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James K Backman

James K Backman

NH, VT, ME, MA, NJ

James K Backman's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Skiing

James K Backman'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 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 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 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 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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