I'll be honest, I've long dealt with the combination of my backpack simultaneously pulling my pants down and giving me a wedgie. It's like a bad middle-school bully.
Suspenders are a pain when you need to drop trow, and most belts are too bulky in the outdoors, so I was pretty stoked to be able to try out something different. Thanks to Arcade and Backcountry.com for the opportunity to test out a sweet belt and let the user community know my thoughts.
My first impression was that it is really lightweight and packable - really easy and convenient to just toss into the duffel for a trip. This model is a good-looking one too. It is pretty subtle - being mostly black, but has some color and style as well. The rounded buckle is easy to feed and clasps securely. You'll notice right off the bat that it's really comfortable.
The most important aspect of this belt is that it is stretchy. It sounds like a minor thing, but it's key when climbing or skiing. It moves with your body and keeps your trousers where they are supposed to be. The belt is non-restricting and very comfortable. You hardly even know it's there. Elastic is the way to go for active pursuits.
I have actually even been wearing it with my harness - something I have never really done before. In an alpine environment, it is nice to be able to wear a belt for the approach and not have to take it off when you harness-up.
So far, this thing seems highly durable. I've been wearing it almost every day for a month. It's still performing and showing very few signs of wear. I got drenched on a bike ride home last week. The belt performed when wet and dried very quickly.
On the sizing, I'm a 34" waist and I have some working room with this belt.
I think I'm going to buy a few more Arcade models and stash them in all of my kits.
I've been thinking for a while about grabbing a 70m rope, so it was an awesome opportunity to do a review of one. Thanks to Backcountry.com and Petzl for allowing me to review this 9.8mm sport cord for the Backcountry.com community.
Probably the first thing you notice is the sweet color. It's electric blue. Right out of the plastic, when coiling and packing it, I could tell it has good hand. No stiffness at all and the sheath has a nice feel. I re-stacked and re-coiled it several times to get a feel for it over a few uses. It coils well and had a noticeable lack of twisting and tangling. For a 70m rope, it is surprisingly lightweight. I would bet that it weighs about the same as my older 9.2 x 60m.
Taking it out for its first run on some rock in Boulder Canyon, it performed as expected from a high-quality line. It knots and hitches solidly and unties easily. The cool color stands out well on the rock in Boulder. The half-mark is obvious due to the contrast of black on blue.
For lack of a better word, I would call this line a "noodle" - but that is a good thing - a property I really like in a rope. It is the opposite of stiff, which leads to very easy clipping. Even in difficult or awkward stances, I feel solid clipping this line.
I took a couple of forced falls in order to feel the forces. The rope has a nice, soft catch.
On the belay, the cord felt good through the ATC and had good grip in the brake hand. With such a nice sheath, I wondered how fast this rope would be on rappel. I think it was spot-on. Not too slippery, not too sticky. Also on rappel, I kept an eye out for any sheath slippage - but noticed none.
The only downside I've found so far is the bulk. This has nothing to do with this particular rope however. It's just a factor when carrying a 70m. Let's be honest though, it's a sport-climbing specific line. So how much am I really concerned with bulk?
After climbing, when packing everything back up, still no kinking, or tangling. I think the sheath really excels. I'm looking forward to taking this rope out a ton over the Spring and Summer. It's early in the game, but just from the initial impressions, I have a lot of confidence in the durability and longevity of this cord.
Super cold and windy day in the Dream Chutes.
I previously thought mostly about transceivers when I thought about Ortovox, but I was really excited to see them get into the outerwear game. I'm always stoked to see companies that already make a high-quality product try their hand at making other tools we need in the backcountry. So thanks a lot to Backcountry.com and Ortovox for allowing me to review the Merino Fleece Zip Neck Hooded Jacket for the Backcountry.com community.
Out of the box - this thing looks cool. I dig the bright colors - this is something I tend to look for in clothes I'll be wearing in the backcountry. I really dig the single colored arm. The materials right away seem high-quality. The flat stitching seems like it will hold up well. The inner brushed wool is exceptionally comfortable. I put it on right away and it wears very nicely. The hood and front pocket have some subtle brand detailing that I thought was cool. The front hand pockets are large and connect all the way through. They're also lined with the soft merino. The fit is very slim, very euro of them. The arms are quite long but I found that I appreciated that in combination with the thumbies. I am around 6'0", 215lbs. and the extra-large was awesome. I'll call it "fits true to size" as I typically wear XL jackets, but note that it is slim.
Just a small one - a quick bike to some bars downtown (4 miles at most) the day I got the jacket. On a dry Denver evening at around 40 degrees, I was pretty comfortable on my bike with the jacket over just a merino t-shirt. It blocks some wind - it would be ridiculous to expect a mid-layer to block all wind - but it is warm. I didn't sweat much, but I could definitely tell that the wool breathes well and regulates temps as you'd expect from merino.
Continued in comments below...
This thing is great to keep from cross-loading - but it's best served in a single-pitch/top rope environment.
The thing is that you must open the main gate in order to open the sub-gate - they're the same piece. If you've not careful when trying to wrestle the lower area out of your belay loop, it's possible to tip the biner with the upper gate open and drop your ATC. I learned this the hard way.
It's strictly a gym/single-pitch tool now.
Belaying from the top, working in guide-mode is incredibly easy. In this configuration it's also a whole lot easier to escape the belay in an emergency scenario (you're technically already out of it).
Quick piece of advice on lowering in guide-mode - the video BD published shows it to be pretty easy to simply pull on the narrow runner and tip the device. I found that not to be the case - jerky and difficult. This technique works much better if you re-direct a longer runner somewhere higher in the anchor, and clip that runner to your belay loop. Use your body weight to steadily tip the device and lower. Would recommend a friction backup on the brake in this setup as well.
Tough to rate this - I love the bag, hate the lid it came with. The original leaked like a government source. I replaced it with a humanGear capCap and it's now totally solid. Bag gets a 5-star, lid gets a 1-star.
Hope they make a #1 and #2 in these soon.
Loving these guys. Apart from the amazing flexibility and the great armored stem, they just feel great in your hands when placing them. I'm definitely going to start looking into the offsets as well. Hoping they make some even larger sizes.