Our new collaboration that prevents products that we can’t repair from going to waste.
As lovers of the outdoors, we want to do everything we can to protect it. We already offer a free repair service, to help keep kit going over land and not into landfill, but what happens to kit when it is finally beyond use? This is where our exciting new collaboration with Dirtbags Climbing comes in. Rehaused by Dirtbags takes Berghaus products at the end of their usable lives and upcycles them into nifty new climbing products, such as chalk bags or bum bags. Each piece is made individually, by deconstructing Berghaus kit that is beyond repair to turn it into something new, giving our loved fabrics and colours a new lease of life – waste not, want not!
Dirtbags Climbing was born in 2017 after founders Jennifer Wood and James Dickinson put their creative and engineering heads together, respectively. As mad keen climbers and outdoor obsessives, they wanted to combine their passion and love for nature’s spaces by finding ways of repurposing retired climbing gear rather than throwing it away. This approach is much more sustainable than recycling because it doesn’t require incineration or chemical alteration like recycling does.
Dirtbags HQ (eco-friendly, obviously!) is in the gateway to the Lake District, in Kendal, just a stone’s throw away from our basecamp in Sunderland, which means we’ve got off to an air mile free start to what is, we hope, the start of a long term partnership. Collaborating with them on Rehaused was a no brainer, and a no waster.
We caught up with Jennifer Wood, founder of Dirtbags, to get her thoughts on Rehaused.
Where did the inspiration for Dirtbags come from?
We wanted to create an answer to a problem. It came from some old gear of our own and lots of chats with other climbers and small businesses. The amount of ropes, harnesses and fabric we repurpose really is the tip of the iceberg; so much textile waste ends up in landfill and we wanted to do something about it, even if a little bit. It began with reusing some really beautiful, vibrant climbing rope – and has grown to more products from other ‘waste’ materials. Starting a business felt natural and it allowed us to be as creative as we wanted, and do it the way we want, starting ethically and eco-friendly from the word go.
What is your favourite thing about the Berghaus and Dirtbags collaboration?
Firstly, taking the Berghaus items apart, seeing how they are made and the care and design that goes into a garment. Knowing that each zip I unpick and each seam I cut will then be used again is very rewarding. Secondly, to become a part of Berghaus’ future direction is exciting, looking at new and different ways we approach textiles within the outdoor industry. We feel we are at the beginning of something important, not just for Dirtbags and Berghaus, but for the environment.
What products are in the Rehaused range, and which one is you favourite?
We have two designs of chalk bag, one with a zip for valuables and another, uber light Gore-Tex version which Leo Houlding has helped to design. There is a bum bag/running belt and a small laptop/tablet case. My favourite is the kit bag. It is a small zip pouch, a good size for a first aid kit or a travel wash bag. It has a zip pocket on the front in a patchwork style, made from the little offcuts of fabric from the production of the other products. In making a piece which uses ’scraps’ it means we can really say this is a zero-waste project. Personally, I’ll be looking forward to using the little bag on all next year’s adventures – it’ll be a busy one I’m sure as we all have pretty much a whole year to catch up on.
What is the process for making the Rehaused products?
A fun one. I am lucky as I love my job. Music on, jackets on the cutting table. Firstly, we take everything apart and have a look at what size fabric pieces we have, how many zips, Velcro, toggles, elastics we have. After some design jiggery pokery we cut the parts out we need. Then we move the party into the sewing room and get remaking. Once the products are made, I take a few snaps of each (as they are all unique, so we’ll need a photo of every single piece) and then they sit on a rack waiting to be ‘rehoused’. A very simple but rewarding process.
How many new products can one Berghaus waterproof jacket make?
A surprising amount. We managed to make seven fleece lined chalk bags from just one Gore-Tex jacket and fleece zip top.
You have connections with our athletes, Leo Houlding and Anna Taylor – what’s the story there?
James, the co-founder of Dirtbags, is Leo’s go to technology dude and all round ‘Q’ for fast and light missions. The locator beacon strapped to the haul bags in the recent Roraima expedition drop were his brain child. James worked with Leo to create the ‘Uberlight’ chalk bag in our collection. As Lakes climbers, we met and know Anna from climbing at Kendal wall and were lucky to bump into her while out scoping new routes in the Lake District a number of times. Anna has been a true supporter of Dirtbags and our ethos from the beginning.
How can people get their hands on a Rehaused product?
Each piece is totally unique and handmade in our workshop in Kendal. We will keep adding to the collection over the next couple of months as we have plenty of materials to keep working away at.
Thanks to Dirtbags, unusable Berghaus products can find a second life on the mountain, rather than going to landfill. We’re super excited for this collaboration and can’t wait to see Rehaused products out and about. Check out the Rehaused product range here: www.dirtbagsclimbing.co.uk/rehaused