Friday, 28 January 2011

How to Clean and Reproof: Walking Boots

Walking boots are possibly the most essential and personal piece of outdoor kit you can buy, but once you've found that perfect pair you'll want to keep them in tip-top shape.

So often walking boots get slung in a cupboard caked in mud and forgotten about until the next trek. This does reduce their lifespan, and can cause uppers to rot or crack, soles to fall off and general unpleasant odours to form. (Faults caused by neglect are usually not covered by a manufacturer's warranty, which will stipulate that you need to show some respect for the product.)

Thankfully cleaning and re-waterproofing your walking boots is both quick and easy with the right know-how!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Maldon Mud Race

It’s one of the most quirky events in the sporting calendar - and certainly one of the dirtiest!

The Maldon Mud Race on the Blackwater Estuary in Essex takes place every winter, and attracts some 250 entrants and thousands of spectators each year.

The race involves a 400-metre dash across the riverbed of the River Blackwater on the edge of the Essex Marshes. Participants, many in fancy dress, battle their way through thick, black, oozing mud and shallow waters from one side of the river to the other, often completing the course on hands and knees.

Legend has it that the race, which started nearly 40 years ago, is rooted in far more ancient history. The famous Battle of Maldon in 991, between the Danes and Anglo Saxons, resulted in the loss of the legendary Saxon leader, Britnorth. He was beheaded somewhere along the Blackwater, and although his body was recovered, his head never was. Wading through the thick sludge at low tide, the mud-caked participants of today are said to be searching in vain for the missing head of their long-lost leader.

The ‘Mad’ Maldon Mud Race takes place only when tidal conditions allow, attracting attention from all over the world, including TV cameras from as far away as Australia and the USA.

Last time round it raised over £22,000 for charity.

Unfortunately there's no more spaces left for entrants this year, but if you're free on the 25th April and fancy a laugh for a good cause (followed by an excellent pub lunch) then why not pop down and watch!

Visit for more information.

Friday, 21 January 2011

How to Clean and Reproof: Waterproof Clothing

Over time, dirt from the environment and oils from sweat will 'clog' waterproof fabrics, and the Durable Water Repellent on the outer face of the garment will degrade.

These issues lead to a huge drop in breathability in all waterproofs - from PU coatings like The North Face's HyVent to membranes like Gore-Tex - which can make it feel like the jacket is leaking, when really it's not.

Luckily enough cleaning and reproofing a waterproof garment is very simple and will keep your jacket or trousers performing like new for many years.

Read our new guide on how to achieve the best from your waterproof!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Beginner's Guide to Base Layers

Base Layers (sometimes referred to as thermals) are the foundation of the layering system, and we believe, the most important layer to get right. You can have the world's most expensive Gore-Tex jacket, but wear a cotton t-shirt underneath and you may as well be wearing a bin-bag for all the benefit you'll feel.

There is a bewildering variety of base layers available on the market today, suitable for all activities and weather conditions from Arctic exploration, to running in the Desert (which is why we don't call them the generic 'thermals'). In this guide we'll look over the main types of base layer, and some of the things you may wish to think about when purchasing.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Tunisia Travel Advice

As you may be aware, Tunisia is experiencing some domestic trouble.

The Foreign Office has advised not travelling there unless absolutely essential.

For more the latest info visit the FCO site

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A helmet that comes apart! Wild Country Alpine Shield

The new cool new Alpine Shield helmet is uniquie.  It is both a regular style climbing helmet and also an ice climbing lid. 
The Alpine Shield helmet is the worlds first truly modular climbing helmet and the first to allow a choice of protection levels at the turn of a screw!  A high performance EPS inner is complemented by an optional outer shell that attaches quickly and easily to make a stronger, safer unit for harsher conditions.
 Below is a review posted on

Reviewed very positively by Hamish Dunn he says of the Alpine Shield that:

'This helmet will suit the climber who wants to buy one helmet which will perform in all types of climbing. A balance of looks and usability coupled with a reasonable price tag make this a strong contender in the ever growing helmet market.  When you consider the cost of buying a hard shell and a foam shell helmet it's really a no-brainer.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Travel article from Icy Astana in Kazakstan

Paul Taylor is currently out in Kazakhstan and has been sending back some pictures and a bit of a diary about his travels.  If you thought we were having a cold winter check out the pictures below.

The first couple of pictures show the view from a bridge over the river that runs through the city.  There are three buildings that look the same to the top left of the picture (as you look at it).  We are staying in the block furthest to the left (last one in the picture).  As you can see we are close to the river. 

 You can see the ice skating rink that has been made on the river (unbelievably, its a beach in the summer). There's even a track that heads off from the rink and makes a circle down the river.

All along the river they have built ice sculptures and ice slides for the kids.  In the picture above you can see one on the bank of the river (directly below the house block to the right of our house).  Its amazing what you can do with some 'ice bricks' and some frozen water.  There are a lot of ice sculptures along the river as well.  I took a photo of one of the bigger ones of a rabbit.  Astana is hosting the winter Asian games in a couple of weeks time - so they have done lots of nice things to make the city attractive (the lights in the evening are very impressive!).

And then there are lots of ice slides for the kids.  These have been made out bricks of ice.  I have had to dig out my Rab Summit Jacket as its the only thing which will keep me warm out here!

Ghyll Scrambling

From vertex to vortex…ghyll scrambling is the extreme sport of hurtling down a mountain waterfall, one of the fastest-growing sporting activities in Britain today.

Head for the hills and traverse along a rocky mountain path as you make your way steadily upwards – and then take the plunge and slide down a waterfall or natural rock chute into the swirling waters below. It’s been likened to white water rafting…without the raft!

Ghyll-scrambling – also known as gully bashing and canyoning – has become a huge hit with adrenalin junkies from the Brecon Beacons to the Lake District. These hardy adventurers think nothing of throwing themselves off a rocky outcrop into the middle of a thundering waterfall, battling with the racing waters on their downward descent.

Even during the summer months the water temperature can be somewhat invigorating to say the least. And in winter, with howling winds perhaps whipping the icy water into a frenzy, how to stay warm and dry in the raging torrent is a challenge in itself.

Being professionally equipped with the right clothing is essential for both safety and comfort.

Thermal base layers are a given, worn under a full steamer wetsuit and waterproof salopettes and jacket.

Neoprene socks and gloves will go a long way towards directing heat to the extremities, and although sturdy Wellington boots won’t keep the water out, they will help protect your feet and shins.

Safety helmets, such as those used in rock-climbing, should always be worn.

Look online for a centre where you can try this activity with qualified instructors

Friday, 7 January 2011

How to clean down jackets

Down jackets are one of the hardest pieces of outdoor wear to clean at home, and if in any doubt we recommend a professional company be used.  3-4 season down sleeping bags should always be professional cleaned.  We have added to our Gear Guides on Gear Zone to help you wash and dry your down jacket in the correct way.

I often say to customers that washing down gear isn't hard it's the drying which needs extra care.  

Take a look at the guide to see how to wash by had or machine, dry and re-proof your coat

Click here