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Fool4Gear

Fool4Gear

Pacific Northwest

Christopher's Passions

Mountain Biking
Sport Climbing

Christopher's Bio

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Fool4Gear wrote an answer about on May 30, 2012

I was in your situation recently- between M and L- and I ordered the M, thinking I'd just have to loosen the belt. Unfortunately, being on the very large end of the fit for the M harness was extremely uncomfortable! When I did try on a Large, the difference in terms of comfort was remarkable.

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Fool4Gear wrote a review of on August 25, 2011

5 5

I've owned mine for a bit over a year now and have had it out in all conditions, from camping on snow to high-winds in the mountains to sunny and clear- it's a pretty fantastic tent system.
Since the weight is nest + poles/stakes + fly + footprint, you can split the weight out in your party such that each will be carrying minimal weight- and you can leave behind the nest or the footprint, depending on how you intend to use it.

Typically, the "3-man tent" is so often a term of fiction that we mostly understand it to mean "two close friends and possibly a chihuahua could fit", but the CR3 is an honest-to-goodness 3-man tent you can actually sleep 3 full-sized adults + gear in, without everybody being elbows and ankles in each others' space. When it comes to sleeping, spooning is an option, not a requirement- unless you try to stuff 4 people in there, which would be doable if you're willing to be as friendly as some tent makers seem to think we all are. My wife, 2 kids, and I can fit comfortably, with room for a lot of extra stuff.

Most of the floor space is usable up to a sitting adult's height. Each corner in the nest features a stow pocket for glasses, headlamps, or what-have you. There are also eyelets from which to hang sundries on the inside of the nest.

Space in the vestibules is generous, and each vestibule is accessible from both inside and outside. I can fit two large packs in a single vestibule and still have room for my stove, fuel canisters, and a couple pairs of boots. Vestibule doors can be rolled up out of the way (to be secured with a simple button/hook thingy), and nest doors roll up and to the side for similar stowing). There are guy points at all corners of the fly, plus velcro loops on the inside of the fly to secure the tent poles in place. (pro tip: without these secured, the tent is flexible indeed- so be sure to do these up even when the weather 'looks like it'll be fine'.)

Ventilation in this tent is glorious. Condensation is just not a problem at all.

Properly staked/guyed out, this tent stands up well to wind and weather- it flexes, but has stood through some significant storms (50+knot gusts) on my watch. I am routinely surprised at the conditions it withstands, actually- It doesn't make sense that such a light, flexible set of poles and fabric should be so strong and resilient.

With 3 poles, pitching is a simple one-man job, takes 3 minutes- a few more than that to properly guy out and secure all points. Taking it down is similarly simple- and unlike most tents I've owned, I am able to get everything back into the stuff sack without any extraordinary effort.

Basically, it's a bigger, lighter, roomier, more comfortable tent than anything your friends have.
The only downsides: it's pretty expensive, and you need a big enough spot to pitch the thing. Oh, and your friends will insist on using your tent, instead of theirs.

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Fool4Gear wrote a review of on April 15, 2011

5 5

These pants are really remarkable- enough of a shell to keep the wet out (even in light rain, crawling through snow) yet breathable enough to vent effectively no matter how hard I sweat.
The material is stretchy in all the right spots, the ankle closures are great at keeping the snow out of my cuffs, the fit is articulated and basically I never have to think about them, beyond making sure the zip vents are closed before I go off into deep powder.

The belt is simple and works.
The cuffs have elastic closures that snug quite effectively- I have never had issues with snow getting in, despite some fine post-holing missions in damp, bottomless snow.
The knees and seat are in eVent, cut and articulated such that there is absolutely no binding or resistance to free movement.

The inside bits are soft and friendly enough that they can be worn with no layering underneath. They are a fantastic option when you want a little more than a soft-shell, but need breathability like a soft-shell.

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Fool4Gear wrote an answer about on April 15, 2011

Yes, these will be a very good choice for mountaineering. They're enough of a shell that you can wallow around in the snow without getting wet, but breathable enough that (with some judicious zip-venting) you can work really hard and finish the day dry.
I've used these for everything from mountain biking in the rain to backcountry skiing, some mountaineering, to hiking and riding the lifts. The only time I've found myself wanting something else was when I was riding lifts inbounds and got stuck on a chairlift in a high wind- these are great shells, but they're not a hard shell.

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Fool4Gear wrote a review of on February 4, 2011

5 5

This is my first beacon, and the only basis I have for comparing it to others has been using it and comparing my experience with that of other beginners during avy training. The short of it is that it is easy to use.

The Pulse units would consistently pick up signals from longer range than any others in the group- this included Trackers, DSPs, a few others- at 70m both of the pulses in our line lit up, with the rest of the units ranging anywhere from 20-50m before acquiring a signal.

On occasion this unit will become confused and order you to stop waving it about while it understands its environment. This seems to happen more in situations where there are many sending beacons, one or more of them are moving, or where you're rotating the beacon about excessively (or possibly if you haven't calibrated the device- the Pulse uses an internal compass to help it understand its spatial relationship to the the signals it's getting) Used deliberately, rather than rushingly, searches went efficiently.

While practicing large-group multiple-burial scenarios, I found that I could quickly obtain and use information with this unit to direct team members whose beacons didn't tell them these things. For example, knowing that there were 4 close-together burials (in a drill where we didn't know the total number of victims) helped individual rescuers better understand the confusing signals they were getting during their grid searches, and it allowed us to organize the team to search, probe, and dig pretty much in parallel.

I certainly expected that as a beginner I would be able to use this device to do an effective individual search- what surprised me was that as a beginner I was also able to use the information it provided to switch roles and organize a team of rescuers.

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Fool4Gear wrote a review of on December 14, 2010

4 5

I'm 6'1" 195lbs, with arms and shoulders proportionate to someone 6'3", and I found that the XL was tight in the shoulders and armpits, yet loose enough in the torso that going to XXL wouldn't have made sense. For those of you with normal proportions, this will make a good layering piece with flexibility to have a lot under and over.
Other than the unfortunate fit, this piece has a lot of good things going for it:
Helmet-compatible hood, super-breathable material, zip vents for when you *really* want to dump heat, high pockets (accessible when wearing a harness or pack), a generous and comfy high collar/hood, articulated arms, clever gather/closure cord arrangements.

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Fool4Gear wrote a review of on December 9, 2010

5 5

This is not a sit-in-camp puffy; it's for layering, or if used as your primary insulation and it's cold out, for keeping you toasty when you're moving. It has half the loft of the Light Down Parka- but is remarkably breathable. If you're looking for a piece with a lot of loft and a groovy michelin-man feel, go with something with much higher loft.

The cut is athletic, with front pockets, a cinch cord at the waist, adjustable hood (which I have fit a climbing helmet into), comes with a stuff sack. Construction is sewn-through. The fabric is tissue-soft, does not repel water at all, but breathes and dries very quickly. By itself this garment will block some wind, but won't block *all* the wind- for that, you'd want an outer layer of some sort.

It's light and compactable enough that it's always in my pack when I need it. It warms whatever you put it under up by a surprising amount.

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Fool4Gear wrote a review of on December 9, 2010

4 5

The feature set for this pack is very nice- avalung, hydration system, accessible back pocket for your shovel/probe/wet stuff, generous main compartment, twin axe/tool loops, compression straps/ski straps... this is a very flexible mission pack- anything from just your avy gear to an overnight bivy will fit in there.
Standout detail: In addition to the standard top-access to the main pack, you can access the main compartment from the packframe side: thus, you can leave the waistbelt clipped, rotate it around your body to the front, and get at your dry gear without having to put the pack down in the snow.
Only downside to date: I've found that when the brain/top compartment is pulled down snug over the top of the framesheet, the front edge covers the buckles for the load lifter straps, which makes adjusting them with gloves awkward. Given the overall quality and utility of this piece, this is a minor detail.

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Fool4Gear wrote a review of on November 30, 2010

5 5

The Zenoxide is a light, fully cambered, fairly wide, medium-flex ski- floats well in powder, carves happily and swings well in the tight spots, and amiably transitions between floaty powder and crud.
Very nice do-it-all ski.

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Fool4Gear wrote a review of on August 18, 2010

4 5

this thing cuts webbing, rope, whatever you want, and quickly- and as the description says, you can do so without much chance of perforating yourself or your buddy. The grip is secure and comfortable. Loved it.

HOWEVER
Take the assurances about the security of the sheath with a grain of salt. Rig something up to secure the knife in its sheath. I lost mine because I didn't do that- mine is somewhere at the bottom of a river.

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Fool4Gear wrote a review of on August 18, 2010

5 5

My 25-year-old pack finally gave up the ghost this summer, and while replacing it (and mourning, lotta good memories with that pack) I spent a bunch of time (in stores, and in the backcountry) with a bunch of new packs, all loaded with ~70lbs of stuff. My typical usage is for multi-day climbing trips, so a load for me is usually a bag, tent, fuel, stove, 5 days' food, my rack, a rope, clothes, ice axe, water + purifier, cookpot+cup, etc.

Of all the bags I tried, the Bora did the best job of carrying the load without causing hot spots or point-pain on my shoulders or hips. It is a pound or two heavier than most multi-day bags, but to be frank I can't tell the difference between 5 and 7 pounds, but I can feel the difference in comfort between this bag and the other bags I tried- especially when hauling around heavy loads.

One thing that shines particularly well for me about this bag is the belt- my preferred gait moves my hips a lot, and this belt pivots with your hips, without shifting the load on your back or isolating the whole load on the high hip bone. Whatever geeks came up with this (and it's clear that some very serious geeking went into the design of this) you guys are my heroes. The harness and frame are at once fantastic and invisible- burly and unobtrusive.

The pack has a nice balance of features without feeling cluttered. There are side, top, and bottom accesses to the main compartment. Nine distinct compression straps (3 per side on the main compartment, 2 under the bottom, and one over the top) make load management work really well. Two axe loops and twin daisy chains mean you can hang more gear on the back if you're not already overloaded. The brain pack has a zip-access pouch to hold your water bag, and detaches to make a small hip-pack. Exterior zippers are waterproof, the textiles used feel burly and shed water. The large back pocket offers convenient zipper-access, perfect for stowing extra layers or a shell.

Overall, the finish and attention to detail is astonishing. This is certainly my favorite pack in its class.

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Fool4Gear wrote a review of on July 29, 2010

5 5

This pack, with all of its organizational features, is pretty much OCD heaven- everything can have a place, everything is easily accessible- clearly, some very good thought went into making this piece of gear. The material is burly and keeps stuff dry, and the pack is just big enough to carry my trad rack, a 60m rope, shoes, harness, chalk bag, a bit of food, sunscreen, a couple bottles, a shell, and a guidebook.
It is heavy and bulky for a pack of its size- I'd think twice about hauling it into the backcountry as a summit pack on that basis. The framesheet is plenty stiff, but the internal racking loops aren't attached to it- they're attached in front of the hydration sleeve (so hanging unsupported gear from the racking loops will sag), but this can be mitigated by making sure to cinch the internal compression panel or the exterior compression straps on whatever you have in there.
This is a very usable piece of gear. Durability-wise, it's sort of ridiculous. As a straight-up crag pack, it's very tough to beat.

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Fool4Gear wrote an answer about on July 28, 2010

You can fit a fairly large trad rack (18 cams, a couple sets of nuts, tricams, a dozen draws, slings, etc), a 60m rope, harness, shoes, and some clothes (a shell, hat, etc) and that's getting pretty full.

The pack rides comfortably when loaded this way- as others have noted, if you try to rack a lot of weight on the frame with nothing under it (via the racking loops) it will sag, but if you support that weight using the internal compression panel and the external compression straps, it works well.

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Fool4Gear wrote an answer about on June 8, 2009

The short answer is "Yes", this device is more versatile- you can use this as a standard belay device, with or without the braking grooves (depending on how you feed the rope), you can use it with two ropes at once (vital if you're rapping off the anchors) and you can use it (as with the GriGri) as an autoblocking haul/belay device. It is more tolerant of rope diameter variation than the GriGri.

That said, the GriGri does a couple things better: 1) it passively protects a climber in cases where an ATC won't (tho as noted elsewhere, you should always treat any belay device as though it required you to pay attention) and 2) it's simpler to configure and operate, since it's sorta automatic and has only one configuration.

If you can only have one belay device, let this be it- get a GriGri later for the added convenience a GriGri gets you.

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Fool4Gear wrote a review of on June 8, 2009

5 5

This is a confidence-inspiring locker- perfect to match with an ATC, as a master-point on a crowded anchor, or to run your top-rope through after you've created an anchor you'd hang your car on.
The thing the description and picture don't adequately convey is that this carabiner is *stout*- so stout, in fact, that it will not fit in the eye of a Gri-gri, and some chains/hangars you'll find up on the wall will not be large enough to accommodate it- or if they are, sometimes they won't accommodate anything else. This is the piece you reserve for times where overkill is exactly what you want.

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Fool4Gear wrote an answer about on June 6, 2009

I don't think the soundness of the device should be your concern here- if you're taking big falls, the GriGri is unlikely to be the point of failure in your system. I'd be more concerned about your top point of protection (which will get 1.6x the force you experience in a fall), your belayer (who should be anchored if you've got a significant weight disparity- she'l get .6x your falling force minimum), or any number of points in your system that are weaker than the grigri.

I strongly suspect that if you load your system to the point that the grigri fails, you have other, more serious problems- like, your spine (or that of your belayer, or some other part of your system) will have disintegrated under the load already.
Be careful. If you're a lot bigger than your belay partner (I've got 80lbs on my wife, so I'm hip) you've got more to do to protect them- this is easy to learn, and I highly recommend it.

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Fool4Gear wrote a review of on June 6, 2009

5 5

This isn't just a bag, it's an organizer, with compartments and pockets for everything. Comes with a tarp, and has a clip point inside for it. The gear loops have plenty of racking space for a stout sport rack (it gets crowded if you've got a lot of gear), and the internal compression panel allows you to put the heavy stuff against your back, instead of in the bottom of the pack.

As a pack, the harness is comfy and adjustable, no surprises await you here.

Once you're at the crag, it opens all the way up, making everything easy to see and sort- a definite luxury that my buddies comment on. If you're an organization fetishist with firm opinions about everything having its place, this pack has a spot for pretty much everything. The material is plain burly, perhaps over-engineered, but waterproof and confidence-inspiring.

I find that if I put my rack + shoes + harness + a full water bag that getting a rope in there is an iffy thing- even though this is big for a 'day pack', it's not quite big enough for everything- I keep my rope in a separate bag- but it's waay convenient to just grab this and a rope on the way out of the garage!

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