FAQ's things I'm frequently quizzed about, here's the top 10 which consistantly crop up

1/ How do I wash my down jacket/sleeping bag?

Hand wash is best, at 40degrees & use a natural/liquid soap, the BIG trick is in the drying & you must 'tease' out all the clumps as you go, allow a day for a jkt to dry & 2 days for a s/bag, don't be tempted to just bung it in the tumble dryer! However you can do this at the end just to fluff it up!

2/ Single or double ropes for climbing why both & whats best?

As a rule novice climbers will use singles(less complex handling required), also areas such as Yosemite favour singles due to the many cracks, however trad routes in the UK & Ireland almost always require double ropes once you get to HVS or thereabouts, ditto winter routes are usually best protected with doubles.

3/ What kind of boots are ok to use with crampons?

Check the boots you own/are planning to buy will do the job required, then select a crampon to match. As a rule a B2 boot will work with a C1 or C2 crampon for walking/easy routes. More difficult & steeper terrain require stiffer boots & at least a C2 crampon. Really soft footwear just won't cut the mustard in the mountains.

4/ How do I care for/reproof my hardshell jacket?

Follow the manufacturers instructions! Again hand wash at a low temp is best, if really grubby i.e. the back of jacket after mountain biking? Prewash then use Nikwak 2 in one wash/reproofer. A cool overall iron will help restore the DWR/water 'beading up & rolling off' effect. Never use fabric conditioners, they're the kiss of death on most laminated jackets!

5/ What protection does a softshell offer?

Softshells by definition are comfortable, reasonably warm, wind resistant & usually quite stylish. However they don't offer as much warmth as a synthetic or down jacket & won't keep out persistant rain, check out some new fabrics such as Polartecs Neo-shell, purports to be the best of both worlds!

6/ Why do orthotic insoles make such a difference?

Orthotic insoles such as 'Superfeet' have several benefits. They help stabilise the foot in the boot, this leads to less internal foot movement which often results in blisters & even bunions. They also help prevent the foot from sliding forward in the boot so it's less likely that toes will hit the end.

7/ Why use a pair rather than just one trekking pole?

A pair of poles offer so much more stability than a single ever can, using one pole results in a 'lopsided' gait wheras two will give the user increased stability on the up & down journeys esp if carrying a pack of any size & when crossing a raging river may even save your life!

8/ Whats so special about Merino wool v/s polyester?

Both materials work well at moving moisture so are particularly suitable for baselayers As a rule for highly aerobic activities & frequent washing select polyester. However in colder temps & stop/start activities Merino will continue to move moisture along it's fibres even when the users body heat is lowered. Merino also has the advantage of being less susceptible to body odours...

9/ What do temperature/comfort ratings on sleeping bags actually mean?

Latest standards for sleeping bags use the following guidelines. Comfort= user dressed lightly or even naked, will get an adequate nights rest. Limit of comfort=user will probably need baselayers & maybe even a woolly hat to remain comfortably warm. Extreme=all clothing must be worn & even then user may well remain cold. All this assumes a decent ground mat/insulator is being used. 

10/ and finally & this applies to nearly everything, is lightweight always best?

Well yes & no, the lighter an item is naturally means less for the user to carry & makes life that bit easier. However lighter gear will usually have less material or metal in it's makeup & so will probably need replacing more frequently leading to a higher cost for the consumer. Additionally in say the case of winter climbing gear latest superlight crampons & axes may lack the perfomance of some older heavier tools ,issues like this need addressing along with those of cost, durability & maintainance?