The flatlands of Michigan :-(
When I went searching for a new camelbak this spring I wanted something a little larger than my old bladder-only pack. After a few on-trail mountain biking incidents while riding with friends I decided I wanted a pack with a little more space to carry a few first-aid items. The Rogue has a couple pockets that are perfectly sized to fit my keys, wallet, phone, and some basic first-aid supplies (gauze pads, tape, cravat, and gloves) should another friend find it necessary to whack his face into a tree.
I've been quite happy with it this summer. It's a smaller bladder than my old pack, but it still carries plenty of water for a 20 mile trail ride. I had looked at bigger packs, but I'm glad I decided on this one. The total weight isn't much different than the old pack. The additional items I carry in the new pack are no heavier than the water weight I stuffed into the old one.
I firmly believe that you must properly match a ski to a skier, their abilities, and their style/technique. I grew up racing in high school. My local ski bump here in MI is man made hard-pack and boiler plate. I ski hard and I like a ski with strong edge hold and plenty of response/rebound. All of my skis have one or more layers of titanal in them (Kneissl White Star GS, K2 Mach SL, Fischer RC4 cheater radius GS, and K2 Recon). My skiing style requires something with a tip I can dive on and get a response.
On a recent trip to Breckenridge we had a hook-up for some free demos. They put me on some Armada JJ rocker tip/tail garbage. I hated them. They were great in the soft stuff, but they just didn't do it for me when I wanted more speed or tried to set an edge on a groomer. I spent the whole day watching a friend tear up the horseshoe bowl and lay trenches on groomers on the Nordica Enforcers he demo'd. I was jealous.
Fast forward two days and I had lined up a demo of the Enforcers for myself. They do not disappoint. Constructed similar to my race skis, flat top and titanal, they were eager to be driven. Dropping into the bowls off peaks 7 and 8 at Breckenridge they not only laughed at the soft stuff, they took everything I could throw at them when I straightened things out and rolled 'em on edge for some high-speed carves. With a 98mm waist they aren't the best powder ski, but they are good edge-to-edge on a groomer, they laugh at the crud, and they still hold their own in the soft stuff. They are flat out the best all-around ski I've ever had the pleasure of using.
In fact, three of us demo'd them that week. One bought a pair on the spot and the other two of us put them on our shopping list for next season. If you are looking for an all-purpose ski that can handle the soft stuff while still providing ample response and plenty of edge-hold on the groomers look no further. This is one bad-ass ski.
I bought these just before a weekend ski trip. The weather suddenly got warm and it looked to be raining while we were skiing. I wanted a second pair of waterproof/resistant ski pants so I wouldn't have to worry about things drying out in time for the next day. The predictions didn't disappoint :-(. Just after lunch on our first day it started to rain. We skied for another three hours and went home dry. It wasn't much more than a light drizzle/sprinkling of rain, but even sitting on damp chair lifts I was dry and happy.
Beyond an undesirable wet weather test these pants are really nice. The taped seams kept water out (kept my ipod and wallet dry). There is enough insulation to keep you warm down to 25F temps without needing to add a base layer, yet they aren't bulky in any way. The elastic cuff/powder guard at the foot easily fits over my boot + battery (boot heaters). I wish it was a snap/velcro closure like my Spyder pants so it was a bit easier to work with, but we can't have everything.
With a 31" inseam and 34" waist I bought an XL (mainly because of the price at the local ski shop clearance and lack of other sizes). I have rather large upper legs due to soccer, skiing, and cycling. I told myself the larger pant would provide extra room to move when I put stuff in pockets, or allow me to layer under and still be comfy. A large would have fit me just fine. The adjustable velcro straps around the waist did get them small enough to fit me comfortably, but I still felt like they needed a belt or some suspenders to stay in place. There is also a bit of the pant wadded up at the boot as they are probably an inch or two longer than is necessary.
I do a lot of ski tuning in my basement. Between my multiple pairs of skis, my girlfriend's skis and board, and several friends I'm usually scraping skis at least twice a week. This little tool has been wonderful. I dislike the thin metal scrapers as they can be too flexible and mess up the ski base. I stick with the plastic ones, but they do lose there edge pretty quickly. A couple passes across this tool and they are good to go.
My only complaint is the gap where the screws go through. Its enough that you need to be careful to apply proper pressure to the scraper or the front/back edge may drop while pushing down and pulling across and you don't get a straight edge when you're finished.
This is my fourth helmet. I started out with some cheap racing helmet while racing in high school. That was replaced with a Giro Fuse back in 2005. That was a comfortable enough helmet that I replaced it with another Giro Fuse in 2009. I don't know why Giro decided to put that adjustable cranium hugging thing in their helmets, but it gives me a horrible headache. After dealing with it for a little over a year I decided to buy another helmet.
The Maze was advertised as the lightest helmet on the market (certified to be safe). I liked the looks, the advertised weight, and the price wasn't outrageous. I'm very happy with my purchase. The fit is as good or better than the Fuse. Both are a large, but I get the feeling Giro oversizes their helmets so that annoying adjustable thing in the back is somehow useful. The Smith Maze leaves me just enough room for a thin skull cap/helmet liner. I've spent close to 100 hours in my helmet this season and have yet to find a day that was too warm or too cold and the temps have varied from -10F to 55F.
Its also a more solidly built helmet. Instead of being a thin colored plastic sheet covering the foam its a thicker, more durable plastic shell. I'm no longer worried about my helmet hitting gates while beer-league nastar racing. The first Fuse cracked after too many gate impacts. I have also been very happy with the Skull Candy drop-in headphones. The sound quality isn't the best you can get from a set of headphones, but the little mute/control switch is great. I have it hooked to the side of my helmet and a quick tap of the button pauses music so I can converse with someone on a chair lift, listen to radio calls, or deal with injured patients on the hill.
These mittens are very well constructed. The leather is very soft/supple out of the package. You don't really have to worry about oiling them and breaking them in to get the leather to move with your fingers. As reported by others the sizes seem to run small. I normally wear a medium or large...size 9 glove. I ordered these in an XL and the fit is almost perfect. Someone with a size 10 hand could wear them. Those with bigger hands are out of luck.
While the mitts are good, the liners suck. I took the factory liner and tossed its less than comfy, scratchy, thin, 2-by-2 awkward finger separated uselessness in the garbage. I had other plans when I bought them anyway [evil grin]. I was just looking for a decent leather-palmed shell that I could stuff other liners into. These mitts were up to the task. After doing a little surgery on the inside of the mittens (the inside of the mitt was sewn in the annoying 2-by-2 as well) I was able to stuff Hestra's primaloft extreme mitten liners in them :-). Look 'em up, they are as warm as they look.
It was 1*F with a slight breeze as I was skiing this evening. My hands were dry and toasty all night. Grip and dexterity were tested as well between holding ski poles and lifting back boards out of toboggans as they arrived at the patrol building.
I think the mitt/shell is a great buy, but I'd definitely invest in a better liner. Thank goodness for sales and deals. I doubt I can find a better looking, warmer mitten for the ~$120 I have invested.
My girlfriend bought me this jacket for x-mas. She let me pick the color and I'll say the volcano/plaid looks even more ridiculous in person...but I love it.
I was planning on using this as a replacement for my several year old TNF Apex softshell. After wearing this on the slopes for a day I realized that it can't. This jacket doesn't block the wind like most softshells are intended to do. It does a decent job of locking in the heat and keeping you warm once you're moving, but the wind blows right through and chills you back down on the lift ride. That's a serious problem here in the flat-lands where the runs are short and you don't build up much warmth. On a longer run or a windless day it would be a wonderful companion.
I'll still use it any day that I can because I love the way it looks. It will just see more more limited use than I was hoping it would provide.
I bought a pair of these gloves a couple years ago when looking for a new ski glove. I have been very, very happy with my purchase.
The ski hills here in Michigan are just that, hills. Runs are short and you never really work hard enough to get warm and stay warm. These gloves have been wonderful. On a 20-30F day they are almost too warm and I can feel myself sweat a bit. On the -10F days my fingertips get cold, but they are never frozen. The velcro strap around the wrist keeps them in the right spot on your hand. The elastic strap on the gauntlet works great for keeping snow out or for regulating temperatures. On a cold day you can pull it tight to stay warm. On a warm day you can leave it open to vent some heat from your hands.
So far these gloves have been very durable. They come with a little packet of leather oil to keep them soft and waterproof (resistant). I haven't seen any cuts, tears, or feathering of the leather thus far. My only concern at this point is the fleece liner. It seem to be of very good quality with external stitching for comfort. In two years I haven't noticed much deterioration, but its inevitable that they'll start to wear out from rubbing the inside of the leather. I'm afraid these will have to be replaced two or three times before the outer glove.
I bought this because of the price and the fill weight. I have a lot of different jackets and layers that I use when skiing, but I don't have anything I can use as a general purpose winter coat.I'm very impressed with the weight. I realize that its filled with feathers, but its still a lot lighter than I imagined.
I've been wearing it for about three weeks now. Thus far it has done a good job of keeping me warm. Its not the greatest at blocking wind, but for being outdoors and going about my daily activities its a lot warmer than just a fleece or my dressy wool coat.There are only two things I don't like thus far. First is the inside pockets. It seems as though they just sewed around the fabric that makes the front pockets and called them a pocket on the inside. When you have something dropped into the inner pocket it makes it difficult to use the outer pocket. Pretty silly IMO. The second thing I dislike is the ease with which feathers poke through the fabric and come out. They aren't falling out like water out of a faucet, but I find 5 or 6 pieces of feather on my shirt every time I take it off.
Hard to beat the warmth for the weight, but its not the best investment if you're looking for a winter jacket/coat that will maintain warmth for more than 2-3 years.As far as sizing is concerned, I'm 5'11" and ~200lbs. A large fits, but it fits like an athletic cut shirt. There isn't a whole lot of extra room in the body. I couldn't fit this over a hooded sweatshirt.
I've been using a set of the men's heli gloves for years and have been thoroughly impressed with them. After listening to my girlfriend complain about cold fingers most of last season I bought a pair of these for her for x-mas. I picked the 3-finger gloves because she snowboards. They provide a little more dexterity for adjusting bindings while the mitten part keeps the smaller, less used fingers a bit warmer.
We put them to good use over the holiday break making it out to the slopes 4 times in one week. They held up well to the relatively constant use. She has been very, very happy with them. Where we used to take a break every hour or so to warm up we now keep on skiing/boarding. Even on a day with a -10F windchill I never heard a peep about fingers being cold. Toes on the other hand...that's the next item to address :-)
I don't find the Hestra Heli series gloves to be the best option on an extremely cold day, but they are certainly better than a lot of other options and its hard to go wrong at the price. On most 20-30F days the heli gloves/mittens can be almost too warm if you're working hard carving turns.
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