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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 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

50 miles in...
5 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.

My only slight knock is that the tread seems to pick up mud a little more than wider spaced lugs but it's not so much of an issue so still gets 5 stars for me.

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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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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on January 15, 2011

5 5

I'm of the opinion that the most important thing about a climbing shoe is fit so it is hard to review.

That said, the Katana strikes a nice balance between a highly technical shoe that you can't keep on for more than 5 minutes and something so clumpy that you couldn't climb a tree in them.

Comparision to the velcro: I have had 3 pairs of velcro Katanas which I find very comfy and fit well except for a little too much room in the toe area. I thought that the Katana lace might be the solution to this fit issue. In practice I think that the Katana lace is a whole new shoe.

First off the sizing seems different. I was a 39 or 39.5 in the velcro (39 was a performance fit). I had to get a 40 in the laceup.

Secondly the toe area of the sole seems stiffer - like they have added an extra stiffening layer.

Finally the laceup is more downturned than the velcro katana.

Basically I like them, but I think that the down turn makes them a little less relaxed than the velcro version - great for those crimpy 5.13 limestone routes but as I can only climb 5.11 I think I'll opt for the comfort of the velcro again next time.

5 stars because like all the sportiva shoes that I have had they are exceptionally well made. It all comes down to what you want them for and fit.

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on January 15, 2011

4 5

I bought these with the mirror sensor lenses. They fit my small face reasonably well, and the lenses are great. My only issue is that the clip at the back of the strap is bulky and the strap for securing goggles on my helmet won't fit over it. Time for a new helmet?

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on January 15, 2011

4 5

I borrowed my girlfriends old squall a few times and thought that it was a great simple pack except that it had no sleeve for a drinking tube and I was not convinced by some of the fabrics that were used.

When I saw that they had brought out a new version with tougher materials and a drinking tube I bought one. The new fabrics look good and the pack is simpler and more streamlined making it fine for riding lifts and having enough room for a day in the backcountry. Unfortunately BCA decided to remove the divider between the avy gear and main compartment, and the opening to get to the avy gear (top) has become a strange combination of a drawstring and a velcro and a rolltop closure. The drawstring does allow you to create a little more room in the pack (say for a helmet on the up track) but this opening is fiddly and I think that I would prefer a zipper to the velcro. The roll top doesn't seem to add any benefit that I can see. If the current design had a zipper to access the avy gear and a divider between wet and dry then it would be no less than perfect.

It loses 1 star for the fiddly closure and the lack of a divider.

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on January 12, 2011

4 5

Given that airlines are getting stricter about weight this bag seems to be about right. Not too heavy but enough padding. Big enough for me to get 2 pairs of skis + poles + boots + avy gear. Any bigger and it would be overweight if you used all the space.Sizing: I got the 190 and there is over 20cm extra length when I put my 178s in there. I haven't measured the true length but I suspect that it is oversize and I might have got away with the 170 length.

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Ben A

Ben Awrote a review of on January 29, 2008

3 5

I think that the range of features and the integrated avalung are great, but I just couldn't get it to fit right.

I measured my back in the manner described and came up with a measurement of 18". I bought the pack in the smaller size and in spite of that, the back of the pack still came up very high behind my neck and restricted my movement if I was wearing a helmet.

I gave it a '3' because of the fit, but if you are the right size/shape then it looks like a great pack. If you are shorter then make sure you demo in a shop first.

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