Jon Miller

Jon Miller

Green, Adirondack and White Mountains

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Jonathan's Passions

Alpine Touring
Hiking
Snowshoeing
Alpine Skiing
Mountaineering

Jonathan's Bio

Hoofing it through the New England backcountry, one trail at a time.

http://deathcookieski.blogspot.com/

Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on June 8, 2014

Great pack for serious hikers
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I've found that the Poco Plus stands out above some of the lower-priced offerings from Osprey, mainly because of the ample storage space and built-in sun shade. Those two features alone make this pack worth your while if you're venturing out for more than just a stroll around the corner with your little one.

So far this summer I've had my 18-month-old son out a half dozen times in the Poco Plus. He weighs in at around 30 pounds, so not only is the Poco beefy enough to make his ride comfortable (and mine as comfortable as you can make it), but it has enough space to bring all the stuff you need when taking your boy miles into the backcountry. And the sun shade is a really great feature to keep him a bit more protected from whatever it is you run into (sun, bugs, low-hanging branches, etc).

Hard to find a better workout than carrying your kid on your back up and down mountains!

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on April 25, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

While these aren't the absolute best climbing skins you can buy, they do a solid job in all kinds of conditions and are easier to customize out-of-the box. The built-in tip connectors work just as well as a loop, without having to install the loops yourself. Just cut them and go.

For the price there were a very good value for me in taking my backup setup to AT status. They may not climb quite as well on steeper slopes, but for the majority of what a weekend backcountry explorer will encounter, they will do the job just fine.

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on April 25, 2014

Seamless transition
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Really pleased with the Trackers after putting them on my K2 Backups which previously had an inexpensive Atomic alpine binding on them. This is my "backup" setup for eastern conditions, early and late rock dodging, etc...but since the K2s are awesome as a mountaineering ski, it made sense to get them to AT status.

Yes the Trackers add weight, but what doesn't other than a tech binding? Outside of added weight, these bindings perform great with no noticeable difference (to me) vs an alpine setup. Two things that really stand out:

1) The stack height is pretty low on the Trackers so you don't notice being higher up off the ski; great perk.

2) The transition is so easy, you can do everything using your ski pole. One good stomp and you're ready to go downhill.

And when you do take these downhill they feel solid and beefy on my 82mm-underfoot K2s.

First time on them was on Hillman's Highway on Mt. Washington, and they performed perfectly.

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on March 18, 2014

Call it an alpine boot for great touring
4 5

One season in the books on the Titan and I can confidently say this is a sturdy, worry-free boot which unless you're a pro, you'll never be able to tell the difference between it and a traditional alpine boot on the way down. The huge upside being it tours very well, is pretty comfy in walk mode, and does a lof of things quite well. Will your feet hurt after a 3-mile tour in? Yes, but this isn't a boot designed for miles and miles of comfortable skinning. What it is designed to do is make you forget you're wearing an AT boot on the way down, and stand up to whatever terrain you take it into.

I paired mine with the SI&I CAST touring system and the Marker Lord SP bindings, both new in 2013/14. The Lords were a great match because they accept the tech toe and are super burly, as well. DPS Wailer 112 carbons are what I skiied on all season, both east and west and I couldn't be happier with my setup.

It's also a nice touch that you get both AT and alpine sole plates with this boot, so if you have multiple setups you can pair this boot to all of them. Great for your beater, early/late season skis, icy east coast days where powder planks don't make sense, etc.

One thing of note, the Titans are definitely an athletic fit, and tend to run narrow, particularly in the toe box. I have wider feet so there's been a lot of tinkering and heat molding all season to get them where i needed them. But they haven't let me down in any situation and I hope to get many years of use out of them.

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on March 18, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size

After a half-dozen outings in the super alpine bib, I am extremely pleased with the fit and overall function, having used it for several hikes, light mountaineering, and skiing both in and out of bounds. I'm 6-2, 200 pounds and the large fits me like a glove, with literally the perfect amount of space in the legs and crotch without being baggy at all. Most days when I have it on I don't even realize I'm wearing a bib, the shoulder straps have yet to rub or bunch up even on high-energy days. Also, the full zip and built-in gaiter are great features, and ive found i don't even need to use the gaiter with my Dynafit Titan AT boots on, everything stays snug and in place with the external bottom snap secured.

Two things keep me from going 5-stars. One is, these are purely a gore-tex pro shell and nothing more, so they are colder than most other winter bottoms, something to keep in mind on really cold days. Not that I didn't know that going in, but for a guy who usually has no problem keeping my legs warm, during a recent nor'easter I was very cold down below. Second, I've already had a tear in the right thigh pocket, right around the seam, which totally sucks. Yes a day of hard backcountry skiing involves tree scrapes, but I didn't expect these pants to have an issue so early on. A simple repair job will do the trick, and I'm overall quite happy, but if you want an absolute bomber kit you may want to look elsewhere.

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on February 27, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

No matter what size pack you carry, you're always going to jam it to capacity for overnight and multi-day trips, and the 65L Mercury hits that sweet spot of being able to accomodate pretty much any kind of trip. Love the black diamond ergo-fit system for the lower back and hips, and also another great feature of thi pack is the ability to get into it from the outside, without having to go from the top. I'll use this pack till it falls apart.

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on February 27, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

There's nothing else I will ever wear for my baselayer, and Patagonia's midweight merino is just the right thickness. It's closer to a compression style top compared to the softer and stretchier Smartwool products, but that makes it just the right balance of comfort, fit and function.

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on February 27, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

Very similar to Tyler Noonan's review, I also thought it dork-central to be snapping suspenders each morning before heading out, but they've become a necessary part of my kit and do what they should do...keep the pants up all day long, even making it so that I can loosen the velcro "belt" options on my Patagonia ski pants. The velcro makes these compatible with almost any pant, and as long as you don't mind a small twist when you put them through your belt loops, it's a lot cheaper than buying new ski pants!

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on January 28, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Was looking for a beefier gaiter to protect my hiking pants when wearing mountaineering crampons. The NF Gore-Tex Gaiter's answered the call. I sliced them up a few times on a descent but it's far better to slice (and then patch) your gaiters than your fancy gore-tex hiking pants, right? Right?? Anyway, these gaiters deliver everything they claim, the tightening mechanism up top works quite well, and as added bonus they are Gore-Tex so they'll breathe best they can to move sweat away from your shins. Worth the money!

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on January 13, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

After only one major trip I feel confident labeling this review as 'through the ringer.' January overnight in the Adirondacks where an afternoon of torrential downpour turned everything everywhere into liquid form. Spent 10 straight hours in soaking conditions, bushwhacking, river crossing to avoid ice jams...and through it all the Speed Light held up amazingly well. While I was not bone dry (nobody would be in conditions like that) the next morning when I slipped it on it was 90% dry...and all I did was keep it in between sleeping bags for my tent-mate and I during the night. As a bonus, it even repelled wood-smoke smell despite some time standing around the fire in the evening.

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on October 31, 2013

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

Very pleased with the Patagonia Javelina after a full summer and early fall of use. For the money and the lightweight construction the shoe is durable, comfortable and also very well ventilated which is great for warmer weather. Huge fan of Patagonia products all around, knowing that your money is going to a company that puts legitimate time and effort into considering it's environmental footprint (pun intended!). Anyway, back to the shoe...be clear this is not a good cold-weather option because it's meant to be very breatheable with lots of meshing around the top of the foot. Otherwise it should get you around town and off the beaten path where you need to go!

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on April 30, 2013

3 5

Picked these up for my first gaiter, and after a full winter season I can say they did a good job but a few annoying design flaws have me contemplating an upgrade for next season. First, and most annoyingly, the top of the gaiter has a small nylon strap to tighten, but it doesn't lock and over the course of a hike will loosen and slide down your leg. Easily fixable with a cheap velcro strap from any local camp supply store, but it would have made more sense to have a self-locking strap or something similar there. Secondly, the backs of the gaiter aren't as waterproof as the front. Not a huge deal either, but after a long sloppy day you may notice more water coming through the back. For the price, you can probably find fully gore-tex ones from North Face or a similar retailer that will keep you 100% waterproof all the time.

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on April 30, 2013

A solid upgrade from smaller headlamps
4 5

Chose the Apex Pro over the Apex because the Pro has a smaller battery case which saves some weight on your noggin. Two LED batteries (grab a 12-pack on Amazon or somewhere for cheap, because you'll need them) will last between 8-10 hours if you have it on continuously, depending on how bright you set it. Can you spend an hour at high-beam? No, but if you conserve using the very capable lower settings you should have no issue. Short of strapping a huge headlamp to your head complete with a big rechargable battery pack, the Pro should get the job done for you. Also, no issues with cold, had it out in -20 temps for 8+ hours in the Adirondack's this winter.

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on April 24, 2013

5 5

Just off the phone with Backcountry where they price-matched the Jester bindings for me without breaking a sweat. I'm picking these up to be the downhill component of my CAST SI&I Touring System mounted on DPS Wailer 112s. The Jester seems in all ways a perfectly-aimed binding to my style of skiing and the setup im crafting (super-light carbon skis means I can go a little burlier on the binding, and still have a tech setup for touring). Next season when it's all put together I'll update my review but for now just wanted to say how easy Backcountry is to work with. You guys have earned my loyalty.

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on February 6, 2013

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I'm very pleased I spent the money to get these down mittens. I have perpetually cold hands and so all the liners and hand warmers in the world couldn't do the job of these down mittens. My main winter activities are hiking, skiing and snowshoeing, and the mitten design is not much of a hinderance when putting on boots, adjusting straps, etc. Sure, it's not as easy as using gloves, but the trade-off for warmth by keeping your fingers all together is worth it. Put a pair of wool liners on under these and you are not going to get cold hands. I've had them out in -40 wind chills and my hands have been nice and toasty.

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on January 23, 2013

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Been out with the Baltoro's in sub-zero conditions with snow cover on the ground...and my feet have yet to be cold. This is no small task since I have perpetually cold extremeties. The primaloft insulation does an excellent job keeping your feet warm and the boots are high enough that you shouldn't have to worry about deep snow so long as you combine them with a pair of gaiters.

A tip...try a half-size larger, particularly since you will likely be wearing thicker winter socks.

The only downside to these boots is the weight. You can really feel a difference vs regular hiking boots (such as my trusty 3-season Asolos). The Baltoros are going to be clunkier and take more out of your legs on long demanding hikes. But this is the trade-off for warm feet in extreme conditions.

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on January 23, 2013

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This morning I took the Storm jacket out into negative degree weather (and -20 wind chills) for a winter morning hike. Underneath I wore a base compression layer followed by a smartwool top and then a 800 down shell. At no point during the hike was I cold around my core, and the only moisture I had to deal with was my sweat trapped on the inside. That said, the storm jacket is breatheable and offered me great waterproof protection. I haven't worn it in a downpour but don't really plan to -- this is my winter shell. Compared to the more expensive Gore-Tex options out there (such as the Triolet) the Storm offers waterproofing and a slightly warmer shell. Perfect for winter outings.

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller wrote a review of on January 8, 2013

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

Settled on the Makalu because it offers both the waterproof protection of a good winter pant, but also insulation for the big winter hikes and wind chills. It's also nicely form-fitting, a welcome departure from hiking a peak in the winter wearing baggy ski pants. Elastic straps help keep everything in place, and throw on a pair of gaiters and you've got an extremely dry base to work from. Love these pants, they are worth the money.

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