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The Columbia Ultrachange Parka is unlike any other Columbia jacket I've seen and tested. Columbia gave me the opportunity to test one this past winter and here's what I thought.
Columbia Ultrachange Parka Review Features
- Omni-Heat thermal reflective and insulated liner
- Omni-Wick EVAP advanced evaporation
- Omni-Dry ultrabreathable waterproof fully seam sealed
- 3-point Interchange System
- Liner with breathable stretch panels
- Attached, adjustable storm hood
- Helmet compatible hood
- Vented hand pockets
- 2-way center front zipper
- Waterproof zippers
- Drawcord adjustable hem
- Skinny seam seal tape
- Contoured sleeve cuffs
- Backpack compatible
- Abrasion resistant chin guard
- Drop tail
- 24 oz (Shell: 11.2 oz. Liner: 12.8 oz.)
- Center back length: 29.5”
- MSRP: $450
Columbia Ultrachange Parka Review ReviewThe Columbia Ultrachange Parka truly is a few steps above any other Columbia jacket I've tested. I was very impressed with it. The Ultrachange is 3 jackets in 1. It comes with an outer shell and a liner jacket. You can mix and match to get the protection that you need. The shell is lightweight coming in at 11.2 ounces. It's not the lightest on the market but that is still good for a protective shell. It is made with their Omni-Dry and Omni-Wick EVAP for weather protection and breathability. The jacket surface is textured which gives it a couple of extra design points. From a performance standpoint the Ultrachange shell gets a 4 out of 5 stars from me. It is great with weather protection. In the rain water would bead up and run off. It shed snow and buffeted wind. It does lose a star on breathability. It did seem to perform better than other Columbia jackets I've tested but I still overheated pretty easily. To help with venting the oversized hand pockets are vented. The shell is packed with other features as well. The arms are plenty long, no sleeve hiking when I extend my long arms. They do feature drop cuffs, giving your hands a little extra coverage. Velcro closures help keep the sleeves closed and in place. A full-sized, brimmed hood features three adjustments to keep the hood in place, even in the gnarliest winds. A drop-tail helps keep your rear dry and powder out. A rubber-lined bottom hem and two drawstrings also help keep the jacket in place. All pockets feature waterproof zippers with generous pull tabs that are even big enough for winter gloves to use. Two hand and one chest pocket help keep your belongings organized. For the hikers out there the hand pockets are big enough to fit skins, though the mesh vents will let the melting water in. From a durability standpoint I'd give the shell 3 out of 5 stars. After a winter of use water still beads up and runs off, however, the fabric is prone to tears. First run through the trees (not even gnarly trees) I came away with three little tears in the right sleeve. Nothing a little duct tape won't fix, but for a $450 jacket, I'd like to not have to worry about skiing trees. The liner jacket jacket is filled with synthetic insulation and lined with Omni-Heat. On it's own, it's a good cold weather jacket when you just need protection from the cold. The shell will give slight water protection but not much. It does feature stretch panels under the arms for cooling and movement which is a nice touch. It does feature two large, lined handwarmer pockets, which help the liner stand out on it's own. The Omni-Heat lining helps give some extra warmth performance. The liner does fasten into the shell with three loop/snap closures. Pair the shell with the liner and you have a formidable winter jacket. Fully weatherproof and extremely warm. I dug the full Ultrachange for night skiing trips and cold days at the resort. I usually wore just the shell when hiking for turns and the just the liner around town. The Good
- Good feature set
- Fabric durability
Bottom Line:Each year Columbia gets better and better and the Ultrachange is the best I've seen from them yet. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Ultrachange Parka Review [gallery]... Read more...
After what can only be deemed as an abysmal start to the ski season, with months of high pressure and facets, we're finally seeing some precipitation up here in AK, and I've finally had a chance to get out and ski in my Outdoor Research Vanguard Pants.
Outdoor Research Vanguard PantsThe Vanguard Pants, new for winter 2012/2013 are a highly waterproof, highly breathable softshell ski pant with lots of sidecountry features such as a Recco reflector and a beacon pocket. Available in both Men’s and Women’s designs, the Vanguard looks to be the pant that will stand up to all sorts of weather, no matter who’s wearing it! Overall, I'm enjoying the pants. So far, they're as waterproof as OR says they should be, offer great mobility for touring and appear to be fairly burly. Errant Alders are no match for the material on the Vanguards...
- Most waterproof softshells I've ever worn- After 3 hours of resort laps in Alyeska's infamous "Mixed Precip" (read: rain), my legs were still dry. The pants were soaked, but my legs were still dry. I then wore them for a 4-day Level 2 Avalanche course, and spent all my time sitting in pits I dug. I came home dry each day.
- Beacon pocket- I love this thing. The pocket is actually mesh pocket inside a pocket with a clip to keep your beacon attached to you.
- Dual sided thigh vents with double zippers. Dump heat fast, but don't worry about fumbling around with a one way zipper to get them zipped back up.
- The Vanguards are HUGE. Definitely try them on, or order a size smaller than you normally would. Consistently a size small in Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear and other Outdoor Research Products, I chose a size small in the Vanguards. Even in my ski boots, the pants drag on the ground, and I've maxed out the elastic waistband adjustment to keep them from sagging down to my knees. The size guide indicates that a Small should have a 29 inch inseam. I'd put mine at about 34 inches.
- The pockets may be overkill. I love the beacon pocket, but don't have a ton of use for the 2 mid thigh pockets in addition to the 2 front and 2 back pockets. On the plus side, I guess I'll never run out of space for CLIF shots...
Check 'Em OutOutdoor Research Women's Vanguard Pants or Outdoor Research Men's Vanguard Pants... Read more...
All it takes is one look to know that Osprey poured a ton of thought and development into the the Osprey Variant 37 Backpack. My experiences with the Variant 37 this summer were great and I'm looking forward to a full winter of using it. Oh yeah, Osprey sent it to me to test and review a some Oregon summer ski mountaineering trips.
Osprey Variant 37 Backpack Features
- Material: Matrix (420D nylon), Cordura (315D)
- Support/Suspension: HDPE frame sheet
- Removeable waist belt
- Hydration Compatible
- Ski Carry
- Climbing Gear Loops: 2
- Ice Axe Loops: 2
- Adjustable tool bungees
- Crampon compression pocket
- Glove friendly buckles
- Three-point haul system
- Underlid Pocket
- Wand Pocket
- Weight: (small) 3 lb 4 oz, (medium) 3 lb 6 oz, (large) 3 lb 9 oz
- Volume: (small) 2075 cu in, (medium) 2258 cu in, (large) 2441 cu in
- Price: $178.95
Osprey Variant 37 Backpack ReviewOut of the box I was stoked when I put the Osprey Variant 37 Backpack on for the first time and it fit me perfectly. I'm not that tall but I've had problems in the past with finding packs that fit. The Variant is jam packed with the features you want and a none of stuff you don't care about. The main compartment is big and open. The hydration sleeve is easy to access when empty and an easily fit a 100 oz resevoir. The top compression strap doubles as a rope strap. The extendable lid moves as your loads expands or shrinks. A spindrift collar rolls up under the lid but can unrolled to keep snow out. The lid also features top and under pockets. The crampon compression sleeve is large enought to fit crampons and an avie shovel blade. Side compression straps help keep contents in the sleeve and a small mesh patch at the bottom lets water drain. The "adjustable tool bungee y-clps" were a little funky to figure out but once I did I was a fan. When cinched down they are extremely secure. Definitely one of the better designs I've seen. The ice tool holsters are secure and have a beefier fabric behind them to protect from sharp edges and points. The tool holsters are versatile enough to hold an avie shovel handle. Each side features a wand pocket that doubles as a bottle holder if your so inclined. The ski carry loops were wide enough to easily fit my 115mm tails and carry in the a-frame style. The waist belt is removeable/stowable and features two gear loops for your alpine rack. It is about 3 inches wide and comfortable over a ski jacket and pants or over just a shirt and pants. Shoulder straps were comfy as well and shaped to stay out of the way. Performance was strong both on the uphills and on the down. The profile is slim enough that I didn't bump my elbows when skinning or hiking. On my Mt Hood trip I carried a fair amount of gear and the heavy load was stable and carried well. On ski descents I was able to cinch everything down tight enough to keep it from swaying around. The combination of all the compression straps, shoulder straps, and waist belt kept it secure on my torso. I was able to ski variable snow in variable terrain without worrying about the load. The layout of everything on the pack made the process of "load skis, unload skis, get the ice axe and crampons, stow it all, etc" a relatively painless task. One thing I did think was missing was some sort of side access. It always seems no matter how you pack you always need to fish something out of the bottom of the pack. On the side of the mountain, in the snow, it would have been nice to be able to get to the bottom of the pack without having to unload. The Good
- Great feature set
- Climbed and skied well
- No side access
Bottom Line:The Variant 37 is awesome. It's a strong performer for ski mountaineering. Buy Now: Pick up the Osprey Variant 37 Backpack ... Read more...
Made for trail-side lunch and snacking the Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container won't let you down by letting your food go cold. Innate sent me a Shiru to test and review and here's what I thought.
Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container Features
- Material: Double-wall Stainless Steel
- Capacity: 0.55 liters (18.5 fl oz)
- Dimentions: 3 x 7 inches
- Weight: 14.8 ounces
- Price: $22-$28
Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container ReviewThe Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container is made to be a lunch container. The short and squat shape makes it ideal for eating your warm (or cold) meals. Unlike your typical thermos for liquid, the opening is wide enough to eat out of without feeling like your fishing for your food. No need to dump your lunch out either. The short nature allows you to easily scrap the bottom to get all of your lunch. The Shiru is made of double-wall stainless steel. It's rated to keep your food hot for up to 5 hours, especially if you take 10 minutes to "preheat" it before you put your hot lunch in. It can double as a cooler to keep your lunch cold for up to 10 hours. In testing I've had food in it for close to the 5 hour limit and when I opened it up, it was still hot. The inner lid features a steam release valve to both depressurize the container and prevent steam burns when as you open the container. The inner lid is also insulated to help control heat loss through the top. The inner lid is wide, making it easier to open, even with gloves on. A rubber gasket seals the liquid inside so even if it tips, it won't leak. I didn't experience any leaking, but stay on the safe side and make sure it remains upright in your pack. The outer cap is also insulated, providing even more heat-retaining value. Keep an eye on it though, it can loosen on it's own because it only has a couple threads I've used it in my pack for cool weather hiking and skiing. Although my biggest use has been for breakfast at work. I typically mix my oatmeal in it and by the time I get to work it's ready to eat. The Good
- Great for lunch
- Retains heat extremely well
- Easy to eat out of
- The outer cap is only a couple threads and can loosen on its own
Bottom Line:The Shiru is the container to use to keep your lunch warm. Buy Now: Pick up the Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container [gallery]... Read more...
As temps drop and we start seeing snow on our higher peaks in Alaska, winter is officially on the brain. Early fall is one of my favorite times of the year- not because of the changing leaves or cool, crisp mornings, but rather because early fall means new gear! Time to play with all the new toys coming out for the 2012/2013 winter! So far, here's what I'm getting stoked about for ski season:
A Pair of 163 Praxis MVP Custom Ordered SkisSay who? Praxis? If you aren't familiar with Keith O'Meara's custom shaped skis out of Tahoe, get familiar, and fast. Praxis has been around for years, cranking out some of the most innovative ski technology with incredibly high quality. As world class caliber skiers such as Drew Tabke and Kevin O'Meara begin to ski Praxis skis and bring notoriety to the name, more and more people have been drawn to the brand. Keith, the man behind the curtain, has directed his focus towards making smaller batch, custom skis designed to fit a variety of riders. For my season-long pleasure, I will be skiing a pair of 163 Most Valuable Praxis, or MVP skis, in the "soft" flex with the graphic of my choosing. All of Keith's skis are available for immediate purchase as his original designed model, or available to be custom ordered for flex (choices of soft, medium, medium/stiff and stiff), layup (triaxial fiberglass or a carbon/triaxial fiberglass blend), length, and graphic. Choose from Praxis's badass graphic library or upload your own! Best part? All this customization comes at little to no extra price. Pick your own flex and graphic for free. If you'd like to add the carbon there is a nominal materials fee increase, and if you'd like to upload your own graphic, there's a small fee for that as well. Look to hear more about Praxis and my new MVPs later in the season. Men's and Women's designs, the Vanguard looks to be the pant that will stand up to all sorts of weather, no matter who's wearing it! I'm excited to test out the GoreTex softshell material up here in AK, and see how it holds up to our heavy wet snow. Men's version, which features a lobster-claw style 3 finger glove design. Read more...
What exactly is a "Compounder"? Adhesive substances? Nope. Fractions? Nope. An awesome jacket meant for whatever you can throw at it? Yep. Columbia continues to step up their game. The Columbia Compounder Jacket is great all-around jacket for those who like to get out doing a lot of different things. Columbia sent me the Compounder to review this spring and summer.
Columbia Compounder Jacket Features
- Fabric: 100% 2.5 layer polyester plain weave
- Omni-Dry ultra breathable waterproof fully seam sealed
- Omni-Wick EVAP® advanced evaporation
- Attached, adjustable, helmet compatible storm hood
- Drawcord adjustable hem
- Waterproof zippers
- Drop tail
- 5 pockets
- Internal key clip
- Abrasion resistant chin guard
- Center back length: 30 in
- Price: $300
Columbia Compounder Jacket ReviewThe Columbia Compounder Jacket would fit well in the "all-around" jacket category. It is a strong performer in a lot of different conditions. The combination of the 2.5 layer Omni-Dry construction was more than enough to keep the weather out. From rain storms, to blizzards, to 40 mph winds, the Compounder kept the weather at bay. I had full confidence when I wore it. The thing that sets it apart from other jackets is the Omni-Wick Evap technology. This is supposed to make the Compounder ultra breathable by using "a special compound that disperses sweat quickly across a broad surface area for accelerated evaporation.". I'm a sweat machine so I was very excited about this. I came away from testing with mixed feelings. Overall it does a decent job. In cold conditions it did well moving moisture. When temps were warmer I was sweating more than the jacket could move. It's definitely not an "active" jacket for running but it does well for hiking, backcountry skiing, resort skiing, or other activities that don't have high levels of output. To be completely fair, other shells have a hard time keeping up with moisture management. With that in mind, though, the Compounder is one of the better performing jackets when it comes to moisture management. It does come with full pit zips which help with additional ventilation. The hand pockets are mesh lined so if things get bad you can open them up as well. The downfall to the mesh pockets is when you get sweaty whatever is in your pockets will get soaked. The two hand warmer, two inside pouch, and one chest pocket allow you to carry way more than you need in your pockets. The fleece lined chin area keeps your face from getting rubbed raw. The drawcord hem will help keep the weather out. The Compounder is relatively lightweight and packs down pretty small. I've kept it stashed away in my pack for when I need it. Once again it's a good all-around jacket so it won't get as small or as lightweight as some shells out there. The hood is big and adjustable. It will fit over many helmets and can snug down tight. It handled 40 mph crosswinds on Mt Hood without shaking or flapping loose. I was able to adjust it small enough to give good coverage of my face. The length is long enough to give good coverage for when your skiing but not so long that you look like a dork when you wear it around town. The Good
- Great all-around jacket
- Lightweight and pack able
- Relatively breathable
- Mesh pockets allow contents to get sweaty
Bottom Line:The Columbia Compounder is a strong contender. It's a good all-around jacket. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Compounder Jacket[gallery]... Read more...
A couple of weeks ago I made my first climbing attempt of Mt Hood in northern Oregon. The weather conspired against us with snowstorms and 45 mph winds. It was planned to be a ski mountaineering trip. The plan was to skin as high as possible then don crampons and ice axes for the summit push. The descent would be skis from the top of the Hogsback to the base. While the weather wasn't our friend we still skinned our way up through the resort and had a good ski descent. Another attempt later this month will be likely. Here's my gear list for the trip. I err on the side of caution and may have carried a little more than others would.
- Columbia Compounder Jacket
- Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket
- Patagonia Powderkeg Pants
- Patagonia Midweight Capilene Top
- Patagonia Midweight Capilene Bottoms
- Stoic Inbounds Glove
- Black Diamond Powerstretch Fleece Gloves
- Patagonia R1 Balaclava
- Julbo Orbiter Goggles
Ski and Climbing Gear
- Black Diamond Kilowatt Skis
- Fritschi Freeride Plus Bindings
- Black Diamond Method Boots
- Black Diamond Ascension Skins
- Black Diamond Whippet Pole
- Black Diamond Traverse Pole
- Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe
- Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro Crampons
- Backcountry Access Tracker DTS Beacon
- Voile T6 Tech Avalanche Shovel
- Black Diamond QuickDraw Guide Probe 300
- Petzl Ecrin Roc Helmet
- Petzl Reverso Belay Device
- Couple of shoulder length slings and locking carabiners
- Osprey Variant 37 Backpack
- Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 Sleeping Bag
- Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp
- GSI Glacier Stainless Dualist Cookset
- MSR Pocket Rocket Stove
- Vapur Element Bottle
While most of the Lower 48 is enjoying summer climbing weather already, we're just barely transitioning out of full on winter up here in AK. Unfortunately, that transition means some rainy days amidst the snow. To keep me warm in the rain or the snow, I've been reaching for my Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket.
Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket Specs
- Highly weather-resistant/breathable WINDSTOPPER® shell fabric; taffeta lining
- PrimaLoft® ECO 60g insulation
- Double-separating front zipper
- Zippered napoleon pocket (great for stashing a CLIF shot!), plus a zippered internal chest pocket and two handwarmer pockets. One handwarmer pocket is intended to double as a stuff sack.
- Stretch binding on cuffs
- MSRP: $225
Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket ReviewThe Havoc is a synthetic insulated jacket, taken to the "next level" with Windstopper material integrated into the exterior of the jacket. What a great idea! Eric raves about this also in his own review of the Havoc. Why don't all synthetic puffy coats come with Windstopper? No added weight or bulk, and added warmth. Good thinking on Outdoor Research's part. I used the Havoc as my primary insulation layer for ski touring, and often used it as my outer layer as well. The Windstopper material made it so that I didn't need a shell over the insulation to keep the wind chill out. Awesome. When I heard about the Havoc, I was a bit concerned that it might be less packable/pliable due to the Windstopper shell. Not so. My Havoc packs down smaller than my old Patagonia MicroPuff does, and comes with the added benefit of the Windstopper shell. Win win!
- Primaloft insulation keeps you warm, but what really adds to the heat of this jacket is the Windstopper exterior. No biting chills accidentally making it through the jacket.
- Sizing is right on and equivalent to the rest of their line.
- The hood is a great size. Big enough to fit over a hat or a climbing helmet (not a ski helmet), but not giant. Not stowable, but that doens't phase me.
- Handwarmer pockets have a fleece lining inside them. Bonus!
- I wish the Havoc came with a stuff sack for stowing in my pack when I'm not using it. One of the handwarmer pockets is intended to double as a stuff sack, but it seems a bit cumbersome. I like having a separate bag that I can just jam things right into without worrying about accidentally ripping a zipper.
- The Double Separating front zipper makes it a pain to zip up sometimes. Since both parts have to be all the way down, it seems I spend a lot of time fumbling with that.
Bottom LineA well designed synthetic insulation jacket with the added bonus of a Windstopper shell. Check out the Havoc here!... Read more...
The Columbia Triple Trail Jacket is a jacket to span all seasons. It'll be at home on the trail on cool spring days, keep you dry in camp during summer storms, and keep the white stuff at bay during mid-winter touring sessions.
Columbia Triple Trail Jacket Features
- Shell fabric: 100% nylon 3L Heat with Omni-Tech waterproof-breathable finish
- Stretch panels: 89% nylon/11% elastane 3L Heat Cyberstretch
- Lining: Omni-Heat® thermal reflective
- Waterproof, breathable and fully seam sealed
- Attached and adjustable storm hood
- Zippered vents beneath sleeves
- Hem features adjustable drawcord
- Zippered hand pockets
- Zippered interior security pocket
- Waterproof zippers throughout garment
- Center back length: 31 in
- Price: $299.95
Columbia Triple Trail Jacket ReviewThe Columbia Triple Trail Jacket isn't like Columbia jackets of old. Prior to the Triple Trail my only other Columbia jacket was the Bugaboo with the zip out fleece when I was 12. That Bugaboo set my perception of Columbia, which remained for 18 years. The Triple Trail has changed that perspective for the better. The Triple Trail features a three-layer nylon laminate with strategically placed stretch panels so the jacket moves with you. The seams are all fully seam sealed to give true waterproof protection. The Omni-Tech finish keeps water at bay. Columbia used waterproof zippers throughout the entire jacket (helps with the clean look) and the zipper pulls are substantial enough that you can grab them, even when wearing a thick winter glove like the Columbia Omni-Heat Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves. The Triple Trail is fully lined (including the hood) with Omni-Heat reflective fabric. The tiny dots reflect back body heat (similar to a space blanket) but the space between the dots allows for breathability. The Omni-Heat lining keeps you warmer. It features two zippered hand pockets which are HUGE! They literally span from the hem to your shoulders. The first thing I thought of when I put my hands in was "these would be perfect pockets for your skins when running laps". But the interior isn't waterproof so you'll just end up soaking your layers. They are extra roomy. I would have loved to see a chest pocket on the jacket, but I don't know how it would have fit with the big pockets. The interior features one zippered pocket and open top pocket. As with most all "waterproof, breathable jackets" the Triple Trail is solid on the waterproof, but not as much so on the breathability. It does feature long pit-zips to help cool you down but I did overheat and sweat when exertion levels started to rise. Maybe I'm just warm, but I still have yet to find a shell I can wear when skinning without overheating. Both the hem and hood are adjustable. The hood features a stiff brim which will keep it from sagging when things start to get wet. The hood fits well but won't fit over a helmet. The Triple Trail would be a good jacket for 4 season use. Keep in mind, with the versatility there are compromises that are made. It is less packable than a dedicated rain jacket. But, you can wear the Triple Trail skiing and have full weather protection. The Omni-Heat lining adds bulk and weight, but it's warmer. If you want one jacket, the Triple Trail is a good way to go. The fit is good. I'm 6' tall and 180 lbs and the large fits me nicely. There is enough room that I can wear a medium weight mid-layer and still have free movement. I have long arms and I can extend them without the sleeves pulling up over my gloves (this makes a big difference for me). The jacket is cut long which makes it extremely nice for skiing. Overall I was extremely impressed with the Triple Trail Jacket. My perception of Columbia changed from that a mediocre outdoor brand to a brand that is now making premium outerwear. The Good
- Well made
- Breathability is all right, but I still overheated in it
- No chest pocket
Bottom Line:The Triple Trail Jacket is a solid jacket. It's well-made and a versatile jacket. If you want 4-season protection, you've got it. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Triple Trail Jacket [gallery]... Read more...
Looking for a good all-around softshell jacket? The Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket will fit the bill. From running, to urban cycling, skiing, and hanging out the Moab brings solid performance.
Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket Features
- Fabric: 87 % polyester, 13 % elastane, 100% polyester backing, DWR finish
- Windproof rating: 20 CFM
- Merrell Aeroblock™ provides high wind-resistance and breathability
- Merrell Conductor thermal fleece inside provides versatile heat retention in varying conditions
- Bonded, lightweight Merrell Conductor fleece backing
- Drawcord adjustable hem
- Zip-secure hand pockets / chest pocket
- No shoulder seam construction for greater water resistance and improved comfort under a backpack strap
- Center back length: 30 in (size large)
- Price: $128.95
Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket Review
The Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket is a versatile softshell. The Aeroblock fabric provides good protection from the elements but actually breathes fairly decently too. It truly keeps pace with you as you begin to heat up. Of course in the most stenuous of exertions you'll get too warm but you should just take your jacket off anyway. During moderate exertion I didn't sweat out of the jacket. The DWR finish provides some rain protection but it won't keep pace in anything more than a light rain. The Moab is definitely at home in cold, dry, or snowy conditions. I typically won't run in jackets but with the Moab on cold days I could run in it without getting too warm.
The fit is good. I'm 6' tall, 180 lbs and the large fit me nicely. It does fit a little loose so you have some room for mid-layers.
The chest pocket and hand warmer pockets are fleece insulated but the inside of the pocket is the smooth side of the fleece. All pockets feature weatherproof zippers which are nice addition. I would have liked to see more substantial zipper pulls though. The thin pulls are a little awkward when wearing winter gloves.
The clean design and lines of the jacket keep it simple and you can pull off wearing the Moab out to dinner after a day on the hill without looking like you're wearing a ski jacket.
One thing that I would to have love to see with the Moab is a hooded option. On a versatile jacket a hood would cap the deal for me.
- Zipper pulls are thin for pulling with gloves
- No hood option
The Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket is a versatile jacket and a great price point.
Buy Now: Pick up the Merrell Moab Softshell Jacket[gallery]... Read more...
I used to only think of Julbo as the glacier sunglasses company. That's not the case anymore. Julbo gave me the chance to test and review the Julbo Orbiter Goggles and here's what I thought.
Julbo Orbiter Goggles Features
- Material: Lightweight nylon frame is flexible and accommodates large faces
- Breathable dual density foam membrane
- Silicone-accented strap and easy clip secure to fit all helmet sizes
- Camel Photochromic lens (cat 2-4) new high end polarized lens
- NXT technology
- Front venting
- Anti-reflective coating
- Anti-fog coating
- Price: $200
Julbo Orbiter Goggles ReviewFirst off, out of the box the Julbo Orbiter Goggles look great! Let's face it, if you're going to shell out more than $30 for goggles, you want a pair that look good. The Orbiter has good styles and the frame designs are clean. The Orbiter is made to fit bigger faces, so ladies you'll want to check out something like the Julbo Eclipse Goggles. I found the Orbiter extremely comfortable and can thank the breathable foam for that. After all day wear, I didn't get any goggle fatigue. The Orbiter is also comfortable with a helmet. The strap "wings" (as I call them) position the strap to go with the curve of the helmet instead of making the strap stretch straight from the frame. This was huge in terms of on-helmet comfort. The Orbiter also comes with a strap extender so you don't end up with foam imprints after wearing the goggles for awhile. The strongest and most notable feature is the Camel lens. The Orbiter comes with a couple of lens options but just move past the rest and go straight for the Camel. The Camel lens is a polarized photochromatic lens. For the uninitiated, photochromatic is essentially a "transition" lens that changes from light to dark based on the amount of sunlight. The Camel lens is rated as a "2-4" on the scale which means it does well in relatively low-light conditions to bright conditions. The product photo shows the lens at the lightest and my photo shows it at it's darkest. Throw in the polarized coating and you have a lens that is hard to beat. All that combined makes the Orbiter an awesome goggle. I already have a favorite goggle but now I am having to reconsider my choice. The Good
- Camel Lens (polarized, photochromatic)
- Good Style
- Price - it could be hard to shell out $200 for goggles but they are worth it
Bottom Line:The Julbo Orbiter Goggles is a great goggle and worth every penny. Buy Now: Pick up the Julbo Orbiter Goggles[gallery]... Read more...
With the Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves gone are the days of frozen hands and fingers. Columbia gave me a pair of gloves to test this winter and here's what I thought.
Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves Features
- Fabric: 100% goatskin leather
- Omni-Heat electric, thermal reflective, and insulated
- Techlite battery compartment
- Outdry waterproof
- Split cowhide palm patch
- Long gauntlet
- One-hand shock cord hem adjustment
- Nose wipe
- Precision fit grip
- Price: $399.99
Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves ReviewWhen I first heard about the Columbia Electric products I was highly skeptical. Adding electric heat to products has been tried in the past, rather unsuccesfully. This time around though, I think Columbia is on to something. The Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves are an all around good glove. First let's look at the heat. Operation is easy, just press the Columbia logo on the back of each glove. The heat comes in three modes: high, medium, and low. The button alternates colors when on: red for high, yellow for medium, green for low. On a full battery charge you'll get 2.5 hours on high, 3 hours on medium, 4 hours on low. The heat that is produced is more of a slow, radiating heat as opposed to a burst of heat. I've found the best heat performance comes from preheating the gloves before my hands were cold. The gloves will heat your hands back up after they are cold, but with the slow, radiating heat it does take some time. It won't be quick like a typical hand warmer. The gloves charge via micro-USB and take about 3 hours to charge. What I like about the cords is they are a micro-USB to USB combo which gives you a few different options for charging using the single cord and any available USB port. The gloves do come with everything necesary to charge, including 2 USB cables, 1 USB wall adapter, plus international adapter plugs. The gloves are lined with Omni-Heat reflective fabric which is supposed to reflect the heat that would ordinarily dissipate out of the glove back into the glove. I did find that the thumbs aren't heated. A little research shows a heating wire may cross the thumb but my thumbs still got cold. Without the heat, the Bugaglove is still a great winter glove. I found it preferrable for skiing. The goatskin leather is durable and very weather resistent. It's pliable, even in cold conditions. The gauntlets are long which is great when skiing or anytime you have to dig around in the snow. The gloves are bulky so dexterity is compromised similar to what you see for most winter gloves. The Outdry fabric is awesome and it definitely keeps your hands dry. My biggest gripe with the glove is there isn't a soft nose wipe. The specs say it's there but it's not. Any amount of time spend outside, especially skiing, and your nose is going to run. Goatskin leather isn't very good at wiping or absorbing. Sizing is good. I normally wear a size XL glove because I have long fingers. The XL in the Bugaglove fits me perfectly. Overall I've had a good experience with the Bugaglove. Are they worth $399? I'd be hard-pressed to say yes. It's a cool concept but I don't think it's worth it, yet. If you have the money to burn, go for it. Columbia is definitely on to something and I'm looking forward to future iterations of Electric. The Good
- Electic Heat
- Materials are high quality
- Good performing ski glove
- No nose wipe
Bottom Line:Warm glove, good glove, cool concept. If you have the money, spend it. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves[gallery orderby="title"]... Read more...
The highly versatile Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket is a jacket that could fit just about everyone's needs.
Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket Features
- Highly weather-resistant/breathable WINDSTOPPER® Insulated Shells fabric; taffeta lining
- PrimaLoft® ECO 60g insulation
- Fully adjustable hood
- Double-sliding front zipper with internal stormflap
- Zippered napoleon pocket; zippered internal chest pocket with media port
- Two zippered handwarmer pockets; one doubles as stuff sack
- Stretch binding on cuffs
- Dual drawcord hem adjustments
- Price: $224.95
Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket ReviewIn short, the Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket is one of the best jackets I own. It's lightweight, versatile, and extremely comfortable. Outdoor Research got so many things right with the Havoc. The lightweight Primaloft insulation is just enough to help take the chill off on chilly fall days and when paired with a nice mid-layer it's great for cold winter days. The Havoc packs down to be about the size of small loaf of bread so it won't take up much room in your pack. I was skeptical of the value on Windstopper on an insulated jacket. I'm sold though. I think the lightweight nature of the jacket would let the wind though. The combo of the insulation and the Windstopper gives the Havoc an edge on the cold. I couldn't believe how comfortable the Havoc is. I've worn it all day (literally all day) and I didn't get of of the typical annoyances you get with other jackets when you wear them all day. It's also at home just anywhere from keeping you warm on the chair, as a belay jacket, hiking, and camping (even works for biking around town in the winter time). A couple of notes on the hood: it's insulated, adjustable, can fit over a climbing helmet (but not a ski helmet), and it's non-removable. It also doesn't "stow away" at all. Hand warmer pockets are fleece-lined and roomy. Internal pocket does has a headphone port if you're into that sort of thing. The jacket stows in one of the hand pockets. The fit is nice as well. It does run "true to size". I'm 6 feet, 180 lbs, and the large fits me nicely. It does have room so if you wear a mid-layer (I've worn it with a fleece before) you won't be feeling squeezed. The Good
- No way to stow the hood
Bottom Line:Hands down the Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket is one of the best jackets I've owned. It's made it's way into my permanent collection. Buy Now: Pick up the Outdoor Research Havoc Jacket [gallery]... Read more...
Osprey is the backpack brand that many others aspire to be. It is focused squarely on extremely well-designed high end packs as a primary competence. As such, it can charge more than many other brands can. Because if you've ever tried an Osprey pack, you know that it is built like a German car --- endlessly engineered for performance, above all. My favorite Osprey feature? The easy-to-grab zipper pulls, shaped like an O. It's an ingenious tiny little thing that makes them so much easier to use. With a long-time reputation for performance long-trek backpacks, Osprey also offers packs for the growing segment of backcountry skiers and snowboarders who simply need a sidecountry excursion pack. The Osprey Karve 16 is precisely that: an excursion pack. The Karve 16 is named as such because in the M/L size it has a gear capacity of 16 liters (or, 980 cubic inches). That makes it quite small --- not a full daypack, compared with most backcountry ski packs (for comparison, the ubiquitous Dakine Heli Pro ski pack is 1200 cubic inches). But definitely a nice, compact size for resort skiing at Alta or Alpental when you never know if you might pop out to the backcountry for a run. So the Karve is appropriately dubbed as a sidecountry pack, and that's what I believe it to be ideal for: carrying your hydration pouch, skins, a small avy shovel and probe, and that's about it. Maybe a ProBar or two. But for being such a compact pack, it has some excellent features. It has a diagonal ski carry system which, once you get it figured out, is ideal for carrying today's wider skis. Thankfully most Osprey gear comes with a small instruction manual that you'll want to study to get the most out of it. The Karve is lightweight, which is one of its best qualities. It weighs in at just an ounce over two pounds. It sports a pocket for your hydration bladder, and stowage for your straw in the shoulder strap to save it from freezing. It also has external sleeves that are just large enough for a probe and a shovel handle, with a back panel for the shovel blade. The Karve also boasts diagonal compression straps and a small "personals" pocket on the back for wallet, cell phone, keys, etc. The main panel compartment can hold your skins, but not much else. And of course the pack's suspension has a hip belt and sternum strap, and a well-structured spine panel. As a sidecountry pack, the Osprey Karve 16 is an excellent pack. For full days in the backcountry, you'll probably want something more sizable. But for trips out into the North and South backcountry at Crystal Mountain for example? Or a quick spin on a snowmobile? Osprey appears to have hit the high mark once again. SHOP: Search for more Osprey gear....Read more...
New for the 2011/2012 season, the K2 SideKick is just wider than the GotBacks (102 underfoot), but not as wide as any of the twin-tipped team skis, like the MissDirected (117 underfoot). A member of k2's Backside Adventure series, the Sidekick became my primary backcountry ski for the beginning of the season. After a few months of skiing it, here's my general impression.
K2 SideKick Skis- The Details
- 139/108/127 profile
- Available in 153, 160, 167 and 174 lengths
- Sidecut = 21m
- 8.6 lbs per pair
- MSRP: $699.95
K2 SideKick Skis- The ReviewThe largest ski in K2's Backside Adventure series, the Sidekick is advertised as the "do-it-all" pow slaying machine that will also keep a good, quick turn in the trees. After skiing on it for a few months, I'd say that's mostly true. We've had an epic start to our season up here in AK, with each Sunday for the past 5 weeks bringing a massive storm that dumps between 30 and 40 inches. However, we've also had some crazy wind events, so I've had an opportunity to ski the SideKicks in both feet of fresh and on some more variable terrain. So far, I've been impressed. They have super decent float in deep snow, especially considering that they're only 108 underfoot. The traditional camber helps for the hard pack sections, and All Terrain rocker keeps your tips up in both the pow and crud. I was most surprised at how "turny" the ski was on harder snow. I own a few other pairs of skis with a similar sidecut, but the combination of progressive sidecut and traditional camber on the SideKick makes it quite a snappy little ski. If you're not really on the ski, you'll suddenly find yourself facing uphill and wondering how the hell that happened. After skiing a few runs in-bounds, I got a much better feel for how to initiate a turn with the SideKicks, but that did seem to be the case across all conditions. She makes nice, tight turns if you're on top of things, or runs amok the opposite direction if you're half-a$*ing it. That being said, the SideKick maintains its float in the powder, and has no trouble straightlining down bigger lines and making beautiful, swooping, faceshot instigating turns. The All Terrain Rockered/early rise tip handled speed well- you won't see the chatter that you often see with bigger, full rocker, non-cambered skis. I mounted my SideKicks with a pair of the new Dynafit Radical ST bindings, so overall, it's a lightweight and very backcountry oriented set-up. The features of all of K2's BackSide Adventure series skis include flat tails, for easy plunging into the snow for anchor construction and holes drilled in the tip and tail which allows for emergency sled construction if need be. I have yet to need to utilize either of these features, but it seems like a sweet idea. I do, however, miss the rockered tails that most all my other skis have, which is sacrificed for the flat tail design of the BackSide Adventure series skis. As I mentioned in my initial blurb about the SideKicks, K2's skis seem to run long. I own a pair of Moment Reagans, size 168, an older pair of Karhu Berths, size 165, and when I stood my new K2s up next to them, I assumed that at 167, they’d sit right in the middle. Not so. They tower over the Reagans. I checked in with our local ski shop and the 167 seems to be on par with what all other ski companies call a 172-173. So, definitely check the skis out in person. They still skied great for me, but be sure to get a look at the ski before you order one- you might want to size down from what is your normal size, even with that All Terrain Rocker and early rise tip. Overall, seems to be a great intermediate to advanced level ski. Skis the pow well, and turns well on hard pack if you know how to drive it.
Check 'Em OutK2 Sidekick Skis... Read more...
Icebreaker, the veritable king of the wool world, has your back if you still don't have a gift for that active individual on your holiday gift list. The Icebreaker Tech Top, a midweight base layer, has almost all the functional features you'd want, and will keep the winter chill away for any outdoor activity.
Icebreaker Tech Top Details
- Icebreaker 260 g/m2 Merino Wool
- 3 Way Collar- Zipped up, zipped down or rolled down
- Drop tail hem
- MSRP: $110
Icebreaker Tech Top ReviewAfter making the Tech Top my go to piece for my last several ski tours, I am loving it! I have worn it for 10+ tours and haven't washed it yet- no stench! For my full "wool vs. synthetic" commentary, see my review of the Icebreaker GT 260 Express Leggings (which, coincidentally, I have worn on all the tours I've had the Tech Top out for). The heavier weight wool provides ample warmth on the cooler days, but might be overkill for the milder days.
- Thummies! Though I'm sure that's not the technical term, the Tech top comes with the ever-wonderful thumb loops which I refer to as thummies. Keeps your sleeves from riding up as you layer. I love it.
- Stink free and fuzzy soft. I'm not going to re-argue the benefits of wool here, but I continue to be a fan. After multiple wears, the Tech Top isn't smelly or scratchy. Go wool.
- The Tech Top isn't incredibly long. Though the back side is longer than the front (that's your drop tail hem), the front could use to be a bit longer. It worked fine for layering, but I would have loved to see it about an inch longer in the front.
- No pocket. I love the Napoleon pocket on layers like this and was a bit disappointed to see that the Tech top didn't come with one. That's usually my go-to location to stash my iPod and a CLIF shot.
Bottom LineA great cool weather layering piece that keeps the stink at bay.
Check it OutIcebreaker Tech Top... Read more...
K2 has been working hard to develop a wider selection of backcountry equipment, known as their "BackSide" line. From shovels to probes, K2 is really ramping up production of items that a resort to backcountry convert might need. Among the BackSide line is K2's Trim-To-Fit Climbing Skins, climbing skins compatible with k2 skis only.
K2 Trim-To-Fit Climbing Skins: The Details
- 125mm wide
- Available in a variety of lengths to correlate with k2's skis (153 to 188)
- Come with Z clip system, which works on skis with tip and tail holes
- Includes off-set skin trimming tool and storage bag
K2 Trim-To-Fit Skins: The Review
Good SkinI've been using the K2 SideKick skis with my K2 Trim-To-Fit skins a fair amount so far this backcountry season. It's been dumping since early November, and backcountry season has been jamming. When I first received my K2 Trim-To-Fit skins, I was stoked to see that their skin trimming tool follows the same principle that G3's does, since I loved that one so much last year. Trimming skins no longer requires the painful "lay the skin down, trim one edge, move it over, swear about how you didn't reposition it right, do it again, eventually get the other side trimmed" action that other companies skin trimming tools require (come on Black Diamond, get with the program). The offset skin trimming tool was easy to use, though not quite as precise as I'd like in a few areas. If you stray away from the ski edge by a micro-millimeter, and then wish to give the skin a second pass to ensure your whole edge has the exact same amount of ski edge showing, it's tough to do with this tool. However, if you get it right the 1st time, you're stoked. Super easy, takes less than 5 minutes per ski! So far, my favorite part of the K2 Trim-To-Fit Skins is the attachment system. Currently being the owner of a pair of G3 skins, a pair of Black Diamond fixed length skins and a pair of Black Diamond's GlideLite Skins, I can say, without a doubt, that K2's attachment system is the most secure, easiest to manipulate and least likely to get snagged on errant alders, branches or other skinning hazards. That being said, I think it's also the downside of the skin in the sense that you can't use it if you don't have holes in your skis. So, you're looking at drilling your skis, or simply only using these skins if you have K2 skis. In terms of glide, traction and general skinning ability, I'd say I would rank the skins somewhere in the middle of the pack. The glide isn't nearly as smooth as other skins, and definitely a bit more work. Hopefully with that decreased glide comes increased long term durability. They're holding up so far, but we'll see at the end of the season. Uphill traction seems to be on par with my G3 Skins, and slightly less than my beefy Black Diamond Ascension Skins.
Bad SkinThe "Glue Saver" or skin saver sheet with these is awful. Flimsy and very prone to attracting dog hair. Toss it, immediately, or you'll accidentally cover your skins in the crap that had radiated towards the skin saver. Personally, I don't ever use the skin saver sheets on any of my skins, but the material on this one is not your traditional "plastic coated screen" material, and whatever it is, it seemed to have a static cling that drew dust, dirt, human hair and dog hair right to it. Not what I want on my skins.
Bottom LineA great choice if you've got K2 Skis. Moderate glide, moderate traction and a great attachment system.
Check Em OutK2 Trim to Fit Climbing Skins... Read more...
Just as it's started dumping up here in Alaska, new toys from K2 have arrived, begging to be skied! The K2 SideKick will be my primary backcountry ski this season. I'll be mounting them with the new Dynafit Radical STs, so look for a full review of both the Sidekicks and the Radicals after I've had an opportunity to get out and ski them.
K2 SideKick Details
- 139/108/127 profile
- Available in 153, 160, 167 and 174 lengths (see sizing info below!)
- Sidecut = 21m
- 8.6 lbs per pair
- MSRP: $699.95
Check 'Em OutK2 SideKick Ski K2 Trim-To-Fit Skins... Read more...
Is it a hat? Is it a face mask? Neck warmer? The balaclava is kind of weird piece of gear, but it's extremely versatile and well worth having. The Patagonia R1 Balaclava is about as straight forward as it gets. I picked mine up for bike commuting this winter and I won't get another winter without it.
Patagonia R1 Balaclava Features
- R1® stretch fabric (made from 41% recycled polyester) provides wicking warmth, breathable comfort
- Lightweight and very compact
- Face opening can be worn above mouth or under chin
- Fit is smooth and clean without being restrictive
- R1: 6.8-oz 93% polyester (41% recycled)/7% spandex. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program
- 56 g (2 oz)
- Price: $35.00
Patagonia R1 Balaclava ReviewOut of all the balaclavas I researched the Patagonia R1 Balaclava was about as simple as they get. There's a ton of options with a lot of "specialized" uses, depending on what you want it to do. I was looking for something that I could use mainly for bike commuting but could also work for other cold weather pursuits. I liked the simplicity. The R1 fabric is a lightweight fleece with a small waffle pattern on the inside. It's extremely soft to the touch and didn't irritate my face at all. The face mask is big enough and stretchy enough that I could wear it either under my chin or pulled up to my eyes. It was very warm and yet slim enough to fit underneath my bike helmet. With that in mind it would also fit under a ski helmet, sled helmet, or even a climbing helmet. It was warm enough that on my coldest commute day (-7 degrees F) it kept my head and face warm. The extra bonus is when you wear it, you feel like a ninja. The Good
- Face mask could fit under your chin or pulled up to your eyes
- Looks really cool
- I couldn't find anything bad
Bottom Line:What's there to say about a balaclava? The Patagonia R1 Balaclava is a simple, versatile design, warm, well made. Buy Now: Patagonia R1 Balaclava Name ... Read more...
The quest continues. For the 3rd year in a row, I look for the perfect alpine touring boot. Having tried out the Black Diamond Shivas, the Black Diamond Swifts, and the Scarpa Divas, I find myself becoming somewhat of a boot aficionado. This year's endeavor? The Scarpa Shakas. Anyone remember the Skookums? These are a newer, Women's specific version of that same boot. Just as stiff, just a burly, but with a women's specific fit. Here's the rundown:
Scarpa Shaka Features
- Buckles: 4 + Active Power Strap
- Liners: Intuition Speed Pro Womens Liners
- Sole: Skywalk Active Sole
- Weight (sz 25): 3lbs 10oz for one boot
- Binding Compatibility: Alpine Touring and TLT (Dynafit and G3 Onyx/Ruby)
- Forward Lean: 19-23 degrees
- Flex Index: 110 with Ski Tongue, 90 with walk tongue
- MSRP: $719
Scarpa Shaka ReviewOf this year's Scarpa Women's alpine touring boot line, the Scarpa Shaka is built to be the "burlier" of the two available boots, with an emphasis on its versatility between inbounds and outbounds skiing while still being fairly lightweight (looking for the lighter, more touring oriented boot? Stop here and check out the Scarpa Gea). I've had the opportunity to ski the boot both in bounds and for some resort days, and Scarpa has hit a nice mix with the Shaka. The Shaka is a more "touring oriented" boot in the sense that it is not the traditional alpine-wrap style boot, and comes with both a "Ski Tongue," which makes the boot a stiffer 110 flex, and a "Walk Tongue," a 90 flex, intended for longer tours. I had a chance to ski the boot with both. The touring tongue, while offering less resistance for longer tours, creates an unusual flex patter in the boot when skiing down, and seems to "bottom out" at a certain point while flexing. This occurs when you've flexed the boot to the point where the bottom ankle buckle and top over-the-foot buckle hit each other due to lack of support in the tongue. I am not an aggressive skier by any means, but still found it easy to overflex the boot with the touring tongue. However, the boot performs much better with the "Ski Tongue" installed (imagine that... the Ski tongue skis better!). Though the touring is not quite as easy, for day tours, it's certainly manageable. I'd say the trade off of increased resistance when touring is worth the significantly increased flex pattern that the boot offers when skiing with the stiffer tongue. I skied the Shaka in bounds for some Tram laps at Alyeska and felt like it performed just as well as my Alpine boots- handled the crud well and was responsive. The Shaka has many of the same features as the old Skookum- the active power strap above the 4th buckle really does act as a 5th buckle, providing more support than your average power strap. It's wider and thicker, creating that much more support for you as you flex the boot. It also has a movable spoiler on the rear of the boot, which is a nice feature for those of us with mondo calves- you can move the spoiler down so as to not completely cut off circulation to your feet by crushing your calf muscle. Or, for those of you who like a bit more height in the back, you can add that by moving the spoiler up. The Shaka also has the same "power ribs" along the back of the boot, intended to give it even more stability and burl. Despite all these features, the Shaka manages to keep it's weight down at an impressive 3lbs 10oz for 1 boot (sz 25). Not bad! The lighter Scarpa Gea weighs in at 2lbs 15oz. So, we're talking a difference of just over a half a pound per boot. Now, the most important part- the fit. The Shakas are ideal for people with high volume feet. The toe box is wide, the heel is wide, and there is a lot of general space in that shell. This, for me, was a deal breaker with this otherwise well constructed boot. I have a narrower heel, so even with a good Thermomold of the liners and a butterfly foam pad on the back, my heels were a-movin' in these boots, which made touring difficult without wrenching down all the buckles. However, if you're a lady with a higher volume, wider foot, this is the way to go! Scarpa has made a solid boot that skis well and tours well, and if the fit is right, you're stoked.
- Burly yet lightweight boot
- Comes with Intuition Liners, hands down the best liners on the market.
- The idea of a "touring" tongue is well intended, but it doesn't ski well. Stick with the Ski Tongue for performance, even if it means more difficult touring.
Bottom LineThe Shaka charges like an alpine boot on resort days and is still light enough to be your regular backcountry boot. Buy Now: Scarpa Shaka Alpine Touring Boot... Read more...
Sierra Designs has had our back with killer technical gear since 1965, the golden age of backpacking and camping. With everything from tents to mens technical clothing, they have been a solid and impressive brand. They have never been about flash -- they have always been about making gear that performs for the most technical athletes, but also works for the common man. That same ethic is now extended to a new 2011 line of gloves for snowsports and cold weather activities. One of the most eye-catching of the gloves in that line is the Enforcer. Sierra Designs' Enforcer glove is clearly for snowy play, from backcountry skiing to ice climbing. It is a gauntlet style over-the-cuff glove with convenient dummy strings (so that when you take your gloves off on the ski lift you don't lose them, they just dangle from your wrists). Of course, be aware to not just let the gloves dangle there for too long on precipitous days, or else the insides will fill up with falling snow and get cold and wet as will any glove that you leave exposed like that. The Enforcer glove boasts Sierra Designs' Tropozone waterproof/breathable insert as well as Thinsulate insulation. It uses at least two different thicknesses of leather in the palm -- a thick black leather for the high-wear zones, and a thin and supple tan leather where you need dexterity. An extra plus? There is a nice quarter-moon pad on the heel of the hand. One impressive bit about the Enforcer glove is that its fabric seams are welded -- making the fingers more waterproof than stitched seams and much more flexible and free-moving than most box-style stitched glove fingers. The fingers are also well-articulated to improve the natural fit and grip over ski poles or an ice axe. The Enforcer glove also has a waterproof zippered pocket on the back of the hand, presumably for a hand warmer. But having used these gloves in the field I have to say that the zipper is too small to conveniently fit a hand warmer into it. You'd have to really shove it in there. But it's perfect for a car key or those bills you want to have on-hand when you meet a yeti in the backcountry that wants to cash a cool hundred. The Good
- Welded fabric seams
- Well-articulated fingers
- Waterproof, breathable, burly
- Dummy strings
- Comfortable lining that doesn't tend to pull inside-out
- Excellent, I mean excellent leather material on the palms
- Good fit for a gauntlet-style glove, if that's what you're looking for
- Zippered pocket on back of hand doesn't seem very useful at the current small size -- I would prefer using that space for some knuckle padding, and ice climbers would especially appreciate that
- No significant ventilation for warmer days
My Verdict: Sierra Designs Enforcer GloveWith the Sierra Designs Enforcer glove, you have a gauntlet that surpasses most other gauntlet-style gloves I've seen. The palm materials are exceptional for good touch and durability, and the welded seams and articulated fingers make for excellent dexterity. If you don't mind the zippered pocket, and you're looking for a gauntlet-style glove, this is the one for you. Retail price is $109. Search for Sierra Designs gear... Read more...
The Black Diamond Kilowatt Ski is my one ski quiver. What used to be one of the fatter skis in the Black Diamond line-up now falls in the middle of their line in terms of widths. It's a favorite and the go to ski for many and it became my ski this season. I've had my eye on the Kilowatts since they first came out. This year I finally decided to lay down the cash and pick some up for myself. I wasn't disappointed.
Black Diamond Kilowatt Ski Features
- Length: 155 cm, 165 cm, 175 cm, 185 cm
- Dimensions: [155 cm] 121 / 95 / 109 mm; [165 cm] 123 / 95 / 111 mm; [175 cm] 125 / 95 / 113 mm; [185 cm] 127 / 95 / 115 mm
- Turn Radius: (155cm) 18.5 m, (165cm) 20.5 m, (175cm) 22.5 m, (185cm) 24.5 m
- Construction: Torsion Box Formula One
- Core: poplar
- Base: sintered
- Tail: raised
- Weight: (Pair - 185cm) 8 lb 6 oz
- Recommended Use: Backcountry skiing, telemark skiing
- Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year
- Retail: $579
Black Diamond Kilowatt Ski ReviewThe Black Diamond Kilowatt Ski is made to be a backcountry ski. When looking for a ski to buy this season I was looking for one that would excel at touring but it had to also be burly enough to handle variable resort days. The Kilowatt is a good "all around ski". It has enough width in the shovel and underfoot to keep you afloat on the powder days. In the powder the 'watt is a fun ski to ride. It's responsive, it has good float, and it kept me smiling turn after turn. In touring mode it was nice. My previous skis were an older Atomic twin...in terms of touring, the Kilowatt was a massive upgrade in performance. It was smooth and easy on the feet and legs on the skin track. The Kilowatt definitely held it's own at the resort. I pulled a handful of days at the resort skiing everything from tracked powder, to chunder, hardpack, and groomers. It's stiff enough to keep from tossing your around in the crud and it isn't noodle. Being wider, to get it on edge on the groomers took a little work, but once it was there, it held at high speeds. It definitely isn't a 'carving ski' but when you have to be there, it can be fun. I have mine mounted with some Fritschi Freeride Plus bindings. For me with most of my skiing now in the backcountry and some days at the resort, this is an ideal setup, and I can "get away with" a one ski quiver. The Good
- Great ski, fun to ride
- Awesome in the powder but can handle any variable condition
- Solid construction
- If you plan on being on more handpack than soft stuff, go with something a little more narrow with a little more sidecut
Bottom Line:The Black Diamond Kilowatt skis had me grinning from ear to ear. This ski is awesome. Buy Now: Pick up the Black Diamond Kilowatt Ski[gallery]... Read more...
Beacon- check. Probe- check. Shovel- check. Compact and lightweight, the G3 SpadeTECH Elle Shovel is the one for you if you're a sidecountry skier who makes sure to take all the correct equipment with you each time you head out, and you're tired of fighting to get your pack zipped because your shovel is too big!
Details: G3 SpadeTech Elle Shovel
- Compact Size- The SpadeTECH Elle Shovel was designed for female skiers, who usually have smaller packs. The size allows you to fit it inside your smaller pack, and not have fight with your zipper to ensure that it closes.
- T Handle- Easy to grip, the handle was ergonomically designed so that it's easier to hold.
- Reduced Blade Size- Aimed at being a more efficient shoveler as opposed to just using brute force.
- Handle and blade detach. This seems like such a simple feature, yet I can think of a few shovels that don't have it, which is an even bigger pain for fitting the shovel into your pack!
- Material- Durable yet lightweight aluminum. Never ever ever would I purchase a plastic shovel- I don't care how durable the manufacturer says it is. Plastic snaps. G3 has it right by making their shovels out of aluminum.
Bottom Line: G3 SpadeTech Elle ShovelIf you're an occasional backcountry or sidecountry female user who is tired of trying to jam that huge shovel into your daypack, this is a perfect solution. It's lightweight, durable, easy to assemble and comfortable to shovel with- a great choice for lots of female skiers out there! You'll actually be able to close your daypack with this one, as opposed to having your shovel blade sticking out the top. It'd also function fantastically as a mountaineering shovel- great for digging out a tent platform. However, if you're an avid backcountry user, conducting snow studies and practicing avalanche burial and recovery scenarios on a regular basis, I'd say that opting for G3s AviTech shovel is a better choice if you're only going to own 1 shovel. Its larger blade makes for more efficient shoveling and a better platform for snow studies. While it's bigger that the SpadeTECH Elle, I'd say that size difference is a bonus. The pack I carry for most all tours, day or week long, is big enough to accommodate a large shovel. Compression tests in facet-y snow are more difficult with the SpadeTech Elle shovel, since the blade's surface area doesn't cover the entire area of the column you'd be isolating. If you have proper shovel technique, you're going to move more snow with a larger blade than a smaller one for rescues. That being said, sometimes it's nice to have that smaller shovel for sidecountry days. Having options never hurt anyone, and I'll definitely take my SpadeTECH Elle on those days. Big backcountry days, I'll still reach for a larger shovel. So, be sure to assess your shovel needs- if you're an occasional user, or looking for a versatile shovel that you can use in the backcountry and also as a mountaineering shovel, the SpadeTECH Elle shovel is definitely the way to go. Lighter, fits in your pack, and, as a bonus, the graphics match the G3 Alpinist Elle Climbing Skins. Who says you can't kick backcountry a@$ and look good at the same time? If you're a heavy backcountry user looking to conduct regular snow assessments and recovery scenarios, look more towards the G3 AviTECH shovel.
Buy NowAre you diggin' it? Pick up a G3 SpadeTech Elle Shovel today!... Read more...
Backcountry season should be ramping within the next few weeks here in AK, and I'll be testing out some Genuine Guide Gear (G3) women's specific skins and shovel all throughout the Chugach Range. My skins and shovel arrived in the mail a few days ago, and I just had a chance to cut my skins- while the full review will come later, so far, I've been really impressed. After only owning Black Diamond climbing skins for years, when my new G3 skins arrived, I left them in the box for a few days, dreading the disaster that is skin cutting. Lay the skin down, cut one side, move it, cut the other, curse when you haven't gotten it exactly even, leave to have a few beverages, come back and still be frustrated with the fact that the skins aren't totally even and you've wasted an entire evening on such a simple procedure. This couldn't have been further from the truth with my G3 skins. Their skin trimming tool ROCKS. Yes, that's right, ROCKS. In all capital letters. It's that good. They've designed a tool that allows you to lay the skin down once, trim both sides without moving it, and, oh yes, leave the exact correct amount of edge showing. Check it out! [gallery] Be sure to look for a full review of both the Alpinist Elle Skins and the SpadeTECH Elle Shovel in a little bit. For now, check out Gear.com's selection of G3 gear, and dream of cutting your skins with ease....Read more...
Scarpa's new women's AT boot, the Shaka, is in for the ride of its life up here in AK. An unusually rainy winter, with temp fluctuations and rain crusts galore, the ski season in AK has been variable, to say the least. I'm looking forward to testing the Shakas out and seeing how they perform in both varied touring and skiing conditions. Of the two new women's ski boots Scarpa has released this season, the Shaka is the burlier of the two, boasting incredible skiing ability while still being lightweight. The Shakas come with both ski and touring tongues, making the flex index "flexible," an Alpine Style Intuition Speed Pro ThermoMoldable Liner, a 4 buckle design with a power strap, and Dynafit compatibility. Look for a full review coming soon, but in the mean time, be sure to check out the Scarpa Shaka Alpine Touring Boot or other Scarpa Boots here on Gear.com.Read more...
What an incredible journey. Watching Greg Hill creep closer and closer to his 2 million vertical feet goal in one year has been nothing short of amazing. The fact that he skinned, climbed and skied his way to his goal is that much more astounding! Congratulations, Greg!
PARK CITY, UTAH (Jan. 3, 2011) – On Jan. 1, 2010, Backcountry.com-sponsored (other sponsors include Dynafit and Arc'teryx) ski mountaineer Greg Hill set his altimeter watch to zero and set off on his mission to log 2 million vertical ski-touring feet — all self-propelled, counting only the up — by Dec. 31. After 266 days of climbing and skiing backcountry terrain in Canada, Chile and Argentina, Hill’s New Year’s resolution and yearlong quest became a reality on Dec. 30 when his watch hit the 2 million mark on Rogers Pass outside of his hometown, Revelstoke, British Columbia. “The incredible feeling of no longer having this immense goal looming over my days is amazing. So much has gone into this tiny number on my watch – so much dedication, perseverance and passion,” said Hill, 35. “We all have dreams. I’ve realized that the fact is you have to work hard to achieve them and if you work hard enough it is possible to accomplish them.” Joined by his wife, mother, stepfather, two brothers and a crew of friends for his final push on a bitterly cold day, Hill’s watch eclipsed 2 million at 1:30pm on Bonney Moraine – a special place for Hill, with impressive mountain views and untracked powder. It was the culmination of a long, exciting year inundated with emotional highs and lows, travel and a healthy amount of skiing. All of Hill’s 2 million vertical feet were logged completely under his own human power –no chairlifts, trams or gondolas. “The toughest part of this challenge was the continuous need to always be on it – averaging 38,500 feet a week every week for a year,” said Hill. “Any time off meant extra huge days ahead. December was my biggest month where I covered 238,000 feet.” Hill averaged 7,570 feet per day, scaled 71 peaks (including a handful of technical first descents) and powered through 77 days where he logged more than 10,000 vertical feet. To put Hill’s extraordinary and superhuman feat in perspective, it is equivalent to: running more than 200 marathons in a year, climbing Mount Everest 69 times and skiing back down, and taking the stairs up the Empire State Building four times and Eiffel Tower five times a day for 365 days. Now imagine accomplishing this in remote, high-altitude mountain ranges in avalanche terrain with 40 pounds of gear strapped to your back. As the final days of 2010 loomed over Hill, he skied into the night lit by headlamp to maximize his daily vertical consumption. Hill completed his yearlong goal with style and grace and admits that being surrounded by family and friends for the finale was more emotional than anticipated. “Every day during the last week of the year I was pushing out an extra hour in the evening with friends to be able to finish with a bit of grace,” said Hill. “Finishing was way more emotional than I thought it would be. When I hit 1 million and 1.5 million I was alone. It was so great to feel the support and psych of all my friends and family as I achieved this crazy goal – I most definitely cried.”More Info: Visit GregHill.ca... Read more...
With good tunes and lots of big lines in deep pow, "The Way I See It" is the ski movie you've been craving. Looking for a good ski movie that is low on the jibbers and bad rap, and high on sick lines and good tunes? Look no further than the recently released Matchstick Productions film "The Way I See It." The film strikes a good balance between the teenagers in jackets that look like dresses and big mountain skiing. Clearly, I'm biased. I don't ski to ski down stair rails, to wear bright green/pink/orange/blue ski jackets that come down to my knees, or to wear my pants at my ankles while jumping over boxes and onto concrete steps. Personally, I feel like that "scene" has dominated the ski movie industry as of late (save Powderwhore), which isn't something I'm stoked about. I ski to ski powder. And I like my ski movies to be full of it. So, keep that bias in mind as I provide you with my impression of "The Way I See It."
The Way I See "The Way I See It"As the first big ski movie of the season shown at Alyeska Ski Resort, everyone was pumped to head to the opening of "The Way I See It." You know that vibe, when everyone is chomping at the bit to get back on skis, and wants to drool over some powder to get stoked for the season (especially when you know your home mountain has some serious screen time in the movie). As the film began, and scenes of epic mountains, a helicopter and some big lines filled the screen, I knew it was going to be a good movie. Then, as the sound got cranked up and the familiar guitar riff of Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" played so loud that it resonated inside my chest, I (and the rest of the crowd) went wild. A ski movie that opens with big mountains and Queen!? I'm in. As the rest of the film unfolded, it did not disappoint. With skiers like Bobby Brown, Ingrid Backstrom, Arne Backstrom, Sean Pettit and countless others, plus a soundtrack featuring Queen, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Postal Service and Weezer, the boys at Matchstick Productions hit the nail on the head. A perfect mix of park and pow, I've never enjoyed a ski movie so thoroughly. Shot in locations from Alaska to Tahoe to Switzerland to Colorado to Japan, "The Way I See It" takes you on a worldwide journey, truly showing you how these athletes see skiing and the world around them.
Check It OutView the teaser yourself. But be prepared, much like a good first date, it'll leave you wanting more.
HoliGEARLooking for a a gift for the skier or snowboarder on your list? Matchstick Productions "The Way I See It" is sure to bring Christmas cheer, disguised as powder skiing and Queen. Buy Now! Matchstick Productions' "The Way I See It" Ski Movie... Read more...
You'd expect someone to be skeptical of a known shoe company jumping into the apparel market. I know I was when I received the Merrell Men's Ridgedrift Softshell Jacket from Merrell to review. After testing this jacket the skepticism has been shoved aside. The Ridgedrift is legit.
Merrell Men's Ridgedrift Softshell Jacket Features
- Merrell Opti-Shell™ waterproof, breathable softshell fabric
- DWR finish
- Drawcord adjustable hem
- Waterproof, mesh-lined pit-zips remain open for optimal venting
- Zip-secure hand pocket/chest pocket
- Shaped cuff increases coverage from elements
- Price: $178.95
Merrell Men's Ridgedrift Softshell Jacket ReviewThe Merrell Men's Ridgedrift Softshell Jacket is a great jacket for a variety of activities. I had the Ridgedrift out on everything from the daily bike commute, playing in the snow with the kids, winter hikes, light rainy days, grocery store runs, and temps ranging from the teens to the 40s. The Ridgedrift offers a lot of versatility. The fabric was fairly stiff for a softshell when I first received it but after a little wear it has loosened up. The combination of 96% polyester and 6% elastine gives enough stretch to not limit your movements when you are getting around. The DWR keeps the jacket (and you) dry in light rains and light to heavy snowfall. Like just about any other softshell out there, if the rain gets heavy or long you'll wish you had a hardshell. The waterproof zippers are a nice addition and give the jacket a more streamlined look and better performance. I will say though, the zippers are stiff and take a little more effort zip up and down, usually requiring two hands. The shaped cuff and velcro-cuff adjustments keep the jacket down and around your gloves, even when you are stretching. I have a positive ape index (my arm span measurement is longer than I am tall). I have issues with sizing and sleeve-length. Usually to get the arms long enough I have to bump up to an XL. I have the large in the Ridgedrift and it fits well in the body and the arms are long enough. I wouldn't wear this jacket for aerobic activities such as running, fast skinning, or anything like that. While it is a softshell I didn't find the breathability enough to help keep me cool while working hard. The pit-zips help but it wasn't quite enough for me. The Ridgedrift is a great jacket for skiing the resorts, hiking, your around town needs, and even playing in the snow with the kids. The Good
- Good fit
- Good Construction
- Breathability isn't enough for aerobic activities
- Stiff zippers
Bottom Line:For being a footwear company Merrell is making legitimate headway into the apparel market and the Ridgedrift is a great example of this. If you're considering getting a softshell jacket for a variety of activities consider the Ridgedrift. Buy Now: Merrell Men's Ridgedrift Softshell Jacket Name ... Read more...
When you wake up to the sound of artillery shells shaking your house and a report of 23 inches of fresh snowy goodness, you know you're getting out of bed and moving quickly. When you look outside and see bluebird skies, you kick it into the next gear, and dress yourself while running for the chairlift, hoping you get those pants buttoned before you run into your buddies in the lift line. As you're grabbing your ski gear essentials, be sure to grab a pair of the Icebreaker GT 260 Express Leggings to keep your legs toasty while you're shreddin. The Icebreaker GT line of baselayers takes wool long underwear to the next level. The GT line adds 3% lycra to the high quality merino wool that Icebreaker is known for, which means you've got some stretch and give in your undies. The added Lycra also makes sure that your long underwear will retain its shape, and you won't have to deal with saggy bottoms by the end of the day. The GT line also boasts reflective graphics, so if you want to wear the layers separately for an early morning run, you know people will see you as you flash by.
Icebreaker GT 260 Express Leggings: The Specs
- Athletic fit baselayer
- 97% New Zealand Merino Wool, 3% Lycra
- GT Express Leggings are available in a 200 weight (lightweight) and a 260 weight (midweight)
- 260 (Midweight) Leggings are ideal as a baselayer for snowsports and cooler temps
- MSRP $100
- Baa Code: Every piece of Icebreaker product comes with a code, which allows it to be traced from sheep to production. Icebreaker prides itself on it sustainable ethics and transparency of production, which is awesome.
Icebreaker GT Express Leggings: The ReviewHave you made the switch from synthetic to wool baselayers yet? In case you're not quite on board, here's the low down: Wool doesn't retain stink, like synthetic fabrics do. We've all got those gnarly synthetic baselayers that no matter how many times you wash them, they will forever smell like you spent 3 years living in the same shirt and not showering... Ok, so, 1 point for wool. The synthetic advocates come back saying yes, we may be stinky, but wool is itchy! Not so with Icebreaker's merino wool blend. Their wool is soft and just as comfortable as any synthetic out there. Score now? Wool 2, Synthetics 0. Here's the kicker though- the fibers in the wool actually work with your body. As you heat up, it wicks more heat and moisture away from your body. When you're cool, it warms your body up. The merino wool's got smarts. Checkin' in with that scoreboard again, I believe we've got Icebreaker Wool at 3, and Synthetics at 0. To give a bit of credit to our plastic amigos, synthetics are certainly less expensive. So, let's call that Wool 3, Synthetics 1. But at the rate you're replacing those smelly synthetics, the initial investment is worth it for the quality, in my opinion. Icebreaker has taken an already phenomenal product with their wool baselayers, and made it even better in the GT line, with the addition of the Lycra. My only complaint with the 1st generation of Icebreaker Baselayers was that they didn't retain their shape as well as the synthetic long underwear I had (yes, yes, I was once a synthetic wearer). With the Lycra spandex, the GT express leggings are a skiers dream for a baselayer. They've got some give, keep you warm, and retain their shape over multiple wears. While I won't have an opportunity to wear the GT Express Leggings as an individual piece for a while (winter's in full swing up here in AK), I look forward to running in them when the temps warm up a bit and the trails thaw. The flatlock stitching and ergonomically designed seaming will come in handy when I'm cranking out the miles. So, this morning, when the artillery shells were shaking my house and I had feet of fresh snow in my front yard, I did reach for my Icebreaker GT 260 Express Leggings. And yes, I did manage to get my ski pants buttoned before I met up with friends in the lift line. Buy Now! Icebreaker GT 260 Express Legging! Also, be sure to check out Gear.com's selection of Icebreaker gear and the full Icebreaker GT Line!... Read more...
Last week, as we all sat around and ate turkey, I'm sure that conversation about "What are you most thankful for?" came up in many a home. Health, happiness, friends and family made the list for most. As I spent my Thanksgiving mired in 2 feet of fresh snow that mixed in with rain, sleet and yo-yo like temperatures, I found myself thankful for my Merrell Falconry TriTherm Jacket. The Merrell Falconry TriTherm Jacket is a 3-in-1 jacket, sporting a down insulative later that can be worn individually, a waterproof breathable shell that can also be worn individually, and the M-Connect System that allows you to wear these both as one lightweight, warm and waterproof jacket when conditions dictate. I primarily used the jacket in its "connected" form, or simply used the inner down layer, and was impressed each time I used it.
Merrell Falconry TriTherm Specs
- 2.5-layer Merrell Opti-Shell: Waterproof, breathable outer shell with 6% elastane, so it's stretchy!
- Inner jacket: 800 fill goose down insulation, so you know you'll be warm
- M-Connect System: Inner and outer jackets connect using this snap-together system
- Fully seam sealed
- Pit zips through both the inner and outer jacket
- MSRP = $498.95
Merrell Falconry TriTherm: The GoodNow, no one likes to admit that they stereotype. It's not a super positive aspect of any one's personality. However, when it comes to gear, I think we all do it, to one extent or another. When you think Merrell, what comes to mind? Like many, I immediately think shoes. Awesome, super versatile shoe company. So when Merrell asked me to review their Falconry TriTherm Jacket, I was surprised. I had no idea they were in the business of making "withstand all the elements, keep you warm and keep you dry" outerwear. I was stoked to give it a try! After wearing the Falconry for a little while, here were my favorite features:
- The M-Connect system, which connects the inner insulation with the outer shell, cuts down on bulk. Normal 3-in-1 jackets have a zipper system with about 8 million zippers, which make the jacket bulky and inflexible. The M-Connect system cuts down on that bulk.
- Flexible Shell: The outer shell has some stretch to it, but still maintains that waterproof ability. No more scratchy, stiff shell required.
- Low-down pocket on the arm: If you ski at a resort that has the little RFID cards instead of scannable passes, you know what it's like to be that person with your pass in your upper shoulder, trying to wing yourself back and fourth to get the scanner to read you and open the gates. The arm pocket on the Falconry is by your wrist, so you can just wave your hand to get the gates to open, as opposed to doing that "fully body rubber chicken dance" that we all know. Major bonus points.
- Inner jacket= Super stylish. I love to wear the TriTherm to walk around town, then take off my wet shell when I get inside, but still stay warm with my inner down jacket.
- Lightweight and packable: The shell stows into its own pocket, and 800 fill down makes the inner layer about as light as they come!
Merrell Falconry TriTherm: The Bad
- Down is rough for those of us in wet environments, since it loses its insulative qualities when wet. Despite the amazing outer shell, sometimes that inner insulate does get wet. However, it's the down that keeps the jacket light, so it's not necessarily a bad thing, just something to keep in mind if you live in a super wet climate.
- I'd love to see a powder skirt on this jacket! Great for skiing on days when you need more warmth, or for those tours when you want an extra layer for the down, but you want a shell only for the up. A powder skirt would make this jacket perfect!
A ski premiere is always an experience. You make sure to wear a really tough looking jacket, snag face time with the athletes, and possibly walk away with a headband during the giveaway. Had the chance to hit the Durango Powderwhore film the other night and it did not disappoint. Doesn't matter if your heels are locked down or knuckle drag, this movie pleases all audiences.Check out the Powderwhore crew and go buy a t-shirt to show your powderwhore pride (downhill skiers welcome).... Read more...
The coveted "Gear of the Year" award by the editors of Outside Magazine is the goal of most outdoor gear makers. With The North Face Kishtwar Jacket, it really comes as no surprise as initial tests have been extremely-favorable. I've seen the Polartec PowerShield Pro fabric in action, but have yet to try the Kishtwar. I've been pitching this jacket to anyone looking for a waterproof/breathable shell since I first saw it at Outdoor Retailer in January. This one will be flying off the shelves of your local REI. Buy Now: Find the Best Price on The North Face Kishtwar Jacket Read the release below:
10.06.2010 – SAN LEANDRO, Calif. — The North Face, the world’s premier supplier of authentic, innovative and technically advanced outdoor apparel, equipment and footwear, and Polartec, LLC, the developer, manufacturer and marketer of Polartec performance fabrics today announce The North Face Kishtwar Jacket was awarded “Gear of the Year” by Outside magazine. The Kishtwar is crafted of ground-breaking Polartec Power Shield Pro, which delivers the best combination of weather protection and breathability ever offered in a single fabric. "The Kishtwar just might be the ultimate soft shell. It’s made with a brand-new fabric from Polartec that somehow manages to be impressively breathable but also remarkably tough, windproof, and water-resistant,’" said Sam Moulton, Buyer’s Guide Editor at Outside magazine. "Add it all up and you've got a versatile soft shell for everything from backcountry skiing to cool-weather hiking." The holy grail of softshell jackets, the Kishtwar Jacket is designed for highly aerobic endeavors in foul weather. Polartec Power Shield Pro allows a high rate of air permeability that significantly improves moisture transport compared to softshells that do not allow airflow, while offering superior water resistance. The hydrophobic, microporous, polyurethane membrane stops water from penetrating while still allowing airflow. The Kishtwar features high abrasion resistance, four-way stretch and non-restrictive fit. “The Kishtwar is a revolutionary solution to adventurers who, until now, often had to choose between breathability and protection,” said Philip Hamilton, Vice President of Product for The North Face. “Working closely with longtime partner Polartec, we were able to create a solution. We are honored the Kishtwar stood out during Outside’s intensive testing process.” “Serious outdoor athletes and guides have been asking for a fabric like Polartec Power Shield Pro for years,” said Nate Simmons, Global Director of Marketing for Polartec. “Recent breakthroughs in membrane technology have finally made this combination of water resistance and air permeability possible. The North Face created an all-business jacket with the Kishtwar that will answer the needs of the most demanding users.” Outside magazine’s Buyer’s Guide features the latest and greatest of outdoor product and gear, as the ultimate guide for outdoor enthusiasts. Outside’s testing team looked at more than 50 of the best new jackets, and put a dozen through the paces on a wide variety of conditions, activity and terrain, including a mountain climb in Iceland, a trek to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal, and an adventure race in Patagonia. The North Face Kishtwar Jacket was also awarded “Gear of the Year” by National Geographic Adventure. http://on.natgeo.com/9ellZK For more than 40 years The North Face athlete team has defined the limits of what is humanly possible, and continually works with The North Face Research Design and Development teams, creating innovative designs that push new technologies and inspire cutting-edge products. Watch the Kishtwar in action – video: http://tnfvideo.com/video/kishtwar-jacket/ For more information on Polartec, visit www.polartec.com For more information on The North Face, check out www.thenorthface.com Visit Outside magazine at www.outsideonline.com About The North Face The North Face, a division of VF Outdoor, Inc., was founded in 1968. Headquartered in San Leandro, California, the company offers the most technically advanced products in the market to accomplished climbers, mountaineers, snowsport athletes, endurance athletes, and explorers. The company's products are sold in specialty mountaineering, backpacking, running, and snowsport retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains. About Polartec, LLC Polartec, LLC is the developer, manufacturer and marketer of Polartec performance fabrics. Polartec products range from lightweight wicking base layers, to insulation layers, to extreme weather protection and are utilized by the best clothing brands in the world. In addition, Polartec fabrics are used extensively by all branches of the United States military including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Special Operations Forces.Buy Now: Find the Best Price on The North Face Kishtwar Jacket... Read more...
With more and more backcountry travelers heading out into uncontrolled terrain, nothing is more important than proper route-finding and safe backcountry travel protocol. Of equal importance is the proper gear should an accident occur. Tops on that list of gear is a beacon, probe and shovel in the hands of everyone in your posse. As beacons have become more widely-used, it's become more and more important to make them easier and easier to use. The all-new Ortovox 3+ avalanche beacon represents the latest in technology to deliver ease-of-use in an ultra-compact package. This transceiver is shipping to retailers now. Read on for more details.
Salt Lake City, UT (September 2010)—Buried alive in snow is not a comfortable thought or experience, thankfully the new 3+ Avalanche Beacon by Ortovox will have you out even faster. The 3+ is the first 3-antenna device with Smart Antenna Technology™, intelligent positioning system that analyzes the position of the antennas and automatically switches to the most optimal transmission. In short, the 3+ makes all other avalanche beacons more efficient at finding you. The 3+ Avalanche Beacon represents a significant and important forward step in backcountry safety technology. Utilizing Smart Antenna Technology™, the 3+ is the first avalanche beacon to automatically recognize which of its two primary antennas is best positioned to emit the strongest flux line for rescuers to pick up. “There’s never been an avalanche beacon like this,” said Ortovox USA CEO Marcus Peterson, “A lot of energy and investment has been spent making transceivers get better at searching. The 3+ is undoubtedly the best at being found.” The 3+ is no slouch at finding people either. A large real-time display with directional arrow and distance to the victim helps hone your rescue quickly and intuitively. The display deck also allows for a visual, easy-to-use overview of multi-burial situations that allows the rescuer to flag a victim once they are found. Additional features include rubberized housing for added protection, lighted display for night searches, switchover in case of a follow-up avalanche, optimized search acoustics and visual representation of victim proximity (in addition to metric distance). Best of all, Ortovox 3plus Beacons ARE NOW SHIPPING and will be available online and in specialty retail stores near you shortly. About Ortovox All over the world, backcountry skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers and military special forces have one thing in common: mountains and snow. Driven by their passion for improving the backcountry experience, Ortovox is a worldwide leader in developing new product solutions designed to make winter sports safer and more fun. This is why Ortovox has been the #1 selling avalanche transceiver and safety equipment brand worldwide for over 25 years.More Info: Visit Ortovox.com... Read more...
I've wanted a super lightweight insulated jacket for a number of years now, but I never pulled the trigger until recently. I needed a jacket and threw down for the Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover. The Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover is light in weight, small when packed, but packs a big warmth punch. As soon as I put it on I knew I made the right decision.
Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover Features
- Ultralight ripstop recycled polyester face fabric with Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish
- Lightweight 60-g PrimaLoft® One polyester insulation provides excellent warmth and compressibility
- Deep center-front zipper allows for easy ventilation
- Stuffs into a self-storage left chest pocket with reinforced carabiner clip-in loop
- Elasticized cuff and hem seal out wind and trap in warmth
- Shell: 1-oz 15-denier 100% recycled polyester. Insulation: 60-g PrimaLoft® One polyester. Lining: 1.4-oz 22-denier 100% recycled polyester. Shell and lining have a Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program
- Weight: 289 g (10.2 oz)
- Price: $150
Patagonia Men's Nano Puff Pullover ReviewI like Patagonia, their products are hard to beat in terms of durability, quality, and function. The Nano Puff Pullover is no exception. I got the jacket for cool summer nights, camping, and ski tours. So far I've only been able to test on cool summer nights, camping, and other mountain evenings that run passed sundown. I love this jacket. It provides just enough insulation to keep you comfortable when it gets cool. I just may be stating the obvious but the jacket isn't meant as a stand alone insulation piece when it gets bitter cold. It'll be a great mid-layer insulation piece paired with a shell when temps plummet. I love the fit of the jacket. I'm 6'0" tall and about 180 lbs. I do have a positive ape index (arm span longer than your height). My ape index measures almost 6'4". Usually I have to buy XL jackets to get sleeves that don't pull up over my wrists when I put my arms by my side, reach out, or reach over my head. I bought the Nano Puff Pullover in a size large and the fit is perfect! It gives me enough room around the chest and torso to move without restriction and the length comes down to just past my waist. The arms are perfect! When extending or reaching over my head the sleeves don't pull up over my wrists. The Nano Puff Pullover is surprisingly lightweight and packs down about the size of a small melon (see the photo to the right). Just small enough to throw into your pack for any outing. Or it can be clipped to the outside of your pack with the sewn carabiner loop. The Nano Puff does feature a Deluge DWR coating to provide some moisture protection in light rain/snowfall. The Pullover doesn't have handpockets. It was made to be a lightweight piece. Handpockets didn't make the cut. Given how I'll use this jacket I'm fine with it, but a lot of people will want handpockets. The chest pocket is roomy and can accomodate keys, wallet, and phone if necessary. I have the Nano Puff in the pullover, there are options for the Nano Puff Jacket and the Nano Puff Hoody. I want the hoody and will probably pick it up this fall. The Good
- Strong warmth-to-weight ratio
- Perfect for 3 season stand alone use
- Patagonia craftsmanship
- If you don't like pullovers this model isn't for you
- The nylon inside sticks to your bare skin if things get a little sweaty
- No handpockets
Bottom Line:The Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover is a great choice for a lightweight, 3 season insulation layer. It's well constructed and will last through serious use and abuse. Buy Now: Pick up the Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover ... Read more...
If you're like me your first experience with GoLite might have been when you saw a lightweight backpack that was small on features but light as a feather and thereby hard to forget. From the mountains of Colorado sprang a company that I think has set the bar for performance gear in the "light is right" circles. But that's not just inclined to backpacks. Since my first encounter with the brand 5 years ago, GoLite has made great strides into the worlds of lightweight footwear, hiking clothing and performance jackets like the Trinity Jacket which I scored a deal on earlier this year. When I head out into the backcountry there's one piece of gear I like to have stuffed into my pack, ready to break out if the elements turn nasty - an insulated jacket. Until now it's always been a down jacket, but when I picked up the GoLite Cady 2477 synthetic jacket I had a good feeling about it, especially when it weighs in at just one pound. Here are some features that standout: GoLite Cady 2477 Jacket Features
- Lightweight - just 1 pound
- 100% recycled shell material
- Water resistant shell
- 50% Olefin, 50% recycled polyester insulation
- Pit zips
- Two handwarmer pockets
- Very smooth and small zippers
- $150 retail price
GoLite Cady 2477 Jacket ReviewWhen you're carrying around a jacket in your pack just waiting for the conditions to be right to don it, you might start to wonder if it's a good call to carry "dead" weight. If there were a negative with the Cady it's the sizing which could only be concluded as generous or that it's completely off. Unless you like a baggy fit, I recommend sizing down so you don't waste money in shipping back an exchange. I'm 6'4'' and about 210 so I typically wear an XL jacket but the Large actually fit quite well. What could have been a negative in sizing gave me a good athletic fit that went well as a layer or an outer. During one particularly frigged ski tour this winter I had the Cady under my shell and on my most recent spring climb and ski decent of Mount Watson I used it on the summit and for the ski descent as my outer shell and if functioned equally well in both situations. The shell material is both water resistant and wind resistant and despite it's lightweight insulation I was quite surprised how much warmth it provided. I've never been one to measure warmth to weight ratios, but I would suspect the Cady is at or near the top of the list I'm sure someone has conjured up. In the cold wind atop a mountain the zipper pulls are great if you're wearing gloves and the zippers lightweight and more importantly flawless when it counts most. There's nothing worse than when you're on top of a windy peak trying to zip up your insulating jacket only to have the zipper catch on the nylon since its being puffed out. Talking zippers, I can see that come this spring and fall with the multi-directional front zipper this will be my companion on rock climbing outings where you can zip up from the bottom to belay and be free of the cool breezes while my buddy leads the next pitch. I didn't use the pit zips much but they are a nice feature to add to an insulating jacket. I can only imagine the R&D guys at GoLite were struggling with the added weight of two pit zips to an already featherweight jacket but the marketing and likely field testers won out on this feature. The Good
- Smooth zippers with easy to grip (with gloves) zipper pulls
- Water resistant and wind resistant shell
- Packs down very small
- Pit zips on an insulated jacket is a nice touch
- Recycled materials in the shell and insulation - thanks for thinking of the environment GoLite)
- Inconsistent sizing
- I did have a couple of small snags on the shell from backpack and ski use after 10+ days
Bottom Line on the GoLite Cady 2477 Synthetic Insulated JacketFew if anything in my backcountry skiing pack weighs less and delivers more security and comfort than the GoLite Cady. It's a well build and well thought out jacket that I'm certain will be seeing more summits, ski descents and adventures both as a back up jacket or as the main event. Buy Now Grab the GoLite Cady 2477 Jacket for your next climb, backcountry ski or backpacking adventure.... Read more...
Built for strategic sidecountry sorties, the streamlined Black Diamond Bandit Avalung pack is built to carry just enough gear to take you safely into and back out of the backcountry. The built-in Avalung is one of the best selling points of all BD ski packs. While you can't guarantee you'll still be conscious if buried in a slide, you'll darn well be grateful you've got the life-breathing snorkel if you do. The Bandit is the lowest-volume ski pack (a mere 690 cu in) in BD's lineup and offers little in the way of frills. It's simple back panel and minimalistic interior offers just enough for the sidecountry yo-yo skier or for those who ride the heli or cat on a frequent basis. I got to test the Seth Plaid version, but there are more mainstream color options as well. I used the Bandit for quick backcountry tours and found the size to be quite tight for all my stuff. Granted, I tend to haul the kitchen sink, but still... I was forced to live without a few items because there was simply not enough room. The small outside pocket on the top of the lid was only capable of carrying a couple of ProBars and a slim camera, so keep that in mind. That said, I appreciated the lightweight feel of the Bandit (due primarily to me not taking along so much stuff) and, of course, the built-in Avalung--it's just one more thing to help you in case the worst happens. Particularly nice is the insulated hydration sleeve that worked great with my Hydrapak bladder. The Good
- Lightweight and simple
- Built-in Avalung
- Great for inbounds pursuits and sidecountry missions
- Just big enough for a 3-4 hour tour... barely
- Fits my full-size Voile shovel
- Built-in, insulated hydration sleeve (cha-ching)
- Simple ski carry system
- Tight fit if you're like me and tend to carry extra gear into the backcountry
- Simple back panel could use some updating compared to the competition
- No separate toolkit divider for quick shovel and probe access
- A single, tiny outside pocket
Bottom Line: Black Diamond Bandit AvalungIf you're looking for simplicity in a backcountry ski pack but still want to be as prepared as possible, check out the Bandit and leave Burt Reynolds at home. Buy Now: Search for the Black Diamond Bandit Pack... Read more...
Osprey is a pack company headquarted in Cortez, Colorado which has been around since 1974. The packs are made in Vietnam where the company founder now lives. The Kode 30 is the mid range size of the Kode Snow Series designed for slack country and day trips. This pack features two main compartments - the front one for your avi gear and a rear loading main compartment to keep your other gear dry. The rear compartment is supported by Osprey's Lightwire support frame which allows the rear pocket to hold its form when it is not zipped up. One of the top pockets also contains a helmet strap to allow you to carry your helmet when you are not skiing down. This pack can also carry a hydration pack, which includes an insulated pocket on the shoulder strap. The medium sized Kode 30 weighs 3lbs3oz/1440g. It sits quietly and comfortably on your back while skinning up or skiing down.
Osprey Kode 30 Features and ReviewThe main compartment is accessed from the back of the pack by a large zipper with two large loops on the zipper handles. The zipper can open the entire size of the rear compartment allowing full easy access. Opening the zipper only along the top of the pack also allows easy removal and packing of items into the compartment without fully opening the pack. There are two straps from the front to the shoulder straps that must also be undone to fully open the rear compartment. These straps are a part of the suspension system. The Livewire support frame helps to hold the packs shape while accessing the main compartment. There is also a small mesh pocket in the main rear compartment to secure keys and other small valuables. The front pocket holds your avalanche gear and is large enough to carry a 320m probe. There is a smaller pocket on top of the pack that contains the helmet carry straps. Between the Avi pocket and zippers for the main back compartment is a fleece lined pocket for your goggles. I also kept my sun glasses and small gloves in here for easy access. The large hip belt pockets offer easy access to many small items that can be stored there. The large loops on all the zippers are great. They allow for easy gripping with your gloves on. All pockets are accessed via zippers. It would be useful to have a pouch that you can easily slip items in and out of without a zipper.
Typical Pack ContentsFor a typical day tour I carry; down jacket, Gore-Tex jacket, spare climbing gloves, downhill gloves, extra toque and balaclava, 500ml thermos, 750ml water bottle, lunch bag, extra softshell jacket, skins. The Good
- Comfortable fit, very good suspension system and ventilation
- Compartments to separate dry and wet items
- Easy access from back
- Bomber construction
- Both diagonal and A-frame ski carry systems are quick to set up and comfortable. The A-frame was more stable. The diagonal may be more difficult with wider skis.
- All pockets are zippered, nice to have a more easily accessible pocket
- Can not expand like other top loading packs
- Cumberson when you have to access the avi and main compartments. You can't have both open at the same time.
- Snow will collect on top of the zipper of the back compartment which has to be cleared before you open it.
Bottom Line: Osprey Kode 30A great day pack for short or longer tours. Worked great for inbounds too since it is quite compact so when you have to take it off and place it on your lap when going up a chair lift it is comfortable to hold and not cumbersome. Really comfortable suspension system. Very good ventilation on your back at all times. Buy Now: Search for Osprey Kode Ski Packs... Read more...
The Jackson Hole Air Force is legendary in skiing circles. These guys were pushing the limits of the terrain and the patience of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The film is airing across the country now in ski towns nationwide, or is available on DVD for small-screen viewing. From Swift. Silent. Deep.
Swift Silent Deep is a documentary ski film about a revolutionary underground band of rebel skiers who called themselves the Jackson Hole Air Force. Swift Silent Deep opens the book on a notorious group of hardcore ski bums who checked authority as they explored the out-of-bounds terrain of Jackson Hole and unwittingly became the fathers of the extreme skiing movement. This great ski movie features incredible archival ski footage and a great cast of characters, including Benny Wilson, Howard Henderson, Scot Schmidt, the founders of Teton Gravity Research, Warren Miller, and the late Doug Coombs. Swift Silent Deep is a must for any ski film collection.
View the Swift. Silent. Deep. TrailerMore Info: Visit SwiftSilentDeep.com... Read more...
After getting back from my surf trip to the northwest, I came home psyched for the seasons to change and for winter to begin. Having got my fill of water time in, I was getting psyched to start surfing water in a different form: ski season! 4 days and 6 loads of laundry after my Oregon/Washington Trip, I turned around and headed up to Big Sky, Montana, to help some buddies set up their backcountry ski yurt for Montana Backcountry Adventures. Montana Backcountry Adventures, started by a couple of "old ski bum bros from Tahoe," encompasses 3 very unique backcountry experiences based out of Big Sky, Montana. MBA consists of The Bell Lake Yurt, a 20' diameter backcountry ski yurt situated in the heart of the Tobacco Root Mountains, The Montana Dinner Yurt, a fine dining experience at Big Sky Ski Resort, and new for this year, The Shedhorn Grill, an on-mountain eatery blasting reggae and grillin' burgers at Big Sky Ski Resort. The Bell Lake Yurt, which sleeps up to 6 guests, allows backcountry skiers to access some amazing terrain with a moderate approach. The guys at MBA offer a variety of ways for you to access those sweet couloirs of Branham Peaks or the beautiful bowls of Bell Lake Basin that sit just behind the Bell Lake Yurt; fully inclusive trips or overnight yurt rentals. New to the backcountry scene and wanting a seasoned pro to show you all the sick shots? A Montana Backcountry Adventures Guide will meet you at a local coffee shop, coordinate logistics with you, take you into the yurt (a 3 mile snowmobile transport to the trailhead plus the additional 3 mile, 1700 foot skin up the yurt), cook for you, and serve as your in-house resource for locating all the sweetest pow stashes. A backcountry aficionado and just wanting to reserve the yurt for your own use? MBA is psyched to help you out with that too! Self service yurt rentals are totally possible- the guys just require that you take an "Orientation Guide" with you your first time up there, so you know the best and safest way to get to the yurt, etc (You're only required to have an orientation guide for the 1st little bit you're up there- so if you've got a multi-day trip planned, the guide heads back down right after showing you around, and you've got the place to yourselves!) After you've been up with an orientation guide, so long as you have a "group leader" with first aid and an Avalanche 1 certification, The Bell Lake Yurt is yours to enjoy without a guide. However you arrive at the Bell Lake Yurt, with or without guide, you're stylin' when you get there! 6 cots, wood stove for heating, propane stove for cooking, kitchen supplies, and a nearby pit toilet- what more could you need? Each season, The Bell Lake Yurt gets transported into its home at 8500 feet just below Branham Peak by some combo of helicopter, a caravan of Toyota Tacomas (seems to be the vehicle of choice up there in MT), snowmobiles, ATVs and sheer manpower. As a member of the "Salt Lake Contingent" of Montana Backcountry Adventures (read: one co-owner of MBA and several friends enticed into hard labor with the promise of out of state beer and possibly some skiing), I headed up to the Tobacco Roots to assist with the manpower section of yurt installment. 2 days, countless loads, and a few cases of Moose Drool (no, not actual Drool... A great beer brewed by Big Sky Brewery) later, the majority of the yurt materials were settled up in their home, just below Bell Lake. The guys up at MBA plan on setting up the yurt in the next few weeks, now that all the materials are up at the site. Peak yurt season begins in the end of December, so the guys are crankin' to make sure the yurt is set up and dialed before the big snow flies. Don't worry though, there's already snow- when were were up there in mid-October, there were FEET of snow on the ground already. Psyched about The Bell Lake Yurt? So was Skiing Magazine. Be sure to check out the article in this month's magazine or online. So psyched that you want to head up there and check it out yourself? Check the online reservation calendar to see when the yurt is available. Make your reservations soon, the yurt fills fast, especially on weekends. Follow the Bell Lake Yurt blog or check out Montana Backcountry Adventures on Facebook for current updates on snow and skiing conditions....Read more...
I've got some central pieces of clothing that keep surfacing - no matter the season, no matter the sport. One of those is a Pearl Izumi Optik Jacket which I use for biking, running, and even backcountry ski touring. But what I don't see is why so many companies make so many niche-focused pieces for each of those individual sports, when they all seem to require similar performance. Lightweight, compact, breathable, warm. So...why isn't someone making something billed as a cycling-to-skiing crossover mid layer? Sure, a bike jersey or jacket might require a shorter cut in front than a ski jacket. Same with climbing (I learned that the hard way when I bought a Mountain Hardwear climbing jacket for skiing, and the front always rode up above my belt buckle). But I think having a form-skimming thermal cycling jacket that's a little long in the front is a small price to pay to make it worthy of skiing cross over. So this year I'm looking for a great versatile base-to-mid layer for ski touring, trail running, and even a bit of cold weather cycling. I want it to be bright-colored for when I'm in avalanche country. And I keep coming back to cold-weather cycling jerseys and jackets as my best options. Check out the Forza Thermal Jacket, or the Capo Atlas Thermal Jacket, or even this cycling jacket by Castelli. Maybe I'm just uninformed, but for now I'm thinking that cycling gear is the first place to look for versatile base and mid layer items. So that's where I'll keep searching. And to all you clothing manufacturers out there -- if you have some mid-layer jackets and such that are designed to be crossover items for multiple sports, let me know! Sorry if I'm just missing them....Read more...
I just got this press release from Garmont about their new 2009/2010 ski boot lineup. While things have only been refined for this year (e.g. new colors and tweaks here and there), the lineup continues to impress both inbounds and in the backcountry. We've been big fans of the Garmont Radium, Endorphin, Axon and G-Ride for years. Now with their no-nonsense alpine boots, like the Shaman, you can ski Garmont boots tele, backcountry or at the resort.
August 28, 2009 - Backcountry, Skiing, and Powder magazines have hit the newsstands with their gear guide issues. Among the three magazines, Garmont ski boots have been awarded Backcountry Magazine Editor's Choice Awards, Skiing Magazine Official Ski Test Selection, and Powder Magazine Skier's Choice Awards. Totally 14 awards for the 2010 ski season, Garmont won awards in all of their boot categories – Alpine Power Performance, Alpine Freeride, Ski Mountaineering, and Telemark. The most award-winning boot in the Garmont collection is the new Prophet NTN Telemark ski boot. “Outstanding tester response, exceptionally high scores, and category-leading overall performance contributed to our selection of the Prophet and Voodoo as 2010 Backcountry Magazine Editors' Choices,” said Backcountry Editor Drew Pogge. Paul Parker comments, “When we decided to develop an NTN boot, we weren't going to modify existing boots. We committed to a completely new telemark boot design, using what we had learned from our new a.d.d.™ Overlap AT boot design, and the unique anatomic fit of our newest Alpine and AT collection. We were committed to taking telemark skiing to the next level. It's gratifying to have that effort acknowledged.” The new Voodoo and the softer flexing, lower-cuffed Kenai Telemark boots, built for the 75 mm bindings system, feature the same award-winning a.d.d. Overlap design. One tester's comment on Voodoo was, “Smoooooth flex... It fits great out of the box, and drives like a European sports car on the Autobahn.” Voodoo won Backcountry Editor's Choice and the Skiing Official Ski Test Selection. Women's Elektra also won Skiing's award. Skiing magazine complimented Garmont's powerful Alpine model Shaman saying, “Bravo to Garmont for not messing with a good thing” and “Testers universally admired it.” Skiing Magazine comments “Garmont did its homework here, drawing from veteran designers with years of successful race-boot engineering.” Garmont focuses on designing ski boots for skiers who seek adventure and extraordinary experiences. Garmont boots have skied many noteworthy lines on the feet of ski mountaineers Chris Davenport, Kim Havell, and Dave Watson. Earlier this month, Dave Watson skied the Bottleneck on K2 from 8350 meters to Camp 3. In June, Kim Havell skied from the summit of Denali as part of the “Electric Eels,” all female expedition. Last Spring, Davenport completed his quest to ski four of the highest and most famous peaks in the Alps: Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa and the Eiger. View all of the award winning boots at www.garmontusa.com/awards.htmlBuy Now: Search for Garmont Ski Boots... Read more...
This past weekend, I headed down to Moab for my last multi-sport weekend before it gets way too hot down there. I grabbed my climbing gear and my road bike and headed south with the intention of some cragging on Potash Road and a ride through Canyonlands National Park. After a sweet day of biking, my partner in adventure suggested something a bit more exciting than the Potash crag- Ancient Arts, a well-known tower in the Fisher Towers area outside Moab. Looking at my gear, I was never so happy to see my “Oh S#!t” kit packed inside my duffel. This little orange stuff sack and its contents come with me EVERYWHERE, including on multipitch climbs. Knowing that I had my little kit with me, I transitioned my day from a day at the crag to my first day of desert tower climbing. I thought I’d offer you some insight into what I bring with me any time I go outside, and why I chose the products I do. Much like the Boy Scouts “10 essentials,” this kit is what I consider my essentials any time I go outside. Do I use every part every time? Nope. Have I been SUPER psyched to have it with me on a few specific occasions? Absolutely. For all the products that our vendors carry, I’ve included a link to a more detailed review. Be sure to give it a click and check out specifics for each product. 1. Granite Gear Air Bag: Keeps all the below items with me! Lightest stuff sack I've been able to find that is still durable. 2. Purell Hand Sanitizer Wipes: Like carrying hand sanitizer with you, but with the added bonus of it being in wipe form, and no danger of it exploding all over your stuff if you change altitudes. Sanitize your hands and wipe off grime at the same time. 3. Coppertone Kids SPF 30 Stick Sunscreen: Wear sunscreen (anyone else remember that sweet song!?). To avoid getting it all over your hands before a climb, I'd use a stick form, and my fav is Coppertone Kids. It's waterproof and lasts for 6 hours. 4. Adventure Medical HeatSheet Emergency Bivvy: Super compact, and keeps you warm in a pinch. 5. Leatherman Juice Xe6 Multitool: 18 tools in one, including 1 straight knife, 1 serrated knife, screwdrivers and pliers. Great for unlocking frozen 'biners, severing cord, chopping up dinner or opening the post-climb celebratory beverage. 6. Mini Bic Lighter: Never know when you’re going to need to set something on fire! 7. Honey Stinger Energy Gel or Clif ShotBloks: Delicious! Quick energy when you really need it. Be sure to avoid that bonk! 8. 1 Luna Bar: Something with a bit more substance to snack on. 9. Charmin To Go Toilet Paper: No internal cardboard roll, just TP rolled on itself in a great tiny plastic container to keep the sand out. Great for emergency poos, nose blowings or wiping off your bloodied hands from the gnarley desert chimney you just sent. 10. Potable Aqua Iodine Tablets: If you ever end up somewhere and you’re out of water, yet have access to some source of liquid (snow, river, ice), iodine will keep you hydrated and bacteria free! (ok, there are 11 things. No one ever accused me of being good at math!) 11. Black Diamond Spot Headlamp: I never, ever, ever, ever leave without a headlamp. Even when you’re leaving at 6am. You never know what’s going to go down that is out of your control, and adding darkness to an already deteriorating situation makes it that much worse. Depending on the environment and weather forecast, I sometimes also take my Marmot Ion Windshirt, which compresses small enough to fit into my original granite gear stuff sack along with all of my other crucial materials. So, at full retail, the emergency kit I've put together costs about $80 dollars if you don't include the Leatherman (the most expensive item on my list, by far). If you're good with watching for deals, you can easily put the whole thing together for under $50, and then add the Leatherman the next time it goes on sale! The whole thing weighs about 2lbs (Leatherman also weighing the most). This way, I've got the essentials I feel I need, instead of some formulaic kit! Not too shabby for a homemade essentials kit, huh?...Read more...
The partnership brings together two organizations with longstanding and successful environmental records. TEKO will support several JHMR sponsored events, including the popular Steep and Deep camps. In addition, TEKO and JHMR will develop creative, cross-promotional programs at retail, designed to expose more people to all that the Jackson Hole resort has to offer.
“We are thrilled to enter this partnership with Jackson Hole,” said Chip Coe, CEO of TEKO. “Our two companies share a deep respect for the environment as demonstrated by our mutual and unwavering commitment to its conservation. Also, as a producer of both winter and summer high performance socks, TEKO has a natural place at Jackson Hole year round.”JHMR has long respected the natural beauty and ecological significance of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem that surrounds it. The resort maintains a comprehensive environmental program that was developed in harmony with its environment. In 2006, JHMR achieved ISO 14001 certification, the second of only two ski resorts, and one of the smaller companies in the US, to achieve this recognition. ISO 14001 certification is the most widely known and respected environmental stamp of approval, which demonstrates responsible management of environmental impacts.
“Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is focused on partnering with companies that share our environmental values and we are proud to add TEKO to our team,” said Jerry Blann, President JHMR. “It is great to see a manufacturer in the outdoor industry that has met the high demands of adventure seekers while not compromising on their corporate mission.”For more information about Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, visit www.jacksonhole.com About TEKO: TEKO Socks: Best Socks ON the Planet, Best Socks FOR the Planet. Based in Boulder, CO, TEKO was founded on the belief that making high-performance outdoor products doesn’t have to leave a heavy impact on our ecology. Using only high-performance fibers and sustainable manufacturing processes, TEKO creates performance socks that are safer for the environment. From the raw materials, all the way down to the recycled paper packaging, TEKO’s product line features environmentally sound materials, such as organic tekoMERINO™ Wool, organic tekoCOTTON™ and tekoPOLY™ recycled polyester. TEKO buys wind energy credits to ensure that 100% of the electricity used in manufacturing and operations is put back onto the energy grid from clean, sustainable American Wind. TEKO is unique in that their eco-friendly commitment extends to its entire product line, supply chain, and daily business practices.... Read more...
Despite my attempts at changing the weather with my summer-oriented dressing, it doesn't seem to be working. To brave the snowing weather, I've been running around in my Backcountry.com Shift Hooded Softshell Jacket. I've had a few different softshells before, but never one with a hood. I'm never going back! In terms of weight, I'd say this softshell falls in the midrange. Certainly heavier than the Mountain Hardwear Transition Jacket, but not as heavy as the classic Mountain Hardwear Alchemy Jacket.
Backcountry.com Shift Hooded Softshell Jacket
- Wind-Resistant Polar-Tech PowerShield Lining: Makes the Shift wind resistant yet breathable. Certainly not the most wind resistant softshell I've owned, but definitely the most breathable. So, if you're looking for a jacket with less wind resistance but more breathability, the Shift is right up your alley.
- Pockets galore: Inner iPod pocket (if you're like me and wondering what exactly makes it an iPod pocket, it's that small hole that your headphones can come out of without keeping the pocket unzipped), outer upper sleeve pocket that's just large enough for an ID, credit card and GU shot, plus fleece lined hand warmer pockets.
- Sizing: This is the only area I'd say the Shift goes a bit awry. Normally an XS to a S in jackets, I am a Medium in the Shift. Also, I have a shorter torso, and it fits me perfectly. If you've got a longer torso, I'd be sure to try it on!
- 4 Way Stretch Material: Makes it a great jacket to run/ski tour/climb in. It moves with you!
Throughout the ski season, I had the opportunity to try out a few different pairs of AT boots besides my Scarpa Divas. Most recently, I tried out a pair of Black Diamond Shiva Alpine Touring boots, and thought I'd share my experience in this sweet new boot. After years of designing skis, Black Diamond ventured into the boot market this year, releasing a whopping 9 new boots! With 6 tele boots and 3 AT boots, Black Diamond has done a great job addressing their target market- backcountry skiers. Since they've been making probes, avalungs, skis and all sorts of backcountry gear for a while now, the would seem to be the experts on anything backcountry.
Black Diamond Shiva Alpine Touring Boot- Design
- Alpine overlap construction- allows for a bit more rigidity in the boot
- Liner- Liners are thermo-moldable with a BOA lacing system. For those skeptics out there, the BOA has been bomber in testing and held up just fine! Keeps your liners nice and tight.
- Interchangeable sole blocks- The Shivas come standard with a dynafit compatible rockered lug sole. However, if you want to use this boot in your alpine bindings, you can! With purchasing the Alpine Sole Blocks, you can change out the sole of your boot to be compatible with whatever binding you chose.
- Tour mode- there's no tongue with these guys, so the whole upper cuff of the boot pivots forward and you're not fighting that tongue as you move forward. Though not the lightest boot on the market for touring, the extreme pivot on these boots does make touring easy.
- Ski Mode- these boots have been rated at a 100 flex index, and based on the other AT boots I've tried, I'd say that's accurate within the realm of Alpine Touring boots.
Black Diamond Shiva Alpine Touring Boot- FitBlack Diamond boots are lasted for those with a wide, yet low volume foot. Toe box is the widest currently available in AT boots, yet the heel is narrow and supportive. These boots are definitely low volume! If you've got a lower arch, a narrow heel and wide toes, these boots are PERFECT for you. The Alpine Overlap design allows for some pretty tight torquing of the buckles on the forefoot as well, so you can really take up volume if you need to. Comes in sizes 23 through 26.5. The 23 measures in at 277mm (6mm bigger than Scarpa's equivalent size 23), so they run a slight bit bigger than other AT boots, but not much. Overall, I was impressed. A bit stiffer and a bit heavier than my other boots, they made for a better crossover boot into the resort! Check It Out! Black Diamond Shiva Alpine Touring boot... Read more...
Ski poles are ski poles are ski poles, right? Well... if you're satisfied with some $10 metal pipe poles with hard plastic grips, then you're set. But, if you're looking for comfort and function in the backcountry, then there's no sense in looking anywhere but Black Diamond. The BD Carbon Fiber ski poles are the gold standard (or should I say carbon standard) when it comes to durable backcountry poles. Here's what Black Diamond has to say about them:
A backcountry essential, our lightest adjustable poles are built from a lightweight combination of ultra-strong 7075 aluminum and featherweight carbon-fiber for excellent balance and an optimized swing weight. The solid FlickLock® mechanism makes height adjustment simple and secure. Carbon Fiber Poles come with BD ¾ Baskets and our comfortable, grippy dual-density grips.Having used several adjustable-length ski poles over the years, I can truly appreciate the power and ease-of-use provided by the FlickLock mechanism. Easy-open and easily locked-down, the FlickLock holds your adjustment in place come hell or high water. No need to worry about your poles getting shorter throughout the duration of the tour like you do with twisty poles. I've found these poles to be very durable (I've whacked my fair share of dead Aspen branches) and sturdy when they need to be. The 3/4 baskets are sweet when touring in firm conditions since they still allow the tips to hit the snow first instead of getting basket deflection and whiffing like Babe Ruth. The dual-density grips are comfortable in all temperatures and swing weight is perfect. I don't think about these poles at all while out in the backcountry--and that's a good thing. The only negative I've found is with the baskets. They tend to twist around so you don't always have the open side facing front. The Good
- FlickLock mechanism holds adjustments in place
- Dual-density grips are comfy
- Swing-weight is perfect
- Durable and stiff
- 3/4 baskets are good and bad, but they twist around at will
When Bruce Tremper, Director of the Utah Avalanche Center, came out with the first edition of his book "Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain" it would be safe to say that most of mainstream media and the general population had little concern or care for avalanches. On January 14, 2005 a lot of that changed. It was on that date when a huge avalanche in the adjacent sidecountry of The Canyons Resort cause a frenzy of news stories and speculation that up to 15 people had been caught. A popular sidecountry destination, Dutch Draw has been the site of many close calls, including one that I was witness to. Despite the media and general populous gaining more interest and knowledge of avalanches, albeit superficial and often time incorrect, that was not the reason for Bruce to come out with a Second Edition of Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain. The fact is that Avalanche Safety is a science, one that is continually evolving and the skills and knowledge necessary to keep you safe in the backcountry are being refined each day by pros like Bruce.
Review of Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce TremperWhen comparing this the second edition to the first, there are more than a few changes. For starters the amount of reading went up from 284 pages to 310. With this edition is an expansion in Chapter 10, The Human Factor. Avalanche survival and accidents involve the human factor more than was previously attributed and Tremper dives into a number of personal experiences as well as the Dutch Draw slide and others to cite how the human factors play an even bigger role in an avalanche. Listed below are the factors that Tremper cites along with the number of times they are involved with fatal avalanches from 1990-2000:
- Overconfidence - 15
- Attitude - 12
- Group Management - 8
- Complacency - 6
- Poor Communication - 6
- No Error - 6
First thing's first - I'd have a hard time placing this piece in the jacket category, but rather in a category of it's own. Mid-layer? Hard to say. 4 season layer? More likely. But my criticism of the RIme stops there. The Rime Pullover from Backcountry.com is just the piece of gear I've been wanting and yes, needing for some time now. Similar in style to the old Alpine Shirt from Black Diamond which was a single layer Schoeller pullover, the Rime ups the ante with a couple of added features and a better fit. Made with PowerShield as the outer, which is darn near weather proof, it includes a very thin micro fleece inner making this piece so versatile that I'm going to be using it year round. Ok, summer may be a bit warm but it will have it's uses. I've used it for a few ski touring days and when worn with a zip-neck base layer it all but replaces my soft shell. It has a high collar that has a little fleece liner but is unusually stiff (easy on the starch) but it provides good protection from the wind unless you get on a ridge line where the winds are honking with spindrift, like I encountered two days ago. For times like those a hardshell with a hood is the ticket. A small zip chest pocket is a nice addition and the logo hits are subtle, which I appreciate. Best of all for me is the fit - I went with an XL because I knew it would be a layering piece with a zip-neck base layer or a performance tee underneath. But the bonus is the arm length - I have a 36" arm length and the old Alpine Shirt from Black Diamond was like wearing a size too small on the arm length. The Rime fits perfect for longer arms. Features of the Rime Pullover Include:
- PowerShield stretch material
- High collar with light fleece backing
- 1 zip chest pocket
- Lightweight for 3-4 season use
Buy Now: Pick up the Backcountry.com Rime Pullover and once you do, you'll wish you would have done so sooner....Read more...
For those skiers who don't really fit the Dynafit profile (strictly backcountry, and looking for a superlight setup), there are 2 basic ways you can go in terms of choosing an alpine touring binding. Fritschi, who makes the Freeride Plus and the Explore, or Marker, who makes the Baron and the Duke.
Fritschi Freeride Plus and Explore BindingsFritschi is the way to go if you're a 60/40 backcountry to resort skier, and not a crazy charging alpine skier. The Freeride Plus comes with a brake (though not included with the Explore) and an added stability plate. However, this "stability plate" raises the binding, elevating you more than normal. For high speed skiing, this added height ends up costing you some stability, and adds unwanted lateral flex. DINs on the Freerides go up to 12 and Explores only to 10, so if you're a larger charger, these DINs might not cut it for you. Biggest advantage of the Fritschi over the Markers? The touring mode. Freerides and Explorers are both significantly more user friendly for touring, and can be popped into tour mode without taking off your boot. The climbing mode on both the Freerides and the Explore's have 3 different height settings, Marker bindings only have 2. The tallest Freeride touring "heel" is longer than the Marker's longest climbing bar. Fritschi's touring heels can be adjusted by maneuvering your pole the right way, Marker's require you to bend down and engage it with your hand.
Marker Duke and Baron BindingsAre you a monstrous resort skier who occasionally ends up in the backcountry or sidecountry? The Marker's are the way to go for you. A much more stable binding that skis just like an alpine binding, you won't be sacrificing any of your power transfer just for a tour mode on your binding. With DINs up to 16 on the Dukes, the burliest of skiers can work with this binding, no problem. The Duke and the Baron are both the exact same binding as the Jester and the Griffin, mounted on a different plate which allows for touring mode. Disadvantages of the Duke and Baron? Touring in these guys is kinda a chore. The Dukes and Barons require you to take your boot out to switch to tour mode, the climbing wires are small, and the bindings themselves are heavy. Though only 10 oz more than the comparably size Freeride, weight starts to add up. Overall, both companies are making a killer alpine touring bindings! The big decision comes down to where you'd like the most performance- skiing or touring. Personally? I'm a small, non-aggressive alpine skier who loves to tour but still wants resort capability, so the Freerides are for me. My ski partner? Very aggressive expert alpine skier who occasionally joins me on a tour or two- he's in the Markers! Check 'em out! Fritschi Freeride Plus Bindings OR Marker Duke Bindings... Read more...
Last week, before the crowds descended for the Ouray Ice Festival, I had an opportunity to get away from work and spend 4 days climbing in the Ouray Ice Park. Though the weather was beautiful and temps optimal, I still relied on my Black Diamond Mercury Mitts to keep my hands warm between climbs. After years of trying different mittens to keep my low-circulation hands warm, the warmest mitt I've found (with the exception of OR's Expedition Altimitts and BDs Absolute Mitts, both intended for extreme cold weather mountaineering and certainly NOT dexterous or practical for daily climbing use) is the Black Diamond Mercury Mitt. With removable liners, the mitt is ideal for warming your hands up after a cold climb or for spending a day resort skiing in. The gloves still have enough dexterity to belay in, and have a great leather palm that offers resistance for those same belays and for great grip on ski poles.
Cool Features of the Black Diamond Mercury Mitt
- Removable Liner- allows you to efficiently dry the mitts out and ensure both the shell and insides get dry. :Liner is made of primaloft, and it provides some primo insulation! Also, "lobster claw" feature isolates your index finger from the other 3, allowing for more dexterity.
- Big gauntlet! I can put these gloves on over my softshell and MH SubZero Hooded Puffy, and they fit easily over the layers around my wrist, and still come with a drawstring to tighten.
- "Dummy Straps"- certainly not the technical term, but I can't seem to find the official name for them. Know the straps that come on the mitts so you can attach them to your wrist, and then be able to yank them off real quick without losing them? Crucial feature for me. I can't count the times my mitts would be down the hill if it weren't for those guys. Surprisingly, many adult mitts don't come with these! Apparently when you're past the age of 6 you're supposed to be able to keep track of your stuff without strings on it... Right...
G3 Genuine Guide Gear today unveiled the ONYX, the world's new standard for Alpine Touring usability and performance. The ONYX offers up un-compromised uphill and downhill performance in an easy-to use tech-compatible design. Incorporating a series of intuitive and innovative features including the ability for skiers to change from ski to tour mode on-the-fly, an easy step-in toe, oversized high strength forged aluminum jaws and chassis, topped only by its lightweight design, the ONYX is a binding built for those who are not willing to sacrifice.
"With an unsurpassed degree of engineering and complete attention to detail, the ONYX represents G3's commitment to industry-leading innovation," says Oliver Steffen, G3's President. "This product is built for skiers who want outstanding uphill usability and rock-solid downhill performance from the same binding."More Info: Visit www.g3onyx.com... Read more...
After switching back to skiing after 12 years of snowboarding, boot comfort was of high importance to me for my Alpine Touring setup. After trying on several different boots, the best choice for my foot was the Scarpa Diva AT Boot. A great lightweight 4 buckle touring boot, the Diva also charges the downhill effectively as well. This versatility is created by the interchangeable tongue system. The Diva is normally equipped with a hinged walk tongue, which puts the boot at a flex index of 90, which is great for all day tours. When you're out for a resort day and want that extra downhill stiffness, swap the tongue out for the additional Ski tongue, which increases the flex on the boot to a 110. This makes the Diva a great crossover boot for those wanting something that will perform equally well in the backcountry and for resort days. The Heel Retention Strap system and 4 buckles allow you to really crank down on this boot, offering great stability and support. The walk mode on these boots is great with the walk tongue in it, though not as free-pivoting as Black Diamond's new Shiva AT boot.
Scarpa Diva AT Boots- Fit info
- Wider last than Garmont AT line
- Higher shell volume than Garmont AT line- great for high arches or higher volume feet
- A word for those with smaller feet- Scarpa shells are the smallest AT shells available. A 22.5 in Scarpa is comparable to a 23 in Garmont, but actually 2mm smaller.
- Heel is a bit sloppy after some packing out, but a pair of butterfly fit modification pads seems to eliminate that problem entirely. If you have wide heels, no problem!
- Thermo-Moldable liners allow for great flexibility in fit. Though you can wear them right out of the box, thermomolding fixes any hot spots you may have and adds comfort. Specifically, the Diva comes with an Intuition Precision Lady liner, which is slightly narrower than their regular liners and engineered for a womens' foot.
Scarpa Diva AT Boots- Pros
- HRS Strap really does help keep your heel in place, and the ratcheting buckle system can be easily cranked down in gloves.
- Ski/Walk button is a great big knob that is also easy to access and use with gloves on. No more fumbling with the light switch style toggles.
- Comfy! Not quite a snowboarding boot, but as close as I think I'm gonna get!
Scarpa Diva AT Boots- My only gripe!
- How many women's products can the outdoor industry possibly name the Diva? I believe I own a harness, headlamp, pack and now ski boots, all with the same name! But, princess names aside, I love my boots!
My friend is visiting from Boston this week, and today we went skiing. As I pulled out my plastic tub full of baselayers to outfit her for the day, she commented that I looked like a North Face long underwear ad! The tub is brimming with silkweight and midweight tops and bottoms, most of which are The North Face. Here's a quick smattering of my favorites!
General Info- The North Face Baselayers
- The North Face makes 4 different weights of baselayers- lightweight, midweight, expedtition weight and wool weight.
- Carbon from Bamboo Technology- adds increased wicking powers and better odor absorption than regular baselayers
Carbon from Bamboo technology is a method of enhancing the performance qualities of fabrics used for active outdoor endeavors. In this highly specialized process, dried bamboo is carbonized in a kiln at nearly 800 degrees Celsius, then ground into a fine powder. The Carbon from Bamboo powder is blended with a polymer to form fibers that are woven or knit into fabric
- All Baselayers come with flatlock seams for added comfort.
- Because of Carbon from Bamboo Technology, the baselayers have an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 30.
This year, I made the switch from snowboarding back to skiing after 12 years of boarding. Naturally, I couldn't be seen wearing my ridiculous and baggy snowboarding pants while ski touring, so the switch in sports necessitated new pants. I went with a bomber pair of versatile bibs, the Arc'Teryx Theta SV Bibs, and man, did I end up with a killer pant! The Arc'Teryx Theta SV Bibs are made of GORE-TEX Pro Shell material, so they're fairly light and very water repellent. The bib style was new to me, after years of low-hip riding Burton snowboarding pants, but it's quickly growing on me for skiing and alpine climbing.
Arc'Teryx Theta SV Bibs- Favorite Features
- Bibs are high waisted! Definitely took some getting used to, but in the end, it keeps all the snow out of your backside on pow days (which have been plentiful in the Wasatch as of late!). The back panel on the bibs is a stretch panel, so you still have some moveablity. Also, they come with a built in "belt" so that you don't have extra material sagging around your waist.
- Suspenders on bibs can be unhooked at the front- so if you really don't want those bibs to feel like bibs, you can unhook the front, and roll the top down over the "belt." I tried this, and though it seemed to work, in the end, I just got so comfortable with the bibs and suspenders that I left it alone!
- Articulated knees and seat- great for the newbie skier (me!) who might be spending some time on their "seat"!
- Powder cuffs on pant- really adjustable! Fit around every boot I could try them on with, from alpine touring to ice climbing boots. Inner powder cuff has a great hook that attaches to shoelaces like a gaiter.
Garmont introduces a new men’s AT boot line for Winter 2009/2010 based on their ground-breaking a.d.d. Wrap. The Garmont A.D.D. Wrap overlap ski mountaineering boots set a new standard in ski mountaineering boots. Their unique overlap more closely follows the anatomy of the foot and lower leg for crisp, precise downhill performance, while cradling it comfortably and securely for touring comfort. The unique overlap design eliminates the restrictive tongue to allow more independent movement between the cuff and lower shell. That means better walking, climbing, and skinning, with a progressive downhill flex. These boots’ balanced design provides the best of all worlds: light and comfortable on the tour, formidable on the descent. Radium and Shogun utilize the Rapid Thermoformable liners, the most refined fully-thermoformable liners available. Helium has the lower Flash liner with the same technology. Four foam thicknesses and densities each serve a specific purpose. A new softer, thinner elastic thermoformable toe insert offers warmth and additional comfort. Extra reinforcement around the cuff aids in comfort when leveraging over fat skis and in high-speed turns. The tongue is reinforced with a plastic T-Bar® made of Pebax®. The new Stobel-stitch sole design allows the footbed and foot to sit flatter and more anchored in the liner, while it maximizes forefoot width for comfort. The Radium is the highest-performance ski mountaineering boot on the market, truly the best of both worlds—touring and skiing. It is light and very easy-walking, yet as stiff and responsive as an alpine boot. The Radium’s unique overlap design allows the cuff and lower shell to function very independently when hiking, yet it buckles down securely to descend like the best alpine boots. Its responsive multi-injected lower shell and cuff are built from Pebax® for the lightest weight and least temperature sensitivity. The new Shogun is the benchmark for step-in Touring Norm binding compatibility. Like the Radium, it is flexed for performance. Its multi-injected lower shell has a unique flex insert for touring ease, multi-injected cuff for a close, responsive fit with awesome leverage. Burly enough to rip the toughest terrain and conditions on big skis, it’s still light enough for extended tours. The Helium walks like an ultralight and skis like a 4-buckle. Its multi-injected Flex Insert is tuned for easy touring and scrambling, while its High Overlap shell and cuff close around the foot and leg securely for ripping the descent. The Helium’s High Overlap panel provides the forward contact and skiing control of a much bigger 4-buckle model—a huge advantage in such a tourable boot. TECH* or UNI compatible, the Helium is our choice for long tours and more technical terrain that requires scrambling and crampon work. The Daemon balances superb walking with outstanding skiing performance for the varied demands of all-around ski mountaineering. Thanks to its innovative a.d.d. Wrap overlap design, its cuff and lower shell move independently for easy touring, with precise, aggressive downhill performance. The Daemon is compatible with both the TECH* binding system and the ISO norm for step-in ski mountaineering bindings.
2009/1010 Garmont RadiumLiner: Rapid Thermoformable Sizes: 25-30.5 Mondo Color: Aubergine MSRP: $759.95 Binding Compatibility: Universal Ski Mountaineering, TECH*
2009/1010 Garmont ShogunLiner: Rapid Thermoformable Sizes: 25-30.5 Mondo Color: Red/Grey Pearl MSRP: $659.95 Binding Compatibility: Universal Ski Mountaineering
2009/1010 Garmont HeliumLiner: Flash Thermoformable Sizes: 25-30.5 Mondo Color: Spring Green MSRP: $729.95 Binding Compatibility: Universal Ski Mountaineering, TECH*
2009/1010 Garmont DaemonLiner: Rapid Pad-Lock Sizes: 25-30.5 Mondo Color: Blue/Grey Pearl MSRP: $629.95 Binding Compatibility: Universal Ski Mountaineering More Info: Visit GarmontUSA.com... Read more...
Garmont defined a new category with the development of the Adrenalin, the first freeride boot with the functions of a ski mountaineering boot. For 2009/2010 Garmont updates the Freeride line with new graphics and improved Rapid thermoformable liners. The Garmont 2009/2010 comprises of four styles, Endorphin, Xena, and men’s and women’s Axon, each designed for big-mountain backcountry skiers. The boot shells are powerful, high, and stiff to turn the fattest powder boards in the most-difficult conditions, yet lightweight, agile, and articulated for ski mountaineering. Each style includes a gender-specific Rapid Thermoformable liner, the most refined fully-thermoformable liners available. Four foam thicknesses and densities each serve a specific purpose. A new softer, thinner elastic thermoformable toe insert offers warmth and additional comfort. Extra reinforcement around the cuff aids in comfort when leveraging over fat skis and in high-speed turns. The tongue is reinforced with a plastic T-Bar® made of Pebax®. The new Stobel-stitch design allows the footbed and foot to sit flatter and more anchored in the liner, while it maximizes forefoot width for comfort. All four styles - Endorphin, Xena, and men’s and women’s Axon feature Garmont’s anatomically directed design shell. The shell is anatomically-shaped for warmth, skiing sensitivity and a secure fit. The tongue is higher and reinforced on the medial side to instalntly transmit pressure to the downhill ski. It’s lower on the lateral side for smooth ankle flexion to edge the uphill ski. The instep area is tapered laterally for a precise fit. The Endorphin and women’s Xena are popular with on-mountain professionals who need downhill performance and walk-ability, such as ski patrollers and alpine coaches. For 09/10, the Endorphin features the new Rapid thermoformable liner and new graphics. Xena features the new women’s Rapid thermoformable liner and new graphics. Endorphin and Xena includes two sets of interchange-able soles; ISO Alpine and Ski Mountaineering. Axon is available with either a men’s or women’s specific Rapid liner. For the growing popularity of big skis mounted with lightweight bindings by many big-mountain backcountry skiers, Axon has molded in TECH* fittings for use with the lightest weight AT binding setups. Axon is available with either men’s- or women’s-specific Rapid thermoformable liners.
2009/2010 Garmont EndorphinMen’s Sizes: 25-30.5 Mondo MSRP: $689.95 Color: Red/Black Binding Compatibility: Alpine, Universal Ski Mountaineering
2009/2010 Garmont XenaWomen’s Sizes: 23-27.5 Mondo MSRP: $689.95 Color: Blue Pearl/White Binding Compatibility: Alpine, Universal Ski Mountaineering
2009/2010 Garmont AxonMen’s Sizes: 25-30.5 Mondo Women’s Sizes: 23-27.5 Mondo MSRP: $749.95 Color: Bronze/Dark Silver Binding Compatibility: Universal Ski Mountaineering, TECH* More Info: Visit GarmontUSA.com... Read more...
Looking for a lightweight and minimalist pair of ski pants that's suitable for backcountry skiing or winter hiking? Check out the new Arc'teryx Fury AR Pants made from Windstopper® softshell fabric with a brushed knit backing to wick away the sweat. These pants are well-fitted and perfect for backcountry assaults. Heck, with the brushed backing, they offer a tad more warmth than plain shell pants, so they will also do well inbounds. I've got the new Fury AR pants to flog in the backcountry for the next few months and am looking forward to putting them through their paces. So far so good... they are a slim, no-nonsense fit that won't feel too comfortable in the terrain park, but they are the perfect pants for efficient backcountry adventures. A couple of nice things I've noticed so far about these pants:
- The knit backing pulls the moisture away from your skin and out the breathable Windstopper fabric
- The grippy cuffs will keep your pant legs down... no matter what
- The removable suspenders are a nice touch... I prefer no suspenders, so it's easy to remove
- The back-of-thigh ventilation is perfect for long uphill slogs--just don't fall over on that tricky switchback!
Features of the Arc'teryx Fury AR PantsDesigned as a slightly warmer and more breathable substitute to a Hardshell, the Fury AR Pants excel at climbing and skiing in frigid climates. Made exclusively of Windstopper® fabric, these highly articulated pants effectively block wind and have posterior thigh vents to dump heat during uphill charges. Featuring powder cuffs, Keprotec™ instep patches, and removable suspenders.
- Windstopper® stretch Softshell
- Increased breathability
- Belted waist pant with front fly
- Soft brushed lining
- Powder cuffs with adjustable static-cord closure
- Posterior thigh vents
- Articulated seat and knees
- Arc’teryx finishing tape
- WaterTight zips
- Moulded Zipper Garages
- Gusseted crotch
- Removable suspenders
- Two hand pockets with laminated zips
- Two thigh pockets with Velcro® closure
- Keprotec™ instep patch
- Snap waist closure
- DWR finish
- Weight: 566 g
- MSRP: $349.95
Backcountry.com has been hard at work building out their house-brand outerwear and accessories. With the quality and quantity of gear that flows through their warehouse and the hard-core staff, these guys know what makes a good jacket. On top of pure design, they also realize what fabric is at the top of the waterproof/breathable foodchain and it's not GoreTex.
About the Backcountry.com Stoic eVent JacketThe little secret of the Backcountry.com Stoic shell is its use of eVent Fabrics. If you don't know what eVent Fabric is then you're in for a bit of a wakeup call. You ready? Here goes... GORE IS LIKE WEARING A PLASTIC BAG COMPARED TO EVENT FABRIC! Yup... darn toonin' I'm telling it like it is. The Stoic Jacket is the top-of-the-line shell in the Goat-brand lineup. This straightforward jacket is built with all the goodness you'd expect from a high-zoot shell: taped seams, fleece-lined chinguard, adjustable built-in hood and all that goodness. To further hit home how awesome eVent Fabric is, you'll notice one thing about this jacket off-the-bat... it doesn't sport pit zips! What?!?! You mean, with eVent I don't need pit zips? Nope! You don't need them and as a result you get a more streamlined jacket that tips the scales at a scant 14 oz. At that kind of weight, this jacket can be your only shell for winter and summer adventures. Look for a full flogging of the Stoic Jacket in the coming months, but for now trust me... eVent Fabric is the goods and the Stoic Shell is a steal for the money (currently on sale for $237)! One note.. I'm 5'11 and 175 lbs. The Men's Large fits perfect as-is or on top of a midweight fleece. Nice, athletic fit. Read my long-term review of the Backcountry.com Stoic eVent Jacket. Buy Now: Check out the Backcountry.com Stoic Jacket... Read more...
After a long day of classes yesterday, a friend and I decided that to waste the new snow would be sinful, so we headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon for some nighttime touring. I ran straight from classes to the hill, again totally psyched on gear that can perform in both situations. This time I was wearing my Arc'Teryx Rho LTW Zip Top. The Arc'Teryx Rho LTW Zip top is a great layering piece for adding warmth and still keeping you dry. The Merino wool (see, I told you all I was addicted!) insulates when wet, wicks great, and of course, keeps the stink to a minimum.
Arc'Teryx Rho LTW Zip Specs
- Great fit! Close to skin, but not 80's spandex tight. Definitely true to size, and nicely cut for a woman's figure.
- Laminated sleeve pocket is great for credit card, driver's license or iPod
- Zippered collar allows for some extra ventilation when you want it, or keeps your neck toasty when it gets a bit colder.
- Works great as a mid layer. I wear a super lightweight short sleeve underneath this most days. Functions as either a heavier next to skin layer or a lightweight mid layer, depending on what your system is, what the outside temp is and how active you're planning on being.
It was a nice sunny day at Snowbird. The ski area was buzzing with shredders, the slopes smelled of pine, and the clouds seemed to twinkle...errr hold up! Before this turns into poetry hour lets get into the gear. Had the chance to try out the Arcteryx Beta AR pant today and I am pleased to share my findings.
The GoodThis pant is beefy. The ankle panels feel like alligator skin and the GORE-TEX has a Chuck Norris beat down feel to it. Durability has never been a question with a brand like Arcteryx. The pant has nicely placed side zips to keep air passing through. The vent starts at the top of the pant a little below the waistline so you can actually grab it rather then fiddle around with your jacket. I used my Mountain Hardwear Power Stretch tight underneath and it was a good match for the semi-chilly temps. No back pocket, just a little pocket on the right to fit chapstick and two forms of I.D. I like the one pocket because it forces me to leave stuff in the car. The other thing that was missing, that I didn't miss, was that gator thingy that bunches up and hardly ever fits around my ski boot. They replaced that cuff with a cord cinch which is more minimalist. For the record the bottom of the pant fit perfect around my boot.
The Not So GoodI know these pants are focused towards mountaineering but for the price tag I would also like to use them for my telemark trail blazing. I found these pants really hard to drop a knee in. The knee is articulated somewhat but I think it is only slightly for ice climbing and hiking. When I did drop a knee I felt like the pant was either hiking up my leg or pulling my pants down. I'm gonna have to get with the program and match my sport with one of the many Arcteryx fraternities.
Beta AR Specs
- Weight: 16.6oz.
- 3/4 length side zips that are waterproof.
- Straight forward belt with elastic waist band.
It finally snowed today! And what was the first thing I did amidst the blowing wind and 6 fresh inches? Headed to the mountains, armed with all my winter gear, including my Patagonia R1 Balaclava. Headed for the summit, my R1Balaclava is always in the top of my pack, ready for when the weather gets to be too much for my face alone to handle. The Patagonia R1 Balaclava is thin enough to fit under a helmet easily, and yet thick enough to provide some serious warmth.
Key Features of the Patagonia R1 Balaclava
- Face opening covers nose, but can easily be pulled down to expose mouth, depending on the weather!
- Long cowl of balaclava keeps your neck covered
- Sized! Comes in Small, Medium and Large, so you can be guaranteed to get just the right fit.
- R1 material has some stretch to it, making the balaclava form fitting.
Most of us on gear.com are more into self-propelled outdoor adventure than motorized outdoor pursuits. You know, backcountry skiing, road biking, mountain biking, trail running, etc, instead of motocross and snowmobiles. But I have to say -- I have a lot of respect for snowmobilers and am even considering picking one up myself. However, I have a bad impression that most snowmobilers do NOT respect avalanches like they should until they see it first hand. A good friend of mine lost his buddy while snowmobiling in Idaho. Saddest story...just highmarking, not thinking anything of it, and released a slide. It seems if you are motorized, it's easy to just blaze out into the backcountry and quickly get in over your head in avalanche terrain. Whereas with backcountry skiing, you are going slower and don't have the hubris to think, "Hey, if I see an avalanche I'll just punch the throttle and out-run it!" Instead you realize your vulnerability a bit more and (I hope) have taken classes and carry the right gear. So against that backdrop, I am thrilled that KLIM (a snowmobile gear company) now has the rights to distribute the ABS avalanche pack in the United States. I first heard about the ABS pack from Bruce Tremper (an expert avalanche forecaster) when I was taking an avalanche class from Exum Mountain Guides in Salt Lake. This was several years ago, and Bruce mentioned this very interesting new backpack that was available in Europe. The pack has CO2 cartridges, and if you found yourself caught in a slide you just pull a cord and it inflates a large airbag. That effectively makes you a larger, lightweight object, so you get sifted to the top of the debris as it slides. It's just like when you shake a bag of potato chips and the bigger ones settle to the top. Here is how KLIM describes the pack:
"With the ABS avalanche airbag, you have 170 liters (6.0 cu ft) of additional volume within seconds that can prevent you from dropping back into the flowing masses of snow and/or can reduce the depth of burial. This separation process in which items having a larger volume float to the top is called the “Inverse Particles Principle”. Cold dry powder snow has a very low density but a large volume. A person on the other hand has a high density but less volume. In order to be able to float on the snow's surface and to avoid sinking, a person needs an additional volume of approximately 1.5 times of the persons total weight, which the ABS Avalanche Pack System provides."The ABS Pack also boasts a 98% survival rate. That's almost unbelievable, given the lower average survival expectancy of people who happen to get caught in avalanches. Now, it isn't all rosy --- the pack retails at almost $1,000. Though that isn't necessarily a deal-breaker, I will have to see it personally before I make up my mind. And you'll get a chance to do just that, if you live in Salt Lake City. We will have one of the packs with us at the OSH Theater on the University of Utah campus (the building just south of the Union bldg), at 6:30pm on Friday October 3rd. This is immediately before the Poor Boyz Production ski movie premiere at the theater, so please stop by the OSH at 6:30 to take a look, and stick around for the ski movie. FOR MORE INFO: http://www.klimusa.com... Read more...
So this past weekend I went back to the Tetons to climb, and it poured. Absolutely bucketed. Amidst all the rain, at the trailhead, I managed to leave on of my most treasured pieces of outdoor gear sitting out on a log, and didn't realize this until about 2 hours later, when we had already driven out of Jackson Hole and were well on our way home. I turned the car around, and headed straight back to pick up my beloved Patagonia Micro Puff Hooded Jacket. What piece of gear is worth driving a grand total of 4 hours extra for? The Patagonia Micro Puff Hooded Jacket. It's synthetic construction (made of recycled polyester fibers) keeps you warm even in the wettest of conditions, its primary advantage over down. Cut slightly longer so as to keep your lower back warm, but not so long that it becomes a hindrance with a pack on, Patagonia has hit it right on with their Micro Puff design.
Patagonia Micro Puff Hooded Jacket
- At 20 oz, a super lightweight choice for a puffy jacket
- Large, adjustable hood fits around helmets, but can also cinch down to fit around small heads!
- Adjustable drawcord hem allows you to tighten the bottom when the elements get the best of you
- 3 pockets allow for lots of storage
- Comes with a matching stuff sack for extra portability
It seems that I've come full circle on the concept of a functional shell for backcountry skiing and similar outdoor pursuits. Years ago it was a lightweight single layer shell with plenty of layers. Then it was the heavy duty 3 layer Gore Tex with or without fleece lining that either way was overkill for 99% of all situations. Now I'm back to a lightweight shell that employs better technology and features that minimize the need for the many layers. For backcountry skiing this past season I picked up the Westcomb Mirage Jacket and have been more than stoked on it's performance. I think I've found the jacket built for me. The specific jacket that I picked up was the Westcomb Mirage Special Edition Jacket that Westcomb and Backcountry.com teamed up on this past winter. It varies slightly from the standard Mirage Jacket which has a few more bells and whistles but either way you go the functionality and dependability of this jacket is tops! The jacket has an athletic cut and you'll also notice the asymmetrical sleeve ends that cover the outer portion of your wrist a bit more. The other standout visual feature of this jacket is the "S-curve" zipper that ensures zero chaffing of the jacket's collar on your chin. It's certainly not your ordinary jacket off the shelf. Westcomb spent some time on this one rather than just pumping out yet another sku. Features of the Mirage Jacket include:
- eVent shell material
- 3 external pockets -2 hand, 1 chest
- Internal pocket with iPod port - handy for those ultra long ascents
- Articulated elbows
- Compact storm hood that fit over my ski helmet
- Contoured obstruction-free front zipper
- The standard Mirage includes a sleeve stash pocket with "window"
Quick Review of the Westcomb Mirage JacketI've put about 25 days on this jacket in wicked cold and wind, snow, rain, and everything else mother nature threw at me this season and I didn't once regret the choice of buying it. Utilizing eVent material for the shell accomplishes what any backcountry skier or adventurer needs: keep the water and wind out but allow for the most amount of breathability. When putting on the Mirage I feel confident that regardless of any aerobic activity, like climbing and then skiing Reids Peak in the Uintas two weeks ago, that the jacket will do it job while I do mine. Despite the many scrambles and 5th class rock that we climbed I didn't feel all sweaty and balmy with the jacket on. Considering that it is very lightweight when I needed to stow it in my pack it took up little to no volume. I raved enough about it that three of my friends each picked one up as well. Really, what else could I say to review this jacket? You can't go wrong with the Mirage if you're in need of a lightweight, bomber jacket that actually breathes rather than tell you it breathes. Buy Now: Visit BackcountryOutlet.com to pick up the Special Edition Westcomb Mirage Jacket... Read more...
Why in the world would Burton release a new snowboard backpack in the Spring? Well, the name should give it away: the Burton AK 30L Pack. That's "AK" as in Alaska. With such short days during the winter in Alaska, the great skiing and snowboarding starts ramping up in the Spring. So this pack was built for the lucky few who get to ride helicopters all Spring in the Chugach. And some of the features tell that tale pretty well. You can tell that this pack was designed by folks that not only like to ride a lot, but they like to ride outside the confines of the ski resort. There are features to accommodate any type of avalanche gear you may need, as well as particular design elements that better allow for easy snowmobile-accessed riding. Basically, it's a pack for riders designed by riders. And isn't that what Jake Burton and his company are famous for? Ever since he broke his collarbone & couldn't make the ski team, I think it was fate that sent him down the road to building killer snowboard gear that even skiers get jealous of. If it weren't for his vision, we wouldn't have snowboard gear like the Burton AK 30L to drool over. First cool feature: A survival whistle on the sternum strap. I have one on my pack whenever I go into the backcountry, and I think it should be standard issue for anyone stepping outside of a ski resort boundary. Ever tried to get cell phone reception on Mt Rainier? Pretty dicey. What about just yelling to your friend? Doesn't work so well when the wind is ripping. You need a whistle, and this Burton gear just includes it. Second cool feature: Board carrier that orients your snowboard horizontally. Why? Well, have you ever tried to drive a snowmobile with a snowboard strapped vertically to your pack? Third cool feature: Storage pockets on the waist strap -- which makes it sooooo easy to stow your digital camera or sunglasses or a Clif Bar. It's like your Batman belt! Just like what I love on the DaKine Ridge pack. However, there is one key feature that I have my reservations about. That is the internal shovel blade and handle pocket. I would welcome your comments below if you disagree, but I think that in an avalanche situation you want your shovel blade & handle as accessible as possible so you don't have to be unzipping your pack and rummaging through things to pull it out & put it together. Same with your avalance probe, if you can. The Burton AK 30L Pack does have at least an external location for your probe and/or poles. So that's good. But I personally am a fan of having the blade/handle on the outside of the pack. All in all, it appears to be another killer piece of Burton gear that is out just in time for all you lucky shmoes who are headed up to AK for the Spring. Click here to learn more about the Burton AK 30L Pack and purchase it from Moosejaw. Check out more backpacks at Overstock.com...Read more...
Here is a quick gear review of the Black Diamond Glidelite (Standard) climbing skins for alpine ski touring. I've ridden different brands of skins, my most recent being the Backcountry Access Low-Fat climbing skins. Those have some great adhesive & plenty of grippy tread. But there were two complaints I had with those: 1) the tip loop had to be jury-rigged to fit on my wide-tipped LINE Mothership skis, and 2) the tail hook was just that -- a simple hook -- so you had to cut them EXACTLY right for the length of ski, and you had to put them on starting at the tail. A royal pain. So now I am stoked on Black Diamond's STS tail hook for the Glidelite skins, since it gives you a bit more flexibility in terms of ski length. Enjoy the quick vid! -Brig...Read more...
NAU is a Portland, Oregon-based company who builds amazingly-functional, durable and sustainable outerwear and clothing. The new-for-spring 2008, NAU Shelter Jacket is a great example of a highly-technical jacket that is made entirely from post-consumer fabrics and is 100% recycleable. Read up on their design philosophy and what they are doing to change the way technical outerwear is constructed. Great people, great products and sustainable fabrics/processes. If you are in Portland, Seattle, Denver or Chicago, visit one of their retail locations to see the full product line in person, otherwise visit www.nau.com to browse and buy. Product: NAU Shelter Jacket (New for Spring 2008) Price: $278 Recommended Use: Backcountry Skiing, Hiking, Skiing Pros: Eco-friendly recycled materials, asymmetrical cuffs, lightweight (16 oz.), solid construction, huge front pockets Cons: Limited retail outlets, no elastic drawstring across front of jacket
More Info: Visit www.nau.com... Read more...
This episode is a quick gear review of the Black Diamond Kilowatt Touring and Telemark ski. It's a great ski -- nice, versatile width and a solid turn radius. Black Diamond skis really cover the bases of the types of skis a skier out West would want. There's one key downside with the Black Diamond Kilowatt for a former jibber like myself, but you can hear all about that in the video... -Brig...Read more...
In my first video gear review I discuss the Stainless Steel Suunto Observer Altimeter. please forgive the poor video quality and lack of comedic timing. I'll working on that in future video reviews.
Review SummaryRegular Price: $449.00 Sale Price: $239.37 (as of 1/29/08) Recommended Use: mountain biking, skiing, hiking and camping Pros: durable face, trip logging functions, and thin for and altimeter Cons: band clasp not the best, can't track altitude and barometer at the same time, and the compass not the best Avg. Customer Rating: 4/5 Would I buy this again: Yes Similar Product Polar AXN700 Altimeter Price: $429.95... Read more...
While it's not one of our own videos this little vid is worth posting about the 2008 lineup of Scarpa AT Ski Boots. Hopefully we'll get our hands on some to put through the wringer and bring you a Gear.com review of them. For more info about these Scarpa ski boots click here....Read more...
Happy new year, everyone! Yes, another episode of the GEAR.com show -- straight from my gear closet to yours! In this episode we'll take a look at the Black Diamond Avalung and how it works, and then a few important headlamp styles to consider. Enjoy, and please post any questions or comments. Click here to read a review about Black Diamond's packs that have an integrated Avalung. Cheers, Brig...Read more...
I recently had a pair of Garmont Endorphin's and Scarpa Tornado Pro alpine touring boots for review on www.FeedTheHabit.com. So, I thought I'd take some time to share with you the differences between the latest crop of burly, alpine touring or backcountry ski boots and traditional alpine boots. There's lots of cool stuff going on in the backcountry skiing market and freeride alpine touring boots are a great example of lightweight, yet burly and still "tourable" ski boots. Check it out and add your comments below.
BUY NOW: Buy the Garmont Endorphin or Scarpa Tornado Pro from Backcountry.com... Read more...
We have been wanting to give you guys some video discussion, and do it right. Well, we decided to stop waiting to find the right camera & lighting setups, or get studio time somewhere. Instead, we did our first episode totally on the cheap, with a home camcorder & a couch in the gear closet! We figured you guys don't care -- we just wanted to start talking this way! So enjoy this first episode, and we'll have more coming. And if you want to add comments during the vid (at any point in the timeline) just hit the + button and add a comment. Cheers, Brig....Read more...
Anyone that goes backcountry skiing with me knows that I've got a particular beanie that I typically use. It's knit acrylic with holes that are great for venting, but if it gets windy I have to put on a skull cap under the beanie to keep the wind at bay. If I'm climbing I'll likely wear the skull cap under my helmet but if I'm bouldering I've also got a separate beanie that I use. However, if I'm heading out around town I have yet another one that I'll wear and when I....ok, you get the picture. That was the way things happened in the hat world for me until I got my hands on the Meru Hat from Ibex.
Background on IbexIbex is the category leader in all things merino wool. Beyond leading the category they also lead the Merino industry in standards set for the care of the sheep that produce the wool they use. They have helped to raise the bar for merino farmers in New Zealand and set high standards for themselves both in the quality of merino and in dealing only with farmers who respect the animals that give them their livelihood, namely forbidding the practice of mulesing. The care of getting the best wool translates to the quality of their products.
How I Use the Meru HatThe Ibex Meru is branded as a midweight beanie but I'd call it light to mid weight. Despite its lighter build in now way does it mean you'll sacrifice warmth or dependability when things get down right cold or windy. In fact, last year during Discovery Channel's showing of "Beyond the Limit" which followed Russell Brice's Himex Expedition team on the North side of Everest, I noticed that one of the guides being interviewed was wearing the Meru! Talk about confirming the obvious! When it's windy the tightly woven merino is virtually windproof but unlike the Gore Windstopper beanie I have from The North Face, the Meru is soft, supple and breaths like, well, like nature intended it to. Ibex gave the Meru Hat flatlock seams which keeps it fitting well and free of those itchy spots that were so omnipresent in your wool hat that Grandma gave you when you were a kid.
Features and the Bottom LineTo recap the features of the Meru Hat:
- Flatlock seams and a bit of stretch both give the hat a smooth fit and feel
- Tightly woven wool is nearly windproof
- Light to Mid-weight build that is ample warm yet breathes very well
The first time I laid eyes on the Diad jacket from The North Face I knew buying it would be a no brainer. These were the basic specs:
- 7 oz total weight
- Fully adjustable hood
- Waterproof, seam-sealed, breathable
- Designed for Ski Mountaineering
For a long time it's been tough to get the best of both worlds: 1) fresh pow in the backcountry, and 2) the right fat skis to enjoy the pow. That's because hardly any backcountry ski companies like Tua or Black Diamond had been offering a fat ski, so you either had to ride with mid-fats or you had to skin with heavy resort-style skis. But that problem is no longer an issue since Black Diamond released their answer to the conflict: the aptly-named Black Diamond Verdict ski (view all Black Diamond Skis) -- a lightweight alpine touring and telemark ski with fat 98mm waist for good runs in the pow. The actual dimensions are 128-98-116 on the 180cm model, which means they are definitely a good ride and aren't too hooky in the powder. However, that means that on the groomed (that we all inevitably have to suffer through when doing side-country laps) they really don't arc a turn as nicely as some other fat skis I've ridden. But that is a tiny price to pay to have some killer powder boards under your feet in the backcountry. Also, that fat waist makes it easy to stomp out landings in deep snow -- I was able to charge diving board cliffs and ride away without putting a hand down. Not something I would normally want to do on a touring setup (though I owe some credit to the bombproof alpine touring bindings I had mounted on the Verdicts, too - the Fritschi Freerides. Now, of course the Verdict definitely isn't the Armada ANT Pro Alpine Ski, which is expressly designed for switch landings in the pow. So if that's what you're hoping to get out of the Verdict, you'll have to continue to wait (or just sweat it out and skin the uphill on heavy alpine skis). Also, the graphics aren't as cool as Armada skis, Line skis, K2 skis, and several others out there -- but that's what stickers are for, right? So for those of you who have been waiting for a reasonably fat ski that is lightweight and a great ride in backcountry powder, the Verdict is your answer. Buy Now: Search for Black Diamond Skis...Read more...
There are some pieces of equipment that are luxuries (neck gaiters), others that are just for style (sweet in-the-boot stirrup stretch pants), some that you love just because they are just so practical (hydration tube insulators) and some that are just plain essential. The Ortovox M2 Avalanche Beacon is in the last group, but it's so user-friendly that for me it falls into the "love" group as well. When you get a beacon that you love, there comes a point when you realize that you'll probably never want to purchase another brand of beacon...ever...because in a situation of life and death, you don't want to be fumbling around trying to remember how to use it. You want to learn it, learn it again, and again, and again, and never change it so it becomes second nature. Now, everyone has different preferences for beacons so I hope you'll stop by some shops and try some out before buying. I also definitely recommend taking avalanche classes from Exum Mountain Guides or any of the other reputable providers, and asking their opinion as well. The beacon has a screw-shut battery case, a headphone plug for those windy days, a simple and foolproof transmitting/not transmitting setting, and is supposed to be able to transmit for 300 hours on 2 AA batteries, though I've never gone that long (of course). It has a replaceable date label in the back so you can jot down the day you put in new batteries and remember when to change them out. The Ortovox M2 Avalanche beacon wins my vote because of a couple of reasons:
- It has few fragile parts, so it can take a real beating.
- Its dial is simple to understand -- you just dial it in to closer-closer-closer as you zero in on your target. This takes a bit of the dummy-factor out of hunting down a transmitting beacon.
- The Ortovox M2 beacon is crescent-shaped to match your body comfortably, and its strap positions it across the stomach instead of across the sternum, which is more comfortable in my humble opinion.
- tracking multiple burials is not quite as intuitive as some other beacons I've seen
- The positioning across the stomach makes it a bit of a dance to find where to place your pack's hip strap so as not to overlap with the beacon.
For those of you who still don't have a pair of Fritschi Diamir Freeride alpine touring bindings, I just need to ask: Why? Do you never want to get fresh pow 2 weeks after a storm? My guess is that you may be either a total parkaholic who doesn't like soft landings in the backcountry, or a dedicated racer who doesn't have time to ski pow. If that's not the case, please respond in the comments and share. I think that there's no place for bemoaning a lack of pow if you haven't even given the Freerides a chance to show you how easy it can be to get it. It used to be that touring bindings were so stripped down that you feared for your knees if you were to use them. It made it tough for a lot of us to justify switching over to the touring bindings of old. But when the Fritschi Freeride came out a few years ago, it opened a whole new world to those of us who were still resort-bound. Here was a binding that you could tour with to earn your turns, then lock down the heel for the ride down...and it had an actual DIN setting and released well! It was a total breakthrough. Fritschi has continued to hone the Freeride by modifying the lock-down mechanism for the heel. Previously, the lock-down mechanism was so flat against the tail of the ski that if you flexed it out completely you could unlock into insta-tele mode. Very disconcerting, to say the least...especially if that was on the landing of a big drop. But this year's model is re-designed in that area so you hardly ever have that experience again. And hitting big drops in the backcountry is what the Freeride opened up to the masses. The Freeride was the first touring binding with a DIN of 12, and I have put it through cliffs as large as 30-35 feet without too much problem. I have had some heinous crashes that I thought would have blown up the Freeride, and it would either hold solid or release just as smoothly as any alpine binding. The one complaint I have is the crossbar under the foot is made of aluminum, which means it can actually bend and be permanently deformed if you flex out your skis entirely on a forceful, bombhole landing off a cliff. And there's no way to replace this piece in the backcountry if it happens to you. You just have to hobble home. But that has only happened to me with one pair, and I've had several pairs that I've put through the ringer without difficulty. All in all, a stellar binding that is solid for resort skiing as well as the backcountry. Buy Now: Search for Fritschi Bindings ...Read more...
So I was in need of some new goggles this year, because my old, faithful Smith Cascade goggles (circa '00 -- really!) had finally gone to that capilene-smelling locker in the sky. I was particularly sad about their demise because I just really have not been a fan of any recent goggles. Almost no brands of goggles have clips in the back anymore, which means they just don't fit around helmets very well. The strap is always too short and end up squishing the goggles into my face or not making it around the helmet at all. With a clip in the back, you can add an extender and have it fit comfortably around a helmet. Without a clip, you just don't even have that option. So do Oakley and Scott and Von Zipper and everyone else making goggles just think that fitting with a helmet isn't a requirement? Am I missing the "how-to" of using a non-clip goggle with a helmet? Please comment below, because I'd love to know. I know a lot of guys who wear Oakleys will buy the Giro Bad Lieutenant helmet and wear the strap UNDER the helmet....but that just doesn't work for me. Does it work for you? If so, let me know but I just cant stand having that plastic loop bump on the goggle strap pressing against my head. But Smith is always there for you with the clip, and good goggle extenders for helmets. The only problem was the frame size of all their recent models just didn't work for me. Smith's Prodigy goggles have a killer spherical lens, but it's huge, which means my entire nose was always covered by the goggles whenever I put them on. The Smith Alias goggle fit my face better, but it was a little small and didn't fit into a helmet well -- meaning you had gaper-gap between the top of the goggles and the helmet's forehead rim. Annoying on any day, but especially enfuriating on a dump day. With all of this, you can tell why Smith's Cascade goggle was an old favorite -- it had a medium-sized frame that was kind of square-ish and fit perfectly into the face of almost any brand of helmet. But the Smith Phenom goggle has turned out to be a killer replacement goggle for anyone like me who was hooked on the Cascade. The frame size is about the same size & shape, but the extra sweetness comes from the spherical lens and the more form-fitting face foam (say that 10 times fast). It is even more comfortable than the Cascade, fits a similar-sized face, and works perfectly with helmets. On top of that, it has great peripheral vision and a close-able set of front vents along the top of the lens. This means that on particularly wet days you can close the vents to prevent moisture from getting between the double lenses. Also, on really cold days you can close it so that your eyeballs don't freeze solid from the icy draft blowing in. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdBbo8yfFGU[/youtube] One last thing about the Smith Phenom -- it just looks cool & understated. Black, with a gold lens & accents, and the cool family crest that makes you look like you belong to the ancient MacKay Clan from northern Scotland. Works well with a puffy with fur-lined hood, or look especially natty by pairing it with a pin-striped jacket & pants setup. The only downfall to the Phenom is that it doesn't have really great side ventilation, which means for snowboarding it might not be as good as some other goggs out there that are built for a sideways stance on a snowboard. But since I mostly do resort skiing & backcountry dawn patrols on two planks, they are perfect for me. If you own the Phenom, let me know your thoughts in the comments below (good & bad). And if you have questions about the goggles that I haven't covered here then ask them & I'll try to answer. Also, here are some other good goggles you can pick up on the cheap at Overstock.com: Overstock Smith Goggles More Ski Goggles Also, here's another goggle review on our sister site FeedTheHabit.com: Zeal Optics Ski Goggles -Brig...Read more...