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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston

Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming

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Jason's Passions

Backpacking
Snowboarding
Mountain Biking
Trail Running
Road Cycling
Snowshoeing
Mountaineering

Jason's Bio

I rep for Cascade Designs, Princeton Tec, Yakima, Granite Gear, and Stanley/PMI. My territory is the Rocky Mtn region where I labor to promote the best gear on the planet. I'm also an avid mtn biker, backpacker, mountaineer, and outdoor enthusiast.

My goal on this site is simply to answer questions the best I know how with the information I've been given pertaining to the gear I rep for, period. I will sometimes interject my own gear bias, but for the most part I try to be as impartial as possible.

Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote a review of on May 10, 2014

One Of My Favorite Pieces of Gear!
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I recently returned from a 7-day, 65 mile backpack trip in to the Maze District in Canyonlands National Park and felt I had to write a review on these amazing poles! As anyone who has ventured into the canyon country will attest to the fact that there is very little flat ground anywhere to be found. Seldom are you hiking on an 'easy' trail. More often than not you are either climbing out of a steep canyon or descending into another one for mile after mile. It is rugged and can wreak havoc on the knees.

There are several things I loved about these poles. One of the things I was initially concerned about was their weight. What I noticed was not the weight of the poles, but the SWING weight was very similar to much lighter weight carbon poles I typically carried.

The other thing I noticed was how sturdy they were. I was never concerned about collapsing or bending them. They seemed much more capable of taking abuse than the lighter weight poles I've used in the past.

The best feature though is how adjustable they are, and this is where they really shined in the unforgiving terrain of the Maze! I was able to adjust IN STRIDE as I approached a ledge or steep step and, on the other hand, was able to lengthen the poles IN STRIDE has I headed to a steep downhill section. Often this meant the difference in me having the most control of my balance and easing my weary body up and down the trail. They worked flawlessly!

They do have a bit of a rattle, but I was surprised that this didn't bother me at all. With a friction based pole, there is no movement, but due to the 'pin' engagement of these poles, it is very difficult to create the same movement-free characteristic found in friction based poles. Having said that, the tiny bit of rattle was almost non-existent. MSR did an incredible job minimizing this in these poles.

The straps also proved easy to use and very comfortable.

If you need the most secure, dependable and easy-to-adjust pole available, you've found it!

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote a review of on May 10, 2014

Best Solo Tent Available...
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I've used this tent on many backpacking trips including 7-day, 80 miler in the backcountry in Escalante National Park, 7-days, 70 miler in the Weminuche Wilderness Area, and most recently on a 7-day, 65 miler backpacking trip in Canyonlands Maze District. These kinds of conditions really test the durability, weatherproofness, and wind resistance of an ultralight tent.

My experience has been terrific with the Hubba NX Tent! I can't say enough about the livability, durability, and lightweight/packability! I believe this tent incorporates all three of these categories better than any tent I've researched and used. The current state of the market shows that many tents are singularly faceted, meaning they sacrifice everything for lightweight. In other words their coatings aren't as robust, the materials (especially the floor) has been reduced to tissue paper, and livability isn't even taken into consideration. Some of the ultra lightweight tents also compromise on breathability due to their single wall configuration. It's obvious to me the Hubba NX was designed with all three categories mutually considered. I can't think of a better tent for the money!

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote a review of on May 9, 2014

Absolutely works!
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

My most recent use of the Powermonkey Extreme was on a 7 day backpacking trip into the Weminuche Wilderness near Durango, CO. I know that many go backpacking to leave stuff that represents work, especially their phone, behind. I get it. But when I explain why I take it, that I turn off the phone feature on my iPhone 5s, it stops being a 'phone' and turns into my music player (love music on the trail and in my tent at night), my star chart, my books (I can put 1000 books on my phone...why choose?), gps with satellite images and topo mapping, video camera, fitness tracker, games (guilty pleasure especially during a 4 hour downpour), alarm clock for early morning summit attempts, and so on. You get the picture...

I also love my Suunto watch that helps track my mileage and where my next campsite is. I have a set of bluetooth headphones that I take to keep the wires at bay. In the past, my headphone wires always got tangled in the straps of my pack. Frustrating.

All these need power! The best unit I've found for backcountry power is the Powermonkey Extreme. It is super rugged, waterproof (is rated for submersion in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes), is super efficient in creating power from sunlight and transferring that power to the battery, and uses the latest in battery technology. I think the best part is it's ruggedness. I consider this as essential a piece of gear as my stove, mattress, and trekking poles. It is designed for the backcountry!

I've used many solar and battery products, and none have been as reliable and dependable nor as easy to use as the Powermonkey Extreme. If you need power, I wouldn't look anywhere else! Now if I could only plug it into my legs...

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote an answer about on July 9, 2012

The carbon element is needed primarily for taking out bad tastes and contaminates from backcountry water. This is essentially the 'finishing touch' to allow the water to taste its best and keep it as safe as possible. Carbon is the most essential of all atoms and most elements are attracted to it. It acts as a magnet, causing these molecules to 'stick' to the granular pieces of carbon located on the inside of the filter element. Also taken our by carbon are pesticides at the molecular level. It should be noted that heavy metals cannot be taken out with carbon.

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote an answer about on May 31, 2012

It depends what you paid for it. Backcountry.com has two tents listed, the 2011 version of the Carbon Reflex 2 and the 2012 version. If you purchased the tent at 30% off retail, then you most likely got the 2011 version which has one door, one large vestibule and one smaller vestibule in the back of the tent. If you paid $499, then you got the latest version which has two doors and two vestibules. You can see the 2011 version here: http://www.backcountry.com/msr-carbon-reflex-2-tent-2-person-3-season-cas0527.

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote a review of on May 17, 2012

The Real Scoop...
5 5

It seems there are many confused on exactly what you're getting with the 2012 Carbon Reflex 2 Tent. For starters, this is the 2012 version which has two doors and two vestibules, similar to the MSR Hubba Hubba. This is the lightest weight 2-man tent MSR currently sells. The 2011 version has 1 door and 1 vestibule and is a few ounces lighter.

The other point of confusion has to do with the brand new carbon fiber poles designed with Easton and that are exclusive to MSR. Anyone who thinks these can't take the abuse of wind, rain, and even a bit of snow has no idea what they are talking about. I find it comical that someone would deem them susceptible to breakage just by setting the tent up in their back yard, or worse, by simply pulling them out of the bag. I can assure you that both MSR and Easton has tested these poles way beyond what most people would put them through. There is no way MSR would include a pole section that would 'break over time'. It's not going to happen. These poles are significantly stronger than their aluminum pole equivalents and you can be assured that they will work as promised.

The materials are absolutely the best available! The fly is comprised of a 20 denier, 330 threadcount nylon. It has tremendous tensile strength for a super taught pitch (the tighter the pitch the more wind and weather resistant it is) and all of the guyout points are reinforced with a laminated patch of nylon. The fly can be pitched separately when you use the Carbon Reflex 2 footprint. The floor is a 40 denier, 3,000mm DuraShield polyurethane coated floor, substantial when compared to other sub 3lb tents on the market. The DuraShield coating is superior to any other tent coatings available. If properly stored, this coating will last for many years without any concern of delimitation no matter whether it's stuffed in or folded (the tent must be stored dry). The main body is a 20 denier no-see-um black mesh that disappears when it gets dark. It really feels like you're sleeping under the stars, but with complete bug protection. The details are also worth mentioning. You simply get the best stakes available in any tent. They are MSR Mini Groundhog stakes made from extruded aluminum, super lite (10 grams per stake), Y-shaped, and red anodized. They are nearly indestructible and retail for $3 per stake. The tent, pole, and stake bags are also finished complete with taped seams to keep them from fraying. MSR has included NiteEyz cord locks on each of these bags to insure they don't slip, thus the stake, pole, and the tent bags don't lose their contents. The details are an example of the quality and attention MSR puts into everything they do.

This is intended for those who want livability in a sub 3 lb tent and demand the best quality available. Are there lighter tents? Of course, but not in a double wall tent that includes 2 doors and 2 vestibules, and with the amount of room that the Carbon Reflex 2 has! This is a true 2-man tent (the way MSR determines this is if it can fit two regular size Thermarest mattresses (20in wide X 72in long) side by side with out overlapping the other). It also has enough room for at least 2 people to sit in without touching the walls. You can actually change your clothes in it!

I've included the dimensions and specs.

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote a review of on May 17, 2012

The Real Scoop...
5 5

It seems there are many confused on exactly what you're getting with the 2011 Carbon Reflex 2 Tent. For starters, this is the 2011 version which has one door and one vestibule, along with a small area in the back of the tent for gear storage. This was initially intended to keep the tent as light as possible. This is the lightest weight 2-man tent MSR has ever produced to date. The 2012 version has 2 doors and 2 vestibules and is a few ounces heavier.

The other point of confusion has to do with the carbon fiber poles. Anyone who thinks these can't take the abuse of wind, rain, and even a bit of snow has no idea what they are talking about. I find it comical that someone would deem them susceptible to breakage just by setting the tent up in their back yard, or worse, by simply pulling them out of the bag. I can assure you that both MSR and Easton has tested these poles way beyond what most people would put them through. There is no way MSR would include a pole section that would 'break over time'. It's not going to happen. These poles are significantly stronger than their aluminum pole equivalents and you can be assured that they will work as promised.

The materials are absolutely the best available! The fly is comprised of a 20 denier, 330 threadcount nylon. It has tremendous tensile strength for a super taught pitch (the tighter the pitch the more wind and weather resistant it is) and all of the guyout points are reinforced with a laminated patch of nylon. The fly can be pitched separately when you use the Carbon Reflex 2 footprint. The floor is a 40 denier, 3,000mm polyurethane coated floor, substantial when compared to other sub 3lb tents on the market. The main body is a 20 denier no-see-um black mesh that disappears when it gets dark. It really feels like you're sleeping under the stars, but with complete bug protection. The details are also worth mentioning. You simply get the best stakes available in any tent. They are a red anodized hi-strength aluminum stake and are nearly unbendable. The tent, pole, and stake bags are also finished complete with taped seams to keep them from fraying. The details are an example of the quality and attention MSR puts into everything they do.

This is intended for those who want livability in a sub 3 lb tent and demand the best quality available. Are there lighter tents? Of course, but not in a double wall tent with the amount of room that the Carbon Reflex 2 has! This is a true 2-man tent (the way MSR determines this is if it can fit two regular size Thermarest mattresses (20in wide X 72in long) side by side with out overlapping the other). It also has enough room for at least 2 people to sit in without touching the walls. You can actually change your clothes in it!

I've included the dimensions.

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote an answer about on May 1, 2012

Not sure about dry graphite, although I believe it would work (never tried it myself), but one thing I would recommend is cleaning it as thoroughly as possible with a nylon brush, dish soap (or pack soap) and water. I would then lightly lube it with silicon (find it an any hardware store). You don't want too much as it will attract dirt, but a light coating will allow it slide smoothly with less abrasion. The abrasion is what wears out the sliders and can damage the teeth. This is also a good idea for tents, packs, etc.

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote an answer about on March 26, 2012

Yes, they come in a set of 4. They are nearly unbendable and weigh about as much as 4 paperclips. They have polycarbonate heads so it will persuade the user to not bash them with a big rock. The key is that they're more than adequate holding your tent to the ground as long as you don't abuse them. Lightest stake currently on the market...

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote an answer about on March 16, 2012

Absolutely! The material, though flexible, is very similar in performance as other plastic bottles like Nalgene. There is zero taste whether you leave the bottle in the sun or use hot liquids. You can also place in the freezer (making sure you don't over-fill the bottle) if you so desire. They are incredibly durable, light, and will not absorb chemicals, tastes, etc. Hands down the best ultra-light backpacking water bottle on the market!

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote an answer about on March 16, 2012

I would also add that filtering the water first and them chemically treating it takes away the 'dwell time' disadvantage. Because viruses are so easily taken care of with chemicals, and the fact that filtration takes out protozoa, bacteria, etc, all you have to wait is a total of 5 minutes to get purified water. Super importante=> always filter first, then add the chemical.

As has already been mentioned, adding the right chemical (Cascade Designs makes Sweetwater Solution which is a diluted sodium hypochlorite designed primarily for free-floating virus) will result in zero chlorine smell or taste when compared to chlorine dioxide tablets.

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote a review of on February 20, 2012

5 5

This is a radical idea for a sleeping bag, no doubt. It comes sans zipper and has a big, oval hole surrounded with elastic. If this isn't known before purchase, I would encourage you to do some homework. It does take some getting used to, but if used properly, with the right pad, it's very comfortable. I've personally slept in it down to 30 degrees F and been very comfortable (I'm a moderate sleeper). It is European rated, the only standard currently for down bags, down to 20 degrees F while using the Prolite Plus pad. If you use any other pad, including the rectangle NeoAir mattresses (it will work with the new tapered NeoAir Xlite down to 20 degrees F), you will probably not get the 20 degree rating. I will tell you that, once you understand the bag and how to get in and out, it is much easier than one with a zipper. At 1lb 6oz for regular and rated at 20 degrees, especially for $240, it's worth considering...

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote an answer about on February 16, 2012

This is the least expensive of the Thermarest NeoAir pads and designed for 3-season backpacking (anything above freezing). If you want a warmer pad, I would go for the NeoAir All-Season. It has an R-Value of 4.9. This will easily be able to take you to about 0 degrees (if you have a 0 degree bag). It is more expensive, but it uses higher-end materials to get to that rating.

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote an answer about on February 15, 2012

The Nook uses MSR's best materials (only the Carbon Reflex 1,2,3 and Nook uses these materials). It is a very tightly woven material using very small threads. The result is a light weight, but strong tent material (20D, 330T). The mesh is unique as well because it is a 20D thread (unlike most who use 30D). This results in a softer hand, slightly lighter weight, and tinier holes for bugs to get through. The smallest bugs (no-see-ums) can't get through so you should be free from bugs IF you keep the door closed. It is exceptional in being lightweight, but roomy for this class of tents.

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote an answer about on February 2, 2012

I would go with the Sealline Kodiak Tapered Dry Bag. It is made from 220D Cordura (very durable), has a purge valve allowing the bag to get smaller instead of fighting the extra air inside the bag (which takes up valuable space), and the tapered shape makes it easier to fit into the nose or stern of the kayak. It comes in 20L, 35L Long, and 35L Wide sizes. http://www.backcountry.com/sealline-kodiak-taper-dry-bag

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote an answer about on February 2, 2012

The culprit is hot air in and then cooling off over the course of the night. It is far more noticeable in air-only mattresses when compared to foam-based mattresses. No need to worry about leaks as this is very common. I simply get up, put a few more puffs in the pad and go back to sleep. Once I understood the reasons why and prepared my mind for it, it stopped becoming an issue. I simply prepared myself for blowing a few more breaths in it at night. It was amazing how much better I slept when I didn't worry if my $160 mattress didn't have a small leak!

I can also guarantee that there aren't any micro leaks or sketchy valves. If there were, the pad would be completely flat in about an hour's time. If it's simply loosing some air pressure, but not an alarming amount, then there shouldn't be any leaks.

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote an answer about on January 9, 2012

You are correct. This mug is stainless steel and can be removed from it's insulative housing. The entire mug is dishwasher safe. I love this mug because it is as light as a double-wall ti mug (over 2X more expensive), can fit any hand size, packs away very easily, is super durable, and easy to drink from.

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote an answer about on December 14, 2011

The Remix Pro is able to take a rechargeable CR123 battery (just confirmed with Princeton Tec). The reason is the Remix Pro uses voltage regulated circuitry which essentially regulates the amount of electricity into the LEDs. Because of this regulation, and one issue with lithium rechargeable batteries, the circuitry won't allow for a burst of energy which can have the potential of burning out LEDs. You should be fine using rechargeables...

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Jason Livingston

Jason Livingston wrote an answer about on December 12, 2011

The MSR Ti-Cup is way too small to fit any other cup inside. I would say it's about 2 inches diameter. The capacity is only about 12 oz. The only thing fitting in it is possibly a foldable utensil set or pack towel. This cup will fit inside the MSR Titan Kettle perfectly however if you want one of the lightest cook set setups available.

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