All posts on this topic ‘Care tips’

The sole’s worn out, but the shoe’s still good? Which brands offer resoling services?

20. March 2019
Care tips

Even the highest-quality shoes have their limits, and those limits can be as low as a couple hundred miles. After a certain amount of wear, soles can show major signs of wear and tear, especially in the areas where they’re subjected to the most pressure. The material can even begin to crumble right before your very eyes, with scratches and holes developing on the rubber rand. All in all, things can start to look pretty grim down there after a while. Even with all that happening to the sole of the shoe, the nicely broken-in upper can escape virtually unscathed and have tons of life left in it.

As products of the throw-away society we live in, most of us would probably just toss the run-down shoes in the rubbish bin and go buy new ones. After all, there’s hardly anything quicker or easier than just getting rid of them.

How about you get the shoes repaired instead? After all, getting them repaired can be significantly cheaper than buying a brand-new pair, especially when it comes to expensive, high-quality mountaineering boots. This option not only saves resources and saves you money, but also allows you to get the most out of a good pair of boots. Of course, there’s always a third option. You could just keep on wearing them until they officially kick the bucket. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend that. You wouldn’t want your boots falling apart as you’re climbing steep, rocky terrain, nor would you be doing your feet and ankles any favours walking around in boots with worn-out and potentially deformed soles.

When is a repair worth it?

As you probably already know, shoe soles wear out much faster than the rest of the shoe. When the tread is worn down to the point that it is hardly visible anymore, then it’s definitely time for a new sole. At this point, you should also have a look at the lower portion of the shoe for any other signs of material ageing. Of course, this is easier said than done. Oftentimes, signs of ageing can’t be seen from the outside because they’re developing on the inside as well. This has less to do with physical strain and much more to do with moisture.

There’s even a technical term for the moisture-induced deterioration of the inside of the sole (more specifically: the midsole and heel wedge), namely hydrolysis. Hydrolysis is something you want to avoid at all costs. In fact, it’s the main reason why proper care, thoroughly drying your shoes (during and after your trips) as well as storing them in a dry place are all so important!

Whether and when it’s worth it to get your shoes repaired is, of course, a question of cost as well. The costs depend on what kind of shoes they are and how many parts of the sole need to be replaced. In other words, getting a pair of walking or trekking boots repaired will be cheaper than crampon-compatible mountaineering boots.

Climbing shoes are usually the cheapest to repair. Replacing the worn-out sole of a climbing shoe will usually run around €20-€60. It’d probably be cheaper if you just went to your local cobbler, but cobblers usually lack the expertise in climbing shoes and mountaineering boots. It’s really hit or miss. For quality brand-made mountaineering boots, sole repairs can cost around €40 to €80, depending on the repairer and the time needed to finish the job. Online, the prices can skyrocket up to €100. That may sound like a lot of money, but when you think about how much you’d have to spend for new boots, it’s still much cheaper.

If your shoe has a membrane (e.g. Gore-Tex), make sure the shoes are still waterproof before getting them repaired. If they’re not, it might be a good idea to buy new ones instead. Obviously, this is a non-issue with full leather boots or those without membranes.

How do repairs work? What are the possibilities?

In principle, replacing the sole of a shoe is very simple: The old, damaged sole is sanded down or removed, and the new one is glued on – that’s about it. However, in practice, it can be much more difficult than it sounds, even if nothing else has to be replaced. That being said, it’s best to leave the whole process to professionals who are not only familiar with the process and the sole unit but also capable of replacing the shoe rand.

To get the shoes into the hands of a professional, you can usually go through the retailer you bought them from. The dealer will then send the shoes to the manufacturer. Collection or shipment of the repaired shoes will also be handled by the dealer. Returning the shoes to the manufacturer directly is only possible in rare cases, which is why several shoe manufacturers list authorised dealers on their websites. We’ll have a look at the requirements of renowned mountaineering boot brands in the Alpinetrek shop in the final section of this article.

Alternatively, the following three options remain:

  • Send it in to an online repair service for climbing shoes and mountaineering boots: This is a relatively safe option, but not the fastest or the cheapest.
  • Contact a cobbler in your area and ask if they can repair climbing shoes/mountaineering boots: It’s kind of the luck of the draw, but you might just get lucky. Keep it mind that you probably won’t get the brand’s original sole when it’s replaced. That being said, this may not be the safest route, but could very well be the cheapest and the fastest.
  • Do it yourself: Not only does this option involve using adhesives, like Freesole, but there’s also really no guarantee of success, even if you’re only replacing the outsole. Just how difficult the process can be is clear by how many people have been unsuccessful. Just read some of the posts on this topic in outdoor forums and see for yourself! Another reason for not DIY-ing it is that you’ll probably have to get other parts of the shoe replaced as well, like the midsole and heel wedge, which is where things get extremely complicated. Not only do we lack the tools to do it properly, we also lack the knowledge. But, if it really is only the outsole that needs to be replaced, you could try replacing it using this guide (German link only).

Exceptional case: Warranty

If the sole of the shoe becomes unusable within the warranty period, despite normal and “proper” use, there may be a defect in the design, allowing you to file a warranty claim.

If you bought the defective shoe or boot from Alpinetrek, they will do everything in their power to help you with a warranty claim! If the warranty claim is justified, you are entitled to a replacement or a refund, if the former is not possible. If you can file a warranty claim, do not attempt to get the shoes repaired by anybody other than an authorised professional, as any improper repairs performed by unauthorised service partners will make the warranty void. Even if the shoes are returned to the retailer, it is more likely that they will be exchanged than repaired.

Further information on this procedure can be found on the Alpinetrek warranty claim page.

Information regarding different manufacturers’ warranty policies can be found in the last section of this article.

Can all shoes be repaired? What kind of construction does the shoe have to have?

Usually, it is only possible to resole shoes with a “cemented” or ““double-stitched” construction. These constructions connect the insole, outsole and other lower parts of the shoes in such a way that a clean separation and renewal of the sole is possible.

Another kind of construction is known as Strobel, which doesn’t allow for a shoe to be resoled. At most, you could have the outsole sanded or glued. The Strobel construction involves the outsole being applied without glue using injection moulding, which makes it difficult to remove. This construction is used for softer and more flexible footwear. You can easily recognise Strobel shoes by the seam that runs along the inside of the shoe between the upper and the insole. To see the Strobel seam, all you have to do is remove the footbed. With the cemented construction, you’ll see the insole, but you won’t see any stitching.

List of the manufacturers that replace soles

If you’re the proud owner of a high-quality pair of mountain or trekking boots, chances are you can get your shoe resoled by the manufacturer. However, this service is only offered by some of the high-end manufacturers. All the other brands will give you a replacement pair, provided your shoes are still under warranty. Once the warranty has expired, getting the shoe repaired will be difficult, to say the least.

In the following, you can find out how some of the best brands in our shop go about repairs:

Hanwag, Mammut and Lowa offer repair services outside the warranty period of two years, but it is not free. How much it costs depends on the individual case. Repairs can be arranged directly with the manufacturer, but it usually takes several weeks.

La Sportiva and Boreal do make repairs outside the warranty period upon request and only in rare cases. All other manufacturers only offer repairs within the warranty period and with restrictions. There include: Edelrid, Haglöfs, Salewa, Martini (very slow), Duckfeet (refers you to cobblers in Germany if you’re at fault or the product is no longer under warranty), Mavic, Montura (very slow).

That’s about it all the info I have on the world of shoe repairs. It may seem a bit complicated at first, but with the info from this article – and a couple of phone calls to the dealer or manufacturer – getting your shoes resoled should be a piece of cake.

Here are some of the things I found out whilst researching:

  • Lowa: can be contacted directly without having to contact the retailer first. If you would like to have your Lowa shoes resoled, you can contact the Lowa service department directly for an offer.
  • Hanwag: offers resoling for all models, but there is no way for you to arrange it with the manufacturer. The shoes must be sent in through a dealer, who also provides information as to the exact costs.
  • Mammut: has detailed information on the repair process listed on their website.
  • Meindl: also offers resoling services for all models, but the shoes have to be sent in through a dealer.
  • Garmont: doesn’t provide any repair information.
  • According to Salewa, they have “(…) established a local specialist with (their) own branch in each market since 2014 that trains partners and provides them with the necessary spare soles and parts. The fixing of new soles can therefore be carried out flexibly and quickly thanks to short transport routes.
  • Salomon: here you will only find general warranty and repair information.
  • Scarpa: does not provide repair information, but does have a dealer search function (German link only).
  • Aku: does not provide repair information, but does have a dealer search function.
  • Dachstein: does not provide repair information, but does have a dealer search function.
  • Keen: does not provide repair information, but does have a dealer search function.

Any questions? Feel free to comment below!

DWR coatings – Blessing or a curse?

23. October 2018
Care tips

DWR stands for “Durable Water Repellent” and refers to a coating that is added to fabrics used for functional clothing and footwear. Thus, DWR is not a name for a specific material or system, but merely a description of a certain property. However, there are chemical and technological differences between the various treatments that manufacturers provide.

What properties does a DWR have?

For quite a long time, I had been under the impression that clothing sold as breathable and waterproof automatically had a durable water repellent coating. But, reality set in pretty quickly when I noticed the outer fabric of my Gore-Tex jacket had become saturated with water, leaving me to feel cold and clammy after relatively few uses. I immediately thought the membrane had been damaged, leaving the jacket leaky and no longer waterproof.

Fortunately, I was wrong – the jacket was still completely waterproof and otherwise in tip-top shape. The only thing was that the DWR treatment had lost its integrity, as these coatings are known to do over time. The reason why these coatings are so important is that they form the very first exterior barrier against water on the majority of functional garments. True, laminates and membranes do keep water at bay, but what they cannot do is keep water from penetrating into the outer layer of fabric. Once the water has coated the outside of the fabric, the material not only becomes wet but also loses its breathability. This is known as “wet out”.

A DWR treatment prevents the water from flowing together by keeping the fibres and the surface of the fabric very smooth. It then forces water to bead up and roll off the surface of the fabric instead of being absorbed by it. This can be achieved in a variety of ways. For example, in Gore-Tex materials, the treatment penetrates the fibres and reduces the surface tension of the outer fabric, causing the water to bead up and roll off rather than be absorbed.

However, these treatments quickly lose their effectiveness as a result of general wear and tear caused by dirt, oil, detergents and frequent use. The term “durable” should thus be taken with a grain of salt. The good news is that DWR treatments can be reactivated or restored quickly and easily, but we’ll talk about this in more detail a little later.

It’s worth mentioning that DWR treatments are not “waterproof”, but only “water-repellent”. It cannot withstand heavy or continuous rain by itself – it needs the support of a membrane and taped seams.

What is a DWR treatment?

You can find out how a DWR works just about anywhere, but it’s rare to find any info on what kind of substances and technologies are used for it. The lack of info is most likely due to the simple fact that you would have to do a deep dive into the world of industrial processes and technology and deal with a large number chemical substances:

Depending on the requirements for washing, cleaning and weather resistance, paraffin and wax emulsions as well as film-forming silicones and fluorocarbons, which provide durable protection, are used as DWRs. (…)”

For the most part, the finishes have been mainly polyfluorinated or fluorocarbon-based (PFC) because fluorocarbons are the most effective at repelling dirt and water. In the outdoor industry, there are two fluorinated compounds worth mentioning, namely perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Since not just PFOA and PFOS, but all fluorocarbons are now considered to be harmful to the human body and the environment, more and more manufacturers are looking for alternatives. Some alternatives work – simply put – on the basis of hydro and fatty acids (aliphatic carbon acids). You’ll find more about PFCs and the search for alternatives in the section on the environment.

Applying a water repellent to a fabric can done using various methods. The best known is the wash-in method by which the fabric is soaked in the DWR treatment. A new, more precise method is the spray method.

Reactivating or renewing a DWR treatment

As already mentioned, “durable” does not mean “eternal”, so a DWR will inevitably have to be reactivated or replaced with a new one after frequent use. It’s really easy to find out which route you should take: sprinkle a few drops of water on the garment and see if they bead up. If it does, your DWR is in tip-top shape.

If the water is partially absorbed, one should first try to reactivate the old treatment. After washing your garment according to the manufacturer’s instructions, dry your garment using warm air only. You can do this either by tumble drying it on a warm gentle cycle at 60°C, by using an iron (no steam; no direct contact with the garment, but with a cloth in between) or by using a hair dryer. The heat should be applied for about 20 – 30 minutes. Afterwards, test your garment’s DWR again as described above. If it works, you won’t have to reactivate until the next wash.

If the water droplets are absorbed by the fabric, it’s time to apply a new DWR treatment. You have two options: either the wash-in or spray-on method. Regardless of the method you choose, the garment should be dry and clean before you apply the treatment.

If you opt for the wash-in method, it is important to be sure that the detergent drawer in your washing machine is clean. Then add the manufacturer’s recommended dose of the wash-in product and wash the clothing at 40°C on a gentle cycle. Then, depending on what the manufacturer recommends (see tag), either line dry or tumble dry at the lowest level.

The problem with the wash-in method is that the inside of the garment is coated as well, which can have a negative effect on the breathability of the fabric. There are different reactions depending on the membrane and the textile blends. Sometimes, manufacturers recommend having the garment treated by a professional cleaning service. Although this has the advantage that you don’t have to handle with any chemicals and it may result in a durable coating, the breathability problem remains.

The spray-on option may expose you to chemicals, but it has the huge upside that you can distribute the treatment only on the outside of the garment. In addition to treating the outer fabric, you can also apply it to particularly sensitive areas such as the seams, cuffs and shoulders. In the world of water-repellent sprays, only pump sprays do not use harmful aerosols as a propellant. Still, you should only use these sprays outside in a well-ventilated area and try to inhale as little as possible.

Soft shells are another garment with DWR coatings that need to be renewed from time to time. For this purpose, you can use Toko and Nikwax water repellent sprays. These wrap around the fibres like a water-repellent tube without stiffening the fibres.

You can find out more about wash-in vs. spray-on products as well as renewing the DWR finish on your garment in our guide to properly reproofing your waterproof jacket.

When it comes to applying a new DWR to shoes, your only option is the spray-on method. Grease, oil and wax almost always ruin the breathability of the fabric. However, not every spray is suitable for every shoe, so once again, it’s definitely worth consulting the manufacturer’s care instructions and following them as closely as possible.

Here’s one more tip: Don’t get your hopes up. The newly applied DWR will rarely be as good as the original. And, if you apply a lot, the breathability of the fabric will suffer as a result.

Are DWRs harmful to the environment

Let’s put it this way: DWR treatments and the environment don’t really see eye to eye. The focal point of the discussion are PFCs, which, simply put, remain in organisms for years and don’t degrade in the environment. Traces of PFC can be found in the remotest corners of the earth. For a long time, we had been under the assumption that there were no direct health risks associated with these compounds and that “only” producing, washing and disposing of outdoor products were the problems. Hmm. But, a growing number of studies on both humans and animals have suggested that there are indeed health risks associated with PFC, with adverse effects on vital areas of the human body, such as the immune system, hormonal balance and reproduction.

Just how significant these risks are has been a topic of heated debates. There has been a lot of speculation as to where which PFCs accumulate and to what degree and as to which degrade and how quickly they do so. For this reason, C6 PFC based fluorocarbon water repellents were deemed safe, while C8 DWRs were not. However, critics, such as the founder of Nikwax Nick Brown called this a “fairy tale”. Brown believes that only the complete elimination of PFCs could really reduce the health and environmental risks.

Due to Brown’s convictions, Nikwax became the first company to refuse to use PFCs and has continued to do so to this very day. Because scientific research has repeatedly demonstrated that all PFC compounds really are harmful to our health and the environment, more and more manufacturers are beginning to follow suit. In addition to Nikwax, Toko also offers PFC-free care and proofing products, but do so more to accommodate the increased interests of their customers than because of pressure from lawmakers.

It had been long regarded as “technically impossible to produce an equally efficient DWR without PFCs“, that is, a treatment that not only repels water but dirt as well, thereby maintaining the breathability of the fabric. PU or silicone treatments may be environmentally friendlier, but they pale in comparison to PFC when it comes to functionality.

But, as the pioneer in all things sustainability, Vaude, states in their 2016 sustainability report: “Thanks to today’s innovative technologies, this is now no longer a problem.“ The only “drawback” to PFC-free DWR treatments is that they’re not oil-repellent, but Vaude claims that this is not really necessary. And, it’s kinda true. Think about it: how often do you have problems with oil being on your functional clothing in the forest or up in the mountains? Probably pretty rarely.

Like in so many other areas, Vaude is paving the way with its DWR Eco-Finish. There are several more fully functional environmentally friendly alternatives currently in research and development, so hopefully there will be a few others that reach market maturity at some point.

Whilst Vaude plans to manufacture its entire collection completely PFC-free by 2020, other manufacturers already have one or more PFC-free collections. A real milestone could soon be achieved by Gore-Tex, whose materials are known to be used as precursors in many garments from numerous outdoor brands. Gore-Tex has announced that they will eliminate PFCs by the end of 2023.

Until then, you can turn to the following PFC-free and environmentally friendly alternatives:

  • Bionic-Finish Eco is based on hyper-branched hydrophobic polymers, which significantly improve the water and dirt-repellent effect and are even highly wear-resistant and hold up when washed as well. Plus, a Bionic Finish Eco will not ruin the breathability of a fabric. Eco Finish is Vaude’s DWR finish made of biodegradable substances.
  • Ceplex and Dermizax can be regarded as alternatives to DWR treatments as well but work in a different way. Ceplex is a PU coating, and Dermizax is a kind of PU membrane with moving molecules.

Water repellents are an extremely important part of your arsenal against wet weather. So, if you don’t want to walk around soaking wet, you better make sure you have one and keep it in tip-top shape! But, don’t use any old thing – be sure to go environmentally friendly! Your health and the environment will thank you for it!

Care instructions: How to wash your outdoor socks

7. September 2018
Care tips

“Yuck! Keep your stinky feet away from me!” Yeah, we’ve all been on the receiving end of one of these rather unpleasant statements after a long foot march. But, it’s not our fault, right? All that moisture and bacteria have been hard at work all day, transforming our socks into a disgusting, foul-smelling beasts that you wouldn’t want to touch with a ten-foot pole. Not to mention all the mud, debris and other stuff that have found their way into our shoes and taken quite a toll on our socks. It’s high time we wash them! But how? What should we keep in mind when washing outdoor socks? I’m glad you ask! Here’s our how-to guide on washing outdoor socks.

General tips on how to wash outdoor socks

Don’t worry, washing socks isn’t as complicated as you may think. There are, however, some important things to keep in mind. Let’s start with a few general tips on how to wash your socks properly. The guiding principle behind sock washing is simple: Always pay attention to the specifications provided by the manufacturer! This is incredibly important when it comes to functional fabrics because they require special care.

Turn your socks inside out before washing. Why? Sure, the socks may look dirty on the outside, but it’s even more important to get rid of all the odour-producing bacteria and skin particles on the inside as well. When it comes to the wash cycle, you can err on the side of caution and choose a gentle cycle if you rather don’t want to use a regular cycle. But, always have a look at the manufacturer’s specifications beforehand.

Here’s another tip – this time on the mystery of the disappearing sock. Whether the socks are stolen by mischievous goblins or travel through a wormhole in the drum to another dimension, I guess we’ll never know. Fortunately, there is a way to stop the socks disappearing.

Use mesh wash bag to wash your socks. This will keep the socks together and protect more sensitive functional socks (or fine merino socks) from damage caused by the drum or zippers, buttons or rivets on other garments.

How to wash different kinds of socks

Now, we’re getting down to business! Regardless of whether your socks are made of wool, synthetic, cotton or merino wool, there’s no reason to wash them at an extremely high temperature to get them clean. Although the temperature does depend on the material, 30°C is plenty for merino wool, while a maximum of 40°C is sufficient for functional synthetic materials.

Even at low temperatures, modern detergents are capable of thoroughly washing your socks, just as advertised. Temperatures above 40 degrees are not just unnecessary – they can cause permanent damage to the fabric. Plus, washing at lower temperatures will save you money and protect the environment as well. So, as is so often the case, less is more.

What about detergent? Well, there are several options to choose from out there. The main thing is that you steer clear of additives such as bleach, chlorine, optical brighteners or fabric softeners. That being said, using universal or 3-in-1 laundry detergents is simply not an option due to the aggressive additives and brighteners contained in these products. The gentlest alternative to these products is a delicate laundry detergent. This is a gentle detergent solution that acts like a kind of foamy airbag that protects the socks during the spin cycle.

Delicate wash detergents are highly recommended for functional textiles because they are gentle on the fabric and don’t contain any additives that could damage the fabric or its properties. Personally, I like to use a colour detergent every now and again. It may not be quite as gentle as a delicate detergent, but it doesn’t contain any bleach or similar additives. Plus, it prevents discolouring and colour bleed. But keep in mind that colour detergent is not suitable for wool or silk!

Merino Socks are usually incredibly easy to care for. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that you should wash them at 30°C and use the gentle cycle, if possible. The best option here is to use delicate or wool detergent. The latter should always be used for socks made of “regular” wool because it doesn’t contain protease. Protease is a proteolytic enzyme that permanently damages wool fibres.

If you have a foot fungus, there are special medical and anti-fungal detergents that combat the fungus on the sock. The temperature should be at least 60°C, otherwise 10 to 15% of the spores will survive if washed below this temperature. But, always consult the care instructions provided by the manufacturer beforehand.

Why no fabric softener?

We’re all fine with no bleach, no chlorine, etc, but why no fabric softener? After all, the stuff usually smells pretty fantastic, and the clothes feel so soft and cuddly afterwards. Well, it all comes down to things called cationic surfactants that are in fabric softener. These surfactants form a film on the individual fibres, making the fibre surface appear smoother and feel softer. Sure, that sounds pretty terrific, but it’s really not – believe me.

The film reduces the ability of fabric to absorb moisture, which is definitely more of a negative when it comes to functional textiles. Your socks may be super soft, but your feet will be sweaty and smelly. Fabric softener also damages the elasticity of synthetic fibres, causing them to lose their flexibility, get stretched out and become brittle. A nightmare for the sock cuff!

The benefit that fabric softener has on your clothing is thus questionable at best. Some softeners also contain additives such as silicones, solvents, dyes or formaldehyde that have a harmful effect on the environment as well.

Can the sock go in the dryer?

To find out whether you can tumble-dry your socks, have a look at the manufacturer’s care instructions. In most cases, however, the socks can be tumble-dried at a low heat and delicate setting. However, I would always prefer air-drying them either outside on a clothesline or on a well-ventilated drying rack. That way, the socks will stay in tact and the cuff won’t lose its elasticity.

As you can see, washing your outdoor socks properly isn’t a big deal. If you keep a few little things in mind, even the most stubborn of stains and odours won’t stand a chance and your socks will be ready for their next adventure in no time at all.

Care instructions: How to clean your backpack properly

Care instructions: How to clean your backpack properly

26. April 2018
Care tips, Equipment

There are so many reasons to wash your walking backpack, trekking rucksack or mountaineering backpack, but none may be as pressing as those stinky shoulders straps that have absorbed so much sweat and sunscreen over the course of their career that the idea of wearing them makes you nauseated. Or, perhaps it’s all the dust and dirt that has accumulated on your trekking pack that has made you forget what colour the rucksack was when you bought it. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the interior and all the stuff that has leaked and spilled in there over the years…

Depending on just how dirty your backpack is, there are variety of complicated and less complicated ways to clean it. We recommend giving it a light cleaning on a regular basis so that you won’t have to put yourself through the rather complicated deep clean we just hinted at.

How to wash your backpack properly

Can you wash your backpack in the washing machine?

This question is asked again and again about dirty backpacks, but the answer remains the same: No! Absolutely not! A walking backpack or trekking rucksack should never ever be washed in the washing machine! Not at 30°C, not with cold water and not with mild detergents! Do not listen to all the so-called “specialists” on outdoor internet forums who recommend doing so. It’s a bad idea and we strongly advise against it. The best-case scenario would be for the coating or only parts of the backpack to get ruined. And the worst-case scenario? Well, the whole washing machine may decide to throw in the towel. The same thing goes for the dryer, too. Never tumble-dry your backpack.

Washing backpacks by hand

If your backpack gets really dirty from you cycling through mud or a long trek, there’s really no way around it: You’re going to have to give in and give it a deep clean. Once the backpack is dry from your trip, use a large brush to remove bigger chunks of dirt. Dried mud is pretty easy to remove for the most part. But, if you can’t get it all off, you can dampen the brush a bit and that should do the trick. As for all the usual debris that accumulates on the interior, just open up your pack, turn it on its head and pat it out. If you’d prefer to be a bit more thorough, you can use a vacuum as well. For anything that just refuses to budge, you can use a damp sponge cloth and wipe it off.

If wiping the dirt off doesn’t result in the degree of cleanliness you’re looking for or you’re pack just hasn’t been properly cleaned in a while, you’ll have to resort to special textile detergent suitable for backpacks. Why? Well, standard detergent is usually too aggressive for backpacks and can damage the material. Textile detergent can be used in two different ways: either for cleaning individual parts or for washing the entire backpack. To do the former, mix the detergent with lukewarm water (as specified by the instruction manual) and clean the dirty areas with a sponge or brush. For the latter, soak the backpack in a bathtub or something similar and scrub the really dirty areas with a brush. If your pack has a removable frame, make sure to remove it beforehand.

If you notice a leak in one of your bottles, it’s important to act quickly and soak up the liquid with a sponge or cloth and clean the affected area. Depending on what kind of liquid it is, it could leave ugly stains on your pack. That’s way, it’s always a good idea to soak the backpack and clean it as described above. If you let something like tea or coffee dry, it can be really difficult to clean. The same goes for juices and other “sticky” refreshments we love to drink.

A deep clean or individual parts?

Some hill walkers and trekkers never clean their packs, while other do so one time a year, while others still clean them as needed. It obviously depends on how often you use your pack and what you use it for. Hill walkers and hikers often have dirty shoulder straps, hip belts and back panels. These parts of the backpack are often stained because of sweat and sunscreen and, as you can imagine, start to smell pretty bad after a while. To counteract this, wash the straps and the back of your pack using mild detergent and give it a good rinse.

Trekking rucksacks or cycling backpacks tend to be covered with the dirt and mud we kicked up along the way. All you have to do to get rid of this is simply wipe off the outside. But, even if you do so on a regular basis, it’s still important to give it a proper clean once a year at the very least. If you only use your pack in certain seasons, proper storage is paramount. The rucksack should be stored in a dry and well-ventilated place. If you store your pack in a musty cellar or don’t give it time to dry before packing it away for the year, it could get mouldy and develop that disgusting mouldy smell.

If tea or soup spills in your pack while you’re out in the hills, wipe it up as best you can and dry the backpack using tissues or a back-up t-shirt. If you’re just doing a day trip, be sure to soak and wash the backpack the same night. If you’re out on a multi-day backpacking trip, just use mild soap and water and that should do it for the time being. You can give it a deep clean when you get home.

How to dry your backpack after washing it by hand

After soaking and scrubbing, the backpack must be thoroughly rinsed out with clean water. The best way to do this is to use a handheld showerhead and lukewarm water. You can do it in the tub as well. Any dirt or soapy residue needs to be rinsed off well, and be sure to wring out any foam parts on the backpack to extract any residue there as well.

Then hang it up upside down to dry. Make sure to leave all the pockets open and compartments unzipped so that any water can escape. If possible, hang the backpack up outside in the shade. That way, you can be certain that it will dry properly. Plus, it will smell nice and fresh and the sun won’t damage the material. By the way, the best conditions for drying your backpack are warm and windy.

Depending on outside temperature and the kind of pack you have, the drying process can take a while. If small pockets or hard-to-access areas just don’t want to dry, you can use a absorbent cloth or newspaper to speed up the process. Just stuff the pockets with newspaper and they’ll absorb a good amount of the water. Using a blow dryer to dry your backpack is just as unadvisable as putting it on the radiator to dry. Both could damage the material and even ruin the backpack completely.

How to care for your backpack after washing

Depending on how thorough a cleaning your pack had to undergo, it’s often wise to use silicone spray lubricant on the zips to make them run more smoothly. Plus, you should proof the outside of the backpack from time to time so that it can fend off rain and dirt. That way, you won’t always have to use a rain cover. This will stop the fabric becoming saturated with water, which would otherwise make the backpack heavier than it needs to be.

Another advantage to reproofing your backpack is that it will fend off dirt. This means you won’t have to wash it as often, which will, in turn, increase the lifespan of your pack as well. After explicitly stating that backpacks should never be machine-washed or tumble-dried, we’d like to give you another important tip: Never iron your backpack after washing it (yes, people do this)! The material is too sensitive for that.

When inspecting the zips and reproofing the outer fabric, check the backpack for minor damage around the seams and material. The earlier you discover the damage, the faster and easier it is to repair it. Obviously, repairs are much more difficult to make when you’re out adventuring.

How to care for zips, hook-and-loop fasteners and the like

All fasteners, zips and adjustable straps on a pack exposed to a lot of wear and tear. That’s why, it’s important to freshen them up every once in a while.

Zips, for example, can get extremely dirty, making them nearly impossible to use. To get them up and running again, apply a silicone spray lubricant to the zip and/or the slider. Then, zip it open and closed a few times so that the lubricant is distributed evenly. The zip will run much more smoothly afterwards. However, be careful not to apply too much. Allow it to set and then wipe the excess lubricant off with a clean towel.

A lot of dust accumulates on hook-and-loop fasteners, so these, too, need to be cleaned. The more dust and dirt particles there are, the worse it’ll fasten. Fortunately, there’s a quick fix for this as well. All you have to do is use a small brush (a toothbrush will do fine) to remove all the little particles from the material.

After a while, you may even notice your straps and other adjusters aren’t working as well or have stopped working altogether, too. The solution? A long bath in lukewarm water! This will loosen any dirt firmly embedded in the webbing and bring them back to life!

Reproofing your backpack

Backpacks are rarely waterproof, so it’s a good idea to protect the contents with a rain cover in bad weather. Still, many backpacks have been treated with a water repellent to make them impervious to dirt and water. Unfortunately, this layer of protection will gradually lose its effectiveness over time from use. Fortunately, though, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Using a spray-on reproofer, you can reactivate the protective coating in a flash! However, this should only be applied to areas away from the suspension system, as people with sensitive skin may have an allergic reaction.

How to store your backpack properly

Properly storing your backpack is an extremely important contributing factor to its longevity. You should never fold or crush it. Instead, store your backpack empty in a dark, well-ventilated space. Drastic changes in temperature – like those in a car or in a poorly insulated attic – can damage he material and cause it to age prematurely. If you carelessly shove your pack in your wardrobe with all your other gear, the load could deform the suspension system, rendering the backpack useless!

Care instructions: How to store your tent properly

Care instructions: How to store your tent properly

4. April 2018
Care tips

When you’re travelling in the great outdoors, your tent is your home. It’s a place you know you can always go back to when the weather takes a turn for the worse or you just need some rest and relaxation. But, in order for it to serve you to the best of its abilities, it has to be stored probably.

I mean, what’s worse than pitching your tent only to find funky mould stains all over the place. Yuck! To prevent this happening to you, we’ve put together some useful info on how to clean and store your tent.

Cleaning your tent

When you get back home from a trip, it’s best to set up your tent in your garden or somewhere similar to remove all the dust and dirt. The best way to do this is to use lukewarm water and a mild cleaning product. Then, using a sponge or soft brush, remove all surface dirt. If you find some stains on the mesh fabric of the inner tent, you can remove them in the same way. If the stains are just downright stubborn, we recommend soaking the entire inner tent in lukewarm water and rinsing it by hand. Don’t even think about tossing it in the washing machine! For more stubborn stains, you can always use special cleaning products designed to be used on tents. You can also try turning the inner tent inside out and giving it a good shake. This will help you get rid of any traces left on the tent from your last outing quickly and easily.

Once your tent is clean, you need to give it time to dry completely. If you put your tent away damp, it’s very likely that mould and mildew will grow as a result. So, be sure to let it dry in a warm and well-ventilated place until it is completely free of moisture.

Any damage?

Before storing your tent, check for damage and make any necessary repairs. If there is more significant damage to your tent, we recommend taking it to a specialist and getting it repaired by either that specialist or the manufacturer, if necessary. Don’t forget to have a look at the poles as well and check for any cracks. If they are damaged, be sure to get them replaced.

If you had used your tent for an extended period of time on a long adventure, you can also reseal the seams using a seam sealer like Vaude Silicone Seam Sealer (for siliconised fabric) or SeamGrip (for PU fabric). Finally, you should make sure your tent is complete and that you’re not missing any pegs, poles or stuff sacks.

Where to store your tent

Once your tent has been cleaned and is completely dry and you’ve made sure all damage has been repaired and all parts are accounted for, you can start looking for the perfect place to store your tent. Your best option is a dry and well-ventilated area. Cellars are often great storage areas, but be sure to store your tent in a way that will protect it from any mice or other rodents. Nothing’s worse than finding out a mouse has gnawed its way through your tent right before you head out on a trip. Whether you store your tent in a stuff sack, box or bag is up to you. If you take care of your tent and store it properly, it’ll accompany you on your adventures for a long time to come.

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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.

Care instructions: How to patch up holes in your sleeping mat

Care instructions: How to patch up holes in your sleeping mat

26. April 2018
Care tips

A deflated mat is like a broken heart…Just kidding, we’re not going to go there, but you have to admit that there is a bit of truth to what I was going to say. To put it more simply and without using a sappy simile: Once your mat starts to lose air, you can bid farewell to all that toasty warmth that makes you feel all bubbly inside. After all, sleeping mats can only do their job when they’re inflated…and stay that way. Steer clear of sharp rocks, flying sparks and try to reduce all the wear and tear because all of these factors could potentially damage your mat and even put a hole in it and break your heart! There it is. But don’t go down without a fight! To avoid having to sleep on the cold, hard ground, here is a brief overview of how to seal up your sleeping mats perfectly!

Finding the hole

Before heading out, it’s imperative to inspect your kit. This includes your sleeping mat. Take out your sleeping mat, blow it up (or don’t if it’s self-inflating) and wait a bit. If the mat starts to lose air after a while, something is wrong. If you can eliminate the possibility of its losing air because of a change in temperature, it’s safe to say that a hole is the culprit. So, put on your detective hats because now we’ve got to do some sleuthing.

There are several ways to find a hole. As you would with a bike tube, you can just give the mat a nice bath. Just place the inflated sleeping mat in a tub filled with water. When you see little bubbles starting to form in a particular area, you’ll know where to look for the hole. If you don’t have a big tub at your disposal, you can use the soap-sud technique. To do this, mix some washing-up liquid with water and wipe it on areas of sleeping mat that could be damaged. If you see bubbles, you’ve found it!

If for whatever reason you can’t use this method, you can always resort to the leak detector, a small see-through container filled with foam pellets that help you to detect a leak. These things are available in specialised shops and are perfect for when you’re on the go. Oftentimes, when you’re touring, neither the bath nor soap-sud method is possible, so it’s a pretty nice option to have. To start, simply slide the detector over the sleeping mat. When air comes out of the hole, the little pellets will start moving. By the way, I’ve found a hole before by running my damp fingers over the surface of a mat, but this method is really only recommended in emergency situations because it isn’t as reliable as the others mentioned above. Regardless of the method you choose, it’s always a good idea to put some pressure on the mat so that the hole is noticeable.

If you were unable to find a hole despite all your efforts, it’s possible that the valve is the cause of the loss of air. If there’s dirt in the valve, it won’t be able to close properly. Sometimes, a thorough cleaning can work wonders with a dirty valve and seal it up just as before!

Preparing the mat for repair

Once you’ve found the hole (regardless of the method), the spot has to be cleaned and marked. To clean it, simply use some clean water and a cloth. If it’s really dirty, rubbing alcohol can help. Mark the hole with a waterproof marker. You can use a pen, too, if you don’t have a marker. Then deflate the mat. At this point, you can begin.

For quick repairs, you can use a repair kit. These kits usually consist of several airtight patches in different sizes and fabric glue. They’re easy to use and the basic principle is the same for all of them. However, be sure to read the instructions just in case. Once the mat’s clean and dry and you’ve marked the hole, you can begin. First, grab a patch that matches the size of the hole. If your kit doesn’t have pre-sized patches, just cut it to size. Here’s a tip: try to round out the corners of the patch with a pair of scissors. That way, the patch won’t come off as easily.

There are generally two different kinds of patches: self-adhesive and not self-adhesive. If you have the latter, all you have to do is apply the fabric glue to the damaged area and quickly press the patch down, removing any excess glue. Self-adhesive patches are applied in a similar way, but you can obviously do without the glue. Take the patch, remove half of the protective film from the sticky side and press the patch down on the damaged area, while removing the rest of the film. Use your other hand to press down the other side of the patch onto the mat. Then wait (regardless of the method). It usually takes 30 minutes to an hour for the adhesive to dry. After that, it’ll be ready to go!

If you notice a hole in your mat in the middle of the night and don’t have the patience to wait that long, 15 minutes will do the trick, but really only in dire situations! If you don’t wait long enough, it’s likely your mat won’t be sealed for long. Oh, and make sure not to leave any sticky residue on the mat. Otherwise, you might find that your sleeping bag and sleeping mat have become inseparable overnight! If you follow these instructions and patch up your mat correctly, it’ll be as good as new! Sleep tight!

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

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How to Take Care of Your Sleeping Bag

How to Take Care of Your Sleeping Bag

14. June 2018
Care tips

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

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

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

Storage

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

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

A tip from a professional

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

Proper use

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

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

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

How to wash your sleeping bag

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

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

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

Repairs

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

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

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

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

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Repairing your fleece

Repairing your fleece

3. January 2018
Care tips

We outdoorsy folk tend to get a lot of use out of our fleece garments, so it goes without saying that they’re subjected to quite a bit of wear and tear. Regardless of whether your favourite fleece has burn holes in it from those nights by the campfire or is just beginning show signs after years of wear, worry not. There’s plenty of life in it yet! In the following, I’m going to give you a few tips on how to make minor repairs to your fleece and broken zips. Plus, as a little extra, I’ll let you in on a secret of how to make your garment look as good as the day you bought it, even after years of use! So, keep reading – it’s worth it!

So, you have a burn hole in your fleece – what now?

It happens so fast, doesn’t it? There you are sitting by the campfire, and all of the sudden sparks fly your way and burn your fleece or your mate accidently burns a hole in your jacket with his cigarette. We’ve all been there. Unfortunately, warm and cuddly fleece fabric is usually made of a type of polyester, so it is particularly sensitive when it comes to burns. The worse thing about burn holes is not that they look bad (because they do) – but depending on the size, they can also have very negative effects on the functionality of the garment and even expand with time, making everything worse. What to do, what to do.

Luckily, smaller holes can be closed back up by using fabric glue. But, before doing so, be sure to remove any singed fibres with a pair of scissors. Then, turn the garment inside out and glue the hole shut. Let it dry and, hopefully, you won’t be able to see the burn hole anymore. In an emergency, you can also use a less aggressive kind of superglue. The important thing here is to make sure the glue doesn’t contain any solvents, which could damage the synthetic fibres or elastane – if there is any – in the fabric.

Unfortunately, if you’re dealing with bigger holes, this method won’t work. So, try to remember any handyman skills you’ve acquired over the years and darn that darn hole. You can do this more or less professionally, depending on how motivated you are. If you want it done right, you’ll need a needle, a darning mushroom and darning yarn in the appropriate colour. A darning mushroom? Yes, indeed! It’s just a tool shaped like a mushroom that keeps the hole open so that you can mend it. Since a darning mushroom is not something you’ll find in everyone’s household, you can use a coffee cup, an empty yoghurt cup or a can of ravioli instead. The important thing is that the substitute for your darning mushroom have a slightly curved surface. Lay the part of fleece you need to mend over your darning device so as to keep the hole open. And, get to work! Darning a hole means to weave thread or yarn across the hole. And, if you want to do it correctly, you need time. Weave your needle in a straight line in and out of the fabric. After your first pass, turn the needle in the other direction and repeat next to the first line you did. After you’ve covered the hole with stitches in one direction, you have to weave through these to form a net. The more precise you work, the better the result will be! Because a darning session can take up your entire evening, I recommend pouring yourself a glass of wine and watching something on Netflix.

For larger holes, the only thing you can do is use those good ol’ fabric repair patches. These are available in sewn-on or iron-on versions. But, be careful if you opt for the latter. As we’ve already established, fleece is relatively sensitive to heat, so there are a few things you should keep in mind. If you use iron-on patches, be sure to set the iron to the lowest setting and don’t let the iron come in direct contact with the fleece. Put a cotton cloth between the patch and the iron instead. Do not apply too much pressure, as you could damage the pile. If you have a functional fleece garment, such as Windstopper fleece, there are special patches you can use. By the way, the patching method can be used for other kinds of holes as well. It’s not just for burn holes.

What to do when a zip quits on you

When a zip calls it quits, refuses to close or keeps getting stuck, you may feel it’s time to stop using the garment altogether. After all, what do you want with a jacket that won’t close? Fortunately, there are a couple of things you can do to fix it, so don’t toss it yet!

If the zip is stuck, the culprit is usually a bit of fabric or lint caught in the zip. If that’s the case, try to pluck it out and tug down on the zip in one fell swoop. Sometimes a pencil can help, too. Yeah, that’s right! A pencil! Graphite acts as a kind of lubricant, so it should get your zip unstuck. Start by rubbing a sharpened pencil tip up and down the teeth of the zip. This should remove any dirt or whatever else is caught in there and allow the zip to slide over the teeth more smoothly.

Another reason for a defective zip could be that the teeth will no longer close. To test this, zip your jacket open and closed and see where the teeth no longer come together. If one or several teeth are bent, you can try gently bending them back into place with a pair of small pliers . The slider can also be the culprit. With time, the slider, which is supposed to form the connection between the teeth, can get bent as well. This will prevent the zip from closing properly. A pair of pliers can help here, too: Squeeze the slider together, see how it closes and repeat, if necessary. If the slider is broken and has to be replaced or individual teeth are missing, the whole thing gets a lot more complicated. The best thing to do in such situations is to consult an expert, such as a cobbler or tailor. They’ll fix the zip for you for very little money and can even replace it, if necessary.

Whip your fleece back into shape

Pilling or little balls of lint can build up on the surface of your fleece over time, which will not only make it look rather ugly and old, but it will feel that way as well. That soft, fluffy fleece you once knew will be long gone before you know it. True, pilling can be prevented if you carefully wash your garment, but sooner or later almost every fleece will fall victim to pilling. Fortunately, once your fleece does begin to pill, there are ways to remove the irritating little fuzz balls.

One thing you can do is use a lint remover or a lint brush on the garment. This will help to loosen up the knots and remove any dust or little hairs from the fabric. Another way of going about this is to use a fabric shaver. Available at just about any fabric or department store, these work much in the same way as electric razors, cutting off those pesky fuzz balls whilst not causing any damage to the surface of the fabric.

Not bad, right? Once you’ve patched up those burn holes, bent your zip back into place, removed pilling and replaced any missing buttons, your fleece jacket or jumper will look (almost) brand new!

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

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Care tips for clothing with a Sympatex membrane

Care tips for clothing with a Sympatex membrane

3. January 2018
Care tips

If you’re planning on staying indoors today because dark grey skies and continuous rain are dominating the weather where you are, I beg you to reconsider. Instead of mulling over the adventures that could have been, grab yourself a jacket with a Sympatex membrane, head outdoors and make them a reality! After all, Sympatex membranes thrive in bad weather! Of course, you’re probably wondering, “but what if it gets dirty in all that rain and mud?”

You wouldn’t believe it, but just toss it in the washing machine! Wait, won’t that ruin the membrane? Isn’t there a whole laundry list of dos and don’ts when it comes to washing jackets like this? Indeed there is. When it comes to outdoor clothing and membranes in particular, unanswered questions abound. But worry not! It’s a completely different story when it comes to Sympatex. In the following, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about caring for Sympatex membranes.

What is Sympatex and how does it work?

Let’s start with some theory. Anybody who has any interest in the great outdoors is bound to have heard of Sympatex at some point or another. But, what exactly this rather odd word refers to remains a mystery to many. So, let’s briefly describe what Sympatex is. Sympatex is a nonporous, waterproof and breathable membrane that is usually laminated onto the another fabric. Such textiles are absolutely windproof and waterproof, making them bulwarks against bad weather. Plus, they offer extremely good moisture transfer, are durable and, most importantly, easy to clean.

How does all this work? Well, the membrane has hydrophilic and hydrophobic components. Sounds complicated, I know, but it’s actually quite easy. Hydrophilic just means water-attracting or moisture-directing. This just means that such fabrics take sweat and release it to the outside where it can evaporate. In other words, the fabric breathes, hence the term breathability. The hydrophobic, water-avoiding components, on the other hand, prevent water, such as rain, from getting in from the outside.

Washing Sympatex clothing is easy

So far, so good, but what was that about Sympatex being easy to clean? You may not believe it, but it is! Since a Sympatex membrane is nonporous, there are no pores to be clogged. Neither sweat nor dirt nor detergent residue can negatively affect the performance of the membrane. This means that you can wash your Sympatex clothing in your washing machine without blinking an eye! All you have to do is follow some easy instructions and nothing will stop you washing your expensive jacket – on a gentle cycle mind you!

Gentle cycle is the key word here. Sympatex textiles should be washed on a gentle cycle at 40 °C. When doing so, be careful not to overload the washing machine. If you’re wondering about detergent, your standard mild detergent will do just fine. The important thing here is not to use brighteners or bleach. If you’d rather err on the side of caution, you can also opt for special detergent for functional clothing. In order to preserve the treatment, you should not use fabric softener, either. On some machines, you can select an additional rinse cycle. As nonporous membranes are not susceptible to detergent residue, an extra rinse won’t hurt. Excessive spinning could, however, damage the garment, so be sure to select a lower spin speed.

Dry cleaning, drying, ironing and reproofing

As I mentioned before, Sympatex is very easy to clean. So, does that mean you don’t need to dry clean it? Dry cleaning is possible but not at all necessary. You can just rely on your good old washing machine! How easy is that? In some cases, dry cleaning a garment can even damage it. So, if you think dry cleaning your clothing is necessary, do have a look at the care label beforehand!

The membrane is just as easy to dry as it is to wash. Just toss your jacket or trousers in the dryer have a cuppa while you wait! The only thing you need to remember is not to use excessive heat. The same thing goes for ironing. Less is more! Everything over 100°C is off limits! The good thing about the heat generated by the iron or the dryer is that it reactivates the water repellent as well.

Speaking of water repellency, if moisture no longer rolls off the surface of your garment and is being absorbed by the fabric instead, the DWR coating needs to be renewed. This can be achieved in one of two ways. Use either a wash-in product or a spray. As you can imagine, the wash-in method is extremely easy. All you have to do is pour the product in where you would usually pour the fabric softener and wash the garment according to the instructions. Sympatex HigH2Out textiles, however, don’t respond well to this method of reproofing. For these, it is extremely important to take a look at the care label before reproofing. The spray isn’t at all difficult to apply, either. Just spray it on your garment, let it dry and that’s it! However, do remember to apply the spray in well-ventilated rooms or, preferably, out in the open. And don’t inhale the fumes! After the wash-in or spray method, throw the garment in the dryer so that the water repellent can be activated and set in. That’s all folks!

If you’d like to know more about how outdoor garments are washed and proofed, you can find some more information in our care tips.

What about shoe care?

Shoes with Sympatex membranes also happen to be extremely easy to clean. As long as you follow these easy steps, you won’t need to worry about ruining your expensive brand-name shoes! To clean the shoes, all you need to do is use a brush and lukewarm water. For stubborn stains, there’s a bevy of special cleaning agents you can buy. Afterwards, air dry the shoes at room temperature. Then you can reproof them to restore water repellency. Before using any of the DWR sprays or care products, do make sure that the respective product is suitable for the shoe’s fabric. If you do, your leather shoes will stay in tiptop shape for a long time to come!

So, what are you waiting for? Start washing, proofing and drying your Sympatex gear! But, don’t forget to take them outdoors and really dirty them up first!

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

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How to wash and care for your synthetic insulated jacket properly

How to wash and care for your synthetic insulated jacket properly

3. January 2018
Care tips

Much like the choice between a synthetic or wool base layer, trying to decide between a jacket with down or synthetic insulation can be quite difficult.

Luckily, we’ve come to a point where there are so many manufacturers designing hybrid jackets that incorporate treated down or a combination of different materials into one jacket that the decisions we have to make as avid outdoorsman have become a bit easier.

Nevertheless, many of us still choose to wear classic synthetic jackets with their light and fluffy synthetic insulation! But, as is often the case when it comes to outdoor gear, we sink into despair as soon as we read the care label. Fortunately, caring for synthetic jackets is much easier than you may think. Read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know in order to keep your jacket in tiptop condition. One of the advantages synthetic jackets have over their natural down counterparts is how easy they are to clean!

How to wash your synthetic jacket

Jackets with synthetic insulation usually consist of a windproof outer with a smooth or slightly rough surface. These very light fabrics are treated, making them water-repellent. The synthetics used for the insulation are ultra-thin with a continuous filament, which weaves around, interlocking with itself. In the air spaces in between, warmth is retained, resulting in an insulating effect. You could compare the insulation in such synthetic jackets to a wad of cotton.

When cleaning synthetic jackets, it is important to wash it – as you would all your functional textiles – at 30°C and refrain from using fabric softener. If you wash it at a higher temperature, the fabric can thin out, become matted or damaged in some other way. The same thing will happen if you use fabric softener. What’s more, if you don’t care for your garment properly, any damage to your clothing will no longer be covered by warranty. In other words, be sure to care for your expensive gear properly. It’s worth it! You should also wash your gear yourself, as giving it to the cleaners will result in you losing warranty coverage as well.

To wash your garment, turn it right-side out, zip up everything, including the pit zips and pockets, and loosen up the hook-and-loop fasteners and drawcords (keep both closed just not tight) and toss it in the washing machine. Then use a detergent for functional apparel. You have a choice between your standard care product or wash-in treatment (a 2-in-1 detergent). In contrast to down jackets, synthetic jackets don’t need a special kind of detergent. After washing, spin the garment at a maximum of 800.

Then, you’ll have to reproof the face fabric of your wet garment with a spray (to apply it, hang it up), provided that you didn’t use a wash-in treatment. Keep in mind that regardless of whether you choose to use a spray or a wash-in treatment, the result will be the same. One is not better than the other! It’s all subjective. After applying the water-repellent, the garment will have to be exposed to warmth for the treatment to fully set in. The easiest way to do this is to use the dryer. By the way, heat has the added plus of rejuvenating the fill power of the insulating material. So, put your wet and treated jacket in the dryer at a low temperature for about 45 minutes. Afterwards, your jacket will be just like new!

How often to wash your garment

The same goes for synthetic insulated jackets as for all your outdoor gear: As frequently as necessary, but as seldom as possible! In other words, don’t wash your jacket every other day because every wash will take a toll on the fabric. Of course, all that salt, oil and dirt left on the garment from all those outdoor adventures can have a negative effect on your garment’s performance as well. Thus, synthetic jackets should only be washed when you’re convinced that you’ve really put them to good use – and you have sweat, dirt and mud stains to prove it! There’s no general rule as to how often or when you should wash your outdoor jacket. Some may have to wash it immediately after a hill walking trip at the weekend while others may do so after weeks of cycle commuting to work. It’s different for everybody.

Thus, as with your sport shirts or fleece jumpers, wash your synthetic jacket when you feel like you should! If you just wear your jacket casually and don’t use it for sports, then you can wash it about every three months or so.

Caring for and repairing synthetic jackets

If your synthetic jacket is only dirty on the outside, you can usually just wipe it off (carefully) using a cloth and some water or neutral soap. Unfortunately, getting the stank out of a synthetic jacket is not easy as getting it out of a down jacket. You can’t just hang it up outside over night. You have to wash it.

On the plus side, though, if your synthetic jacket happens to get damaged, it’s much easier to fix than down products. So easy if fact that if it gets torn one of your trips, all you have to do is just tape it up with some duct tape. Because the material is connected, you won’t need to worry about losing any insulation if you just tape it kind of haphazardly. With down, it’s a different story. You have to make sure to seal the tear or hole completely. Otherwise, you may lose all the down in that particular baffle. If you find that there’s a tear or hole in your synthetic jacket before you head out on a trip, you can repair it with a needle and thread. You can use a patch as well. Since the fabric is only water repellent and not waterproof, you don’t need to use any special kind of repair tape or patch. But because such patches are self-adhesive, you can use them as well. After all, they make the procedure a whole lot easier.

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

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First aid for your sleeping bag

First aid for your sleeping bag

21. May 2019
Care tips

A quality sleeping bag is one of the most important part of your kit, especially if you’re travelling with a tent. After all, if you are unable to sleep and regain your strength by night, you won’t be able to perform by day. In other words, a good sleeping bag is key. But, what if your beautiful bag happens to get damaged? How would you go about repairing zips or patching tears or burn holes? And, what in the world would you do about flying feathers and down?

No idea? Well, let us delve into the world of repairs.

Avoiding damage

You can prevent or at least limit damage to your sleeping bag simply by taking care of it and storing it properly. A step in the right direction would be never storing your sleeping bag in the stuff sack. Why? Well, the compression causes the insulation to be pressed together, which can have a negative effect on the loft and the insulating power of the bag. So, you can imagine that if you were to store an sensitive down sleeping bag in this way, you’d most definitely damage the fill as well.

Speaking of down, if you ever happen to notice down or feathers poking through the fabric, never pull them out. If possible, shove them back inside the sleeping bag. You need that stuff! Besides, if you were to pull them out (especially thicker feathers), it could result in small holes forming in the fabric, which would not be good.

When carrying or transporting your sleeping bag, it’s important to make sure it doesn’t get damaged. This is where your stuff sack comes in. When carrying it around, you should always use a tough stuff sack. And, this probably goes without saying, but try to keep any sharp objects away from your sleeping bag as well. You don’t want anything poking it!

Fabric tears and holes

But, these things do happen, and it happens more quickly than you think. One second of inattention is enough to poke a tiny hole in your precious sleeping bag. Fortunately, small holes aren’t that big of a deal. It’s the longer tears and cuts in down sleeping bags in particular that can lead to a major loss of insulation material. If you’ve ever slept in a sleeping bag with a tear like that, you’ll know what I mean. When you wake up the next morning, it looks like a fox was asked to guard the henhouse, doesn’t it?

Smaller (burn) holes can be sealed quickly and easily using a sealer like Seam Grip. However, if there is a larger cut or tear in the outer fabric, you’ll need to be more thorough. For this, though, you can forget the needle and thread. More major damages are usually taped. Before you begin, try to find out what caused the damage in the first place. If it’s due to material fatigue, taping up tears can be quite difficult, as the damaged spot usually covers a large area of the bag. Damage caused by wear and tear can be patched using patches and repair tape. Brands like GearAid sell repair kits , but do make sure that the material in the kit matches that of your sleeping bag. Not every patch will stick to every surface!

Patches and sealing tape are usually self-adhesive, so they are fairly easy to work with. Keep in mind that a patch should always be cut at least one centimetre larger than the damaged area in every direction. But, before you apply the patch, don’t forget to thoroughly spot clean the damaged area! A could way to do that is to use alcohol wipes. After drying the spot, you can then proceed to patch up the tear. Make sure that there are no wrinkles and that the patch is securely glued to the fabric. This repair method is very effective and will hold up for a long time.

By the way, the patches are available in a variety of colours, so you can pick one that matches the colour of your sleeping bag.

Damaged zips

Zips with minor damage are usually pretty easy to repair yourself. The zips on sleeping bags are more susceptible to damage because of the pressure they’re often put under. All that pressure can eventually lead to the zips getting worn out. If the zip tends to get off track when you open and close the bag, all you have to do is adjust it a bit. This can be done by using a pair of pliers. Just pinch the sides of the slider together and voilà! But, do be careful not to put too much pressure on the slider – you might break it! If the zip is torn or the elements are damaged, there’s nothing else you can do but replace it. Refrain from doing replacing it yourself, though. Get an expert to help!

Tips for when you’re out and about

Regardless of whether you’re trekking, mountaineering or cycling, the weight of your pack always plays a crucial role. That said, it’s understandable that most of us are hesitant to add extra weight to our packs by lugging around a whole bunch of repair materials. However, it is important to have something, especially since down sleeping bags tend to require immediate attention once they’ve been damaged. If you don’t take immediate action, you can say goodbye to the precious down fill! In emergency situations such as these, tape is a camper’s best friend. Tears, holes and cuts can be fixed and sealed up pretty nicely with duct tape or finger tape. This technique, however, should only be used when you have no other option. The tapes’ adhesive sticks so well to the material that you’d waste a lot of time and effort trying remove it.

Professionals at work

There are problems that even the handiest of handymen couldn’t fix. That’s why, there are experts. But, be careful because repairs performed by experts can be pricy. So, before sending it in for a repair, it’s best to consult the retailer you bought the sleeping bag from first. Retailers can usually tell you whether it’s covered by warranty and often even help you find the appropriate repair service, if needed.

Conclusion

Damaged sleeping bags can look pretty bad. And, if you don’t take immediate action (and the proper steps), you can lose a good amount of your sleeping bag’s fill. A good, long-lasting repair doesn’t have to be expensive. You can even perform it yourself, provided you have the proper materials. But, if you find that the damages are major, you should consult an expert or maybe even replace it with a new sleeping bag.

Remember: certain defects can be prevented by storing and transporting your sleeping bag properly!

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

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Sleeping mats: Proper care, storage and repairs

Sleeping mats: Proper care, storage and repairs

26. April 2018
Care tips

Every true adventurer has a sleeping mat – be it a self-inflating or foam one. I mean, how could they not? After all, they’re so comfy and practical! I know I couldn’t get on without one on my various camping trips or at weekend festivals. Despite how much use we get out of these things, a few questions remain: For one, how should we store our precious sleeping mats? In a dark, dank cellar? Oh, and another thing: How should sleeping mats to be cleaned? And finally, what should we do with our battle-tested veteran mats that are slowly but surely starting to show signs of wear and tear? Well, you’re about to find out! In the following, we’re going to share some tips and other useful information so that you and your trusty sleeping mat can enjoy many adventures to come.

A brief intro to sleeping mats

Let’s begin by differentiating between the different kinds of sleeping mats. Basically, there are two types of mats: the “normal” sleeping mat and the self-inflating kind. The first is usually made of an insulating and cushioning foam material and can be rolled up or folded. The latter – the self-inflating mat – consists of a compressible, insulating filling covered with an airtight shell and equipped with one or more valves. When you fold it up to store it, the filling is compacted. When you open the valve, the filling returns to its original state and the sleeping mat literally self-inflates because of the vacuum created by it having been compressed. This – also quite literally – gives rise to quite a comfortable sleeping mat with very powerful insulation. Why did we address this difference, you ask? Well, even though both types of mats serve a common purpose (to prevent us from freezing our bums off on the hard tent floor), they are quite different from each other when it comes to care, storage and repair.

How to store a sleeping mat properly

No matter what type of mat you have, where you choose to store it is of utmost importance. The storage area should be dry and warmed up to normal room temperature, so storing it in your dank, dark cellar is not an option. Speaking of dankness and moisture in general, it is incredibly important to make sure your sleeping mat is dry before putting it in storage. Regrettably, I’m speaking from experience. If you leave your mat all rolled up when you get home and store it along with the all the moisture it has accumulated over the course of the trip, after a few days you’ll come to find that your mat has turned into a stinky mouldy mess – and nobody wants that.

Other than that, there aren’t any other similarities between the two when it comes to storage. In contrast to normal foam sleeping mats, which aren’t all that fussy when it comes to storage, self-inflating mats are pretty high maintenance. If you have a warm, dry place to store it in, a foam mat can be stored rolled up. A self-inflating sleeping mat, however, can’t be stored in this way because doing so would crush the foam over time, rendering it unable to return to its original state. In other words, it won’t blow itself up anymore. For this reason, be sure to roll out the mat and open up the valve before storing it. It logically follows that you shouldn’t store any heavy boxes or containers on top of the mat, either.

Why open the valve? This will allow any moisture to escape from the inside. Plus, the fabric won’t be unnecessarily worn out by continuous pressure from the inside. So, roll out that mat and store it behind a door or in your wardrobe. It doesn’t matter whether it’s upright or lying flat. And here’s some more good advice: don’t try blow up the mat with your mouth! If you do, moisture and microorganisms can make their way into the interior of the mat, damaging the filling and potentially resulting in a build-up of odours and mould. Yuck! Then, when exposed to sub-zero temperatures, the moisture on the inside can even freeze and damage the foam core. Again, nobody wants that.

How to clean your sleeping mat

Cleaning your sleeping mat is an absolute must. I know it’s easier said than done, but look at it this way: The end of one trip means another is about to begin! In other words, start prepping for your upcoming adventure by cleaning your sleeping mat! Here are some tips on how to go about cleaning doing so: Most spots and stains can be cleaned using a cloth or sponge or a soft brush and warm water. However, there are some things you need to keep in mind: the sponge can’t have a coarse surface, nor should the brush have any damaged bristles, as these could damage the mat’s outer material. For more stubborn stains, you can use detergent (make sure it doesn’t contain any bleach, fabric softener or other additives), or mild washing-up liquid.

Thoroughly rinse the mat afterwards and refrain from using aggressive agents such as vinegar or chlorinated cleaners. Not only do they smell horrendous, but they’ll also damage the foam and the outer material. Let the mat dry at room temperature or outside in the shade . Don’t lay the mat out in the sun or try to speed up the drying process with a hairdryer or clothes dryer! Doing so could also damage the mat. After a couple of hours, your mat should be dry and ready to go! If you know you won’t be using your mat for a while, you should give it more time to dry.

If you’re cleaning a self-inflating mat and using water, be sure to close the valve. Before cleaning, make sure the outer fabric doesn’t have any holes in it so that any water you use doesn’t penetrate the interior. If you stumble upon a hole or two, here’s how to repair them.

How to repair minor damage all by yourself!

The insulating properties of standard foam sleeping mats usually remain unaffected by minor damages to the material. However, it’s a completely different story when it comes to self-inflating sleeping mats. Even the smallest holes in the outer material are enough to allow insulating air to escape the interior of the mat. If the hole or tear can’t be seen with the naked eye, it’s high time you did some sleuthing. There are a variety of ways you can do this, but the easiest way by using a leak detector, a small container filled with foam pellets that help you to detect a leak. If you don’t have access to such a master detective, you can always use soapy water. Rub the soapy water on the mat, and bubbles will start to form over the damaged areas. If you’re out in the middle of nowhere and don’t have access to soapy water, you can get your hand damp and patiently (very patiently) try to find the hole.

Once you’ve found the “enfant terrible”, you can start your repairs. How? Well, for one, there’s a bevy of repair kits you can buy. If you’re using one of these kits, all you have to do is let the air out of the mat, patch it according to the manufacturer’s instructions and let it dry. Now, fill up the mat with air to see if it’s sealed In addition to holes and tears, there’s always the possibility that your mat has a damaged valve, which could be the reason your mat’s losing air. If a valve is indeed damaged, consult the manufacturer of the mat, as they are the only ones who could replace it, if and when necessary. If you’re looking for more detailed instructions on how to patch and repair your mat, please click here.  Your mat will thank you for it!

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