The USB cable is to connect to a PC for firmware upgrades. You cannot use it as a Sat Phone.
You need the smartphone to send OK & custom messages or to initiate/stop tracking. Once tracking is started you can turn-off the smartphone and it will keep tracking.
My hands usually stay reasonably warm but when I'm out for a hike or climb it's great to have a versatile glove. I've been a Gore-Tex MountainTech product tester for a few years but I bought these with my own money. I've used these gloves snowshoeing as well on climbs on Mt Baker and Mt Adams.
My wife tried them on one winter day when she went for a walk and from then on they were her go-to glove and I had to buy her a pair for Christmas so that I could get mine back. I lent them to a friend who only had some heavy gloves for our Mt Baker climb and she raved about them when she returned them. I get a lot of use out of these gloves and love the windstopper to take off the extra chill. Yes they are only windstopper and not fully water-proof but there are many times that I don't need a waterproof glove.
For a tough glove they are extremely dexterous and you don't need to remove them every time you want to open your Nalgene bottle. The construction is great and I think that they'll last a long time.
I have had a number of different hiking boots over the years and have always had foot problems where my heal tends to slip/rub and I get blisters on the back of my heals. I have tried various lacing techniques from knots in various places to get the right tightness in the right spot and in the end I rely on the ultimate fix: duck tape the heel of my foot before I go out.
I must confess that I have been a Gore-tex MountainTech product tester for several years which means I have tested a lot of gear. However, I tried to get my 5 year old Garmot Towers to work with new insoles and fancy lacing but I was going on a Mt Baker trip and fed-up fussing about with my old boots. I know that boots are a very personal thing and they can have great reviews but if they don't fit your feet then it doesn't matter. Two weeks before Mt Baker I broke-down and tried numerous boots and spent hours in stores clunking around. Then I tried the Raven Combi and the first thing that I noticed was how light they were and the second was comfort. My feet don't usually get cold so I thought that for summer snow hiking that I'd be okay in a non-insulated boot. Two week later I was on Mt Baker after only wearing the boots indoors working at the computer (home office). No problems on Mt Baker or Mt Adams (both Washington state). On Mt Baker the snow was still soft so I was typically in snow above my ankles (sometimes up to my knees). Yes I wore gaitors and crampons. We did creek crossings. My feet stayed dry, warm and comfortable. For Mt Adams I added a pair of superfeet insoles as the standard insoles are a little thin. I find that there was not a lot of volume to add a high-volume insole inside the boot but my feet felt a little more comfortable at the end of Mt Adams. Within a month I put 15,000 feet of elevation gain and approximately 30 miles on these boots. No tape, no blisters! I love the built-in lace adjusters so that you can have 3 different zones for lace tightness .
First off I want to mention that I test products for Gore as a MountainTech (unpaid group of outdoor enthusiasts). However I got this jacket as a replacement for some other brand's jacket that failed (great warranty Gore-Tex).
I tried on a number of jackets before selecting the Spire as I was being picky on both fit and features. The Spire clearly rose to the top of the list as I did my searching.
I wore this jacket exclusively skiing for the 2011-2012 season. I live in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle area) where one can be skiing in snow, sleet, rain and wind all in the same day. This jacket fit the bill as I stayed dry and warm while family and friends were wet and cold. I also went on a ski trip to Aspen and was lucky enough to be skiing on a snow day of over 14" accumulation that day. The Spire with it's snow skirt was awesome as I stayed comfortable and could still move. The high collar and the helmet compatible hood are also welcome components (sometimes just for the chair lift ride). On those warmer days the jacket breathes well to help regulate my core temperature without getting all sweaty.
One complaint are the zipper pulls, especially on the pit zips, as they could be a little longer and easier to grab with gloves on. However the large pockets are well placed and very useful. The details like angled sleeve cuffs are also nice.
I have the mars-orange and can be seen in a snow storm (it is a little bright). I'm 5'3" and 165 lbs and I chose the medium as the small was a little too tight. With the medium I have room to layer underneath and also continue to move freely (rather than feeling like a penguin).
Thanks Marmot for the wonderful jacket and Gore-Tex for the great warranty.
I recently upgraded my 20 year old Lowe Contour to the SD Revival 65. I love the weight and the way it fits my body. I have to admit that I have not used it tons yet, but I did use it for an overnight trip up Mt Adams. So I was hiking up hill with a tent, sleeping pad & bag, some warmer clothes, food, stove & pot, first aid, water and water filter. My biggest complaint is with the hydration sleeve. I know a lot of hikers that strongly believe that a hydration pack is not for alpine hiking. I still take one along with me. But the sleeve in the Revival is a little small. I could have two liters in my bladder but it was a very tight fit.
During day 2 of the hike up to the summit I had much less in my pack and I could cinch it down to be stable. I've never really liked the remove the top and use it as a day pack feature. Instead, just remove the top and make the rest of the pack lighter. I have seen complaints about the waist belt. I have a 32 inch waist and found the belt a little stiff but I never found it uncomfortable. I like the belt pockets for holding little items (snacks, sunscreen, lip balm) while the side pocket securely holds a nalgene bottle or a GPS unit (ie. ti stretches to accommodate small & larger items). The ties for ice axe and/or poles are nice. I did not get a chance to use the bottle opener and I might prefer a whistle (I know a lot of pack have that). I did not find the slope bottom an issue and maybe it even helped when glissading :).
I also like the rear access to the pack rather than just top-loading. The rear pockets are very handy. I also found the firm padding to be more comfortable for long distance rather than some of the softer padding that is out there. The pack vented well a climbing in 80 degree weather I never felt too hot because of the pack.
I have the S/M size, I am 5'3" tall (with a long back and short legs) and this pack fits well.
I have problems with heal blisters in a lot of boots, but not with these babies. They are light and comfortable. I recently hiked/climbed up Mt Adams in these boots and my feet were comfortable the whole way. They are not stiff soled so really should not be used with cramps but I did anyways (my own crampons). I just use one layer of Darn Tough hiking socks and I'm good to go.
I believe that the new GPS Contour has this capability but not the HD Contour.
I bought these for my wife and she liked the feel and weight but she felt that they were too short in the legs. She wanted boot tops not just below the knee.