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Adam Benson

Adam Benson

Big Horn Mtns.

Adam Benson's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Skiing

Adam Benson

Adam Benson wrote a review of on June 21, 2011

4 5

These are the right fit for the 1998 Subaru Forester; any other size and I'd risk knocking myself or my passengers out!

These appear to be very well made. The heavy and stout feel should equal longevity and security. The bars are also coated to keep weather from wearing away at the metal.

Since the end caps aren't included with the bars (God knows why not) you also need to purchase those. They're surprisingly important to keep moisture out to keep your wonderful bars from rusting over time. I've considered putting pvc tape or Loctite on the cap inserts to assure no elements infiltrate the bars.

If you're not sure if this is the size you need visit the Yakima.com website, choose the "fit my car" feature and search for your vehicle make and model. It will suggest exactly what's right for you. Likewise, it is also important to consider what you are planning to transport (especially if it is a boat) and make sure the width of the item will fit on these bars securely.

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Adam Benson

Adam Benson wrote a review of on June 21, 2011

4 5

Getting a canoe as a wedding gift meant it was time to invest in a roof rack. I weighed my options between Thule and Yakima and eventually went with the Yakima RailGrab due to the ability to switch vehicles in the future if necessary (as long as it has side rails). The multiple claw sets that come with the system allow for a fit more geared towards your specific vehicle.

After a couple weeks of use I can say the RailGrab tower set works great on my 1998 Subaru Forester. The towers feel solid and haven't shown any sign of moving or sliding even after transporting my 80+ lb. canoe down the highway at 70 mph.

The initial set-up wasn't too bad. Once I understood the instructions and how the individual components came together it went pretty quick. It took me a little bit longer to get it dialed in just how I wanted it but now that it's on I shouldn't have to move it ever.

I'm a little disappointed that the locks are sold separately. It seems that if they are such an integral part-- which if your living anywhere where your rack is in danger of being stolen or you want that extra security-- they are, then they should come as a kit. However, one advantage of buying locks separately is that you can buy enough to lock the rack as well as accessories without having multiple keys-- just make sure you buy enough.

If you're looking into a rack system I would definitely recommend the RailGrab for anyone who has side rails on their vehicle, especially if you want the ability to transfer it to another vehicle in the future.

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Adam Benson

Adam Benson wrote a review of on June 13, 2011

4 5

These tie-downs do exactly what they should-- secure your boat-- and that immediately makes them worth the money.

All the components are good. The "quick ratchet" works great and tightens in a flash. The ropes and straps are solid; this kit even comes with two rope "sleeves" (oddly not pictured or mentioned here) to prevent the ropes from getting friction wear by rubbing against your car. My only negative is a repeat of an earlier reviewer that the hooks are fairly short. While I have not had any problem with them coming unhooked I would like a little extra length on the hook or a more aggressive hook angle.

Combined with the straps included with the Yakima gunwale brackets my wife and I can load and secure our canoe on my car in less than 5 minutes. Not only do these straps attach quickly they provide invaluable peace of mind when carrying your craft.

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Adam Benson

Adam Benson wrote a review of on April 15, 2011

5 5

Am I walking on clouds? Sometimes it's hard to tell when you're wearing these socks. I've worn them primarily to work and also on a small hike here and there and they have performed heavenly. When I've been on my feet all day at work they provide that extra something that keeps the dogs from screamin' at quitting time. On the hikes they've wicked away unwanted moisture like I had personal sheep foot attendants.

Like I said, comfort is the word here. The socks are like a bearded indie-folk band-- rugged on the outside, extremely soft on the inside. The overall design seems really quality also. They don't bunch at all, don't have any weird stitches that rub you raw, or any other problems that I've found.

I snagged these off SAC for a pittance of what they normally cost-- something like 50% off. At this low-price I was even able to buy 3 qty. (6 pairs since they come in a two-pack). The sizing guide led me well; I wear size 10 1/2 men's shoes and the Large fits perfect.

Bottom Line: When you spend anytime on your feet you want to keep the horses happy; these will keep you feet feeling glorious all day.

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Adam Benson

Adam Benson wrote a review of on March 19, 2011

5 5

Besides being hit by a bomb my Chaco's and I have been through it all: slipping stones in the river, trudging around the college campus, hikes in the backcountry, strolls through the park, on bike rides (either on my feet for the short rides or strapped to the rack for comfort when I get where I'm going), having the strap chewed through by the dog (and sewn back together), and even complimenting my gown at college graduation.

This legendary outdoor product lives up to all the mythology you've heard about them. In some ways, they're not even a sandal-- more like a boot-sole with straps. When I think of sandals I think of loose-fitting, non-aggressive footwear-- not with the Chaco's. You'll think you have a thick, rubbery callous protecting your tenderly wonderful bare feet while hiking around. While this does cause some major perspiration on the sole of your foot you also move confidently with the assurance that they are firmly attached (perhaps the "fits like a glove" saying is passé and should be updated to "fits like a Chaco").

Another aspect of the fit are the straps. I've read some reviews about how people have problems frequently adjusting and fiddling with their straps, always wanting to loosen and tighten endlessly. Just get them how you want them and leave them alone! With a few timely minor strap pulls when you first began to wear them having to make adjustments will become a distant memory (I seem to recall last adjusting them about 4 years ago but perhaps it was just in a dream...). So c'mon people-- if you can brag about scaling peaks, rafting rivers, and epic camps you should probably be "outdoorsy" enough to pull a strap.

Perhaps the staple of the Chaco lore is the durability. I've owned my Chaco's going on 6 years now and the only time I had even dreamed of having anything done to them was when the dog chewed through the strap. Chaco doesn't make the same pattern anymore so I opted to sew them together and retain the celebrated antiquity of my Chaco's. Probably in the next year or two I may have them resoled as I've kind of worn them down in spots due to poor walking technique but even this is more of a investment then a real necessary fix at this point.

The only two upgrades I would suggest to Chaco would be a perfume emitter (the current perfume coming from the Chaco's is quite the burly stench) and an odometer to track the miles I've put on them (I would suggest at least four tickers to go into the thousands of miles). Even when the on-board odometer eventually rolled over I'm sure the Chaco's would still be kicking.

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Adam Benson

Adam Benson wrote a review of on February 24, 2011

4 5

In my mind the Newport has become synonymous with the Keen brand. When someone tells me they have some Keens or are getting some Keens this is what I think of. I've owned mine (Bison, size 10 1/2) for a year now and I've never once regretted my purchase.

Like any good shoe they've only become more comfortable as I've worn them. The initial fit was a little off from what I was hoping for but with some wearing in they feel great.

I've walked around town, stepped around the deck of a sailboat, done some small bike rides in them, worn them in a couple of inches of dry snow (with socks) and haven't had any problems with their performance. The option of wearing them comfortably with socks provides some more variety that really makes them more valuable than sandals where socks are not a plausible option.

So far they have been durable although I haven't put them through any extremely abusive situations yet although I feel they will be able to stand true when the time comes. The leather may require some care in the future but having to care for a product to reap exceptional longevity is no con in my book.

As far as "look" I personally like the look of the Newport's leather more than the H2's nylon. The leather provides that classic look and gives the wearer some options to transcend the "outdoorsy" look when desired. With the Bison color I'm even able to wear some brown socks under them and not feel ridiculous in situations where I'm dress casual. Also, other reviewers also seem to attest to the superiority of the leather over the H2's nylon as far as longevity though I'm sure there are two contesting schools of thought on this.

What makes the Newport's a great purchase is that, if you come in with reasonable expectations, you get what you expect to get-- and maybe even a little more.

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Adam Benson

Adam Benson wrote a review of on February 24, 2011

2 5

I'm a big fan of Keen products but I think Keen really dropped the ball on this one. These looked to be the perfect hybrid between cycling shoe and cycling sandal; with the covered toe-box and relatively high strap coverage for sandals they promised better protection than open-toed sandals... and perhaps they do. I really wouldn't know because I was unable to even buy them the fit was so terrible! When I tried these on I essentially envisioned the Newport with an SPD plate on the bottom-- I couldn't have been more wrong. My feet barely squeezed into an 11, one half size above my typical 10 1/2 size fit. By the time I found a pair even close to wide enough, either 12's or 13's, they were so long it would have been awful to imagine doing anything in them. I don't have wide feet. I've never had to buy wide versions of shoes. I get that bike shoes are typically rather small and tight for more efficient power transfer and the cycling market is saturated with this type of gear-- I suppose mainly to appease the "race" faction of cyclists who need the tightest fitting gear possible to get that second advantage. But let's be honest Keen, do these shoes, the "commuters", need to cater towards the race-specific fit? Is anyone going to buy these for their maximum power transfer? No and no.

I emailed and called Keen and asked them if they had the Commuters in a wide size (normal size in my mind) and they do not although they said that many other people had called to complain about the sizing also saying they were too small. They acknowledged this information begrudgingly although they were firm on defending the fit as a traditional cycling shoe.

The Newports and H2's have over 200 reviews on Backcountry. This shoe doesn't have any (excluding mine) and Backcountry is selling them at 40% off-- basically trying to get rid of them. That's hard to defend.

Potentially this is a great product. A cycling sandal that offers higher protection than most but retains the casual sandal feel. It could be a great option for commuters and casual cyclists. Keen, stop over-thinking this product and listen to the people; make the Commuters fit more casually like a Newport with an SPD plate or at least offer them in a wide (or in this case normal) version that is more democratic in its sizing and people will buy them and love them.

Bottom line: if the shoe doesn't fit (in ANY size) it doesn't make the grade. The only reason I'll even give this 2 stars is for the potential they have in the future and the possibility that they work well if you can actually fit your foot comfortably inside them. I do not recommend these for anyone who isn't the stereotypical lanky cycling build.

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Adam Benson

Adam Benson wrote a review of on February 14, 2011

5 5

Some reviews call them liners and some call them gloves-- and for you that is great. For people to remark on the power stretch's ability to blur the difference between glove and liner attests to their exceptional functionality.

Bottom line is these are exceptional all-around fall, winter, and spring gloves. I'm amazed at how much I use them. They take the brunt of that cold-steering wheel feel when driving, they're great on walks with the dog, they even excel at temperature management when out x-c skiing! The stretch material gives you exceptional dexterity and provides you with glove warmth without having that bulky feeling. Perhaps the only couple of downfalls are the facts that they get pretty wet and they are not windproof-- but they don't claim to be waterproof or windproof so it's not necessary to put them at fault; also, with a proper shell they would function fine in these conditions. Also, the palm and finger material is a bit slippery making it hard to hold certain already slippery items but in the grand scheme of things this seems pretty trivial.

It's hard for me to imagine any sort of winter activity where these don't play a main role in my apparel.

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Adam Benson

Adam Benson wrote a review of on February 14, 2011

5 5

The Keen Austins are simply a fantastic shoe. After 2+ years of walking through snow, slush, rain, and other weather they still look nice. I love the enlarged Keen toe-box. They feel like shoes should feel-- solidly on your feet without choking them. Other shoes feel restrictive and tight after wearing these puppies for a while.

Probably the biggest draw of these shoes is their waterproofing. They survive fall slush, winter snow and spring mud while keeping my feet dry. They do take some care to keep them up to snuff but what piece of good equipment doesn't?

They look good too. The Austins look great in both business casual and just plain casual settings. They go well with jeans and khakis and preserve the rugged but refined look.

If you are looking for a shoe that will keep you looking and feeling good after the walk from the office to the bar no matter what the conditions look no further than the Austins!

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Adam Benson

Adam Benson wrote a review of on February 13, 2011

4 5

So far, these have worked as advertised and have been an integral part of a great combo with my Rossignol Evo Glade skis and Rossignol X2 touring boots. I haven't come accidentally unclipped. I feel firmly attached to the skis when kicking, stepping through powder off trail, and when going downhill. To be honest I hardly have had any reason to notice them at all (which I would say is a good thing with bindings. If you notice them a lot you're probably noticing bad things). At first it was a little hard for me to do the automatic clip because I was a little unsure of how to line up my boots with the clip as the recess made it difficult to get a precise look at it-- although now that I've had some time on them and have learned to feel them out instead of relying on sight it's no problem at all.

The "Derlin" material the sidebar boasts is truly lightweight-- and I'm not even one of those people who is obsessed with weight! I can appreciate how light these bindings are. They don't add any noticeable weight at all (once again not noticing them is a great thing!). I'm guessing this goes towards preventing any unnecessary leg and foot strain especially if you're going to be spending a long day skiing.

Also, if you don't want to mount them yourself or are unsure how to mount the bindings, be sure to ask the Backcountry.com reps if they will do it for you. They did a great job on mine!

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Adam Benson

Adam Benson wrote a review of on February 13, 2011

4 5

With 192 reviews and counting it's hard to go wrong with this obvious favorite. I've had to use it in the summer during some light rain and I've been wearing it more recently as a top layer for some casual x-c skiing. Every time I've worn this jacket it has performed in the ways I expected it to. But while meeting expectations it hasn't exceeded them either. It's important to understand that, like most products, for the price you are getting what you pay for-- an inexpensive, lightweight rain jacket that will help keep you dry... notice I say "when", as in I pack this jacket as a layer that I might have to use, not one that I know I will HAVE to. If you plan on hiking through a monsoon shell out some more cash and get something that wont leave you a little damp and is truly waterproof. But if you're looking for a good option for when the occasional clouds come out you shouldn't have to look an further than the Precip.

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Adam Benson

Adam Benson wrote a review of on February 11, 2011

4 5

I've had great luck with these boots. My feet have stayed dry and I haven't had that terrible foot cramp feeling you can get when you take off your boots. They could have a little bit better power transmission; it seems like there is a bit of extra space in the boot but that may have been a sizing issue and not fault on the design. The sizing guide seems to run a little big-- possibly to fit thicker socks. My typical 10 1/2 shoe size works with the recommended 45 size although I think perhaps the 44 may have been better. Overall it does what you want it to do at an affordable price which is probably what you're looking for at this level. Even without having tested anything other boots to compare them against I feel these are a solid choice. Great pairing with the Rossignol bindings.

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Adam Benson

Adam Benson wrote a review of on February 11, 2011

5 5

First of all let me say that this is an excellent piece of equipment for a beginner who is interested in exploring the various conditions of nordic skiing. As an experienced snowboarder and winter sports enthusiast I've found this equipment a welcome addition to my gear cache. Over the last month or so I've been lucky enough to test these skis in a variety of conditions-- groomed track in Yellowstone, packed trail with the dog, slush snow on the golf course, and even in some waist-deep (when postholing off the skis) fluff. From glide to float I've loved every minute of these skis. They were able to handle each condition with the ability and grace of a ski deserving the all-around touring moniker. I don't think I would recommend these if someone was focusing on really developing into an expert in one particular condition of skiing (that's why they make all that specific stuff, right?) but I can't imagine how a casual, all-around piece of equipment could get much better! If you consider yourself to be a casual or beginner skier I would highly recommend this ski for whatever you may encounter while doing mixed Nordic.

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