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    What a stitch up!

    Tom Hill
    Tom Hill

    Kendal gets dark early at this time of year. Its not much later than 16:30 and the huge marquee that makes up Kendal Mountain Festivals Basecamp is already growing dingy. Fairy lights twinkle around the various stands and there is a warm ambient glow under which thousands of festival goers filter around the stands. That glow might be bright enough to see where you are going, but it isn’t sufficient for Lauren. She switches on a bright LED light and grabs a well-loved, but now torn GORE-TEX jacket from the rail and fires up her sewing machine.

    Kendal Mountain Festival has been running for an incredible 42 years – after starting in 1980 – and is now a mainstay in the calendar for many mountain goers in the UK, whether they are climbers, hikers, runners, cyclists, swimmers, skiers, kayakers or simply love the outdoors. While the speakers and films are often the biggest draw for many, plenty of people attend to catch up with friends or just enjoy the atmosphere. Basecamp is the hub of the festival; it hosts panel discussions, booths for brands as well as plenty of space to sit down and chill out.


    Nigel has more stories to tell than most, and his gear is no exception either. On this occasion, he had barely started talking by the time Lauren had sourced the issue with a faulty zip puller and rectified it.

    Its hard to think of a better place to bring the GORE-TEX GEAR TOUR. The premise was a simple one; festival goers were invited to bring those items of kit that so many of us have languishing at the back of the wardrobe; the once favourite jacket that has been rendered useless thanks to a broken zip, or the once waterproof trousers that struggle to cope under a deluge as the seam tape has failed.

    We teamed up with Scottish Mountain Gear, our authorised repair centre in the UK. Our plan was to do as many on-site repairs as we could – completely free – over the course of the Friday and Saturday at Kendal Mountain Festival. Within minutes of Basecamp opening to the public, we had our first visitors. With them they brought GORE-TEX apparel from the ages. Gear ranged from the fairly new, but ultimately ill-fated due to premature damage, through to much older items dating back as far as 30 years.

    Graham from SMG would assess the issue initially, talking through what work needed doing and whether it was feasible to complete the whole job on the day. Small holes and tears could be repaired quickly. Visitors could decide whether they wanted a subtle, hidden repair, or deliberate and obvious patching - showing off their battle scars with pride. Replacing a whole zip was a larger job. For the tasks that would be too time consuming, he took down the visitors details and promised to post back the repaired garment when it was ready.

    Meanwhile, Lauren would move deftly between sewing machine and fabric press. She would rummage in her box of GORE-TEX off-cuts, looking for the perfect match (or clash); hunting through her collection of zip-pulls and elastic toggles. And before you realised, a garment that had come to the end of its useful life was rejuvenated and ready for another adventure.

    “It’s a bit of an embarrassing story. I was wearing the jacket on a beach in Mallorca during a storm and I found a shell. I popped it in my pocket and forgot about it. A few months later I was back in the UK and slid down a snow slope on my tummy. The shell ended up tearing the fabric!” – Kelly

    Wash, care, repair and eventually, replace?

    A garment doesn’t need to have reached breaking point for it to deserve a little bit of TLC. All GORE-TEX fabrics perform at their best – both in terms of breathability and waterproofness – when they are clean and have a fresh DWR (durable water repellent) coating applied. The team on the stand talked through how to reinvigorate garments and return them to their very best; aided by the team at Grangers, who just happened to be in the stand next door. Visitors to the GORE-TEX stand left with miniature bottles of Grangers Performance Wash and Repel, as well as GORE-TEX fabric temporary repair patches for any fixes that may be needed in the field.


    There were just a few GORE-TEX garments that were simply too damaged; not even the magic that Lauren was sprinkling could revive them. In those cases, there is little left to do but to replace them. Fortunately, there are more sustainable options than ever before. Our new and complimentary ePE membrane is durably waterproof, windproof and highly breathable, is entirely PFC free, and combines recycled and solution dyed fabrics resulting in a GORE-TEX fabric with a reduced carbon footprint*. As well as this, new GORE-TEX fabrics are also Bluesign® and OKEO-TEX® Standard 100 certified, all part of the focus on Responsible Performance.

    On the GORE-TEX booth, new GORE-TEX product from adidas TERREX and Patagonia AW22 collections were on show.

    Dr Philippa Hill, Head of Sustainability at Mountain Equipment explained that innovation in sustainability is central to their partnership with Gore. She used the example of another one of our product technologies – GORE-TEX Pro. All Most Breathable and Most Rugged GORE-TEX Pro fabrics use a backer fabric that is solution dyed, which means adding colour at the nylon chip stage (before the strands of fabric have even been made). This saves water and energy compared to the traditional fabric dyeing process.

    Adventure photographer, Hamish Frost was on the Basecamp stage to talk about how he captures incredible images in the most brutal of winter conditions; including working for GORE-TEX to capture our products under the kind of testing conditions that they were designed for. He took the opportunity to pop to the Gear Tour stand after for a quick patch-up job on some crampon scars on his favourite shell trousers.

    Enduring Stories

    If there is a running theme to Kendal Mountain Festival, it is that of storytelling. Stories that inspire and entertain, stories that cause us to stop and think, stories for the sake of telling stories and bringing people together.

    Every person that brought a garment to the GORE-TEX stand had a story or two to tell. Each item of clothing had a thousand stories tucked in its pockets. A favourite jacket is like an old friend. They remind you of adventures past when you meet face to face. They inspire you to go out and find more. The repair process means so much more than a cosmetic face-lift. In fact, it means even more than having a functional garment again and all the associated sustainability benefits of one fewer item being relegated to landfill. A repair means a fresh lease of life for an old friend; the opportunity to get back out on new adventures in safety and comfort, and to make new stories.

    We cant wait to return again next year and hear all about them.

    Thank you to the team at Kendal Mountain Festival, Scottish Mountain Gear, the brands we shared Basecamp with and all the people who called by the stand, whether it was for a repair or just a natter.

    Find out more about the GORE-TEX GEAR TOUR here.

    *advances Gore Fabrics´ goal for being free of PFCs of Environmental Concern over the lifecycle of its consumer products. In this case, the goal is accomplished using non-fluorinated materials. Learn more on

    Tom Hill Tom Hill

    Tom Hill

    Tom Hill is a freelance outdoors writer and a Contributing Editor for Sidetracked Magazine. When not at his desk, you will find him out in his local Pennine hills, or mountains further afield. He has been a magazine product tester for over ten years and his personal gear cupboard is stuffed to the gills with kit for biking, running, climbing and skiing.

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