The World. Especially California and Wyoming.
I've been a huge Big Agnes fan over the past few years and have relied heavily on the Fish Hawk (30deg) and Mystic (15deg)- recognizing, that like most bag brands, you need to add at least 15deg to the reported rating to be comfortable. I finally decided that I needed to add a zero bag to my arsenal and opted for the Big Agnes Storm King. After a couple of sub 25deg trips I was unimpressed with the thermal rating and returned the bag (thanks Backcountry!). I conducted some research, balanced costs (wanted to stay under $450), and gave the MontBell UL SS #0 a whirl. Hit low to mid teen temps for a couple of nights and had to remove the mid-weight underwear I wore to bed (I do tend to sleep cold). Ended up in shorts and a t-shirt after another hour and partially unzipped my bag. I feel confident that this bag would "comfortably" perform down to its reported rating. I loved the extra room the elasticity afforded (created as much room as any BA bag I own) and appreciated that it stayed "tight" against my body at rest, minimizing any cold spots created by a "baggy cut". To date: a solid, light weight bag that performs to specs. Well worth the money! I recommend you visit the MontBell site to learn the difference between their three #0 bags (down weight/ stretch size) as well as which one has the most DWR protection - incidentally it is this one, rated for 100 washes.
I had high hopes for this sock after reading the reviews and upon receipt and initial wear, found them very comfortable. However, after wearing them during a two day backpacking trip (swapping them out with Lorpen's Tri-Layer Light Hiker for comparison)and washing them on gentle cycle when I got home, they piled considerably even despite line drying them. I'm a huge fan of anything merino (odor reduction, versatility in different climates), they were great for hiking, didn't bunch up at the toes, and provided cushion in all the right places...BUT, piling after one wash?! If you're willing to use an alternate material than merino, the Lorpen Tri-Layers that I bought along with this set were fantastic.
Unquestionably the best light weight, warm/ moderate weather, hiker sock I've used to date. No piling after the first wash unlike the Ice Breaker Hike-Lite (Merino) pair that I ordered for comparison along with this set (I even line dried them). Because of the fabric composition, these will get "smelly" more quickly than a merino blend, but Lorpen's have kept my feet cooler and wicked any foot moisture better than the merino counterparts I've experimented with. Two thumbs up and five stars...a great product!
I needed a versatile hiking/ backpacking pant that would carry me througout a variety of conditions, especially wet/ wintery California high country terrain...this pant has definitely lived up to it's reputation. I am 6'2, 205lbs and normally wear a 34/34 in jeans or pants...the LG fit me fine, although I found it to be more of a "skinny jean" feel/ fit, but not uncomfortable because of the elasticity. I might be inclined to complain about the thigh zip pocket which can't hold anything other than a credit card comfortably, but that's not what these pants should be used for...
The pant cuff has a nice hook for locking the cuff into your boot of choice and the velcro waist adjusters almost eliminate the need for a belt...although suspender adapters (or suspenders included) would be a huge plus! They are both wind and water resistant
Bottom line: Well worth the $$ and a solid all weather hiking/ backpacking pant that has great durability and looks sharp.
First warning: If you're looking at purchasing a "mountaineering boot", then I hope you have some experience in this genre of footwear and know what you're getting into. These are not wear out of the box shoes and take quite a bit of time to break in. I've been working in them for 6 months and have probably logged 40-50 miles and they are just now starting to get "comfortable".
Second Warning: These are NOT mountaineering boots...although modern crampon compatible and imbedded with a 3/4 nylon shank, the nylon fabric heel backing (which adds increased comfort when walking) limits the environments you can take this boot into. Additionally, the leather, until treated, is still water permiable. When treated, you lose the breathability of leather and your feet will heat up more quickly. The reality is these boots are simply heavy weight hiker/ backpackers with fantastic ankle support and limited environment application.
My assesment: These boots run narrow in my opinion (I have a pretty regular size 11-11.5/ 45EU foot with no arch dramas). I've tried a variety of replacement insoles and found that Superfeet take up far too much room and my foot felt incredibly cramped. Go with a very low pro insole and stick to lightweight hiker socks to get the best fit...these boots, after all, are not meant for winter weather. It will take time for your foot to get use to this heavy duty boot. Good overall traction across a variety of environments and I haven't had any of the problems previously listed with sole/ rubber separation. If La Spotivas are your flavor, this can be a good boot with LIMITED application. If you are looking for a heavy weight hiking/ backpacking boot with crampon capability and more water resistance, I would recommend looking into the Scarpa Barun GTX, Asolo (best for wider feet) or exploring some of the other La Sportiva models.
I've owned a number of sleeping bags in my adult life and have always been a fan of the North Face Cat's Meow...until now. At 6'2" and 210lbs I prefer/ need a "roomier" bag and Big Agnes nails it. Great sleeve design for your sleeping pad and quality down kept me toasty warm the other night as temps dropped to around 40F. Packs up smaller than the Cat's Meow too. After debating between the Fish Hook and the Yampa, I chose the Fish Hook to cover a broader temperature spread for an extra $10.
Bottom line - if you're a "bigger" guy or want some room to move around and are looking for a top quality bag - look no further.
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