Brandon Riza

Brandon Riza

Cali and anywhere else...

Brandon Riza's Passions

Biking
Climbing

Brandon Riza's Bio

www.brandonriza.com

Brandon Riza

Brandon Riza posted an image about on November 24, 2014

Burly ice-biting vicegrip beartraps.

I always feel like a rampaging cyborg when I have crampons on. Especially the kind that clamps onto mountaineering boots like these do. The little adjustment wheel on the rear lever makes it easy to adjust tension and is sort of analogous to the way vice grips work in that you can simply roll a dial, test, roll, and zero in on the amount of pressure beyond which you cannot further increase pressure. I have them dialed-in for my La Sportiva Nepal GTX mountaineering boots to a very tight tolerance and that feeling of the clamp gripping down on the welts of that boot is very gratifying indeed. For as burly as these are, they are acceptably lightweight, not in the way that aluminium crampons are, but that's not what these are for. I've crunched through miles of mixed terrain in these crampons, ice, snow, slop, scree, low fifth class rock climbs. To call them bomber is an understatement. Mine have no rust and they still manage to look shiny still.

Five big stars for these things.
Like...red hypergiant-sized stars...
We're talkin' VY Canis Majoris, here, people!!

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Brandon Riza

Brandon Riza posted an image about on November 12, 2014

A few more photos of the Tango...

Been wearing this jacket as much as possible lately.
That top pic is weird...10k feet in an awesome snow-fog. I thought my autotimer fired and i was leaning in to check...a half second before my dog jumped all over me.
Bottom left is an example of the hood drawn up tight.
Bottom right is me being a dork.
I can't help it...

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Brandon Riza

Brandon Riza wrote a review of on November 12, 2014

Great softshell/light-puff combo...
5 5

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

Thank you to Backcountry.com and Westcomb for hand-selecting me to review this piece of gear for the benefit of the backcountry.com community!

First, this jacket is EXTREMELY well put-together.
From the stitching/seams to the zippers. All very smooth.
The fit is fantastic. In-between athletic and relaxed€, leaning towards athletic.
The material and feel on this jacket is a bit hard to describe.
If you have a lightweight puffy and a light windshirt, put the puff on first, then the windshirt, and subtract 25% of the puff bulk.
That's what it's like. Very similar to the Arc T Atom I used to have.

I have a few jackets that put pressure on my trachea when fully-zipped. Not dangerously of course, but annoyingly. In a layering setup, it gets worse. The Tango zips fully very comfortably. Enough room to be cozy while not being too baggy.
The hood can be pulled up over your head when the jacket is fully-zipped. That's not true with some jackets and I love being able to do that. Speaking of the hood; look, hoods are important. You can't just sew a blob of cloth onto jacket and then say, "SEE? HOOD!"
IMHO, Arc T perfected the hood in every way. I judge all other hoods by Arc T hoods, and the hood on the Tango passes that test.
It's well-sized, fits functionally either drawn-up or not and doesn't take up too much bulk when down.
It's articulated by two front pull-coords which are accessed from the inside, not the outside.
The two hand pockets are bare-bones, which is fine in a jacket like this.

All-in-all, the jacket is just a downright pleasure to wear.
I've trailrun in it, been snowed on, rained on (DWR is amazing so far, I'll post a video) and just kicked around town in it.
I absolutely love it and can't wait to keep experimenting with it for various environments/activities.
I was gonna go climb in last weekend, but I woke up with a migraine. I'll post a pic of me sulking and looking at mountains like a total poser looser.

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Brandon Riza

Brandon Riza posted an image about on October 8, 2014

17 Camp is cold.

And aptly named...

A favorite quote comes to mind.

"It was cold as hell...mitts and everything was all ice."
-Billy Taylor from the Sourdough Expedition...Denali, April 3rd, 1910...

The watch, of course, survived. This and many other similar experiences. I lost it somewhere on Mont Blanc a short time later.
Bummer.
But I like the watch so much, one of the first things I did when I got back to Chamonix was to buy another one.
After drinking a beer, of course...

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Brandon Riza

Brandon Riza posted an image about on October 4, 2014

Don't forget the pot has a base 'lid'...

OK.
One night (or should I say "morning") after having worked 14 straight 18 hour days, i got home at 3ish AM and decided that NOW would be a good time to race my JetBoil Sol Ti against my Optimus Vega, in my kitchen, to .5L boiled and measure fuel consumption in grams.
(Yes. I know you're not supposed to use isobutane stoves indoors...)
This, however, like many decisions made at 3am on a gargantuan historical sleep deficit, turned out to be...not the the best I've made.
I forgot the JetBoil Fluxring pot (what i chose to pair with my Optimus Vega) has a base and, well...

Fire melts stuff.
Especially Dacron/high-density polyethylene terephthalate.

I had a quiet little chuckle when I went back to JetBoil's site for a replacement and noticed they have a page dedicated to the
"GCS 1.5L POT BOTTOM COVER | C20010"
Guess I'm not the only one...

That said. This pot is awesome.
BOTH lids (top and bottom) fit very tightly and have yet to come off of their own accord inside my pack. The fluxring contraption MIGHT decrease boil times, but it definitely does seat nicely into the arms of the Optimus Vega and increases stability. It's just the right size for that unintended purpose. (that stove, a 230g JetBoil isobutane canister, the windscreen, a reflector base, and an MSR piezo ignitor fit snuggly inside this pot, which rules beyond quantification...)
The little handles are nice and they retract down and lay flat against the pot, and STAY there due to some leveraging friction in the mechanism that attaches them to the pot.
All that adds up to a nice, solid package that doesn't get all cattywompus in your pack or while you're handling it.

Also, a good way to get melted plastic out of the burner jet of a stove is to...BURN it out. But, I do not recommend trying this and waive all responsibility if you do...

For photos of the pot on my Vega, check out my vega review.

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Brandon Riza

Brandon Riza posted an image about on October 4, 2014

<Thiissssss> much fail...

At first glance, it might look like I'm overlooking my domain, imagining the valley floor packed sheild-to-shoulder with my rapacious armies, ala Sauron, but in fact, I'm attempting to quantify the amount of climbfail we were to experience later that day (and the next).

Turns out my arms weren't long enough...

The shirt, on the other hand, is awesome!
I love it.

Getchoo one...

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Brandon Riza

Brandon Riza posted an image about on October 4, 2014

Mountain Camo.

It only took one trip out for the North Face GTD shirt to become an integral part of my mountain wardrobe jam!
I love this shirt. I love the way it fits;
Not too tight, not too loose, not to long, not too short.
Goldilocks would approve...
I love the way it looks;
It's not rainbow neon purple, (at least the one I chose) you can turn it inside out and still looks cool! (white front/grey back), the red trim breaks up the typical greys that have become ubiquitous in mountain pants these days, and it's camo.
Plus it's a ringer!
And that's sorta cool.

Here's a shot of me drinking 250ml of water and simultaneously consuming 150kcal of pure maltodextrin solute on the edge of a cliff.
Cause...i mean why not?

Great shirt!!

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Brandon Riza

Brandon Riza posted an image about on October 3, 2014

Jetboil Fluxring pot with my Vega...

Great combo.
Everything fits in the pot, even a 230g isobutane canister.
Note the heat reflector base.
I grabbed that from my Optimus Nova liquid fuel stove.
The Vega comes with a windscreen, but not the reflector base.
I've found the combo of windscreen and base to be very efficient, especially when using it on snow.
Fantastic stove. (sweet pot, too...)

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Brandon Riza

Brandon Riza wrote a review of on October 3, 2014

Remote-canister isobutane = robust...
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I love stoves. In fact i totally nerd-down on them.
I have hexamethylenetetramine 1-3-5 trioxane stoves, multi-liquid-fuel stoves, alcohol stoves, isobutane stoves, remote-canister isobutane stoves...
I love them all for different reasons.
The top of the food chain when it comes to portable stoves is the remote-canister isobutane variety. That's not to say they are the best choice for every occasion, but they are the only stoves that hit all the bullet points of usability/efficiency in inclement conditions and at elevation. Without getting too sciency, canister-top n-butane and isobutane stoves perform poorly below freezing due to the boiling points of those specific liquified petroleum gases. Isobutane canisters these days also contain small amounts of propane, which has a much lower boiling point, but requires much more pressure to contain. (thus the small percentages of propane in the mixes). In very cold weather and at moderate elevations, this causes performance lag, and burning will totally stop if you're low enough and it's cold enough. (unless your canister does indeed contain propane in the mix, and will cease when you burn through that propane.) (Boiling points decrease as you gain elevation, making isobutane stoves more efficient, so you can actually climb your way out of this problem, like many others...)
A remote canister solves this issue, because when you tip it over, it's not relying on vaporization for fuel to leave the canister, it's relying on gravity. The vaporization takes place in the preheat coil.
Here's a photo of mine on Mount Rainier at 10k feet in what was probably 20ish degrees. Technically, i didn't need to invert it, but the canister was emptying and the pressure was dropping. With a canister-top model, I wouldn't have been able to melt snow (efficiently or for very long)for drinking-water. And that would have sucked. So I flipped it, and in doing so, turned it into a 12000BTU liquid fuel stove.

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Brandon Riza

Brandon Riza posted an image about on October 2, 2014

Scratch-B-Gone...

I mentioned before that Garmin kindly replaced (for free) my watch because of the scratch I laid down with reckless abandon on the face. Here's cool pic of the new one.
Clean-n-pristine.
(The smears are just smears...I was getting snowed on...)

I loves me some round numbers...

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Brandon Riza

Brandon Riza posted an image about on October 2, 2014

Extending battery life in the field...

Here's a shot of the Garmin Fenix 2 being charged by a portable USB cell. The Fenix 2 has a 500 mAh lithium-ion battery and this particular USB cell is 2200 mAh. I've been taking this little guy with me on longer trips to quickly and easily recharge the Fenix 2 when I'm away from a wall outlet and I don't feel like lugging the solar cells. Math would indicate that one could get four recharges in this case, but three recharges is what practicality both indicates and bears out.

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Brandon Riza

Brandon Riza wrote a review of on October 1, 2014

Highly-functional, multi-use toe caves.
4 5

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

I've had these shoes for about a month now, and I've used them for street running, trail running, mountain biking and hiking, in what turned out to be some rather inclement weather conditions.
(I'll post a photo.)
Thanks to backcountry.com and The North Face for hand-selecting me to review these shoes for the backcountry.com community!
First, they are extremely comfortable and the fit, for my feet at least (narrow/boney and orangoutang-like with toes that look more like hobbit fingers) is spot on. I'm a 9.5 street shoe, and the 9.5s fit perfectly. Absolutely zero break-in required and you can almost hear the choir-hit and see the godrays streaming down when you put them on for the first time. In the time I've spent with them , I've yet to develop blisters or feel hotspots. There are no pressure points...the fit is perfect, really.
If you've perused my other reviews about shoes (rhymes, yo!), it may be evident that I am a huge proponent of the "heel wedge flare."
The more flare-out on the heel wedge, the better, IMHO.
I've rolled too many ankles in round-heeled hiking boots and have NOT rolled them in various trek and skate shoes that have a more stable heel platform to think that shoe/ankle stability has to do with anything other than heel wedge flare.
It's one of the criteria by which I judge shoes.
The TNF Ultra Fastpack GTX falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum in this regard. The heel flare is similar to the Salomon X Ultra GTX . Less flared than the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 GTX.
I was initially worried, but I have yet to roll an ankle, but maybe it's because I'm concentrating more heavily on my "never step sideways on a fast descent" mantra.
The waterproofing works great, they are extremely light and agile, and i love the minimal profile, though my feet did get cold in them once. (But it was 25F and i was hiking through snow...)
I think they'll be great for scrambling and climbing low 5.
Also important...they look rad!
Oh and I swapped out the black laces for white ones.

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Brandon Riza

Brandon Riza posted an image about on August 16, 2014

Suunto CORE at 14.5k feet.

Man. I apologize. I can't stop uploading photos of my Suunto CORE. This is my 5th and probably won't be my last. I figured Mount Whitney Needed some representation.
STILL a great watch and I still love it. I have a fancy GPS watch now, and it's awesome, but the simplicity of the CORE still keeps it on my wrist.
It's as easy as ABC. (<-- see what I did there?...)

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