Nancy

Nancy

Nancy's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Biking
Paddling
Skiing
Climbing

Nancy's Bio

I'm a single mom who has been taking her two boys, now aged eleven and thirteen, backpacking, canoe camping, car camping, mountain biking, day hiking, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and exploring for many years now. We've even done some caving and rock climbing. I'm always on the lookout for the "best" gear, which for me means the best balance between cost, weight, durability and user-friendliness. I hope to instill in my children a love and reverence for the outdoors.

Nancy

Nancy wrote a review of on November 17, 2014

4 5

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

First off, I would like to thank The North Face for listening to our complaints and making the XL sizes in their outerwear a little roomier so as to fit muscular and full-figured women. The styles had become very slim fitting and I had been wearing the same ski shell for eight seasons because I had been unable to find a new jacket that I could zip up the front. This jacket zips comfortably without straining across the bust, especially when the liner is zipped out. It is roomy without being poofy and the blue color isn’t too girly or loud.

Features:

Parka-length, uninsulated ski shell with mesh lining, pit zips, zip-off hood, powder skirt and functional pockets.

Insulated zip-out liner of the packable sort.

Very functional pockets. A half-liter Platypus, neck gaiter, glove liners and granola bars will fit in the side pockets. There are also front flap pockets for other small items. A chest pocket holds my smartphone. Another pocket on the left, lower sleeve contains a goggle wipe on a leash (nice touch.) There is a goggle pocket inside the jacket, which I will never use.

Velcro wrist closures are easy to use and fit over ordinary ski gloves.

Pit zips are easy to work but are too small to be functional. And “breathable” is only an expression. On a 31F (at the base) cloudy day, with the liner zipped out, wearing a medium weight baselayer and a lightly insulated midlayer I was sweating like crazy, even with the pit zips open and the front zipped open six inches. My layers were all soaked and the inside of the jacket was so wet that I had to turn it inside out when I took it off in order to dry it. However, this would have happened to me in almost any ski shell except an old Marmot one that had really wide pit zips. I get hot when I ski.

No zipper pull on the main zipper? All the other zippers have them, maybe this was a factory oversight?

Excellent fit, design and details. Average technical performance.

(1)

 

Nancy

Nancy wrote a review of on August 19, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I bought the Osprey Ace 48 for my older son when he was eleven. He?s slightly tall for his age and very long-waisted and had outgrown his external frame children?s pack. I chose the Osprey Ace because it had the greatest torso adjustment range of all of the internal frame youth packs I looked at. In fact, when he and his younger brother outgrow it, I plan on using it myself as a ?fast and light? weekend pack.

He loved this pack immediately. It has plenty of room for everything he needs, and more. It has enough pockets to help him organize his gear and is very easy to pack. Indeed, it seems to hold everything more easily than my much larger adult pack (not an Osprey.) While the actual weight of the pack may seem high, this pack carries the load in a well-balanced fashion, making it feel lighter than it actually is. He has never complained about the weight of his load and is always picking up old junk in the wilderness and packing it home, even old saw blades and fishing poles.

He is now thirteen, and this is what he carried in his pack last weekend: His 20-degree sleeping bag, the fly to a Eureka Mountain Pass 3XTE, a twenty-five year old WhisperLite stove and fuel bottle, a small cookset, two full changes of summer clothing, long johns, a lightweight fleece, a heavyweight fleece, a 1.5L Camelbak bladder (full), rain gear, one third of our food, a small bear canister and miscellaneous little stuff. His ground pad and Crocs were strapped to the outside. He carried this adult-sized load almost five miles without complaint (and he can be a drama king.)

This is THE internal frame pack I would recommend to anyone looking for a versatile youth pack.

(1)

 

0 Comments

Nancy

Nancy wrote a review of on August 18, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This compression sack is wonderfully lightweight and compressed my sleeping bag well. It's also slippery sil-nylon which makes it easier to slide in and out of a backpack. Unfortunately, the top seam blew out after only two seasons of light to moderate use. I can still use it but my sleeping bag poofs out a little through the hole (and it's now less water resistant because of the hole.) It's a little disappointing because I don't believe I mistreated it at all. Still, I like it enough that I might buy another one someday and hope the same thing doesn't happen all over again.

(1)

 

0 Comments

Nancy

Nancy wrote a review of on August 18, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

The title is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but how else would you know whether your water filter is working?

I got mine in 2009. I think that year they made some defective filters because mine got irreversibly clogged after three short weekend trips. I noticed that other reviewers had had the same problem and wrote to MSR, who provided a free replacement filter which has now been going strong for three seasons.

When the filter is becoming clogged, water shoots out of the pressure relief valve. This is good, because it purportedly prevents the filter from being damaged; but it's annoying, depending on which hand you're pumping with, because it can shoot the water straight at your chest. Of course, if you give your kids the job of filtering water, they will laugh hilariously and intentionally shoot water at each other and you won't have to do any of the pumping yourself.

It probably takes about ten minutes of pumping to get three to four liters of water. It's not fast but it's much faster than the old First Need water purifiers were.

I haven't had any problems with the prefilter clogging but I have been using very clear mountain streams and ponds as my water sources.

It's a little large and bulky compared to some of the other filters out there, so if you are an ultralighter, you might want to go with something else. I like this one because, other than the first summer, it has been very reliable. It's so easy to use, even a seven year old can do it.

(1)

 

0 Comments

Nancy

Nancy wrote a review of on August 18, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

The Marmot Kompressor Plus is intended to be a lightweight, packable daypack. I use it on backpacking trips-- I pack my clothing in it and put it inside my backpack until I get to my "base camp", then I use it as a daypack for day trips. Some reviewers have complained that it doesn't have its own structure but that's because it is ultralight and multi purpose. Yes, it does tend to hang a bit like a shapeless sack, but I did an eight hour, three peak hike with it and didn't find that to be a problem, and I used it without the foam "stiffening" board. It has quite a large capacity, which is good if you need to carry rain gear, warm clothing for the summit, water, food and a water filter. The back isn't mesh, but I didn't find it made my back any sweatier than every other pack I've carried.

The capacity and light weight of this pack also make it ideal for an overnight/weekend travel bag, which is my other use for it.

The problems with this pack are: The mesh pocket on the bottom isn't super durable and tends to snag when you duck under trees that lean/lie across the trail, causing small holes; and, there is no insulation between your back and your hydration bladder if you use the hydration sleeve-- which means your cold water will make you colder on a cool day or your back will warm your water quickly on a warm day. Even so, I am very fond of this pack.

(2)

 

0 Comments

Nancy

Nancy wrote a review of on August 12, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I?m 5'6 1/2" tall, clothing size XL, broad shoulders; I get cold when I sleep. The Women's Ouray Long fits me perfectly with room for clothes etc. at the feet and no binding at the shoulders. It kept me toasty warm on snow at 19F using only one ground pad and wearing expedition long johns, wool socks and no hat. Very comfortable, cushy, supportive bag. Drawstrings are easy to use. With two ground pads and extra layers I believe I could use this bag down to its 4F degree EN rating. This is on of very few Women's sleeping bags EN Comfort rated down near zero. It?s not the lightest or most compressible sleeping bag in the universe, but it costs a lot less than one of those high tech bags with 900-fill down and, in my opinion, is fine for backpacking. As an aside, the men's rating is -11F, so a man (or one of my boys) could probably use the Ouray as a -15 bag.

(3)

 

0 Comments

Nancy

Nancy wrote a review of on August 5, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I'm a cold sleeper so I don't know if I could truly take this sleeping bag down to the 23F EN Comfort rating, but it is a very warm bag, way warmer than my old 20F sleeping bag ever was (even before it got older and colder) and not any heavier, although somewhat less compressible. I've only used it on one trip so far, but temps got down to 48; I was wearing lightweight long underwear and I was so toasty warm that I didn't even have the bag zipped all the way. I would have been very cold in my old 20 degree bag (which, admittedly, would probably have had an EN rating of 35 when it was new, if the ratings had existed.)

The sleeping bag has a beautiful, silky, Pertex-like shell. Despite its smoothness, it doesn't feel clammy. I did have trouble with the zipper snagging, way more than the other sleeping bags I've had. I bought the Long sized; I'm 5ft 7in and have very broad shoulders and it fit very comfortably. As I mentioned before, it doesn't compress very small, so if you're a woman who hikes with a petite backpack, you might complain about how it fits in your sleeping bag compartment-- but it fits fine in mine. (Also, if you get the regular size it will probably compress smaller.) If you want something much smaller, it will be colder or down-insulated.

This is a very good three-season sleeping bag for someone who spends a lot of time in rainy environments like the Adirondacks.

(1)

 

0 Comments

Nancy

Nancy wrote a review of on June 1, 2013

4 5

I purchased the Ouray because it was one of only two Women's sleeping bags I found that was EN Comfort Rated near zero for women. I sleep cold and I wanted a bag that I could use in the winter. I chose this over the other bag, the REI Habanera, because I found it on sale and because the Habanera reminds me of Pepto Bismol. Both bags have similar EN Ratings and weights (the Habanera is a few ounces lighter and one or two degrees "warmer.")

This isn't a very light or compressible bag--it has 650 fill down so it's not a Western Mountaineering or a Feathered Friends-- but is still in the range I consider reasonable for backpacking. I am 5ft 6 1/2 inches tall and my feet like freedom so I purchased the Long. It fits exactly the way I like it, with enough room at the feet to stuff the next morning's clothing. I wear a women's XL and have broad shoulders and did not find this bag to be too tight or too roomy. The zipper works fine. The drawstrings for the draft collar and hood are easy to use. The bag has a lot of loft.

I used the Ouray for the first time in the Adirondacks in early April. I camped in a tent on snow. I wore expedition weight long johns and wool socks but no hat. I used only one ground pad, a Thermarest Prolite Plus. The outside temperature went down to around 19F overnight. I was toasty warm all night and also very comfortable because the bag is so "cushy." With the addition of a second ground pad and additional clothing layers, I believe I could truly use this bag pretty close to the 4F rating. I'm very happy with this bag!

(7)

 

0 Comments

Nancy

Nancy wrote a review of on July 2, 2011

Great pack for kids!
5 5

My boys love their packs. The frame adjusts nicely and the pack is a decent size (the sleeping bag goes on the outside, underneath the pack, so be sure you put a plastic bag inside the stuff sack if you expect rain.) A word of caution, though: the company says that the pack is designed for kids five through thirteen. However, last summer was the first year I took my kids backpacking and my younger son was seven and a half. He has always been average height and build. The waist belt had to be at its tightest in order for him to carry the pack; if he'd been any smaller, it would have been a "no-go."

(3)

 

0 Comments