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Jon Miller

Jon Miller

Green, Adirondack and White Mountains

Jon Miller's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Snowshoeing
Skiing
Climbing

Jon Miller's Bio

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

http://deathcookieski.blogspot.com/

Jon Miller

Jon Millerwrote a review of on February 9, 2015

Does everything well
5 5

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

The Patagonia Dimensions jacket has instantly become my daily driver of a jacket for backcountry skiing. The week after I purchased I skiied 5 consecutive days in it, all in the backcountry, in a variety of New England conditions that ranged from below zero to windy to dumping snow. Through it all, the Dimensions performed really well in every scenario. It has everything you need and nothing you don't.

The breathability makes this a jacket that you rarely need to take off. I run hot on the skin track and here in the dead of winter with cold morning starts it has kept me really well regulated to the point that I've abandoned my usual R1 fleece for the hike in and just gone with a baselayer and the Dimensions. It's also nice that it's an athletic fit but still roomy enough to fit an insulating layer underneath without becoming too constricting.

This jacket is also durable (great for eastern schwack-skiing) and stretchy where it needs to be, and the hood adjustement makes it easy to put on and off and cinch down when brushing up against snow-covered branches.

In short, I have been wearing and will wear this jacket for nearly every backcountry outing in my future, with the exception of a huge storm day where it will be wet conditions for an extended period of time. For that I would choose my Marmot Gore-Tex hardshell. Otherwise, it's the Dimensions all day, every day.

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Jon Miller

Jon Millerwrote a review of on December 27, 2014

5 5

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

The very first thing that jumps out about the Nano Air is it's exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio; this jacket simply rocks in that department. I'm a bit geeked out on Patagonia, owning (in order of warmest to coolest) an 800-fill down sweater, Nano Air Jacket, Nano Puff Vest and R1 Fleece Jacket. The Nano Air is quickly becoming my go-to insulating piece in just about every situation other than high exertion activities.

It's nearly as warm as my down, but more comfortable and more versatile due to it's light DWR finish, stretchability and breathability. And, it's slim fitting which helps keep things minimal, an advantage over the Nano Puff line.

From here on out I'll be saving the down for camp or whenever I'm not moving around and sweating. For everything else the Nano Air is my warmest go-to layer, with the added bonus of being extremely comfortable and slim-fitting.

It really does live up to the put it on, leave it on campaign Patagonia rolled out around this technology, cause I find myself not noticing I've left it on. Quite a compliment for an insulating layer.

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Jon Miller

Jon Millerwrote a review of on November 23, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

After being caught out in a winter storm one season I vowed to never go out into the backcountry again without an emergency bivvy. The SOL 2-person model is the size of a can of beer so there's really no excuse to not have it in your pack.

Having used this as a lightweight summertime camping blanket it does what it's designed to do by trapping heat. It does not deal with condensation well at all, but that's not what you have it for.

One last note, once you do open it, you'll never be able to get it back into the beer-can-sized packaging it comes in, no matter how hard you try!

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Jon Miller

Jon Millerwrote a review of on November 22, 2014

Warm, comfortable and minimal
4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Quick note: this review is of the 2013-14 season glove which I purchased this fall from backcountry. That's important because the new season glove went to HyVent as opposed to Gore-Tex.

Four outings into the season with the patrol glove and I am very impressed with it's performance so far. For me (perpetually cold hands) it was important to find a glove with a good amount of warmth that was also somewhat minimal - not a huge oven mitt of a glove. The patrol fits that particular niche very well for me. I've used it on a sub-20s windy New England morning and didn't think twice about my hands, they were warm and dry the whole way. Throw in Gore-Tex (at least in the previous season model) and this becomes a "daily glover" for your hands. Velcro wrist strap helps keep things nicely tucked into your jacket sleeve.

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Jon Miller

Jon Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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 Millerwrote 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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