All posts on this topic ‘Equipment’

THE TERREX FREE HIKER – HIKING SHOE OR SNEAKER?

13. January 2021
Equipment

I belong to the Sneaker generation. “Sneakers”, as my mom still says, are in my opinion not only for sport and have been for a long time. And when my colleague Jörn asked me if I would like to test the brand new adidas Terrex Free Hiker, I was naturally hooked.

But I was also skeptical: When I think of adidas, I think of stylish sneakers rather than solid hiking boots. Even if this cliché hasn’t been valid for a long time, because under the Terrex label adidas has been offering equipment for outdoor enthusiasts for years.

HANDS-ON: WHAT CAN THE TERREX FREE HIKER DO

Yes, tastes are different and of course you have to admit that the Free Hiker does not look like a hiking boot at first. Rather like a running or trail running shoe. However, I was immediately impressed by the look. I was and still am on the road with the black and white version, whereby I find the “colorful” version almost even more ingenious.

Adidas advertises that the shoe is particularly robust and highly water-repellent (even without a membrane, I’ll come back to that in a moment). The well-known Continental sole is supposed to ensure safe progress. The midsole with the Boost technology, which Adidas also uses in its running shoes. This is particularly flexible and is supposed to have a small “rebound” effect – in other words, it releases stored energy again.

When I first put it on, I found the high shaft especially surprising. Surprisingly good. The shoe fits snugly on the foot, but could be a bit tighter on the metatarsus for my taste. But the stability is still perfectly acceptable!

The upper material is called ‘Primeknit’ (currently very trendy) and looks as if it is knitted. This makes the shoe very flexible, comfortable and fits almost like a sock. My colleagues asked me directly if the shoe fits and takes off well but I never had a problem with it, maybe because I wear it a bit bigger than my normal street shoes.

The Free Hiker was first used in everyday life and in the office, perfect for breaking in – and yes, because the mountains are just a few kilometers away. To be honest, I didn’t think he could handle tricky mountain passages even at the beginning. But I was to be proven wrong…

HOW DOES THE FREE HIKER PERFORM WHEN HIKING?

A team trip to the Montafon was announced and the Free Hiker couldn’t be missing. But at the end of May there was still a lot of snow and I thought that this might be too much for my new companion.

Nevertheless, I went straight up the mountain with it – after all, it’s not a children’s birthday party here. On well developed hiking trails it is great in any case. The walking comfort is great, the Conti sole grips well.

Shortly before the summit I saw the first snowfields and I quickly realized that this would be the first endurance test. I prepared myself internally for wet, cold feet – without a membrane, water would have to penetrate at some point – and took the first step into the remnants of the long, snowy winter.

Splash – during the first steps I wait anxiously for the cool wet that should immediately wet my socks. But it came… Nothing. Well, maybe it will take a few more minutes… I couldn’t quite believe it.

But even after less than an hour with lots of snowfields, meltwater streams and puddles, my feet were comfortably warm and dry. So here adidas did not promise too much! Due to the high shaft, no water could penetrate from above, which turned out to be a problem for some of my followers. But that is not necessarily a unique selling point of the Free Hiker.

Also on our tour on the second day the upper material stayed tight, even though we didn’t come into contact with as much moisture. By the way, the Continental sole also convinced me. It is always praised by our trail runners here among the mountain enthusiasts for its reliable grip. I can only agree with that!

The midsole shines above all with its dynamic performance, good rolling characteristics and comfort. I can’t judge whether energy is really being returned, but it’s quite pleasant to walk on it.

MUCH LIGHT, LITTLE SHADE…

The disadvantage of the strong, water-repellent properties of the upper material in combination with the good closing, half-height shaft is that moisture naturally cannot escape so easily. So it gets relatively warm in the shoe. Therefore I would definitely recommend wearing a rather light trekking sock with it.

THE CONCLUSION OF THE TERREX FREE HIKER

But all in all I am really positively impressed! In my opinion, the shoe is capable of much more than you might think at first glance. One should definitely not be deceived by the looks. This here is a real hiking shoe!

Due to its construction, I see it primarily in light terrain and it should be interesting for speedhikers due to its sole structure. And, of course, for all those who value a cool look.

With a UVP of 199.95 it places itself currently rather at the upper end of the price scale.

THE RIGHT SHOES FOR YOUR OUTDOOR ADVENTURE!

13. January 2021
Buyer's guide, Equipment

When choosing the right footwear for outdoor activities you should take your time. There are some questions that should be answered in advance to avoid problems with unsuitable shoes or aching feet. Not only physical ailments such as the well-known blisters are among them, but also a shoe that does not fit the purpose will not be a pleasure or will not offer sufficient stability and safety.

Table of Contents


WHICH CATEGORIES OF HIKING & MOUNTAINEERING SHOES ARE THERE?

The traditional German company Meindl has established an interesting and useful categorization for hiking and mountaineering shoes, which hikers can use as a guide when it comes to finding the right footwear for trekking, hiking and mountaineering. It is intended to serve as a first orientation in the shoe jungle:

  • Category A: Light hiking boots (mostly low shoes) for forest and meadow paths with flexible soles and little cushioning for everyday life as well as for shorter hikes with light luggage (daypack) on largely flat and paved paths.
  • Category A/B: High hiking boots for extended day trips or tours with overnight stay and medium-heavy luggage (backpacks up to approx. 35 liters) as well as for largely paved paths with (significant) ascents and occasionally loose ground. The sole is twistable, but relatively stiff and thick.
  • Category B: Classic trekking boots with torsion-resistant sole, thick midsole for lots of cushioning and with high lacing. Mostly made of leather and resoled depending on the model. Suitable for tours lasting several days with a large backpack (trekking backpack 40-70 liters) and mountainous and sometimes rough terrain, but still with clear routing. Can be used with Grödeln. Not recommended for long mountain tours, under very cold conditions or for high altitudes (over 3000 meters). However, in combination with thick woollen socks, it is ideal as a light winter (hiking) shoe.
  • Category B/C: Heavy trekking boots for tours on rough, steep terrain, possibly without direct access and for shorter winter tours in icy weather. Stiff sole with low profile, very high lacing and stable upper. Suitable for fixed rope routes and at higher altitudes (around 3000 to 4000 meters). Suitable for Grödel and crampons with double strap-on binding. From this category upwards it is usually possible to resole the shoe.
  • Category C: Mountain boots for touring on very rough and steep terrain, ice and firn as well as off-road paths. They can also be used for winter tours lasting several days or at higher altitudes (up to about 5000 meters). Very high shaft, usually additionally insulated. An edge at the heel allows the use of step-in crampons (heel clip at the back, simple strap-on at the front). High weight, very low profile and extremely robust materials.
  • Category D: Expedition boots with removable, insulated inner boot, extremely robust and durable manufacture for high altitude and extreme mountaineering or expeditions. Fully crampon proof. Also ideal for glaciers, long winter tours, ice and mixed climbing.

In addition to the differences in the primary purpose, the upper material (leather or synthetic), weather resistance (waterproof shoe with membrane or particularly breathable, membrane-free shoe) and the material of the inner lining (mesh or leather) must be considered. However, these are questions of demand and comfort that everyone must answer for themselves. For example, not everyone can cope with natural products. Although leather is generally more robust and durable, it also requires more care than synthetic fabrics, which dry quickly and are lighter.

OUTDOOR LOW SHOES

Furthermore, there are some subcategories, especially among the low shoes, which depend on special purposes and are associated with the A-category.

  • Multisport shoes are light hiking boots in a design suitable for everyday use or particularly robust running shoes, which combine an extra light upper fabric with the sole of a hiking shoe. They are optically appealing, sporty-light and perfectly suited for everyday use as well as for easy hikes or walks. They are also suitable for speedhiking at moderate altitudes as long as you have little luggage with you.
  • The so-called approach or access shoes are interesting for climbers. These are usually half-height shoes with a robust and relatively stiff outer sole, which have an edge at the front of the inner foot for easy climbing (as with climbing shoes). The appearance and construction are comparable to hiking shoes, but in addition to the sole, the lacing that extends far forward is also similar to climbing shoes. These shoes are ideal for the way from the car over slopes and scree to the rock as well as for securing or for simple via ferrata. Approach shoes are mountain oriented and belong to the A/B shoes. The design is sporty and suitable for everyday use. Models with softer soles can also be used for hiking. The cushioning makes the shoes suitable for use with touring backpacks and hardware.

SPECIAL OUTDOOR-SPORTSHOES

  • Climbing shoes and bouldering shoes are more or less pre-curved and asymmetrical, have a perfect fit (the more of these features, the more uncomfortable and the more ambitious), have a prominent climbing edge at the front of the inner foot and lacing or Velcro fastenings that reach far forward (usually a matter of comfort). Upper and lining are often one and usually made of leather. They also have a completely smooth rubber sole. This guarantees the best grip on the smallest steps. You can find out everything else in our detailed purchase advice for climbing shoes.
  • Trail running shoes are very light and have a highly flexible and cushioned sole. The synthetic upper material is highly breathable and depending on the model, there is a waterproof membrane between the outer fabric and mesh lining or not. There are special quick lacing systems as well as differences in sole profile depending on the preferred training surface. Running shoes are also versatile, carefree companions in everyday life.
  • Bicycle shoes are available as MTB shoes or racing bike shoes. Here, special attention must be paid to the suitability of the pedal plates and the locking system. You can find out everything else in our separate purchase advice for MTB and road bike shoes.

SUMMER SHOES

Pure summer shoes are different types of sandals and water shoes. They serve as a proper companion on vacation in the summertime, when kayaking or canoeing, as well as for use in the water and on land. Toe sandals are particularly suitable for everyday use – here design and comfort are important. Trekking sandals have an outsole like light hiking boots and are moderately cushioned. They can be used for day hiking tours with little luggage or as a second shoe for summer trekking. There are waterproof models as well as variants in soft leather and quick-drying synthetics. The strap arrangement should definitely meet the comfort requirements. Water shoes are made with a quick-drying mesh or sandal-like upper and a non-slip, profiled sole for rocky, wet surfaces. They are particularly suitable for boat trips.

WINTER SHOES

With the winter shoes one differentiates between pure winter boots and winter hiking boots. The latter are A/B or B shoes in boot form. They are always waterproof, lined on the inside, and have a particularly non-slip sole, thus distinguishing them from their three-season colleagues from the hiking sector. A smooth upper material is easier to clean from slush. The insulation is either made of soft fleece, a particularly light and warm synthetic fiber, or natural, odor-resistant virgin wool. Sometimes there is a removable inner shoe that can be used as a hut shoe. Winter hiking boots are sufficiently cushioned for touring backpacks up to about 50 liters.

Pure winter shoes have a non-slip sole and insulation, but are not made for hiking, as they are not cushioned. There are low shoes, fashionable boots and especially light down shoes. Here the optical aspect and details such as the lacing, the insulation performance (down is warmest, followed by synthetic fiber, then wool and fleece) and the upper fabric (leather or synthetic) play a particularly important role.

EVERYDAY SHOES & LEISURE SHOES

Slippers are also made for warm feet, but can be worn all year round. There are very soft and light models for the sofa and variants with stable soles for taking out the garbage. Mostly wool felt, down, synthetic fibre and leather are used. Clearly shoes where comfort and design play the biggest role!
Even rubber boots are everyday shoes and can be used all year round. Here it depends on the bootleg height and if necessary the closure.

Sneakers and leisure shoes are suitable for slacklining, after training, for the way to university and to the office and are therefore bought clearly according to design and comfort features.

TIPS FOR SIZE SELECTION

In general, men’s models are usually cut wider, women’s lasts are often slim. If in doubt, buy outdoor shoes a little larger, especially hiking boots and boots will often end up one size higher. Many models are now sustainably produced and are completely or partially recycled and made of biomaterials.

Important for the fitting: in the afternoon and with authentic socks! So nothing stands in the way of the right choice of shoes!

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH ICE TOOLS – BUYING TIPS

24. November 2020
Equipment

Ice axes have been around since the beginning of modern mountaineering. Over the decades, however, much has changed. Even though ice axes in their current form are considered technically mature ice tools, there are still a range of technical innovations. This can be very confusing when you’re looking to buy one, and the question quickly arises, “Which is the correct ice tool for me?” Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution in this field, so the perfect tool depends on your personal needs.

 

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DOWN IMPREGNATION – DOES IT WORK?

19. November 2020
Equipment, Tips and Tricks

Down – a superhero of insulation materials! Synthetic fibres can’t compete. But like every superhero, down also has a nemesis. And in down’s case, this is moisture. Moisture is down’s kryptonite. It is precisely for this reason that impregnated down has been on a seemingly unstoppable advance in the outdoor sector for several years.

But how does it actually work? Can it even work? Let’s take a closer look! (more…)

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT: TIPS FOR FINDING THE RIGHT HEAD TORCH

10. November 2020
Buyer's guide, Equipment

Watching the sunset from the summit is a wonderful thing – romantic, dreamlike and sometimes breath-taking.

But as the daylight slowly fades, you face a problem: without additional lighting, the descent can be difficult and even dangerous.

And because you might need to use your hands for other things than holding a torch, a head torch often makes the most sense.

Here’s some tips on what you should consider when buying one: (more…)

VEGAN ON THE GO – ANIMAL-FREE PRODUCTS FOR OUTDOOR PEOPLE

5. November 2020
Equipment

It’s an unavoidable topic nowadays: the issue of sustainability dominates the outdoor market like no other. Manufacturers have put the concept of “social and ecological responsibility” on their agenda, obtaining certifications such as bluesign or developing their own. This is, of course, very welcome!

With this background, product lines for vegetarians and vegans are now also being developed. As this is becoming increasingly topical, every now and then a customer asks, “What vegan items do you have in your shop?” We wanted to explore this question…

Vegan for your feet – walking boots

One of the first things that comes to mind when talking about vegan outdoor equipment is probably shoes. Of course, leather is ubiquitous in trekking boots and walking shoes, so this is particularly problematic when looking for animal-free alternatives. However, its not just the material itself that can pose an issue. The devil is in the details and for example, the adhesive used on the shoe may contain animal protein.

Fortunately, there are companies that have recognised the need for vegan alternatives. LOWA, for example, is conquering the hearts of all wanderlust vegans with its own product line. A textile/synthetic material is used for the upper and the built-in GORE-TEX membrane makes the shoes waterproof. The Swiss outdoor company Mammut offers a very similar design with its T Aenergy models. The shaft is made of two differently structured polyamide yarns, which makes it abrasion and tear resistant. Gore-Tex ensures that the shoes remain waterproof. In the Approach footwear segment, the Vegan Award goes to Salewa, whose Wildfire series also manages without animal components. For climbing shoes, Red Chili also offers vegan versions with the Durango VCR and Durango Lace, and last but not least, the The One by SO ILL should also be mentioned.

And today, you don’t have to sacrifice good performance just because you wear synthetic shoes. Leather shoes are very durable, but the development of synthetic shoes has progressed so far that, with the right care, they too can be a faithful companion for a long time. Genuine leather adapts to the shape of the wearer’s foot but expands over time. This does not usually happen with synthetic leather or synthetic shoes. They retain their shape. Synthetic shoes are also particularly suitable for everyday use, as they are very easy to clean and do not require the intensive care of a leather shoe.

Vegan on top – what to look for in clothing

Vegan outdoor equipment does not stop at footwear, although this is probably the area where the issue is most relevant. There are also a few things to keep in mind when it comes to outdoor clothing.

The big elephant in the room is ‘down’. This comes from geese or ducks, so is not vegan. The alternative is synthetic fibre. This insulation technology based on polyester has now also progressed so far that there are numerous jackets and thermal layers that can keep up with their down counterparts and even surpass them in some areas. The key concept is ‘thermal performance with moisture’. Companies such as The North Face are trying to imitate the structure of down. In marketing speak, this is known as “Thermoball“.

Generally, you will be able to see in the attributes on our product page, whether animal components have been used. It will say “contains non-textile elements of animal origin”.

If you’re interested in the ecological production of clothing and the sustainable conservation of resources, you should look out for products made of recycled polyester. Production from melted PET bottles consumes between 50 and 70% less energy than the conventional production of a chemical fibre from crude oil. Some brands such as Bleed (which also explicitly offers vegan clothing), Klättermusen, Patagonia and Vaude already have such products in their range.

You should take a look at the label, which will explicitly state whether recycled content is used. The American outdoor outfitter Patagonia, which has long been a pioneer in the industry when it comes to environmental protection, has gone one better. Patagonia operates its own take-back system. This means that customers can bring their clothes back to the shop or send them to the factory and new clothes will be made from them again. Patagonia also offers to repair broken or damaged clothing to prevent products from ending up in the bin too soon. Pyua from Kiel has also specialised in this and takes back goods after use. This creates a cycle in which outdoor clothing made of synthetic fibres is always reworked into new garments after use.

Back to the Roots – Back to natural fibre

You can even go one step further and use natural fibres. I know what you’re thinking, “Do clothing made of natural fibres and sweat-inducing activities really go together?” At first glance, you might think that you’ll start to smell quickly, and for a long time the idea was considered unthinkable. Until now, base layers have been made of microfibres that had to be treated with nano-silver to prevent odour formation.

But it works. The Swedish company Fjällräven has used its reliable G-1000 material since its foundation. Today, although it is no longer 100% cotton, it is still one third cotton. The big problem – at least from an animal perspective: many Fjällräven models feature leather applications and the wax that makes the clothing weatherproof contains beeswax.

Lundhags, on the other hand, offer polycotton technology similar to Fjällräven, but models such as the Women’s Gliis Jacket and the Lomma Jacket forego leather appliques. However, this synthetic hardshell material is still not quite up to the job in terms of rain resistance. And you still need to check carefully here, as polycotton is occasionally offered in a waxed version.

Vegan food on tour

Of course, there is also the issue of nutrition. After all, what would a hike or trekking tour be without a snack to keep you going? Anyone who has been a vegan for a long time probably has a good idea of what works and what doesn’t in terms of nutrition anyway. But of course there are also companies who supply suitable trekking food, such as Adventure Menu, BLA BAND, Lyo Food, Innosnack and Chimpanzee –to name just a few.

In case of doubt, check the ingredients list, as this will tell you exactly which ingredients are in the product.

At the end of the day…

…whilst vegan clothing and outdoor equipment are not yet dominant in companies’ product lines, they have at least made it onto the radar in recent years. And fortunately, it’s even reached well-known companies who produce high-quality animal-free products. In light of the fact that more and more people are changing their lifestyles, this is certainly a welcome development.

You can find vegan products by searching for ‘vegan’ and then filtering. Or, simply follow the link below:

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What are glacier glasses?

12. October 2020
Equipment

At first glance, glacier glasses may look like somewhat large sunglasses. But, they’re typically more expensive. Why? What can glacier glasses do that other sunglasses can’t? What makes glacier glasses so special and how do they defer from other sunglasses?

Questions upon questions… Here come the answers!

Regardless of whether you’re on a glacier, in the desert or on the water – when exposed to the sun for a long time, not only should you protect your skin but also your eyes. We usually remember to put on sun screen but we tend to forget that our eyes are also prone to sun damage.

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Modal fabric: What is it?

12. October 2020
Equipment

In a nutshell, modal fabric is a mix of both synthetic and natural fibres.

But, let’s first take a look at how modal came about: It was created in the 60s during a search for new textile materials whose raw materials can be grown in central Europe.

For a long time, the textiles that emerged were used for specialty garments. However, ever since the interest in both an outdoor-lifestyle and sustainability grew, the demand of such fabrics (such as modal) has grown exponentially.

Synthetic or natural?

Modal is a fibre obtained by beech tree pulp, is chemically processed and is one of the nine regenerated fibres distributed in the world that consists of naturally renewable (“regenerated”) raw materials. Some other known regenerated fibres in the outdoor industry include viscose and Tencel. Plus, these fabrics are made of wood’s cellulose and are therefore called “chemical natural fibres” in contrast to pure natural fibres and synthetic fibres.

Modal is a “structurally-modified viscose with a higher degree of polymerisation (above 400 to 700) compared to normal viscose“. Due to this molecular “update”, modal obtains more functional advantages compared to viscose and is sometimes referred to as “the better viscose.” One of its advantages includes its amazing tensile strength when wet, which is especially useful for outdoor use. Also, modal is more durable, abrasion-resistant and is less prone to shrinkage compared to viscose.

In addition, two types of modal with slightly different functional emphases have been developed: a Polynosic (PN) type that can be optimally blended with cotton and a HWM (High Wet Modulus) type, which features a higher breaking strength and tensile strength. You can read more about this topic in the properties section.

How is it manufactured?

As already mention, modal consists of a raw material called beech wood. And, while viscose can be produced from various basic materials, beech wood is specifically used for modal. Now, let’s take a look at the production process: the wood is first debarked and chipped. Then, these chips are processed using a multi-stage chemical solution process and are then spun mechanically with a spinneret to form the fibres. As a result, cellulose fibres are produced.

Properties

Modal has the ability to combine the advantages of natural and synthetic fibres, without taking on any of their disadvantages. So, modal is a lot more durable than cotton, but still offers the equivalent amount of comfort. And, in comparison to other synthetic fibres, such as polyester, it provides just as much moisture management and feels even softer on the skin.

Both comfort and a pleasant microclimate are modal’s greatest advantages thanks to the fabric’s ability to absorb water and to quickly wick away moisture. Plus, modal absorbs 50% more moisture than cotton. Another advantage: the fabric is super breathable, which now brings us to modal’s amazing functionality. Here, many properties can be mentioned, for example, modal is very stretchy, durable, dimensionally stable, insensitive to heat and easy to care for. In other words, you can throw it into the washing machine and in the dryer without fear of damage, shrinkage or change of colour. And, no matter how many times the modal gets wet, it won’t affect its durability.

Up to now, modal has mainly been processed in fibre blends, where it often has a positive effect on the other fibres’ properties. For instance, cotton becomes softer, silk becomes more durable and linen becomes more stretchy.

Feel and comfort

When it comes to comfort, modal is super impressive. Its fibres’ smooth surface ensures not only softness but also comfort and a silky sheen. Speaking of silk, when touching modal, it’ll feel as if you’re touching silk.

So, it’s not surprising that modal is pleasant to the skin and great for both allergy sufferers and individuals with sensitive skin. As a result of its softness, you’ll mainly find modal in your underwear and other garments that are worn close to the skin. And, despite its softness, garments made of modal and modal blends don’t “sag”, but rather provide a great fit. This is due to the fact that the fabric is elastic, maintains its shape and remains comfortable even after several washes.

Modal for outdoor use

Modal is typically used to make underwear, shirts and long sleeves. And, its functionality really shines through with these garments.

Since modal is cooling rather than warming, it isn’t very windproof and weatherproof. So, modal will boast its amazing properties during strenuous activities and in hot temperatures. However, to create warm outdoor base layers, modal can be combined with merino wool to balance the temperature inside the garment (like an air conditioner).

Classification and comparisons

When comparing modal to natural fibres, such as cotton, or synthetic fibres, such as polyester, you’ll notice that modal stands-out in terms of functionality and eco-friendliness. Plus, in the field of synthetic/natural regenerated fibres, modal is a close-second to TENCEL Lyocell. However, the latter fabric is produced exclusively by the Austrian company called Lenzing AG. As a result, modal is likely to be more readily available in the long term and a tad cheaper. In addition to the TENCEL Lyocell, the company also produces a particularly eco-friendly modal fibre called “Modal Edelweiss”.

In terms of sustainability, the eco-friendly modal is better-than-average in terms of water consumption, energy consumption, land use, use of pesticides and pollutants and waste products compared to natural and synthetic fibres. And, unlike synthetic fibres, the production of modal doesn’t involve the use of fossil raw materials, such as petroleum and natural gas. It’s even more sustainable than natural materials, such as organic cotton, because less water and energy are needed to produce and process modal. As an example, the above-mentioned “Modal Edelweiss” from Lenzing was produced in a closed cycle, where 95% of the chemicals were recovered.

Care

As always, when buying a new garment made of modal, you should keep and read the instructions indicated on the care label. Plus, although modal is very easy to care for, you’ll get the most out of it with the right care. So, here are a few simple tips:

  • Washing the garment with the quick wash cycle prevents unnecessary stress.
  • Reducing the spin speed to a maximum of 600 rpm will also reduce stress.
  • Modal can also be ironed at a low or medium temperature. But luckily, ironing is usually not necessary, since the fabric doesn’t crease.

Bike protectors: The best protection whilst mountain biking

12. October 2020
Equipment

Whilst thinking about mountain biking, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the bike and then maybe the helmet, clothes, shoes and so on. But, do you also think about bike protection? In addition to a bike helmet, cycling glasses and gloves, other things will also prevent you from getting bruises, grazes and breaking a bone whilst mountain biking. In other words, bike protection is super important and shouldn’t be neglected.

Body armour, knee pads and elbows pads

If you’re a mountain biker who rides at high speeds on steep and narrow downhill trails or who enjoys jumps at the bike park, then you know that you need to be in control and that unexpected falls can occur. Plus, roots, boulders, gravel and undergrowth usually cover the trails. So, depending on your riding type and style, you may want to equip yourself with different types of protection. For example, you may opt for lighter protective clothing, such as a body armour and knee pads, for freeride and trails. However, comprehensive protection, such as a protective vest, elbow pads, knee pads and shin guards are required for downhill, enduro and riding in the bike park.

A general overview of the different protectors, their functions and areas of use can be found in the following sections:

Knee pads

If your bike slips from under you whilst curving or when landing after a jump, your knees will usually receive the most impact. Not only do they absorb shocks but they may also get scraped on rough grounds. Knee pads therefore have multiple functions: they cushion the impact, absorb generated energy and also protect against skin abrasion on slippery surfaces. However, in order for the knee pads to do their job, they need to fit correctly and cannot slip off during a fall. As a result, mountain biking knee pads are usually pulled on like a sleeve. The sleeve will fit perfectly around the knee thanks to the non-slip silicone coating and hook-and-loop fasteners.

In addition, the major difference between various knee pads are their caps. For example, soft, lightweight caps feature a cushioning foam that is protected by a Kevlar, or another similar textile, outer shell. Heavier and more durable types of knee pads feature a hard-cap usually made of durable plastic. Generally, soft caps are more breathable, while hard caps offer maximum protection, optimal non-slip properties and durability. So, for downhill, enduro and bike parks, you should definitely use knee pads that are equipped with hard caps. And, for freeride, touring and trails, you may prefer more lightweight and breathable knee pads.

Shin pads

Slipping off your pedals can sometimes leave bloody marks on your shins. That’s why some knee pads reach all the way down to your shins to protect both the knees and shins against injuries. Plus, there are so many different types on the market, for example some with soft caps, hard caps or a mixture of both (e.g. the knees have a hard cap, whilst the shins boast soft padding without a cap). There are even knee pads with removable shin guards available. However, shin guards, such as the ones used in football, are not common in mountain biking. In the case of mountain biking, the focus is placed on the knee pads; shin pads are rather used as a protective extension.

Elbow pads

When your bike slips sideways, your elbows can be at risk of being dislocated. So, the design and function of elbow pads are similar to that of knee pads. In addition, many companies, such as IXS, Poc or Leatt sell elbow pads that match the corresponding knee pads in terms of their area of use and design. And, not only do elbow pads defer in the cuff length but also in weight and breathability, similar to that of soft- and hard-caps.

Back protection and protector vests

In addition to head injuries, injuries to the back and the spine are a serious risk for mountain bikers. And, falling over the handlebars can lead to an unpleasant impact, pain and danger to your body. However, whilst wearing a body armour, it’ll absorb the energy of the fall thanks to the cushioning foam padding. Now, let’s take a look at the different models: some feature a lightweight design and are meant to be worn under a bike shirt or MTB jacket. Others are rather breathable softshell vests that are equipped with a removable protector in the back area. In addition, there are some body armours that are designed with a hard outer shell (“turtle design”) and others that are rather soft and flexible. Plus, designs featuring solid plastic can prevent your back from “overstretching” and can protect you against sharp-edged stones and roots. Also, softer designs ensure great comfort and are suitable for daily use.

Protective jackets

Protective jackets provide the best possible upper body protection. They’re equipped with both cushioning parts and hard caps and not only protect the complete arms, including elbows, forearms and shoulders but also the back, chest and ribs. Typically, these protective jackets are worn directly over a breathable functional shirt, so that the jacket fits as snug as possible. And, mountain bikers typically like to pull on a breezy donwhill jersey over the jacket. Also, thanks to their design, the other protectors cannot slip and will always fit perfectly. So, this comprehensive protection will provide you with maximum safety during dangerously speedy descents and falls.

However, protective jackets can be both uncomfortable and too warm for freeride and touring and are better suited for fast downhill rides, difficult off-road trails and in bike parks. Plus, modern protective jackets are usually equipped with an attachment option for neck braces. And, when combined with the corresponding full-face helmet, the neck will be very well protected against injuries.

Protective trousers

Thanks to impact shorts, falls are only half as painful whilst training and practicing new jumps. These fit snug and are unobtrusive when worn under normal MTB trousers. Plus, they feature cushioning inserts at the thighs, hips, seat and the coccyx to provide optimal protection at the areas which are not protected by knee pads or protective jackets. As a result, the impact shorts are perfect for downhill, bike parks and also for four-cross racing. Plus, mountain bikers are typically happy to take on the additional weight and comparably poor breathability in exchange for extra protection.

The best protectors for women, men and children

When selecting protectors, you may need to compromise between different factors, such as protection against injuries, freedom of movement, weight and breathability. For example, the most protective jackets, impact shorts and knee pads with hard caps are heavier and less breathable. However, companies such as O’Neal, Evoc and Komperdell are constantly trying to improve the breathability of their protectors by using both durable mesh and breathable fabrics to make them more lightweight and comfortable.

For enhanced comfort, the protectors are ergonomically adapted to men, women, teens and children. As a result, they’ll sit perfectly on the body whilst on the bike and stay in the correct position even during a small “slide” or fall. The only thing worse than not wearing any protector is wearing one that keeps on slipping and that can easily come off during a fall. So, you should invest in high-quality protection that can be fitted to your size and also offer lots of mobility and comfort.

How to store and care for bike protectors

Many mountain bikers own different types of protectors depending on the type of tour or route they take. And, after a strenuous tour, race or ride in the bike park, the protectors are usually quite dirty and sweaty. So, you should dry and air them out after every use. This will not only extend their life but they’ll also smell less strong in the long run. Also, once the protectors get dirty or start to smell after a few rides, it’s time for a proper wash.

Some protectors can be washed at 30° C in the washing machine. Even protective vests featuring a removable back plate can be thrown into the washing machine. But, washing them by hand with a mild soap and lukewarm water is more gentle on the equipment. It’s also not advised to wash both your clothes and protectors with hard plastic caps at the same time in the washing machine because this could damage both the caps and the machine. Also, after having hand-washed the pads, they should be hung up in the shade till they are completely dry. You should also avoid both placing them in the direct sunlight and tumble-drying them to prevent damage to the material.

As for storage, they should be kept in a dark, dry and well-ventilated room with no direct UV radiation. Here, they can survive winter or wait a while till your next adventure.

Conclusion

Oftentimes, we start thinking about protection once it’s too late – when filled with bruises, abrasions or even after breaking a bone. So, you should definitely think about this beforehand to enjoy your mountain biking adventures to their fullest!

The perfect cycling jacket for your next bicycle tour

1. October 2020
Equipment, Tips and Tricks

Not only is it necessary to wear a cycling jacket in the colder months but it can even protect you from an unexpected downpour or cold winds in spring and summer. Plus, only with a great jacket can you complete your tour with the necessary vigour.

You may ask yourself: how should you choose a cycling jacket based on your different requirements? Which details, equipment and other features should you pay attention to before purchasing a cycling jacket? To help you out, we’d like to present to you a few models that are suitable for the most diverse conditions.

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Buying Advice Backpacks

10. September 2020
Buyer's guide, Equipment

If you want to buy a backpack nowadays, you are suddenly faced with a huge number of different models and applications. There are daypacks, travel backpacks, trekking and touring backpacks, extra ski touring and climbing backpacks.

However, what is hidden behind all these terms and what kind of backpack do I need for myself? We will try to answer these questions in the following article.

BASIC

No matter which backpack you choose, the most important thing is always that the backpack fits well and is comfortable to wear. Otherwise it can quickly lead to pain or tension.

To carry the backpack as comfortably as possible, it is important that it is adjusted correctly. It must sit close to the body and compact.

Due to the different anatomies of men and women, some manufacturers offer extra women’s backpacks. This makes sense and should be considered when buying.

But now to the backpacks:

DAYPACKS

We start small with the so-called “daypacks”. As the english name suggests, these are backpacks for day trips to carry food, drink and clothes for one day. So these backpacks are quite small. They settle between 10 and 30 liters pack volume.

You can find them in all price ranges from 20 Euro to 200 Euro and more. Carrying system and hip belt are recommended if you want to use the daypack also for hiking. This is not absolutely necessary for a gentle stroll through the city.

Many daypacks can be folded very small, so they are easy to transport or store. Especially when travelling, this is highly recommended, because you don’t have to carry around a big backpack all the time.

In summary, you can recommend daypacks to everyone, because it is always handy to have a small backpack at hand, which can be used in many different ways. Here is an overview of the types of use:

  • Everyday life
  • City stroll
  • Day hikes
  • Additional backpack for travelling

TRAVEL BAGS

Travel backpacks are characterized by large volume as well as compact and robust construction. Most travel backpacks have an adjustable back length in order to fit exactly to the carrier. However, some manufacturers also offer different fixed sizes to choose from. They are available in all sizes from 40 liters to 110 liters.

Compared to trekking backpacks, travel backpacks have a cut similar to a travel bag, i.e. they are wider rather than deeper.

The pocket-like design is reinforced by side openings. This type is especially recommended for long-term travelers, since you can quickly access the complete main compartment.

Due to the size of these backpacks, they are all equipped with a carrying system.

Some travel backpacks have a removable daypack backpack integrated in addition to the main compartment, which can be fixed to the large backpack. So you only carry one backpack instead of two. As an example there are the backpacks, “Overland” from Bach or the “Waypoint” from Osprey.

But there are also other types of travel backpacks. Vaude for example offers with the Tecorail 80 a special highlight. This backpack can be used as backpack or as trolley. It has an integrated roll system with an extendable handle – and is therefore a perfect mixture between trolley and backpack.

Intended use:

  • Travel
  • Trekking

TOURING BACKPACKS, TREKKING BACKPACKS

The difference between tour/trekking backpacks and travel backpacks is not too big. With many tour/trekking backpacks there is an additional rain cape for absolute waterproofness, so that you can be on the way even with long rain of dry backpacks.

An important question to ask yourself: what kind of tour do I want to do? For a multi day tour with food I need a backpack with at least 70l, but for hut tours 40l are already enough.

With the large backpacks (70l+) it is recommended to pay attention to a head recess, so that you can move your head freely even with a full backpack. Another special feature of some of these backpacks are divided main compartments to accommodate the sleeping bag or clothes in the lower part. This has advantages, you can divide your stuff into 2 parts and both are accessible from the outside. However, this makes the backpack a bit heavier.

The carrying system is adjustable. However, even more importance is attached to comfortable carrying, because they were designed for long hikes and heavy luggage. For this purpose, there are backpacks with flexible hip fins to distribute the force evenly evenly during heavy passages. These hip fins also consist of several layers of foam to adapt as anatomically as possible.

In order to avoid excessive sweating on the back, a system is built into the backpack which pumps air through the existing foam by the movement of the running person and thus ensures air balance.

Most trekking backpacks are compatible with a hydration system.

Use of tour/trekking backpacks:

  • Trekking
  • Multi-day hikes
  • Hut tours

SKI TOURING BACKPACKS

Ski touring backpacks are available in different versions. On the one hand, there are backpacks for high-altitude and multi-day tours, which have a large pack volume, up to 60 liters, and are equipped with many fastenings to attach helmet, skis, rope, ice axe and other things to the outside of the backpack.

The other big category are backpacks for day trips, which are smaller and can also be used for freeriding. Depending on the model, they are also available with many attachments for the above mentioned equipment. Many of these backpacks also have an integrated back protector to protect the back. They stand out due to their beautiful and stylish design with intelligent space allocation.

Almost all ski touring backpacks have a separate compartment to store shovel and probe. This compartment is easily accessible from the outside to have everything you need at hand in case of emergency.

As additional safety, both categories are available with avalanche airbags, such as Pieps’ Jetforce, as well as avalanche backpacks made by ABS and Mammut.

In cooperation with Ortovox, ABS has developed a clever system that allows you to carry the ABS airbag with you at all times. However, the size of the backpack can vary depending on the tour. For this possibility the ABS backpack must be equipped with the M.A.S.S. system. With this system, you can “zip on” the airbags with backpack pockets of different sizes. For example, the Ortovox Free Rider 24 ABS Avalanche Backpack can be used as a basic frame.

You can find more information about avalanche backpacks here.

Intended use:

  • Ski-/High tours
  • Freeriding

CLIMBING BACKPACKS

There are again several categories of climbing backpacks. It is important to consider what you want to use it for, whether for sport climbing or for multi-pitch climbing. Of course you can use any backpack for anything, but there are certain advantages and disadvantages.

Backpacks for sport and indoor climbing, like the Black Diamond Shot or the Mantle, are built like bags. They have a carrying system. However, they do not have a lid pocket and can be opened to their full length. This allows a good overview in the backpack. In addition, extra loops are sewn on the upper end to which the exes are attached so that they do not go around in the rucksack. The rope is tied to the outside of the rucksack.

There are also climbing backpacks like the Black Diamond Demon or the Edelrid Cragbag II, which are backpack and rope bag in one. Both have a tarpaulin for the rope attached to the backpack. So the only question is where to put warm clothes and food.

Haglöfs – Roc Rescue 40 – backpack
Climbing backpacks guarantee sufficient freedom of movement

Another category are multirope length backpacks. These backpacks are designed for maximum freedom of movement. The center of gravity is set so that it has as little influence as possible on the climber’s balance. For this reason, they are cut narrowly and fit tightly to the body. They also have removable hip fins, as these are often disturbing. The carrying system is flexibly constructed so that the rucksack can follow complex movements. Anatomically shaped shoulder straps also increase freedom of movement.

The pack volume varies between 12 and 35 liters. The small versions (12l) resemble light daypacks, the large versions are more like trekking backpacks.

The third category is the haulbags. They are for all those who want to make long tours in the wall or who have to climb technically and therefore have to pull material behind them. The Haulbags are like robust sailor bags, but they have a removable carrier system. This allows you to carry the Haulbag to the wall, and when the carrier system is removed, the Haulbag cannot get caught anywhere on the wall when pulling material behind it.

Intended use:

  • Sport Climbing
  • Indoor climbing
  • Multi pitch tours

TRINKING BAGS

Drinking backpacks are backpacks that are only designed to hold the hydration system and maybe a few bars. These backpacks are very popular with trail runners, because they are usually very, very light and are almost unnoticeable or annoying even when jogging.

The drinking backpacks are also available in versions with more packing volume. However, they can then be called daypacks, as there are no striking differences.

You can find more details in the Buying advice for a drinking backpack in our online store.

Intended use:

  • jogging/trail running
  • Everyday life
  • Hikes

If you still have questions, our customer service will be happy to help you. Daniel is our backpack expert here. You can reach him under the number +49 (0)7121/70 12 0 or by e-mail.

There is a lot going on in the climbing and outdoor sector. New products are invented, existing ones are revised or improved and we also learn a lot every day. And of course we want to pass on our knowledge to our customers. Therefore we regularly revise our articles in the base camp. So don’t be surprised if after a few months a few things are different. This article was last revised on 03.03.2016.

The crash pad

27. August 2020
Buyer's guide, Equipment

Burrito, taco, hard foam or preferably something soft? How big should it be, how important is the carry system, and what actually distinguishes the good pads from the bad?

For bouldering, you actually don’t need much gear: a pair of climbing shoes, chalk, comfortable trousers and a beanie. That’s basically it. If you want to go bouldering outside, though, you actually also need a bouldering mat, also known as a crash pad. But because they’re big, and often expensive, too, perhaps you shouldn’t decide on the model too quickly.

We’ve put together a bit of information for you that should make the decision easier.

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