For the past couple years I've been using a 38L F-stop Loka pack every day, most of the time without the camera block, and I've loved it. I was able to pick up an ABS Base unit pretty cheaply which came with a older 15L cover and I knew that wouldn't cut it. I was hoping this 25L Dakine Vario would fit the bill, and I think it will, most of the time. A couple complaints: My G3 320cm probe does not fit in the avi tool pocket unless I absolutely jam it in there and stretch the fabric, so it has to sit in the main compartment (and in the middle). The shovel handle can fit inside the avi tool pocket (in two pieces) but really cuts down on space so it will sit in the outside sleeve. The helmet carry works well (I previously just used the compressions straps) but I am unsure as to how it will work with the diagonal ski carry. The ski carry system itself is much improved over past models.
I tend to carry a fair bit with me even on resort days(extra pairs of gloves, extra goggles, snacks, leatherman, 750ml water bottle and avi gear), just in case I want to go do a little slackcountry. All of that fits in easily, it's where packing for a full day tour gets a little trickier. (I've added two photos of the pack fully loaded for a day tour). In total it weighs 19.4 lbs. Even loaded to the brim the pack sits very nicely on your back and I know it will ski quite well. It isn't overly deep, and when only half full will be able to compress nicely and be able to fit on a lift without taking it off. The build quality is great, zippers are fantastic, lining is good and the pack is light.
- Slim fit, & easily compressible
- Carries well
- Avi tool pocket fits large shovel blade
- Build quality
- Large probe (G3 320cm) doesn't fit in avi tool pocket
- Shovel handle sticks out of outside sleeve preventing the pack from sitting flat when upright
- No A-frame ski carry
- No hydration capability
- Tight fit for everything on a full day tour.
Black Diamond Shovel (unsure on spec, but it's a big one)
Arc'teryx Atom LT
Hestra Anja Parson Pro Model
Hestra Ergo Spring Grip
G3 320cm speed tech probe
750ml Camelback podium big chill
2 x Oakley Crowbar
G3 Alpinist 130mm X-long skins
Black Diamond Spot headlamp
Banana, 2 x protein bar, GoPro, Garmin Edge, ski key, leatherman, Hestra leatherbalm
My Vario 25L fully loaded for a full day tour (contents photo to follow).
Here is a link to the previous year's jacket. The name has changed, but having worn both (and own the 2010 version), I would say this review applies.
I've wanted one of these jackets since last season when I picked up my Heli Alpine shell. I happened upon one last week and couldn't be happier. Usually I use an Arc'Teryx Atom LT hoody as my mid-layer but for colder days it doesn't get the job done (60g corloft insulation in the arms/body vs. 100g primaloft arms/133g body in the PP Heli Primaloft jacket). The jacket is quite warm by itself and decently wind-resistant. I was out walking around Nelson last year where it was -8 celsius and was happy in just the jacket and a t-shirt. On the hill where it was between -18 and -22 celcius it fit well under my Heli Alpine jacket. I'm 5'9", 175lbs and have the medium. It fits very well, comfortable, but slim fitting through the body. I like a baggier outer layer and have the shell in a large. It is nice that the shoulders are reinforced for backpack straps as well as the chest pocket (for frequent use). The finish is a little shiny and may be off putting for some people, but I have mine in the yellowy "Acid Green" colour, so it stands out either way. The outer layer seems reasonable durable, but I wouldn't use it as an outer layer for skiing unless it was mellow alpine touring or something. Impacts on rocks or trees wouldn't turn out too well (but that is what a hard shell is for).
A great stand-alone jacket for winter wear and layering for the cold days, especially if you don't want to go the down route. Note, this is almost the identical jacket as the 2011 Heli Regulate jacket from PP.
I've had a G10 MX (Matte White) for 5+ years now and don't love it as much as I used to. While the micro adjust feature allows for an exact fit, I've found that landing drops over 10' (or landing hard) can cause the snaps that hold in the micro-adjust to pop out, making the helmet instantly bigger and causing it to fall down the front of my face.
The helmet breathes extremely well with all of it's vents (easily closed even with gloves on via the slider on the top of the helmet). The brim keeps branches out of my goggles and the ear pads come out easily for spring time. The goggle strap snap broke on me (I've since replaced it and haven't had further issues) but I have found I don't really need it with Crowbars, or likely any other goggle with a rubber inside to the strap.
While Giro has vastly improved the micro-adjust system on the newer helmets (I have a bike helmet which I am very happy with), the G10 MX has been discontinued and there isn't really a similar brim helmet offered.
I'll likely be looking to Smith for a replacement (Vantage).
I have two pairs of crowbars (with the above lenses) and love them. A huge improvement over the A Frame shape for helmet users. The outriggers take pressure off of your face and the rubber coated strap help keep them glued to the side of your helmet. I used A Frames for years (with Black Iridium and High-Intensity Yellow lenses) and feel my current setup is far superior. I ride with the Pink Iridium lens at least 80% of the time. It's great for low-light and mixed light conditions. When it's totally garbage visibility the High-Intensity Yellow lens is superior but it is too bright if the weather changes. In Whistler it's common for the sun to come out of nowhere on awful days and I found myself blind with the Hi-Yellow lens, the Pink Iridium adapts very very well. Fantastic Lens. For bright and sunny days I find the Fire lens superior to the Black Iridium as it not only has a lower transmission of light (only by a touch) but it provides so much more contrast when you get into the shadows. I loved my Black Iridium but borrowed a friends Fire lens for a run and it was a game changer (in the shadows). I had to go out and get that lens.
Great goggles. Don't touch the inside of the lens and be careful with the outside, Oakley's coatings are quite delicate.
This is my first full season on FKS180s and I love them. Previously used 916s forever. I loved them but found them a little on the heavy side, and had an issue blowing out the toe-wing AFDs. No issues like that here. Fantastic elasticity, great DIN range, no toe-wing adjustment to worry about and a compact mounting pattern are all great on the FKS, plus they are the lightest all-metal binding you can get. Two things I don't like about them are the plastic pole-release parts on the heel piece deteriorate quickly and the brakes are not easily replaceable (or wide enough). Rossi (and Look) should change the name of the 115mm and to "XL" and add a true "XXL" brake option at 125mm.
I picked this jacket up a couple days ago (in Acid Green) and while I have only used it for only 3 days so far but I know this will be a fantastic jacket. It is supremely well built (like my Heli Alpine pants from 09/10 which have held up very very well) and totally waterproof, something that is extremely important in a place like Whistler. I like a slightly baggy fit and bought this in a large (I'm 5'9, 175lbs) and love the fit. The sleeves don't bunch too much, it fits relatively slim through the body and has a drop on the back. It interfaces nicely with the pants with 2 snaps and I haven't had any issues with getting snow up anywhere. The pit zips are a little stiff and require some work with gloves on. The pit zips totally open the sleeves (unlike the Soft Shell jacket which has mesh in between). The hood is generous, but will only fit over a helmet when not fully zipped, In my experience I haven't found a jacket that does though. The chest pockets are easy to access with a pack on, but the hand pockets will likely require you to undo your waistbelt. Fully zipped up the jacket has a small fleecy section to cover the zipper and prevent your face from becoming chaffed.
The jacket wasn't cheap, most Peak Performance stuff isn't, but I think it's worth it. It is built to last and will be great value over the lifetime of the jacket. The Heli Softshell jacket is built very similarly and uses Gore-Tex 3L Soft Shell instead of Pro Shell material, both have a similar fit.
I live out of my bag constantly. Between my house, the office, the gym, the golf course, my girlfriend's place, and weekend trips, I always need a bunch of crap with me. The bag is a little bigger than your average day/gym bag but I am used to that and I like it. Tons of room inside and each end of the interior compartment have elastic mesh pockets where you can throw some smaller things for quick access (I've got everything from earbubs to ipod cables to laptop chargers to lens filters and CF readers). I almost never leave home without my 15" MBP which is carried easily along with a weekend's worth of clothes. The zipper pulls are oversize and the shoulder strap is comfortable. The end pockets are tarp lined and hold at least one pair of shoes each (two depending on the type). As someone who regularly goes from dress shoes to golf shoes to runners to sandals all in the same day, these end pockets absolutely make the bag. The one small side pocket doesn't fit much, but it's enough for keys, wallet and a phone. I wouldn't look anywhere else for a small/medium sized bag.