All posts with the keyword ‘Climbing’

GORE-TEX® PRO: built for the extremes

21. Juni 2018
Equipment

When you’re out and about in extreme conditions, GORE-TEX® Pro offers maximum weather protection and the highest level of durability. Be it sharp rock on a mountaineering adventure, heavy snowfall on a ski day or heavy rains on a long trek, the most durable of all GORE-TEX® fabrics is built to withstand it all. It is made for activities and weather conditions that would cause most other materials to eventually fail.

If you combine a GORE-TEX® Pro hardshell jacket with a pair of GORE-TEX® Pro trousers, you’re guaranteed to be comfortable and protected from wind and water. In fact, this combo is so comfortable that it is perfect for longer trips, regardless of whether they extend over multiple days or multiple weeks. You can always rely on functional garments engineered with GORE-TEX® Pro, even in the most difficult conditions.

Extremely strong and optimally sealed

The combination of the microporous GORE-TEX® membrane and the support material is then referred to as a laminate, and an extremely tough one at that. Both the lining and the outer material used for GORE-TEX® Pro garments are extremely durable, so you can be sure that they’re built to last. As a result, any wear and tear caused by repeated contact with rock and ice or simply carrying a heavy pack on a long trek or approach to your favourite crag won’t damage the material or the membrane.

To ensure that these functional textiles have no weak spots when it comes to the waterproof protection they provide, all seams on GORE-TEX® fabrics are sealed with Gore-Seam Tape. This prevents moisture getting in through the seams, even during periods of intense and prolonged rainfall. The patented seam-sealing technique is a basic GORE technology used in every GORE-TEX® Pro product – with absolutely no exceptions.

Breathability and sport

GORE-TEX® Pro is not just designed for extreme weather and the most rugged conditions, but it actually allows outdoor adventurers and mountain athletes to perform to their full potential under the most extreme of conditions as well. Regardless of whether you’re on an expedition, multi-week trek or multi-day mountain or ski tour, you need excellent breathability in addition to durability and weather protection.

Thus, the laminate with the microporous membrane offers very good water vapour permeability as well. When compared to GORE-TEX® membranes designed for highly aerobic activities, like trail running, GORE-TEX® Pro has a slightly lower level of breathability. However, this is by no means a downside. In fact, this results in the perfect combo of vapour permeability and laminate strength. GORE-TEX® Pro prevents a build-up of sweat, thereby providing maximum comfort during physical activities. Plus, GORE-TEX® Pro is so efficient that it is guaranteed to maintain the same level of comfort when you’re alternating between physically demanding activities and recovery phases.

Tested for extreme conditions

To meet their performance standards out on the trails and up in the mountains, GORE has developed extreme testing procedures to put their weatherproof hardshell jacket and trousers to the ultimate test. In these tests, they challenge their fabrics by simulating long, heavy rains with strong winds to ensure that the products can withstand the harsh environments they’ve been made for. Only when the GORE-TEX® Pro garment withstands the vertical and horizontal shower GORE throws at it, will the design of the garment be worn by athletes who then test the GORE-TEX® garment out in the mountains under extreme everyday conditions.

Do keep in mind that optimum breathability is only guaranteed by combining functional underwear and mid-layers that support the vapour permeability. In order to ensure that GORE-TEX® Pro garments perform to their potential, it is essential that all layers of garment draw moisture away from the body. The proper care of GORE-TEX® garments is also crucial for maintaining breathability and durability.

How GORE-TEX® membranes work

21. Juni 2018
Equipment

Today, GORE-TEX® is the epitome of waterproof and breathable garments. Regardless of whether you’re skiing, cycling, mountaineering at work or just going about your everyday life, you can always rely on the high-quality products engineered with GORE-TEX® membranes – at least that’s what the American brand claims. In the following, we’re going to have a closer look at the composition of this membrane and what makes it so special.

Bill Gore sees the potential of PTFE

The development of the GORE-TEX® membrane was more than just a lucky coincidence for the US chemist Bill Gore. Gore worked as a researcher at the chemical company DuPont in the 1950s, which has made a host of valuable contributions to the outdoor industry in the form of ground-breaking inventions and innovative fibres such as nylon, Lycra, Kevlar and neoprene. Interestingly enough, DuPont failed to see any benefit in continuing Bill Gore’s research on polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE for short), but Gore did.

In 1958, Bill Gore realised his dream and founded his own company, W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc, which grew from a classic American start-up based in a cellar into a global corporation with over 10,000 employees. Bill Gore had initially dedicated his research to new applications for the electrical industry until his son Bob accidentally discovered ePTFE, the material used to make all our dreams of breathable & waterproof outdoor apparel come true.

By the way, the ePTFE membrane is not just used in waterproof gear – GORE’s portfolio includes industrial applications, medical implants (e.g. artificial arteries) and industrial applications based on the research into and development of PTFE and ePTFE.

From PTFE to ePTFE – from ePTFE to the GORE-TEX® membrane

Since we and the majority of our readers are laypeople with limited knowledge in chemical processes, we thought it’d be best to explain how ePTFE was discovered like this: When Bob Gore was experimenting with PTFE, he yanked the material suddenly, discovering that it could stretch quite a bit without getting ruined. The expanded (i.e. „e“ PTFE) material not only remained solid after stretching, but formed a microporous structure as well.

This microporous structure of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene is, of course, extremely small and not visible to the naked eye. However, you can see the large openings in the material under an electron microscope. There are about 1.4 billion of these tiny pores on a single square centimetre of the waterproof membrane. And as luck would have it, this pore size just happens to be ideal to guarantee both waterproof protection and breathability in functional clothing as well!

Much smaller than a water droplet and large enough for water vapour

Water vapour molecules are very small, much smaller than the pores in the GORE-TEX® membrane. The pores are even 700 times larger than the vapour molecules, so the latter can travel from one side of the membrane to the other unhindered. For the outdoor athlete, this means that the vapour from sweat can escape through the membrane, keeping you dry.

As for liquid water, water droplets are much larger than the pores in the GORE-TEX® membrane. In fact, the pore in the microporous membrane is about 20,000 times smaller than the smallest drop of water, so there’s no way it’s getting through those microscopic pores, even if there is a lot of them or you run into some heavy rains.

The GORE-TEX® membrane becomes a durable laminate

An expanded PTFE membrane looks like a thin, flexible plastic film. Even in its raw form, the membrane is already windproof, waterproof and breathable, but its strength has yet to reach the optimum level. Mechanical abrasion or damage caused by sharp objects can lead to holes through which water can penetrate.

This is why the GORE-TEX® membrane used for functional clothing, gloves and outdoor footwear must be made into laminate first. This means that the GORE-TEX® membrane is bonded to a backer material to form a single unit. For outdoor garments, the outer material used with membranes is usually a hard-wearing synthetic fabric made of either nylon or polyester. When bonded together, the outer material and membrane form a solid laminate. Fortunately, neither the breathability nor the waterproof properties of the fabric is affected as a result, which is due in large part to the careful choice of the outer fabric and excellent production processes.

Whether we refer to the laminate as a 2-layer or 3-layer GORE-TEX® laminate depends on the lining. The three-layer construction uses a lining that is bonded directly to the membrane from the inside. This means that the GORE-TEX® membrane is sandwiched between the outer material and the comfortable lining, providing optimum protection from dirt and damage from both sides. In contrast, a two-layer construction uses a separate lining.

The specific differences and characteristics of each of the GORE-TEX® products, such asGORE-TEX® Active, GORE-TEX® Pro, GORE-TEX® Paclite®, GORE-TEX® C-KNIT® or GORE-TEX® 2-layer products will be explained in detail at a later date. What we will say, however, is that some of the main differences between 2-layer and 3-layer laminates lie in their weight and strength. While ultra-light GORE-TEX® jackets for trail runners are made from lightweight laminates, those extremely tough expedition jackets designed for mountaineers are made from stronger, more durable laminates.

Getting the most out of a GORE-TEX® membrane

The finished laminates with integrated GORE-TEX® membranes are the basis for windproof, waterproof and breathable hardshell jackets, ski gloves and walking boots. But, in order for the microporous membrane to perform to its potential when you’re adventuring, exercising or working, you need to keep a few things in mind:

To ensure that the membrane maintains complete breathability, which is responsible for transporting water vapour molecules through the GORE-TEX® membrane, there has to be a difference in temperature and humidity between the inside and the outside of the garment. This means that the breathability of a jacket with a GORE-TEX® membrane works best in low to mid-range temperatures.

To ensure the long-term functionality of GORE-TEX® products, it is absolutely essential to care for them properly and regularly. With frequent wear, the insides of functional garments inevitably become contaminated with sweat, dirt and sunscreen, all of which can negatively affect the breathability of the fabric. However, if you wash your GORE-TEX® products on a regular basis, both the durability and the breathability of the garment will be significantly improved.

Hardshell clothing is generally worn as part of a layering system and forms the weatherproof outer shell, which is responsible for shielding you from wind and rain. However, to ensure that the fabric is just as breathable as it is waterproof, the rest of your layers have to move water vapour away from the body just as well as your shell does. If you’re wearing anything that lacks moisture-wicking properties under your hard shell, the GORE-TEX® membrane won’t perform to its full potential. This is why outdoor athletes opt for functional underwear and warm mid-layers made of breathable synthetic fabrics. These allow water vapour to travel quickly and unhindered to the outside.

As you’ve probably already gathered, there’s really no way around GORE-TEX®. It’s a staple in the outdoor industry and it seems like it’s here to stay. There are pros and cons to this, especially when you consider the fact that ePTFE is not entirely safe, but we won’t go into that here. If you have any general questions about GORE-TEX®, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Antagonist training: Exercises for boulderers and climbers

21. Juni 2018
Tips and Tricks

„It’s annoying, doesn’t really look all that cool and is quite frankly incredibly boring…Yep, you guessed it. We’re talking about antagonist training. And, I’m speaking from experience – awful experience. Don’t get me wrong, I love everything about bouldering: the planning, the challenge of problem solving and the variety of movements. Everything. It just has so much to offer. And, I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that. But, antagonist training? Ugh. Ok, ok. I admit, it’s not as bad as I am making it out to be. Antagonist training really doesn’t deserve all the flak I and many others give it. After all, it benefits boulderers in so many ways, helping us to boulder efficiently and injury-free for a very long time.

Another important benefit from this type of training is that it helps rid ourselves of any imbalances, which can lead to poor posture and in turn to an increased risk of injury. A well-known example of this are those extremely strong boulderers with rounded, turned-in gorilla-like shoulders. Ever seen those before? It may come as a surprise, but even these mounds of muscle have deficits and imbalances of their own. Who would have thought?!

What is antagonist training, anyway?

The word „antagonist“ may be unfamiliar to some of you, so here’s a short explanation: Where there are antagonists, there are agonists. Basically, all this means is that you are alternating exercises to target opposing muscle groups. Here’s an example:

To bend your arm, you need your killer biceps brachii muscle, but to stretch it out, you need the trifecta: the triceps brachii muscle. In this case, your biceps would be the agonist and the triceps the antagonist. Easy right? Well, not exactly. Every muscle can be an agonist or an antagonist. For example, if you finish with a mantel move at the top of a boulder, it would be the other way around. The triceps would be the agonist, pushing up the body, and the biceps the antagonist.

Bouldering forces you to use certain muscles more frequently and intensively than others, making the ones you use the agonists and the one’s you’re not antagonists. Because of the neglect the poor antagonists suffer, they’re not as well trained and thus weaker. And believe you me: this neglect will eventually come back to haunt you in some way or another. I warned you!

Ignorance doesn’t help here, either – it can affect anyone. The revenge of the antagonists (sounds like a good movie, doesn’t it?) can rear its ugly head in the form of tense muscles or even more severe injuries, which could side-line you for weeks or even months. And none of us want that. That said, it’s better to take precautions instead of dragging your feet and drooling over your favourite boulders from afar!

In the 10 years I’ve been climbing and bouldering, I’ve been fortunate enough to have never really been seriously injured, but I have had my fair share of strains and such. I’ve never had to stop completely, but the injuries did force me to slow down a bit. In the following, I would like to detail some of my little injuries and give you some tips on how to avoid them. The focus will be on the shoulders for the simple reason that muscular imbalances in this area can cause some serious injuries.

Case 1: Improving shoulder stability

I was at a qualifier for the German Championship and obviously really wanted to get to the finals. I didn’t really know how things were going and just wanted to do as much as I could in the little time that remained. Plus, it was a bonus hold, which required a dynamic move on a pretty small hold that you really had to hold on to.

And that’s exactly what I did. But, unfortunately, something in my right upper arm was not having it and let me know pretty quickly with a rather loud crunch. I’d later learn that I didn’t even need the bonus to reach the finals…C’est la vie. Anyway, I didn’t feel anything for the rest of the day, but the day after was a different story: I couldn’t move my arm a single inch without experiencing severe pain. Fortunately, after going to my physiotherapist a few times, the worst was behind me, but it took me several months to gain complete trust in my shoulder again.

My doctor had suspected it was an overuse injury that resulted in biceps tendonitis. Of course, there are several ways this can happen. In my case, it was probably due to my weak antagonist muscles.

If one muscle is stronger than the other, the shoulder will shift from its natural position, putting more strain on other areas of the body that shouldn’t be under that much stress in the first place!

Here is a list of important muscles or muscle groups that are neglected in bouldering and are responsible for shoulder stability:

  • Rotator cuff: These muscles support the arm at the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff consists of four muscles: the supraspinatus muscle, the infraspinatus muscle, the teres minor muscle and the subscapularis muscle.
    • The infraspinatus muscle
      Function: To externally rotate the humerus and stabilise the shoulder joint.
    • The teres minor muscle
      Function: To rotate the humerus laterally and modulate the action of the deltoid
  • The trapezius muscle The trapezius muscle is responsible for a lot of rotational movements of the shoulder blade, among other things.
  • The rhomboid major and rhomboid minor muscle: The rhomboid minor and major are responsible for retracting the scapula.
  • Deltoid: The deltoid is responsible for raising the upper arm and stabilising the shoulder joint. It consists of several parts.

When you consider all the functions of each of these muscles, it is not at all surprising that the shoulders lean forward when there’s an imbalance. But what can we do about it? Well, here are some exercises I do on a regular basis:

Exercises for rotator cuff:

I always use a yellow Thera-band. The resistance is completely sufficient. The starting position can be seen in the picture on the left. Move your arm outward (picture on the right) and slowly return to the starting position.

Important:

  • Keep your shoulders down
  • Keep your elbows close to your body
  • Stand straight
  • Keep your hand „“active““ and stable, i.e. spread your fingers and wrap the Thera-band in such a way that you don’t need to hold on to it.

Exercises for the adductors and shoulder stability:

Again, a light Thera-band will do the trick. Secure it slightly higher than your shoulders. If you want, you can put it up a little higher than in the picture. The starting position can be seen in the left and right-hand picture. Stand straight. Stretch out your arm, but no higher than the height of your shoulders!

The final position can be seen in the picture on the bottom left. Move your hand to your thigh, with the back of your hand pointing toward the wall. Then slowly return to the starting position.

Other positions for this exercise can be seen in the small pictures on the right. Here, too, the back of your hand should be pointing toward to the wall.

Important:

  • Keep your shoulders down
  • Your hand should only go to the middle of the thigh, otherwise your shoulders will lean forward again.

For the trapezius, deltoids and rhomboid muscles

This trapezius exercise is designed to strengthen the trapezius muscle and can be done with or without a wall. The more slanted the wall is, the harder it gets. The intensity increases with the height of your elbows on the wall. The maximum height, however, is shoulder height. Position your feet in front of the wall. Now press off the wall so that the shoulder blades are no longer touching it (green arrow). Then slowly return to the starting position. True, it’s just a tiny movement, but it’s really tough after a few reps!

Important:

  • Keep your shoulders down
  • Avoid lumbar swayback
  • Keep your palms flat and pointing down

The reverse butterfly is great for training your rear deltoids and lower trapezius. The starting position can be seen on the left or bottom left (rows). Bring your arms to your side like a T without completely straightening your elbows. Hold it for a moment and slowly return to the starting position. It is also possible to complete the T-shape along with the V-shape and the H-shape all in one set. The more inclined your stance, the harder it gets.

Important:

  • Don’t try to get momentum out of your back, this exercise is for other muscles!
  • Body tension! Don’t droop and avoid swayback.

Suspension trainer rows train the inner back, i.e., the middle and lower trapezius, along with the rear deltoids and rhomboid muscles. The starting position is the same as for the reverse butterfly, but here the arms are pulled close to the body, as can be seen in the picture in the middle.

Hold it and slowly return to the starting position. Another variation: Raise your upper arms to shoulder height. Your forearms are then at a right angle to your upper arms. Again, the more inclination, the harder it gets. If you want to increase the intensity, put your feet on a box or an exercise ball or try to press your feet against a wall.

Important:

  • Don’t try to get momentum out of your back, this exercise is for other muscles!
  • Body tension! Don’t droop and avoid swayback.

Case 2: Strengthening your fingers and wrist extensors

Elbow pain is something boulderers just can’t seem to get around. Fortunately for me, though, I have never had to deal with it before. My problem had to do with the overuse of my weaker finger or wrist extensors, which can lead to tennis elbow (which admittedly doesn’t really sound like a climbing injury, but that’s neither here nor there). These muscles are opposite the flexor muscles in the fingers, so they’re their antagonists. The flexors are obviously strong. After all, you have to be able to hold on to the holds somehow.

Once the pain is there, you should do everything in your power to ensure that it doesn’t become chronic. During the very acute phase of this injury, which fortunately only lasted about a week, I got my elbow taped, stretched it carefully, massaged it and most important of all: rested! Now, I am virtually pain-free because I’ve finally started giving my poor finger and wrist extensors the tender love and care they deserve, strengthening them with the following exercises:

For your finger and wrist extensors

For this exercise, a dumbbell is quite the useful tool. As you can see, I use a 1kg dumbbell, so you can increase the weight a bit if you’d like. But don’t add too much. You don’t want to overexert yourself. You can lay your elbow on your leg or on any surface that will allow your wrist to move freely. In the starting position, keep your wrist straight and then lift it upwards. Then slowly move it back down. That’s it! Very easy and effective, as you will notice after a few reps!

As you can see, the Thera-band is crucial to my antagonist training. For this exercise, I use a light one as well. Wrap it around your hands so that you don’t have to hold it. Then spread out your fingers like in the picture above. Then bend only your wrists outward and then slowly return to the starting position. As with the other exercises, doing multiple reps is not easy.

For the finger extensors, I also use a yellow Thera-band or one of the many other things that are available for this exercise. The movement is shown in the picture on the bottom right.

Case 3: Paying more attention to your legs

We boulderers pay little to no attention to our legs. Even though imbalances are pretty rare among the muscle groups in your legs, I still believe it is extremely important to work on them and one joint in particular.The knee.

Especially when hooking, be it heel or toe hooks, the knee is put under a lot of strain. If you’re tackling a tough project and have to hook onto the same hold over and over again, your knee might just give up, saying „Enough! You didn’t prepare me for this! I quit!“

If you’re lucky, you may just suffer a very minor injury to the lateral meniscus, but if you aren’t, you could have a tear or some other more severe knee injury. What’s my point? Well, you need to stabilise your knee! And, this is something you can achieve by doing a variety of exercises, all of which can be a lot of fun!

This is one exercise I just can’t get enough of! It stabilises the back of the knee and is kind of amusing. You don’t necessarily need a partner. You can hook your feet under something instead. It’s a very simple exercise. The starting position can be seen at the bottom left. From there, allow your upper body and thighs to lean forward in a straight line until you simply fall over. Catch yourself with your arms (bottom right) and push yourself dynamically (or statically) back up to the starting position. I’ve never not been sore after this exercise.

Other exercises for knee stability are one or two-legged squats. It’s hard to believe how complicated a perfect squat can be, but it’s true, so be sure to read up on them beforehand. You can also use balance boards and do some slacklining, which is a personal favourite of mine. Slacklining is not only good for the knees, but also for your balance. Plus, it promotes an awareness of your body.

Allow me to bring this post to a close with a little piece of wisdom: Only those who don’t get injured can boulder long and strong! True, antagonist training is not guaranteed to keep you injury-free, but it can prevent a large number of injuries.

Material: What is carbon?

21. Juni 2018
Equipment

All you adventurers out there have surely heard of carbon. After all, it is used in all kinds of sports equipment and is celebrated by many a gearhead because of its lightness and stiffness (not strength!).

If you have any questions as to the reasoning behind this distinction, you should definitely read on. In this post, we’re going to take a deep dive into carbon, describing its properties, composition and advantages and disadvantages as compared to materials that tend to be cheaper, such as aluminium.

What is carbon anyway?

Lightweight carbon is a becoming more and more popular option for all kinds of sports equipment. The word carbon comes from the Latin word for coal (carbo) and refers to the chemical element carbon. Carbon is pretty important stuff. Without it, the earth would be nothing more than a rock without any biological structures – so obviously no humans either. In other words, you could consider the carbon used in our outdoor gear to be a natural material, at least if you look at it over its long process of transformation. Coal’s carbon comes from an array of different substances, but most notably from decomposed plants, from which petroleum is derived. And it is petroleum, which consists of several hydrocarbons, that serves as source material in plastic production.

Admittedly, this isn’t the whole story and really only half the truth. What we colloquially refer to as carbon actually only consists in part of the wafer-thin carbon fibres. That’s why, it would actually be more correct to say: carbon fibre reinforced polymer(CFRP). Still, this doesn’t really explain what carbon is. So, let’s get even more specific and talk about what carbon is made up of.

What is carbon made of?

For a start, allow me to mention that what we commonly referred to as carbon is a combination, with the only the fibre bit consisting of carbon and the rest of other chemicals. In other words, it’s a composite material. To make things even more complicated, composites of CFRP and GFRP are also treated as carbon. GFRP is short for “glassfibre reinforced plastic“.

The carbon fibres/glass fibres are combined with a matrix, usually a polymer resin. The matrix serves to bind the fibres together in grid-like structure and fills in the gaps. A common polymer resin is epoxy, which is a thermoset resin, which contains all sorts of chemical elements, but no carbon fibres. To put it simply, thermoset is a plastic that is not malleable after curing by means of heat and can withstand high mechanical stress.

Carbon is stiff but not necessarily high strength

Don’t worry, we’re not going to give a lecture on the science of this material, but we are going to delve just deep enough to ensure that you have a basic understanding of the properties of carbon equipment. This will then enable us to compare carbon to other materials, such as aluminium. Whilst the carbon fibres add high strength and stiffness to the composite material, the matrix prevents the fibres from shifting against each other when under stress. Since the composite material is only really stable in the direction of the fibres, the fibres are usually laid out in different directions.

These complex patterns are what gives carbon the stiffness it’s known for. Stiffness is, however, not to be confused with strength. The former describes a high resistance to (elastic) deformation – the material does not vibrate or move under increasing stress, but then breaks apart abruptly under high stress. Strength, on the other hand, is the resistance to mechanical stress. A material that is very stiff does not necessarily have to be strong, and can in fact be easily broken.

Carbon is not always carbon

Since there are various carbon composites and fibre arrangements, all of which produce different tensile, compressive, impact and breaking strengths as well as different levels of stiffness and damping properties, it is very difficult to get an idea of the exact construction and properties of the carbon used, independent of the manufacturer’s specifications.

The complicated composition of carbon not only makes it less transparent in general but also more expensive than similarly durable metals. So, why opt for carbon over aluminium, when the latter seems to have all the properties you would want? Well, when it comes to sports equipment such as walking poles, road bikes or fishing rods, you need an extremely high level of stiffness at the lowest weight possible. And here, high-quality carbon is second to none. Wait, high-quality carbon? Doesn’t that imply that there’s an inferior kind of carbon?

Low-quality carbon may be rare, but it does exist. And, contrary to popular belief, high-quality carbon doesn’t necessarily have the highest amount of carbon fibres, but the best composites in the best matrix. Here are some examples: To have a pole made of „100% carbon“ would be overkill because although it may be ultralight and stiff, it would also break quickly because of how brittle it would be.

80-90% is ideal, as it provides both stiffness and damping properties along with breaking strength. 60-70% carbon usually means an increase in weight but also more stability (and a more affordable price tag). If a pole has less than 60%, there’s really no advantage over aluminium poles in an identical or lower price range, according to experts.

However, the percentage alone does not determine the quality of a product. You’ve got to have additional information and at least some expertise in order to determine other important contributing factors. Fortunately, though, you can rely on manufacturers such as Leki or Komperdell to use high-quality materials. As long as you don’t opt for some cheap model at a random discount store, you can generally expect your poles to perform reliably in normal conditions. You’d really have to get majorly stuck between some massive rocks or roots to break a high-quality pole.

Carbon vs. aluminium

Simply put: Aluminium is harder to snap, whilst carbon is stiffer. In other words:

Aluminium vibrates under stress and is unlikely to break under high stress, whilst carbon tends to fail with jagged breaks.

In theory, the slower buckling of aluminium is less dangerous in the event of a fall. However, this only applies in situations where an average adult’s entire body weight falls abruptly on the pole. But no need to worry: As long as the walking poles aren’t some cheap knock-off, they can only snap as a result of unfortunate lateral pressure applied during uncontrolled movements on loose ground.

However, caution is advised when the poles are extended to nearly full length, especially when it comes to aluminium poles because it can have a negative effect on their stability. For this reason and because of their better shock absorption, high-quality carbon poles are recommended for Nordic walking, which is popular among heavier individuals. In general, tall or heavier outdoor enthusiasts should opt for more stable, high-quality and slightly heavier poles.

Neither is better – just different

Whilst carbon and aluminium poles have approximately the same breaking strength and stability, the carbon models have a slight advantage when it comes to their weight, namely about 10% as compared to their aluminium counterparts. And, this is reflected in their higher price. When it comes to basic models for beginners, aluminium seems to be the better option, mostly because of the lower price tag. But, these are just estimates based on the options we have available in our shop. Also: the lighter your poles are, the better the handling will be and the slower you’ll fatigue.

Another factor is water: If you consider the fact that aluminium poles tend to corrode when exposed to water and should be taken apart and dried after walks in the rain, one could think that you should opt for carbon instead. But this is not necessarily the case. Carbon is not necessarily better than aluminium. For example, alpinists who often travel on rough gravely terrain, (good) aluminium poles would be the better choice.

Since the advantages of carbon and aluminium are not mutually exclusive, several manufacturers like Leki or Black Diamond use both in the same model to achieve the perfect balance between things like stiffness and robustness.

Of course, the balance of advantages and disadvantages of carbon varies depending on the type of equipment. Because of the malleability of aluminium, carbon would be the much better option to use as a stabiliser in the sole of your ski touring boots or the upper on your cycling shoes than aluminium ever would be.
We hope this article has shed some light on carbon!

Hand and skin care for climbers

26. April 2018
Tips and Tricks

They’re the most important tools we have for climbing: Our hands. And because they’re so important, it’s crucial that we take good care of them. There are basically no calluses, scrapes, gashes, cracks or blisters a climber isn’t familiar with, and every single one of them is usually quite painful. What can you do to prevent such injuries and what’s the best way to take care of your fingers after a hard day at the crag or your local climbing centre? Well, I’m glad you asked!

What kind of injuries can you get from climbing?

A callus (or callosity) is a toughened area of skin that has become thicker because of repeated friction. This may sound bad at first, but it’s something climbers strive for. Callused skin is stronger and keeps the other layers of skin protected as well.

One downside, however, is that callused skin is less flexible, dries out more quickly because of chalk and tens to fray and rip when not cared for properly. Once a rip is there and it starts bleeding, it pains me to say that it’s time to take a break from climbing. Unfortunately, your skin needs some time to recover and it can’t do that if you keep climbing. The bit where your fingers bend on the inside of your hand is a particularly at-risk area, since calluses are often smashed together because of pressure and movement. These raised areas are particularly likely to rip.

Preventing injuries to your hands

As a general rule, it is important to make sure you have your calluses under control. The best way to do this is to file down the raised bits, like around where your fingers bend, with a file or a rasp. Ripped areas can be filed down as well as long as they aren’t bleeding. Basically, you can do this whenever you feel like it. Just be sure have a piece of sandpaper with you to treat the area in question.

The first signs that you’re getting a blister is a burning sensation and slight redness in the same area. To remedy this, it can be helpful to relieve that area of pressure, meaning stop climbing for a day or two so that your skin gets a break. Blisters can take significantly longer to heel.

Skin care plays an extremely important role in all that. Many manufacturers, such as Climb On, Metolius, Joshua Tree or KletterRetter make lotions designed specifically for climbers to give them just the right amount of moisture and/or oil to keep them smooth.

You can also prevent injuries to your hands by using the proper gripping technique. This means: Always try to position your hand on the hold so that your actively holding it and not just hoping for enough friction.

What to do when it happens

It’s hard to keep a cool head in the heat of battle, but it’s even harder to give up at the crux just because you feel like you’re getting a blister or hands are getting a bit torn up.

So, even despite your best efforts to prevent blisters and skin rips, you can still get skin injuries. However, when tend to your battle wounds, it’s important to be patient and treat them according to what type of wound it is.

  • Blisters: If you get a blister, let it heal without popping it. Yes, you heard correctly! You shouldn’t pop it because the sensitive layer of skin underneath could get infected. If the blister’s already popped, you need to disinfect it and put a plaster on it.
  • Rips and cuts: Regardless of whether your callus rips off or you cut your hand on a needle-sharp hold, it can get bloody and the best thing to do is to just stop climbing for a bit. Why? Well, every time you put more pressure or strain on the affected area, it will tear more and take longer to heal as a result. If you simply can’t go without climbing, you can use some strong tape to keep the wound together. But before doing this, do make sure to clean and disinfect it, if at all possible.
  • Punctures: These usually occur on sharp holds as a result of too much pressured being applied to your hand. These wounds are usually easy to treat. Clean, disinfect and tape it up and keep on climbing. It’s pretty unlikely they’re rip open again.

Whatever injury you’ve sustained, it’s probably a good idea to take a break, especially when it comes to deep gashes, since they can take a while to fully heal. Besides, if you start climbing too soon, there’s always the risk of them ripping open again.

The proper treatment

The first thing you do after a hard climbing session is go to the sink. Well, ok. Maybe a beer, tea or coffee first, but then go straight to the sink and wash off all that chalk. Why? Well, the chalk causes your skin to dry out. After removing all the chalk, moisturise your hands with some rich lotion.

If you tend to sweat a lot, you won’t need as much lotion. Instead, make sure your hands are dry before you start climbing because the sweat will make your hands soft, which in turn makes them more prone to injuries.

Now, if you haven’t already today, go out and climb!

A buyer’s guide to bivvy bags

21. Juni 2018
Buyer's guide

The term ‘bivouac‘ is derived from the French word bivouac, which means an encampment or encampment for the night. In addition to sleeping in a tent or a hut, bivouacking is another common way to spend the night in the great outdoors. In contrast to the other two other options, however, there is usually no roof over your head, unless you sleep in one of the rather sparingly equipped accommodations, known as bivouac huts. If you don’t have this luxury and still need a weatherproof place to sleep, there is probably no way around getting yourself a bivvy bag. In the following, we’re going to tell you all about bivvy bags, including what to look out for when buying one.

What is a bivvy bag and what does bivouacking mean?

Simply put: Bivouacking is basically like camping, but instead of sleeping in a tent, you’re sleeping in a bag. Oftentimes, you won’t even sleep in it, but merely use it as shelter until a storm passes or wait for rescue teams to arrive in the event of an accident.

If possible, you should figure out well in advance what kind of bivvy bag you need for your trip. It’s always a good idea to have a more breathable bag, especially for shorter breaks. Otherwise condensation can build up really quickly and start dripping onto your clothes or sleeping bag.

Doesn’t sound very inviting, does it? It rarely is. Bivouacking has many faces. Here are two of them:

The nice one:

High up on this picturesque ledge under a starry sky, sheltered from the wind in this cosy, lightweight and breathable two-man bag. Snuggled up with your loved one, you can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of the mountains until you drift off into a blissful slumber.

The mean one:

High up on this remote mountain ledge, dark clouds appear out of nowhere and suddenly it starts bucketing down. Now you’re panicking, struggling to get your bivvy bag out from the bottom of your pack in face of brutal winds and rain, sweating into your already soaking-wet clothes. And, the inside of the bivvy bag ends up getting as wet as the outside.

When you’re both finally inside the bag, you have to zip it up completely and crouch down so that the wildly fluttering fabric doesn’t keep hitting your face. It’s moments like these when couples hate snuggling. Plus, despite the protective cover, it seems to keep getting colder, and the air quality is getting progressively worse. In situations like these, it’s important to keep the material at a distance because when it comes into direct contact with you, it will cool you down instead of warming you up. And, since weather is so unpredictable, you have no idea if the storm will have passed a half an hour from now or a half a day. Time to go to your happy place…

Most bivouacking experiences lie somewhere between these two versions. The starry sky will certainly be the rarer occasion of the two because if the sky is clear enough to see and enjoy, you probably don’t need the bivvy bag. In such cases, a sleeping bag will suffice, especially if it provides some warmth and protection from the wind whilst keeping moisture at bay. This is something that a lot of sleeping bags are perfectly capable of doing nowadays.

Even those surprising changes in weather will become rarer with time, considering the fact that we have devices that provide weather forecasts and allow us to plan our adventures in real time. At least this is true for those more moderate adventures in the Alps and Central Europe. However, as long as unpredictable weather conditions and remote areas still exist and people go on physically demanding adventures spanning over several days, our beloved bivvy bags will continue to exist.

What is a bivvy bag and what do I need it for?

Simply put: a bivvy bag is the bag in which you sit or lie when bivouacking.

The simplest version consists of a more or less waterproof top and bottom made of synthetics that is sewn together. The top bit has a slit that allows you to slip inside and serves as an opening for your face. There are bags for one or two people, with the latter having the advantage that it generates more heat and the disadvantage that it is more difficult to use.

A bivvy bag is lighter and cheaper than a tent and makes it possible (at least theoretically) to set up a weatherproof shelter anytime and anywhere. Unfortunately, just having functional clothing is not always enough. When bad weather lasts long enough, water usually always finds a way in. In such cases, bivvy bags can be a life saver.

The basic characteristics of a bivvy bag.

Less expensive bivvy bags can provide acceptable protection from wind and water for shorter periods. However, they cannot withstand the violent gusts of winds and are less resistant to abrasion, so when the come into contact with shoes and other equipment, they won’t last long. Plus, the pressure exerted on the material by sitting or lying on it cause moisture to permeate the fabric surprisingly quickly.

Here you should make sure that the base material has a hydrostatic head of at least 2,000mm(significantly more is better, because the pressure applied to the material can be much greater when you’re squatting).

It is rather difficult to say how much warmth any given model will provide. Why? Well, it depends at least as much on the situation as it does on the model and individual physiological factors. So, no blanket statement can be made here. More important than the strength of the material is the layer of air that serves as insulation between your body and the bivvy bag.

Simple enough, right? Well, things get a bit more complicated when the breathability of the fabric comes into play and with it the coatings, membranes and laminates, which are either on the top, bottom or both sides.

Then, there is an array of other features, including completely closable 3D hoods with mosquito nets and anatomical foot boxes, tent-like pole structures and heaps of other bits and bobs that can be added to the bivvy.

How do bivvy bags differ from one another?

Based on what we’ve talked about so far, it should be clear by now that the perfect bivvy bag has to meet all sorts of different requirements. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a do-everything bivvy bag. Maybe someday, though!

Until some genius creates this miracle bag, we have to navigate between the following three points when deciding on a model:

  1. Comfort (breathability, spaciousness, features)
  2. Low weight and pack size
  3. Weather protection (Quality of the material, robustness, complete sealability (for lack of a better term))

There is no bivvy bag that meets all three criteria equally. It’s like buying a car. Despite all the high-tech euphoria, you still can’t get a family-friendly and environmentally friendly hybrid race car.

However, when it comes to bivvy bags, we can at least have two of the three mentioned above: i.e. 1) and 2) or 1) and 3). A combination of 2) and 3) is much more difficult or significantly more expensive, but still feasible.

What materials are used for bivvy bags?

The desired criteria determine the composition of the material and the construction of the bivvy bag. Let’s list the materials first:

The key component of most ultra-light models is a a metallised foil. Such bivy bags may be damaged or unusable even after a single use, but are also intended for emergencies only, similar to a rescue blanket.

The more durable basic models have a tent-like nylon or polyester fabric with a polyurethane coating (PU coating). Nylon, polyester and cotton blended fabrics are not waterproof without such a coating. PU gives the material its functional properties due to its high density and flexibility.

In addition to PU, silicone is also used, which is usually classified as being of a higher quality. Silicone coatings are more elastic, more durable and more expensive than other coatings. They not only increase the fabric’s tear resistance, but its UV resistance as well. They are also significantly lighter than PU coatings with comparable levels of waterproofness.

Are there bivvy bags with membranes?

More complex bivvy bags also use membranes. If you prefer a membrane, let me say this: In practice, you will notice only minor differences between the different membrane brands when it comes to breathability. As a rule, all technologies reach their limits at a certain amount of moisture and/or temperature distribution.

All coatings, laminates and the like increase the weight and pack size just like any other additional feature. The more protection, versatility and functionality the fabric offers, the more weight you’ll have to carry and the larger the pack size will be. Every other little addition, like more room or covered zips add more weight as well.

Bivvy bag shapes and designs

Most bivvy bags are cut like a slightly larger sleeping bag and lie flat like a blanket. The volume of the bag results from our bodies or other little extras like stiffeners, guying options or small poles.

The latter offers additional headroom, which can come as a welcome relief when sleeping in it for multiple nights in a row. However, the stability of models with this simple frame should not be overestimated. Some can stand upright only when the zip is completely closed, whilst others tilt towards your face as soon as a little breeze picks up. More reliable are the more complex constructions like the criss-cross pole structure found on the Carinthia Observer. However, so much comfort and weather protection is neither light nor cheap.

An important question you may need to consider is whether the bivvy bag should close completely. After all, there’s no way to be completely protected from the elements unless the interior can be sealed off completely with a strong zip. Drawstrings, hook-and-loop fasteners and vents always leave small gaps and openings, which in extreme cases will have to be facing away from the the direction of the weather.

Oftentimes, that’s easier said than done. However, sealing yourself in to this extent is only for ambitious projects in higher altitudes or colder climates. For most other emergency situations and „normal“ bivouacking adventures, you’ll be fine with with bivvy bags that can „only“ be closed with buttons, drawstrings or the like.

Conclusion

Bivouacking is more than just an emergency solution in adverse mountain conditions. It allows you to experience nature in a way you never have before and is a flexible option between camping and sleeping „completely unprotected“ out in the open.

However, bivouacking is not recommended for people who prefer not to be in direct contact with the ground, materials or other peoples’ bodies. But, if you discover the urge to be in the great outdoors and can overcome your inhibitions, you may end up loving it! Then, you’ll venture a little further out, head up to the mountains and realise you need to start looking for the proper bivvy bag! We hope this article will help with that.

Shoes built to last: An introduction to different shoe lasts

26. April 2018
Equipment

It’s probably safe to say that all of our readers know that there are different shoe sizes out there. The same goes for the fact that the shoe’s size usually refers to the length of the shoe, which in turn corresponds to the length of the foot with some added room at the toe. This should be 1 to 2 cm for mountain boots, since your swollen feet would otherwise eventually start rubbing up against the front of the boots on longer descents.

For a lot of people out there, that’s often all the knowledge they need to buy a well-fitting pair of shoes. For others, though, it can be more of a challenge. Why? Well, if your foot doesn’t correspond with the foot shape that any given manufacturer has set as their standard, you’ll end up having quite a hard go of it. After all, your foot type is not just determined by length AND it can deviate slightly from the norm (which is a statistical size that only exists on paper). That said, it’s important for you to know a few more things about shoes than just your shoe size if you want the perfect fit.

Foot shape = last shape = shoe shape

Since the last is often listed among a shoe’s specs, one could think of it is one of its components. But, a last is not part of the shoe. Rather, a last is something you’d find lying around in a manufacturer’s workshops or among a shoemaker’s tools, where it serves as a blueprint, giving a shoe and its sole their form. The fact that it is only a rough copy of the foot, without the toes and other fine details, is completely sufficient because the soft inside of the shoe doesn’t need to be an exact copy of the human foot.

This foot-shaped block is often carved by hand and is made mostly of wood. The ones used for mass production are usually plastic. Most manufacturers use a standard last as a guide for their shoe series and try to accommodate different foot shapes with additional insoles. Sometimes, the standard lasts are produced in a wider and a narrower version, but this can make production considerably more complex and expensive. Only very few put forth the effort to provide several lasts for different foot shapes. Since a shoe last is nothing more than just the shape of the foot and is often named after particular foot shapes , it’s a good idea to get a little better acquainted with the human foot before reading about lasts! Let’s get started.

Foot types and anatomy

There are two criteria according to which foot types are usually classified: the toe shape and the overall foot shape. There are three common toe types and four foot shapes.

The most common types of toes are Egyptian, Roman and Greek.

  • The Egyptian foot is distinguished by the big toe being the longest, whilst toes 2 to 5, when viewed from above, descend gradually at forty-five degree angle.
  • The Roman foot is distinguished by the second and (sometimes) the third/middle toe having the same length as the big one, whilst the rest are smaller.
  • The Greek foot is distinguished by the second toe being longer than the big toe and the middle toe being the same length or shorter than the big one.

This classification is admittedly more precise than just the length, but it doesn’t really say much about the rest of the foot (i.e. the shape of the foot). That’s why we classify foot types as well. The four main foot types are Romanic, Anglo-Saxon, Germanic and Baltic:

  • The Anglo-Saxon foot is relatively straight, narrow and elongated, with a long dominant big toe.
  • The Germanic foot is sickle-shaped and narrower at the heel than at the forefoot.
  • The Romanic type is significantly straighter than the Germanic and overall quite wide and voluminous.
  • The Baltic foot is the wide variant of the Anglo-Saxon foot, where the big toe is even more dominant and the heel is equal in width to the forefoot.

Whether or not this applies to the whole world, I can’t say, but it should cover pretty much all of the European foot shapes.

Who determines whether a foot is wide or narrow?

Width may be the simplest of the foot’s basic characteristics, but the question remains: How do you determine what is wide and what is narrow based on the length of any given foot? This info is rarely provided, so oftentimes you just have to eyeball it. You can only derive an approximate conversion factor from length and width size charts, as for example from the Bont size chart Here is an example for shoe size EU 45:

Length: 28.5 cm The width of a „“normal foot““ in size 45 would then be between 10.6 and 11 cm. A „“narrow foot““ would then be smaller than 10.6 cm and a „“wide foot““ larger than 11 cm. One could derive a conversion factor from this, but it doesn’t really make sense because it’ll change from shoe size to shoe size. It is easier to look at the chart.

Things only get worse though. If you were to combine width along with its characteristics narrow, normal and wide with the four toe types listed above, you would come to a grand total of twelve possible foot types. If these were then combined with the four foot shapes, the result would be 48. That means 48 different kinds of feet would be in need of a proper last and shoe! Since there are also many other differently shaped „“foot sections““ such as the toes, ball, heel, bridge, arch, etc., all of which can be in different proportions to each other, the combinations are virtually endless.

I know what you’re thinking: the human foot and its representation in shoes is complex stuff! Indeed, and when it comes to the anatomy of the human foot, it gets even more confusing due to the foot’s complex construction. The simplest way to divide up the foot anatomically is to take three sections: the forefoot, midfoot and hindfoot. Granted, it’s not very precise, but it is practical because you always know exactly where you are!

For more volume: the bridge

We’ve talked about length and width, but we’ve failed to mention anything about height. Height is an extremely important factor when it comes to choosing the proper shoes and is determined primarily by the bridge of the foot. The bridge starts at the toes and extends to the ankle and lower tibia. It can be flat or steep and can influence the shape of the foot in a huge way.

A “steeper” bridge would require a shoe that has quite the roomy upper. Thanks to a shoe’s tongue and lacing, the height and width of the upper can normally be adjusted for an adequate fit over most bridges. Insoles can also be used to alter the volume of a shoe, but this should be your last resort. Try to find a proper shoe first.

Special cases

Hallux valgus: What sounds like something in the stomach is actually a lateral deviation of the big toe characterised by a painful bulge of the metatarsophalangeal joint resulting from constant contact with the shoe. Hallux valgus is usually caused by frequently wearing inappropriate footwear in conjunction with an unnatural use of your foot when walking. Some manufacturers offer special lasts for this deformity, but more on that later.

Flat feet: Flat feet are so common that some manufacturers use special lasts for this as well. Here, the weakened muscles in the longitudinal arch allow the bones to sink towards the ground as opposed to holding them in place. This results in the entire sole of the foot being near or coming into complete contact with the ground. The collapse of the longitudinal arch can then eventually cause pes valgus, a condition where the foot tilts inward. If this happens, you will have a much harder time finding the perfect shoe.

Last but not least – splayfoot. This one of the most common foot misalignments. Splayfoot is a misalignment characterised by weakened muscles in the transverse arch and a wider forefoot resulting from the metatarsal bones splaying.

The above-mentioned foot problems also occur simultaneously and tend to build off of each other. But, let’s not get into that. Describing diagnoses and symptom progressions would go far beyond the scope of this post. Our aim is merely to provide and overview rather than focussing on minor details and unique cases.

So many different types of feet: Different manufacturers and their lasts

In order to accommodate the variety of foot shapes to at least some extent, manufacturers must have a selection of standard lasts. Most manufacturers use between two and six different lasts, which they divide up among different models and series. Only rarely are there different versions, such as extra wide or extra narrow, for one and the same model. Nevertheless, most manufacturers offer a wide range of sizes and shapes, which means that a correspondingly large number of different lasts are required as guides. Let’s look at some examples.

Lowa allows you to filter your search for specific models not only by standard criteria like shoe size, gender or shoe types, but also by wide and narrow lasts.

They even describe the various lasts in the menu option “fit and quality“. Lowa has modelled special lasts for each shoe type according to specific requirements and experience. Lowa also uses special lasts for the women’s models. The distinction between the last shapes is more or less self-explanatory, as they correspond to the shape of the foot:

  • Standard lasts: normal last shape
  • S-last (narrow): less volume around forefoot/ball area
  • W-last (wide): more volume around forefoot/ball area
  • WXL last: expanded toe box combined with more volume around arch/instep

Hanwag not only has slightly different shapes and terminology, but also has more variety in their lasts than virtually any other manufacturer. In addition to the gender-specific lasts, there are lasts for specific applications (e.g. slightly wider for the Trek and Trek Light series, narrower for the Rock series). Plus, there are six special lasts for people who do not have a „“standard foot““:

  • Wide lasts: The heel area has been constructed normally, but the shoe offers more room around the forefoot and ball of the foot. Wide models are for people for whom a „“normal““ shoe would be too narrow around the forefoot.
  • Narrow lasts: This last is intended for people who feel a normal shoe is too wide. The Hanwag Tatra, for example, is one of their narrow fit models.
  • Bunion lasts: Bunions is a well-known problem, especially among women, but it is also something many boulderers and sport climbers deal with. Hanwag offers a one-of-a-kind bunion last with significantly more room around the big toe.
  • StraightFit lasts: This last offers an extremely generous toe box and is intended for people with a wide forefoot.
  • Alpine Wide lasts: The normal Alpine lasts are narrower for a better performance. If you prefer a bit more space, grab a shoe with an Alpine Wide fit. You can always wear thicker socks.
  • Naturalfit lasts: NaturalFit technology promotes the natural posture of the foot and kind of imitates walking barefoot. It’s great for both travel and everyday life.

The Italian brand AKU uses six different lasts for their outdoor shoes, covering a very similar range of shapes as Hanwag. You can find out more about the lasts on their website under “The Last”.

Other brands, like Meindl don’t provide descriptions of their lasts, but they do allow you to search for specific models by foot shape or other filters.

Dachstein has also incorporated shoe width into their search filter. Unfortunately, this only covers one of the many possible shapes and characteristics of a foot/last/shoe.

Conclusion

A truly precise filter that allows you to combine several characteristics may be a tall task for any manufacturer to implement, considering how precise the specs of each shoe would have to be, but it’s still doable. But, it’s a different story for online retailers that carry X number of brands. To do it would be nothing less than a Herculean feat, if you ask me, especially since you’d need somebody with a trained eye to do it! Not to mention the fact that the series and models constantly change.

That said, there’s really no way around finding our your own foot size/shape/type. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I have a Baltic foot? Is my foot narrow or wide? All the shoe size charts online can act as a point of reference. Unfortunately, there are very few available that have more than just foot length, as the Bont chart does.

There are several solid approaches out there, but none of them has managed to incorporate foot types, lasts and shoes into one perfect blend. If you are looking for the perfect last, you’ll just have to consult the individual manufacturers. I hope this article has made things a bit easier to understand and will help you in the future.

The Ohm from Edelrid – A difference maker

26. April 2018
Equipment

Good news for heavier climbers and lighter belayers: Thanks to Edelrid’s spectacular new device – the OHM – you can go climbing together! But before you do, we thought we’d put the OHM to the test and let you know what it can and can’t do, who it’s suitable for and most importantly what we think! :-) In order to understand what the OHM does, we’ll have to take a little detour into the world of theory, climbing theory that is. More specifically, we’re going to talk about weight and the difference in weight between you and your climbing partner. If the weight difference between you and your partner is too high, not only will lighter belayers have a hard time controlling a fall, but both climbers could be put in extremely dangerous situations.

Weight differences in climbing

If you’ve ever read up on the role of weight in climbing or experienced it yourself, you’ll know how quickly forces can develop in the event of a fall. To find out just how high these are, you can use our calculator for impact force.

The significance of weight led the DAV (German Alpine Club) to release a recommendation for weight differences, specifying which are justifiable and which are not. A study on safety in climbing centres from 2012 has demonstrated that climbers were too heavy for their belayers in 8.5% of the examined cases.

You can calculate the weight differential rather easily:
Weight of climber / weight of belayer = Differential X

Here is an example: There is a weight differential of 1.36 between a climber who weighs 75kg and a belayer who weighs 55kg. This would far exceed the standard put forward by the DAV (German Alpine Club).

Differential0.7 – 0.80.9 – 1.11.2 – 1.3>1.2 – 1.5
Belay deviceTube-styleTube-style or assisted brakingAssisted brakingAssisted braking and sand bags
RecommendationExtremely soft belayIdeal weight ratio, soft belayExperienced climbers onlyExperts only, if at all

As you can see from the example above, there is very little wiggle room when it comes to tolerable weight differentials. There is even less flexibility when it comes to men and women, as the weight difference is often much higher than recommended.

How the Edelrid Ohm works

The Ohm basically replaces the first draw and is clipped into the first bolt instead. In the event of a fall, the Ohm is pulled upward. This leads to the device changing its orientation relative to the rope, resulting in increased friction. The increased friction generates resistance, which progressively slows (but doesn’t abruptly stop) the rope. This results in less force being transferred to the belayer.

The benefits of the Ohm

As was mentioned above, the increased amount of friction reduces the amount of force transferred to the belayer in the event of a fall. This will prevent the belayer being pulled forward so violently toward the wall or the first draw. If you’re using a tube-style device, you’ll need less grip strength to hold a fall.

Climbers who tend to climb with significantly lighter partners often have to climb extra carefully in order to prevent uncontrolled falls. This is rendered completely unnecessary by the power of the Ohm! Since the weight difference is “evened out” or “reduced” by the device, lighter belayers are capable of securing uncontrolled falls as well. That way, the climber won’t have to hold back!

What the Ohm can’t do

Very important: the Ohm is not a belay device and it changes nothing about the DAV’s current standard. If you use the Ohm, you also continue to use 1. your belay device of choice and 2. your head.

This is particularly important when it comes to age differences between climbers. The Ohm reduces significant differences in weight but doesn’t add experience. If you use this device, you still have to belay as always (training) and assume the responsibility for the climber (age). It’s not there for parents to use to go climbing with their underage kids!

The Ohm put to the test

We tested the Ohm in different conditions: Lead climbing indoors and outdoors, top-roping and in a climbing course for kids (supervised belaying).

More comfort and safety for the belayer

Test Edelrid OhmYep, the Ohm makes belaying heavier people not only significantly safer but more comfortable as well. During various scenarios (with various fall heights and weight differences), the Ohm has proven to reduce the amount of force on the belayer. Plus, the rope runs more evenly as well, making belaying much more pleasant. Using a sand bag for extra weight was no longer necessary. Lowering is much easier with the Ohm as well. It actually feels more like a rope running diagonally with increased friction.

In contrast to sand bags, the Ohm allows the belayer to move more freely along the wall, which in turn allows the belayer to adjust his or her position according to the direction of the climber. This will also help you to prevent a fall on the belay rope when climbing near the ground. A big bonus.

More freedom for the climber

The climbers who tested the Ohm all agree that the Ohm adds safety and definitely takes some unnecessary stress off climbers as a result, since they can dedicate all their attention to climbing and not have to worry about falling (as much). This allows climbers to push their limits and take on more difficult routes closer to the ground.

The Ohm and top-roping

Since not all climbing parties top rope, we decided to test the Ohm whilst top roping as well. As expected, the assisted-braking resistor performed flawlessly. The only downside: Because it is installed in the first draw, the belayer cannot change positions as freely as he or she normally could whilst top-rope belaying. This leads to the climber having a rope between him or her and the wall.

The Ohm at the crag

…works just as well as at the climbing centre. Since ropes often don’t run as straight along a rock face as they do indoors, you need to keep in mind that there could be more rope drag as a result. So, the Ohm might not be necessary for all routes.

Handling

Flawless! Yes, the weight does seem a little much in the beginning, but since you only have to carry to the first draw, it’s not that big of an issue. Besides, the weight is necessary so that the Ohm doesn’t fall when the rope is slackened and you lose resistance as a result.

Even when taking slack out the rope, you’ll hardly notice the Ohm. But, after taking a break on the wall, you should make sure that the rope is completely disengaged and the Ohm is underneath the draw. Otherwise, it could get rough. Users of the Grigri2 will be familiar with this. Also, don’t forget to unclip the Ohm. Otherwise it’ll stay hanging on the first draw. And, take the brake rope out first.

Dynamic belaying…

is possible, but this also depends on the weight of the climber, as far we’re concerned. The lighter the climber (less than 80kg), the more the belayer has to actively belay in order to make a somewhat dynamic fall possible. If you fancy soft belays, you may have to lower your expectations or use a tube-style device.

The Ohm and kids

Kids of the same age can vary in weight, so we thought it would be a good idea to try to use the Ohm in a climbing course for top-roping (supervised, with a back-up belayer). With kids, you’ll find that the weight differential goes up to as much as 1.3. Unfortunately, the Ohm couldn’t help here. Since children rarely weigh more than 65kg, dynamic falls are hardly possible. So, due to the conditions described above, using the Ohm is basically out of the question.

Test results

In sum, the Ohm is an incredibly innovative idea that tackles a common issue in climbing. It’s surprising that it took so long for somebody to come up with a device with the aim of solving the problem associated with the weight differences between climbers and belayers. After all, there are so many climbing parties that can either climb in completely empty climbing centres only or climbing exclusively indoors. Who would want to take a sand bag to the crag anyway? Don’t even get me started on alpine climbing.

Does the Ohm make sense?

In our opinion: Yes! Of course, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices (dynamic belaying, weight, top-roping), but when you consider the fact that you’ll be able to climb with people you could’ve never dreamed of climbing with before, the number of downsides pale in comparison to the huge benefits the Ohm provides: convenience and safety. All in all, a spectacular innovation that should’ve been here a long time ago!

When is the Ohm being released?

Well, it’s already out! Head over to our shop and check it out! If you just can’t get enough of Edelrid, check out the new collection!

Beeswax – A natural miracle worker

26. April 2018
Equipment, Tips and Tricks

Have you ever heard of Maya the Bee? That cute little bee that first appeared in a book by the German writer Waldemar Bonsels? In the book, she spends her days going on thrilling adventures with her goofy pal Willy, which makes for a great story but isn’t really true to life. In fact, her everyday existence would be quite a bit different in real life. Maya would fly from flower to flower, collecting pollen and secreting a mixture of mainly esters of fatty acids and various long-chain alcohols. Boring, isn’t it? Not at all! That’s how we get beeswax!

So far so good? No? Ok, you’re probably asking yourself what all that has to do with being outdoors, right? You’d be surprised, but it actually has quite a bit to do with it. Beeswax happens to be an essential ingredient in several care products for both walking boots and skin care. Wax is even used in foods as a release agent and glazing agent. Pretty versatile stuff. In this short post, I’d like to show you everything beeswax has to offer us outdoorsy folk. So, keep reading – it’s worth it- and not just for the fans of Maya the Bee!

Properties and areas of use

As was mentioned before, the beeswax we all know is a secretion from worker bee’s wax glands. It’s always white when it is first secreted. It turns yellow as a result of the incorporation of pollen oils from pollen. This contains carotene, a pigment that also gives pumpkins and carrots their colour. By the way, pollen oil is also what gives beeswax its unique and sweet smell. Ok. Enough of that. Let’s talk about how useful this stuff is.

In the outdoor industry, beeswax is most commonly used as an ingredient in shoe care products. Beeswax-based shoe care is a natural way to care for leather walking and mountaineering boots. It is necessary because it gives the leather something it loses over time – moisture. As you’ve probably already witnessed, leather tends to dry up and harden over time, even causing it to tear in some cases. Using beeswax-based shoe care products can remedy this, giving the leather a nice little boost in moisture. Treating the leather with such products on a regular basis will increase the lifespan of your – often very expensive – outdoor shoes. Plus, beeswax-based products also proof the leather, giving the shoes that necessary water-repellent layer.

This brings me to another important benefit for us outdoor enthusiasts: Beeswax can be used to proof outdoor jackets and trousers as well. A beeswax-based treatment can make these garments very water and wind resistant, whilst simultaneously increasing their durability for those tough days outdoors. Usually, these proofers consist of a mixture of beeswax and paraffin, so they’re not at all harmful to your health. Of course, as with anything else, any product pre-treated with beeswax will lose its water-resistant properties over time, but there are plenty of products on the market you can use to reproof your garment. But more on that later.

As an outdoorsmen, you may even find beeswax in skin care products. If you’re thinking, “What? Now, you’re trying sell me outdoor skin cream?”, please just keep reading. Even the roughest and tannest skin needs a little tender love and care! Skin care products with beeswax are specifically designed for climbers with dry and particularly worn skin, meaning skin that is often exposed to the sun and fresh/cold air. Not unlike what beeswax does for leather, special beeswax-based care products gives our skin some of that long-lost moisture back. Plus, these products alleviate the effect of sunburns and accelerate the healing process of chapped lips as well as minor skin lesions. So, as you can imagine, these products are great for those of you who spend all the livelong day climbing limestone and granite.

How do I know if beeswax is in a product?

If you’re worried about buying a product that claims to contain beeswax but doesn’t, you shouldn’t be: All products containing beeswax are labelled accordingly. Of course, there is no official label to date, but oftentimes you’ll find a product with the label “contains real beeswax“. If the product in question doesn’t have such a label, it’s worth taking a quick peek at the ingredients. Even though this may not be as relevant to us outdoor enthusiasts, it’s still worth noting: In the food industry, if beeswax is used as a food additive, it has E-901 designation.

How to care for leather with beeswax and how to reproof garments

As was mentioned above, the outdoor industry usually uses beeswax for shoe care. A beeswax-based shoe polish makes it possible for us to care for our leather shoes in a natural way. The unique properties of the wax not only lubricate the leather but also feed it with essential nutrients. Plus, it does a few other things as well. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Consider the following example: You’ve got your trusty walking boots with countless miles on them, and to be honest, they’ve seen better days. They’re dirty, the leather is brittle and looks worn. So, what do we do? We take a damp cloth to clean them. Once you’ve got rid of the surface dirt and the shoes are somewhat dry, you can apply the beeswax shoe polish. Take a clean cloth and rub a thin layer of the shoe polish onto your shoes using circular motions. The fatty acids in the beeswax cleans the leather in a gentle way. Plus, the beeswax polish will brighten up faded colours as well. Allow the polish to set and voilà – the boots will look as good as new! If you feel that your shoes need a bit more wax after the first layer has set, you can repeat as and when required. If you care for your leather shoes with a beeswax-based care product on a regular basis, you will significantly increase the lifespan of the shoe.
In addition to giving the leather essential nutrients and making the boots look better, beeswax shoe polish also acts as a water repellent. The layer of wax prevents water penetrating into the interior, forcing rain to simply bead up and roll off the outside. In other words, you can forget about those expensive leather spray-on proofers.

If you notice that your jacket (or trousers), which had been pre-treated with beeswax, is starting to lose its water-repellent properties, it’s time to reproof it. To do this, you can use something like the Greenland Wax from Fjällräven. This is basically a block of paraffin and beeswax. Take the garment in question and rub the wax block evenly onto the fabric. And, don’t be afraid to apply a little bit more to the high-wear areas, such as the shoulders of your jackets or the knees of your trousers. Now, the wax just has to be melted. You can do this by using a hair dryer or an old iron. Once you’ve heated up the wax, it will turn to liquid and be absorbed into the fabric. Once the wax has been absorbed evenly into the fabric and dried, you can take your jacket or trousers out for their next adventure!

As you can see, beeswax is much more than the stuff swimming around in your honey or what people use for candles. It is a natural product with very useful properties for the outdoor industry and beyond. And it all came from Maya the Bee’s wax glands.

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

Polyester: a fibre with a wide range of applications

Polyester: a fibre with a wide range of applications

26. April 2018
Equipment

Polyester is used very frequently, especially in sportswear. This synthetic fibre boasts such a large variety of positive characteristics for virtually any application that it is now absolutely essential to the sports industry. The fibre is used again and again for apparel in both cycling and mountain sports.

And, it doesn’t make any difference whether the clothes are made for warm or cold weather. Due to the way in which the clothing is made, apparel constructed completely or partly from polyester usually does precisely what you expect it to do.

Polyester transports moisture

As already mentioned, polyester is often used for sportswear, irrespective of the sport. After all, athletes all want the same thing: They want a fabric that doesn’t make them sweat, that keeps moisture away from the body and keeps them warm in chilly weather without making them overheat.

In contrast to cotton, polyester has a low absorbency, so sweat resulting from intense physical activity is automatically drawn away to the outside. This means that there is no build up of moisture on the interior of the sportswear, eliminating the risk of you cooling down too much after exercise or in windy conditions. The moisture remains on the surface of the fabric where it simply evaporates.

Since polyester doesn’t absorb sweat but instead moves it away from the body, harmful bacteria cannot even begin to form. So, you’ll be able to prevent the dreaded smell of sweat forming in the first place! And, if the garment is washed on a regular basis, then it’ll be particularly hygienic!

Another advantage, which also has to do with moisture, is that polyester dries very quickly. After a hard run, exhausting ascent or tough training session, your polyester shirt or trousers will dry in a flash! This also means that after you’ve washed them, they’ll be dry and ready to go in no time at all. Plus, you usually don’t even have to iron it for it to look good! What a deal! Yep, it’s true: Polyester hardly wrinkles!

Polyester will keep you warm when it’s cold

Apart from being used for moisture-wicking jerseys and sport bottoms, the synthetic fibre is also used for lining or insulation because of its insulating effect. You’ll find it as linings in winter jackets and sleeping bags. These fibres are now even used for tents and outdoor blankets as well. In sum, when you combine the insulating and moisture-resistant properties of polyester, you get a textbook example of a solid outdoor fabric. This fibre keeps mountaineers, hill walkers and expedition-goers protected at all times, allowing them to achieve their goals without being held back by the elements.

Of course, in order for polyester to have an insulating effect, it needs our body heat. Like with neoprene, a warm, protective layer forms between your body and the garment. Cold air from the outside hardly comes into contact with the body. This characteristic is also obviously crucial for blankets and sleeping bags, as it’ll help to prevent you suffering from hypothermia when sleeping in the mountains or bivouacking.

The downsides of polyester

Like with any fibre, there are several upsides to polyester but a few downsides as well. The biggest downside is probably that many people are allergic to it. Cotton seems to be much easier for people to take than polyester. Like with sheep’s wool, polyester can cause your skin to itch and redden. Fortunately, most athletes are familiar with the allergy and steer clear of polyester if necessary.

Other uses of polyester

Apart from being used for clothing, polyester is also used in other applications. You’ll find it in the form of a thermoset as in hard plastic objects. In fact, there are several plastic parts in the sports industry that are made from polyesters, such as sports equipment. As you can see, it’s a material with a very broad range of applications.

Polyester is also used for fibreglass. This material is extremely strong and stiff. That’s why, it’s often used for manufacturing sports equipment and other sportsproducts, all of which need to be extremely robust, durable and light. Fibreglass is so strong that it is often used for building boats and even appears in helmets, (archery) bows and many other objects.

As a result of its versatility, polyester is a material that has an incredibly wide range of applications. However, despite all of its excellent properties, it is often perceived as a cheap, low-quality alternative to other higher-quality fibres. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Polyester is used for almost every professional athlete’s jersey, racing suit and piece of sports equipment.

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.

The North Face's Thermoball: An alternative to down?

The North Face’s Thermoball: An alternative to down?

26. April 2018
Equipment

Thermoball? Warmth + ball? What the deuce is that supposed to be? What do these two words have to do with each other?

Well, hidden behind this interesting combination of words is a new and innovative insulation technology developed by The North Face in collaboration with Primaloft. The North Face is surely a term you’re familiar with. You know, the American brand that combines innovation and adventure with loads of style? Yep, that’s The North Face. PrimaLoft, on the other hand, is a brand of thermal insulation material developed for apparel.

The aim of this development was to imitate the positive characteristics of down insulation with the help of synthetic fibres whilst simultaneously eliminating down’s negative properties and the usual synthetic fibres available on the market today. In the following, we’d like to introduce you to this new technology and tell what it can and can’t do.

A jacket for every adventure

When you’re in the great outdoors, you’re constantly exposed to different weather conditions. Sun, wind, rain, cold, fog, ice, snow and that’s just a few of the mighty weapons Mother Nature can throw at you. There are so many other beautiful and not-so-beautiful combinations as well.

If you ever asked outdoor enthusiasts about their dream jacket, they would probably say, “One that is packable, quick-drying, warm, breathable, waterproof or water repellent at the very least. It should breathe when you sweat and insulate when you’re more relaxed. Oh, and it should look good, too.” A jacket that keeps you warm when you’re relaxed and stops insulating when you move? Sounds a lot like that milk-giving wool-pig the Germans are always talking about.

Anyway, The North Face has developed a new insulation material that doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, but still manages to combine the positive properties of down and synthetic fibres. They’ve created an insulation technology that broadens the areas of use for insulated jackets significantly.

Thermoball is very versatile, so it can be used in a variety of ways: either as an insulated jacket (meaning a layer underneath your hardshell jacket) or as your outer layer in dry conditions. Thermoball can also be used as padding and fixed directly under your hardshell, thereby eliminating the need for an additional layer.

The North Face sees Thermoball as a single-jacket solution for any adventure. By this they mean that, because Thermoball has such excellent properties, it is extremely versatile. Whenever you need breathability, insulation and flexibility, as you would while hill walking, trekking or trail running, Thermoball is a great choice.

Warmth with none of the disadvantages of down

The advantage Thermoball products have over down lies in their ability to insulate when wet and dry much more quickly. And the disadvantages? There are supposedly none to speak of.

Now for some specs: The insulation provided by Thermoball is supposed to be comparable to that of 600 cuin goose down insulation. But, what does 600 cuin even mean? This unit refers to the so-called fill power of down. It measures how much of one cubic inch is occupied by 27.3 grams or one ounce of down. The higher this value is, the higher the thermal insulation relative to its pack size. Obviously, you want high thermal insulation, but I’m sure none of you want to lug around an extremely thick jacket or huge sleeping bag, unless you were on an expedition in Antarctica. In other words, the magic recipe is good thermal insulation and a small pack size.

For the animal lovers among you, synthetic fibres have the additional plus that they’re not made from animal products and can thus be used without a guilty conscience. Well, let me take that back. Our eco-friendly friends out there will be disappointed to hear that Thermoball is not a natural fibre and thus not biodegradable.

Thermoball technology

Where Thermo comes from is obvious, but what about ball? Well, Thermoball insulation consists of small, round synthetic fibre clusters or balls that have the positive characteristics of goose down. Thermoball is fluffy and very packable. Regardless of the insulation material – be it down or Thermoball, the thing that keeps you warm is the air. The air between the Thermoballs is heated up by the body and trapped by the balls. The result is a warm air cushion around your body.

Unlike standard synthetic fibres, Thermoballs don’t stick together, so you’ll get more joy out of the product for a longer period. You can even wash Thermoball every now and again and nothing will happen!

We hope that the Thermoball technology is as good as TNF claims it to be! We’re looking forward to hearing about your own experiences.

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.

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A buyer's guide to approach shoes

A buyer’s guide to approach shoes

8. Dezember 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.

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