Michael Nies

Michael Nies

Sierras, Rockies, JTree, Idyllwild

Michael's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Climbing

Michael's Bio

I rock climb and backpack. I'm a fair to middling sport climber and hope to be a budding trad climber soon.

Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote an answer about on June 23, 2014

Since climbing shoes need to have a snug (NOT TIGHT!!!!) fit, many climbers recommend getting climbing shoes a US size smaller than your street shoe size. By that logic, if you wear a size 44 in street shoes, you should aim for a size 42-42.5 for your climbing shoes. La Sportiva fit, though, is a strange animal, and tends to run much smaller than street shoe size. I wear a US 14 (Euro 48) in street shoes, but a Mythos 44.5, a Testarossa 45, and a TC Pro 45.5. The only way I know this is because I tried on lots of shoes until I found what fit.

Unfortunately, getting well fitting climbing shoes isn't quite that easy, as several people have pointed out. Different shoes fit differently, and the only way to know is to try them on. These are definitely good starter shoes, and you can send them back to Backcountry if they don't fit. For your first pair you want something that is snug, but not painful. These will stretch (as will most climbing shoes), so starting with a pair that is a bit snugger than you think is comfortable is advisable. Good luck, and welcome to the rabbit hole that is climbing shoe fit!

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote an answer about on January 27, 2014

These are going to be significantly skinnier than the wheels that came stock with your 7.1 FX. You will, likely, not be able to run 32mm tires with these rims; the fattest you would probably want to use are 28mm, and even that may be pushing it.

The other issue you're going to have is with the rear freehub. Trek's website indicates that your 7.1 uses a 7-speed freewheel, rather than the 8-10 speed freehub that these wheels use. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to locate a wheelset that is likely to work for you on Backcountry. You may want to check with your local bike shop for more help. Good luck!

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote an answer about on January 23, 2014

It took some creative Googling, but I tracked down Mavic's professional tech manual (link below), and these have a weight limit of 100kg for the "rider and all gear." They specifically state that the weight does not include the bike, so as long as you're not wearing 7kg of clothes and stuff in your pockets you should be good.

http://www.tech-mavic.com/tech-mavic/technical_manual/data/docs/themes/2_19.pdf

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote an answer about on January 22, 2014

From Fulcrum's website FAQ:

All Fulcrum wheels are constructed to meet the highest standards of resistance and durability. If you weigh over 109 kg/240 lbs we advise you not to use this product. Non compliance with this warning can damage the product irreversibly. If you weigh 82 kg/180 lbs or more, you must be especially vigilant and have your bicycle inspected more frequently (than someone weighing less than 82 kg/180 lbs). Check with your mechanic to discuss whether the wheels you selected are suitable for your use, and to determine the frequency of inspections. Using tires with a larger diameter and a frame that respects the standards will help to increase the lifetime of the wheels.

http://www.fulcrumwheels.com/en/faq/wheels

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote an answer about on January 21, 2014

Bike fit is a highly personal question that usually requires more information than just your height and your inseam, though that's a good start. Backcountry has a fit calculator (http://www.backcountry.com/Store/catalog/fitCalculator.jsp) that will get you started, and Competitive Cyclist has a more detailed one (http://www.competitivecyclist.com/Store/catalog/fitCalculatorBike.jsp). Of note is that your pant inseam is not your actual inseam; your actual inseam is an inch or three longer than your pant inseam. Based on that, I would put you on a large. But run your numbers and see what you come up with. I started out buying bikes and trying to make them work. Definitely check before you buy, unless you have money to burn!

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote an answer about on January 21, 2014

I wear a 14B US (48 Euro) in street shoes, and I am consistently a 13-14 in every 5.10 shoe I've ever tried. Unfortunately for me, 5.10 shoes almost always run wide, the exception being the Blackwings/Dragons. I wear a 45 in Solutions, and a 44-45 (11-11.5 US) in most Sportiva shoes.

With regard to specific models, I have not, unfortunately, tracked down a pair of Quantums to try on yet. I called 5.10 and asked the same question you did, and they indicated that the toe box and heel would be similar to the Blackwings, but that the downturn was less aggressive. I'm still on the prowl for a pair to get on my feet; if that happens, I'll let you know!

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote a review of on December 27, 2013

5 5

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

I got this for Christmas last year, and it has become my favorite outdoor shirt. It's tough (survived multiple rock climbing trips), it's incredibly lightweight, and it packs down to next to nothing. I'm 6'1", 185 lbs., and the medium fits surprisingly well. It's also long enough that I can tuck it in without difficulty, which is usually what puts me into a large in t-shirts.

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote a review of on December 27, 2013

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size

Last year I got the short sleeved version of this for Christmas, and it rapidly became my favorite t-shirt. This year I got the long-sleeved version. I received the large, since my arms are somewhat long (I'm 6'1" with an Ape Index of +3.5), but it almost seems too long. When I use the hand pockets, however, it seems about right. I hope to find a medium soon to try and compare.

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote a review of on December 25, 2013

3 5

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

I got these to replace my ten year old Vasques that were cracked and leaky. These lasted about five years of moderate use; the soles are worn nearly flat, the lace eyes are pulling out in a couple places, and the toe rubber has fallen off of both boots. On the up-side, there was minimal break-in, and they stayed laced tight through stiff downhills with heavy loads. I won't be replacing these with another pair; partly because I expected better life-span from a boot in this price range, but mostly because they just weren't quite right for my feet.

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote a review of on December 25, 2013

4 5

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

I tried a pair of these in my search for more aggresive shoes. The fit is very similar to the Sportiva Testarossa in terms of downturn and toebox. The heel is a bit tighter, however, and the fit is less able to be personalized since they are Velcro rather than laceup. For reference, I wear a 14B in street shoes, and a 44 in Solutions.

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote a review of on December 25, 2013

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

When I went looking for a chalk bag to fit my off-width hands, I wanted something bigger than average but not bouldering bucket big. The Metolius Chalk Pod is deep enough for my large hands, while not being hilariously large and heavy hanging off my back while I go up a chimney. The drawstring closure keeps the chalk in the chalk bag, and the included strap keeps it around your waist. The only downside I've found is that a ton of people at my gym have these, so when I leave it somewhere it's not always easy to find mine. But that's what happens when someone makes a great bag!

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote a review of on December 25, 2013

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

My gym strongly recommends a chalk sock, and I wound up with the re-fillable version here. I get best results with the sock fairly full, but as others have noted, you still get way less chalk than just having it loose in your bag. It's enough for my needs, but I also don't sweat a ton. The chalk also doesn't go all over everywhere when you drop or forget to close your bag, too, so that's a plus.

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote a review of on December 25, 2013

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This is BD's basic, all-around harness. For reference, I have a 33" waist, and a medium is almost too big. Next time I'll try a few different sizes and brands; this was just too good a deal to pass up.
The Good:
--Very affordable; I've never seen it go for more than $50
--Well padded, far more so than their alpine harnesses
--Reasonably sized gear loops and a haul loop in the back

The Bad:
--Leg loops (at least on mine) are a bit finicky to resize. It appears that newer models have addressed that.

This was the first harness I ever bought (in 2011) and it's still going strong. It's comfy, the gear loops are big enough for long sport routes, and it catches me when I fall. What more could I ask for?

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote a review of on December 25, 2013

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This is Black Diamond's tube-style belay device.
The Good:
--Utterly simple to setup and use
--Works with any and all ropes on the market (single, double, twin, fat, skinny, etc.)
--Works as a rappel device, too
--Lightweight AND cheap
--No moving parts to service

The Bad:
--No XP grooves, which are handy for skinny ropes holding heavy climbers
--No Guide mode ring; for that you need an ATC-Guide

Every climber should have some sort of tube-style device. There's a reason that such things are almost universally known as "ATCs." It's cheap, it's reliable, and it does more for you than a Grigri. There's no excuse not to have one of these!

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote a review of on December 25, 2013

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This is Petzl's offering to the auto-locking belay market.
The Good:
--Autolock will stop a fall with little to no intervention from your belayer; especially nice for big lead falls, or as extra insurance with a new belayer.
--Belay device and ascender all in one; makes self-rescue techniques significantly easier.
--Easy to control the the lowering speed.
--As with all belay devices, always have a hand firmly around the brake strand. But that brake arm doesn't have to expend any energy to keep the rope from slipping if your partner is hang-dogging a route.
--Works with almost any single rope on the market.

The Bad:
--Can be held open on a lead fall, should your belayer get pulled up to the first clip (I speak from personal experience here).
--Only works with single ropes, not with doubles or twins.
--While it's possible to rig a rappel with a Grigri, it's not easy or fast, making an ATC still necessary if you want to get down.
--Significantly heavier than an ATC
--Can be difficult to feed slack on fat ropes, especially with a very lightweight climber.
--Easier to move into a cross-load position on your belay biner, though a Gridlock-style device minimizes that risk.

I like a Grigri for toprope, especially when my climber is working a tough route and may be hanging for a while. The added safety of the autolock is handy if you're in a situation where your belayer may not be able to stop a fall right away, for example if they're out of sight of the climber, but the climber and belayer should be aware of the risk of the device being held open. It's a useful device to have, but overall I prefer an ATC for my own use.

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Michael Nies

Michael Nies wrote a review of on December 23, 2013

5 5

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

These are Black Diamond's offering in the snag-free wiregate race.

The Good:
--Super light weight
--The wiregate's nose is hooded, so the hook is protected against snagging hangers or the rope.
--Great clipping feel, as usual from Black Diamond.
--Cheaper than Petzl's alternatives.
--Slightly cheaper than buying six individual draws.

The Bad:
--Much more expensive than other (heavier) draws.

These provide all the goodness of a wiregate with the snag-free clipping of a Positron. I plan to replace the carabiners in my current draws with Oz 'biners as the old ones wear out, and any new draws I buy will likely be these. These are an excellent place to lighten your load without compromising safety!

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