of leather, they’re easy to clean and ready to go in no time. The down side is that they’re not particularly long lasting. Even though resorting to leather would mean more durability for your shoes, it would also make them much heavier, which is honestly pretty counterproductive when it comes to trail running.

I, personally, always wait till winter to clean my shoes. Go for a run in some deep snow and the shoes will look brand spanking new! Some nutters even hop in the shower with their shoes on directly after a run – but beware! Your partner might not be down with that!

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.

waterproof-shoes-title

Care instructions: waterproofing your outdoor shoes

21. February 2017
Care tips

Heavy rains, sludge, snow – we outdoorsy folk are all too familiar with wetness and all of its various shapes and forms. We might act like it’s a drag having to deal with it, but let’s be honest here: Who doesn’t enjoy stomping around in the muddy trails on a rainy day? After all, if we stayed indoors every time it rained, we wouldn’t be true outdoorsmen, now would we?

I dare say we’d be something more akin to indoorsmen, and where’s the fun in that? As fun as tramping the muddy fields may be, we can’t allow ourselves to be soaking wet the entire time. Thus, in order to prevent the rain from putting a damper on our outdoor pursuits, we not only need weatherproof clothing but also shoes that are capable of withstanding the elements. This is where water-repellent treatments come in. In the following, we’re going to discuss everything from properly proofing your footwear and the different methods of doing so to the mistakes you can make and how all this affects environment.

What is waterproofing exactly?

Obviously, a die-hard outdoorsman would know what a waterproof treatment is, but a little refresher couldn’t hurt, right? Basically, waterproofing describes the application of a treatment to an article of clothing to prevent penetration by water. In other words, it is a liquid or viscid protective coating applied to a garment. This serves to prevent both water and dirt penetrating the fabric.

Of course, “fabric” here refers to our shoe. For footwear, waterproofing is a form of absolutely essential basic protection! Not only does it provide waterproof protection and lend dirt-repellent properties to the shoe, but it also serves to increase the lifespan of your shoes! Leather shoes in particular benefit from waterproof treatments. If leather is not cared for on a regular basis, it can become brittle and cracked. A quality waterproofing wax will keep it nice and smooth for an extended period of time.

What kind of shoes should be waterproofed and how?

Regardless of whether they’re mountaineering boots, walking boots or trainers, any pair of shoes that you wear outside should be treated. Full stop. True, there are plenty of shoes that come pre-treated from the manufacturer, but there is also a large number that doesn’t. And even if they are waterproof to begin with, it doesn’t mean that they’ll stay that way. After all, even the best waterproof protection will wear off eventually. Thus, before wearing your shoes for the first time, you should apply a waterproof treatment. You can use a variety of products to do so.

For example, you could use a classic waterproofing spray. This is best for rough leather, shoes with membranes or those made of synthetics. In addition, there is also plant-based or beeswax-based shoe wax. This is perfectly suited for smooth leather shoes, as it not only protects the leather from water but also provides it with nutrients.

What about all those household remedies such as hairspray, petroleum jelly or candle wax? Well, if you’re looking for professional waterproof protection, I’d steer clear of them. Not only will such experiments fail to provide the reliable protection you need, but they could also damage your expensive shoes. In other words, if durable waterproof protection is what you want, you should look into buying a reliable treatment from reputable manufacturer.

Waterproofing your shoes properly

Since good outdoor shoes tend to be quite costly and we’d all prefer not to ruin them before putting them on, here are a few simple rules to follow before waterproofing your shoes. First, it is incredibly important to make sure that your shoes are clean before applying any treatment. To do so, all you need is a dry rag and a brush. There are professional cleaning products as well, but some warm water will do the trick too. Let the proofing begin!

Waterproofing your shoes with a spray is incredibly easy. The only thing you need to worry about is where you choose to apply the spray. Be sure to do it in either a well-ventilated area or outside. The latter is certainly the best option. And be careful not to breathe it in! Hold the can approximately 30cm away from your shoes and spray. Oh, and less is more in this case, as several thin coats will provide much better resistance than one thick one. So, spray on one coat and allow it to dry for about 15 minutes, repeating the process up to 3 times and that’s it!

Now onto wax treatments. Using shoe wax is quite similar to applying a spray. Using a clean rag and applying little pressure, rub the wax in evenly across the surface of the clean upper material (don’t forget the seams!). After 20 minutes, remove any excess wax using a dry rag or brush. If necessary, you can repeat the process one more time. If you really want to make sure your shoes are absolutely watertight, you can apply both a wax and a waterproofing treatment. However, one will usually suffice.

Regardless of whether you choose a wax or spray, you should wait 24 hours for the treatment to set before wearing the shoes outside. Leather shoes are usually proofed when wet because the liquid causes the pores to open. When the leather pores are open, they can absorb the waterproofing agent much better. As a result, the shoes will not only have better waterproof protection, but they will also retain the leather’s breathable properties. FYI: You should never put your leather shoes in the oven before waterproofing, no matter how often you read that you should. This will damage the leather and the adhesives. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

How often do shoes need to be waterproofed and what about the environment?

There are all sorts of differing opinions on how often you should waterproof your shoes. Some do it every two weeks whilst others just do it only after purchase. The best solution is somewhere in between. Obviously, no treatment lasts forever, and shoes that you wear on a regular basis should be reproofed every one to two months. If you get caught in heavy rains, you should definitely retreat your shoes when you get back home.

In terms of environmental protection, the waterproofing sprays in particular get a pretty bad rap – and unjustifiably so! Well-known manufacturers such as Toko or Nikwax use ingredients that are considered to be completely harmless not only to the environment but also to our health. There are also waterproofing sprays and waxes that are completely free of chemicals.

As you can see, good waterproof protection is not only absolutely crucial for us outdoorsy folk but also quick and easy to apply and reapply. Plus, they will keep those expensive walking boots, mountaineering boots or outdoor shoes protected and cared for. And most important of all: your feet won’t be completely soaked and shrivelled up on your next trip!

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.

down-title

Winter is the time to get down

15. February 2017
Equipment

Down. That fluffy stuff that waterfowl like geese and ducks have. Their wonderful, insulating down feathers have been keeping us humans nice and toasty warm for a long time now. And today, it’s all over the place: in our sleeping bags, pillows and, among other things, our jackets! The latter is what we’re going to talk about today.

More specifically, we’re going to address the following questions regarding down jackets:

1) What constitutes a quality down jacket?

2) Which manufacturers actually put thought and consideration into the origin and production of down?

3) What do terms like cuin, loft and fill power have to do with it?

4) And finally, what is a down jacket for and when you should choose an alternative instead?

So, let’s begin by differentiating between feathers and down. I’m sure you’re all quite familiar with feathers. Those are the things that make birds so pretty and colourful! Down, on the other hand, is either grey or white and is the layer of feathers found under the exterior feathers of geese and ducks. In contrast to feathers, down has a three-dimensional structure similar to a snowflake. Plus, it is significantly lighter than a feather.

Cuin, grams or %?

There are three different criteria that should you take into consideration when purchasing a down jacket.

  • fill power (also: loft, cuin)
  • The amount of down
  • The down to feather ratio (e.g.: 95/5)

So, what’s the deal with down fill power? This indicates the down’s ability to bounce back and ‘loft’ after being compressed. It is expressed in cubic inches. So, “cuin” = cubic inches. Easy, right? Well, not exactly. But, let’s not go into all the technical mumbo-jumbo. Discussing in detail how cuin is actually determined and measured would go beyond the scope of this blog post. What is important for you to know, though, is that a down jacket with a fill power of 500 cuin is a jacket you can actually use. As you can probably imagine, the fill power rating reflects the quality of the down as well, with 650 cuin being a very good rating and 750-900 being excellent.

The amount of down affects the degree of insulation as well. Lighter down jackets thus provide less insulation then heavier jackets. The downside to heavy jackets is their larger pack size and the diminished range of motion.

And, finally, the down-to-feather ratio plays a very significant role as well. If a jacket has 100 grams of insulation and a mixture ratio of 90/10, this indicates that the jacket has a total of 90 grams of down and 10 grams of feathers. The down-to-feather ratio affects both the weight of the jacket and its thermal efficiency. This is due to the fact that feathers are heavier than down, don’t trap air as well and are thus incapable of providing the same level of warmth as down.

The Michelin Man

The down in down jackets is divided up in to different baffles or lines in order to prevent the down from shifting. This allows warmth to be distributed across your upper body, but it also gives you a puffy look, one quite reminiscent of the loveable Michelin Man. The seams are usually sewn through. But this can result in a loss of heat through cold spots. This is why higher-end models have a layer of fabric sewn in that prevent cold air penetrating the interior. There are also jackets, such as the Adidas – TX Climaheat Agravic, that prevent the loss of heat through cold spots by way of an overlapping construction.

Small, medium or large?

Never underestimate the importance of the size of your down jacket. If you’re jacket is too big, not only will it look bad, but it will also make it easier for heat to escape. The collar should be particularly close fitting so that any warmth that has been retained on the interior won’t be lost. Your jacket shouldn’t choke you, though, but rather fit snugly around your neck.

The pros and cons of down insulation

There are alternatives to down, such as synthetic products. The following table shall provide you with an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of each material.

DownSynthetic insulation
+ very lightweight– somewhat heavier than down
+ extremely small pack size– bigger pack size
+ more comfortable interior via moisture transfer– less moisture transfer
+ long lifespan if properly cared for– shorter lifespan than down
– loses insulating ability when wet+ retains insulating ability when wet
– absorbs moitsture from the inside and outside+ retains insulating ability when wet
– dries slowly+ quick drying

Areas of use for a down jacket

Since down is warm and simultaneously incredibly lightweight and packable, it’s perfect for travel in cold regions or when you don’t have a lot of room to spare in your pack. Plus, with a down jacket, you’ll no longer need to worry about freezing during your tea or coffee break!

Down jackets will even fit in a MTB pack, so you’ll be able to enjoy a beer outdoors after a long day of exhilarating downhills. It’s a great thing to have as a belayer as well whilst you watch your lead climber move up the rock. And even if you head out to Fontainebleau at the cooler times of the year for some bouldering, you’ll be happy you brought along that toasty warm down jacket.

In short: A down jacket is a good thing to have when

  • it’s cold out
  • it’s not raining and you’re not extremely active
  • you have little room to spare in your pack and every gram counts

Down: wannabe synthetic?

There are manufacturers who treat their down in order to make it handle moisture better. The advantage here is that the treatment makes the down hydrophobic, which will prevent it from clumping together when exposed to moisture. This means that the jacket won’t absorb moisture from the inside, either, which results in an interior environment similar to that of a synthetically insulated jacket.

Good and evil down

Since down is an product derived from an animal, it has to get from the animal to the jacket in some way, shape or form, right? Unfortunately, some of these methods for obtaining down are very dodgy, to say the least. Some down feathers are collected through something called live plucking. As you can imagine, live plucking is incredibly cruel and causes the animals a lot of pain and distress. The other “evil” kind of down is obtained during the production of foie gras (“fatty liver”). This is the extraordinarily cruel process of force feeding ducks and geese and is just as horrible for the animals as it sounds. Thankfully, it’s banned in a large number of European countries, but not in all of them.

Now, many manufacturers advertise that their down is obtained not from foie gras production but from animals slaughtered for the food industry. Still, it is incredibly difficult to guarantee, since there are several individual operations involved in the production of down. And, let’s face it: there are still plenty of black sheep out there. And, when manufacturers get the final product, there’s no way to tell where the down originated.

For this reason, five manufacturers have teamed up with animal rights groups to carry out inspections in order to definitively determine the origin of the down. These are: Vaude, Patagonia, The North Face, Mammut and Jack Wolfskin. Other manufacturers, such as Mountain Equipment, carry out their own random inspections of the supplier’s down for more transparency. Mountain Equipment calls this the Down Codex. More and more manufacturers are also beginning to offer tracking codes, which can be used to trace back the origin of the down. An example of this is the Haglöfs – Essens II Down Hood.

Ultimately, it’s your decision as the consumer to decide what you use your down jacket for. For all the positive qualities of a down jacket, there are quite a few dodgy bits as well that you definitely need to consider when buying a down jacket.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask our experts in customer service. They are available on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. till 4:00 pm on the phone +49 (0)7121/70 12 0 and by email.

 

softshell-title

Softshell – Protection in the rain?

10. February 2017
Equipment

The current generation of soft shells is looking pretty good: they’re as soft as fleece, yet they still have enough in them to withstand winds and bad weather.

Since it just continues to bucket down out there day after day, let’s have a closer look at rainwear. More specifically, let’s have a look at softshells and what they are capable of. Are softshells capable of withstanding sudden changes in weather? Are there any differences between the different materials and technologies used for softshells? Well, continue to read and we’ll tell you!

Softshells, hardshells and fleece

There’s not just one softshell fabric. Softshell fabrics actually come in several different varieties. That’s why it’s so difficult to make any general statements as to their characteristics, but we’re going to be brave and give it our best shot!

Characteristics: Softshells vs. hardshells

The biggest advantage a softshell has over a hardshell is its superior ability to regulate body heat during high-output activities. It effectively blocks wind and cold air whilst simultaneously transporting moisture from the inside to the outside. So, you won’t have to keep taking off and putting back on different layers of clothing as your body temperature changes. Another advantage is the high elasticity of the fabric used for softshells, which allows the jacket to be more form fitting. So, not only does a softshell look great, but it is also perfect for activities that require a lot of movement, such as climbing.

Characteristics: Softshell vs. Fleece

This battle isn’t even worth fighting: A softshell is far superior to your conventional fleece! Not only does the latter tend to soak up even the faintest of drizzle like a sponge, it isn’t really capable of protecting you from the wind, either! Who needs that? Plus, you won’t ever see those ugly little balls of lint on a softshell, either, since manufacturers use abrasion-resistant fabric.

A softshell in the rain

Let’s cut to the chase: How well can a softshell hold off rain? Well, manufacturers like to take two different approaches when it comes to fending off rain with a softshell: coated jackets and membranes.

Coated jackets – for moderate conditions

For light rain or snow, a softshell with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating is a viable option. The DWR coating causes rain to bead up and roll off the face fabric but doesn’t inhibit the breathability. However, the water-repellent coating wears off pretty quickly in areas exposed to a lot of wear (e.g., the shoulders). To rectify this, many manufacturers recommend (carefully!) using an iron to reactivate the DWR treatment. Another option is to use special waterproofing products.

Membrane jackets

When it’s raining cats and dogs, the only thing that can help is a membrane. Manufacturers use special softshell membranes, which are, like the jacket’s upper and lining, elastic so as not to impede your range of motion. However, there is a huge downside to adding membrane to a softshell: it inhibits its breathability, causing it lose its decisive advantage over the hardshell! But, if you still want a softshell that’ll work for all weather conditions, you should make sure that all the seams are sealed and that the softshell is equipped with the appropriate zips. If the softshell of your choice has got all these things, there’s no reason not to wear in the most adverse of conditions. You can find a comparison of different membranes at Base Camp.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask our experts in customer service. They are available on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. till 4:00 pm on the phone +49 (0)7121/70 12 0 and by email.

 

backpack-running

A buyer’s guide to trail running packs

9. February 2017
Buyer's guide

More and more runners are finding the joy in trail running. Running through rough terrain is not only loads of fun, but it also diversifies your training schedule and trains your coordination and concentration.

One of the most important things you’ll need for trail running besides shoes with excellent traction is a trail running pack

In the following, we’ll tell you everything you need to know when buying a trail running pack.

The fit – go ahead and forget everything you thought you knew

Nothing is more annoying when running than when something is bouncing around on your back, or anywhere else for that matter. So, your running pack should do one thing and do it really well: Fit snugly. Today, there are several models that are made like a vest and secured using sternum straps. The fit of the pack is oriented toward the shape of the chest. Thus, running packs will fit much more snugly around your body and are usually much more secure.

Since the pack is centred around the chest and shoulder area, the pack itself won’t be as bothersome when you run. In terms of fabric, the best packs are the ones made of elastic and breathable mesh. This light fabric has the advantage that it won’t in any way obstruct your breathing. Plus, your body will feel fresher and comfortable even during strenuous mountain runs as a result of the material’s breathability.

Of course, trail running packs are made to be as light as possible. Smaller models, such as the
Mountain Hardwear Fluid Race Vest Pack weigh in at only 280g.

The pockets – More is more

When competing, every second counts. You can’t just take off the pack and rummage around in it for your gels, water, etc. This is why trail running packs are equipped with all sorts of tiny pockets on the shoulder straps that can be accessed whilst you run. So, you’ll be able to get to your energy bars and gels in no time at all.

The pack’s larger compartments are intended for sleeves, running jackets or other clothes you may need whilst you’re out on the trails. Depending on the length and difficulty of the run, trail running packs can have a storage capacity of up to 17 litres, which is distributed evenly among all the various pockets. A great example is the Salomon Skin Pro 14+3 Set, which clearly shows the vest-like style. In addition to its large main compartment, this model has five pockets, all of which can be accessed relatively quickly and easily.

Have you got enough to drink?

In order to keep you hydrated during your run, trail running packs are usually equipped with two bottle holders on the shoulder straps. Quick and easy access is a must when it comes to hydration! In addition, running packs usually have a compartment for a hydration bladder as well. The hose, which is hooked up to the bladder, is guided toward the front via the shoulder strap so that you can take a swig whilst running. Running packs that accommodate a hydration bladder, such as the Camelbak Marathoner Vest allow you to carry more than three litres of liquid. This is particularly convenient on your longer training runs. Dividing up the liquids in the front and back of the pack serves a purpose as well: it makes for an even distribution of weight, something that is extremely advantageous when running, as you can probably imagine.

Additional features for optimal function

It’s not at all unusual for runners to carry trekking or Nordic walking poles on a trail run. These make it easier to run uphill. Plus, they give you a bit more security and stability for technical downhills as well. But, if you’re out on a longer run, sometimes you just don’t know what to do with them. Luckily, most trail running packs have elastic cords that can be used to attached the poles to your pack. This also gives you the option of attaching your jacket or some other garment to the outside of your pack, if you don’t have any more room or your pack doesn’t have a large main compartment.

Since trail runners often find themselves in rough terrain, trail running packs are equipped with a tiny safety whistle, which can help you to draw the attention of rescuers. Another great safety feature is the reflective elements found on several running packs that serve to make you more visible in the dark.

Ask your fellow Alpine Trekkers!

If you can hardly contain yourself and are simply dying to go out on your first long trail run, but just can’t decide on a pack, feel free to contact our customer service any time. 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.

Dry-shoes-title

Care instructions: How to dry your outdoor shoes properly

8. February 2017
Care tips

Properly caring for your outdoor clothing and gear is absolutely essential for its proper use on tour. After all, your high-quality gear should not only be used but also cared for so that the athlete in you can benefit from its effective functionality for years to come. Thus, in addition to choosing the appropriate equipment, it is also of utmost importance to know how to keep your favourite gear clean, free of defects and ready to go.

In addition to proper washes, repairs, storage, transport as well as your overall treatment of the product and the proper care thereof, how you dry your product plays a significant role in its longevity. Some our tips and tricks will help you to dry your shoes appropriately so that your precious kicks will keep on kicking!

Why dry shoes “actively”?

A love for the outdoors often entails the challenge of facing Mother Nature’s wrath. But, let’s be honest here: an outdoor adventure with all sunshine and no wind wouldn’t be much of an adventure, now would it? It’d be like mountain biking on a cycle path. A confrontation with Mother Nature’s mood swings quite frankly comes with the territory of being outdoors.

Let’s face it: your gear is bound to get wet, assuming that you spend time outdoors in seasons other than summer. Even then. However, there are some pieces that need to be properly dried in order to preserve their functionality. Don’t underestimate the importance of drying your gear properly, for it is just as crucial as washing. It may be fine to just line dry your synthetic running shirts and fleece trousers, but you need to keep other aspects in mind when it comes to garments made of raw materials such as wool, down and leather, or gear such as tents, rucksacks and shoes.

Let’s call the intentional drying of a product “active drying”. Even though we’re not necessarily blow-drying the garment until it is bone dry, we’re not just line drying it, either. Rather, it is a matter of using methods for drying by actively influencing the conditions that lead to the product drying more quickly and safely without any damage.

So, how should you dry your shoes?

How to go about drying your shoes depends entirely on the type of shoes you have. Just as a woollen shirt shouldn’t be line dried or down requires machine warmth, leather boots or sandals have their own special needs. So, in the following, you’ll find some rules for certain types of shoes. There is, however, one rule that applies to all shoe types: only in emergency situations (like when you’re on a multi-day hillwalking tour) should you ever dry your shoes on a radiator at a high temperature or in direct sunlight! The hot and very dry heat emitted from a radiator and the intense UV rays of the sun can make the EVA cushioning or rubber parts of the shoe, and especially natural materials such as leather, porous and create rips or reduce the durability of the shoes!

Slippers and sandals

So, now let’s move on to shoe types and how to dry them. The simplest way to dry slippers and sandals (as well as aqua and hybrid shoes) is to place then near a radiator or another heat source and let them dry slowly. Depending on the instructions on the tag, certain slipper socks with down or synthetic insulation can be tumble dried at a low temperature or placed on the radiator (but keep it on low!) to dry. Slippers made of milled wool should not be line dried but laid down to dry. For the best results, always put several layers of newspaper under the shoes so that moisture is absorbed from underneath. Alternatively, you can lean the shoes on something so that air can reach the sole. The insides of closed slippers can also be filled with regular newspaper (not coated paper from magazines) or even better with toilet paper or paper towels (both of which are softer and more absorbent).

Leather sandals should be dried at room temperature away from any heat sources or in a very dry place, since leather always needs a certain amount of moisture so that it won’t become porous and split. After drying your leather shoes, you should also apply a coat of the appropriate leather wax (especially for smooth leather), if necessary.

If you need to dry your slippers or sandals quickly, you can go ahead and use a hair dryer, heater or oven. But, it’s always better to dry them longer at a low temperature. Hold the hair dryer far away from the shoe and keep it at a low temperature. The same goes for the heater. It’s also a good idea to put a couple layers of newspaper between the shoe and the heat source. Leather shoes should only be dried using a direct heat source in extreme emergencies! Aqua shoes and synthetic sandals without special cushioning can be washed. All other shoes (cushioned, with leather or specific instructions to this effect) should not be washed in the washing machine!

Special athletic shoes

The same goes for special athletic shoes such as climbing, running or cycling shoes. Since cycling and running shoes usually have very cushiony outer fabrics, they can be stuffed to your heart’s content. But, after washing, you need to give the shoes a break of at least a day on top of the time it takes for them to dry so that the cushioning can “recover”. Running and cycling shoes have particularly cushioned or stiff soles and should not be machine washed!

As a general rule, avoid drying climbing shoes with a heat source, since most models have at least some leather. With the exception of a few synthetic and machine washable models, climbing shoes should be cleaned using a brush, neutral soap and lukewarm water. Then let the air dry. Usually, we don’t climb in heavy rains, so climbing shoes don’t really get all that wet.

Multisport and casual shoes

Both multisport and casual shoes are usually cleaned superficially. If they get rained on, just let them dry at room temperature. If you have shoes with removable insoles, it is recommended that you remove these when the shoes are drying and wash them every once and a while for hygienic reasons. That way, both the insoles themselves as well as the shoe’s interior can dry more quickly. To wash the insoles, simply use some soap or washing-up liquid and lukewarm water. Then let them air dry or place them on the radiator (on low). This makes for a pleasant environment for your feet and helps to prevent strong odours, especially in running and cycling shoes.

Approach shoes, walking boots, trekking boots, mountaineering boots and winter boots!

The more stable shoes, such as approach shoes, walking boots, trekking boots, mountaineering boots and winter boots, should never be machine washed! These usually have some percentage of leather or a combination of leather and synthetic fabric. Thus, as mentioned above, only in emergencies should you use a direct source of heat to dry them. It is better to use newspaper and re-wax them. If you’re outdoors and you haven’t got any paper on you, an absorbent microfiber cloth will help to absorb the moisture.

Even though being close to the campfire will certainly warm your heart, it shouldn’t be used for drying your walking boots! The more air that is exposed to the shoe, the better. Thus, to dry them, unlace the shoes and flip the tongue out over the toe box. This will allow more air to circulate. If there are rooms with different temperatures in the hut or at home, always bear in mind: the warmer the indoor air, the better. When it comes to leather, the room shouldn’t be too dry; for shoes with synthetic fabrics, on the other hand, dry air can really speed up the drying time. When outdoors, wind can also be useful, as it reduces the drying time. In smaller spaces, such as a tent, you shouldn’t dry too many things at once, as the air can become saturated with moisture, which prolongs the drying process and worsens the air quality in the tent.

Some general advice

Shoes should always be completely dry before using them again. Of course, aqua shoes and wellies are the exceptions to the rule, or if you’re on a trip and can’t really go barefoot. To prevent blisters on your feet, apply a thin coat of lotion to your feet before beginning your adventure and wear soft wool socks (virgin wool!). This reduces friction, which allows you to walk in damp shoes with less problems.

Of course, even the thickest of membrane boots are pointless if you’re wearing them in the rain with shorts on. Drying the material is the lesser evil when compared to water in your boots. Wear either long waterproof trousers or gaiters! If you’re on a trekking tour and your boots aren’t completely dry, put on a different pair (you should always have a second pair of boots or at least trekking sandals for longer tours not only for this purpose but also to prevent straining your foot on one side with the one shoe) and clip your wet pair to your pack. They’ll just dangle there and be dry in no time.

Last but not least: Always air out your shoes after wearing them! Refrain from putting them in your wardrobe or in a shoe sack immediately after using them. Not only the visibly wet face fabric but also water vapour accumulates in the fabric and has to be able to dry!

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.

Vibram-title

The Vibram sole – it’s much more than just rubber

3. February 2017
Equipment

I mean, who isn’t familiar with the yellow octagon on the sole? That bright and friendly colour that pops up every time you take a step – that’s the iconic logo known round the world, the symbol for the global leader in the manufacture of rubber soles.

The success Vibram has had over the years is quite impressive: their soles are now a testament to the quality of shoes of all kinds.

Vibram was the first manufacturer, to produce a rubber lug sole for mountaineers. It was dubbed “Carrarmato” and has striking similarities with the sole used for contemporary mountaineering boots, despite it being 80 years old! This first sole, which was manufactured by the company’s founder Vitale Bramani as early as 1937 in Albizzate, Italy. This marked the foundation of a success story as the global leader in all things related to high-quality soles.

It was also Bramani who used the first two letters of his given name and the first three letters of his surname for the name of the company. Since then, Vibram has been manufacturing a variety of different rubber soling materials, each of which is tailored to the specific demands of a certain sport. The spectrum of soles is mind-blowing. Vibram produces 150 new models each season and has a sole for every kind of sport, be it water sports, climbing, trekking, trail running, cycling, motor sports, ski touring boots or just your casual shoe – Vibram’s got it all. So, basically, you could say that there’s a Vibram sole for almost every athletic discipline. However, there are three things that all Vibram soles have in common: a high level of comfort, security and excellent traction.

What makes a sole good?

Due to their unbelievable success, we can only assume that Vibram is doing everything correctly when it comes to manufacturing rubber soles. But, what really makes a sole good?

1. It’s combination that counts

The right rubber compound is extremely important for both the traction as well as the durability of the sole. In what temperatures does the rubber work? Is the compound soft or hard? Vibram has developed special rubber compounds to meet the unique demands in different conditions. For shoes used for high-altitude mountaineering, the very tough Mont compound is used, which offers reliability on very technical terrain in sub-zero temperatures. Climbing shoe rubber compounds, such as the XS Grip2 sole, can be a bit softer for more precision and sensitivity. Other compounds, such as the XS Edge climbing shoe sole, the Idrogrip sole for water sports or the MegaGrip for rocky terrain, provide the perfect balance between flexibilityand enough stability to shine on virtually any shoe. Special soles, such as the heat-resistant Fire&Ice can be found on shoes made for firemen.

2. Lugs – the heart of the Vibram sole

A sole’s tread is the most important thing to a mountaineer, and it is not only the shape of the lugs that is important, but also how deep the grooves are. Deep grooves between the lugs ensure that the lugs will grab hold of soft surfaces, thereby guaranteeing plenty of traction. The Vibram soles found on mountaineering boots have lugs that are self-cleaning, thereby keeping them free of debris and mud. Omnidirectional lugs provide the security you need on rocky terrain, regardless of how your foot falls. There are also soles with lugs that face different directions at the front and back of the shoe. These serve to drive you forward and provide traction on uphills, whilst enhancing your braking abilities on downhills.

3. Longevity

The longevity of a sole has a lot to do with the rubber compound. In general, we can say: the harder the rubber compound, the more abrasion-resistant the sole is. Vibram manufactures extremely long-lasting soles that are made to withstand the wear and tear they’re constantly subjected to. And, of course, the durability of the soles is subject to several rigorous tests over the course of their development.

Popular amongst climbers

The abovementioned rubber compounds specifically made for climbers have made Vibram a popular and reliable partner to manufacturers of climbing shoes such as Scarpa and La Sportiva. When you see that yellow octagon on the sole of your shoe, don’t you just automatically have more trust in it? The extremely durable and high-quality rubber compounds are called XS Edge and XS Grip2. The XS Edge is a stiffer sole that retains its shape and is intended for edging. Plus, it is resistant to drastic changes in temperature and thus very durable. The XS Grip2 compound delivers excellent traction, stability for edging and sensitivity.

What’s new?

Well, Vibram continues to come up with cutting-edge ideas. One in particular is the ”intelligent” sole called the self-adaptive lug This sole boasts diamond-shaped lugs with deep grooves in between. As a result of the lugs’ unique shape, the shoes are supposed to provide enhanced traction without sacrificing the foot’s flexibility. Vibram also developed the Vibram Smart Sole, which can communicate with smartphones and smartwatches via an interface. The integrated LED lights in the Smart Sole are there to help you see where you’re going in the dark.

So, the fact that you see the yellow octagon on the soles of so many mountaineers, climbers, hillwalkers, hikers, trail runners and other athletes is definitely justified, as Vibram soles are not only high quality but also extremely durable and have tons of traction. Considering the sheer number of different soles out there, you’re bound to find one to meet your demands.

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.

 

harness-title

Tips & Tricks: When to replace your climbing harness

2. February 2017
Equipment, Tips and Tricks

Your climbing harness is something that you need to be able to completely rely upon. When cams and bolts can break, but it is still entirely possible to survive a fall.
A climbing harness, however, doesn’t have a backup. You’re just as reliant upon this as you are on your rope.
But, many climbers tend to use their harnesses after many years of use without even testing their functionality.
So, how do you know when it’s time for your harness to be replaced? Well, it’s actually pretty easy to tell!

The lifespan

The lifespan of a harness is difficult to determine, as every harness has a different lifespan, even if it’s the same brand and style of harness. Every climber climbs at different levels of difficulty, in different styles and in different locations. Climbing companies such as Black Diamond, Petzl, Arc’teryx and Mammut give you a general idea of the harness’s lifespan in the manuals (most of which you can find online as well).

However, you could say the usual lifespan of a climbing harness is around five years. Even though it’s always a good idea to refer to the manual, many of the time frames are too vague for you to completely rely on. So, instead of putting all your trust into the company to tell you when to replace your harness, you should take the factors below into consideration and check your harness for signs of failure or damage before each climbing session.

Signs of wear and tear

Wear and tear is the most obvious sign to look for when inspecting your harness. Tears, cuts, and abrasions can be found on just about any harness. Thus, it is important to be able to distinguish the more serious signs of wear and tear from the not-so-serious ones. The most critical parts that you should definitely inspect are the tie-in points. These wear out the fastest. Keep an eye out for deep tears and cuts. If some of the fabric is “fuzzy”, don’t worry about it.

You should start to worry once you’ve noticed that the fabric has become thinner in certain areas. Certain companies like Petzl and Arc’teryx (pictured) make harnesses with differently coloured nylons beneath the tie-in points. These are there to tell you when the tie-in points are close to failing. Even though the tie-in points are generally the first to go, it is always a good idea to check other parts of your harness as well, such as like the belay loop, waistband, and leg loops.

As soon as your harness shows any significant tear, cut, or abrasion on any part, it’s time to toss it.

Intensity

Think about the type of abuse you inflict on your harness every time you got out and climb. If you top rope or take tiny falls, your harness can last for several years. But, if you regularly take big falls, you may want to think about replacing your harness annually (or maybe even more frequently).

When you take a big fall, always inspect your harness for new tears and abrasions! Big falls can transform an excellent harness into complete rubbish. Not only that but the inner fabrics could tear too, so you might want to replace your harness after a massive fall, even if there aren’t any noticeable signs of wear.

Frequency

How often you climb is something else you need to bear in mind during each inspection. Climbers who have to get their fill every day are obviously going to have to replace their harnesses more often than those who only climb once a week, a month, or a year. However, the occasional climbers out there might need to replace their harnesses sooner than they think. Why? Well, harnesses have shelf lives and might need to be retired, even if you hardly ever used them. It’s always important to know how old your harness is. So, if your mate gives you his used harness, find out how old the thing is before using it.

Environment

You also need to consider where you climb and where you store your harness. Dirt, sunlight and and water will eventually tear your harness to shreds. So, if you climb a lot outdoors, you’ll need to replace your harness much more often than a gym climber. And, you desert climbers out there who enjoy chimneys and offwidths will definitely need to get new harnesses sooner than your outdoor sport climber. Dark areas and dirt can have a negative effect on the lifespan of your harness as well. So, you don’t store your harness in a dank place, such as an attic or garage. Discolouration is a tell-tale sign that sunlight and darkness have affected your harness.

Storage

How you decide to store your harness can affect its longevity as well. If you take care of your harness and separate it from your other gear, you’ll get much more joy out of it for much longer than somebody who keeps it with all their other gear and tools. Sharp tools such as ice axes and nut tools can damage a harness if kept close to it in your pack . Some harnesses come in a mesh bag, which comes in really handy when travelling.

When in doubt…

This last tip comes from the traditional climbers who all say, “When in doubt, replace it.” So, if you’re worried or unsure, it’s probably best to invest in a new harness.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether your harness is strong enough to save you in the event of a fall. Inspect your harness regularly and retire it if you have any doubts. And by retire, we mean throw it away. Don’t sell it, give it away or keep it as a backup!

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.

 

climbing-shoes-title

Care instructions: How to care for your climbing shoes

31. January 2017
Care tips

A good pair of climbing shoes is essential for both gym and rock climbing. Even though they only indirectly contribute to your overall safety when climbing, they can have a major impact on whether your climb was a success or a failure. Seeing as there are so many different types of shoes, philosophies and individual preferences, no one can tell you which shoe is the right one – only you can find the right shoe for you. And, once you’ve found your dream shoe, you should do everything in your power to make sure that it lasts for a very long time as well. Obviously, there’s very little you can do against regular wear and tear, as it just comes with the territory of climbing. But, there are a few helpful and simple methods to prevent a shoe from aging prematurely.

Preserving the sticky rubber

If you’ve ever climbed on a slick surface before, you know how important the rubber is. If a shoe doesn’t provide you with enough grip, it doesn’t matter how daring or strong you are – you won’t get very far. You need the proper shoe with the proper degree of stickiness. Seeing as there are so many different kinds of climbing shoes, all of which differ in terms of their soles and construction, they all have a different degrees of stickiness as well.

But, as a general rule, all shoes will eventually lose their grip. It’s inevitable! This is something that obviously progresses even more quickly if you climb outdoors. Why? Well, the deterioration of the grip can usually be traced back to an ever-increasing amount of dirt on the sole. Even if you may not really be able to tell by looking at them when the time comes, the soles of your precious climbing shoes will be covered in a layer of dirt, dust and worn-out rubber. Fortunately, this is not an unfixable problem. In fact, it’s relatively easy to take care of. All you have to do is gently clean the shoes in lukewarm water using a wire brush and the sole will have the same grippiness it did on the first day you wore them!

Depending on your technique and where you climb, the front of the soles around the big toe can show increased signs of wear. These mini-tears primarily result from rubbing against the wall and turning on one foot. Interestingly, this structure in the rubber generally leads to better traction. However, if and when this starts to get out of hand, you’ll need to act fast, because if you don’t, the shoes will wear out extremely quickly. There is a bright side, though: you’ll hardly need anything to rectify the problem! All you have to do is use some coarse sandpaper on the areas that have lost grippiness to rid the sole of any excess material. If you do this thoroughly, your sole will look as good as new! Plus, you’ll add some life to the shoe!

Another extremely important aspect to consider is your technique and footwork. If you use your feet with precision and don’t jump down at the end to save yourself a few seconds of climbing, you can preserve the rubber on your soles. After all, the most common reason to get new shoes is because the tip of the sole is worn out, so if save this, you’ll save your shoe!

Preventing and combatting odours

Climbing shoes stink – it’s just that simple. Not only does the way climbing shoes are made not really allow for any ventilation, but climbers usually go sockless as well, which allows for all that foot sweat to accumulate on the shoe’s interior. Then, bacteria starts to grow inside your nice and sweaty climbing shoes, causing them to stink. Shoes made from sythetic materials deteriate generally faster than leater shoes.

Simply put: you should never give bacteria a chance to form in the first place. How? Well, the easiest method is to air dry the shoes after climbing. If you keep them exposed to the fresh air, even the sweatiest of climbing shoes can dry pretty quickly. Plus, the breeding ground for bacteria will be eliminated in the process. Stuffing the shoes with newspaper can help to speed up the process as well. You should never put your sweaty climbing shoes in a shoe bag or backpack immediately after climbing. It can also help to wear them for shorter periods by taking them off after every route to air them out.

But, sometimes, even if you’re really careful, the shoes will start to stink anyway. Fortunately, there are a few tricks to take care of this problem. The earlier you start tending to the problem, the easier it’ll be to get rid of it. The easiest way to do so is to clean the shoes in lukewarm water with a brush and regular soap.

If the smell just gets worse, it’s time to resort to some household remedies. The name of this little wonder is baking soda. This powder changes the acidity in the shoe and makes it less appealing to bacteria. All you have to do is evenly distribute the powder in your shoe.

You should never wash your climbing shoes in the washing machine. Laundry detergent can do a lot of damage to the rubber outsole, the leather upper as well as the laces. Even the shape, its heel tension and the custom fit of the shoe can be affected by washing it. Plus, it could ruin the adhesives and hook and loop fasteners as well.

Obviously, some people will always have smellier shoes than others. It may even be enough for some to air dry their shoes, whilst others might have to take more drastic measures. Those of you who belong to the latter group might want to think about not wearing synthetic shoes. If that doesn’t do the trick, you may need to start wearing socks with your climbing shoes.

Promoting longevity

Obviously, the lifespan of your climbing shoes greatly depends on how you treat them. You should neverexpose them to high temperatures or excessive amounts of sunlight. Even though drying your climbing shoes quickly can prevent the growth of odour-inducing bacteria, it should never be done in the blazing sun. Constant exposure to the sun’s rays can make the rubber sole of your shoe extremely brittle. Plus, the adhesives will lose their stickiness more quickly, which can cause the shoe to become deformed. The same thing can result from exposure to heat. Thus, you should refrain from storing your climbing shoes in hot places, such as your car.

Another thing that can be incredibly harmful to your shoes is slipping your heels out and standing on the heels of the shoes after a climb. Although this may be a very common practice in climbing gyms and at sport climbing crags around the world, it’s like torture for your precious climbing shoes! You may be giving your feet and toes some much-needed relief, but you’re killing your shoes! Models with a high heel tension are particularly sensitive to this, so it would be a good idea to refrain from doing it!

Summary

It’s good to give your climbing shoes a little “makeover” every now and again. This will not only allow them to perform for longer but will also come as a relief to your climbing partner. Besides, proper care doesn’t have to be hard, nor does it have to be expensive. In most cases, household remedies and some of grandma’s little tricks will get the job done. If you care for your shoes and store them properly, you’ll be able to enjoy them for many climbs to come.

Merino-wool

An introduction to breathability

27. January 2017
Equipment

The word breathability is used constantly in the outdoor industry.

But, what does breathability really mean? Is your shirt really breathing? If so, what’s it breathing in? The outside air or the vapour coming from our bodies? And why is breathability so important?

Well, we’ll tell you! We’ve put together the most important information on the topic of breathability

breath·a·bil·i·ty [ˌbriːðəˈbɪlɪtɪ] : ability to let air pass through; Example: the fabric is breathable.
Part of speech: noun
Usage: Advertising
Frequency: 2 of 5

You won’t find much more about the word in the dictionary, which is the first thing I consult when I don’t know the meaning of a word. In fact, that’s exactly what I did when I saw the wonderful topic “What’s does breathability mean?” on my to-do list. But that’s not to say that I didn’t know what it meant. How could I not? I mean, it’s literally everywhere. There’s not one outdoor garment that can get along without having – at the very least – breathable properties anymore.

When asked what breathability actual refers to, most would say something to the effect of: “Isn’t that when your shirt doesn’t stick to your body even after sweating so much?” Yep, that’s basically it! Nevertheless, breathability is not really the best word to describe this phenomenon. I mean, since when can dead matter breathe anyway? Ok, let’s get to it: what’s the deal with breathability?

If you exercise, you’re going to sweat.

A no-brainer, right? An active person produces energy! But, not all this energy is put to good use. Approximately 20% of this energy is converted into mechanical energy, with the rest being released in the form of heat. Obviously, this isn’t particularly efficient, so the body is forced to come up with a way to regulate its temperature.

The solution is 2 to 3 million sweat glands distributed all over our bodies. The majority of them are found on our palms, the soles of our feet, in the armpits, the back of the neck and forehead. Under normal physical activity conditions, the body will produce 200-700 ml of sweat each day! However, during very strenuous exercise or in hot temperatures, we can produce up to 1.5 litres of this salty discharge per hour!

So, breathability has to do with what happens to all the sweat when you perspire. If the sweat were to just stay on your skin, it could get pretty uncomfortable: As we all know, sweat promotes the build-up of heat between our bodies and the garment we’re wearing, or it can cause a very unpleasant cooling effect. You know that feeling, right? That clammy feeling of damp clothing against your skin? Absolutely dreadful, isn’t it!

When you’re exercising, playing football or engaged in any other physical activity, it is important for your clothing to have the ability to allow moisture vapour to be transmitted through the fabric and away from your body. So, when we talk about the breathability of a garment, we’re actually referring to its water vapour permeability. Of course, breathability can be measured! This is done by calculating how many grams (g) of water vapour can pass through a square metre (m2) of fabric in a 24 hour period. 5,000 g of breathability means that 5,000 grams of water vapour can pass through a square metre of fabric.

Breathability, water vapour permeability or moisture management?

To make things even more confusing, I think I’ll just go ahead and mention yet another term: moisture management or moisture wicking. When it comes to water vapour permeability, we have to differentiate between two types of material:

  1. Materials that are waterproof and are still able to allow sweat to pass through to the outside
  2. Non-weatherproof materials that allow for active moisture transfer

Textiles belonging to the second category are usually referred to as having the ability to provide moisture management. The idea behind this is that individual fabrics actively draw moisture away from the body to the outside. But, before we get into that, let’s talk about the first category!

Membrane: open or closed?

Hardshell jackets come with a technical membrane. The point of this membrane is to reliably keep wind and precipitation out whilst simultaneously providing a high level of breathability. This is something that can be achieved with the help of two different membranes: microporous membranes or closed membranes.

As the name already suggests, microporous membranes are porous, meaning they have microscopic pores. These are just big enough for water vapour to pass through to the outside, but too small for liquid water to get in, which makes the fabric absolutely waterproof. Membranes are usually made of polytetrafluorethylene and have a very thin, protective polyurethane film over it. The most well-known are Gore-Tex membranes and those by Gore-Tex’s rival eVent.

A closed membrane is a membrane that has no pores. So, what happens to the water vapour molecules? Well, moisture builds up on the inside of the jacket until the membrane swells up and the water vapour molecules can be transported to the outside. Even though these membranes are considered to be significantly more robust, it takes a while before they actually do what they’re supposed to. As for the fabric, manufacturers generally used polyester. A perfect example is the environmentally-friendly Sympatex membrane.

Cotton, Fleece, Merino and Co.

Hardshell jackets make up the outermost layer of clothing, so in order for the sweat to make it all the way to the jacket’s membrane in the first place, your base and mid layer have to pull their own weight ! It’s not so much a matter of how much moisture the fabric absorbs as it is a matter of how quickly the fabric repels it. Cotton, for example, absorbs sweat very quickly and doesn’t repel it at all, thereby preventing moisture transfer.

Synthetic fibres, such as polyester, polacrylic, polypropylene or polyamide work much better than cotton when it comes to moisture transfer. For example, on a day with a temperature of 20°C (68°F) and 65% humidity, polyester would only absorb 7% of its own weight in moisture. Plus, it would dry very quickly as well.

Another very popular fabric is merino wool, a natural fibre, which is not only soft and comfortable to wear but also has excellent properties: it absorbs moisture and draws it away from your skin and dries very quickly as well. Plus, it is odour resistant, so you’ll always feel comfortable.

The bottom line

So, what have we learnt? Breathability doesn’t refer to air after all, but to water! More specifically, it refers to moisture and how to best get rid of that moisture. There are so many different approaches to breathability in the wonderful world of functional textiles that it can be hard to keep track of them all. Some have been successful, whilst others are only beginning to make their mark. Unfortunately, there is no universal recipe for excellent breathability, so just head outdoors and see what works 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.

Fleece

Care instructions for your fleece

25. January 2017
Care tips

This fleece is simply fantastic: not only does it keep me nice and warm, but it’s also got these wonderfully stretchy inserts!

I’m sure this is how many of us feel when we go on our first outdoor adventure in our brand new fleece. That’s probably why fleece is the go-to fabric for almost every outdoor activity – and rightfully so!

However, as great as fleece is, there are a few basic things you should consider when caring for your fleece garment. So, here is the most important information on how to do so.

What is fleece anyway?

Fleece was developed and introduced at the beginning of the 1980s by Malden Mills under the name of Polartec, and today, America remains the global leader in fleece.

It is a velour fabric that is mostly made of polyester. Today, they use recycled PET bottles as a base. Fleece also has something called a weight rating, which refers to the different thicknesses of fleece, measured in grams/square metre. The most common are 100, 200, 300 fleece.

What kinds of fleece are there?

Classic fleece

Fleece is very popular as a thin mid layer underneath a hardshell jacket. The insulating fleece ensures that sweat is reliably transported from your base layer to the outermost layer of clothing where it can spread out and evaporate if exposed to air. The Polartec Classic is a great example and is extremely versatile, durable, and well-insulated.

Thermo Fleece

Thermo fleece can be seen as a further development of the classic fleece. It has excellent insulating properties and is thus perfect as a super-warm jumper for an evening outdoors. It retains the majority of its insulating properties, even when it gets wet from snow, rain or sweat! So, you won’t have to worry about keeping your fleece dry, as you would with down. Just the right thing for cold and wet weather! Another great fleece for these conditions is the very warm Polartec Thermal Pro, which is used for a variety of extremely comfortable jackets and jumpers.

Power Stretch Fleece

Power Stretch Fleece is used for functional shirts, jumpers and hats and boasts excellent stretch and moisture transfer. Pontetorto Tecnostretch, for example, is super elastic and wicks moisture away from the body in no time at all, thereby allowing it to evaporate on the outside – the perfect thing for mountain running and high-intensity cardio!

In addition, there are a number of other name-brand fleeces that can be worn together or that are fitted with additional insulating material like PrimaLoft in order to take advantage of the best qualities of each of the fabrics.

What do you need to keep in mind when wearing fleece?

Fleece is made of synthetic fibres, which are very sensitive to direct heat! Thus, you should keep the following in mind:

  • Be careful around open flames when cooking (especially on a white gas stove)
  • Try to keep your fleece away from flying sparks so that your beautiful garment doesn’t end up getting any ugly burn holes
  • Fleece is more prone to static electricity, which is definitely not for everybody

How to wash fleece

If you’re wardrobe or rucksack is just full of this miracle fabric, you’re probably wondering how to care for it properly. Well, here you go:

  • Always wash fleece according to the instructions on the garment
  • If possible, use a front-loading washing machine, as top loaders tend to be a bit too abrasive
  • Close all zips before washing, so that the teeth will be spared and last a bit longer
  • Turn the garment inside out before washing to reduce pilling
  • Select a gentle cycle if possible
  • Use a mild detergent
  • Do not use fabric softenerso that your garment will stay fluffy!
  • Wash your garment at a very low temperature
  • Try not to subject your precious fleece to a high spin speed

There are just as many different fleece fabrics, water and wind resistant treatments and combinations thereof as there are washing tips. Fore this reason, it is extremely important to read the care instructions.

But, the following tips are all quite general, so you can apply them to any fleece garment. After all, you probably don’t carry around all of the ripped-off labels indicating how to wash your fleece on your trips, right?

Stains

There is a variety of smudges and greases stains you can collect over the course of a trip. You have to act fast, though:

  • Blot the stained areawith plenty of water
  • Then rub in (thoroughly) some washing-up liquid
  • Then wash the garment in warm water using mild detergent

Other than that, there are some more useful tips and tricks on the topic of treating stains here. But, be careful: they’re only suggestions and do not necessarily apply to your particular fleece garment! If you’re unsure, it’s best to just contact the manufacturer of the garment.

Drying

In order to minimise the environmental impact and to save energy, we recommend line drying your garment instead of using a not-so energy-efficient washing machine:

  • It’s best to line dry your garment whilst it’s still damp
  • Just let it dry in a well-ventilated place
  • If possible, do nottumble dry or dry it on a radiator

The clothesline is an absolute classic: it’s simple, convenient and effective. You’re bound to have rope or cord in your pack, so with that and your tent and trekking poles, you can build a makeshift clothesline for your fleeces in no time.

What do you have to do to get the most out of your fleece?

Well, to be honest, not much. Fleece is generally very resistant and thus perfect as an outdoor garment. If you consider the abovementioned suggestions, take the necessary precautions when washing and drying the fleece and keep it away from direct heat sources, you and your fleece will enjoy a long and happy life together!

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 15/12/2015.

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!

Winter is the time to get down

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to feel the warmth of a down jacket, you’ll know how hard it is to go without. Plus, it’s literally as light as a feather! Once it’s found a place in your wardrobe, it’ll be as essential to everyday life as a proper British cuppa!

However, as surprising as it may sound, even down jackets have their fair share of enemies: things such as lighted cigarettes, flying embers from a campfire, thorny plants and particularly rough rock or sharp crampons, to name a few. One wrong move and all of the sudden there’s a huge gaping hole in your jacket. The perfect escape for the precious down! Now what?

Repair and don’t despair!

Fortunately, the very thin outer material is usually made of very tough and tearproof Ripstop fabric – mostly polyamide – which can withstand more than you think. This is due to the special reinforcing technique used during weaving that serves to prevent a hole expanding after the material has been damaged.

Nevertheless, it is important to repair even the smallest of snags, for only then can we protect the very sensitive down and stop warmth escaping the interior. After all, it would not only be a downright shame to throw the jacket away but also the last resort for all you environmentally-conscious outdoor enthusiasts out there! That’s why we took it upon ourselves to put together a couple of options for you to breathe some more life into your jacket!

Manufacturer’s repair service

First, it’s always a good idea to contact the manufacturer of the jacket. Brands such as Mammut, Yeti or Arc’teryx offer professional repair services for damaged jackets. Unfortunately, these services can be costly, but depending on how expensive your jacket is, it may be something worth considering.

Other repair services

The second option: Daniel from our customer service team recommends contacting a repairer of outdoor clothing for advice. The repairs will be carried out by a highly skilled and experienced team –and all that at a fair price.

DIY

A third and less expensive option is to patch the hole yourself. If the hole is just a few millimetres in diameter, use some sealing tape, such as McNett’s Tenacious This will at least temporarily take care of the hole. Since the tape is only available in a small tube, it won’t take up too much room in your pack. Plus, you’ll always have it on you for any emergencies.
Also very effective and easy: a quick repair using good ol’ Duct Tape. Of course, it won’t look good, but it’ll hold! Truthfully, though, this method is only for emergencies. Once you put it on, it’s really hard to take off! So, if you’re considering having the jacket professionally repaired when you get back, I would recommend using tape sparingly.

Another tip from a colleague of ours, Steffen: patches for bike tubes (see picture on the right). They may not look the best, but they stick pretty well.

Last but not least, there are also special patches made of polyamide (nylon) that come in a variety of colours. These are self-adhesive and thus very easy to use. A disadvantage to using these is that they don’t stick particularly well, since most of the outer material used for down jackets is very smooth (think Pertex, Ripstop Nylon, Helium and Mountain Equipment’s Drilite or Arc’teryx’s Colibri). So, the patch may come off. These patches are more suitable for rougher fabrics, such as those commonly used for hardshell jackets. In sum, all three DIY options mentioned here are best for emergencies when you’re out and about! Taping those little snags and holes caused by ice tools or crampons is great to temporarily keep the cold and moisture out of the interior of your down jacket, but it is by no means a permanent solution.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a lot of different ways to fix, if only temporarily, a torn down jacket. However, repairing the highly technical and thin outer shells of down jackets should be left to professionals. Even though DIY methods are temporary, they can come in really handy on the trails to prevent worse things happening.

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.