The Colorado Rockies
The most important part of a pair of sunglasses is the lens. On that point, the Wazees have it down. I purchased these to replace a pair of Smith Chiefs that were stolen. The Chiefs are a part of Smith's top-end line with glass lenses. The Wazees beat them for clarity and are a hell of a lot easier to keep clean. I miss the photochromic feature, but I'll deal, especially at 1/4 the price.
The second most important part of a pair of shades is fit. Here, the Wazees are a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, they're shaped in a way that my eyelashes don't constantly brush against the lens and muck them up. On the other hand, these and every other pair of Native shades I've tried are really tight behind the ears. My wife can't wear hers for any period of time because they give her a headache. It can probably be fixed with a hair dryer and some elbow grease, but I haven't gotten around to that, yet.
Final gripe - if you're not careful while folding them, the end of one earpiece will get stuck on the base of the other. I can see this causing someone to break their shades.
Watches I've owned:
Garmin - FR60, Forerunner 410
Suunto - t3, t4, X6hr
Watches I've owned that came even close to the Ambit:
Garmin - None (fairness - I haven't tried the Fenix)
Suunto - None
The Ambit is everything I've ever wanted in a watch. It functions well (especially after the last firmware update in July), is rugged, and kicks the ass of every other watch I've ever owned.
The case design puts the joint between backplate and face closer to the front of the watch and the screws on the face. This means your sweat can't weasel its way in there and destroy things, like it did to my t4.
Suunto has added features and fixed bugs regularly. Autopause added last update. Moveslink software bugs fixed.
The HR strap is so comfortable that it disappears.
Get rid of your stupid proprietary ANT format, Suunto! (The Ambit will read regular ANT+ devices)
All said, Suunto has finally made the GPS-enabled watch I've always wanted. It doesn't hurt that it was over 70% off at an REI garage sale.
The Marmot Basic Work Glove is a fantastic specimen of simplicity and function.
Although my 7.5" hands should be in a large, I sized down to a medium to make sure the gloves were "dextrous as f$@#." They started a smidge tight, but have stretched to the perfect size. Now treated with Sno-Seal, they're a bit darker, but water beads and rolls right off. I've worn them down to 20 degrees on windy days in the Colorado Rockies and my hands stayed tolerably tepid. They also made sure my hands didn't fall off in the Swiss Alps. Despite some heavy use, they don't show a single sign of wear.
There really is not a single thing I would change about these gloves.
Coming from a Capo kit, this fits similarly. I'm a solid XL in the euro brands and this fits just like the rest of them. Sleeves are well shaped and not too tight, plus, they don't have tight elastic around the bottom. Bonus.
I refuse to buy a jersey without a full zipper and this one operates well.
Two concerns - the fabric doesn't seem as breathable as some other fabrics and the side seams are itchy. An undershirt will cover that problem.
I purchased the Axiom on a whim to use as a touring and resort shell. It serves those purposes well, while remaining lightweight and surprisingly durable.
I'm 5'10"and around 200, with a 41" chest and 34" sleeves. The large fits perfectly. There is room to layer with a fleece or puffy, but it doesn't flap about. The fabric is supple and light, but handles itself well. During my last tour, it scraped on trees and rocks and never protested or snagged. The pockets are placed well - they don't interfere with a backpack at all - and are large enough for skins or various sundries.
The Gore Active fabric breathes better than other Gore fabrics, but I still want pit zips. That's really the only missing feature. I get very hot, easily, and want more ventilation. Thus - 4 stars instead of 5.
Regarding the picture: the photographer was obsessed with victory beer.
Almost through a Commando Run - Vail Pass to Blue Sky Basin
I've spent the last year or so building my perfect quiver. The Maestrale RS completed it, slotting into the light-weight, free-walking, but burly slot in my boot collection.
I ski a pair of Ski Logik customs - 145-115-142 and 188cm - mounted with Plum Guides. I haven't measured, but overall weight is close to, if not under, 10 lbs. The Maestrales are similarly light. Everyone who has picked it up has commented on that. And, it really makes a difference. I drop at least two pounds from each stride with the Maestrale and Plums as compared to the Cochises and Dukes I ride in the resort.
I have a pretty wide foot - my Cochises with HV Intuitions are punched for the 6th toe. While we haven't gotten the Maestrales perfect yet, I think they should work without a punch. Length is spot on - 26.5 in both Cochise and Maestrale. I have a 1.5 finger shell fit in the Cochise and a 2 finger fit in the Maestrale - plenty of room for the toes while touring. (Remember - Scarpa splits on the half size instead of the whole.)
The 120 flex Maestrale is on par with the Cochise 120 in overall stiffness, but flexes differently. Where the Cochise - an overlap, alpine-style boot - has a pretty linear flex, the Maestrale feels a bit more progressive. I also find that I ski the Maestrale in a much more centered and balanced style, where I drive the Cochise forward hard and beat it around.
The side-hinged tongue takes a bit of adaptation, but becomes second nature very quickly. With it out of the way, entry and egress is a piece of cake. I'm not sure both of the forefoot buckles are necessary. They are really close together and I don't feel like they serve separate purposes when I close them. Unlocking the walk mechanism provides huge range of motion. I think the boots are capable of more motion than my ankles.
Overall, my perfect touring boot. Light and flexy for the up; stiff and burly for the down.
BD lists them at 103mm. I've read that they adjust the last based on size (e.g. size 28 - 105mm, size 26 - 101mm), but can't confirm.
The floor can be purchased separately. BD also makes a bug net/floor for the Mega. http://www.backcountry.com/black-diamond-mega-bug-shelter
Stoic's website hasn't been updated in two years. Stick with Backcountry for the current info on Stoic Gear.
I really wanted to like the Quasar. Really, I did!
I wanted to enjoy a 9oz waterproof/breathable jacket. I wanted to have a lightweight shell that could disappear into my pack on trips into the mountains. I wanted to forget I had it with me until the skies opened up and reminded me that I needed it.
Alas, it was not to be. Mountain Hardwear just doesn't fit me.
I first tried a large. It fit in the shoulders, but was long in the sleeves and wide in the torso. I exchanged that for a medium, but it was to narrow in the torso for me to pull over my shoulders without serious contortion. If you're my size, there's just no happy spot in the middle.
The jacket itself seems well constructed. The fabric has a suppleness to it that avoids the technical crunchiness of normal shells. I didn't think the hood was big enough to fit over a ski helmet, but a climbing helmet would likely fit. The lack of a second drawstring on the hood to hold the sides back was a flaw.
Overall, if this thing fits you, it's a decent solution for a light-weight technical shell. If you're like me, however, it won't fit. I'll sacrifice the extra 2oz in exchange for the zipper and pockets of my Arc'teryx Alpha SL hybrid.
The difference is in the inner fleece pile. The inside of the Hi looks like a muppet. The inside of the low is more along the lines of a regular softshell.
If your idea of nice weather is over 30 degrees, the Lo will do you right. For colder days, the Hi is a better choice.
The Welder Hi is taking its place as the insulating layer in my quiver of way too many jackets. My wife's words, not mine.
In comparison to other Stoic products, the Welder Hi fits much smaller. I'm 5'10" and about 200 lbs and I wear a medium Bombshell and Hadron anorak comfortably. The medium Welder was way too small. I looked like an overstuffed green sausage. Not cool. The large fits well in the torso and has a good length. It might be an inch or two long in the sleeves, but it's not a problem.
The inner fleece pile looks like Muppet fur. There, I said it. If you wear this jacket inside out and put the hood up, it could be a Halloween costume. Kids would run up to you and want a hug. Especially the Paprika-colored pile. Bam - you're Elmo. Best luck.
The Monolith softshell is a nice fabric. It sheds Colorado snow without thinking about it and stretches enough to provide great mobility. I wore the Welder this weekend over a 150-weight merino base and the 230-weight Stoic Merino Comp Anorak. It kept me toasty in sub-20F weather with 40mph wind gusts. I could feel the fabric breathing well, but it didn't let the wind in.
The hood sort-of fits over a helmet, but it's not helmet compatible. The sleeves lack the usual velcro cinching flaps and replace those with a stretch material. They fit well under my work gloves and don't let weather in. The inner pocket fits an iPhone perfectly and has a slot for headphones. Stoic somehow managed to weld the pocket onto the inner Muppet pile. I have no idea how, but it works. Handwarmer pockets zip up and down like butter and the pile lining keeps the mitts warm.
The Welder Hi is an awesome outer layer for cold days on the mountain. Throw a shell over it when Mother Nature gets especially nasty. Bob's your uncle.
The Onyx is 26mm stack at the toe and 30mm at the heel for a 4mm ramp. Dynafits are 20mm toe stack and 30mm heel for a 10mm ramp.
Not a bad piece of kit.
I picked up the Merino Comp Anorak as a slightly heavier layer for chilly days that didn't require a full-on down or synthetic layer.
I'm 5'10", about 200 lbs, 41" chest, 34" sleeves. Stoic sizing is always suspect, but I went with a large. It fits well - not tight but not baggy. There's a little extra length in the sleeves and the body is slightly long.
The fabric is pretty cool. It has a sort-of terry cloth looped feel on the inside, but the face fabric is smooth and looks pretty durable. The sleeve stitching is coarse and I can feel it rubbing my arm. Not a big deal with a long sleeve base layer on , but I can imagine it rubbing with just a t-shirt underneath.
I'm looking forward to using this layer, but I may try out a medium as well.
Now that we have some snow on the ground, I finally got to take my Stoic 3/4-length Merino 200-weight bottoms out for a few spins.
First of all, fit - I'm a 34"-waisted sort of dude with tree trunks for legs. The medium fit well, not stretching to the limit to accommodate me, but fitting snugly against the skin. Stoic's tendency to design high waists into their merino bottoms continues here, but that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. Base layers aren't meant to be sagged. Knuckleheads.
The length is perfect for me. At 5'10" with a 31" inseam, the cuffs of these bottoms came down below the knee, but weren't so long that they interfered with my boots.
200-weight was about perfect for everything from 40* down to 20* under the Stoic Bombshell bibs and great under a pair of Schoeller Dryskin softshell pants in 40* weather. Anything under 20* may require some insulation.
So, there you have it: perfect merino bottoms for anything above 20*. Just pay attention to the size chart like Steve Brain says. These are one of the Stoic piece that run true to size.
I'm usually pretty jazzed about Stoic products. They manage to put some pretty good tech into products without charging an arm and a leg. With that in mind, I guess my expectations were higher than the should have been for the Stoic Ti Spoon.
For one, how in the world did they manage to make a Ti spoon so heavy?? I have a similarly-sized Sea to Summit aluminum spoon that weighs less. My bamboo spoon weighs less. 5 grams may seem insignificant, but it adds up. That said, it did weigh less than advertised by a little over a gram.
Other than that, I can't really complain. It's a spoon that scoops things up and is long enough to reach into the deepest recesses of dehydrated meal bags. It's cheap. It doesn't weigh all that much. I just expected more.
I have two of the Euro version of the Pitchfork mounted to my Thule Aero crossbars. It's about as quiet as a rack can get and still clamps down on bikes like a gator.
The tray on this mount is minimal. It doesn't have much of a side to it, but it doesn't need it. Rocky Mounts used as much aluminum as they had to to hold a bike securely and didn't use an ounce more. It makes for a lightweight and very aero mount.
The skewer is, in my opinion, the best in the business. It has a phenomenal mechanism built into it that provides a ton of clamping force without requiring too much effort to close. The skewer is also easy to adjust for different forks.
I also like the rear strap. I thought it would be difficult to tighten without any ratchet mechanism, but I've discovered that ratcheting is unnecessary. It is a tight squeeze with the 2.4 Ardents on my single-speed mtn bike, but they fit. Smaller tires don't have a fit issue.
Two things could use improvement. The Pitchfork requires two locks: one in the skewer to lock the bike and one in the housing to lock the Pitchfork to the crossbar. Yakima and Thule get it done with one. Also, if you slot-mount the rear, the bracket provides a bit of play in the assembly which can cause some annoying rattling. A bit of rubber fixed this.
Overall, a damn fine looking bike mount that performs well. I recommend it. Get two if you want to drive yourself and a buddy to the trail. Get one if you'd rather he drive himself.
I just went and measured for you. The rack is 30" across and 21" from the outside edge of one mount to the outside edge of the other.
The Rockymounts Liftop 6 is heads and tails above the rest of the rack pack.
I have them slot-mounted on a set of Thule AeroBlade load bars. They fit perfectly, mounted without issues, and are super-solid. Plus, they look slick.
But, here's why these are awesome:
1) They start off way cheaper than similar products from Thule or Yakima. The Backcountry sale price is even better.
2) They're more aerodynamic than Thule and offer the slot mount that Yakima doesn't.
3) They come with locks! That saves you even more coin.
4) The included risers are much more solid and an overall better solution than the extensions that Thule and Yakima sell.
I already like the idea of supporting a local, Colorado company. It's even better when they give me a superb product and make it easy to select them over the competition.
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