Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent

Green River, Moab, Salt Lake City

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Joe's Passions

Camping
Paddling
Ice Climbing
Snowshoeing

Joe's Bio

Joe Ballent was born and raised in the flat and corn-infested midwest. He drove across miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles to the great Southwest where he recreates and generally tries to stay out of trouble. Or get into trouble.

His heroes include Captain James T. Kirk and Apolo Anton Ohno, in that order. People always ask him about his Spider-man wallet, bears are not afraid of him, and he plays 90's grunge music in his head (to drown out the voices).

He has been a rafting guide, climbing gym bum, Gore-Tex product tester, and ski instructor/junior racer/patrolman at a 100-foot man-made hill with a tow rope. He's pumped to be living out west and working at Backcountry. If you catch a glimpse of him running through the foothills of the Wasatch or southern desert, be sure to say 'hi' before he disappears into the mountains and beyond!

Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent wrote a review of on October 4, 2010

4 5

For $145, this is quite a deal.

Pros: 4000 cubic inches is great for weekend warriors who want to stash climbing gear and a few changes of clothes. I'm personally a huge fan of gear loops and daisy chains: the Lakota has several, not to mention a heavy duty one that can double as a suitcase strap. This pack is built heavy-duty and has plenty of padding to go easy on your back and hips. A single frame up the back mirrors the natural movement of the spine so you don't feel like you're putting on a titanium jetpack (although I guess that could be cool). Intuitive buckles and tighten-down straps.

Cons: I'm struggling here. That's a good thing.

Great pack! Really happy with it so far.

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Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent wrote a review of on September 8, 2010

3 5

Pros: Durable materials, one-finger release drawcord, glove-friendly zips. Loved being able to stash a significant amount of gear (camera, knife, etc) in the hip pockets. Therma-rest-comparable material used for padding makes for a comfortable fit.

Cons: What a ton of wasted space. Osprey got so caught up in making us go 'ooo, ahhh' over the technology of the backside air venting that they ate up half the usable space in the pack. Hence a pack with the profile of a full-on backcountry expedition pack is reduced to the utility of a weekend pack. As someone who likes to maximize space efficiency when packing, this is a big no-no.

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Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent wrote a review of on September 8, 2010

4 5

Pros: Lightning quick set-up and intuitive design. The fire starter switch is very convenient, and everything nests together pretty well. As for cook times, this thing boiled water faster than any home kitchen I've ever used. If you ever need to level some underbrush, or just boil some water fast, the Helios gets the job done without using as much fuel as comparable designs.

Cons: The price hurts us dirtbags a bit more than most, and you only get one pot. If you're cooking for a group, obviously you'll have to augment your backcountry kitchen set with more cookware, but if you're flying solo and don't mind lugging a slightly larger stove around, you can eat like a king.

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Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent wrote a review of on August 23, 2010

3 5

I've always wanted to wear see-through, metallic orange peels on my face, but I think this is as close as I'm going to get. Got the facemelt edition. I've got a larger head and they fit me well. The arms extend back past the ears which makes for a good fit, and means they are less likely to fall off. That being said, I'm a pretty active person and expect to be able to put glasses through a beating. Von Zipper includes a little note with the glasses basically saying 'these are a piece of art. you wouldn't wreck a piece of art, so please be gentle with your pretty new sunglasses!" Hm. For 70 bucks I personally think you should be able to throw them down the stairs and they run back up to you, but I guess style points help make up for lack of abusability. Enjoy.

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Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent wrote a review of on August 13, 2010

4 5

If you're starting to build a rack, it's hard to go wrong with a deal like this.

Pros: Good value. The straight-and-bent-gate combo is classic and makes for easier clipping. These draws are also not super heavy.

Cons: Dyneema runners are much more prone to spinning and twisting, increasing the likelihood of back-clipping. However, as long as you're careful and smart about your clips, this should not be a problem.

I own two sets with varying lengths of dogbones (for reducing rope drag on overhangs or slabs) and they've performed really well. Not the top of the market, not the bottom, a good middle-of-the-road draw that will catch your falls and help you build a great beginner/intermediate rack.

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Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent wrote a review of on August 12, 2010

3 5

In my opinion, about $150 of your $250 is going towards having 'Arc'teryx' stitched on your jacket. Wore this in full-on monsoon season while rafting, and yes it performed as far as shedding rain. Yes, it is packable and by no means a poor quality jacket, but I've also got a 6-year-old Marmot pullover shell that performed just as well for less than half the cost.

My chief criticism is that the wrists are velcro-adjusted. My old Marmot shell has elasticized rubber gaskets at the wrist, which work great for sealing out moisture and do not require adjusting. Velcro can be adjusted but doesn't provide as much of a customized fit; water is more likely to seep in through wrist openings with this design than with the rubber elastic.

Positives: easy-adjust hemline drawcord and hood drawcord. Very lightweight and packable as promised, and pretty durable/abrasion-resistant.

Again, this is not a poor-quality jacket; it will get the job done. But you can easily find high-quality, packable, lightweight shells for less than $250. Save some of the cash for beer for after your trip.

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Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent wrote an answer about on August 5, 2010

Hey Jules,

Although I have not used the MSR Quick 2 cooking system, I pulled up some stats if you'd like to compare vitals.

MSR Quick 2:

Material:
Hard-anodized aluminum
Volume:
1.5L, 2.5L
Pots:
2
Lids:
1
Pot Grabber:
Yes, integrated
Storage Sack:
No
Non Stick:
Yes
Weight:
1lb 12oz (800g)


And the GSI Outdoor Pinnacles:
Material:
[Pot, Pan] hard anodized aluminum, nonstick coating; [Mugs, Bowls] Infinity (BPA-free polypropylene)
Size:
8.2 x 8.2 x 5.4in (20.8 x 20.8 x 13.7cm)
Volume:
[Pot] 2L; [Mugs, Bowls] 14fl oz each
Pots:
1 Pot, 1 fry pan
Lids:
[Pot] 1; [Mugs] 2
Pot Grabber:
Yes
Storage Sack:
Yes
Non Stick:
Yes
Weight:
28oz


Hope this helps a bit and good luck!

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Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent wrote an answer about on August 5, 2010

My buddy and I have used this kit extensively for backpacking with his MSR Pocket Rocket and that worked fine. I believe the pocket rocket is considerably smaller than the Windpro so it should work!

Here's the dimension for the Windpro: 4 x 3.5 x 3.5in (weighing in at about 7oz)
And the dimensions for the Pocket Rocket: 4.1 x 2.1 x 2 (weighing in at about 2oz)

Squeezing the Pocket Rocket in with the kit was a bit of a stretch, so I'd guess that the Windpro won't fit.

Hope this helps a little bit, and good luck with your cooking adventures.

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Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent wrote a review of on August 5, 2010

4 5

whether your nalgene be red,
or whether your nalgene be blue
bring it along on a hike
and take it for rafting, too

smash it and bash it
and scrape it along
a rocky and rough forest floor

throw it and roll it
and tow it along
and still your nalgene wants more

this nalgene is tough
but it never brags
despite a wide mouth it won't speak

fill it on up
with water or brew
and screw it shut tight for no leaks!

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Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent wrote a review of on August 4, 2010

4 5

These things are badass. They weigh hardly anything compared to your conventional quickdraw, and the gates are extra resistant and springy. While this makes clipping slightly more difficult, it is sure to drastically reduce gate flutter if you take a whipper or load the biner funny.

A few cons: price is obviously a biggy, but if you can afford them these are good draws. I'm also not a huge fan of skinny Dyneema runners, particularly longer ones, as they tend to be more twist-prone thus increasing your risk of backclipping. If you're smart and careful about clipping then you don't need to be overly concerned with this.

Overall an impressive product, and worthwhile if you've got the paycheck to justify adding these to your rack. In related news, if anyone wants to buy me a set of these, feel free.

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Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent wrote a review of on August 2, 2010

4 5

The orbit can just about fit in your wallet, it's so tiny. Good power for such a small lamp, and the rechargeable battery option is neat. I generally prefer headlamps, and think that if you're going to spend $30 on a light, why not get one that stays on your head and goes with you? That being said, it all depends on your needs. If you're car camping and want a good dinner table centerpiece for nighttime card games or ghost stories with the kids, grab the Orbit for a great lightweight option. If you're going caving, you can get a great headlamp for the same price. It comes down to preference.

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Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent wrote a review of on August 2, 2010

4 5

Overall Stohlquist has made a good product. Extremely low profile means this jacket will not inhibit your range of motion, great for paddlers and especially kayakers. You get a decent amount of float considering the minimal cut, and I had no problems with the jacket riding up. I am about 6' and 175 lbs and the Large was perfect. With this particular model I'd say it's safe to err up a bit on sizing and cinch down rather than get something too small and constricting.

My only real complaint with the jacket is that the pocket doesn't hold much. I wanted to carry my camera and a relatively small knife and had to cram them in there.

Ultimately a high-value product; a good jacket at a great price.

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Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent wrote a review of on July 30, 2010

4 5

NRS generally makes a good product, and 'duckies' are hella fun. Occasionally I've experienced leaky valves, but this generally can be fixed by really scrubbing the sand out of them. A comfortable ride even through munchy stuff; myself and a buddy who also guides actually surfed a couple of these in Cow Swim on the Green (class III) with no major trouble, super buoyant with a wide base and low center of gravity to the water surface. At night when you're tired of the campfire, or just had too much dessert from the dutch oven, deflate the backrest to make a comfy bed :)

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Joe Ballent

Joe Ballent wrote a review of on July 30, 2010

Boo, hiss
1 5

Saw this in the Outside Mag buyer's guide and took a chance with my poor river guide tip money. It's been billed as having the ability to 'hold everything you need for a day of sport climbing at the crag.' This would be true if all you needed for a day of sport climbing at the crag was a pair of dice, a few broken toothpicks, some yak hair and a half a bar of soap. No room for a rope, draws, shoes, you know... Real climbing stuff. There is little intuition in the design, the side pockets are way too deep and narrow for any conventional water bottle (or anything useful that needs to be accessed quickly), and the rope tarp is big enough to comfortably cushion several bacteria, and THEIR rope. Bottom line: Don't Do It!

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