All posts with the keyword ‘Bouldering’

A buyer's guide to approach shoes

A buyer’s guide to approach shoes

8. December 2017
Buyer's guide

The approach to your very climbing spot is often a rocky one, so it’s particularly important to have a solid pair of shoes. More specifically, you need some quality approach shoes! Wait, what are those? Well, approach shoes are multi-purpose shoes that have been designed to cope with the challenges of the approach to the crag or via ferrata (as well as your descent). But do we really need a different pair of shoes for everything little thing? Can’t we just wear some sturdy walking boots? Let me think about that for a second…no! In the following, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about approach shoes, including what you need to consider before you buy and why every climber has one pair at the very least in his or her kit. So, keep on reading!

What are approach shoes anyway?

Approach shoes are usually a pair of sturdy low-cut shoes. They help you to cope with steeper grades of rock and terrain of varying difficulty. After all, most “paths” to your favourite spot are presumably not paved or well-maintained trails but full of debris, rock, grass and whatever else nature feels like throwing at us. For this kind of terrain, we need a real all-rounder! And, that’s precisely where approach shoes come in.

When walking boots and climbing shoes love each other very much, what you get is a pair of approach shoes. That’s basically how you could describe where approach shoes comes from. All joking aside, approach shoes are a hybrid between both types of shoes. They’re made to cope with any terrain. They provide the foot with support on both steep and more well-maintained paths. Not even short climbing sections are a problem for these shoes. They are designed to be comfortable and provide traction, giving you the surefootedness you need to make it to your favourite crag. If you’re in the market for such a shoe, here’s a brief overview of what you should keep in mind before buying.

An approach shoe’s most important characteristics

If you’ve ever worn the wrong shoes, you know exactly where your feet end up at the end of the day: in the ice bucket. Since an approach can take even longer than the climb itself, it’s extremely important to find a comfortable approach shoe to get you to the crag. They should be secure and fit well and not feel constrictive or cause chafing. Even the baddest of climbers (I know that’s not the grammatically correct superlative) would rather have a solid pair of approach shoes than a bunch of yucky blisters on their feet.

Two of the more important contributing factors to a good fit are the footbed and the lacing. The higher-quality models have laces that extend all the way up to the toe of the shoe. Why? Well, this has the advantage that the shoe can be adjusted ever-so precisely to your individual foot. Another important factor is the lock down at the heel, which can be achieved by way of special heel inserts. These serve to keep the heel in its natural position whilst simultaneously absorbing shock.

Upper material, weight and lining – other important details

As with all outdoor shoes, an approach shoe’s upper is extremely important. Usually, manufacturers opt for a flexible synthetic material that is extremely tough and fit to withstand contact with rock and the like. There shouldn’t be any shortage of functionality and weather protection, either. Some weather protection will definitely not hurt. After all, your shoes are bound to get wet as you make your way to the crag. Plus, if your shoes are water resistant, you won’t have to struggle with putting your climbing shoes on with wet feet.

Functional materials like Gore-Tex provide excellent weather protection and keep the interior feeling fresh and comfortable. As you probably already know, Gore-Tex is breathable as well, so any moisture or sweat on the interior will pass through to the outside where it will evaporate. And your feet will stay nice and dry! But, more importantly, your feet won’t stink, either! That may sound trivial, but it’ll keep your climbing shoes from stinking as well.

In terms of weight, less is always more, as it so often is. Lighter approach shoes are much easier to stuff in your backpack or hang on your climbing harness when they’re not in use. There’s no reason to weigh yourself down!

The climbing zone and sole of the shoe

In order for you to be able to cope with short climbing sections, you need a capable approach shoe, and that’s where the climbing zone comes in. This is a treadless or flat area at the front of the approach shoe for edging on more difficult terrain. Yet another advantage approach shoes have over ‘normal’ walking shoes.

Now, let’s move on to the most important part of an approach shoe: the sole! The approach to the crag is no walk in the park. You usually have to traverse rough, sloping terrain and/or walking paths and asphalt. In the best-case scenario, your shoe will have a sole capable of dealing with both harsh conditions as well as paved sections. A sole that offers the same grip on slick, wet and dry surfaces. The perfect combination of flexibility and stability.

Usually, approach shoes have a sole made primarily of natural rubber like a Vibram sole. The tread shouldn’t be too deep, as that would impede the grip on the rock, but not non-existent either. As for cushioning, approach shoes are hardly cushioned – if at all – in the front. When it comes to the sole’s stiffness, it’s completely up to you.

The most important stuff at a glance

If you’ve managed to make it this far or are just skimming because you’re strapped for time, here’s a summary of the most important features:

Quality approach shoes are tough all-purpose shoes for various terrain. A robust and flexible upper is just as important as sufficient weather protection and breathability. A secure lacing system that extends down to the the toe provides a snug fit. A low weight is essential because you don’t want to have to carry around extra weight on your feet or your harness. A climbing zone at the front is never a bad idea, and the sole should offer a good combination of flexibility and stability. In sum, regardless of which model you end up buying, the most important thing is that it fits both your foot and your needs!

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 03/03/2016.

My favourite bouldering spot: Petrohrad

My favourite bouldering spot: Petrohrad

9. November 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!

Build your very own bouldering wall

Build your very own bouldering wall

17. November 2017
Tips and Tricks

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

Materials, size and construction

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

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

Here’s the most important info at a glance:

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

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

The wall sheets

The grid – for the perfect distance between holds

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

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

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

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

Painting your wall

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

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

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

  • Coat of epoxy and silica sand

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

Nuts

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

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

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

Raise the roof

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

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

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

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

Get a grip: All about chalk and chalk bags

Get a grip: All about chalk and chalk bags

22. November 2017
Buyer's guide

Chalk has been an integral part of virtually every climber’s and boulderer’s gear for decades. Credited with introducing chalk to the world of rock climbing is the American climber and gymnast John Gill, who is now considered to be one of the most important figures in early history of bouldering. As we all know, the magnesium carbonate was in widespread use at the time in ring and bar exercises to keep the gymnast’s hands drier and thus improve their overall grip on the various apparatuses.

Seeing climbing as an extension of gymnastics, Gill took this idea and ran with it, or better: climbed with it; He chalked up with his gymnastic chalk and started to climb. The result? You guessed it: a dramatic improvement in his grip on slick climbing holds. Because his idea worked so well and Gill turned out to be such a great boulderer, chalk eventually became just as important to climbers as it had been to gymnasts for years before. Today, chalk is so ubiquitous in the climbing world that you’d be hard-pressed to find a climber or boulderer who doesn’t use chalk and a chalk bag.

What is chalk, anyway?

Technically speaking, what we climbers now know as chalk is magnesium carbonate. It’s also known as MgCO3. For gymnasts, however, talcum is mixed in the magnesium carbonate so as to allow for more slippage on the apparatuses. Climbers, of course, would prefer not to slip, so it is important for the chalk to be pretty much pure. In addition to its application in climbing, the natural substance known as magnesite is also used for foodstuff, medicines, building materials and a variety of other things. Depending on the manufacturer, there are different formulations, each of which has a dedicated following among climbers. In other words, each type of chalk has a special touch, something unique about it that one climber will love and another might hate. For instance, one climber may love Black Diamond chalk, while another may prefer the chalk made by Metolius.

Even though there may be some argument over which chalk is better, there’s certainly no arguing over chalk’s effect or application. By rubbing the magnesium carbonate on your hands and fingers, you’ll have nice and dry hands to climb with. The powder basically soaks up the sweat on your fingers and improves your grip on holds, preventing you slipping off.

Loose chalk, block chalk, a chalk ball or liquid chalk?

Since many beginning climbers seem to be overwhelmed by the huge selection of chalk available on the market today, we’re going to give you a brief overview of the different types of chalk:

  • Loose chalk
    Available in a variety of different textures from fine to coarse, loose chalk can be purchased in bags or other containers. To use it, all you have to do is fill up your chalk bag with it, but only about a quarter of the way. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to fit your hands in there comfortably! It’s always better to have to refill it instead of filling it to the brim.
  • The chalk ball
    Chalk balls are incredibly popular and easy to use. If you’re unfamiliar with them, they’re just mesh balls with pores designed to contain the chalk until you want to use it. They are available in a variety of sizes (make sure to check the amount of chalk and the diameter before buying). It should fit well in your hand. So, if you have big hands, you should get a big chalk ball and for smaller hands a small ball. Simple right? To chalk up, all you have to do is squeeze and knead the ball, as you would bread, and your hands will be covered with chalk.
  • Block chalk
    Chalk is also available in blocks or hunks that a climber can crush or break up into smaller chunks.
  • Liquid chalk
    Liquid chalk is alcohol with magnesium carbonate mixed in. To apply it, all you have to do is squirt a couple of drops onto your palms and fingers, rub it in and you’ll have a chalky residue covering your hands straight away.

If you’re looking for a recommendation, there’s really no clear-cut winner. Everybody has their own personal preference. The regular old powder is very popular, efficient and easy to use. However, loose chalk does produce quite a bit of chalk dust, especially when you French blow (blow the excess chalk off your hands). When you’re at the crag, it’s not that big a deal, but doing it at the gym could be problem. Inhaling all that chalk dust can’t be good! Liquid chalk is perfect for short climbing routes and boulders. For longer climbs, this kind of chalk is less suitable, since you can’t just plunge your hands in your chalk bag to reapply it. For beginners, chalk balls are certainly a good choice. They’re easy to use and great for both climbing indoors and outdoors. How long a chalk ball will last depends on how much you climb and thus how often you use it. But, seeing as chalk balls limit the amount of chalk you can pat onto your hands, an average sized ball used on a regular basis can last for several routes before it has to be replaced.

Chalk bags – those stylish bags that hold your chalk

The chalk bags climbers wear on their harness are used for carrying their chalk and chalking up on their way up. These bags usually have integrated drawstrings to close it and a cord or strap to attach it to your harness. The important thing here is that you can reach the chalk bag from both sides, since you can hardly plunge both hands into your bag at once! As for their features, chalk bags have a fleece lining to help keep the chalk in the bag and distribute it evenly on your hands. Plus, the rim of the opening is usually stiff so that it won’t close on you when you need to chalk up.

It’s hard to say which bag is the best. As with the chalk, every climber has his or her own personal preferences when it comes to chalk bags as well. I mean look at the picture on the right! Many brands offer chalk bags in different sizes, with some being much deeper and others much wider. In spite of all the variety, you should choose a chalk bag is suitable for your hand size. It shouldn’t be too big or too small. After all, you want to be able to move your hand around in there or get a good grip on your chalk ball. All the practical aspects aside, chalk bags are an expression of your own individual style and an integral part of every climber’s gear. There are even hand-made chalk bags you can buy. Wildwexel, for example, makes beautiful one-of-a-kind bags that are bound to turn some heads, no matter where you go climbing.

Layering systems: To sweat or not to sweat

Layering systems: To sweat or not to sweat

5. July 2017
Tips and Tricks

Layering is something we’ve all heard of at some point or another and probably even something we’ve done in our daily lives, be it consciously or unconsciously.

However, despite our previous experience, many important aspects and even benefits of layering may not be known to many of us. For this reason, we’re going discuss not only how to layer your clothing, but why it’s so important and who actually benefits the most from using ‘the layering system’. For example, is it just as beneficial for the autumn hillwalker as it is for a dog walker? And what about winter boulderers?

Well, we’ve looked into it and found too much information! So much, in fact, that we’re going to have to split this post into two parts. We’ll post the second part sometime in the near future.

On the dangers of sweating

The Inuit supposedly believe that one should only move so fast as to not work up a sweat. And with good reason, too: The Inuit’s traditional garb consists of animal skin and fur, which may be extremely warm and perfect in terms of insulation, but it lacks one important thing: breathability. If they were to start sweating, they would literally be stewing in their own juices.

Obviously, sweating itself isn’t a bad thing. After all, it helps to regulate our body temperature when we’re hot. However, as soon as we stop being active and the body stops producing an excessive amount of heat or the cold from the outside outmatches our own production of warmth, the moisture on our bodies begins to cool the body down. What the moisture does is rob the body of warmth and energy. So, in the worst-case scenario, sweating at an outside temperature of -30°C could have life-threatening consequences.

Preventing yourself from sweating

The goal of a layering system is always to prevent you from having too much moisture near the body and cooling down too quickly. This can be done in two ways: either you don’t sweat at all, like the Inuit, or you make sure any moisture that has accumulated over the course of an activity is quickly wicked away from your skin. We’ll get to why you need multiple layers to do this in a second.

Donning and doffing

Wearing multiple layers allows you to regulate the amount of warmth trapped in your clothing much more easily, since it allows you to make tiny adjustments on the go. If you get too hot, you can just take off a thin layer to give yourself some relief but still retain some warmth.

So, by donning and doffing layers of clothing, you can “adjust” the temperature to keep yourself warm without causing excessive sweating.

This kind of layering works with non-synthetic fabrics such as cotton and merino wool as well. However, it does require you to know your own body and how it reacts in different situations. Otherwise, you’ll end up having way too much on. In rainy conditions, this can be complicated to nearly impossible.

Advantages: Works with conventional fabrics such as cotton and wool. They don’t start to smell as quickly and provide higher thermal insulation during breaks without physical activity (applies only to wool and down)

Disadvantages: It requires some past experience. The less experience you have, the more often you’ll have to change.

Breathable synthetic fabrics

If you hear somebody talking about layering today, this is usually what they mean. It’s based on the wonderfully efficient moisture-wicking abilities of modern outdoor apparel.

Similar to the one described above, this system requires you to wear multiple layers of clothing, with the only difference that their moisture-wicking ability renders constant donning and doffing completely unnecessary. If you work up a sweat, any moisture accumulating on the interior can be wicked away quickly and efficiently.

In order for this system to work, there are a few things you need to keep in mind: all of your layers must be made of functional materials. Otherwise, the moisture couldn’t be wicked away, which would lead to a build up of said moisture and an overall ineffective layering system! In this system, the first layer should be worn close to your skin so that fabric has a chance to draw moisture away from your body.

The good thing about this system is that you can sweat – the fabric will take care of it. This kind of layering system is particularly convenient in bad weather, when you’re carrying a lot of gear or you’re engaged in aerobic activity.

Advantages: Sweating is allowed (in moderation)! You don’t need any prior knowledge as to when and how much you sweat. Synthetic products are usually lightweight and quick-drying. Here, too, you can regulate the temperature by donning and doffing the different layers.

Disadvantages: Functional clothing made of synthetic fabrics develop unpleasant odours rather quickly. And, they provide little thermal insulation in the situations in which you don’t produce enough warmth (such as when you’re taking a break). The only exception here is merino wool. Not only is this fabric relatively light as compared to other kinds of wool, but it is also quite breathable. However, it does soak up much more moisture than synthetic fabrics. But, on the bright side, it hardly smells at all!

So what’ll it be?

Whether you opt for synthetic fabrics or not depends – as it always does – on what you’re planning to do (and on what kind of clothing you’ve already got in your wardrobe): speed hiking, multi-pitch climbs, winter bouldering, winter or summer, etc.

As for the individuals layers of a layering system, this is something we’re going to address in part two of our post on ‘the layering system’.

Supplement from 10/03/2015 due to high demand: We’ve been wanting to add to this post for a while now, but just decided not to. The reason for this was simple. The most important facts for the first post were easy to compile, whereas those for the second either went way beyond the scope of the article or were just so numerous that we couldn’t possibly include them all.

In other words, in order to do the topic justice, we would need to write an article for each discipline. And, since the boundaries between the various disciplines are often blurred, we would just run into the same problem as before. On the bright side, we do have heaps of helpful buyer’s guides that could give you some more insight and answer any questions that may have gone unanswered here.

In other words: There will not be a part two on the topic of layering anytime in the near future.

Are your climbing shoes too tight?

Are your climbing shoes too tight?

22. June 2017
Tips and Tricks

We see it much too often: Climbers putting on their climbing shoes with pain written all over their faces, only to take them off as soon as humanly possible with a huge sigh of relief.

Or what about those poor souls who run to the wall on their heels so that they don’t put too much pressure on their forefoot? I know, it’s a dreadful sight when you see a climber with shoes too tight!

But, how tight should climbing shoes be? Are they really supposed to hurt? Can wearing your shoes too tight have negative consequences, or should we all just stop being such wimps and grin and bear it? After all, you’ve got to reach the next level of difficulty, right?
Climbing began with climbers wearing boots studded with cleats and hobnails. Then, a long time ago, climbers realised that they could climb more difficult routes by wearing special climbing shoes. This was not only due to the special soles but also due to the fact that shoes became tighter, which resulted in climbers having more sensitivity in their toes for small footholds.

This, in turn, resulted in a back and forth between increasingly difficult routes and more and more aggressive shoes. What all this meant for climbers’ feet, however, was completely disregarded for a very long time.

There are so many climbers who wear the wrong shoes and even more who wear their shoes too tight! And, the reasons why they do this are manifold.

Creatures of habit

Climbers are used to wearing their shoes tight. After all, even well-fitting climbing shoes tend to be much tighter than your regular casual shoes. Over the years, climbers have just become increasingly desensitised, and now, tight shoes just feel right! Whereas a beginner would moan incredulously, “Are you sure my foot’s supposed to fit in there?”, experienced climbers would simply shove their feet in the shoes in hopes that they would indeed stretch half a size. And, if they didn’t, well, they’d just have to live with it!

This phenomenon is not just limited to climbing shoes. We’ve become so used to wearing tight shoes that we unwittingly buy our casual shoes too tight as well. We simply don’t know any better! After all, we’re used to them being much tighter! And so it continues…

No pain, no gain

“Climbing shoes are supposed to hurt” – this little pearl of wisdom is just as untrue as it is persistent. It simply leads to beginners buying shoes that don’t fit. Which is completely unnecessary! You don’t even need aggressive shoes in the beginning, but rather “simpler” shoes that will allow you to develop your footwork and technique.

Yes, your climbing shoes should be relatively tight at first, especially if you buy a pair that is supposed to stretch after a few hours of climbing. But, the shoes should never make your feet hurt, especially if you’ve had a chance to break them in over a period of several weeks! But, if they do hurt, you should seriously consider exchanging the shoes for a different pair.

How do the shoes expand?

Well, they do it all by themselves! Leather shoes are particularly good at this. So, just keep climbing! And then climb some more! Why? This will allow the shoe to conform to the shape of your foot. If the mere thought of having to stretch out your new climbing shoes with your own two feet makes you break out in sweat, you may just want to buy a half size larger.

But, bear in mind that climbing shoes expand when they get warm. So, don’t be surprised if they feel really comfortable after two hours of climbing and then awfully tight the very next day.

The better you climb, the more aggressive the shoe

This is yet another very popular rumour in the world of climbing. The better you are at climbing, the more aggressive your shoes are. Or vice versa, if you want to show everybody how good of a climber you are, you wear an aggressive climbing shoe.

Have you ever notice what shoe Alex Honnold wears on his free solo ascents? The La Sportiva TC Pro, among others. I mean, it’s a good shoe, but it’s by no means a MACHINE.

When deciding what shoes to wear, professionals and other experienced climbers differentiate between disciplines and routes. Not a single one of them would ever think of climbing in overly tight shoes with a lot of heel tension on a multi-pitch climb. Except when it comes to the crux, and for that they have other shoes.

Performance and embarrassment are often much closer to each other than you think. If you were climbing an alpine route with multiple pitches in a extremely aggressive shoe, it’d be rather embarrassing. Why? Well, because it’s completely unnecessary. On the other hand, if you managed to climb crazy roof routes in a slipper like the Anazasi, you’d surely earn the respect of those around you.

But is it really bad to wear your climbing shoes too tight?

There is a very informative article on the topic at bergsteigen.com (in German) on the topic. Granted, it may be a bit older, but it certainly hasn’t lost its relevance.

Based on an article written by Volker Schöffel in 1999, here are some of the various “risks” of wearing the wrong climbing shoes:

  • Calluses and pressure points:  These things don’t have to be bad, but they can be very painful, open up and get infected. Not to mention, they’re ugly!
  • Nail bed infection: This occurs because climbers tend to cut their toenails increasingly shorter in order to alleviate the pain caused by their tight shoes. More often than not, they end up cutting into the nail bed. The worst case scenario? If such an infection goes untreated, it may require surgery!
  • Subungual hematoma (bleeding under a toenail): It’s not as bad as it sounds, but is painful and common.
  • Bunion: According to bergsteigen.com, 54% of climbers have this as opposed to 4% of the “normal population”. Bunions are quite the treacherous little malady. It won’t bother you all that much when you’re young, but as you get older, it’ll you’ll really start to notice it. If it gets bad enough, it will require surgery.
  • Hallux rigidus: This describes partial stiffness of the joint in the big toe as a result of overexertion. It can occur in relatively young people as well.
  • Dermatomycosis (fungus): This has less to do with the fit of your shoes than it does with hygiene. Unpleasant for you and your climbing buddies.

According to Dr. Volker Schöffel, modern climbing shoes that are worn in the wrong size or too tight are to blame for several of these ailments.

The surprising thing about this is: Climbers worry so much about their fingers, shoulders, arms and neck, applying all sorts of lotions, tape and other methods in order to prevent injury, whilst often completely ignoring their feet! When researching this topic, I came across countless articles on all sorts of extremities but only one serious text (from 2004) on the topic of shoes and foot ailments.

What can be done?

Easy – wear comfortable shoes! Pay attention to both fit and size when choosing a pair of climbing shoes. There are so many models out there now (154 in our shop alone as of October 2015) that you’ll surely be able to find the right size and fit for you. By they way, size and fit are particularly important when it comes to picking out climbing shoes for children, as their feet are still developing. So, do make sure that their shoes aren’t too tight.

Some advice on buying the right climbing shoes can be found in our blog post A buyer’s guide to climbing shoes“” and our climbing shoe sizing guide. This is where you can find some useful information on the right size and different foot shapes.

As always, use common sense. If your feet hurt and get infected, something’s not right! And keep this in mind: If such problems reoccur or just won’t to go away, the consequences could be very serious. Obviously, only with healthy feet will you be able to reach your full potential as a climber!

I used to make fun of them, but now I, too, have two pairs of climbing shoes: a more comfortable one with more room for my toes (Scarpa Vapor for women) and a high-performance shoe that I primarily use for bouldering (La Sportiva Python). But I only wear that one for the tougher boulder problems.

This is what I have been doing for around a year now and I’ve noticed just how easy it is to get accustomed to wearing wider climbing shoes. Now I primarily wear the ones from Scarpa, and my performance hasn’t suffered as a result. Quite on the contrary, learning how to stand on small footholds with a softer shoe has actually improved my footwork and technique.

One last thing

Heel tension or asymmetrical lasts don’t have to be bad for your feet. There are even people who claim that a shoe with a lot of heel tension and an aggressive downturn is the healthiest option. Unfortunately, we were unable to find any medical literature on this, though.

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 few things have changed after a few months. This post was last updated on 30/10/2015.”

Build your own suspension trainer

DIY: Build your very own suspension trainer!

5. July 2017
Tips and Tricks

A while back our fellow Alpine Trekker Paul posted a comment about another article. We then started emailing back and forth with Paul, which eventually led to him writing instructions on how to build your own suspension trainer. Don’t worry, you won’t have to buy a whole bunch of bits and bobs to do so. As a climber, you probably have everything you need lying around the house!

It’s also worth noting that the climbing exercise book GimmeKraft!has a whole section with exercises for suspension trainers! So, if you want to bring your training to the next level, have a look at that book!

In the following, we’re going to reveal how you can build your very own suspension trainer – and it won’t cost an arm and a leg!

Let’s build a suspension trainer

As you increase the intensity and level of your climbing and bouldering training, the need for supportive strength training grows as well. Besides, if you really want to improve your overall climbing performance, it is necessary to refine your training methods. However, the harder you train, the more likely you are to train lopsidedly, disregarding key muscle groups and your core, which can result in injuries, and nobody wants that! On the plus side, though, training methods for climbing and bouldering are constantly being improved and thus becoming much more versatile.

One of the more popular methods is using rings. Originally used for gymnastics, rings are perfect as climbing and bouldering training. Not only do they have plenty of advantages for your all-round physical fitness, but so many different exercises for boulderers and climbers have been developed in recent years that it’s becoming difficult to imagine a life without them!

Advantages

  • Mobility: Not only is a suspension trainer lightweight and portable, but it is also easy to remove. So, you won’t have to worry about your trainer becoming a part of your living room decor.
  • Time: A suspension trainer allows you to train at home whenever it is convenient for you. Thus, you can incorporate training into your daily life.
  • Types of training: We don’t train individual muscles, but rather deep core muscles. We combine strength training with muscle coordination.
  • For both strength and supportive strength training
  • Several climbing gyms now have rings that you can use to train with as well.
  • Price: The initial price is very low, and you won’t have to pay much at all after that.

Another advantage: The rings allow you to continuously adjust the intensity of the training according to your individual needs or the exercises you prefer to do. Plus, you can combine suspension training with your endurance training. For example, when you go for a run or a ride, you can take your trainer with you, hang it up on a tree and train to your heart’s content! Plus, you can even take it with you on your next holiday if you wish!

Let’s start building – what you’ll need:

For the suspension trainer you’ll need the following:

  • 2 cords (each ca. 70cm / 5-6mm)
  • 3-4 metre single rope (ca. 10 mm)
  • 1 pulley
  • 2 heavy-duty slings (1m length)/handles

Attachment:

The parts you need, especially those for the attachment, vary and depend on the kind of attachment. The important thing is to choose an attachment point that is fully capable of holding your own body weight, such as strong wall anchors, hammock hooks, ceiling beams, pillars, etc. But do make sure to check whether the wall is capable of holding your weight.

You can find all the necessary parts in our shop or use spare parts you have lying around your flat. For the heavy lift slings, provided you use them instead of rings, you’ll have to visit your local DIY store. You should make sure that the slings are at least 4-5cm in width and possibly even lightly padded. Alternatively, you can use training handles.

Instructions:

Step 1:

Tie the two cords in an overhand knot around the slings. It is important that the cords go through the heavy lift slings/training handles.

Step 2:

Secure the cord slings to the last sixth of the single rope using a Prusik knot. To do this, use the cord to tie a double cow hitch around the single rope. Make sure that the overhand knot on the cord is neither in the Prusik knot nor in the heavy lift sling.

Step 3:

For safety reasons, tie both ends of the single rope in a simple overhand knot.

Step 4:

Position the pulley in the middle of the single rope so that it can be attached to a tree, pole or hook.

Step 5:

By using a Prusik knot on the heavy lift slings, we can continuously and individually adjust the suspension trainer for different exercises. To do make these adjustments, hold onto the Prusik knot and push it along the single rope.

Let the training session begin.

Notes

It is important for beginners to work with a skilled trainer a couple of times before training on their own. Trainers can show you what you’re doing wrong and correct it before it’s too late!

My favourite bouldering area: Fontainebleau

My favourite bouldering area: Fontainebleau

5. July 2017
Alpinetrek-Experts

If you’ve already been there or heard the word “Bleau” thousands of times from your friends, unfortunately nothing in this post will be new to you. But, if you’ve just started bouldering, have fun reading (and planning your next bouldering holiday), keep reading! You’ll want to leave straight away!

The bouldering mecca

Most of us are familiar with the scene’s more famous bouldering spots, such as the Rocklands in South Africa, Hueco Tanks, Bishop or Joe’s Valley in the US, Magic Wood in Switzerland or Hampi in India (to name a few). But, there are so many other smaller areas as well, many of which have grown in popularity in recent years. Not to mention, the new routes that are constantly being set.

However, today we’re going to talk about a destination that assumes a very special position among bouldering spots, namely Fontainebleau. Fontainebleau has become so popular that the magazine NEON even sent one of their editors there last year. Of course, whether or not that’s desirable is an entirely different question.

So, why Fontainebleau? Well, this is where everything began! Well, at least all things bouldering. Whilst everybody else was still climbing mountains with boots studded with cleats and hobnails or rejoicing because they were able to free climb a route, the French were bouldering in this small forest not too far from the beautiful city of Paris. In fact, they were even bouldering long before the sport climbing scene started doing it as a form of winter training.

What or where is Bleau?

When people refer to the bouldering area Bleau, they actually mean the forest near Fontainebleau, which is not too far away from Paris. This forest itself is full of countless sandstone boulders, which make up the bouldering area of Fontainebleau or “Bleau”.

So, if you go bouldering in Bleau, you’re bouldering in one of the many subareas there, such as Franchard, Apremont or Cuvier-Chatillon (just to name a few). These areas are then divided up further into sites. I know, it sounds confusing, but if they didn’t do this, bouldering guides would be a dreadful mess! After all, there are so many boulders in Bleau!

Where to spend the night

There are campsites, holiday flats, which range from being dirt cheap to ridiculously expensive, as well as designated bivouac sites. These are free of charge, equipped with a water supply and outdoor toilets and can be found in the bouldering guides.

Many boulderers even bivouac or camp right in front of the bouldering areas. As you can probably imagine, the park employees don’t like this one bit, since the bouldering guides explicitly state that you should use the designated sleeping areas.

This may not have been a big deal back in the day, but now that so many people travel to Bleau every year, it’s probably best that we all follow the rules. Otherwise, the car parks will turn into camping sites soon, too! Besides, a ten minute drive won’t kill you, right?

What’s the bouldering like?

Very traditional and technical. Bleau is where you learn to stand on your own two feet. Something you should probably considered before heading out is your shoes. You probably won’t be too happy with shoes with a lot of heel tension. I would recommend wearing softer, straighter shoes.

If you’re looking for a bouldering destination to stroke your own ego, Bleau is not for you. “Bleau teaches you humility”, as my co-worker would say.

My favourite bouldering area: FontainebleauWhat kind of rock is in Fontainebleau?

Beautiful sandstone! This rock is much easier on your fingers, but also happens to be much more susceptible to external factors. So if the blocks are damp or even wet, don’t climb them, and always wipe off your shoes before starting.

What about when it rains?

So many people claim that the idyllic little town of Fontainebleau has nothing to offer. That couldn’t be any further from the truth! There’s a cinema that has English movies playing several times a week. Plus, there’s a very big park behind the castle and a fabulous farmer’s market that sells regional organic produce three times a week! Oh, and there are excellent pastry shops as well. Nothing to offer, ha!

What else is there to know?

Well, Bleau is a pretty busy place. After Easter at the very latest is when it really starts to get full. There are boulderers from all over the world. Last year (long before Easter), I met people from jolly old England, the Netherlands, lots of Scandinavians, Germans, Spaniards, Irishmen…I think that’s it!

Unfortunately, the famous bouldering sites in Bleau are quite the attraction for petty thieves as well. So, try not to leave any of your valuables in the car. The police patrol the area regularly, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

What’s else is there to say?

If you’re a boulderer and have a chance to go to Bleau, you have to do it! The same goes for Tessin, Magic Wood, Val di Mello … etc. Getting acquainted with other bouldering areas will not only expand your horizon but also improve your performance! Plus, you’ll gain a lot of valuable experience in Bleau, even if your ego suffers as a result.

Climbing and bouldering in Scandinavia

Climbing and bouldering in Scandinavia

17. November 2017
Alpinetrek-Experts

Norway and Sweden are well known for being wonderful destinations for trekking and canoeing. But that’s not what we’re going to talk about today. We’re here to talk about climbing and bouldering in these beautiful Scandinavian countries. The aim of this post is just to give you a little taste of the best climbing and bouldering regions and to answer the question as to what makes climbing in Scandinavia in general and in Norway and Sweden in particular so unique.

Of course, this post isn’t meant to be exhaustive. We only hope to inspire you and put you in the mood to head over to Scandinavia to climb! Let’s begin with an important fact: the Scandinavians are very environmentally conscious people, which is the reason why they have refrained from placing bolts in many areas. So, it’d be a good idea to consult a climbing guide or ask a native before heading out.

Climbing in Norway

Old hands in mountaineering know Norway as the Mecca of ice climbing. Regardless of whether you’re a beginner or very experienced, you’ll definitely find a route for you. Beginners will love the region around Rjukan. This is where the popular ice climbing festival is held. But, if you like it a bit wilder or just prefer places off the beaten path, you should definitely check out Laerdal, which abounds in huge frozen waterfalls for all your ice climbing needs. Large areas of this region remain largely untouched. Of course, Gudvangen and Hemsedal are worth mentioning as well. All of these regions are mere hours away from Oslo.

For sport and alpine climbing, Setesdal is extremely popular, not least because it’s located in Southern Norway and thus easier to get to. If you happen to be in Denmark, you can just take a fairy from there to the Norwegian mainland. The granite rock in Setesdal offers climbers not only a large number of bolted routes but also plenty for route setters to work with. Many of the routes are smooth slabs, so you’ve got to like that sort of thing. But, they’re really fun once you get the hang of it! Cams, nuts and slings are a must even with bolts!

If you fancy more extreme regions, you’ll love the area around Narvik, or more specifically, Stetind. This rather imposing mountain is located north of the polar circle, so it’s pretty chilly all year round. There’s a climbing guide for this region as well, which will show you the way up the smooth sides of the granite. Of course, you can head up north to the Lofoten Islands as well. These islands are perfect for fans of multi-pitch climbs, not least because of the absolutely unique and beautiful scenery. The difficulty of the set climbing routes are between 4 and 8 (UIAA). There are climbing guides available as well: Ed Webster’s “Climbing in the Magic Islands” and the more recent “Lofoten Rock” published by Rockfax. Of course, you have the option of acquiring these guides and others when you get there.

Climbing in Sweden

Pretty much the opposite of the raw and wild alpine-like character of Norwegian climbing areas are the ones found in Sweden. Being able to climb by the sea is quite the experience. It’s as if the dichotomy between the water and the mountains vanished into thin sea air. In Bohuslän, which is north of Gothenburg, there are not only cute little islands but also solid granite to climb in warm summer weather. The majority of the predominantly sport climbing routes are significantly shorter than those in Norway. You can find much more on this region in the the tourist information in Uddevalla.

If you’re into the more difficult stuff, you’ll have the time of your life just outside of Stockholm. The demanding sport climbing routes, such as the Örnberget or Värmdö, start at around 6b (according to the French scale). However, out of the approximately 2000 routes that are within an hour’s drive from each other around Stockholm, there are some great routes for beginners as well. Other great routes can be found in Agelsjön near Norrköping or Kullaberg just north of Helsingborg. More maps and info on climbing in Sweden can be found at www.sverigeföraren.se, provided you speak Swedish.

Bouldering

There are plenty of places to go bouldering in Norway and Sweden. Many such areas are in Setesdal and in Southern Norway. Nico Altmaier who Alpine Trek has been working with for a while now, travelled to Norway for some bouldering in 2014 and made a short film about it.

Sweden is becoming one of the more popular destinations for bouldering holidays. In the rather idyllic town of Västervik in Sweden, there’s even an International Boulder Meet with several famous boulderers. The meet has taken place several times now and has really put the area on the (bouldering) map. Sweden’s bouldering scene is small but has been on the rise for a number of years. There are plenty of other spots as well. Check out the map of Sverigeföraren for more.

Conclusion

So, why should you travel all the way to Scandinavia to go bouldering or climbing? What makes the region so special?

Well, for one, it’s the variety of the Nordic countries. Not only can you boulder by the seaside but you can also experience extreme 750-metre long alpine adventures and unbelievable ice climbing routes. Norway is characterised by the rough and unpredictable climate, the view of the fjords, the green hills and the unbelievably exhilarating feeling of being out in the “real” wilderness – things we have trouble finding anywhere else, let alone at home in Britain. But, if you’d rather play it safe and keep to the climbing guide, you’re sure to have just as much fun.

Sweden is best for a relaxing holiday by the sea combined with some demanding sport climbing and bouldering problems. Plus, since it doesn’t get dark until really late at night in the summer months (and not at all north of the polar circle), you could theoretically climb into the wee hours of the night. The Scandinavians are such pleasant people, too – you’ll absolutely love it there! What are you waiting for? Head up to Scandinavia!

sun-title

Guide to sun-protective clothing

5. July 2017
Equipment

UV protection. Ever heard of it? Why, of course you have! From all those sunscreen adverts and going on holiday to the beach with mum and dad, right? Well, back then you may not have cared so much or really taken heed of what mum was saying. But now that we’re all grown up, the wise words of our elders ring loud and true: UV rays can be very harmful! And, since we’re all outdoor athletes of some kind, we’re constantly exposed to varying weather conditions and UV rays of varying intensities.

Since our skin is unable to provide enough protection against the sun over long periods and you’re probably not planning on cycling around, climbing mountains or kayaking with a parasol at the ready, your clothing is the only thing left to protect you from harmful UV rays. Unfortunately, most of the textiles the outdoor industry brings to market don’t provide effective protection. And since you presumably won’t be able to simply look at a garment and say whether or not you’ll get the necessary UV protection, we’re here to give you all the important info on the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF), UV Index as well as the standards and the corresponding testing procedures for textiles.

The type of fabric

For a start, you should know what fabric is capable of giving you effective protection. Both synthetic fibres as well as cotton and wool garments can protect you from UV rays. And, chemicals don’t necessarily have to be involved! The most crucial aspect is how finely woven a garment is. The more finely woven the garment, the less harmful UV rays can get through. For example, a conventional white cotton shirt hardly provides any UV protection when wet. Very thin merino wool, on the other hand, provides a high level of natural protection from the sun’s rays (25-50+). Special UV protection clothing can even absorb up to 98% of all UV rays. What does all this mean in real life? Well, we’ll tell you all about it in the next section.

Factoring in the Ultraviolet Protection Factor

As a general rule, we can say that with every 1000 metres increase in altitude, UV levels increase by about 10-12%. Plus, snow, water and sand all reflect sunlight and UV radiation to a certain extent. Where you are at what time of year and at what time of day all play a significant role as well. This can all be wrapped up by the term UV Index. This is an international standard measurement of the ultraviolet radiation levels on a 1-11+ scale that determines the appropriate Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) depending on your skin type.

As you’ve probably already gathered, UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, the term manufacturers use for their sun-protective clothing. The UPF is indicated on a scale of 0-80. A fabric with a UPF 50 rating means that only 1/50th of the UV radiation will go through it, thereby reducing the skin’s exposure to UV radiation by 50 times.

Another example: If you have light skin, the time you can spend out in the sun at the top of a mountain (naked) without damaging your skin is 10 minutes. With a full-body costume that boasts a UPF 50 rating, the time would increase by 50 times that. The result: You can expose yourself to the blazing sun for 490 minutes longer. Great! But is it really that simple? Yes it is, provided that the tests were carried out “properly”!

What is tested and whose is the most reliable?

The Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) can be determined in several different ways. However, you have to keep in mind that clothing, and sun-protective clothing in particular, is exposed to constant wear and extreme weather conditions. And, this can cause textiles to lose the better part of their original protection factor! Another thing you should consider is the fact that the intensity of the sun’s rays greatly depends on where you are.

This is why the textile industry has different standards that reveal – at least to a certain extent – what the sun protection factor of your new garment is. In the following, we’re going to talk about what kind of standards there are and how reliable they are:

The European Standard EN 13758-1

The tests are carried out on new textiles, that is, in the condition they were when they came from the manufacturer. This means that the wear that comes with washing and wearing the garment is not taken into consideration in these tests, which is honestly not that helpful for us outdoor enthusiasts! The European standard uses the sun spectrum of Albuquerque, New Mexico, as this corresponds to that of Southern Europe.

The American Standard AATCC 183

This method corresponds to the European standard for the most part. Unworn garments are tested, and the sun spectrum of Albuquerque, New Mexico is used. So, the American standard is just as moderately useless as the European one.

The Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 43999:1996

This standard is based on the sun spectrum in Melbourne in January, since the radiation intensity in the northern hemisphere is different from that in Australia. The measurements are carried out only on ‘as new’ textiles, so many important factors are not taken into consideration. For this reason, it’s not really a reliable criterion for you to base a decision on.

The UV Standard 801

You’re probably thinking: “There must be some reliable standard out there!” Well, you’re in luck: the UV Standard 801. Who would’ve thought? Take the maximum radiation intensity, that is the sun spectrum at the height of the Australian summer, simulate usage conditions by washing the garment and using a certain method to stretch it out. Then, the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of a garment that is wet during the measurement can be determined. A garment that complies with the standard gets its very own hangtag that reliably states how high the UPF rating is .

In other words: The fact that sun protection is crucial for reducing the risk of skin disease is nothing new under the sun (pun intended). Special sun-protective clothing can provide reliable protection, provided that the measurement is reliable as well. So, if you’re planning a trip to a place where you’ll be exposed to a lot of sunlight, this is something you should really consider buying. And, as always, the price should not be the determining factor when choosing between one garment and another. Instead, the UV Standard 801 should be!

Unfortunately, we do not yet have any clothes in our online shop that are in accordance with the UV Standard 801. However, manufacturers seem to be determined to change over to the new procedure.

Until then, the European standard will have to point us in the right direction. But, do keep in mind that the UPF rating is based a new textiles!

softshell-title

Softshell – Protection in the rain?

22. June 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 03 33 33 67058 or via e-mail.

climbing-shoes-title

Care instructions: How to care for your climbing shoes

5. July 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.

£ 5 now
For your next order
No thank you.