Earlier last year in October, Lee Jeans organized one of the most remarkable and noteworthy denim events of the year – the Lee Jeans Dry Denim Survival Weekend. Co-organized with Wolverine Boots and Dutch blog, Long-John, the two-day event doubled up as a crash course in outdoor survival training and garment endurance test.
Each participant was given a brand new pair of Lee 101S and Wolverine Boots 1000 Miles as their new, and closest, companions throughout the hard weekend. As well, participants were lucky enough to receive a few other freebies including beanies, scarfs, french knifes and flask filled with whisky.
The organizers selected a group of denim lovers hailing from all parts of The Netherlands and the Belgian zone of Ardennes as the location. For those more unfamiliar with this area, it’s well known for its extensive forests, rough terrain, rolling hills and ridges.
The group lineup included:
- Pol Houtkamp of Lee Jeans
- Martijn van der Vecht of shop, De Rode Winkel
- Bram Spanjersberg of shop, Daily Rush
- Paul Travi of RawrDenim.com
- Wouter Reimert of shop, VIF Jeans
- Geert-Jan Renzen of salon, De Concept Salon
- Ruben Donker of shop, De Garage
- Ike Straatman of shop, De Garage
The first day started with a briefing from the Dutch Survival Club, an organization responsible for each participant’s safety over the course of the weekend. After the preliminary training was finished (and everyone understood what they were getting themselves into), the whole group received just one small plastic bag of food that would be their livelihood for the next two days. That was the first lesson – get back to the basics and learn how to ration your small amount of food in a survival situation.
Once the rations were divided, the group was ready to set off and take on the navigation test. The goal was to find a meeting point using incomplete and unclear instructions while climbing through mud, rocks and rain for the next few kilometres. Within just one hour, the Lee‘s and Wolverine‘s received and showed clear signs of some hard wear.
After they all met at the final location, a tough ordeal awaited – prepare your own protein (not for the fainthearted), also involving classic techniques to start a fire. Keeping warm and dry was critical as well albeit a challenge as everyone’s jeans were completely soaked in mud and water.
Before it was time to turn for the night, the crew was hit with one last surprise – they were left a few kilometres away from the campsite with just a compass. After some careful planning and assessments, the team set off towards the site, meandering through the woods and even a corn field.
The second day kicked off with a quick tutorial in makeshift knots; imperative knowledge for building a zip-line and bridge to cross over a river ahead. Soon after this crash course came a fun, but thorough, test for the garments – a mock mission to rescue one of the “wounded” participants, Pol Houtkam, involving crossing a deep swamp and battling a long walk right through a river. As expected, everyone’s jeans and boots went through the proverbial wringer.
As the day and weekend came to an end, the Survival Weekend team admired their wares’ work then proceeded to give each garment a well-deserved soak. The two-day event eventually wrapped up with a celebratory BBQ and rejuvenating round of beers, as everyone unwound and swapped stories around a cosy bonfire.