DripDrop hydration

Back in the (good) old days.

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Spitzkoppe South West Wall – the diagonal crack above the big shadow line

I am lying under a thorn tree in the dirt of the Namibian desert.

Pretending that the thin branches actually contribute some shade and relief. Ross hands me a 2l Coke bottle filled with a mixture of salt and sugar. I get told to finish it. I don’t feel well.

Our day starts like this:

At first light we walk up to the base of the soaring and blank expanse of South West Wall of Spitzkoppe. The first pitch is scary polished little edges to the base of the long crack system. A few rope lengths later we watch our only water bottle for the day disappear into the depths of the crack system. The sound of it bouncing down the crevasse like darkness echoes in my ears still.

We continue upwards as fast as we can, trying to beat the sun. Sometime on our upward journey the sun catches us and on the last scary, run out hard move before the summit our resolve and strength melts away.

The only alternative is to descend.

Several stuck ropes later. One resulting in both of us tugging on the stuck chord and not being attached to anything else. Consequences of brain fry. Potentially fatal consequences. It did not seem so serious with our back up water glistening on the ground 30m below. Those 30 m are enough to kill. To say we were stuffed by the time we hit level ground is an understatement.

Subsequently I have used very diluted juice as a post exercise re hydrate solution.

I never feel that water alone does the trick.

I have also used Nuun, Zym, Rehidrat, Hammer electrolytes, Gu Brew, Concentrace and more recently Dripdrop. Thanks to Willie at John O’ Connor to give me a box to test.

The science:

All agree that we need to consume trace elements and minerals for optimum hydration. Water alone is not good enough.

What concentration and exact mix is required is science that is beyond me.

I do know that it works. Which one of the above works best I can not tell you.

Dripdrop is offered in sachets similar to Rehidrat. Two sizes of sachet are available 225ml equivalent or 450ml. So it is super easy to mix either at home or while on the go. I prefer to mix mine fairly weak. About half the dosage when I am exercising. But if I have to get my hydration levels back to normal after a day out then I consume it pretty concentrated. This does wonders!

I believe it is best to separate electrolytes from nutrition, caffeine and glucose etc.

This way you can dose each in a variety of conditions without affecting the others.

The problem with energy drinks is that they offer you caffeine as a quick fix to fatigue without addressing the underlying issue which is often dehydration. Fix that and the theory goes that you won’t need caffeine.

A matter of taste:

I only got to try the lemon flavour of Dripdrop but it is fairly pleasant if on the sweet side.

Dosage:

I would prefer to have a large bucket or refill pack that I can choose my concentration from. This for me was a great selling point of Rehidrat when they still sold refil packs. But they have seemed to discontinue this offering.

Dripdrop seems to have the medical grounding and be deeply involved in humanitarian efforts. Dehydration is a massive problem. Especially in developing communities where water quality and related pathogens cause huge issues for infants, and compromised individuals. The potential performance problems for us athletes is one thing but infant mortality due to dehydration is another level.

We can all strive for optimal health despite the consequences being on a different scale.

On your next ride or run try to play with nutrient levels via one of the above.

Try use DripDrop it might just improve things

 

Full Disclosure:

I was given a box of DripDrop by John O Connor to try out.

The opinions here are my own.

I did not receive any financial reward for writing this.

bibs vs baggies

The pre-teen kid looks at me. Actually he is staring at my crotch and pointing. He is about 2 feet away. His dad is trying to ignore one of those moments all parents must dread and pay the 7 Eleven teller. I am too embarrassed to look. My hands are full with a red top, biscuits for later and a sandwich. I try and hold them in front of me and turn away. My mind is fried and I am clad in lycra. I realise that something needs to be done.

But first I must get glucose into my blood so that I can make it to a hot shower and a change of clothes and think. I am in Knysna and the MTB ride was harder than I thought and so I suffered.

A few months later:

Cliffy is plying me with whiskey when he presents the solution. As long as it starts with a J then I am happy (I never did acquire an appreciation for red wine). I learnt to drink whiskey somewhere between a climbing trip to Mutorashanga with Ed February and Tinie Versfeld  to figuring a way through the lower Milner Amphitheatre. (Is the name dropping helping give this story an air of authenticity?) Back then a bottle would not last more than a night between the two of us (and it cost under a hundred bucks). We were fit back then.

Tracey is busy in the kitchen when I take off my pants to try on the Atom baggies by One Industries. Mel is more discreet.

I realise that I need new attire to go with my brand new carbon full suss whippet. A few whiskeys later I am sold.

Splashing through mud and grit in Hemel en Aarde the next day we sit down in the café which could easily fit in at the end of a country lane in the Lake District. Here they serve coffee and not pints but it reminds me of wet days running around the fells with Dave and Mary rescuing sheep (you see more name dropping of famous okes). Ok no jokes about Mary and a lamb. We did actually rescue more than one sheep in the pouring rain. Well Dave rescued and we watched and generally shouted encouragement.

I half-heartedly tried to keep the cushion dry on my chair. Sitting proudly and comfortably in the Atom. Comfy and stylish enough to almost blend in with the Sunday morning breakfast crowd.

Half the battle is looking the part or at least feeling the part. I recall some self-help text that claims that rehearsing an activity in your head for 10 000h you become proficient. Hence having the right kit must go a long way to proficiency. How can Malcolm Gladwell be wrong?

Looking the part gives me better kung fu to flow down the trails and better baarp!

That is enough for me!

A little regroup with #liquid gold before heading home

A post shared by Leo Rust (@leorust) on

Sunday I am out for a big session. I get some admiring whistles (like the one your backyard mechanic does when he looks are your car’s engine). Some directed at my new black carbon steed but some must be for looking the part. I tack to starboard up Plumpudding Hill. Oncoming traffic responds with “respect!”. Wow, I don’t even have to get up this thing to earn it. Intention is everything these days. (But that is for another post aka rant)

If you have managed to get this far without clicking the little cross or scrolling past then let me give you the deets:

The Atom Shorts by One Industries are quite tech in materials and finishes used. Click on the link for specs. Stretch panel in rear yolk gives you superb freedom of movement. The removable inner chamois liner is comfortable and stayed in place and elastic Velcro cuffs made waist adjustment a cinch.

I was concerned that the crotch of baggies would get caught on my saddle. After about ten seconds on the bike I completely forgot about this issue. The Atom is truly superb and I would be way comfortable wearing it post ride to the next Bantry Bay pool party this summer as soon as the invite arrives!

Actually would be confident wearing the Atoms to the 7 eleven knowing that pimple head would behave.

Customer Complaint: “My waterproof jacket leaks”

(Spoiler Alert: check out the Notes below if you want to get to the meat of this article)

This week I got the below mail. I get them every year around this time and they always go along the same lines:

Hi

I bought an expensive waterproof jacket. I was told by x sales person that this was the best money could buy… I was convinced and spent a lot of money. Recently I tried the jacket in the rain and I got very wet…….

It is very hard for me to comment on these kind of issues especially if I have not seen the jacket concerned. However my response is something like this:

“Hi

 Thanks for the mail.

As I am sure you are aware it is incredibly difficult to assess these kinds of issues wrt waterproofing of garments irrespective of the model and materials used.

The issues (among others) that need to be considered is what treatment was used on the jacket, if it was ever washed, what garment was worn underneath the waterproof layer, if a pack was worn and what level of activity the wearer was taking part in.

The only real way to empirically test whether the jacket is in fact waterproof is to do a hydrostatic test which in itself will destroy the membrane.

However as a start I would suggest that you wash and treat the jacket with the appropriate Nikwax products to 1) remove any residual contaminants, 2) ensure that the DWR is adequate. 

Then you stand in a shower wearing the jacket. It helps to wear darker colour long sleeve cotton t shirt. This should pretty quickly show up if any moisture comes through.

If it does not then my assumption would be that one of the above factors are involved to create the sensation that the jacket leaks.

Please let me know what you find with the above and we can hopefully find a solution to this issue.

 Leo”

Notes:

  • Just because you spend heaps of cash on a Bugatti Veron does not mean you don’t have to check the oil regularly. Same with outdoor gear. Regular service and care will go a long way!
  • Never wash waterproof jackets in normal detergent. Only use approved detergents products as described here. I wash my waterproof jackets once a year (mostly before winter or before a big trip)
  • When wearing a waterproof decide first if it is actually necessary. Often when taking part in highly aerobic activities you will be more comfortable in a more breathable but only water repellent layer. Check out my thoughts here and here.
  • Always wear a wicking layer under your waterproof. A cotton t-shirt will not transport moisture away from your skin and allow the waterproofBREATHABLE garment to do its job.
  • Wearing a pack greatly reduces the air flow under your jacket and thus greatly reduces the effective breathability of the jacket.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes is credited with saying “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing but I prefer this reference.

Four Day crash course in Fastpacking:

IMG_2526 (1)What I learnt from four days of lightweight backpacking or fastpacking:

  • I have over 20 years experience in carrying very heavy loads (mainly climbing gear) up very remote peaks. This is quite a different skill set to Ultra Light travel to which I am far less experienced.
  • The Osprey Talon 22 is perfectly adequate to carry all your kit for and adventure of this nature. It is a great pack if you plan to mainly walk. For more of a running approach a specific running pack will work better (Osprey Rev Series, Montane Dragon 20, Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20L etc)
  • Navigation: My partner had printed out a map and drawn a GPS route from google earth on his Garmin Fenix. I used 1: 50 000 standard maps and carried a compass. They were heavier but the combination worked well in that we could confirm the identity far away peaks. I also carried a GPS with pre loaded waypoints. Pre loading GPS points of important junctions was hugely beneficial in making sure we stayed on track. The combination worked well. I never used the compass so with hindsight I could have left it behind.
  • Gear I carried and did not use: I would still carry it and not leave anything out.

Frist Aid Kit, fleece gloves, spare matches, Waterproof jacket, Windproof Shell (I am undecided on whether I would take this for this particular trip. Normally this is one of my essentials but with day time temps being up to 30°C most days I am not sure which probably means that I could have left it behind.)

  • Gear I carried and did not need:

Compass (see above),

Opinel knife. I could have substituted for a simple scalpel blade instead.

Extra stove and fuel. It only weights about 270g combined but every bit helps. We used a methalated spirits home made stove and carried about 250ml of fuel in a juice bottle. See the instructions of how to make it here. Before all you MSR and Jetboil lovers knock this try it!

  • Items that turned out to be essential: needle and thread. My partner’s bag tore as we were about to start. Without this repair possibility he would have had a very uncomfortable trip.
  • Items that I wish I had changed:

We carried 3L of water per day per person. This was perfect for the conditions. I had a 2,5L bladder and my partner had a selection of 500ml bottles. He could quite easily pace his drinking with this system whereas I was playing a bit of guess work. Essential to his system was having easy and on the go access to all bottles. Big mesh pockets on his bag made this work. I had a 500ml water bottle which I intended to use with 32Gi Recover shake or Nutriboost meal replacement first thing and last thing in the day. These two drinks worked really well at the end of the day to fill me up before we got to dinner. But having only one bottle meant that I was limited to having this last thing in the day when I knew we would not run out of water. I would probably choose a bottle system in future. It does not put all your vital water into one potentially vulnerable container and is easier to measure your consumption on the go. You would need a bag that can carry two bottles up front and two bottles, easily accessible on each side.

IMG_2517I bought a 9°C (Comfort Rating) Mountain Equipment Helium Solo Sleeping bag. Temperatures were not lower that 12-14°C any one night. I wore running tights, First Ascent DermaTec base layer as a top and Rab Polartec Alpha over that and a Reversible Polar Buff as headwear.

I should have tested this combination at a known temperature to know how cold I would be. Instead I made the classic mistake of trusting “tested numbers” not taking into account personal variance.

  • Specificity is key in training. My best training session was a 6h 24km walk with a heavy pack. I knew I was undertrained going into this venture but I only managed to do what I could without getting too fatigued. I will emphasise this more in future.
  • My emphasis needs to mainly be on capabilities rather than my gear. I need to work on being more comfortable enduring the cold (necessitating less gear). I was never uncomfortable as such but you can always be better. I need to put more emphasis on fitness. I need to improve my navigation and my competency with using a GPS. I believe my skills are above average but you can never be too good in this department. When you really need to navigate under pressure then experience counts!
  • Nutrition for every day: breakfast: cooked porridge of two handfuls of rolled oats with some cinnamon and seeds mixed in.

snacks: 2 bars (selection of Ziberto Energy Bars, 32Gi, Trek Bar) Trek Bar offers best kj value for weight.

1 stick droe wors (about 80g)

100g mixed nuts

80g dried fruit mix

1 scoop Nutriboost

1 serving 32Gi Recover

Lunch: left over serving of dinner

Dinner: 50g dehydrated food. Required about 1h of soaking and then bringing to boil.

Ate all my snacks on day 1 but after that I felt I was less and less hungry. Is this fat burning setting in? My body becoming more efficient? I could have certainly have done without one serving of either Nutriboost or Recover and possibly left another of the above behind also.

  • The Big Three need the most attention for weight savings: Shelter, Sleeping Bag/Matt, Pack.

We had the z-packs duplex which was brilliant. The reason we decided on a closed tent rather than tarp only is that all the literature warns of creepy crawlies in the form of scorpions and spiders. Not being a friend of either this was a good compromise to make sure we limited exposure. We both used Thermarest Neoair mattresses which were awesome in that they are compact.

  • I carried a Petzl Myo which ended up being overkill BUT if we had to have travelled at night then this would have been a deal breaker. Glad I brought it.
  • My partner in crime was way more experienced than me. I have learnt a great deal and hope to explore more. The choice of partner is key in ventures like this. We worked well and for this I am very pleased and thankful.

Items of beauty – and desire

IMG_1702Beauty in simplicity. I first fell in love with an Opinel no 8 Carbon in 1991. Légion étrangère printed on the wood is now faded. No souvenir.  Judging by the previous owner I suspect it did not lie idle. Even the knick out of the curve adds to it’s beauty. I sharpen it on a smooth river stone often.

Fast wheels just look fast and sexy. Black of course. 404’s are just right. Items of desire!

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amazing amount of power packed into this package

Talking about black the little e+LITE is really the perfect emergency item in your camping / climbing / outdoor / eskom blackout survival kit.

MSR revolutionised the mountaineering stove world with its Whisperlite International stove.

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years of use have left little impression

For all that have had to disassemble one with frozen hands or in an outdoor store will know. The design has not changed in 20 years. The heart of this kanniedood lives up to Einstein’s saying “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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reflective detail

Sexy Cycling kit is sexy. The level of detail in leading brands is just staggering.

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mesh for comfort and cooling

Today I ran with my S-lab waistpack. Just big enough to carry my mobile and water. I never run with a phone but today I was glad as I used the map function to make a rendezvous on time.

Whenever I use one of the above I am in awe for a moment and enjoy them even more. Sexy gear just is sexy.

Simplicity indeed.

FAQ Hydration bladders

What hydration bladder should I buy?

My advice to first time buyers is to buy the best bladder you can afford. Go with the brands that have the biggest market share not necessarily what your favorite sponsored athlete uses. The first bladder I bought left a bad taste in my mouth and I did not believe all those that raved about hydration bladders. Buy the best and you will enjoy your piece of kit often and enjoy the experience. Cheap models leave an aftertaste, leak and the bite valve is not nearly as comfortable as better (and more expensive models). Below I will assume that you have purchased one of the dedicated brands with a quality hydration system.

Can I transport juice or beer in my bladder?

Sure you can (in theory). Check that your bladder has an anti microbial lining. However if you leave Coke or other juice in the bladder without rinsing thoroughly then bacteria will grow irrespective of what lining the bladder has. The hose will become grey and murky! My personal preference is to only carry water in the bladder and if I need energy juice then I will transport it in a separate bottle. Also see here for my ideas on  keeping hydration and nutrition separate.

What maintenance is required?

Irrespective of what brand of hydration bladder you use this item of your kit will require some level of maintenance in order to remain hygienic. Here are some tips that I have learnt. They can be used on any reservoir no matter what the brand. So next time you have used your Camelbak®, Osprey® Hydraulics™ Reservoir or Source™ bladder  don’t just leave it in your pack but take a few minutes to store it correctly.

How do I clean my bladder?

Rinse out with warm water as soon as you can. Don’t let your energy juice get sticky. You can use soap, bicarb of soda or lemon mixed with water to get rid of residue taste. For more thorough cleaning use a bottle brush and thin brush to clean the hose, remove and dismantle the bite valve and clean and rinse separately.

How do I store my hydration bladder?

The crux is to get the residue water out of the corners of the bladder.

IMG_1674Here are several little tricks that I use: Cut up an egg tray and insert into the opening of the bladder. This lets some air get into the bladder and allows it to dry out.

Hang the bladder up above the bath to drip dry. Make sure to release the water out of the drinking tube and bite valve occasionally.

The other trick is to dry it as best you can and then pack inside your freezer compartment (with no water in the bladder). The idea is not to cool your drink but to stop bacteria from growing in it in the sub-zero freezer.

How do I stop the sloshing in my bladder?

Once you have filled your hydration bladder, turn it upside down and squeeze all the air out while releasing the bit valve. Now when you drink you will only get liquid and no air coming out. Also you wont feel the irritating sloshing when running.

How much water do I need to carry?

That is the million dollar question and it really depends! According to Tim Noakes and others the best practice seems to be to drink to thirst. For a bike ride of around 3 – 4 hours I might need less than 750ml of water. But then I have some catching up to do if it has been hot. However for the first section of Skyrun I carry 3l as it typically takes about 5 hours to reach the first refill point. And more importantly I am hydrating not for that section of trail but for the 20+ hours of running that I am undertaking. Practice to see what works for you!

As an aside Andrew Porter carried only a 500ml hand held water bottle on his solo Drakensberg Traverse. He goes super light and refills often.

Hydration Bladders are great but just need a little maintenance and care to give you long service. enjoy.

If you have any other questions please post them below.

 

Beyond the Mountain book review

IMG_1665Steve House‘s actions speak loud, louder than words. The resultant art, painted on the canvas of big blank faces. And his book Beyond the Mountain tells that story.

I was truly riveted for most of the book, not once wanting to put it down. I actually wanted to enjoy it before getting it and I certainly was not disappointed. I had heard much of Steve‘s routes over the years but have hardly read any of his writing. Yes there is a touch of Twight darkness in a couple of pages but overall it is much more human and I can relate to it much more easily. His version of the Slovak Direct on Denali is interesting as I have read Twight’s many times.

But the book does live up to its name in that summits attained, or not are vehicles only for something more.

How do you review a product like this without reviewing the man? Who am I to review him anyway? The one nagging thought that keeps coming up is “Why does Steve see it as acceptable to leave his stove which has run out of fuel as trash on an alpine face? Why not leave all and any trash? And how different is that attitude to that of big expeditions? Why is it OK to put your own ambitions above those of the greater good?” That is the one question I would like to hear the answer to.

Other than that this is a truly inspirational book. Not in a far out sense but making the suffering and emotion seem real and tangible and the whole experience human. I can only recommend this book to all climbers, alpinists and coach spectators alike. You will not be disappointed!

And if you are still not convinced then read this much more articulate review here.