Donner Party

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on December 19, 2010

3 5

I tried a few different bivy sacks before settling on this one; I am 6' 3" and not a skinny man so my big issue with bivys in general is getting in and out of them without cramping up or destroying the sack. This sack is large enough to be "comfortable" (a loose term when discussing bivy sacks) in a good sleeping bag, and the wire works fairly well in creating some head space to alleviate the claustrophobia. Despite the factory seam taping I went ahead and sealed all outer seams with McNett SeamGrip, would recommend this for any serious wet-weather scenarios. Very light and packable, all around good piece of gear but I'm still a tent guy...

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote an answer about on December 18, 2010

If you really need a massive mountaineering pack I would recommend the Gregory Denali Pro, it is the gold standard for high capacity, comfortable do-anything rig. I run a Bora 65 for my regular backpacking trips and it can easily do 4-5- days at full capacity in late season, the 80 is absolutely plenty of room for anything short of a Himalayan trek. Of course the main principle is that any capacity/structure you don't use is excess weight you don't need to haul, so plan accordingly. If you are a serious hiker/backpacker it's worthwhile to invest in 3-4 different packs for whatever your needs may be on a given trip.

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on December 18, 2010

5 5

As a rule I roll my eyes at the price points on most Arc'teryx gear, they make great stuff but not worth the price tag in most cases. This pack is the exception; it is simply the best pack I own (and I own a bunch), no question that it is the go-to pack for everything from shoulder season overnighter to longer hauls year-round. Structure, materials, comfort under heavier load, capacity, all are top notch. I bought my wife the lady's version as well and she retired her REI pack after using it one time, this is the real deal. Yes their jackets are absurdly overpriced and it's easy to get annoyed with Arc'teryx but their packs are absolutely first-rate, stand on me.

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on December 18, 2010

4 5

This pack is extreme; extreme capacity for extreme duty, period. If you aren't mountaineering or doing 10+ day treks over mixed terrain and colder conditions save your money, it's overkill. I am a pack junky and have multiple packs for every possible application; the Denali Pro can do it all but you need to be doing it all or else you'll look like a complete poser wearing this thing...go kick butt on the big hill my son.

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on February 28, 2007

4 5

Like most all Icebreaker stuff this shirt would earn a "5" based on its superior quality, materials, fit, function, etc. The one thing to note, however, is the pocket on this shirt. There's a small zip pocket on the left side at the hem. You can't really tuck this shirt in without this pocket bulging out very prominently above the waistline, looks ridiculous. The pocket is very small and wouldn't hold much anyway, not too functional; the shirt would be a lot sleeker and better fitting without it. Beyond that, its a very nice shirt as you'd expect from Icebreaker.

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on February 23, 2007

4 5

Anything with "Marmot" on it can't be bad, and this jacket is appropriately priced for what it offers. It has no special features; no pit-zips, no slick cuffs, no neck draw-cord, no fancy tailoring. It does look and feel very nice, perfectly functional in terms of wind- and water-resistance, and is zip-in compatible with Marmot hardshells (which is the main reason I got it). If you have a Marmot zip-in compatible shell (i.e., Tamarack, Typhoon, etc.) and you want a thinner, more versatile zip-in layer than a fleece piece, this is the perfect option.

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on February 23, 2007

5 5

You have to appreciate a truly unique, functional, and innovative product when it comes along. I was quite happy with my SnowPeak GigaPower canister stove and titanium cook pot but once I tried the JetBoil I was hooked. I am all about fast and easy backcountry cooking, so I lean heavily toward freeze-dried foods prepared in-pouch; not a big fan of full-blown cooked meals requiring extensive clean-up. If you like cooking from scratch, pan-frying, etc., the pot support and stabilizer kits are essential; they add tremendous versatility to your stove. Some of the "safety issues" mentioned in other reviews can be avoided simply by following instructions; it clearly states that the cup should be removed before ignition (although it is tempting to cheat, I admit) and there is a line in the cup denoting max safe water level (not max safe water-plus-pack-of-noodles level). Heed those guidelines and it's quite safe and trouble-free. The only very minor criticism is that the cup is not super-easy to detach/attach to the burner, especially when it is lit (which is why it's tempting to cheat by attaching it prior to igniting). Like all canisters not great for very high altitude, very cold conditions, but I've used mine at 10,000+ feet in late October with excellent results. Have fun with your JetBoil; another cup of tea anyone?

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on February 23, 2007

3 5

First off, quality or no quality (and Arc'teryx does make top-quality stuff) paying full retail for this jacket would be a bad buy in my opinion. I found it for $170 so figured what the heck. As with most Arc'teryx stuff the characteristic quality (often subtly manifested) is there, but it can't compete with other high-end softshells, most notably Mountain Hardwear Alchemy. Sigma AR fits very close to the body and feels rather insubstantial; flimsy might be too harsh a word, but it doesn't have the beefy, tough feel of the Alchemy. As observed in other reviews the sleeve cuffs are rather wide and no closure straps or other weatherproofing means are available. The pit-zips are very nice, but they do not have internal linings and this can be uncomfortable particularly when you have only a light baselayer underneath. The hem is also on the short side, causing shirttails to stick out and easily riding up over the waist. I'm sure it's very "technical," but for the money you can do better; this just doesn't look or feel like a $300 jacket, Arc'teryx or not.

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on February 23, 2007

3 5

Chaco Z/1s are serious sandals, without a doubt; the soles are burly, great traction, pretty comfortable, etc. However, I question the whole concept of this sandal. First and foremost they are HEAVY, surprisingly so for a pair of "sandals." My size 12s weigh 2.41 lbs, which is more than my Keen Newport sandals (2.23 lbs) and even more than my Keen Targhee II hiking shoes (2.19 lbs)! You hear about people using these on strenuous day-hikes and even backpacking trips, but I question the wisdom of having my bare feet, especially toes, exposed and vulnerable to everything a backcountry trail has to offer (rocks, roots, holes, critters, UV rays, who knows what). The straps can chafe on extended walks so these sandals haven't cornered the market on comfort, either. Thus, I can't quite get the point; they are too heavy to carry just for camp shoes and too unprotective, unsupportive, and uncomfortable for serious hiking and/or backpacking...so where do they fit in? Even if you're an ultralight fanatic why wouldn't you wear a very nice light hiking shoe (like the Keen Targhee II) that actually weighs less, covers your whole foot, has an equally high-performing sole, and offers no less (arguably more) support and comfort? Hmmmm....if I'm missing something someone please educate me.

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on February 22, 2007

2 5

Not wild about this shirt, mainly because of the color which I find too flamboyant for my taste (much brighter than it appears on the website). Also, the fabric is pretty run-of-the-mill, the zipper doesn't look too cool...not a shirt I reach for when heading to the gym or hitting the trail. But hey, I needed it to fulfill minimum order amount so as to get free shipping...in hindsight I should've paid shipping or found another item!

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on February 21, 2007

5 5

Unlike some other GoLite jackets I've reviewed I can give this unequivocal praise. An amazingly light piece of clothing that does its job well. My XL weighs all of 2.75 oz, just ridiculous. Scrunches down to nothing, basically a "free" (in terms of weight and space) layer, no reason not to have it with you everywhere you go. And finally, a GoLite jacket that isn't priced far in excess of its competitors feature-for-feature; this is priced correctly for what it offers, unlike some of their other gear. It's a winner.

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on February 21, 2007

5 5

Splendid minimalism! No zipper, no pockets, nothing that adds weight unnecessarily. This jacket exists for one reason: to provide the efficient insulation of down at an absolutely bare minimum of weight. My XL in stuff sack (which it comes with, a nice touch) weighs precisely 7.4 oz and compresses down much smaller than a Nalgene bottle. I'm aware of nothing on the market with a superior warmth to weight ratio as this jacket, period. This piece of gear goes on EVERY trip, any length, any season.

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on February 21, 2007

5 5

Had much success with the Tikka Plus, upgraded to the XP and glad I did. When balancing weight, functionality and versatility for backpacking lights this is as good as it gets. The many lighting options are nice, the diffuser does make a big difference for certain applications (like reading), but the feature I really like is the adjustable beam; the whole light housing is on a ratcheting hinge that allows you to fix the light in various positions, very securely. This is a big improvement over the Tikka Plus and is my favorite feature of the XP, brilliant.

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on February 21, 2007

2 5

A nice, inexpensive, helpful tool for your CamelBak arsenal IF all your packs have 1/2" webbing on the shoulder straps. Unfortunately every single pack I own with one exception, from day packs to full-on backcountry packs, have 3/4" webbing on the straps. Thus, the Tube Trap doesn't fit completely. You can still slide them on, but the clip doesn't close completely around the wider webbing, which can lead to problems in the field. Why wouldn't they make it to fit 3/4" webbing, which would also accommodate the smaller 1/2"? Makes sense...but they don't. Too bad, a good idea not taken to its logical conclusion.

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on February 13, 2007

5 5

I am a proponent of Keen footwear in general, but this mid-hiker is something special even by Keen standards. I have tough to fit feet and have suffered heel blisters and lost toenails with several different types, sizes, and brands of boot despite strenuous efforts to get a good fit. In desperation I grabbed a pair of these on my way out of town for a tough 2-nighter. Out of the box, with no break-in, I hit the trail and hoped for the best. Although these are classified as hiking shoes, not backpacking boots, I carried a 40 lb. pack over 12 miles of steep, rough trail with not a hot spot, bashed toenail, or any discomfort; I thought I was dreaming. Backpacking without foot pain, who knew such a thing was possible? We bagged a "12-er" on this trip and the boots kicked butt over talus, scree, mud, slickrock, the works. Versatile, durable, supportive, and oh-so comfortable. The Keens hung tough and came back for more. NOTE that they tend to run small, so sizing up is generally a good idea.

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Donner Party

Donner Party wrote a review of on February 13, 2007

4 5

Good capacity + reasonable load-bearing ability + very light weight, it's the trifecta. Some people think this pack accommodates more gear than it can comfortably carry, making it impractical (or downright fallacious) but I haven't found that to be the case. The suspension was surprisingly sturdy; the hip belt doesn't look like much but it's well-made and bears up good under 30+ lbs. It's the perfect short-trip and/or summer trip pack; when you don't need to carry heavier, bulky shoulder-season necessities like sturdier tent, more clothing, heavier sleeping bag, etc., you can haul a surprising amount of stuff a long way in comfort with this pack.

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