Niall MacRae

Niall MacRae

Austin, TX / Vancouver, BC

Niall MacRae's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Snowboarding
Biking
Paddling
Climbing

Niall MacRae's Bio

La Nina snows :).

Niall MacRae

Niall MacRae wrote a review of on May 20, 2010

5 5

Wow, this thing is almost perfect--I've been wearing this jacket almost everyday for a month straight. I freaking love this jacket. It is really lightweight and packs down to next to nothing, almost like a windbreaker, so I always have it on me -- and that is great for the daily rain/wind/sun/clouds/rain/more wind cycle in the Vancouver area. Does a great job shrugging of the wind but breathing really well, so that you don't have to regulate your temperature by taking the jacket on and off. There is no insulation or fleece bonded to the inside so it slips over and under layers with supreme ease--and using it in a layering system is where it excels. Perfect pocket placement means things are at hand in the city and on mountain. Resists light rain pretty well for a short time, shrugs off abrasion in chimneys, tree runs, and grovel patches. I'm 6'2" and 170, and a medium fits just right -- arm length is perfect, not overly fitted or big and boxy. Hits at the hips to conceal t-shirt hems in town and to stay under backpack belts out of bounds. The hood is fitted, so it works and avoids hanging off your neck like a deflated parachute. Only issues? Handwarmer pockets are a little low, so you may not have full access to them with a pack belt on. The offset zipper at the neck works well, but sometimes requires to both hands to zip it all the way up. What is stopping you from using this 300 days out of the year for pretty much anything from canoe trips to ice climbing to adventure racing to ski touring to shopping downtown? Nothing really. It is that good. If you like it half as much as I do, you will still be stoked!

(1)

 

0 Comments

Niall MacRae

Niall MacRae wrote a review of on January 10, 2010

5 5

This is the best shovel I've ever owned. It replaces my old BD Cougar (?) shovel. The trapezoidal cross-section shaft is stiff and sturdy, and is dead-easy to lock-in/together when you need to deploy it in a hurry -- no need to spin the shaft to get the button-lock aligned. Load it up with heavy, wet snow all you want, the shaft design has got more than enough to handle that too. The blade design is equally sturdy and I like the smaller Transfer 3 blade for digging precise pits. The hybrid grip is better than my old T-handle and lower profile than a D-grip-- it works really well. Great design, great shovel!

(0)

 

0 Comments

Niall MacRae

Niall MacRae wrote a review of on December 23, 2009

5 5

Pretty blown away this weekend by the Abacus. The shape is comparable to a Burton Malolo, and like the Malolo, it falls between All-Mountain and Powder-specific catagories. I bought it for BC duties with an eye to split it at a later date, and this was the first chance I've had to take it out this season. With a foot of (heavy) fresh at Whistler on the groomers and more in the trees, the Abacus took priority for the day over my Capita Black Death or my Yes 156.5. I couldn't have been happier. Upon picking it up, it was noticeably lighter than the 4.5cm shorter Capita board, and it is a bit thinner over the whole length of the board. The Shaman core and structural topsheet are apparently legitimate as features that contribute to an overall very light weight. On the hill: Super float and super fast, snappy and very maneuverable despite its 164cms of length. It really ate up the time in the trees. Great flex pattern, too: the board really seemed to enjoy being launched and dropping, and carved up the fresh first thing in the morning with nary a hiccup. I've run a lot of different freestyle, all-mountain, and powder boards (like my usual powder-day Fish) over the last few years and I am still really impressed by how easily the Abacus turned moderate terrain and chewed-up powder into a playground, and how good it made 30cms of fresh snow feel. Good stuff from Arbor if you are in the market for a board like this!

(0)

 

0 Comments

Niall MacRae

Niall MacRae wrote a review of on December 18, 2009

3 5

I was a little disappointed in this fleece jacket. I was looking for something to wear over a t-shirt on warm spring days, when the slopes are soft and slushy and it is too warm for a full-on shell and layers. Patagonia talks about this as a "softshell jacket," which is completely misleading in my opinion. While the jacket has a nylon outer face, which does an admirable job of blocking light winds, the face material is not DWR coated and does a very good job of soaking up water that comes in contact with it. It isn't a deal breaker, but it isn't the behavior of a soft-shell jacket either. On spring days last year, the Slopestyle was soaked through anywhere where it came in contact with the snow. It is pretty boxy and loosely cut, so while it looks proportional while you're wearing ski or snowboard boots and pants, it is a little big for me to be wearing casually unless I'm at the crags. The upside is that there is room for layers underneath and I wear it primarily as an early morning, long-drive-to-the-hill car jacket, something comfy to swap for my shell when I get to the hill. The thumbholes are too small to actually accomodate my thumbs without cutting off circulation and stressing the bartacks at the thumb openings, to the point where I am afraid of tearing the cuffholes open. So, a lot of weird things at work here. I think if you call it what it is, a nylon-face fleece hoody for the day-to-day of Fall, Winter and Spring, it is pretty good at that. Post-surf, post-ski, skatepark, tuning garage or fetching the paper and kicking it at the coffee shop, maybe. But a technical, slushy-park-and-mountain softshell hoody with slope style? Not quite.

(1)

 

Niall MacRae

Niall MacRae wrote a question about on October 8, 2009

Has anybody had much experience with the Hi-Amber polarized lens and low light conditions or night skiing? My Hi-yellow lenses are almost shot, and I was looking for a replacement, but it looks like the light transmission numbers on the hi-amber is closer to an all-around lens. Any thoughts?

(0)

 

Niall MacRae

Niall MacRae wrote a review of on September 23, 2009

4 5

I am really digging the Karakorams. I had/have a pair of the Finns, which I did a lot of hiking and cycle touring in, but ultimately they've broken down a lot faster than I would have expected them to, both the lining and the upper where the eyelets have pulled loose. I think Patagonia has tried to address these issues, and the feeling that the Finns were not "real" approach shoes, with the Karakorams.
The PU-coated leather (sounds burly, huh?) makes for a much, much tougher upper, a big upgrade if real rock-rubbing scrambling and hiking is a regular item on the menu. No eyelets, just loops, so no pulling out and they look to be a pretty durable solution as well. Rubber is STICKY. The Vibram Idrogrip soles are another big upgrade and help to turn these into shoes that have real approach chops. If you are wearing them around town you'll feel the soles gripping the sidewalk. Interesting sensation. The lining is still the big question, since it was one of the first things to go in mine and all of my fellow salespersons' shoes. It looks and feels better, but only time will tell.
All in all, a real approach shoe that looks built for the long haul with quality materials all the way around. If you are going to wear this for hiking, working outside or just to wear around town, size to your normal street shoe size. If you want them for serious approach duties, and you have a narrower foot, I would consider sizing down by a half-size. Definitely my favorite Patagonia shoe so far.

(0)

 

0 Comments

0 Comments

0 Comments

Niall MacRae

Niall MacRae wrote a review of on September 9, 2009

5 5

I guess it depends on what kind of rocks you throw it down on. Mine seems to be soaking up the abuse with nary a rip, tear or gouge. This uses the same ground-side fabric Metolius uses on almost all their pads, and I've never had real issues with the fabric on any of them: tough as you need it to be. There are three things to love about the Colossus:
1) The tri-fold design, makes this 6 foot long pad carry "small." I don't notice too much of a difference between the Colossus and my old Cheap Bastard -- until I unfold them.
2)The pockets integrated into the closure flap are awesome, as is the fact that that they well designed to double as protection for the shoulder harness.
3) It is a bed. I'm 6 foot and have never been able to sleep comfortably with my legs hanging off my 4 inch high and 4 foot long Cheap Bastard. I've already had some great nights of sleep on the Colossus. And there is room for your significant other, too.
Bomb-er.

(0)

 

0 Comments

Niall MacRae

Niall MacRae wrote a review of on September 9, 2009

5 5

I love this pack anyway (Great design and suspension, well thought out, light and capacious and a great deal, relative to Osprey and Arcteryx) but I have to give it extra kudos for putting up with a 3.5 hours hike in pouring rain this weekend with no cover. It did a pretty good imitation of of being waterproof. The only thing wet in the main compartment of my pack was the insulated synthetic jacket, which was up against the fabric on the base, which seems to be a lot less water resistant than the fabric the rest of the pack is cut from. So, on top of the fact that this is my favorite pack in the world at the moment, it just added "almost-waterproof" to the pro side of things. Well worth checking out if you are looking for an overnight or light weekend pack, especially if you are thinking about the Osprey Atmos/Stratos duo. Two thumbs up, Gregory.

(0)

 

0 Comments

Niall MacRae

Niall MacRae wrote a review of on July 2, 2009

5 5

Woah, my new favorite headlamp. I wanted to grab a focused beam headlamp after hiking Fuji overnight with my Petzl Tikka--with the light fog, a more focused beam would have been the way to go on that giant scree-pile. A year later I decided to try a Black Diamond Spot, and was sorely disappointed when the ratcheting mechanism broke, straight out of the package. I traded it out for the Eos Bike (pick this up, Backcountry!), which is the Eos headlamp with additional handlebar and helmet mounts. This lightsource is my new best friend at night--on the handlebars, on my climbing helmet, or on a hike. Tight, bright beam is a joy, construction is very solid, and I am very happy. And a big plus is that it is MADE IN THE USA (hooray!) and is backed up by an in-USA lifetime warranty and an international 10 year warranty. Not going back to Petzl or Black Diamond for a while, thanks to this light. You'll be glowing like your headlamp, you'll be so happy with this one.

(0)

 

0 Comments

Niall MacRae

Niall MacRae wrote a review of on July 2, 2009

4 5

This is a great pad, and a bit less expensive than the outgoing Cheap Bastard it replaces in the Metolius line. It shares great padding, tough cover material, a good harness and the angled hinge design of the old Cheap Bastard. What it is missing, and I'm not really missing it much yet, is the hypalon-reinforced corners (for now it loses a star). but like I said I'm not missing them yet, and I've been putting it through its paces. The angled hinge design really makes the pad, helping to prevent ankle-breaking bottom-outs if you land on the hinge. From overhangs to highballs, it is really hard to beat this pad for the money.

(2)

 

0 Comments

Niall MacRae

Niall MacRae wrote a review of on June 24, 2009

4 5

Small, small, small, light, light, light. These are great little biners and they don't get much more little than this for climbing. The opening is correspondingly small, they would be VERY tough to handle with gloves on and they give up a little in ultimate strength, but if light is right for you these might be the only way to go. One exception: if light AND color-coded is helpful to you, the Black Diamond Neutrino wiregate offers a wider selection of bright colors (which exactly match those of their cams, natch) in return for a very slight weight (and size?) penalty compared to the Camp Nano. Color-coded rack not on your list? The Nano is the lightest of them all.

(0)

 

0 Comments

Niall MacRae

Niall MacRae wrote a review of on June 24, 2009

4 5

I like these draws lots. Clean-nosed, streamlined and strong key-locking carabiners on both ends and no-nonsense nylon dogbones make these an excellent, inexpensive alternative to the now-standard, ever-more-costly Petzl Spirit Express. The dogbone is slightly too supple and there is no rubber "keeper" to hold your 'biner in perfect clipping position on the rope end compared to the Spirit, but in practice, I am nothing but very happy with this well-designed draw from Camp!

(0)

 

0 Comments