Quite simply, yes. Check out Brian Roble's yo-yo of the AT in 2008. He's on the fringe of backpacking using a super-ultralight load for the northbound portion (sub 5 lb base weight), but its definately doable.
All of this goes back to Ray Jardine and his original designs in some fashion or another.
The best part about these shoes is the plastic straps. These do not freeze up like a nylon strap, and they can be used while wearing big dumb mitts. Also, the straps can be shortened by cutting the non-handle end to eliminate excess. If you choose this route, remember to ensure that you have enough strap for your largest boots and to measure twice and cut once.
I recommend folks get the 30's if they are going to be dealing with powder. I sank to my hips in powder in 25's and 175 lbs of gear (bodyweight + gear). On more hard-packed snow, smaller sizes are acceptable.
The teeth and grip on these snowshoes is exceptional, especially on hard-packed snow and ice. The teeth dig in and hold nicely. I have distinct marks on mine where the paint has rubbed off due to wear, but the points themselves are holding up nicely after two seasons of use. I also have not had problems or durability issues with the clevis pins that hold the bindings to the snowshoe body
The grips are also acceptable for deeper powder. The side-to-side bars underneath the decking help to prevent slippage on uphills and downhills. Like all snowshoes, they are easiest to use when you have trekking poles (unless an iceaxe is necessary) in deep powder.
The elevators on the heel should be moved forward about one inch. Otherwise, my heels (mens size 9) on my hiking boots and winter mukluks slip off too easily. It is a nice touch for long, steep inclines. If you stay out of the mountains, you don't need this feature. (those who frequent rolling hills also need not apply for ascent feature).
Finally, while these snowshoes are not the lightest out there, they are an acceptable weight and do not cause excess fatigue. For storage, they can be packed flat for carrying on the top of a pack should shoes not be necessary.
I have three pairs of these and wear them in cool weather around town and in the woods. For hiking/camping, they are my go-to socks when the mercury gets below 40F, but it's not so cold out to require full-on over-the-calf winter socks (SmartWool Mountaineering).
In two years of use, they have lost some of the interior padding due to normal wear and tear, but the padding is still there and the socks have not fossilized like a cotton sock or low-quality wool sock does.
If I had to change one thing, I would make the padding a little less on the top of the foot to encourage ventilation.
The down is 700 fill, which is below the quality of other jackets made by Montbell, Rab (which uses European down standards), Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends. This makes the jacket heavier for the insulation value it provides. In addition, the construction is sewn-through. In wind, there are definite cold spots on the seams.
That said, the jacket is warm and sufficiently large enough to layer a puffy midlayer underneath. I have used it (with layers underneath) in conditions to -20F with windchills much lower.
The DWR on the shell is average and wears out after a while. When the DWR is gone, the shell wets out and gets the down wet. This compromises the insulation value.
The hood is just a nylon hood that rolls into the collar. For winter conditions, I want an insulated hood to keep my head and neck warm.
For the cost, the Nupste's hard to beat. This jacket regularly goes on sale, so don't pay full price for it.
If its used as a true midlayer (i.e. under a larger puffy jacket/parka or a shell), your pockets are going to be on those garments. Also, because of the lightweight nature of the jacket, anything you put in the pockets may compromise the insulation (by smashing it).
Ian's right - if you want to cut ounces and don't mind the lack of pockets, this one is great.
Also, Patagonia does not publish their fill amount for the down in the sweaters. This makes comparison more difficult, but just based on sheer weight comparison the Pat. is going to be warmer. Sorry, no hard numbers for you.
I use these for winter hiking with Patagonia Capilene 1 as a baselayer. R1s would be a good choice also, especially as it gets colder. I've thought of the combination, but haven't gone there yet. I currently use an R1 Hoody, so know how good the R1 fabric is.
Go for it.
These are lightweight insulated pants with 3/4 zips, a zippered fly and two hand pockets. I use them in fringe seasons to boost the warmth of my sleeping system (particularly when I use a quilt) and in the winter as around-camp insulated pants.
I wish I would have gotten a larger size because I have trouble fitting them over my softshell pants (in winter) without compressing the insulation. However, they fit nicely of my baselayer bottoms and I do not compress the insulation then. As such, I usually spend the few minutes in camp in winter to remove my softshell pants and put on these, despite the issue of removing my boots and/or gaiters (depending on my footwear choice).
Like all MontBell insulated garments, the DWR is supurb. The fabric is wispy but durable. The tech specs @ Backcountry say the pants used 80 g/m^2 insulation, but that is not correct. Montbell uses 50 g/m^2 insulation in these pants (and their synthetic Thermawrap vests and jackets, too. MB uses the 80 gram weight in their Thermawrap parkas).
With full zips, these would be an easy five stars. But alas...
The R1 Hoody has everything to love in a winter baselayer that it is effectively four garments in one: hat, balaclava, wrist warmers and baselayer.
How does it do it? First, the fabric is a medium-thickness PolarTec fleece that is checkered on the inside. This creates a dual-component wicking mechanism that pushes moisture from the low-density fibers on the inside to the high-density fibers on the outside of the jacket.
Second, the hood is smartly designed to fit close like a balaclava. Because the hood is attached, there are no drafts to worry about. Likewise, the cut is athletic and meant to fit snuggly around your entire body, not just your hood. In addition, the R1 has a deep neck vent and the zipper goes of to the side of your chin at the top - this prevents the zipper from freezing to your lips.
Third, the sleeves are long and have thumbloops. These are best used by putting over the gauntlets of your gloves (and thereby the loop is over your gloves and thumb). This covers the awkward gap between your baselayer and hand, and keeps your digits warmer without the bulk of a separate garment.
Finally, the bottom of the R1 is a stretchy fabric that is long enough to tuck in and thereby eliminate further drafts. This feature is especially appreciated when you need to bend over. The long torso tucks into your pants and protects against cold breezes on the small of your back.
Capilene is the best fabric for baselayers other than perhaps high-quality merino wool. I prefer thin base layers because I can more easily later them (long-sleeve over short-sleeve) and they dry quicker.
The design on the Cap 1 S/S is great, too. Like its long-sleeve cousin, the torso length is also slightly long so the shirt can be tucked in to prevent drafts. The torso is also tapered for an athletic fit, and the sleeves are long enough to be there, but not long enough to needlessly flap around.
I use the Cap 1 running in warm and hot weather, and in spring/fall under a Cap 1 short-sleeve.
Capilene is the best fabric for baselayers other than perhaps high-quality merino wool. I prefer thin base layers because I can more easily later them (long-sleeve over short-sleeve) and they dry quicker.
The design on the Cap1 is great, too. The sleeves are cut narrowly so they taper to the wrist and do not hang lose. The torso length is also slightly long so the shirt can be tucked in to prevent drafts.
I use the Cap 1 running in cold weather, and in spring/fall over a Cap 1 short-sleeve.
I wear this vest in winter underneath larger puffy parkas for extra bonus warmth in my core. It has also provided a good boost of warmth to my summer-weight synthetic puffy, a Montbell UL Themrwrap Parka. The fit is close and the vest is designed to be worn over a baselayer and a windshirt and no more. If you expect to get this vest over another puffy, size up or pick different layering option.
Patagonia has done right to chose Primaloft insulation for this vest, as Primaloft's short-staple fibers and compressibility are best suited for a garments. Also, Patagonia's shell fabric is very breathable and repels moisture nicely.
I received these socks from running in a TNF endurance race. I now wear them with my racing flats because they are so thin. I do not use them with my normal running shoes because they do not take up space in the shoe like my (minimally) thicker wools do.
These socks are an ultra-thin running sock that are designed to just come over the lip of a show. They fit tight like a slipper. The are thin like a liner sock would be, so don't expect padding here. If you want padding, get it in your shoe or switch to a thicker sock.
GoLite makes two windshirts - the Wisp (hoodless) and the Ether (hooded). Hands down, the Ether is better. I have each, and have rated each at a 4 because neither is perfect.
Combine it with a thin or midweight base layer and it becomes a lighter replacement for a softshell jacket in milder conditions. The cut is athletic, and the neck smartly bellows out at your chin to increase ventilation. Unfortunately, the jacket has a 1/4 zip making ventilation more difficult. This also makes the jacket a pullover.
Like the Ether, the Wisp fabric is very breathable, but as with any breathable fabric, don't expect miracles. I have sweated it out while running, but it dries very fast.
I would give the jacket five stars, but the lack of hood and quarter zip prevent this one from being perfect.
This windshirt goes anywhere I do, regardless of the season. Combine it with a thin or midweight base layer and it becomes a lighter replacement for a softshell jacket in milder conditions. The cut is athletic, and the neck smartly bellows out at your chin to increase ventilation. Also, GoLite's current version has a full-zip front, as opposed to its older quarter zip models - again, for increased ventilation.
The jacket is very breathable, but as with any breathable fabric, don't expect miracles. I have sweated it out while running, but it dries very fast. I have used it as a shell layer against mosquitoes with good success.
I would have given this five stars, except for the fact that I pulled out the sewn-in attachment that held the hood closure neatly inside the hood. The hood is still functional.
I bought this jacket to replace my TNF Denali jacket as a main fleece in winter conditions when weight is not a factor. The jacket has as much loft as my 200 weight Polartec fleece pieces, but it is softer and noticeably warmer. It also fits underneath my softshell jacket nicely. The Powerstretch fleece is a nice touch to increase venting.
There are a few problems though. I am between sizes and a medium was not snug enough. I ended up with a small, but the sleeves are about .25 to .5 inches too short to use the thumbholes effectively. Finally, the collar elastic is unnecessary and I will probably remove it. Hand pockets would be nice, that would decrease the simplicity of the garment.
Perusing Montbell's website, the following Montbell down jackets use box construction: Alpine down jacket; Permafrost down parka; one-piece expedition suite. The rest use sewn-through construction. If you are worried about it, go with one of their synthetic insulated parkas. I recommend the U.L. Thermawrap Parka.
This pack has won a slew of awards and for good reason. It carries loads up to 30 pounds well, and you can stretch it to 35 if your gear is dense. The bottom bellows out at the bottom allowing you to put a cold weather bag in there sideways if you use a compression sack. The hipbelt and back panel are padded like a pack with twice its volume, and the belt molds well to one's hips. The pack comes in three torso lengths and three sizes of hipbelt, and the hipbelt is removable and replaceable if you kill it or need to go up a size. Also, the bottom is made of a durable Cordura nylon to boost durability for every time you take your pack off. All in all, a great pack.
There are a few nitpick issues with the pack. The straps are too long on the top closure, the side compression straps, hipbelt and load lifter straps. The bottom set of compression straps on the sides are poorly placed and if used, eliminate the side pockets of all use. Those straps should be eliminated. Finally, the hydration port is slightly too small - a hiker needs to remove the nipple of their hose to pull it through.
My hand, even in the glove, is much, much smaller than the moose prints of northern Minnesota.
My brother and I wore two pairs each for 205 miles of hiking in May 08 on the Superior Hiking Trail
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