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Ben A

Ben A

Bristol, UK

Ben A's Passions

Paddling
Skiing
Climbing

Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on April 7, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

A cushioned heel but fairly thin underfoot at the toe makes this shoe perfect for technical approach, scrambles, via ferrata, and easy climbing. The toebox is fairly snug so those with wide feet might find them less comfortable. For a pure approach shoe I'd pick something with a more relaxed fit (zen or crux) which would also give a bit more cushioning under the toes. However if you want a shoe that can hike and climb easy grades then this is a great option.

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on March 29, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

The two main things I like the most about this backpack are that (a) it has pockets for just about everything you need and (b) it maintain its shape, whether it's empty or full. It feels like it is excellent quality - I can't find any loose stitching and the shoulder straps are well constructed. It opens fully for easy laptop inspection but I have never found that feature to be that useful since TSA agents want the laptop to be removed anyway.

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on March 29, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size

I've used these overshoes in 40F weather and they've kept my feet really warm. Construction, looks good though I have not used them long enough to know how long the soles will last. The holes on the bottom line up perfectly for my mountain bike shoes. They fit really well with the adjustable velcro. The ranges in size are a bit constrictive - I wear a size 6.0 and ordered the 4.5-6.0 because the next size up is all the way up to 6.5-8.0. As a result, they take a bit longer to put on because they need to be positioned exactly into place. I would have liked it if there were a few more options in size.

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on March 29, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size

It's merino wool so doesn't smell. Stops any exposed bits of flesh between top and bottom. Access for answering the call of nature is easy. Only 3 weeks in it so far so can't comment on durability. Points to note:
It is a fairly thin wool, so don't expect it to be super chunky. Follow the size guide - I'm normally a small, but the guide suggested a medium for me at 5'7" / 150lbs and this was correct. I have selected 'true to size' based on the recommended fit, but bear mind that you may be recommended a size larger than you'd expect.

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on March 29, 2015

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs large

The shoes are well made and have worked well for lighter hiking trips, when I didn't want to pack my large and clunky hiking boots. The main thing to note is that the size runs large. When wearing thicker hiking socks, they fit well, but I would order a half size down (e.g., 7.5 rather than 8.0) if you plan to wear thin socks.

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on March 27, 2015

4 5

I've had many pairs of these. The STS tailclip seems to be the best that I've seen. Grip is good.
Only niggles are that the glue strength can vary a lot - never had a problem as such but my stickier ones take quite a lot of grunt to get them a part (nothing that a few pine needles cant resolve). If you have very wide / square tips then the tip loop doesn't hook so securely, but never a deal breaker for me, finally they are quite stiff / heavy so if you have big wide skis then they can take up a lot of room in your bag.
For sizing I tend to get them wide enough to go wall to wall on the tail but don't worry if you are a touch too narrow for the tip.

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on March 26, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

I can't get too excited about socks but these are the best that I have tried. They are a touch taller than some running socks which is good because I tend to find that I get debris working their way in for lower 'ankle height' socks. Weight seems about right for the UK but I imagine they probably run a bit warm for some climates. Durability is good - I seem to be able to destroy some socks in a matter of 50km. These are going much longer.

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on March 26, 2015

Good, but lack durability
3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size

Bought to replace my Pearl Izumi Trail N1s, which I loved but which are extremely slippery on wet rock. These seem to fit the bill as a great all rounder. The upper is fairly unstructured, and has reasonable amount of room in the toebox and almost no heel counter. I have found it very comfortable. Heel to toe drop is a little more than I'd normally look for at 8mm but in practice I don't notice much. Feel through the ball of the foot is good, but sharp rocks will make themselves known. I made one small modification which can bee seen in the attached photo - the tongue has a cut which allow the laces to pass under a loop in the middle to prevent it falling to one side. In practice it still falls off quite a way so 2 careful cuts to either side and I was able to make the laces pass under 2 loops further to each side and the tongue now stays put.

The bad? As per Cody's post below, my pair started to develop holes in the upper after about 100 miles and for that it loses a couple of stars. In addition, the tread seems to pick up mud a little more than wider spaced lugs.

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on March 26, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Quasi step in, brakes, a release mechanism and a fairly reliable history make this the perfect binding for inbounds and sidecountry use. Those logging serious vertical might be jealous of the lighter weight and free pivot of the faithful old switchbacks or TTS systems.

On the downhill I have one gripe which is that the ramp angle is bizarre - the heel is actually lower than the ball of foot, and this makes it hard to keep your weight forward. Not a deal breaker as a 6mm shim under the heel and thin shim on the underfoot pink bit resolved this issue for me. One other minor gripe is that I find the binding a little too neutral for my tastes... if you like to active bindings such as the HH on pos 3 or higher then this will feel a bit more neutral.

For most people this is going to be the perfect, reliable/do it all binding.

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on March 26, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

They ski like a slightly damper Wailer 112rp - fairly loose and playful in the soft and you can ride the sidecut well enough on groomers, but the soft tips and tails mean that they start to give up a little early for my taste in heavier snow and skied out conditions. Build quality seems good and the edges are thicker than the average. A good ski for inbounds and sidecountry somewhere that gets plenty of snow and has lots of trees. Less well suited to big arcs down open bowls in less than stella snow.

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on August 7, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs small

I'm using this as a shoe with a bit more cushion / support for longer runs where my usual inov-8's (roclite 243) can be hard work.
I love the fit, and the rocker makes the shoe feel flexible in spite of being more shoe than I'm used to.
My only slight niggle is that the rubber is not very grippy on wet rocks... then again all shoes seem to fail on this point when compared to inov-8's

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on February 25, 2014

2 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs large

I like minimal shoes but wanted something that would be a bit more forgiving on training runs that include a mix of road and trail, and which might also provide a bit more support to failing form on longer runs. On first inspection these fit the application quite well - they retain a fairly precise feel underfoot but have a bit more support than the minimalist sense ultra, and initially I was quite happy with them and gave them a positive review.

After running about 100 miles in them I have now found a few things that disappoint:

1) I loved the locked in feel of the 'endofit' in the sense ultra when I tried it and, while these claim to have the same feature, I felt that in practice the neoprene sock is not as tight and snug in the Mantra.

2) Grip - the rubber that they have used seems to be a bit slippery on wet rock (compared to my other shoes which are mostly Inov-8s)

3) Lacing - the lacing uses very thin cord which causes sores on the top of my feet on longer runs. This has got worse over time as the padding in the tongue has relaxed. In addition the toggle thingy slips so you have to re-tension the laces every now and then.

4) Hot & sweaty: The sides of the shoe are almost solid and combined with the endofit sleeve I find that I get very sweaty feet.

5) The fabric over the toes has started to go into holes where it creases - not great for 100 miles.

Now wishing that I had gone for the N1's or perhaps a pair of Inov-8 Trailrocs :(

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on January 28, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Very bright and the battery life times are as advertised. I use mine for running (prefer it to a head torch because you get more definition with a light source not coming from your head) and as a cycle light. I haven't tested how waterproof it is yet.

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on January 22, 2013

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This pack feels like someone has thought through the sequence of things that you do with your pack when skinning up and skiing back down, and there are great touches that make it a touch slicker than your average pack with loads of pockets.

The compartment for the avy gear is generous and space can be traded between this and the main volume of the pack. A great side pocket for a water bottle allows you to drink on the move even if you don't like bladder systems and the side pockets are different colors so you know which side you put your bottle in. The ski carry is solid both in A frame and diagonal, with well reinforced loops that won't be cut by ski edges after a single use.It also has a good system for attaching a helmet. Access to the main compartment is through a side zip which at first I thought may be too small, but in practice seems fine. Two small quick access pockets on top for swaping out gloves / goggles / sunglasses work great.

Overall size in the medium is about right for a 'touring for turns' day trip - there is a bit of spare room on the essentials so that you could squeeze in some more technical gear such as a rope or ski crampons if needed.

There is nothing that I would change.

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