All posts on this topic ‘Equipment’

Northern Playground – “Drop your Trousers” in Norwegian

24. July 2019
Equipment

As the saying goes, “men are often just big boys”, and it’s just a fact that boys often go running to their mothers for help when certain incidents happen at the playground. After all, Mummy is always there, and she knows what to do. Clothing tips from Mum are often unappreciated, but nonetheless they influence practically every generation in their own special way. So it’s no wonder that even big boys often seek advice from these free, ever-changing offline encyclopaedias. When it comes to choosing the right underwear, that’s certainly a little weird, but Northern Playground’s story shows how it can lead to real success.

But what exactly is Northern Playground? It has nothing at all to do with a playground in Trondheim, Oslo, or Stockholm; it’s an up-and-coming manufacturer of innovative and functional outdoor clothing. What exactly it all has to do with (little) boys and their mothers will be explained in this article.

So let’s get started by asking the question:

Who or what is Northern Playground?

Northern Playground is a relatively young company that was founded in 2012 in Oslo, Norway. The story of the company’s founding is as logical as it is weird. Founder Jo Tobiassen has been an outdoor sports enthusiast for as long as he can remember. He’s particularly fond of ski touring and mountaineering, but it was important to him not to miss out on experiencing nature and enjoying a certain amount of comfort in the process. However, as we all know, this can be difficult when you’re sitting in sweaty clothes at the summit of a mountain, unable to enjoy the view or your lunch because you’re freezing your socks off. This problem – and its solution – is basically the company’s core competence and its founding myth in one.

That’s because Jo’s path took him from the cold, wet experience in the mountains straight home to his telephone. He needed his mum’s advice! And look at that! After a brief stint at the sewing machine, they had designed a piece of clothing that looked like a cross between one-piece pyjamas and a super-hero costume without a cape. Even if the designer piece looked a little unusual, it still laid the foundation for a new type of outdoor clothing: base layers that can be taken off on the move without having to take off your jumper, shoes, or even your overtrousers.

They quickly found a suitable partner: Magnus Aasrum, who – staying true to the motto “bare it all” – was intrigued by the idea of innovative outdoor undergarments. After a little self-experimentation with sewing clothes and wearing women’s undergarments, they were finally ready. Northern Playground launched its first collection in 2012.

OK, so we’ve cleared that up. But…

What makes Northern Playground different from other brands?

What sets them apart are the products that started it all: long underwear with zips on the sides designed for skiing, which Northern Playground refers to as Ziplongs. The thought behind it is as easy as it is simple: If you work up a sweat when trudging up a long, steep ascent, some of your clothing is bound to get wet. And, the breathability and quick-drying properties of even the best functional fabrics can fail in such situations, depending on how they are combined with other clothing and how much the wearer sweats. In the worst-case scenario, you could find yourself hanging out at the summit in wet clothes, only to be freezing moments later. Imagine trying to take in the panoramic view or enjoy your lunch or even the peace and quiet in that condition. Impossible!

This is exactly where the Zip Wear Collection comes in. These are basically long johns with a zip on the side. “Boring”, some of you are probably thinking. But the idea behind it is just as clever as it is simple: sweat helps regulate the body’s temperature by allowing water to evaporate off the skin. When we exert ourselves, our body temperature should theoretically increase; we get warm. We sweat to regulate our temperature. Ideally, sweat should be free to evaporate so that the resulting cooling effect can bring the body temperature down or keep it constant. When you’re naked, that works perfectly.

But in combination with (functional) clothing, things get trickier. When other factors such as sunlight, wind and precipitation come into play, the interplay of individual layers – and, subsequently, their breathability – can suffer considerably. The result: sweat gathers in certain areas of the clothing, if not in all of it, and continues to evaporate even after the cooling effect is no longer needed.

A simple solution: The wet clothes have to come off. And that’s exactly where the Zip Wear Collection from Northern Playground comes in. These are essentially long johns that have a zip on the side. That makes it possible for you to take off even something as seemingly inconvenient as long johns whilst you’re adventuring without having to completely strip.

And the material leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. With everything from synthetic fibres to merino wool, Northern Playground uses all the right fabrics to create comfortable and functional outdoor clothing.

But now… drop your trousers! In the truest sense, because…

But how sustainable is Northern Playground?

According to their own 12-point system, Northern Playground describes their sustainability concept as follows:

  1. Northern Playground is based in Norway. To keep production as close to the sales market as possible while keeping production costs low, the garments are manufactured in Lithuania.
  2. Recycled materials are used whenever possible.
  3. All articles of clothing are packaged in cardboard boxes; no plastic is used.
  4. The products are produced with no “expiration date” or any “predetermined breaking points” and can be used for a long time.
  5. The high quality of the clothing and the materials used ensure a long usage life. This isn’t about “fast fashion” – it’s about products that the wearer should enjoy for a long time to come.
  6. The wool they use is produced without using mulesing or superwash.
  7. There are various collections with organic wool and organic silk.
  8. Select products are produced right in Toyen, Oslo .
  9. Northern Playground is also politically active in the field of environmental protection in industry. For example, the company is calling for the introduction of an environmental tax in Norway.
  10. Utenos in Lithuania is the most important producer for their collections. The majority of Northern Playground products are manufactured there. Utenos is very aware of its responsibility towards the environment and fulfils strict requirements.
  11. To think and work “green” is one of Northern Playground’s most important guiding principles.
  12. Honesty and openness are its defining values, so it’s not at all uncommon for them to give customers a look behind the scenes.

Basically, everything at Northern Playground has something to do with sustainability, environmental protection and openness. This also includes their cooperation with the Norwegian development fund “Utviklingsfondet”, which is active in development and environmental work. Among other things, they are attempting to compensate for the company’s carbon footprint as much as possible with tree-planting projects in Africa.

But that’s enough about environmental activism for today!

So what about their products?

Northern Playground’s product line can be roughly divided into two main areas: “The Zip Wear Collection”, which is mostly (ski) undergarments with strategically placed zips, and “The Organic Collection”, which consists of clothes made from organic wool and organic silk.

The Zip Wear Collection

We’ve already described the idea behind the clothing with side zips above. Now, we’d like to go into more detail about the products they actually have.

Thermal bottoms in various lengths

The most innovative products from Northern Playground are the thermal bottoms with side zips. They are available in long, short and three-quarter length, so they can be used for a wide variety of activities. They also offer bottoms with a padded seat.

Jumper with front zip

Jumpers with a half-length zip are absolute basics, so it’ll come as no surprise that Northern Playground has some in its collection. The material used for these garments is a blend of wool and synthetic fibres, which combines functionality and comfort to perfection.

One-piece

The Zipbody is a practical one-piece with long sleeves and short legs. This makes it particularly well-suited for (ski) tours and other alpine activities. A long zip around the back means it can be taken off easily on the go without needing to completely strip down.

Underwear

What is there to say about underwear, really? It’s just underpants und sports bras. The difference here is that these garments have a strategically placed zip that allows them to be taken off quickly when you’re on the move.

The Organic Collection

A second major category is the organic collection. According to the manufacturer, only high-quality natural materials are used. Let’s take a look:

Underwear

From long johns to bras, Northern Playground offers everything that belongs in a respectable underwear collection. What makes their products stand apart from the rest is the material. All garments are made from a blend of organic wool and organic silk that is very comfortable to wear.

Shirts

The second major part of the collection is the t-shirts and long-sleeved shirts. These are also made of a blend of wool and silk. What makes them special? The long-sleeved shirts are also available with a button placket and as hoodies.

Accessories

Aside from the two major product lines, Northern Playground also has some pretty cool accessories. From tube scarfs to ski socks, they offer a variety of products that are comfortable, practical and stylish.

What else is there to say about Northern Playground?

The products from Northern Playground are rather unique not just because of their excellent quality and comfortable materials. The modern design and clever concepts behind the individual pieces make them a must-have for the great outdoors. Ziplongs, long-sleeved shirts, etc. are just the ticket for anyone who spends a great deal of time outdoors and would rather not freeze. The company’s philosophy of transparency and their active contributions to sustainability add the finishing touches to Northern Playground’s image and make the brand one of the small but mighty clothing manufacturers of the far north.

S.Café – Coffee You Can Wear

26. June 2019
Equipment

Coffee is slowly turning into one of our most talked-about topics. First, we had the long article about brewing a good cup of coffee in the great outdoors, then we delved into the topic of the revolutionary shoe innovation to solve the irritating problem of coffee-to-go stains on your trainers. And now, fabric made from coffee grounds has arrived on the scene.

Of coffee grounds? Yep, it’s technically possible, and the clothing created using this technology even has some extra inherent functionality. Upon hearing this, a lot of questions come to mind: Can you use the stuff to brew a life-saving cup of coffee when you’re about to die of exhaustion in the mountains? Can you tell your fortune with S.Café clothes? No, unfortunately the coffee clothing can’t do any of that. But we’ll tell you more about what it can do in just a minute. First, we’ll take a look at the idea behind the brand S.Café and how it came to be.

You’re probably thinking the idea came from California or Scandinavia, as is so often the case with functional clothing. Well, sorry to disappoint! This time round, the nerdy outdoor innovation came from the Far East – from Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, to be precise.

The idea behind the material made of coffee grounds

So, why is this new textile wonder made of coffee grounds and not banana peels or tea bags? Because Jason Chen, CEO of the company Singtex, and his wife Mei-hui had their stroke of genius in a coffee bar. They watched curiously as an older lady asked the barista to give her the coffee grounds. In response to the couple’s inquisitive look, the barista explained that coffee grounds are good for removing odours from the refrigerator. In other words, the odour-reducing properties of coffee grounds were already known.

Chen’s wife then made the joking suggestion that he should use coffee grounds in his textiles to get rid of the smell of sweat after his frequent marathon training sessions. According to legend, Jason thought for moment, turned to his wife, and said loudly: “GOOD IDEA!” So it was Mei-hui’s idea and Jason’s implementation that were born here.

The idea came at just the right time and was patented before Chen even knew how he was going to get the coffee into the textiles. Singtex had already invented multiple new processes and fibres, but these were usually quickly copied by competitors on the Chinese mainland and offered at a lower price. For this reason, they were on the brink of bankruptcy and didn’t want to repeat the same mistake.

How it came to be and how it was developed

Chen put together a group of partners and began researching how coffee grounds could be incorporated into threads. Implementing the seemingly simple idea took four years of research and hard work. In 2009, it was finally time to present their invention to the world under the brand name S.Café.

They quickly gained success, and demand for S.Café rapidly increased. In Taipei, a whole network of partnerships with Starbucks and local cafes took shape, allowing the used coffee grounds to be collected systematically. At this point, a large number of vehicles were roaming the streets, collecting around half a ton of coffee grounds each day throughout Taipei. The other material used in the garments – polyester – is also obtained from a sustainable system of primarily local waste: recycled PET bottles.

Further developments

Shortly after the launch in 2009, Singtex had developed undergarments, sheets, shoes, and a growing assortment of additional products made from S.Café. They also developed other variations on the material itself, known as P4Dry and Mylithe. These were made with new configurations of polymers and coffee grounds in order to offer other specific features. Mylithe uses an “air-structure” technique to give the fabric a cotton-like feel – without losing the original S.Café properties.

And since Jason Chen is an innovative and hard-working CEO, they naturally developed new applications and areas of business. The growing popularity of S.Café is driven by constantly expanding international collaborations with an ever-growing number of leading textile companies like Timberland, American Eagle, The North Face and Puma. But all this growth shouldn’t come at the expense of the environment, even in the future, which is why Singtex continues to strive for certifications, such as bluesign, Oekotex and Cradle to Cradle that guarantee their compliance with high standards.

Production

The first step in the manufacturing process takes place at roasting facilities and coffee bars. The beans not only need to be roasted at temperatures between 160 and 220°C but also need to be pulverised and brewed so that they can be formed into fabric along with the polymers from the old PET bottles.

During the roasting process, the coffee beans swell, which means that their interiors become larger. When the coffee is brewed, the hot water removes material from the resulting hollow spaces. After the grounds are “prepared” in this way, they can be used to obtain the extract, which is incorporated into the plastic filaments in a low-temperature, high-pressure process. Afterwards, it is formed into a thread that combines the properties of the source materials.

Only about 2% useable coffee extract remains after the extraction process, but all in all that isn’t such a bad yield. According to Chen, the remains from a cup of coffee are sufficient for around two to three t-shirts.

The material’s properties

It’s mostly the properties of the coffee grounds that really come to the fore in the final product. The micro-pores in the coffee absorb odours, reflect UV radiation and dry twice as quickly as cotton. S.Café fabric continuously moves moisture away from the skin and distributes it on the outer surface of the material, where it can quickly evaporate. The evaporation helps to reduce the skin’s temperature by 1 to 2°C compared to traditional fabrics – which is enough to make a noticeable difference.

Together, all these properties create a more comfortable, more natural-feeling fabric compared to traditional synthetic fibres.

Because the coffee components are found in the interior of the S.Café fibres, there is no need to be concerned about a decrease in functionality. It is capable of withstanding normal machine washes without any issues and lasts just as long as the properties in other functional textiles.

All this makes S.Café interesting for both outdoor apparel and sportswear and several other applications, including everyday household items.

Sustainability

Of course, Singtex has woven a philosophy of sustainability around its flagship product. But this isn’t an artificial PR product; it’s a natural expression of their way of doing business. The cycle of sustainability is clearly recognisable: the otherwise unsustainable effects of coffee culture are (in part) transferred to a sustainable system. The waste products resulting from people around the world leading urban lifestyles and drinking increasingly more coffee are used to create a useful product. And it turns out that, in this system, a great many more hidden products and technologies are waiting to be uncovered.

The fact that clothes made from S.Café can be composted when they have reached the end of their useable lifespan fits into this exquisitely simple concept perfectly. If the rest were then used in the production of coffee, a full lifecycle would be complete.

Conclusion

The catchy marketing slogan for S.Café is: „Drink it, wear it“. It’s memorable and a great way to summarise the entire company’s philosophy. Their enthusiasm for coffee drinking is understandable in this context as well. After all, without all the hard-working coffee drinkers, the coffee grounds would end up being an expensive material as opposed to recycled waste.

But we probably shouldn’t take the encouragement to drink (even more) coffee all too literally. “Meritocracies” are already driven by more than enough coffee, and Singtex has no cause for concern about running out of grounds to use. Besides, caffeine tends to make our personal performance go down rather than up in the long-term. So, consider taking a nap a little more often, instead of downing the next double espresso. Of course, that’s easier said than done – we’re all short on time and just taking a rest is an almost subversive act. But I’m starting to ramble and get off-topic. Although… I AM still talking about coffee, right?

Aramid/Kevlar: A Super Material for the Outdoors?

28. February 2019
Equipment

A lightweight, cut and puncture-resistant fabric that is used for bulletproof vests, heat-resistant uniforms or even aircraft construction. Yeah, at first glance, aramid, otherwise known by the brand name Kevlar, seems much more suitable for superhero costumes than for outdoor sports. But the properties of this very special fabric come in extremely useful in a variety of outdoor products, including gloves, trousers, helmets, backpacks and cordage. In other words, it’s definitely worth taking a closer look at aramid and how it can benefit us mountain and outdoor athletes.

What is aramid?

In a nutshell, aramid is a kind of polyamide and thus another one of the numerous hydrocarbon or petroleum-based polymers. On Wikipedia, the definition is a bit more precise, but more complex:

Aramid fibers are a class of heat-resistant and strong synthetic fibers. […] The name is a portmanteau of ‘aromatic polyamide’. The chain molecules in the fibers are highly oriented along the fiber axis. As a result, a higher proportion of the chemical bond contributes more to fiber strength than in many other synthetic fibers. Aramides have a very high melting point (>500 °C).

Why is it called an “aromatic polyamide”? Good question! This group of substances (at least in parts) actually releases intense (scented) aromas, which are often perceived as pleasant. As interesting as this may be, we’re much less interested in the smell than we are in the material’s functional properties.

But before we get to the most interesting and relevant ones, here is some more information on the development of the material: In the mid sixties, the American DuPont Group conducted quite a bit of research on the practical use of aramids. In the process, they developed the best-known kind of aramid Kevlar and made it ready for commercial use. Kevlar is presumably the only trade name you as an outdoor enthusiast have ever heard, seeing as this aramid fibre is often used in outdoor and mountaineering products. Actually, Kevlar is the only aramid fibre found in this area, which is why we’ll focus primarily on it and leave aramid products, like Nomex, Teijinconex, Twaron or Technora to fire fighters, soldiers and astronauts…

Production

The production of aramids is diverse and complex, to say the least. They are produced more often as fibres than as films. In the complex world of fibre science, a distinction is made between low-modulus and high-modulus fibres, the functional properties of which differ somewhat from one another.

High modulus fibres are spun from a liquid crytalline solution of poly-paraphenylene terephtahalamide in concentrated sulphuric acid. After the surface treatment, high-modules fibres are mechanically stretched to yield a highly oriented polymer. The “high degree of orientation” makes for a clean-looking pattern. The exact geometry is just as characteristic of aramid as the golden yellow colour, which brings us to the properties of aramid.

Properties

In their own description of their Kevlar product, DuPont emphasises that these fibres are “better, stronger and safer” in the great outdoors: “DuPont™ Kevlar® aramid fiber allows people to Dare Bigger. It’s used to make a variety of clothing, accessories, and equipment safe and cut resistant. It’s lightweight, durable and extraordinarily strong. Yes, it’s best known for its use in ballistic and stab-resistant body armor, as Kevlar® brand aramid fiber continues to evolve and allow heroes to be heroes. But it’s also on the ski slopes, the switchback trails, in demanding desert terrain, even the outer limits of space.

The wide range of applications is due to the fibre’s high (tensile) strength, high impact resistance, medium to low elongation, the good vibration-dampening properties and heat resistance. Instead of melting, the fibres begin to carbonise at about 400°C. Neither solvents, fuels, lubricants, salt water, fungi or bacteria can do much harm to aramid fibres. They are only sensitive to some strong acids and alkalis. In other words, aramid is very tough.

When it comes to compressive strength, however, aramid fabrics are more middle of the pack and fairly poor in terms of UV resistance and water absorption (up to 7%). UV radiation leads to the fibre losing up to 75% of its strength. However, this can be counteracted relatively easily by means of UV-absorbing coatings or laminates. In general, aramid can be easily combined with other fabrics, which means that its functionality can be optimised and expanded in many different ways.

Applications

The unique properties of aramid make it ideal for a wide range of applications, including construction and industry applications. The sports and outdoor industry love the material for its toughness, tensile strength and low weight. Aramid fibres are used for cords, paragliding lines, sails, bicycle tyres and more.

The Kevlar elements in textiles serve primarily as reinforcements that protect the body and increase the lifespan of garments. The Kevlar reinforcements are particularly popular in cycling, motorcycle and motorsports apparel as well as in high-wear areas of outdoor trousers and backpacks. Kevlar stitching is used in ski and via ferrata gloves as well.

Because the material is so tough, there is a certain amount of stiffness to it. This can definitely be a plus, but there are some downsides to it as well, especially in the outdoors. This is illustrated by the example of the relatively new Kevlar cords, which are also available as sewn cord slings in various sizes. The core is made of aramid, while the sheath is made of polyamide, as is the case with “normal” cords and ropes. The aramid core is brownish in colour, so it’s easy to distinguish from the conventional, dazzling white polyethylene core of your usual cord, rope and webbing material.

The 5/2014 issue of the German-language DAV Panorama magazine highlighted the high strength and high cut resistance of the material as some of the main advantages. Plus, the material is not only very abrasion and heat resistant, but it also boasts a tensile strength far greater than that of polyamide cords. Kevlar cords also offer a much higher breaking strength than conventional accessory cords with the same diameter.

As a disadvantage, Panorama magazine points to the greater amount of sheath slip shown by Kevlar cords when compared to pure polyamide. They also point out that the quasi-static material is not to be used in dynamic belays for leaders.

Because of its lack of elasticity (more precisely: low elongation to break), Kevlar is not suitable for dynamic ropes. But, the material’s stiffness really comes in useful for rock tunnels or rappelling off an Abalakov set up.

Conclusion

When it comes to strength, durability, longevity and safety, there’s hardly a material better than Aramid/Kevlar. Its properties can be extremely useful in certain outdoor situations but less so in others. It doesn’t have as many applications in the outdoor industry as it has in cycling and motorsports, occupational health and safety and other areas, but it’s still quite useful!

Gore Thermium® – Warm and windproof

23. October 2018
Equipment

Warm functional clothing for winter athletes is usually filled with down or synthetic insulation. However, for functional winter clothing to be able to provide optimum warmth, the material has to act as a shield against wind and snow. Otherwise, the insulation wouldn’t stay dry, resulting in your body temperature dropping.

GORE’s answer to this challenge is GORE THERMIUM®. The special construction of this laminate guarantees complete windproof protection and a high level of breathability. It keeps the interior dry and provides sufficient weather protection from light rains, snow and wet conditions. Thus, outdoor clothing engineered with GORE THERMIUM® technology is best suited for winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, winter hikes and snowshoeing.

The membrane is positioned directly over the garment’s insulation

In contrast to other GORE-TEX® products, the winter jackets engineered with GORE THERMIUM® are less focussed on having a completely waterproof outer shell. Rather, these products are designed to provide windproof protection and keep the insulating layer dry in order to ensure optimum warmth. The GORE THERMIUM® membrane is situated between the water-resistant outer fabric and the insulating layer. As you can see, on the inside of a garment with GORE THERMIUM®, there’s a soft lining as well, which makes it incredibly comfortable to wear.

For additional protection, GORE applies a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) to the face fabric of their garments. This forces water droplets, snowflakes and particles of dirt to simply bead up and roll off the surface of the fabric. This construction ensures that the down and/or synthetic insulation remains protected from snow and water.

The perfect balance between breathability and insulation

When skiing and snowboarding, it’s not at all rare to alternate between intense physical exertion and resting phases. Because it is absolutely essential for you to maintain a balanced temperature during both of these phases, GORE THERMIUM® products offer maximum breathability. This means that the moisture that accumulates during physical activity has the ability to escape via your functional underwear through all the jacket and trouser layers to the outside.

Depending on the area of use, outdoor clothing manufacturers use GORE THERMIUM® in conjunction with different insulation materials (down, synthetic fibres or wool). For this reason, you can’t expect the insulation performance of garments with GORE THERMIUM® to always be the same. However, all insulation materials are chosen specifically for physical activities in the wintertime, as well as colder regions and are guaranteed to provide optimum comfort and freedom of movement.

Ideal windproof protection

When the temperature outside is around -12°C and the wind speed is approx. 16 km/h, the temperature can feel like -20°C because of the wind chill factor. Fortunately, with GORE THERMIUM®, this is no longer an issue. It is completely windproof, so it significantly reduces the negative effects of cold winds.

Like GOREWINDSTOPPER® products, GORE THERMIUM® reliably blocks the wind and ensures that the insulating layer can perform to its full potential. That way, you’ll stay warm and dry no matter where you are!

Páramo – An introduction and product review

23. October 2018
Equipment

Everything is covered by low-hanging clouds, it’s raining cats and dogs and I’m really starting to wonder what I am doing here. Oh, right. I’m hiking. Why in the pouring rain, you ask? Well, I’ve got some clothes that I’m dying to try out… They’re from Páramo, a British brand that is still relatively unknown in Germany and first appeared in our shop not too long ago. The most interesting thing about this brand is the material they use. It was developed in collaboration with Nikwax and is called “Nikwax Analogy”.

But, more on that later. In the following, we’re not only going to give you some background info on Páramo, but also provide a nice little review of the clothing we had the pleasure of trying out.

Before we begin, we’d just like to say that our opinions of these products are in no way embellished and are based solely on our personal experiences with the products. Of course, we’ve passed on our review to Páramo as well.

Who or what is Páramo?

Páramo is a British outdoor brand that has been developing, designing and manufacturing clothing for a wide range of outdoor activities, demands and climates since 1992. The company is known for its new, innovative approach to manufacturing clothing that has been driven by ethical and ecological practices since the very beginning – long before the market had even begun to play with the idea of combining functionality and sustainability.

In fact, Páramo has even managed to do without PFCs all this time and produces under fair conditions.

Páramo also has a partnership with the non-profit Miquelina Foundation in Colombia, a foundation for the order “Las Religiosas Adoratrices”. Here, both young and older women who have been freed from the clutches of forced prostitution are trained to work as seamstresses in order to build a free, independent and structured life for themselves.

Today, Páramo has over 80% of their clothing manufactured at the Miquelina Foundation, and all the products in the Directional Analogy series are manufactured there. Of course, all of their other products, which are manufactured in East Asia, are made under fair conditions as well.

Páramo is part of the same group of companies as Nikwax, which is known for washing and textile care products. Together with Nikwax, they developed Analogy technology, which makes the brand quite unique.

How does Nikwax Analogy technology work?

Nikwax Analogy technology is supposed to offer a more effective removal of water than conventional membranes, thanks to something they call ‘directionality’. This is due to the fact that whilst membranes can move small water vapour molecules very quickly to the outside, they often reach their limits when it comes to liquid water and condensation. This results in an accumulation of water and ice forming on the inside of hard shells.

Páramo’s Analogy technology is supposed to prevent exactly that by moving larger amounts of water to the outside at quite a rapid rate. You can see this amazing technology at work in this video:

How is Analogy fabric constructed?

The principle is based on proper layering: Páramo clothing (layers 3 and 4) should be combined with functional underwear (2). The functional underwear absorbs sweat from the surface of the skin (1) and transfers it to the first layer (3) of outer clothing. This keeps the skin dry and the body warm. Sounds familiar, right?

Here’s where things get a bit different. Páramo calls the third layer the “Pump Liner”. Why Pump Liner? Probably because layers 3 and 4 lie loosely on top of each other and are only sewn together at the main seams. When you move, these layers shift towards and away from each other, which “pumps” moist air outwards. The outer layer (4) is made of densely woven, windproof polyester that has been treated with Nikwax for durable water repellence. To ensure it remains effective over time, keep in mind that the water repellent treatment must be reapplied every now and again.

Our first impression

At first, we were a little sceptical. The fabric just didn’t feel like we were expecting it to. It feels so much different than traditional hard shells.

Nikwax Analogy is very soft and flexible and almost feels like those good ol’ silky tracksuits from the 1990s. Remember those? Of course, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does take time to get used to. And, I must say, it made us even more curious to find out how the products would perform.

We really put the clothing through the wringer, testing them while cycling, hiking, freeriding, mountaineering, camping in the winter, in hours of rain, in heavy hailstorms and at temperatures of +8°C as well as at -18°C.

All in all, we can say that we were more than happy with the weather protection provided by the products with the Nikwax Analogy. They kept us completely dry in long, drawn-out rain storms where many other membranes would have probably failed.

Overall, we really enjoyed the functionality of the products, that is, the combination of windproof, waterproof and breathable properties. The two-layer, membrane-free system worked flawlessly and definitely has what it takes to become a major competitor on the market.

Which Páramo products were tested?

The following products were put to the test:

  • Men’s Velez Jacket: a waterproof jacket for general outdoor use
  • Men’s Cascada II Trousers: waterproof walking trousers for the most demanding walker.
  • Men’s Torres Activo: a versatile synthetic jacket that is both windproof and warm designed for winter sports, mountain sports and winter trekking.
  • Men’s Enduro Tour Trousers: These warm trousers are an all-rounder for high mountain activities such as skiing, ski touring and ice climbing.
  • Men’s Enduro Jacket: a waterproof alpine jacket with a light insulating effect. Made for ski touring, mountaineering and alpine climbing.
  • Grid Tecnic Hoodie: A light, fast-drying fleece hoodie with waffle grid zones and integrated hood.

Apart from the Grid Tecnic Hoodie and the Torres Active, all these products are part of the Nikwax Analogy series, so they are windproof and waterproof, but have no membrane and are free of PFCs.

And what do the reviewers think?

Velez Jacket (Jörn):

I have to admit, I was really sceptical of the way the jacket felt at first, with its odd, loose outer… That’s supposed to be durable? Well, let’s slip it on and see. It was a little big, but when is the fit not an issue? Personally, I’d prefer the Velez to fit a little more snugly.

The pockets on this jacket are particularly interesting: It comes equipped with what Páramo refers to as dual phase pockets that work as both vents and pockets. The first zip opens the vent, while the second zip opens the pocket. Pretty nifty. This along with the vents on the upper arm allows you to adjust the ventilation according to your needs. The hood fits comfortably and is easy to adjust. The other drawstrings work perfectly as well.

We’ve already said enough about the material’s functionality, but allow me to say that I am absolutely thrilled with the technology. However, I did feel like the loose layers resulted in more insulation than expected. In other words, you could get too hot, so be sure not to wear too many layers.

Cascada II Trousers (Jörn)

The feel of the Cascada II is similar and the fabric performed just as well as the fabric used for the Velez Jacket. I even sat on a wet bench for a long period of time, and the trousers didn’t mind one bit, and neither did I!

The trousers fit much better than the jacket, and the ventilation options are quite generous thanks to the nearly full-length side zips. When they’re completely unzipped, the buttons hold the trousers together.

I have to admit that I didn’t really think a pair of waterproof trousers was necessary for a hike in the rain with temperatures between 6-8°C. I thought it was a little much. But I was sorely mistaken – the Cascada II delivered in every way. I didn’t even get too hot on the uphills. Granted, I did only have a pair of short underwear on underneath.

Torres Activo (Jörn)

My favourite garment in the Páramo range and a must for cold weather. It’s like it was tailor-made just for me (a bit more athletic than the Velez). Plus, it allows for plenty of freedom of movement. When the cuffs, hood and drawcords are sealed up nice and tight, the jacket keeps you warm and comfortable.

In temperatures around -6°C and a wind that could freeze you stiff, I wore this jacket over a stretch fleece and a long-sleeved merino base layer and felt as comfortable as could be. It’d be nice if the puller on the zip were a bit bigger. They’re not very easy to use with gloves on. The side pockets are perfectly placed, making it easy to access them even when wearing a harness.

Páramo recommends wearing the Torres OVER a waterproof jacket, which may sound strange at first. But, the synthetic fibres have the ability to insulate even when wet, and I reckon it’d be quite a challenge to put on a hard shell over the rather voluminous Torres Activo.

For ski tours, winter hikes or snowshoeing, the Torres Activo is definitely a good choice!

Grid Tecnic Hoodie (Jonas)

What I loved most about this hoodie was its slim fit, low weight and the practical zipped chest pocket. Plus, waffle-like structure not only traps air and provides excellent insulation but also moves water away from your body to keep you comfortable. The large chest pocket is great for storing a smartphone or battery for your camera. Because of the warmth in this area, you’ll notice your battery lasts longer as well.

Another great thing about this slim-fitting hoodie is that the hood fits very well under a climbing helmet – perfect for moderately windy conditions.

The only downside to this hoodie is that there seems to be no odour-inhibiting treatment. True, nobody has ever stunk to death, but the Grid Tecnic Hoodie did reek a bit even after a short period of use.

In sum, we can say that the hoodie is extremely versatile. You can wear it as your first layer, mid-layer or outer layer. It performs best in cool to very cold temperatures and is perfect for those higher-intensity activities that make you sweat.

Enduro Tour Trousers (Jonas)

A warm, weatherproof choice for alpinists that also happens to be pretty versatile. The long leg zips allow for rapid temperature adjustment. With or without functional underwear, the trousers are a viable option for spring ski tours as well as for high mountain activities in temperatures around -20°C.

The trousers not only provide enough freedom of movement for climbing but also fit extremely well thanks to the high back panel and the loop for braces, which are, unfortunately, sold separately, but are still a nice feature.

I was surprised by how soft the Dyneema crampon patches were, and the snow gaiters were almost too small and there was no metal hook to secure them to my laces.

Another downside is the lack of any cords on the zips to make them easier to use with thick gloves on, but this is something that a lot of mountaineering trousers lack. All in all, these trousers are a very comfortable and versatile option for high alpine activities and can be used all year round.

Enduro Jacket (Jonas)

At almost £ 418, the Enduro is one of the more expensive jackets to say the least. In this price range, Páramo is forced to compete with the likes of Arc’teryx and other high-end manufacturers and does well – for the most part. The jacket definitely gets high marks for the functional fabric and great weather protection it provides, even in long, drawn-out rain storms. The pockets are harness-friendly, too.

But it’s not all kitty cats and rainbows, the Enduro Jacket does have some flaws. I found the zip on the inside chest pocket much too small and my field of vision much too narrow when wearing the hood. On the plus side, the hood does fit nicely under a helmet. Weighing in at 780g in size M, the Enduro is certainly not the lightest jacket on the market. And, after only two days of freeriding with an avalanche backpack on, I could see the first signs of pilling around the shoulder and armpits. Páramo will definitely have to do something about that.

Our final thoughts on Páramo

All in all, we were very impressed by Páramo’s products, especially when it came to the weather protection provided by Nikwax Analogy technology. The overall feel of the fabric took some getting used to at the beginning, but those concerns were long gone once we put them on.

We did run into some minor issues with the fit and quality, but this is not at all uncommon in the outdoor industry. We notified Páramo about the pilling we experienced when wearing the Enduro Jacket, and they promised to have a closer look at the issue.

On a more general note, we believe the sustainable and ethically sound production of Páramo products is worth mentioning as well. It has been an integral part of their identity since the very beginning, and there are no signs of that changing any time soon, which we think is a very good thing. The Páramo line up includes base layers, mid-layers and outer layers, so both hill walkers and ambitious mountaineers alike will find exactly what they are looking for at Páramo.

Who were the reviewers?

Jonas (left) works in the content department and takes care of product descriptions. In his spare time, you’ll usually see him up in the mountains either mountaineering, climbing or skiing.

Jörn (right) is in charge of our Base Camp blog and social media channels. So, when he’s not glued to his keyboard or camera, he’s usually out enjoying some kind of endurance or mountain sport or a combination of the two.

HyVent becomes DryVent – What it is and how it works

13. December 2018
Equipment

Regardless of whether you’re hillwalking in the Scottish Highlands or cycling through town in the rain, you’re bound to see The North Face logo somewhere along the way. There are so many people who swear by the Californian clothing brand. But, what is it about these clothes that makes them so popular other than their cool designs? We’re all familiar with the prominent logo inspired by the famous Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, but what about the writing next to it? DryVent, formerly known as HyVent.

What’s that supposed to mean? There has got to be something special about it, right? After all, it’s so popular! Besides, there’s got to be a difference between your everyday TNF jacket and a TNF jacket that you’d wear for climbing the icy cold north face of a mountain.

What exactly is DryVent?

In order to achieve both optimal weather protection and an excellent level of breathability, The North Face utilised a polyurethane (PU) coating called HyVent. This coating was developed by the Californians themselves and is used for a variety of jackets and trousers in order to make them both waterproof and breathable.

This PU coating is also found in the new DryVent technology – namely in the 2-layer and 2.5-layer materials. The coating gives the fabric a microporous and hydrophobic property, making it exceptionally breathable. The term hydrophobic is derived from Ancient Greek and means “lacking an affinity for water”. In other words, water vapour – sweat – can escape, but water in the form of rain can’t get in. This is how a high degree of breathability is achieved that won’t deteriorate over time. The garments are subject to complex tests that they have to pass even after 20 wash cycles. There is also a 3L version equipped with a membrane. We’ll get to what the individual fabrics can do later.

From city goer to alpinist

The advantage of DryVent garments is that no membrane is used (with the exception of the 3L version). This results in a very soft and comfortable garment that you can feel while you’re out and about. The 3-layer version is a bit stiffer but much tougher than the normal coating. In sum, there is a type of DryVent for almost every activity and every kind of user, regardless of whether you’re a beginner, the occasional hillwalker or extreme alpinist!

The different types

In order to use DryVent to its full potential, The North Face utilises different compositions of fabric. They can be divided up into three different combinations for various applications: for everyday wear, for extended treks or for rock and ice climbing.

DryVent 2L

This is a two-layer construction that provides optimal weather protection. The outermost layer is made of a woven fabric, which reliably repels moisture and simultaneously protects from abrasion. An additional DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treatment provides optimal protection against water and moisture so that the fabric doesn’t become saturated.

The inner layer utilises a DryVent PU (polyurethane) coating with micro-pores, which quickly wicks away moisture and keeps rain at bay. The end result is an absolutely waterproof and very comfortable material with a hydrostatic head of 25,000mm. It is perfect for both skiwear and everyday wear. A prime example of this is the Quest Jacket, which is an incredible value for money. DryVent 2L corresponds with what was formerly referred to as HyVent 2L.

DryVent 2.5L

Both breathability and the lowest weight possible were clearly the most important aspects here. The outermost layer is made of a water-repellent fabric, whilst the lower layer has a DryVent PU (polyurethane) coating and channels moisture to the outside through its microporous structure. Plus, it prevents rain or moisture from seeping in.

As a result of their excellent breathability, DryVent 2L garments are great for high-intensity activities such as running or cycling, no matter the weather!

DryVent 3L

Breathability, waterproofness and durability are the hallmarks of the jackets and trousers made with DryVent 3L. A relatively abrasion-resistant layer serves to protect the jacket from damage and keep moisture out of the interior. The middle layer utilises a polyurethane coating with micro-pores, which quickly moves water vapour to the outside. For even more comfort, the 3L materials have a nice inner layer, which has been engineered to provide quick moisture transfer as well.

DryVent 3L garments are perfectly suited for skiing and alpine adventures as well as climbing.

HyVent technologies that have had their day

HyVent DT

The HyVent DT is based on the same principle as the HyVent 3L with the difference that the thickness of the third layer has been significantly reduced. The HyVent DT features a 0.5 skim coat of PU, which always provides a pleasantly dry feeling and eliminates the need of a liner, hence the 2.5L material. Plus, this makes it lighter and results in a significantly smaller pack size than 3-layer materials. Thus, HyVent DT is great for activities involving a lot of movement.

HyVent DT EC

HyVent DT EC makes use of natural castor oil from beans, which reduces the use of synthetic components by 50%, but the result is still quite impressive. The fabric is waterproof, breathable and performs extremely well, even in cold conditions, which makes it perfect for winter sports.

HyVent Alpha

HyVent Alpha was used primarily in the Summit Series Collection by The North Face. The outer shell is very tough and durable. It features a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treatment, so it will not become saturated. The outer fabric is complemented by an second layer, which allows sweat to pass through quickly and efficiently.

A thin liner is the third layer of the HyVent Alpha. It utilises a microporous and hydrophobic lamination technology that also allows sweat and moisture to pass through. This 3-layer combination serves to keep you dry and comfortable. Plus, it is extremely tough and durable. With a hydrostatic head of 30,000mm, it is totally waterproof, making it an excellent option for long and demanding trips in rain, snow and ice.

DryVent - functional material in detailCaring for DryVent

Caring for DryVent garments is pretty straightforward. It is best to use a normal detergent designed for outdoor apparel such as TechWash from Nikwax and use a gentle cycle (no spin cycle). Then line dry the jacket. You can also restore the DWR on the outermost fabric layer by using a spray. If you do, your DryVent clothing will last for countless adventures to come!

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 16/02/2016.

GORE WINDSTOPPER®: Your shield against the wind

26. September 2018
Equipment

Regardless of whether you’re a cyclist, hill walker, climber or mountaineer, there’s one challenge you always have to face: the weather. Snowy, rainy or just outright cold weather is one thing, but strong winds in the mountains are another ball game. If your clothing isn’t up to snuff, it can be disastrous. In fact, even the slightest amount of air permeating your clothing can result in your body temperature dropping quite a bit.

The so-called wind chill factor describes the temperature we feel on our bodies as a result of the combination of temperature and wind speeds. Interestingly enough, the wind speeds don’t have to be incredibly high, either. In fact, lower wind speeds have been shown to affect our perceived temperature so much so that our felt temperature can be as much as 15°C, 20°C or even further below the actual temperature. At higher wind speeds, wind chill rises to a level that is not just unpleasant but dangerous as well because your body cools down so much as a result.

The windproof membrane from GORE-TEX®

Of course, the waterproof GORE-TEX, GORE-TEX Pro or GORE-TEX Active laminates deliver superb windproof protection as well. However, in comparison to the tough functional textiles made of hardshell material, GORE WINDSTOPPER® is not only lighter and more flexible but just as windproof. Admittedly though, the membrane is less effective against rain than the waterproof GORE-TEX membrane.

A garment qualifies as “windproof” when its air permeability does not exceed GORE’s strict windproof standard of 5 l/m²/s. This refers to volume of air that can pass through one square metre of fabric in one second. Then and only then is the functional fabric “windproof”. This is a standard set for all GORE WINDSTOPPER® products – regardless of whether they’re gloves, caps, jumpers or jackets.

Breathability and the GORE WINDSTOPPER® membrane

The GORE WINDSTOPPER® laminate consists of a windproof membrane that is bonded to an outer textile. The membrane is made of PTFE and has a microporous structure, which blocks wind completely but allows water vapour molecules to escape through the pores to the outside, guaranteeing maximum breathability.

Even during high-intensity activities and physically demanding endurance sports, GORE WINDSTOPPER® allows sweat in the form of water vapour to pass through the tiny pores to create the perfect microclimate. In doing so, it prevents the build-up of heat under your clothing and you overheating during physical activity. Thus, the proper combination of GORE WINDSTOPPER® and other layers of clothing not only helps to prevent hypothermia caused by strong winds or headwinds but also reduces the risk of overheating.

Warmth and water resistance

Functional textiles engineered with regular GORE WINDSTOPPER® are available with a variety of outer fabrics. The different fabrics vary in terms of weight, durability and degree of stretchiness. They often come in 2-layer constructions with a loose inner lining or a 3-layer laminate with the membrane bonded to the outer fabric and the lining. The various constructions result in a different feel and insulation performance. However, what all the functional textiles with GORE WINDSTOPPER® have in common is the high level of windproof protection and breathability.

Usually, garments engineered with GORE WINDSTOPPER® are both snow and water repellent. But, it gets better. There are also GORE WINDSTOPPER® products with water resistance for enhanced protection in wet conditions. These are seam-sealed and have been treated with a DWR, which forces water droplets to simply bead up and roll of the fabric instead of getting absorbed by the fabric. In light rains, water-resistant GORE WINDSTOPPER® products will keep you dry for a relatively long time. However, for heavy precipitation, we recommend using GORE-TEX products instead, since GORE WINDSTOPPER® reaches its limits pretty quickly.

In addition to specialised GORE WINDSTOPPER® products for light rain, GORE also creates outdoor clothing with a layer of insulation. The GORE WINDSTOPPER® products with insulation protection combine reliable windproof protection and maximum breathability with warm insulation. This soft, warm synthetic insulation underneath the GORE WINDSTOPPER® membrane prevents overheating during physical activity whilst simultaneously preventing your body temperature from dropping. Since it’s not at all rare to be cold and wet when you’re active in the winter, the GORE WINDSTOPPER® products with insulation protection have also been treated with a DWR to fend off snow and water.

How to transport gas canisters safely and dispose them properly

7. September 2018
Equipment

Besides liquid fuel stoves and alcohol stoves, canister stoves are among the most widespread fuel-burning products for mobile outdoor stoves. The gas canisters are available in different sizes, all of which weigh different amounts. Canisters usually come in sizes as small as 100g, but go up in size to 230g and as much as approximately 450g.

They are usually filled with a liquid mixture of butane and propane. These two types of gases have the advantage that they condense into a liquid when you compress it and will stay that way at low pressure. Thus, the canisters don’t have to withstand high levels of pressure, so the mixture in the cartridges is much safer to transport and handle. The liquid gas used for camping stoves is often identical to the mixture used in lighters.

Screw-on cartridges and puncture/pierceable canisters for camping stoves

Depending on your stove’s design, you can either use pierceable or screw-on gas canisters. Older stoves in particular tend to use pierceable canisters. The seal on the stove ensures that the gas doesn’t leak out unintentionally. The downside to these is that once the canister has been pierced, it may not be removed from the stove until it has been completely used up and emptied.

The screw-on canisters don’t have this problem. Equipped with an integrated valve and thread, this gas canister can be unscrewed from the stove as often as required and screwed back on when you’re ready to cook. Another great thing about the screw-on variant is that it can be disassembled and easily packed for transport in a backpack, on your bike or in your car. Plus, there’s no risk of gas leaking from the canister during transport.

Transporting gas canisters in a car

Usually, you can transport gas canisters in a car without any problems. For safety reasons, however, be sure that the canisters are never exposed to temperatures exceeding 50°C. Since the 50°C limit can be reached rather quickly in a car when it’s hot out, it is better to pack the canisters in the boot to protect them from direct sunlight. If you don’t store your gas canisters directly behind the windscreen, you won’t have to worry about too much exposure to the sun and hot temperatures.

If the canister gets too hot for any reason, it usually starts to expand at the base. However, a gas canister can only become explosive if it’s lying in a fire and is ignited in the process. That being said, gas canisters are very safe and can be used without any hesitation.

For longer trips, it’s definitely better to unscrew them for transport in a car. Even though the canister won’t unscrew itself while you’re driving, gas could leak from the cartridge inside the car if the valve on the stove isn’t closed properly or comes loose on a bumpy road. In other words, it’s better not to take any risks. Simply unscrew the canisters and store them in a cool place away from sunlight.

Transporting gas canisters in an aircraft

Gas canisters are not permitted in your carry-on luggage or your checked baggage. This applies not only to gas canisters but to all other flammable gases and liquids as well. Fuel is an absolute no-no on an aircraft. The only exception is a single (gas) lighter, but this must be carried on your person (it is not permitted in luggage). Petrol and windproof lighters as well as lighter refills for lighters of any kind are prohibited as well.

Fortunately, the rules that apply gas canisters and fuel do not apply to the stoves themselves. Regardless of whether it’s a gas stove, multi-fuel stove or alcohol stove, all outdoor and camping stoves may be carried in checked luggage. However, this only applies if the stove has been emptied of its fuel, cleaned thoroughly and is a free of any residues. This is especially important when it comes to fuel containers, which can still contain flammable vapours. If this is the case, the airline can refuse to transport it. So, be sure to clean everything thoroughly before check-in to avoid running into any problems at the airport.

Availability of gas canisters at your destination

Gas canisters for outdoor stoves are not available in all regions of the world. Sometimes there are no pierceable canisters, sometimes no screw-on canisters. In fact, it’s not unlikely to find no gas canisters at all. So, depending on your destination, think about availability in advance and consider using a multi-fuel or petrol stove. If screw-on cartridges are available, they’re a great option because of the uncomplicated transport via aircraft (no time-consuming cleaning).

If you’re travelling around Europe, you’ll be happy to know that camping gas is available almost everywhere. However, there are different regions that prefer pierceable canisters, while others opt for screw-on gas canisters. So, if you can estimate what you’re going to need before the trip and are travelling by car, you save time (and usually money) by buying the necessary canisters with some backups before the trip.

Recycling and disposing of gas canisters

Hopefully, this goes without saying: Never leave your empty fuel containers out in nature! Empty gas canisters are not just regular old rubbish you can toss in the bin – they must be properly recycled. In Germany, you can just stick in the yellow sack (Gelber Sack), as it’s so lovingly called, while other countries have systems for collecting recyclable materials. Oftentimes, the empty containers are just disposed of with normal household waste and sorted out later to be recycled.

Before disposing of an old gas canister, it must be completely emptied. If you’re using liquid fuel, be sure to empty every last drop, as there tends to be some left over after use. For pierceable cartridges, all you have to do is remove the stove and wait a few seconds until the fuel has evaporated. Emptying screw-on canisters is not quite as easy. Fortunately, Jetboil has developed the CrunchIt, a practical recycling tool that completely empties fuel canisters. In order to get every last drop out of the canister, it is punctured with a sharp object, which allows the last remaining bit of fuel to evaporate through a small hole. When canisters are emptied in this way, they are ready for the recycling bin. However, be careful with canisters that haven’t been completely emptied: they are still considered hazardous waste and must not be disposed of using the regular recycling collection service.

If you have any questions to this effect, ask your local council to see when and where you can dispose of hazardous materials.

GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology: soft and comfortable

7. September 2018
Equipment

GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology increases the comfort of functional clothing from GORE-TEX®. Period! Clothing with GORE-TEX® C-KNIT™ backer technology is a a special kind of three-layer GORE-TEX® construction. It weighs up to 10% lighter and is up to 15% more breathable than previous 3-layer laminates. Of course, as with all of GORE-TEX® laminates, garments with GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology are durably windproof and waterproof as well.

By incorporating this incredibly soft backer technology into the interior of hardshell jackets, they were able to create a garment that is incredibly comfortable, regardless of the activity – be it hill walking, mountaineering, skiing or snowboarding. Thanks to the low weight and smaller pack size, products with GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology can be packed down nicely and stuffed in your backpack or luggage.

The backer makes the difference

In terms of its basic construction, the laminate with GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology is similar to the other 3-layer GORE-TEX® laminates. The super-thin layer of expanded PTFE is glued to the strong nylon outer so that the microporous membrane, which guarantees breathability as well as windproof and waterproof protection, is protected from the outside.

When incorporating GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology into a garment, the inside is bonded to an extremely thin, dense yet lightweight circular knit. This technique reduces both the weight and the volume of the laminate. A nice little extra is that the backer makes it easy to slip it over additional layers of clothing. The soft lining simply glides over functional underwear and warm mid-layers.

Breathable and versatile

GORE-TEX® outdoor clothing engineered with GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology is extremely breathable, making it perfect for outdoor activities. These GORE-TEX® garments strike the perfect balance between durability and vapour transfer permeability. While hard shells with GORE-TEX® Active laminates achieve a higher level of breathability, they’re much less durable than their C-KNIT™ counterparts. As for GORE-TEX® Pro, these jackets and trousers are extremely durable and rugged but not nearly as soft as garments engineered with C-KNIT™. The incredibly lightweight GORE-TEX® laminate with GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology has the best of both worlds, offering both a high level of comfort and durability.

When adventuring in the mountains or the flatlands, GORE-TEX® garments with this soft backer are perfect. They work extremely well with additional layers of clothing. GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology feels great against the skin, so you can rock GORE-TEX® jackets engineered with GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology with a functional short-sleeved shirt, if you wish. Of course, if you wear a functional long-sleeved shirt and warm mid-layer made of fleece, the GORE-TEX® fabric will ensure that moisture is quickly drawn away from the body as well.

GORE-TEX® textiles with GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology are a great option for trekking and hut trips thanks to their backpack-friendly pack size and extremely low weight. They’re act as a great back-up to keep in your pack, just in case you run into some inclement weather.

Proper care to keep outerwear functioning properly

To ensure that your GORE-TEX® garment with GORE® C-KNIT™ backer technology retains its breathable and waterproof properties after wearing it multiple times, you should wash it using special detergent designed for washing GORE-TEX® textiles. Afterwards, apply a new water-repellent treatment to the face fabric to restore the water repellence of the GORE-TEX® shell, if it cannot be reactivated. This will ensure that your GORE-TEX® outerwear has all the performance features for a long time to come!

GORE-TEX® PACLITE®: Product technology for every day

7. September 2018
Equipment

GORE-TEX® PACLITE® product technology is engineered to be extremely lightweight and packable. Plus, it has the full functionality of the microporous ePTFE membrane and provides excellent protection from wind and rain. Amazingly, the same pores that prevent water and wind from getting in are just large enough for moisture vapour to pass through, so you’ll get that legendary breathability as well.

Hardshell jackets and trousers engineered with GORE-TEX® PACLITE® product technology offer excellent weather protection for travel, free-time activities, several outdoor sports and even everyday wear. These garments are the ideal solution for hiking, cycling or skiing in unpredictable weather conditions. Not only do they take up very little room in your pack, but they also provide reliable windproof and waterproof protection.

The construction of products made from GORE-TEX® PACLITE® product technology

The core of the special 2-layer laminate is the expanded PTFE membrane. This wafer-thin layer is the heart of GORE-TEX® outerwear, giving the garments the breathability, windproof and waterproof protection they’re known for. The membrane is bonded to a tough outer shell material made of nylon or durable polyester.

While other GORE-TEX® laminates, such as GORE-TEX® Pro or GORE-TEX® Active have a backer on the inside that protects the membrane and adds comfort, products with GORE-TEX® PACLITE® product technology do not. The lack of this backer reduces the weight of the final product. To keep the interior and the membrane protected from dirt and damage, a protective layer made of an oleophobic (oil hating) substance and carbon covers that side of the membrane.

Plus, they use special GORE-SEAM® tape technology to ensure that all seams on their waterproof jackets and trousers are really completely waterproof. This allows GORE to guarantee that all clothing equipped with GORE-TEX® technology will stay dry on the interior and is able to withstand bad weather conditions even if used intensely and exposed to continuous rainfall.

GORE-TEX® Active or GORE-TEX® PACLITE® product technology?

Even though both GORE-TEX® laminates are lightweight and have a small pack size, GORE-TEX® Active is more tailored to highly-aerobic activities. The GORE-TEX® PACLITE® product technology, on the other hand, is great for hill walking, travelling and as a casual option for every day. While GORE-TEX® Active is soft and offers great next-to-skin comfort with a more fabric-like feel to the interior, the inside of GORE-TEX® PACLITE® product technology is much smoother. In terms of breathability, though, both laminates score incredibly high, with the GORE-TEX® Active membrane being more efficient during highly aerobic activities. However, jackets and trousers with GORE-TEX® PACLITE® product technology are stronger and more durable.

Functional underwear and proper care

To ensure that the breathability of garments with GORE-TEX® PACLITE® product technology works properly, the layers of clothing underneath should have good good water vapour permeability as well. The ideal solution is to wear a base layer made of synthetic fibres or merino wool. Cotton does not wick away moisture well, to say the least. It’s also important to pay attention to the drying properties and water vapour permeability of insulating mid-layers made of fleece or elastic synthetic fabrics to ensure that the membrane can function to its full potential.

To preserve the microporous structure of the membrane, it is of utmost importance to clean and care for your GORE-TEX® jacket or trousers on a regular basis. Otherwise, the little pores will eventually get clogged up. The garment will remain windproof and waterproof, but a build-up of dirt could have a negative effect on the breathability of the fabric. But, with proper care, GORE-TEX® PACLITE® product technology is guaranteed to last for a long time, while maintaining a high level of breathability.

Say goodbye to wet feet: shoes with Gore-Tex membranes

26. September 2018
Equipment

Having wet shoes is one of the most unpleasant things we have to deal with in the great outdoors. The wetness not only makes your feet cold but also leads to dragging between your foot and the shoe, resulting in blisters. Plus, wet shoes become much heavier as a result of the wetness, and it can take several days before they’re completely dry.

Because of the negative effects water can have on our performance, it is absolutely imperative for outdoor athletes to have footwear that keeps their feet dry in all conditions. When it’s wet and muddy, your best option is to go with waterproof shoes with a GORE-TEX® membrane. With models designed for the outdoors and everyday wear, these breathable and waterproof shoes are guaranteed to give you a boost in comfort. When it comes to walking, trekking and mountaineering boots, there’s no outdoorsman who would go without these membranes.

Extended, Performance, Insulated and Surround – the differences between GORE-TEX® shoes

All shoes with a GORE-TEX® membrane are waterproof and breathable. The microporous structure of the GORE-TEX® layer prevents any water getting into the shoe’s interior. The pores are so small that water can’t get in from the outside, but large enough for water vapour to escape through them. On a single square centimetre of the waterproof membrane, there are about 1.4 billion of these tiny pores – making it possible for sweat in the form of water vapour to escape.

To guarantee optimal performance, GORE has continued to adapt their technology to engineer shoes with GORE-TEX® membranes that are perfectly tailored to the needs of athletes. You’ll find their waterproof membranes in everything from ankle-high walking boots and insulated winter boots to lightweight running and multisport shoes.

Waterproof shoes with GORE-TEX® Extended Comfort

GORE-TEX® Extended Comfort was designed to have optimised breathability. The shoes are usually low-cut and made of mesh and often leather (or artificial leather). As a result of the high vapour permeability of the membrane and upper materials, the shoes move moisture away from the skin very efficiently in moderate to high temperatures, making them excellent for higher activity levels. The waterproof GORE-TEX® Extended Comfort membrane is thus often used in running, trail running and other athletic shoes. Walking shoes, casual footwear and even golf shoes are equipped with GORE-TEX® Extended Comfort as well.

Walking shoes with GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort

This GORE-TEX® technology guarantees durable waterproof protection and optimised climate comfort in walking, trekking, approach and outdoor footwear. Even during physically demanding activities and in continuously wet conditions, the (usually) ankle-high boots with the waterproof membrane will keep your feet dry. Deeper puddles, old snow and wet grass are no problem for GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort. The upper, which is usually made of leather, artificial leather or synthetics, does get wet, but the water can’t penetrate into the shoe. Plus, the breathability of the shoe has been optimised for physical activities like hiking and trekking.

The waterproof membrane with extra insulation: GORE-TEX® Insulated Comfort shoes

As with the walking and trekking boots engineered with GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort, outdoor shoes with GORE-TEX® Insulated Comfort are perfect for active hikers and hill walkers. In addition to the reliable waterproof protection and high breathability, GORE-TEX® Insulated Comfort has an extra insulated layer. This makes them an excellent option for cold weather conditions in winter, in the mountains and in colder regions. Whether you’re mountaineering, hill walking in the winter or just looking for a warm, waterproof winter boot, GORE-TEX® Insulated Comfort will serve you well by keeping your feet warm and dry.

Walking boots and casual shoes with GORE-TEX® Surround®

In order to improve the breathability of shoes worn during physically demanding activities and in moderate to high temperatures, GORE developed the GORE-TEX® SURROUND® product technology. GORE-TEX® SURROUND® is as waterproof as the other GORE-TEX® shoes. The difference lies in the innovative construction of the sole. The sole has special ventilation outlets on the side to allow for better water vapour permeability. These openings accelerate sweat removal even in high temperatures and during high-intensity activities – meaning that they provide an optimal microclimate and high level of comfort. GORE-TEX® SURROUND® is used in outdoor, sport and casual shoes. The construction of GORE-TEX® SURROUND® is visible from the outside and embedded in the shoe’s respective design.

Open sole, side openings or side ventilation

GORE-TEX® SURROUND® for casual footwear is available with an open sole. In the bottom of sole are openings that allow excess heat and moisture to escape. Despite these openings, a GORE-TEX® laminate surrounds the foot to prevent water penetrating from the outside. To protect the laminate and your feet from stones or sharp objects, a special protective layer made of extremely strong fleece is used.

Casual shoes with GORE-TEX® SURROUND® are also available with side openings (ventilation grids) in the sole. Heat and moisture are conducted both via the upper and downward through the laminate into the ventilation grid where they can escape through the side openings. The GORE-TEX® SURROUND® construction ensures that your feet stay cool, balanced and comfortable even in higher temperatures.

GORE does not use ventilation openings in the side or bottom of the sole in walking boots. The side openings are positioned somewhat higher. The open construction of the shoes allows moisture and heat to escape from below through the laminate into a spacer. From there, moisture and heat are conducted out of the shoe through side ventilation outlets. This innovative construction makes it possible to offer walking and outdoor footwear that not only have tough, high-traction outsoles but also excellent ventilation, breathability and 100% waterproof protection.

 

GORE-TEX® PRO: built for the extremes

8. August 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.

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