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If you have a question about a product or where to use a product, you've come to the right place. 

Adventure Race Questions

Camping Questions

Climbing Questions

Cycling Questions

Footwear Questions

Paddling Questions

Snowsport Questions

Travel Questions

 


 

Adventure Race Questions:

 


 

Camping Questions:

 


 

Q: I was told by one of your employees that an internal backpack is the best backpack to use for backpacking instead of an external backpack.  I just want to know why, because for a couple years I've been told that an external is better because there is more ventilation going through your back. I just want to know the advantages and disadvantages of both and when would be the best type of trip to use the each type of backpack.   - Jack, November 2004

A: There’s really no right or wrong answer to this question.  The internal frame packs are superior in most area of design and use, but some people still prefer an external frame pack.
Here’s a quick rundown.
External frame packs do not sit as close to your back as internal frames.  This does give the advantage of better back ventilation.  The down side of this design is this.  External frames sit farther away from your back, this causes two problems.  It changes your center of gravity making you less stable in accents and descents, especially if  the terrain is loose.  The external frame has a smaller contact area on the body than does an internal frame so the pack is not as secure  and less stable.  This is most noticeable the less vertical you are.  Say if you’re forced to reach at an odd angle or lean foreword the external frame will shift more and increase the likelihood of loosing your balance.  The large secure contact area of an internal frame distributes the weight more evenly over the entire back, shoulders, and hips so there’s less fatigue on one specific part of the body.  Some people prefer an external pack when they are attaching a lot of gear to the outside of the pack because it’s so easy to hang things off of the frame,  this however contributes to a shifty, unstable pack, and will catch branches if your hiking in closely wooded areas.
In my opinion these basic design differences make the internal frame superior in overall performance to an external.  To combat the issue of a sweaty back you should consider two factors when backpacking.  Wear a synthetic shirt with few seams so the shirt will wick moisture and not rub where the seams run under the pack.  There’s also certain materials that manufacturers use in the back material of internal frames to promote a dry environment between the wearer’s back and the frame sheet of the internal frame pack.
I hope this clears up some of your questions.
Thanks for the email.


 

 

Q: Do you or one of your team members go winter camping and wear contact lenses?  I was wondering how you keep the contact solutions from freezing at night, that you soak the contacts in, while you are sleeping?  - Jim, 2009

A: Put it in a thin sock and stick it in your long underwear waist band while sleeping (or you can duct tape the contact case to your belly).

 


 

Climbing Questions:

 


 

Q: I am interested in rock climbing but I have absolutely no training whatsoever.  Is there anyplace near Jefferson City or Columbia, MO that I can take climbing lessons that progress on to tougher and tougher climbs, get me certified and then eventually climb on my own?  All help will be greatly appreciated.  Take care.   - Cassie, May 2009

A: I've asked around and the only climbing place I can find in Columbia is the climbing wall at the University of Missouri.  I called there for more information and got the general answer that if you are related to the university, then you can climb there.  If you know someone that is related to the university then they do have a "Family Climb" on Friday nights.  I couldn't get through to the person that runs the Scroggs Peak climbing wall, to ask about the general public using the wall.  Their number is 573-882-2067 for the Rec Center and then you need to ask to speak to the person in charge of managing the wall. 

It also appears that there is a climbing wall at the YMCA in Jefferson City, and they have "101" classes for beginners.  Their website is http://www.jcymca.org/programs/wall.php#5, and their phone number is: 573-761-9000.  You do not have to be Y member to climb there, and the non-member rate is $13 (or $7 if you are a student).

If you come into St. Louis much, then Upper Limits has several climbing classes that you can progress through, their info is: http://upperlimits.com/stlouis/index.html or 314-241-7625.

I know that for myself, I just started climbing regularly in a gym, and this way I met people who were much better and could "show me the ropes".  Then as my skills progressed, I started climbing with gym friends outside and eventually felt comfortable doing it on my own. 

Also, there are some week long courses through Outward Bound that happen around the country, but these are expensive and usually are combined with other activities such as backpacking (http://www.outwardbound.org/).

Hope that helps!


 

Q: We are a construction supply sales and rental company.  I am the product manager of our suspended scaffolding division “motorized window washing platforms”.   Safety is priority one in this business! I wanted to see if you could point me in the right direction in regards to having one of my mechanic/riggers certified or if you knew of a class he could take for rappelling? In case we had to access a broken platform by repelling down from the building roof.  - Steve, April 2009

A: I would suggest he contact Jon Richards, who is AMGA certified.  He teaches the Anchors and Leading courses at Upper Limits, and does his own guiding.  Here is his website: http://verticalvoyages.com/

 


 


Cycling Questions: 

Footwear Questions:


 

Q: I will be doing my first adventure racing - what is the shoes that you would recommend???  - D.S., May 2008

A: Thanks for the email!  You may or may not know this but the Alpine Shop’s Adventure Race Team is currently ranked third in the country, last year they ended the season eighth in the nation.  I don’t know if that lends any credibility to what I’m about to tell you, but I can say we fit all of their footwear, both for land and bike.
The first thing I can tell you is that without looking at your personal feet I can’t make any recommendations on brand or model.  There’s some popular styles on the market for adventure racers from Montrail, Salomon, Vasque, Lowa, and New Balance.  The biggest difference between a trail running shoe and something for the adventure racer is the support.  Due to the length of time you will spend in the shoes, assuming you’re going to work your way up to 8+hr races, a shoe with good support and underfoot protection from rocks, roots, etc. is really key.  You get support in two ways, the shoe needs to offer it in the form of a stiff midsole and a structure that wraps the foot, plus you will want to have a pair of Superfeet insoles that give you’re arch and heel better stability than the original footbeds that came with the shoes.
Don’t get too intimidated by this, we have experienced staff that can get you fit correctly so you have a fun and safe experience as you race through the woods and trails.  Another key point about your feet when you’re racing is socks.  Carry at least one extra pair, maybe more depending on the conditions and length of time you’re out.  Changing into fresh socks or at least dry socks will greatly reduce your susceptibility to blisters.  I’d suggest you give a call to our Kirkwood location and schedule a consultation with our footwear dept.

Check out Bonk Hard Racing for a schedule of some the Adventure Races in MO and Kansas.
They were the promoters for the National Championships down in the Ozarks last fall.

We can also help you get most other gear you need for adventure racing, including packs, clothes and cycling related stuff.
We even offer women’s specific off road rides, bike fitting, and repairs as well as sales.  For bike stuff you’d want to talk to Traci, Chris, or Carrie, all of whom ride or race off road.

I hope you find the info helpful and we see you in the shop sometime.

 

 


 

Q: I'm new to hiking but will be hiking with a more experienced person on moderate to difficult trails.  What type of hiking boot do you recommend?  I'm
female and wear a size 5 shoe.  - Diane, February 2004

A: Recommending a hiking boot is something that can only be done in person.
The proper boot depends on many factors, the primary factors are the size
AND SHAPE of your foot and the amount of weight the boot needs to support.
The amount of weight the boot supports is your body weight plus the backpack
that you may be carrying.  A boot to use on day hikes and overnight
backpacking trips will be lighter weight and easier to flex, while a boot
designed to support you and a large backpack must be firmer to give more
support.
We carry women's specific hiking boots and many, but not all, are available
as small as a size 5.

In order to get a boot that fits your foot it is very important that we
support the foot inside of the boot.
This keeps the heel from lifting up and also needs to support the arch area
too.  Typically we'll accomplish this by replacing the footbed in the boots
with a more supportive type, depending on the amount of increased support
necessary.

As you can see this is a involved task and we treat boot fitting very
seriously at the Alpine Shop.  So much so that we guarantee the fit of the
boots for the life of the product.  The method we use in this boot fitting
process is called the Phil Oren Fit System and was developed a number of
years ago by a man named Phil Oren.  This program has proven so successful
that many boot and shoe companies now build boots and shoes using the
recommendations of Phil.  www.fitsystembyphiloren.com

I recommend that you call one of our stores that is convenient for you and
schedule an appointment with one of our Fit System Trained boot fitters.

Don't forget to ask about trekking poles too.  The more difficult the
terrain the more important they are.  Trekking poles also remove some of the
impact from the legs and transfer it to the arms, thereby reducing the
stress on knees and ankles.

 


 

Q: I'm new to hiking but will be hiking with a more experienced person on moderate to difficult trails.  What type of hiking boot do you recommend?  I'm
female and wear a size 5 shoe.  - Diane, February 2004

A: Recommending a hiking boot is something that can only be done in person.
The proper boot depends on many factors, the primary factors are the size
AND SHAPE of your foot and the amount of weight the boot needs to support.
The amount of weight the boot supports is your body weight plus the backpack
that you may be carrying.  A boot to use on day hikes and overnight
backpacking trips will be lighter weight and easier to flex, while a boot
designed to support you and a large backpack must be firmer to give more
support.
We carry women's specific hiking boots and many, but not all, are available
as small as a size 5.

In order to get a boot that fits your foot it is very important that we
support the foot inside of the boot.
This keeps the heel from lifting up and also needs to support the arch area
too.  Typically we'll accomplish this by replacing the footbed in the boots
with a more supportive type, depending on the amount of increased support
necessary.

As you can see this is a involved task and we treat boot fitting very
seriously at the Alpine Shop.  So much so that we guarantee the fit of the
boots for the life of the product.  The method we use in this boot fitting
process is called the Phil Oren Fit System and was developed a number of
years ago by a man named Phil Oren.  This program has proven so successful
that many boot and shoe companies now build boots and shoes using the
recommendations of Phil.  www.fitsystembyphiloren.com

I recommend that you call one of our stores that is convenient for you and
schedule an appointment with one of our Fit System Trained boot fitters.

Don't forget to ask about trekking poles too.  The more difficult the
terrain the more important they are.  Trekking poles also remove some of the
impact from the legs and transfer it to the arms, thereby reducing the
stress on knees and ankles.

 


 

 

Q: What is your recommendation on a medium weight hiking boot?  My current boots give me a burning sensation on long hikes.  Looking for something with a good insole.  Also, could you clue me in on custom made insoles?

A: First I would state that the problems associated with hiking boots can be specific to men
and women, but I can't tell from the email who is having this problem.  Often times the problems experienced with hiking boots aren't the boots fault, but the fault of the person who fit the boots.  I say fit because that's what needs to happen to get a quality consistent fit through the life of the boot.  A burning sensation is usually caused by friction of the foot against the boot.  Friction or hot spots can usually be remedied with a stabilizing insole, ie. Custom footbed.  The custom footbed stabilizes the foot and helps fill up the volume inside of the boot.

I'd suggest calling Angie Bono in Kirkwood  to schedule a consultation to determine your
needs.  All of these guys as well as many other of our sales staff are trained in boot fitting and custom insole construction.  Please make sure you bring in your boots, and socks.
We can look at adjusting the fit of your boots, consider another boot and show you the different types of insoles available.

 


 

Q: I am traveling to Ecuador and would like your advise on boots and socks.  Waterproof is not all that necessary, but the roads are extremely rough and I want comfort and protection above the ankle.
I wear a size 7M shoe, and I have a rather square toe box.  - Mary, December 2003

A: Thanks for the email!  We can definitely help you out on your footwear needs.  We have the best
boot fitters in the Midwest on our staff and concentrate all of our efforts on getting you in the boot that fits your foot and will function well during your travels.
You may be surprised to know that a boot that comes up above the ankle will not necessarily afford you a better fit and ankle protection.  The ankle is best protected from twists and sprains if the foot is stable inside the boot.
Please come in and try some boots.  As it's the week before Christmas our staff is stretched very thin and would have an easier time focusing on your boot fit after the big holiday rush.  If time doesn't allow that please call and make an appointment with a manager so that we may have a boot fitter available to help you.

 

 


 

 

 

Q: I got back Monday from my trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon. It was by far the most memorable trip of my life, from the spectacular scenery, stars at night, whitewater action, hikes to waterfalls and Indian ruins, and helicopter ride out of the Grand Canyon.

The Z-2’s worked well for me, but due to the low humidity, constant in and out of the water, abundance of sand, a few bumpers, bruises, scrapes, and swollen feet, by the end of the trip it was difficult wearing the Z-2’s. One concern is that they were difficult to adjust to get on and off because of all the sand. You told me earlier to keep them clean, but that is impossible in the sand. What do you suggest?

A: Sand is one of the biggest enemy’s of the Chaco’s.  The only solution is a religious regiment of cleaning and maintenance.  After cleaning I’d suggest treating the webbing in the corridor with Armour All vinyl protectant.  It will facilitate a smoother slide of the webbing, even when sand is present.  A garden hose with a  high pressure nozzle is also effective in blasting the sand out too.

 


 

Paddling Questions:


 

Q: I have a Wilderness Systems Pamlico 100 kayak i got last year, and this summer started trying to fish (cast) out of it .... it's working ok, but I'm finding it a little difficult to maneuver both the paddle and rod when i'm going through some little rapids.  I'm looking for a rod mount that i can use on this kayak, and i'd like it so the rod is facing backwards, and not to catch on any low-lying limbs that are usually on the streams I paddle (SE Missouri).

Also, I lost the little plug on the back of the kayak on a recent trip when I didn't have it properly secured.  Is there a way to get a replacement on that?

A: There are several ways to secure a rod to the boat. I like to keep it simple, so I use a bungee (elastic shock) cord with a hook mounted next to the cockpit. It is very low profile, easy to use and install.  We sell the "Paddle Holder Kit" kit from Carlisle/Old Town for $15.95. It will hold a fishing rod or a paddle, but I prefer a leash for the paddle. We also have some rod holders from Scotty (www.scotty.com) that hold the rod by the handle, but they are not very low profile. We have the Drain Plug's for 2.95 each.  Thanks for the inquiry! Ken

 


 

 

Q: I have a Wilderness Systems Pamlico 100 kayak i got last year, and this summer started trying to fish (cast) out of it .... it's working ok, but I'm finding it a little difficult to maneuver both the paddle and rod when i'm going through some little rapids.  I'm looking for a rod mount that i can use on this kayak, and i'd like it so the rod is facing backwards, and not to catch on any low-lying limbs that are usually on the streams I paddle (SE Missouri).

Also, I lost the little plug on the back of the kayak on a recent trip when I didn't have it properly secured.  Is there a way to get a replacement on that?

A: There are several ways to secure a rod to the boat. I like to keep it simple, so I use a bungee (elastic shock) cord with a hook mounted next to the cockpit. It is very low profile, easy to use and install.  We sell the "Paddle Holder Kit" kit from Carlisle/Old Town for $15.95. It will hold a fishing rod or a paddle, but I prefer a leash for the paddle. We also have some rod holders from Scotty (www.scotty.com) that hold the rod by the handle, but they are not very low profile. We have the Drain Plug's for 2.95 each.  Thanks for the inquiry! Ken

 

 


 

Q: I can't find those different sized padded cells that outdoor research had: not on campmor, nor outdoor research.  ... what's up with that? - Paddler, February 2010

A: You are correct, OR discontinued them about 3 years ago. It was a good product, but there must not have been enough demand to keep it going. The only similar thing I can think of is from Granite Gear: Armored Pocket, made to attach on the outside of a backpack, made in 3 sizes.  It looks like a little dopp kit.  We don't carry them, but can get them.  I have improvised using a towel or piece of foam to wrap around an item inside a stuff sack or dry bag. I think most paddlers have gone to Pelican boxes for sensitive gear. Sorry, Ken

 


Snowsport Questions:


Q: The metal around the edges of my snowboard is starting to rust a little...
what should I do? Its only a year old. I really don't know anything about
maintenance for those things...    - K.B., December 2004

A: That's typical during storage over the summer.  We do tuning clinics for
free if you're interested in learning how to do some of the easy stuff
yourself, or you can bring it in to us and for about $30 one of our Ski Service guys will
wax your board and sharpen the edges, which will remove the rust.
You don't have to have to pay $30 every time you need to remove the rust,
but if you've ridden your board for an entire season, it may need some fresh
wax and the edges sharpened anyway.

Check out our website for the info on the tuning clinics!

 


 

 

Q: I have not used my snow skis in 6 years.  What do I need to do to get them ready for a ski trip?  - Cindy, November 2004

 

A: Thanks for the email!  There are two things that will need to be done, both in a ski service shop.
The first is to make sure your bindings are releasing properly.  Make sure you bring your boots with you so we can test the bindings and adjust them as necessary.
The second is to tune the skis themselves.  I assume the edges have some light surface rust that we’ll remove and resharpen the metal edges.  We’ll also prepare the base as necessary.  That will mean at least cleaning and rewaxing the base, they may need more work than that, but it’ll be impossible to say with out seeing them in person.
Please bring them by at least 1 week prior to needing to pick them up, as our shop work is backed up about 5 working days right now.  You can drop them off at any of our three locations: Kirkwood, Chesterfield, or Columbia, MO.

 


 

 

Q:  I am looking at buying skis for the (2003) season.  I have gone the past few years and I would
consider myself intermediate+ in terms of skill level.  I was wondering what size ski's I should be looking at when I come into the Alpine Shop during your "Swap Days" in October.

I am 5' 11 3/4" and about 180 lbs.  What do you recommend for length for a pair of shaped skis for a skier of my height/weight/skill level?

Thanks for your time.  You guys have a great store.    - Shane, September 2003

A: Thanks for the compliment, and the email.   I'll do my best to answer your question.  Hopefully my response isn't too generic but there can be a lot of factors taken in to account when selecting
ski length and performance level.
First there are few basic premises to know about skis and that is this.  Skiers are attached to the ski through the boot which is attached to a binding.  I realize you know this, but it's a very important part of the ski selection equation.

Some skis using a traditional binding that is screwed to the top of the ski. So when a ski flexes, it's essentially being bent into an arc or circle, the heel and toe of the binding get closer together.  When a ski boot is put in to the binding it dramatically reduces the skis ability to flex under the foot.  Thereby greatly changing the shape of the arc directly under the foot.  So when the ski doesn't flex under the foot the only part being used in the turn is the tip portion and the tail portion of the ski.  That means
you need a somewhat longer ski to accomplish a stable turn at speed.

To eliminate this problem ski manufacturers have begun incorporating an interface on the ski that attached the bindings in a different manner.  Some place pins through the side of the ski to attach the binding, like the Salomon Pilot.  Others will allow the binding to float on a rail system of some sort and attaching the bindings with a  single screw in the center, this is the Volkl Motion, Head Rail flex, K2 IBC, and the Devise System from Atomic.

So for some older shaped skis without deep deep sidecut and a traditional binding I'd probably put you on a ski in the mid 180's to as short as 175 depending on whether you value easier maneuverability (shorter ski) or increased stability at higher speeds (longer ski).

To ski some of the newer (past 2 yrs) shaped skis look in the 175 range, and if the skis are equipped with a binding system as I described above I'd be looking from 165 to 175 max.

 


 

Q: How to stay warm while doing snowsports?    - L.W., January 2003

A: I think the best way to stay warm or comfortable during snow sports is to use a layering system of a light synthetic or wool layer against the skin, then an insulating layer of fleece or down, and finally a waterproof/breathable shell to protect from the wind and snow.  The layering system give far greater versatility in body temp regulation.
The size and insulation amount should also depend on the activity and the weather conditions.
We can give a much more detailed explanation in the store by using some examples.
Please come in and see for yourself.

 


 

 

Q: Two years ago I did a full tune on my skis and my son's skis.  We did the ski boot release test/check as well.  Last year you guys recommended just the light tune.  Our ski trip went great.  How often do you recommend the release test/check?  We are both intermediate skiers, and he is a  better than I am.  He is almost 15 and weighs 115 lbs, I am 49 and weigh 220 lbs.  We both do the black diamond slopes but also a lot of blues.  Neither one of us is into moguls - yet!     - Mike, August 2002

A: Binding function test is one of the most important thing you can do to protect yourself w


 

Travel Questions: