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Mitch Stein

Mitch Stein

everywhere I wanna be

Mitch Stein's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Running
Biking

Mitch Stein

Mitch Stein wrote a review of on March 6, 2011

5 5

I really love this thing!

Out of my collection of lumbar packs, this is the one that I instinctively reach for, whether heading out for a quick jaunt in the canyons near my house with my pup, or longer day treks that don't require much space for clothing or gear. I've been using this thing at least four times a week for almost 2 years and still looks & works like new!

The fit is great, and it can be locked down snugly so nothing flops around when the going gets jiggly.

There is an amazing amount of smart engineering put into this seemingly simple device.

Thanks to the Airscape back and side panels (which hold the pack off your body with a combination of curved semi-rigid frame sheet, highly dimensional, perforated foam pads and soft netting)it stays cool on my lower back and rides like there's nothing there.

In addition to the sophisticated suspension, nice touches abound, like the substantial, reflective talon graphics;
waist strap adjuster keepers (keeping the straps readily at hand and preventing them from whipping around);
foam reinforced bottle pockets (never collapse, so it's easy to re-holster the H2O while on the move);
Osprey's excellent, easy grab zipper pulls.

(3)

 

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Mitch Stein

Mitch Stein wrote a review of on September 13, 2010

1 5

I was excited to find a pair of GTX wonders that seemed to fit my feet well, with excellent heel lock-down, for my recent trip to Kauai. I've hiked over the technical, super slippery rocks and mud on the Napali coast before, and was looking forward to the one-two protection of GTX and short gaiters to keep my feet dry(ish).

While I was a bit surprised to see the smallish & hard treads on the bottom of the Gryptilian soles (much smaller than on previous MT Hard Rock shoes I own) they seemed to work fine around my local gnarly-but-dry trails.

However, as soon as I hit moisture on the trail in HI they turned into self lubricating ball-bearing encrusted death machines.

Having hiked there before, I knew I had to be careful, but expected these to provide, at least, as much traction as my old TNF trail shoes on the slippery stuff.

I'll spare you most of the gory details, other than to say that, after six to eight hard, scary falls (which would have been much worse had I not had my excellent Black Diamond trekking poles to save my ass) I became so paranoid about every step I took that it took me over two and a half extra hours to painfully hike out the four miles back to the car... Really glad I had plenty of flashlight power (and GPS) to help me find the way.

Sorry Montrail, I generally love your shoes, but these things were downright dangerous on the slippery stuff! While I accept the risks of my little adventures, and accept that not all equipment works equally well for all users, I must tell you that I have never actually been traumatized by my equipment before. Back they go (thanks BC).

(3)

 

Mitch Stein

Mitch Stein wrote a review of on September 13, 2010

2 5

Sorry Osprey, I generally love your stuff and was excited to get this pack, but you just got too many things wrong on this one (back it goes... thx bc, you guys rock!!).

I just returned from hiking on the Napali Coast on Kauai with this thing. While there were some very nice aspects to this bag (nice overlapping front side zip pockets, hiking pole stow&go system, helmet, light lash point, pretty comfortable, stayed cool without excessive arch away from back, etc.), they were overwhelmed by the following list of gripes:

1) Nearly worthless waist belt pockets. Too small to hold more than a couple of peanuts, or a bus pass. To make matters worse, they lose most of their tiny volume when you cinch down the waist belt... I find this location the most convenient place to keep GPS, camera, phone, snacks, etc for ready access... Why can't someone make decent sized belt pockets... not that hard to keep them out of the way, and even include some kind of cinch system to keep things from flopping when the pocket is not full... Also, make 'em watertight!

2) Side stretch pockets are located way too high for non-contortionists to be able to reach water bottles/snacks.

3) Fancy new water bladder. While I liked the idea of the scaffolded bladder and was willing to put up with some additional bulk, I think Osprey could have optimized these with less material to make it lighter and less bulky. All of that structure and a drinking tube not readily removable from water bag add up to make the thing even harder to clean than older style bags. Worst of all, unless I was extremely careful when screwing on the cap, and getting it mega tight, the thing leaked all over my stuff (and, embarrassingly, the hotel bed).

4) Rain cover. Nice to see an integrated one attached, but no way I found (granted it was under flashlight in pouring rain) to firmly attach it to the top of the pack, despite integral bungee. As a result, whatever stuff hadn't already gotten soaked by bladder cap leakage, was doused when the rain cover kept falling off!

All in all, this pack made a tough hike, quite annoying.

(1)

 

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Mitch Stein

Mitch Stein wrote a review of on June 16, 2010

4 5

These pants are great stretchy pants for cooler weather, as the fabric is much heavier than the stuff used in other stretchy pants like the the Arc'Teryx Rampart & Palisade or Mountain Hardwear Talus & Chockstone.

Because of their more conventional cut, and the fabric's coarser texture, they look more like cotton duck pants than slick super-tech backcountry tools (although they are still plenty capable). This makes them a bit more versatile, style-wise, as they fit in a bit better than the others once you head back to civilization after day on the rock and trail.

So, you're probably wondering: "If he loves 'em so much, why only four stars?". Well, I'm glad you asked...

I have a love/hate thing going with one particular feature, namely the hand pockets. They are made of a heavier-weight version of the micro-chamois material so popular for lining waist bands in up-market pants and are sinfully comfy and warm.

Every time I slide my hands into 'em, I automatically say "ahhhh" (which can be kind of embarrassing if I happen to be standing in a crowd at the time)... The problem is, that for some reason, MH made the pockets really shallow, which is contrary to any of the other fine pants in their line. In fact, they are so shallow (and sans-zippers), that stuff tends to fall out of these otherwise glorious hand houses.

Ironically, the whole situation is made worse precisely due to the extreme comfort of the damn things, as your bliss-seeking paws are constantly wrestling for the upper hand (pun-intended) with the plethora of inanimate objects already struggling to maintain purchase in that rarefied volume... except, of course, when you are in the midst of a fully inverted, single finger handhold (with a twist), in which case gravity takes over the task of re-distributing your belongings to those in a lower (vertical) strata (remember, no zippers!).

I just don't know why MH did this... maybe to taunt us, maybe to keep us occupied constantly retrieving change, keys and winning lottery tickets from between the cushions and off of the floor during the long train ride to the top of Jungfrau Pass. Maybe the pocket fabric is really expensive, and they were trying to save on production costs (that would also explain the lack of zippers) so they could price them within the reach of more pocket-comfort-lusting consumers of limited means. Maybe they ran out of this amazing fabric during initial prototyping, and forgot to fix the spec, when they went into production... Maybe I should just get over it, so I can finish this rant, and get my hands off of the keyboard, and back into my Piero pockets...

All in all though, great pants, of which I have several pairs.

(7)

 

Mitch Stein

Mitch Stein wrote a review of on June 13, 2010

4 5

This pack is a super tough, super comfortable, super ventilated and super light (for it's features, comfort and sturdiness)... seems like the operative word here is ... Super!

My only gripes are that the very frame that makes it so comfortable, well ventilated and strong, has a big curve to it which makes it pretty bulky. Also, I wish someone would make a pack with slightly larger waist belt pockets, with at least one of these being waterproof, rather than mesh.

(1)

 

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Mitch Stein

Mitch Stein wrote a review of on April 11, 2010

5 5

Just got this pack and am really jazzed with it!

In addition to the normal compliment of well sorted design and excellent fit-and-finish that I've come to expect from Gregory, there are a couple of very clever features that make this an outstanding trail running pack.

The first is the tendon system, that anchors the shoulder straps and waist belt to the pack through a stiff but stretchy attachment. This allows the pack to stay quite comfortable, and move with you, even when cinched down tight.

The other feature that complements the tendons, is the internal compression system which helps make sure that nothing flops around in the pack, even after taking something out while on the trail. It's simple to grab either of the one-hand adjustable pull loops at the bottom sides of the pack, and give 'em a quick yank to keep everything snug... no pack dismount, or contortions required.

There is, however, a small price to pay for the tendon system though. The waist belt set-up is a bit bulky, and impinges a bit on the waist belt pockets, slightly reducing their effective volume. That said, it seems a small price to pay for the valuable enhancement in fit the tendons provide.

(1)

 

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Mitch Stein

Mitch Stein wrote a review of on April 11, 2010

2 5

I am a stretch fabric junkie, and had high expectations for these. I liked the stout but stretchy material, and was jazzed by the load of pockets, many with zippers. The icing on the cake, was scoring a great buy on SteepAndCheap.

However, when they arrived, reality set in...I seem to be pretty much of a universal medium, but these mediums were way to snug... so back they went, swapping in a pair in large.

When the large ones showed up, they seemed, other than being a bit longer than I prefer, to fit pretty well. But when I wandered around the house in 'em (with the tags still on... channeling Minnie Pearl) I found myself continually checking for bunched shirt or undies around the front left pocket. It turns out that Stoic out-clevered themselves by placing a cell phone pocket inside the left side pocket, which led to about 9 layers of fabric piled on top of each other at the seam. Even with the fairly relaxed fit, this became totally annoying, and I had them off within 15 minutes.

As I was contemplating the problem, I took a closer look at the construction of the shorts, and noticed lots of funky stitching, and many hanging threads. With a sample size of only one, I can't dis the whole Stoic line, but these sure weren't anywhere near the nearly flawless quality I've enjoyed with similarly premium ArcTeryx and Mountain Hardwear goods.

I sent them back and replaced them with a pair of TNF Outbound shorts (in Med) which fit great, are even lighter and stretchier, have a nice integrated belt. Even though these are much lighter than the Stoic shorts, I've seen great durability out of the very light Apex Aerobic fabrics, and these will keep me much cooler during serious exertion during hot weather.

(1)

 

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Mitch Stein

Mitch Stein wrote a review of on January 24, 2010

5 5

I love these things! They're light but provide great support, very comfy while providing awesome protection from rock assaults on the sole, and keep my feet dry (rain stays out, sweat gets out).

They keep my heels locked in while providing lots of wiggle room for my toes... What more could you ask for?

No probs hauling a 70 pound pack up steep stuff with these.

(2)

 

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Mitch Stein

Mitch Stein wrote a review of on January 24, 2010

5 5

While I prefer to wear shorts when the weather and conditions permit, sometimes you need to keep your legs covered, to protect from the sun or gnarly underbrush, or just because your going to confront varied weather.

Ramparts fit the bill almost perfectly in this case. They are feather weight, astonishingly stretchy/breathable while remaining super wind/water resistant... just another one of ArcT's miracle fabrics in action. In addition to the fabric stretch, the cut, especially the articulated knees make these things super comfortable in any conditions and at any activity level.

While I actually prefer the ArcT Palisade pants to these (zippered pockets, low-profile built-in belt, ever-so-slightly more amazing fabric, configured to accept ankle draw-cords for keeping the mud/brambles/snow out) those bad boys are 50% more expensive than these... decisions, decisions...

I only wish they made both of these pants in a convertible configuration, so you could zip off the legs (it's a little tough to pull off installing radial zippers on stretchy material, but if anyone can do it, my money is on ArcT!).

While I'm wishing: I'd love to see Rampart shorts in a less extreme inseam to fit my vertically challenged self, and the Palisade shorts would be perfect, if they figure out how to put reasonable pockets on them (bigger and better placed).

(3)

 

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Mitch Stein

Mitch Stein wrote a review of on January 3, 2010

5 5

These make good fitting shoes and boots fit even better.

After being disappointed by my pair of SuperFeet insoles, my Foot Doc highly recommended these. I'm glad I listened.

While not super pillowy, they have just the right mix of flex, support and cushioning.

They are super easy to mold, and provide an excellent final tweak to keep your dogs happy over the long haul.

(2)

 

Mitch Stein

Mitch Stein wrote a review of on January 3, 2010

4 5

This is my Mountain Bike gear garage. It has plenty of room for tools, spares, wallet, phone, nutrition and fluids.

Regardless of load, it snugs up and stays comfy for the duration of the ride. I really like the side pockets, and the stretchy back panel for quick draw items.

It would be even better if it were more weather proof, or came with some sort of rain/mud cover. Unless I carefully tuck them away before departure, the excess webbing from the waist belt is constantly flopping around and getting in my way, whether biking or hiking. TNF should study and emulate the waist strap keepers on the Osprey Talon 4 lumbar pack, which neatly solve the problem, and provide the added benefit of having the waist adjustment always at hand.

All in all though, a great bag.

(1)

 

Mitch Stein

Mitch Stein wrote a review of on January 1, 2010

5 5

I thought my Mountain Hardwear Talus Pants were the last word in delicious stretchy goodness, and then I found these. With lighter, smoother, more wind-proof and even tougher stretch material, & they even sport a built-in, low profile belt. Fit is typical ArcT athletic perfection. These bad boys are seriously spendy, but deliver true pant Nirvana. Whether hangin' out, or hangin' by your fingers, they are so light and move so well, it's like wearing the Emperor's new clothes, but without the abrasion, wind or sunburn exposure. If you can afford 'em, you'll totally dig 'em. If you come up a little short, go for the Ramparts... fewer bells and whistles, but almost the same awesome material.

(5)