James K Backman

James K Backman

NH, VT, ME, MA, NJ

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James K's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Skiing

James K's Bio

Graduate student in Cambridge, MA. Been skiing/ski racing for 20 years. Live for skiing in the winter, and hiking and camping in the spring, summer and fall.

New England-bred enthusiast, and only now just getting out to see the rest of the world.

James K Backman

James K Backman wrote a question about on August 17, 2010

Im coming off of the original Nordica Dobermann WC 150. 9 seasons in one amazing boot. Im an ex-racer and cannot ski a soft, wide boot without feeling like I am losing control and have no influence over my skis. (It kinda was engrained into me by the 95mm last Dobies.) Im looking for the burliest bort on the AT market for working races/coaching up on the hill 60+ days a year and the yearly big-mountain stint.

Titans, Factors or other?

Thanks guys!

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James K Backman

James K Backman wrote an answer about on March 2, 2010

if you are over 6" and dont plan on spinning these in a park too often, hit up the longer pair. see my post above for my thoughts about the 176's stability in choppy snow.

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James K Backman

James K Backman wrote an answer about on March 2, 2010

these things are absurd in a foot of pow. I am 6'1" and picked these up ion a 176 for a trip to Big Sky. I loved them. They float like boats in the bowls. Ripping through trees on these is a pleasure, so nimble and so quick.

Put them out on crud however, and I had some qualms. I am a ski racer by default and while I expect a pair of powder boards to be unstable compared to a set of race skis at moderate (30-40 mph) speeds through chopped groomers and skied-off pow, I found these to be a bit too unstable. Back off a bit on the speed and they are fine, but get a hair outside of their operating range and the world gets a whole lot scarier.

But on the smooth and silky, praise be to the snow gods... they are GOOD. I have not tested the 180+ size and I would expect the longer pair to be a bunch more stable.

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James K Backman

James K Backman wrote a question about on August 18, 2009

If I am looking to compress a 8x17 sleeping bag (North Face Aleutian), what size should I get? I know the dimensions in the product specs would favor me buying the medium, but from comments on this page it seems some people were able to fit similar dimensioned bags into the small size sack.

If I want to put my bag and maybe a few pairs of socks, a beanie and a t-shirt in there, what would you recommend? Would it fit in the medium or would I need a large?

Thanks for the help.

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James K Backman

James K Backman wrote a review of on August 17, 2009

5 5

Just spent 5 nights in this tent in all types of weather. Great overall tent.

Location: Daisetsuzan National Park, Hokkaido, Japan

A Tropical Storm brushed Hokkaido while I was backpacking. I staked her down, but could only use 2 guylines, and then hoped for the best. What ensued was hours upon hours of mid-strength wind gusts, and torrential rain.Inside was essentially 100% dry. In one spot, the floor changed color, but was not wet to the touch. I assume some water had pooled between the tarp and my tent, but was not passing through the floor material. As for wind, I felt a few times during that night she would come apart under the wind pressure, but remained rock solid, with the main hub only moving a couple inches. Lost one fly staking due to sodden ground, but that was my fault for not tying her down beforehand.

After the storm, the day temps were 85+ F, and nights 65+ F. It revealed decent, but not fantastic, ventilation. Leaving the top part of the vestibule zips open helps a lot.She survived a brushing with a Tropical Storm, and can handle a respectable temp well. This was my first use, but I think it was a solid test to understand what this thing is capable of...Only complaint is that while the mesa is not a heavy tent, I still wish it was lighter. But hey, you cannot have everything.

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James K Backman

James K Backman wrote an answer about on August 17, 2009

A solo with this tent gives you more room than you need. but if you are sleeping 2:

There are 2 large wall pockets at the head and foot of each side in this tent, (4 total) so small items are easily accessed. I found there is some head and foot room (I am 6'1") when using a mummy bag, but aside from a few shirts at the head and a really small stuff sack off to the side of your feet, you are not going to be packing much there.

Dont even think you will be able to put stuff between you and your buddy. There is enough room for two in this tent, but this tent has a high friendly rating, even without extra gear floating around.

The two vestibules are decently large, and will hold a mid-sized pack and shoes. My ~40L fit nicely but a 60+L might be tough to fit in there.

If you pack your pack right, and only access what you need, you should have no problems, but if you want to spread out, a gear loft might help out a bit.

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James K Backman

James K Backman wrote a review of on August 4, 2009

4 5

(I cannot say much about the XC end of it, but I would assume that what I am about to say still holds true.)

If you are an alpiner, put this on your skis for those colder days and it will help you ride fast the whole day long. Amazing durability even under the harshest, most abrasive man-made snow and ice on the mountain, thereby protecting your skis from base burn.

That durability comes at a price though and is the reason for not giving it a 5-star rating. Waxing is tricky sometimes since it is such a hard wax, and if you use this as a race wax (which in the NE you usually end up doing several times a year..) this is the hardest stuff to scrape and brush since the mid-90's Mach II Blue. Bring a sharp scraper!

Good Tip: For those days where you know it will be nasty abrasive, but a little warmer than 4 is rated for: turn your iron on low and run a very thin, controlled bead of wax down either side of your base, about 1 cm inside each edge. Then crank that iron back up, melt it in near the edges only, let it cool, give it a half scrape or a good brushing with a coarse brass and then wax for the temp you need. Provdes the protection against base burn when you are laying out the turns, but since the 4 takes up so little surface area on the base, it keeps the skis gliding fast when you are running flat skis.

Swix also makes a CH version that works just as well and is even cheaper!

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James K Backman

James K Backman wrote a review of on August 4, 2009

5 5

Put this in your tuning box only if you are racing the big ones (NorAms, NCAAs, JO's, FIS) or bombing on the DH Circuits where that extra mph on the flats makes all the difference. Generally, mistakes you make in the course will hurt your time more than this will ever have a chance in making it better. BUT, when it all comes together perfectly in that one minute of you, the course, and the timer, there is almost nothing better to be had on the bases of your skis. This stuff can and will make the difference.

Just be sure to hot scrape and rewax with some BP or CH8 afterwards to prevent base dryout from all of the fluoros. In this concentration, its not the best for your bases in the long run...

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James K Backman

James K Backman wrote an answer about on August 3, 2009

As much as it takes to cover your whole base from snow contact at the tail to the point at the shovel, without excessive dripping onto your work bench. If you notice you are dripping every inch or so, you put too much on. If you still see uncovered base behind the hot iron, you used too little. There is no "proper amount" that you have to use, its a feel kinda thing.

But at about $1.50 per wax (+/- 25 cents) using more does not matter all that much, its decently cheap with CH. If you use LF/HF/HFBD you need to pay more attention though.

But if you really want a number, in my experience these 60-gram blocks give me about 5-8 waxes on 191cm race boards (I prefer the drop method of waxing my skis).

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James K Backman

James K Backman wrote a review of on August 2, 2009

4 5

I have got an older version of this bag, and while it is one of the cheaper models available, it still works as avertised. Took it on 2-day hike up Mt. Fuji. Instead of dropping the $90 to stay in one of the mountain huts for a night, I slept in this bag out behind one of the huts (no tent). It was a few degrees over freezing, a good steady 20mph wind, foggy and rather damp but with just a baselayer and some lightweight pants on under this bag, I was very warm.

I am 6-1 170-ish lbs and the long size fit me perfect.

No complaints overall, but I was not in the most strenuous of conditions to realy extoll this bag and give it a 5-star rating...

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James K Backman

James K Backman wrote a review of on July 30, 2009

4 5

I think this is the right shell, the design has changed since we bought it, but the specs are about right...

This has been my team's ski racing uniform jacket for 3 years now. We live in this thing every day for a whole month and a half as we train.

Its relatively waterproof and pretty durable considering how much labor it does on the hill. Great fit too. (6 foot 1, 175 lbs with room to layer = Large)

It also has roomy pockets that store everything. (I even think we even managed to fit a total of 10 beers in this jacket's pockets once too...) You stop putting gear in this becase it becomes uncomfortably heavy, not because you run out of room.

Its a shell, so layering is expected. At anything above 10F, a GS suit (with your normal shirt or underarmor underneath that) is plenty, even on the most windy days in NH. Under 10F though, you might consider another layer. I highly recommend the MH Windstopper Tech for that. Nothing penetrates through that 1-2 combo.

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James K Backman

James K Backman wrote a review of on July 28, 2009

5 5

I have had one of these jackets for 8 years running. One jacket for 8 years. I have known other jackets that have lasted as long as this one, but they were fancy $300+ jackets only worn while coaching the new racers out on the mountain. Meanwhile, this one is a pure workhorse.

Four of most of those years, I wore it everyday at the local ski hill training from first chair to last run and on my evening work shift lugging gates, fencing, dead trees, timing wire, running sleds and and moving snowguns. Sure, the color has faded, it has some wear in the shoulders and a few grease stains, but no tears, stitching is still rock solid and just as warm as the day I bought it.

Not waterproof by any means. I have worn this jacket in the rain many times, and I have to say, it is a sponge. But it usually provides enough of a barrier to keep you dry long enough to get stuff done.

Long story short, its your all-purpose tool in your jacket toolbox. You can't go wrong owning one of these.

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