How to tie a Bowline

Step 1bowline1Create a loop (some people refer to this as the ‘rabbit hole’), then continue in the same direction as if you were about to create a bigger loop.

Step 2bowline2Pass the end of the rope around the anchor (or object) or thread through both the top and bottom parts of your climbing harness (as per a figure of 8). Next pass the end of the rope through the loop and behind the main rope line (some people refer to this as the ‘tree’).

Step 3bowline3Now pass the rope through the loop again and pull tight. This completes the Bowline. If we’re talking rabbits; then the rabbit has come out of the hole, around the tree and back down the hole!

A point to note is that it doesn’t matter which way around the main rope (tree) the rope (rabbit) goes, this just effects whether the end of the rope sits inside or outside the main loop. In our picture it sits inside the main loop.

Stopper Knot
When using a bowling for rock climbing purposes it MUST be finished with a stopped knot, as with loading and unloading of the bowline can cause it to creep and come untied.

The most common method is by tying a double stopper knot. Note how the stopper knot is butted right up against the bowline.

bowline4

bowline5It’s as easy as that…bada bing, bada boom, bada bowline!

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River Arun – Stopham Bridge to Pallingham Quay

Kayaking Trip on the River Arun from Stopham Bridge to Pallingham Quay.

River Arun - Stopham Bridge get on.
River Arun – Stopham Bridge get on.
River Arun - Stopham Bridge, get on and get wet!
River Arun – Stopham Bridge, get on and get wet!
Old Stopham Bridge
Old Stopham Bridge
The lower sections of the River Arun
The lower sections of the River Arun
Lower sections of the River Arun are fairly wide before becoming overgrown and narrow in the upper reaches.
Lower sections of the River Arun are fairly wide before becoming overgrown and narrow in the upper reaches.
Starting to get overgrown.
Starting to get overgrown.
Overgrown!
Overgrown!
Even the sign posts seem lost!
Even the sign posts seem lost!
Time for a rest on this handy jetty.
Time for a rest on this handy jetty.
River Arun Kayaking Trip
Relaxing on the River Arun
Pallingham Quay on the River Arun
In the distance the ‘Keepers Cottage’ can just be seen and this marks the furthest upstream we can go.
Time to return to Stopham Bridge.
Time to return to Stopham Bridge.

White Water Safety & Rescue Course

I recently attended a White Water Safety and Rescue course at the Tryweryn White Water Centre in North Wales with some friends over at Martlet Kayak Club, Brighton.

The last time I attended a white water safety and rescue course was about 8 years ago and I thought it was high time to refresh my skills and spend the weekend swimming down a cold Welsh river! It turned out I was the only one who had been on a course like this before with the majority of the group being fairly new to white water, what a treat they were in for!

So after an utterly crap drive up the M40 on the bank holiday weekend with accidents everywhere and plenty of traffic, we made it up to the Tyddynbychan bunk house where some of the guys had left us diner (Sheppard’s pie, followed by apple crumble and custard) – ace!

Members of Martlet Kayak Club and Hatt Adventures on a white water safety and rescue course
White water safety and rescue course members

With an early start we drove the short distance to the Afon Tryweryn to sign in and get kitted up in warm gear and dry suits. Some of the team opted for more warm stuff than others and this ranged from 3-4 layers to a measly 1 thin set of thermals (some were obviously colder than others!)  I found that a set of thermal top and bottoms plus a thin fleece bear suit and neoprene skull cap was just about right (not to cold for standing around in, but suitably warm and giving enough movement for swimming down the river!)

After a short introduction to the course and a briefing on the hierarchy of danger:

Shout – Shout to swimmer and guide them to the nearest eddie
Reach – Using a releasable object
Throw – Throw line
Row – Paddle out to swimmer
Go – Live bait
Other services (ambulance etc.)

Defensive swimming - feet out in front and slightly bent to absorb any impact from rocks.
Defensive swimming – feet out in front and slightly bent to absorb any impact from the rocks.

We took to the water. First we learnt how to swim through the rapids defensively on our backs with our feet out in front while doing back stroke. Then it was learning how to swim offensively  using a corkscrew roll technique to get out of the main flow and to the safety of an eddie.

Learning to swim in stoppers was an eye opening experience.
Learning to swim in stoppers was an eye opening experience.

After this it was time to swim down small drops tucking into a ball and then learning how to swim/glide across stoppers adopting a parachute free-fall position. This was probably one of the most eye opening parts of the course and filled everyone with confidence.

Throwline practice.
Throw-line practice.

Next it was throw line practice – perfecting overarm and underarm throws and looking at the different options for reeling in the swimmer and getting them into the eddie. We worked on our own, in pairs, and then in groups in a variety of situations.

Tree Hazards also known as strainers can be killers.
Tree Hazards also known as strainers can be killers.

Just before lunch we got to experience what it would be like to get stuck on tree (strainer) and how to deal with it. We were first asked to swim down in a defensive position and get stuck on the tree (a large brown tube) held in place with a releasable rope system. After trying for nearly a minute to push myself against the water and climb on top of it I had to admit defeat and if this was a real situation I probably would have drowned.

Our next attempt was to swim at the tree head-first doing an aggressive front crawl, just as we were about to hit the tree with had to push down on it and get our chest up and over it. This is easier said than done, but works extremely well and is your only defence again a tree hazard.

Live baiting - when you absolutely have to get that victim!
Live baiting – when you absolutely have to get that victim!

After lunch it was time to get back in the water and set up live-bait scenarios. Live-baiting is where you have no choice but to get in the water attached to the end of the line and grab an injured or unconscious swimmer before they disappear off down stream and come to more harm. This is a great way to cause chaos and there were a few interesting techniques being developed by the other team – who it turned out had on occasion accidentally taken to punching the casualty in the face whilst attempting to rescue them!

Tensioned diagonal lines can be used to get people and equipment across the river.
Tensioned diagonal lines can be used to get people and equipment across the river.

The last action of the day was to set up a tensioned diagonal line across the river to transfer equipment and people back across the side they needed to be. This was set up as mini scenario and we were able to watch the other team having fun trying to throw ropes across the river and tie knots before trusting their set up and jumping in. For a first attempt and with no prior knowledge they did extremely well.

Day Two

Paddling a swimmer to safety.
Paddling a swimmer to safety.

The morning consisted of effective group padding, management and planning, learning how and when to run rapids as small groups, individuals and in pairs. Once the basics were mastered we looked at rescuing swimmers from the boats and towing them to safety.

Foot entrapments and chest lines.
Foot entrapments and chest lines.

After this we practiced setting up various chest lines for swimmers with foot entrapments and how to free pinned boats using pulleys systems and vector pulls.

White water rescue scenarios.
White water rescue scenarios.

After lunch it was time to put all the skills together in various scenarios with only split seconds to react to an incident, decide on a plan of action and carry it out.

On the whole our casualty was rescued fairly quickly with only minimal fuss and confusion. Sometimes this was achieved by carrying out two different rescues simultaneously with one being the back up if the first failed. This was the luxury of the training environment and having enough people with the right set of new skills and throw bags on standby.

When paddling rivers events can often happen in a instant and when you least expect it. This kind of training really helps you to plan and prepare for such incidents and gives you the confidence to deal with situations when they arise. An absolute must for anyone into their white water kayaking!

Big thanks to Tryweryn white water centre in North Wales and the Martlet Kayak Club, Brighton.

– by Tom Hatt

Outdoor Clothing Explained

sunset-clouds-golden-hour-lets-get-lost-large

Whatever the weather, we hope that this article helps you to keep warm and dry during the winter months.

To understand what we should be wearing for the great outdoors we should first consider what we need the clothing to provide.

Essentially clothing must provide you with warmth and offer you protection from the elements. Your clothing should enable you to lose as much heat as you are generating to help maintain your natural body temperature or ‘thermal equilibrium’. Rather than wearing lots of warm clothes that will increase body temperature, by reaching thermal equilibrium you will be conserving energy that your body may have otherwise used generating heat or losing heat through sweating.

One of the ways of achieving this is to use a layering system as outlined below. Firstly, you have a base layer (with wicking qualities) and then an insulating layer (that retains your body heat) and finally, an outer shell (that protects from wind and rain). Below is a more in depth look at each of these three layers.

base-layer

Base Layer
The base layer is in direct contact with your skin so it is important that it can adapt well to constant sweating and cooling. Whilst materials like cotton tend to soak up and retain moisture, other fabrics that work well as base layers include natural fibres such as silk or wool or synthetic fibres such as polypropylene or nylon.  We would advise wearing natural fibres like wool as synthetic fibres tend to smell after activity!  Merino Wool is a material we could highly recommend as a base layer.

Some of the common qualities of base layers are:
– They are made from light fibres that are also very durable.
– The materials absorb only a very small percentage (less than 1%) of their weight in moisture. This enables them to retract moisture from skin and dry very quickly also known as fast wicking.
– The problem with synthetic materials such as polypropylene or nylon is that they start to smell more than the natural fibres do.

mid-layer

Mid/Insulating Layer
The main purpose of the insulating layer is to retain your body heat. They work by trapping a layer of ‘still’ air around your body.

Fleece: A common material used for the insulating layer is fleece. A dense knit of polyester fabric is passed through a ‘napping’ machine which basically creates a solid weave on one side of the fabric and a fluffy side on the other that retains the still air layer.

Similar to fleece is pile. This is a much thicker fabric.

down-layer

Down Jackets: Many a down jacket can be seen on blustery days at climbing crags. These are great for keeping you warm, a bit like wearing your duvet, but there is a downfall to these, in that they loose their insulting values when wet. There is also synthetic insulation such as primaloft which doesn’t have the same warmth to weight ratio as down but does keep most of its insulting qualities when wet.

outer-shell

Outer Shell Layer
The main purpose for the outer shell is to protect you from the elements by being both waterproof and wind resistant whilst still being breathable.

Waterproofs: These can range from lightweight (for running, rambling etc.) to high tech specialised jackets that are created specifically for mountaineering or snow sports. Choosing a jacket that is waterproof (such as a PVC rain coat) may keep the rain out, but without the benefit of breathability you could become soaked in your own sweat.

Laminated Outer Shells: Materials such as Gore-tex provide a combination that is both waterproof and breathable. It is made by laminating a waterproof membrane to different fabrics. The membrane itself has about 9 billion pores per square inch and each pore is around 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet. So the fabric is able to block out rain and wind whilst allowing body moisture to escape. Although Gore-tex is windproof it doesn’t have any insulating qualities, which is where the other layers mentioned come in.

You may also want to think more about the colour of your outer shell as bright colours are easy to spot in emergency situations.

Lights, Camera, Action! Filming our Subaru Advert – Pt.2

A few of months ago we were asked to source a location, a climber and riggers to film a Subaru advert. The day went well and the shoot was completed. The media company BJL were extremely pleased with the advert, however they wanted to make a more dramatic fall at the end of the sequence and shoot it from more angles, so they asked us to head back to Portland to spend the day not climbing, but falling!!

This time we decided to head to Neddyfileds on the East Cost as this was similar in aspect and scenery to the Cuttings where we’d previously shot, but this was more overhanging for our fall shots and allowed for a great vista in the background.

Upon arrival we were slightly worry about the amount of ‘group’ ropes already in situ, however we found the area we were planning was empty and the groups were far enough around the corner that they wouldn’t be in shot.

Portland climbing.
Setting up the film crew safety ropes.

We got straight on with the action, first rigging an ascent line for the camera man (Tom) and while this was going on Henning got warmed up and started working on the moves to the drop point. When everyone was in position and the GoPro’s were up and running, it was time for the first fall. After this was out of the way, we increased the drop size and marked the ropes to ensure similar drop heights each time. We filmed a wide range of angles and all in all Henning must have made about 10 drops.

Below hear from Henning about the fear of falling:
Once we got there, chose a route for the shoot and started setting up, I started feeling a bit nervous about the big falls I was about to take. In climbing you gradually build up a relationship of trust between you and person you climb with regularly and on this occasion I wasn’t being belayed by someone I had climbed with loads before. However, Kyle was on belay for the shoot and although he had only ever belayed me on one occasion, (the day of the previous shoot) I knew I could trust him but I couldn’t help but be a bit nervous.

TV and Film safety rigging in Portland.
Kyle ready for Henning’s leader fall.

Once we got going and I took a couple of falls I was getting more comfortable and I could relax a bit more. I take big falls indoors on a regular basis and don’t mind it much, but taking big falls outdoors is always much more exhilarating. After a few big drops I was now properly rushing on adrenaline and enjoying the experience more and more.

With Tom hanging on a rigged rope next to me, we were shooting from lots of different angles and heights to get the perfect shot for the advert. After getting a few good shots of the falling, the director wanted a shot of a climber being lowered down quickly and stopping a couple of meters off the ground.

We decided to put a knot in the dead rope to make sure I didn’t end up on the ground when I was lowered down that fast. We were all set to go. I climbed back up and on cue, Kyle tried lowering me down fast as he could and as calculated, I stopped a couple of meters off the ground. The director was not happy with the speed at which I was coming down so our only option was for Kyle to completely let go of the rope so I could drop down faster and stop when the knot jams in the belay device. This is something I have never done before so needless to say, I was quite nervous.

We re-calculated to make sure the knot was tied at the right height so I would not end up on the ground. So up I climbed again, reassuring myself that we had checked and calculated everything correctly and that I would not end up hitting the deck. The countdown started and on cue I let go and dropped down stopping two meters off the ground as calculated. I sighed with relief and looked at the director for approval. Instead of a nod of approval, he asked whether there was any way to speed up the drop as it still was not fast enough.

Sport lead climbing in Portland, Dorset.
Henning dangling from the rope after taking another fall.

After a bit of thought, we decided to put a pulley up at the top for the rope to run through, reducing the friction and ultimately dropping me at a faster speed. With everything in place, and once again a slightly nervous me waiting at the top, Tom counted and I dropped down. This time much faster than ever before! The first couple of drops were scary and exhilarating but then I could start enjoying the buzz again until we finally got the ‘OK’ from the director to say he was satisfied and got the shot he wanted.

Abseiling at Neddyfields in Portland.
Al the director taking his first ever abseil with Carlos providing safety cover.

After all the exciting shots, falling off more times than I normally do in a month, we only had a few easy ground based shots left to do to wrap up the day. We quickly got these out of the way and had a bit of time to spare in the afternoon. We even managed to convince the director to have a go at climbing and abseiling before we packed up and headed back to Brighton.

The finished Subaru advert:

By Tom Hatt and Henning Muller

River Ouse – Barcombe Mills to Isfield Weir

The launch point
The launch point
The River Ouse leaves Barcombe Mills and heads Northwards.
The River Ouse leaves Barcombe Mills and heads Northwards.

At the fork, limbo under the bridge and continue upstream. You can return via the left-hand fork.
At the fork, limbo under the bridge and continue upstream. You can return via the left-hand fork.
At the locks its time to portage the kayaks on river right.
At the locks its time to portage the kayaks on river right.
Portage the kayaks
Portage the kayaks.
Above the locks is a gague, much higher that a 7 and you'll struggle to limbo under the bridge by the Anchor Inn. In this case walk further up and put in just beyond the bridge.
Above the locks is a gauge, much higher that a 7 and you’ll struggle to limbo under the bridge by the Anchor Inn. In this case walk further up and put in just beyond the bridge.
The launch spot above the locks is just big enough for one boat in the summer.
The launch spot above the locks is just big enough for one boat in the summer.
The Anchor Inn, a nice place to stop for food and a pint.
The Anchor Inn, a nice place to stop for food and a pint.
The limbo bridge!
The limbo bridge!
The upper section of the River Ouse, starts to get more wild and overgrown.
The upper section of the River Ouse, starts to get more wild and overgrown.
Take the right hand fork to Isfield Weir.
Take the right hand fork to Isfield Weir.
Relaxing at Isfield Weir.
Relaxing at Isfield Weir.
On the return journey a couple of hundred meters from the lock, you can take the right-hand fork for an adventurous route back. This is also slightly shorter.
On the return journey a couple of hundred meters from the lock, you can take the right-hand fork for an adventurous route back. This is also slightly shorter.
Enjoying the local wildlife.
Enjoying the local wildlife.
The forks re-joining at the very first bridge.
The forks re-joining at the very first bridge.

 

How to tie a Re-Threaded Figure of 8

Step 1
fig-of-eight1
Make a loop, in the rope and thread the rope back round into the loop to create an 8 shape. This is known as a single figure-of-eight. To tie a re-threaded figure-of-eight you will need  approximately 1m of rope at the working end.

Step 2
fig-of-eight2
Pass the working end of the rope around an object (in this case a karabiner) but if you were tying into a climbing harness you would need to go through both the top and bottom loops. Next re-thread back in to the figure-of-eight. Note that the working end goes into the same loop it left from.

Step 3
fig-of-eight3

Now follow the the rope so that both ropes are parallel all the way until you are back at the point you started with on your single figure-of-eight.

Your re-threaded figure-of-eight is now complete and to tighten if up pull both ropes are each end.

The re-threaded figure-of-eight is an incredible strong and reliable knot on its own,  however it is best practice to finish it off with a ‘stopper knot’ to ensure there is the correct amount of tail left (10cm approx. 3-4inchs).

Uses
The figure of eight knot is generally accepted as being the industry standard (or best practice) for tying into a climbing rope.
It can also be used to attach to an anchor (though a more easily adjustable knot would be the bowline).

Advantages
It is a very simple to learn and easy to recognise once tied. It will also stay tied even with fairly stiff rope.

It is also a relatively strong knot, and in test its breaking strain is varies from 66-77% of the ropes full strength.

Disadvantages
It can be difficult to untie after loading but better than knots such as the overhand knot.

It is not easily adjusted when using with anchors, other knots such as a clove hitch or a bowline would be recommended here.

Banff Film Festival 2015

 

We were really excited to be invited to have a stand at this years Banff Film Festival at the Brighton Dome. We’ve been huge fans of the festival since it started its UK tour in 2010 and have been associated with it since its early days in Brighton.  It’s a brilliant event, travelling world wide to showcase the best adventure films to the masses and we love it when we get to visit each year.

2015 is a little different as we are proudly celebrating our 10th year running and as a result we were giving away a few special prizes to visitors to the festival.  We are passionate about helping people to experience adventure for themselves and we gave away a Kayaking Experience, Rock Climbing Experience and a couple of our awesome, brand spanking new HA t-shirts – stylishly modelled by our lovely instructors in the photos of this post… We even threw in a grand prize – an exciting 2 Day Guided Rock Climbing Course in North Wales!

We had several members of the Hatt Adventures team on hand to chat to people about the exciting trips and courses we offer and we were able to catch up with many old friends with whom we’ve shared adventures over the years including members from Martlet Kayak Club and The Brighton Explorers Club – all in all it shaped up to be an awesome day/evening.

Added to this we had the brilliant opportunity to view both the red and blue screenings of the festival -watching all the awesome films that Banff had to offer this year – and as you can see by the picture – we definitely ate our fair share of chocolate to keep us energised throughout 😉

All the films this year were superb, emotive and inspirational and if you haven’t been to the festival before, make sure book a place for 2016… We highly recommend it for a motivational, feel good day/evening out.

Here’s some of our favourites from this year:

Valley Uprising – The history of climbing in Yosemite National Park in 1970’s. – Climbing, drugs, parties and rock and roll! This portrait of the ‘Stonemasters’ highlights their meteoric rise to fame and the Lynn Hill’s legendary first “free” ascent of The Nose on El Capitan.

All My Own Stunts – Rob Jarman stuntman and downhill mountain bike specialist. Following a near-fatal accident, Rob has battled to stay atop both fields. Now setting his sights on a UK mountain bike downhill speed record down Skidaw in the Lake District.

Unridables – Skiing and parachuting in Alaska’s most remote and demanding mountain environment, testing their limits in a massive, volatile landscape of ice and snow.

Into the Ditch – Two friends, one ditch! Need we say more?

Also make sure you check out Tashi and the Monk and if you get the chance show your support for the Jhamtse Gatsal Children’s Community, a brilliant cause.

That sums up another great Banff film festival for 2015. Roll on next year!

Lights, Camera, Action! Our Day Filming a TV Advert

We were contacted in late March 2015 by BJL Group Ltd. about filming one of our rock climbing instructors for a new Subaru advert. They had some ideas about how the advert was going to look and feel but nothing more than that, so they enlisted our help in finding a location and getting into the technical side of things.

The first place for us to start was with the storyboard or concept drawings to gain a better understanding of the advert. After seeing the shots they wanted and knowing that the venue had to be within a reasonable drive from London, we knew instantly that the Isle of Portland in Dorset was going to hold the answers.

After much discussion amongst myself and the team we decided that we wanted to head to Blacknor South on the West coast of Portland, as this offered some great climbing options, was impressively high and had great views into the distance – everything a film director would want! So the venue was chosen, the date set, and a technical team was in place to rig the camera operators in position to get those stunning shots.

It was now the day before the shoot and I received a phone call from our climbing star of the advert to say that he’d come down with flu! – Ahh! So with less than 24hrs to go I’d just lost the star of the show and a climber who can onsite a 7a+. So the morning was spent frantically phoning around trying to find someone who could climb hard and was available the next day to drive to Portland. In the end we decided to go with Henning Muller, a great climber and full time climbing instructor. So with myself, Kyle and Henning we had a crew but now the weather looked like it was set to play havoc with our plans!

It was the day of the shoot and the wind was howling as I woke up at 5:30am, it looks like the weather forecasters had not be telling lies and the 40-50mph winds were in full effect. So it was off to the lockup to load the kit and meet the team.

We’d chosen Portland not only for its stunning scenery but also for exactly this reason, that if the weather was bad we could always use the other side of the Island. After much discussion we decided to head to the ‘Cuttings’ as this would give and impressive cliff height (20m) – ideal for the shoot and sheltered from the worst of the wind.

We met the film crew armed with the latest GoPro 4k cameras and drone cams (they wanted a first person style advert) and we headed off to the rocks.

First we went on a whistle stop tour of the rocks so the director could get a feel for the place and scout out any locations he wanted to film. After this is was time to load up and bring all the climbing and camera equipment down to climbing area. After 10 minutes of us being there the clouds seemed to disappear, and the sun burst through. This meant its was time to take off the windproofs, thermals, and multiple layers we’d all been wearing as we had found a suntrap that was also completely sheltered from the roaring winds above!

…. ‘Anyone bring any sunscreen?’ – The answer was no!

The first sequence to film was the journey to the bottom of the rocks and getting geared up. This was the relatively easy part but took a while as working out camera angles when there is so much climbing gear flying out of the bag took some doing. Once this was complete we chose a route and set our climber (Henning) to work to get warmed up. Armed to the teeth with GoPro hero 4 camera’s looking from his POV (point of view), up, down, leg cams and more he’d soon completed 4-5 accents of the route.

Then it was time to get the long shots and cutaway shots, so we rigged a few angles high on the rocks from which to film Henning as he climbed up to us. The director was extremely happy with these and we soon had everything we needed except for the drone shots.

So it was time to lift and shift all the climbing and rigging equipment out of the way to ensure none of it would be seen as the drone flew overhead. After a few drone technical issues its was soon up and flying around getting flybys and over the shoulder shots as Henning climbed his way to the top for the 7th or 8th time.

So with the light gradually disappearing over to the West side of the Island we had to move fast. We used a different location at the cuttings with a 7a overhang so if the Henning fell he wouldn’t injure himself on the rocks. We rigged a few lines up to allow Henning to ascend the route before being transferred over the falling rope.

We also rigged another high camera angle to capture a cutaway shot but most of the footage was captured from the first person point of view. With the final shots captured, its was just time to wrap the shoot with a film sequence with the car – a Subaru Outback before heading home for tea and medals (well, fish and chips and cake!)

By Tom Hatt

Tips for Buying your First Pair of Climbing Shoes

climbing-shoes1When I first started climbing I was overwhelmed with the amount of choice when considering buying my first pair of climbing shoes.  I had no prior knowledge, all I knew was that I wanted a pair that were:

  1. Reasonably priced
  2. Long-lasting
  3. Comfortable

After trying on a few pairs of shoes and chatting to friends, shop assistants and checking out online reviews I opted for a lace up shoe – the Boreal Lunas which came in a girly shade of lilac.

I made the purchase and when I got home I excitedly opened the box and proceeded to endure the torture of wearing in my very fresh pair of climbing shoes around the house.  My feet were not happy bunnies, but over time they’ve tolerated the Lunas and now have formed a beautiful and long-lasting friendship.

As far as climbing shoes go the Boreals are really quite comfortable…obviously not comfortable compared to normal shoes, but comfortable when stepping into the realm of climbing footwear.

I would highly recommend the Boreal Lunas as a great shoe for the beginner female climber.  They were around £70 new and gave me everything I was after in my first pair of climbing shoes.  After a years use they are only just on the verge of needing a resole.  They have done me proud, bouldering and climbing indoors 2-3 times a week and heading outdoors on Southern Sandstone and gritstone in the spring and summer.

Women’s feet tend to be narrower, with lower volume and a lot of climbing shoes don’t give a snug fit.  The Lunas are designed especially for women and they have always fit me nicely.  They have mid shoe lacing eyelets which really help to adjust the tightness of the shoe around the arch and encourage an even snugger fit.  Over time climbing shoes tend to stretch a bit which the Lunas have slightly but the laces help and pulled tight they still retain an excellent fit.

The sole of the Lunas is made of Boreal’s FS-Quattro rubber and thickness varies depending on the shoe size (4-4.6mm).  I found the thickness of the sole has been a good balance, providing me with enough sensitivity to feel smaller holds and also providing plenty of support.

Summary:Overall the Lunas aren’t the most technical shoe but they are great for beginners and offer comfort and support for those climbing for longer periods of time (ideal for long sport or trad routes.) Laces help to keep the fit snug if the shoe stretches over time and the thin low profile toe of the shoe makes it great for crack climbs.  They are reasonably priced and long lasting. I would highly recommend, but of course, everybody’s feet are different so make sure you try a few different shoes and pick something suitable for you.

Guide to Buying your first pair of climbing shoes: 

Try before you buy –  You can try shoes in shops or if you visit your local climbing wall they may have a selection for you to try out.  Make sure you visit a shop with experts on hand to help and with a variety of shoes for you to try.  Expert retail staff will also be able to measure your feet and advise on the best size shoe for you.

Fit – Shoes should be snug, not painful but reasonably uncomfortable.  If you are a beginner climber you don’t have to get really small shoes!  As you advance with your climbing you may find that you start looking at more technical shoes, but these aren’t necessary for the beginner climber as routes will be easier, on balance and with larger holds.

Use – For your first pair of climbing shoes you want an all rounder.  In the future as you advance with your climbing you might look at purchasing a few pairs for different things but initially one pair will suffice!

Fastening – Each type of fastening has its plus points.  Laces provide more adjustment then other fastenings, but are slow to get on and off.  Shoes with Velcro and slippers are easier to take on and off making them better for indoor walls where you may decide to go with a slightly smaller or more technical shoe. Choose which will be best for you and the type of climbing you want to pursue.

Sizing and Stretching – Different brands of shoe can offer variations in sizing.  For example, if you are a size 5 in one brands shoe it doesn’t mean that you will be a 5 in another brand.   Some shoes will stretch a bit with use and time.  The stretch isn’t much but could impact fit. Make sure when you first buy a pair of shoes that you don’t need to pull the fasteners completely tight otherwise there wont be any room for future adjustment. Lined shoes are less likely to stretch as than unlined shoes.  A good fit means its nice and snug with no loose areas or pockets of air.  Make sure the fit around your ankle is comfortable.  Some shoes can dig in because they sit to high on the bone.

Feet – Everyone’s feet are different and shoes vary to suit different needs.  Make sure you choose a shoe that is perfect for you, not for one of your mates.  What suits them might not be the same thing that you need.

Rubber Soles – A stiff shoe gives support and is better on small positive holds.  A soft shoe bends more and is better for smearing and slopey footholds. Stiff shoes provide less sensitivity meaning that you are unable to tell how the hold feels. There are a vast amount of different types of ‘sticky’ rubber on the market, many of which claim to be the ‘stickiest’. While some are definitely better than others its not worth getting to hung up on with your first climbing shoes.

Happy shopping and happy climbing!

By Clare Hume