Monday, December 28, 2015

Vikings Your Under a Vest !! For Fashion Faux Pas....

Dont be scared by "old " Technolgy !!

I have recently been testing some "Old Tech" kit,
some kit that works very well in our Outdoor Enviroment.
While working hard and then standing still. 
Some kit that uses a natural condition to its best advantage. 

Kit that just works!

Our bodies work best when warm and dry its technical name is Homeostatis
We work hard to maintain this balance when we are outdoors

Thanks to Rhodri Lewis from Nordiclife and his passion for staying warm and comfatable during his work offshore and in the outdoors. He brought the Brynje brand back to the UK for us.

When anyone mentions String Vests this is what springs to mind

and if your lucky this
or maybe even this if your old enough

However thanks to modern fabrics and technological advances and some "new" thinking from elite atheletes and military personal.
String Vests have reappeared.

Brynje have been around in Norway since 1887 and began by providing wool clothing to Norwegians. By 1949, when Henrik Brun, a Norwegian army officer, and Jacob Jacobsen officially formed Brynje, the pair had begun a revolution in extreme weather clothing. Brynje quickly inspired the devotion of elite mountaineers, outfitting John Hunt’s legendary 1953 expedition. This made Brynje the first base layer to the top of Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing!

Rhodri explained the science to me and told me just to try it; 'The secret to the high performance is that it draws excess moisture away from the skin while maintaining a warm regulated cushion of air next to the body. With conventional solid knit underwear the perspiration cannot escape quickly enough through the fabric, so the fabric next to your skin becomes sodden and you quickly become cold.' 
Rhodri went on to explain This is not the case with Brynje's mesh system as the air pockets in between the holes allow the body to 'breathe' more easily and naturally -  which also explains why mesh systems work equally well in  hot and cold climates.  "Everyone hates that cold wet base layer stuck to the skin, and that virtually disappears when you use mesh. Firstly, you only have a small amount of material in contact with the skin, and secondly it's the 'cap layer' that holds the moisture as it leaves your skin as vapour and condenses on the cap layer, which is held away from the skin by the mesh."
I have worked with Mike Parsons and Mary Rose who have a great book called Invisible on Everest and a long standing knowledge and understanding of outdoor clothing. This is now included on their site Outdoor Gear Coach so I gleaned more knowledge from them. 
I also read Andy KirkPatricks blog on staying Warm from UK Climbing and he mentioned his Brynje mesh base layer.

So the Vikings brought this garment to the UK


Over the centriues it has come to be adapted and adopted by runners

 This is Ron Hill one of GB greatest distance runners 

Cyclists This is Greg Lemond who wore Brynje as preferred base layer to stay cool.
Cool Dudes 

Shackleton wore one on his trip to Antartica      

And the Commandos were issued them or made them from one piece of string that could be used when unwound for a multitude of uses 

I have been using it with a Montane Krypton Jacket over the top as my capping garment, along with this I have used a silk layer and a Montane Primino Merino Base Layer.  The mesh also works well with just a windproof such as Montane Lite Speed Jacket; Temperature regulation and a degree of waterproofness is great with this system.

This for me has been a winning combination, maybe not for everyone else.......

Two different styles for vagueries of weather. I have even used a mesh vest under a shirt in monsoon India this year. Its works like a layer of insulating scaffolding, keeping my wet shirt away from my skin. Helping with the dry feeling and aiding my shirt to dry quicker when the rains stopped.

I think I look like this  In reality its more like this........

Summary; Brilliant piece of outdoor kit that really works. 
It takes a bit of re-education on how to use it to best effect. Its all about the minor gains that give us the best results along with value for money and durability. 

As the Norwegians say 
Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær

Monday, November 23, 2015

Do Your Gloves Work for You?

A quick review of the Gloves I have found useful at work. 

Over a period of years I have tried and tested and spent a lot of money on various pairs of gloves looking for  the shang-ri-la pair to keep my digits warm, dry and working. 
I am still looking.....

There have been several pairs from reputable outdoor brands that
 have come close over the years. 
However,the elusive, dexterous, warm/ cool, dry, on & offable, 
affordable piece of kit that will help me perform my job in the 
outdoors must still be in the bargain bin somewhere that I haven't located. Yet!

Gloves are part of my PPE (Glove PPE taken from a Canadian document) 
and as such need to be useful to me to be able to function safely and with 
some degree of comfort. 
Here are some of the alternatives that I have tried during my work 
as an International Mountain Leader,Volunteer Mountain Rescue Team member, 
Fell runner and Mountain Marathoner over 20 years in all seasons.

Liner Gloves
These are invaluable to keep your fingers warm and help you perform the fiddly
 tasks, undoing zippers, tyeing and untying knots, undoing the age old 
conundrum of unwrapping a Starburst sweet. 
You should have numerous pairs of these stashed in easy accessable dry places, 
pockets, dry bags and top pockets of rucksacks. 
They should, as with all these gloves, be easy to get on and off in all conditions and dry quickly. 

My current favourite are from Decathlon and are inexpensive.
 They are great when wet, keep hands warm and dry out very quickly. 
The dexterity of these are like skin as they are so thin, 26gms in weight means you can carry a few pairs. 
Touch screen devices can be used through these also. 
This is a wonder fabric, warm when wet, reasonably durable and wind resistant.  
Read from the title link what the manufacturer's say.
I just know it works well. Here is a link to the current pair I am using Montane Power- stretch pro pair.

Another great inexpensive option that can be stashed in every pocket. 
This is the type that can be seen being used daily in freezer sections of supermarkets.
 If it works for them....

They can be used on either hand so there’s no messing about trying to get them on. 
 They are not very windproof so maybe an over-glove or mitt maybe useful. 

These are great as a waterproof barrier under these liner gloves. When in place they can stay there all day long and I can keep the dexterity I need without removal. They will then work like a  vapour barrier, a new sort of education needed for our British climate, but do work very  well in colder climates. 

This is Andy Kirkpatricks take on Vapour barrier socks. The gloves do turn your fingers into  something that look like your granny’s. With a bit of practice and used in 
the right conditions  they have  worked for me.

Next Layer
This is a standard style of glove used most days where its not to cold for the need of a liner. 
As with the liner gloves the applications for me are the same in fit, price and usefulness.

These have excellent grip on maps and compass etc along with a great fit. 
In the wet they just get wet and can be wrung out. 
They are again very inexpensive, CE and EN rated for protection. 
The only drawback is that when working with ropes the rubber palm is
 not as Durable as leather. I have used these gloves on numerous occasions and I can
 get a silk liner underneath to add extra warmth.
They are not very wind  resistant either but can be covered over. 

These seem to be a staple glove in Europe favored by Mountain Guides and Ski Patrollers alike. They are tough, warm with a fleece pile liner that does not pull out.  
When treated with some saddle oil or  Nikwax Glove oil they do have some water repellency.    Here is an overview of the gloves.
They are slightly heavy as you may expect. But do remain warm when wet and fits a liner well. I have used mine in temperatures down to -25C in Norway with a liner and they have been great. 
I have made a couple of elastic leashes to connect to the wrist eyelets to keep in contact with 
the gloves when I have to “drop” them and use my liner gloves for greater dexterity.  

I have also tried the new version of CE rated Delta FBF50, they have now taken over from Venitex and have a great feel and dexterity for this size of glove. Again a few applications of Nikwax or saddle leather reproofer works brilliantly to keep most of the water off the surface. This glove has a Thinsulate lining which has been much maligned by the outdoor world as a cheap alternative to other insulators. Thinsulate has been around for 40 + years and and here is some info on its heritage and history

These Gloves are great not only for the novelty value, a lot of folk ask about a
 customs style inspections with these on, but they are warm and waterproof,
 until water gets down the cuff. If you can get the right jacket sleeve- cuff to fit over the
 top they are pretty bombproof. Click on the link for specifications.

As above there is a taunting from onlookers when wearing these. 
Ask what a window cleaner working all year round outdoors will be wearing and I bet this are on the list. 
The faux wool fleece liner will come 
 out and can be replaced with any of the aforementioned liners. 
Or an alternative fleece liner can be added.
 They are not very dexterous but work in cold conditions where water, snow, ice are in contact. 
Made in Finland where they know a thing or to about the cold.  

   Another in the style of the above, in that its a fish out of water on the mountains but used extensively by deep sea fishermen the world over. 
This the breathable version with a cotton liner. Takes a while to dry and  can get a bit clammy. 
The fit is a bit tight on the fingers which does not help getting them on and off as easy as the above gloves. 
It conversely helps with the smaller fiddly jobs, therefore needs to come off less. 

There are numerous occasions when I get the wrong glove choice on a day out. 
More thought has to go  into multi day activities, but with greater glove choice and these being 
relatively inexpensive work gloves  I can afford to make a better choice.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Photo Shoot with Berghaus on Helvellyn

Five go Mad on a Mountain (and a Dog)
Photo Shoot with Berghaus 

On Sunday I was asked to go along as the safety person to accompany the Berghaus photo shoot on Helvellyn. 

We met in a very wet and windy Glenridding with the Athletes and local photographer Stuart Holmes from Keswick. 
While we drank tea, ate cake and waited for the strong winds and rain to disappear we managed to catch up with Steve Birkinshaw, Charlie Sharpe, Jo Zakrzewski all world class elite athletes and looking to take part in the Dragons Back Race in 2015. 

Stuart got into the swing of things early on as we left the village making the guys warm up by running up and down the road. 
After this we set off to the hills now covered with a new layer of snow still with strong winds but easing later in the day. 

Only two days before I had been up Helvellyn as part of the safety checks for the Lakes Mountain 42  organised by NAV4 Adventure  in +19C in shorts and T Shirt with Keela my dog. 

24 Hours later the weather had changed abit and was now -2C and 35mph winds.

Our day was forecast for continuing strong winds rain and snow clearing in the afternoon. Charlie is know for wearing shorts and managed to stay like this all day. 

Jo sadly had to leave early her excuse was that Poldark was on at 9 and she need ed time to get ready for all the smouldering from the TV.

We carried on with Stuart and Angela, from Berghaus, directing the runners all over dressing them like a doting mother and looking after Keela

We were fortunate with the weather later in the day. 
Notice the wind on Ullswater making a very un-natural looking break point near Outward Bound.
Our day topped safely out on the summit for the obligatory summit selfies and 

We then continued Northwards along the ridge  avoiding the cornice and the areas of small avalanches. capturing the fantastic light at the end of the day

A great day with a safe circuit of one of the iconic fells in the Lake District with a great group of talented world class athletes getting ready to take on further challenges. 

I am able to help out with safety cover for any of your events worldwide do contact me.