I learnt a few things during my 12 day camel expedition through the Gobi Desert; Bactrian camels eat snow, -40 degrees celsius will freeze your fingers in about 2 minutes, Mongolians are some of the most wonderful people in the world and one pair of LETE Motion Tights and Native Bra will last you 12 days. Truth be told they probably could have lasted longer, however we were back in civilisation by day 13 and had access to showers, so I thought it best to change out of all the camel riding gear. Not only did the natural bamboo fibre tights barely smell after nearly 2 weeks, they were also surprisingly warm. Nor did I suffer from any unfortunate rubbing or chaffing in regions where one would prefer not to, they were truly like a second skin. Some of my fellow explorers, who wore merino wool as their base layers, were not as fortunate as myself…
Hold up. If you’re feeling slightly confused by the sudden change in the trajectory of the Sustainability Blog, let us rewind and I will explain. Last month the team at LETE decided to put two of our most popular products – the LETE Motion Tight and Native Bra – to the test in one of the harshest climates in the world. So they sent me, your intrepid blogger, to the Mongolian winter wilderness to test our products and report back to you. I trekked for more than 300kms, through wild tundras and frozen sand dunes, over icy mountain passes and across glacial lakes. I tamed wild camels, battled a throaty chest infection (still battling) and ate boiled meat for 10 days straight – for you.
Well not quite. I confess, LETE did not send me specifically to test their products, but the rest is pretty accurate. I am one of those weird people who enjoy torturing themselves a bit for fun. As a good friend of mine likes to say, “there is no fun without a bit of suffering”! It’s true, I also wore the LETE Motion Tight and Native Bra for 12 days straight, and I was truly impressed.
When you’re packing your bags for the kind of conditions a harsh winter will throw at you in the Gobi Desert, you don’t take anything that is not essential. I had my merino wool base & mid layers, feather down jackets, a couple of balaclavas, mohair scarf, snowboarding pants and goggles, as well as plenty of ibuprofen, paracetamol, chapsticks and anti-chafing cream. The Mongolians also kitted us out with thick – and incredibly sexy – yak wool mid layers, dog-fur riding boots, fox fur hats that tied under our chin and full length traditional dels, lined with sheepskin, to wear while riding the camels. I felt like a MadMax extra. Of course I had my LETE Motion Tights & Native Bra packed – just the essentials.
I will just take the chance to briefly explain why I considered LETE essential kit for glacial conditions;
- Bamboo fibres are naturally thermoregulating, which means they keep you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s warm. It’s science.
- The 98% natural fibres are anti-bacterial, so even if you get a bit sweaty the clothing you are wearing doesn’t tend to smell. Which is essential if you can’t shower for 12 days.
- LETE’s bamboo garments are all INCREDIBLY soft and act like a second skin. Once again essential – for all the reasons – when you are grinding a saddle for nearly 7 hours a day.
- Bamboo fibres are hypo-allergenic, see aforementioned essential reason.
The results. I finished the expedition with zero chafing and considerably less grimey than I thought I would be after 12 days sans shower. The tights were beyond comfortable and incredibly warm! I didn’t even bother wearing the merino wool leggings, which meant less washing – #winning. The bra was also incredibly soft and supportive, it didn’t rub or dig in anywhere, even after about 290 consecutive hours of wear. All previous jokes aside I was incredibly impressed. I know how comfortable LETE activewear is for the gym and yoga but I honestly didn’t expect it to rival merino wool in the middle of the Gobi Desert.
Last but not least, I truly feel like I left a piece of my heart on those icey steppes. I left Mongolia having experienced some life changing moments and making memories that will stay with me forever. The Mongolians we met along the way were some of the kindest, proudest, funniest and most hospitable people you will ever come across. It really was these people who made it for me, even in the middle of a Mongolian winter, we managed to find warmth in the desert.