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Mike

Mike

Anywhere outside. Yosemite and Sagarmatha National Parks are among my favorites.

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Mikel's Passions

Hiking & Camping
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Mike

Mike wrote an answer about on August 22, 2013

Rasta Papa, to add onto Phil's message, you could probably use something a little larger. I recommend going with something like the Slater UL1, which is a new line from BA that is made a little larger all-around. Check out the link I provided that compares the Slater to the Fly Creek. While the video is put out by Pro Lite Gear, obviously you should order from BC?the goat sticker alone is worth it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycrpaZmzKLE

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Mike

Mike wrote a review of on April 23, 2012

4 5

mcl4927862's comment below on the beam is pretty accurate.

Positive:
-Comfortable; long battery life; numerous functions and modes; red light; heavy duty water resistance; great tilt range; dimmer option in all modes (except strobe)

Negative:
-Somewhat dispersed beam, even in spot mode; relatively heavy (not too bad while worn, but adds nearly 1/2 pound to your pack)

Overall this headlamp works well and I recommend it. My biggest gripe is the beam concentration in spot mode is not all that focused. My older Icon's spot mode is more concentrated and thus has a farther throw, but is not as bright overall. Yet the 2012 Icon does have some nice features and actually feels less awkward when wearing it. This light is rated at 200 lumens, and may very well meet that, but the broad beam doesn't reach as far as I had hoped. If you are expecting a spotlight look elsewhere, as this is somewhere in between flood and spot. The diffused mode, which is the same mode available in the red light, works well for around camp.

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Mike

Mike wrote a review of on April 20, 2012

Formerly known as the Redwing 3100 now in retirement
5 5

This is a great do-it-all beginner pack. It has spent nearly a week with me camping out at a music festival in Belgium, two weeks trekking through the Himalayas, been kicked around airports from Kathmandu to Chicago, and took it all like a champ over the last six years or so. It isn't the lightest, but it is a great pack with tons of storage and bomber durability. Sure I have broken some buckles, one which was slammed in the door of an armored Land Cruiser, and another rocketed off after over-tightening it with frustrated hands in Yosemite, but alas, it suffered through. Now it primarily serves as my excess gear storage in my gear closet, and a loaner pack to those in-need. Overall I recommend the pack for nearly any general application.

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Mike

Mike wrote an answer about on April 11, 2012

The volume of the supplied stuff sack is 753.6 cubic inches, or 12.35 liters. And since WM—along with the common consensus among other down bag manufacturers—recommends against over compressing the bag, which can damage the down, I wouldn't get an 8 liter stuff/compression sack. That is around the size supplied for my summer bag, a WM 6' Caribou, which has half the down filling. You would find it rather difficult to compression the Versalite to that volume without unnecessarily cinching down on compression straps.

If I may suggest an alternative, which is what I do with both my Versalite and Caribou, is to get a larger dry pack liner. Once you have lined your pack you can stuff the bag in the bottom to fill the lower-end volume, and then begin to pack the rest of your non-liquid items in accordingly. Then, once you have packed and sealed the dry bag, place your extra water, fuel, trash, or other liquids outside the pack liner. This will provide a barrier for all the other pack contents, supplementarily fill dead space in your pack, and shave a small bit of weight by avoiding the stuff sack.

I personally like the OR Ultralight Dry Pack Liner.

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Mike

Mike wrote a review of on April 11, 2012

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I inevitably returned this pack. Over time I realized it was just not what I wanted. The straps would dig into my shoulders after a while, when fully loaded it would round out like a sausage. I would prefer to carry something that is more streamlined, but has more burly materials. All the straps and buckles on this got on my nerves, especially the thin side compression straps that were a pain in the a** to tighten/loosen, especially when wet.

Weight, durability, and pack space all were far above what I expected to experience when it arrived. It provides an enormous amount of features for an ultralight 46L pack, but spares many common overbuilt functions, which saves weight. The foam frame sheet can be removed for a weight savings of a little over three ounces, but seems to be worth the negligible weight to retain rigidity. It swallowed gear much easier than I expected and does not inherently require an overly skilled bag packer.

I dinged it one star because of the material used on the underside of the should straps, which is a slightly abrasive mesh. If worn improperly fitted it can cause chaffing and make for an unpleasant carry. I tried to remedy this with some duck tape-type wraps to act as a buffer, but decided to give it a try in the natural state first. However, adjustability of the strap and suspension system, plus the stretchy give to the material allows it to be tightened up without being restrictive. Weights of less than 20lbs. can be carried by most quite easily, but ensure proper sizing. For 2012 they came out with S, M, and L, vice the S/M and M/L for previous models. I purchased the M, and imagine someone beyond a 19-19.5" torso would find it a bit short.

It seems to be a formidable ultralight pack for dayhiking and multi-day backpacking pursuits, but I have not been completely swept off my feet with it like I was right away with my larger Granite Gear Blaze AC 60. I will try to post an update once I have a better feel for it.

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Mike

Mike wrote a review of on April 11, 2012

5 5

These [2L model] weigh about 1/5th of a Nalgene 1L and hold twice the water. You can keep them rolled if you are packing them in, or roll them up once they are empty, which saves on pack space. The material used for the bottle is very malleable, but retains a high level of durability. Any indents or scratches can be covered with McNett Tenacious Tape to prevent puncture. The only potential downside is the narrow mouth, when compared to a wide mouth Nalgene. They also work well in conjunction with the Sawyer Squeeze filter, and other gravity filters. Great purchase in my opinion.

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Mike

Mike wrote a review of on April 11, 2012

5 5

The jacket itself is unbelievably light, while offering an admirable level of warmth. Initially I was concerned with the strength of the 7-denier, not 15-denier as BC lists, but after inspection that fear has dissolved as long as care is taken. The jacket lofts up nicely once it is taken from the package, shaken out, and the fabric stiffness has worn off. It packs down to nearly nothing, and again weighs even less than you can comprehend.

Now to the potential negatives, but not enough to warrant a downgrade in my opinion, is the fit. Torso length on the jacket falls right around the normal waistline for pants/shorts, if not just above, while the arms are slightly long and baggy. Keeping in mind this is meant as a mid-layer, and that it is down insulation, the short torso makes sense for wearing underneath outer layers, so as not to be exposed. Moreover the function is to heat the body's core, which it does well. Sleeve length is, again, slightly long and baggy, but not to the point of being cumbersome or incurring down compression reducing insulation.

All in all it fits and wears comfortably while offering my expected level of insulation; neither the sleeve length or bagginess impeded wearing it beneath a shell. As long as care is taken with the fabric, i.e. not bushwhacking through underbrush without a shell, it should hold up respectably. It then is the perfect piece for its intended application.

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Mike

Mike posted an image about on April 11, 2012

WM Caribou and Versalite in 6' Left Zip

Detailed shot of the hood, neck, and zip area. Notice the thick continuous draft tube and collar, and overstuffed hood on the Versalite. With the high loft of the Versalite I can take it down to the high teens without needed to draw in the draft collar or hood. Whereas the Caribou has no draft tube or collar—being a 35+ deg. bag—and a modestly stuffed hood. That said, the Caribou's hood can be cinched down drastically to prevent heat loss, but allows for excess heat to escape more easily on warmer nights.

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Mike

Mike posted an image about on April 11, 2012

WM Caribou and Versalite in 6' Left Zip

Side-by-side comparison of my winter and summer WM bags. From this angle you cannot really tell the large difference in loft, but it is considerable. The Versalite achieves—to my measurements—a minimum of 6.5" of loft on the center of the lowest baffle tube, not the seam. Naturally, insulation at the foot box and from the torso up is more considerable. Additionally, the continuous baffle design allows the user to unzip the bag and shift down accordingly from top-to-bottom, or vice versa, relative to the temperature. Another photo I posted shows the difference in hood and neck design.

*The Caribou, not currently stocked at backcountry.com, measured a minimum loft height of around 4" of the lowest box baffle.

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Mike

Mike wrote a review of on April 10, 2012

5 5

This pack is incredible. All areas of the pack are crazy adjustable and it bottomlessly swallows gear. I can easily fit my entire luxury kit and a Bear Vault BV500 (stuffed with smaller gear, stove, food, etc.) inside the main pack, with all my essential easy-access gear stowed in the outer pockets. If I want to go light, the pack cinches down through nine different compression straps on the main pack bag. Weight transfer is amazing in light of the adjustability and the ventilated back panel keeps you nice and cool. Also, the torso adjustment feature on the frame sheet is ridiculously simple, but effective. All-in-all I cannot recommend it enough. Glad to see BC finally got the men's version back in stock.

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Mike

Mike wrote a review of on February 1, 2012

2 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

The jacket seemed very nice, thus my first review. However, after moderate use it wet out in one storm while hiking and essentially ended my trip due to no weather protection from an unexpected storm. It has since been returned.

The jacket looks great, fits great, and has all the Gucci features of a lifestyle jacket or technical shell stuffed into an ultralight package. While there is some tradeoff in durability for UL products, the material and fixtures of this jacket suggest they will hold up admirably. Obviously this isn't a hardcore bushwhacking jacket, or even one you would necessarily want to wear everyday; however, it is perfect for throwing in your Camelbak, daypack, or keeping on you at all times just in case. It was well worth the purchase.

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Mike

Mike wrote a review of on February 1, 2012

5 5

This pad drew me in today at the store and begged to be bought; however, I was able to resist due to the price. While you can see all the specs online, one thing I haven't seen mentioned is the anti-slip coating it has. It isn't sticky to the touch, but adheres to the ground and sleeping bags really well. This is a nice benefit for active side sleepers like me who sometimes slide off, and presumably will also prevent the pad shifting around on the tent floor or groundsheet. As with any pad having the reflective coating it is a bit crinkly, but the pack size, comfort, and weight almost make this a negligible trait. The time I spent on it in the store felt more comfortable than the original Neoair I bought, then returned. Although this may have just been psychological since I already wanted to buy it.

The reviewer below who gave it a one star very well may have received a defect, but it doesn't seem like anything that couldn't be remedied by Therm-a-Rest's warranty or Backcountry.com's return policy.

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Mike

Mike wrote a review of on January 31, 2012

5 5

The jacket looks great, fits great, and has all the Gucci features of a lifestyle jacket or technical shell stuffed into an ultralight package. While there is some tradeoff in durability for UL products, the material and fixtures of this jacket suggest they will hold up admirably. Obviously this isn't a hardcore bushwhacking jacket, or even one you would necessarily want to wear everyday; however, it is perfect for throwing in your Camelbak, daypack, or keeping on you at all times just in case. It was well worth the purchase, especially when price matched at 40% off.

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Mike

Mike wrote a review of on January 31, 2012

5 5

This thing is super comfortable, crazy compressible, and really versatile. It has kept me warm down into the teens when paired with an R1 full zip worn over a long sleeve Capilene 3 quarter zip. Yet, even though I normally run warm, I remain comfortable in it over a button up in the 50s. It folds up into the chest pocket and is practically a disappearing insulating layer when stuffed into my pack. Get one.

One note: It is cut rather full and boxy, so don't expect a svelte cut like on the R1 or Ultralight Down Jacket.

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Mike

Mike wrote a review of on January 31, 2012

3 5

As I said it is great for large particulate matter, but doesn't really clear up the turbidity even after multiple filters. For its limited application it works rather well; however, after melting down 3.5 liters worth of snow in Yosemite, filtering it all twice, we were still left with slightly turbid and gritty water. I gave it three stars only because it does work, albeit in a limited capacity.

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