NickW

NickW

Bay Area, Tahoe, Eastern Sierra, Yosemite, NorCal

NickW's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Skiing
Climbing

NickW

NickW wrote a review of on July 5, 2009

5 5

After getting back into climbing after a 7+ year hiatus, I was amazed by all of the gear advancements. This even applies to helmets. The last helmets I wore were either (i) the old heavy CAMP ones or (ii) the old version of the Petzel Erin Roc. I am very pleased with my Elios. It is sturdy, but also light-weight. I am sure there are lighter options available, but frankly I was blown away by the weight difference v. what I used to wear. It is a combination foam interior with an adjustable rachet in the back. Very easy to fit. I would say the most comparable is the BD Half Dome. I tried both on (they are both nice helmets), but the Elios (i) fit my head better and (ii) felt like it would work better with ski goggles (for winter/spring ski mountaineering. For an all-around work-horse helmet, I don't think you can go wrong with the Petzel Elios.

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NickW

NickW wrote a review of on June 21, 2009

5 5

I had been out of the climbing market for about 8 years, and I was looking to slowly get back into climbing through top-roping my local routes. I wanted a rope that could work well for these top-rope routes, but also provide the flexibility to be used when I got back into multi-pitch trad climbing. Basically, I was looking for a workhorse, everyday rope. After some research and recommendations, it appeared that a 60M, 10.2 rope was the way to go (although with a 70M, you can link some pitches, but it would have been overkill for top-rope routes). Looking at ropes offered in this size, the Mammut Supersafe came highly recommended. It is the only rope to pass the Sharp End Resistance test, which was nice. Otherwise, it feels and handles great. It has a nice coating, belays well and is relatively light for its size. It has nice center marks as well. Basically, if you are in the market for an all-around workhorse, use-anywhere-anytime rope, you can't go wrong with the Mammut Supersafe.

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NickW

NickW wrote a review of on June 20, 2009

5 5

I have a Petzel William Screwgate locking biner as a dedicated belay and rappel biner. The Petzel William is very big and belays nicely with an ATC. It also rappels nicely with an ATC. I also like the added feature of the red, which visually lets you know if you are not locked. While there may be some marginally lighter options for belay/rappel lockers, I think the Petzel works great.

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NickW

NickW wrote a review of on June 20, 2009

5 5

I have 2 of the BD Rocklock Screwgate Biners, which I exclusively use for master points on a top-rope setup. I think these are great as the Screwgate gives me comfort that they will stay locked up top (v. the Twislock) and they are plenty large to run the rope through. While I think other locking biners are better for the anchoring system (e.g., BD Positron Screwgates), these work great as master-points biners. I have a Petzel William as a dedicated belay-locker, but these would also work well for both belaying and rappelling.

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NickW

NickW wrote a review of on June 20, 2009

5 5

I picked up 4 of the BD Positron Screwgate biners and absolutely love them. They are very light-weight and versatile for anchoring systems. The Key Lock is great as webbing and pro will not snag when engaging the biner. The Screwgate works nicely. It is worth noting that these are essentially the same as the BD Locking Quicksilver Biners, but those do not have the Keygate feature. Also, I would point out that this is a relatively small locking-biner. I only use it for setting up anchors (e.g., clipping bolts for top-rop set-ups) or as a locker on the end of my personal anchor system. It is definitely too small to use as a belay locker, and I think Rocklocks or other larger locking biners work much better as master points (for running the rope through or for locking multiple webbing, etc into).

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NickW

NickW wrote a review of on April 10, 2009

5 5

I have the BD Verdict in a 180 as a 100% touring ski. It is mounted with Dynafit Vertical STs. While I am at the upper end of sizing for the 180 (I am 6'3", 185 lbs.), I wanted something easier to turn in steep couloirs for spring BC skiing. The Verdict is a great touring ski because (i) it is relatively light for its size, (ii) it has great stablity at speed and in almost all snow conditions (more on that below), (iii) it can handle hardpack like a GS ski and (iv) with a 102 waist, it floats great in powder. The biggest factor for me other than the weight was that it is known to be a rock stable ski in all snow conditions. We all know that in the backcountry, you really get a wide variety of snow conditions (it is not always hero powder). I wanted something that can float pow, but a second later bust through nasty crust and hold a good edge on steep, icy couloirs. The BD Verdicts fits just the ticket. ONE IMPORTANT CAVEAT: Please note that these are not the most "turny" skis. They are really based upon GS-ski technology and thrive at higher speeds. The harder you push the ski, the better it responds. Therefore, I think this is a great touring/daily driver ski out West for bigger skiers or those skiers who tend to ski their skis hard. This would be a difficult option for a meadow-skipper or someone who likes lazy turns on the tails (not that there is any problem with that!!!!). If you are a fairly aggressive skier who tends to ski in a strong position at most times, or simply want to be forced into a stronger position, these are great option. BD skis also have a great price for the ski you are getting and in my humble option wear nicely (I have BD Megawatts as well which are holding up great).

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NickW

NickW wrote a review of on April 10, 2009

5 5

Let me expand on the scope of my subject line: If you are assembling a 100% backcountry rig for your quiver, nothing else remotely makes sense other than Dynafits. FFR+, Dukes, Naxos, Silverettas - they are are completly outperformed by Dynafits on a variety of factors. (1) Weight - the Dynafits are simply the lightest AT binding you can get in the BC. It is amazing how much better it feels when you setup looses a couple of pounds (note: I went from FFR+ for a couple of years to Dynafit Vertical STs). (2) Touring Ease - the stride on the Dynafits is more natural than any other AT binding. The pivit is found in a natural position next to your toe, while Dukes and FFR+ are in front of your foot. (3) Lateral Stiffness/Ridigity - despite the simplistic look, these frankly ski more like an alpine binding than any other AT binding. The biggest issue is that you are connected to the skis by the pins (toe and heal), and your rubber-soled AT boots do not contact the ski. With the FFR+ and Duke, you loose some lateral stifness merely in the interplay between the rubber and bottom of the binding. Also, comming from FFR+ to a Vertical ST, it was night and day as far as skiing response - there is just not any play in the binding that is found in the FFR+'s plastic. Lou Dawson, from wildsnow, ran extensive tests and found that Dynafits are as torsionally stiff as Marker Dukes. (4) Ramp Angle - all alpine bindings have ramp angle. This means your heal is slightly above your toes, putting you in a natural forward-lean position. Dynafits have this as well. Dukes, Naxo, Silveretta and FFR+ DO NOT.
I purchased the Vertical ST because it is going to be Dynafit's replacement for the old Comforts. If you need something above a 10 DIN, then I would recommend the FT12s. For those new to Dynafits, you cannot go wrong with the Vertical STs. While they take some getting used to, just go to wildsnow and Lou Dawson has some great How-To-Videos on use of Dynafits (including care, entry and exit).
IF YOU ARE TOURING 100%, NOTHING ELSE MAKES SENSE!!

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NickW

NickW wrote a review of on April 10, 2009

5 5

I think the Nikwax products work fine. Yes, there are other alternatives, but Nikwax is a proven product. Typically, I will load a front-end washer and depending upon the amount of garments I am washing, I use 2-3 capfuls of the TechWash (per the instructions). This is a good non-detergent which washes technical clothing (e.g., Gortex, softshells, etc...) well, while perserving the quality of the fabric. After I have used 1 cycle with the TechWash, while still wet, I will separate my hardshells from softshells. I use the wash-in softshell proof with softshells, and the TX-Direct with hardshell gortex. After, I will dry per the instructions (but be sure to heat up the Gortex as the heat really opens the fabric and enables it to "activate" the TX-Direct). After using this process, (i) my clothes are clean, (ii) they bead water nicely and (iii) everything breaths well. In fact, the softshell (e.g., Patagonia BC Guide Pants) will breath better than when originally purchased.

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NickW

NickW wrote a review of on April 10, 2009

3 5

Prior to purchasing this saw, I did some research on both this saw and the comparable alternatives (BCA Snowsaw, G3 Bonesaw). Based up research and prior use, the BCA snowsaw was definitely the flimsiest of the three saws. The G3 Bonesaw is actually also flimsier than the BD FlickLock saw, although in pictures it appears burlier. I thought the G3 Bonesaw was a little overpriced for a snowsaw as well.
Due to reviews and strength, I went with this saw. For a snowsaw, it is lightweight and does not take up a lot of packspace. It does the job of cutting snow columns fine. My biggest gripes are as follows: (i) there is no hardguard and the handle is very small, so be careful when putting the snow in the sleeve; (ii) the blade is sharp and cuts the interior of the sleee, leading to little plastic bits getting in your bag (but who really cares about this); and (iii) MOST IMPORTANTLY, it is NOT compatable with my Flicklock poles. I have the BD Expedition FlickLock poles (from 1 year ago), and this saw does not fit into the attachment. I am sure I am using it properly, and my poles do not fit in either of the 2 differently sized attachment options on the saw. This is a major design flaw by BD. SUMMARY: If you want a sturdy, lightweight saw, this is the best choice over the BCA saw and the G3 Bonesaw. However, note that it may or may not be compatable with your BD poles. This is merely a minor inconveience to me - b/c when I used this to cut a exteneded column for a ECT test, I merely attached the saw to my pole using some voile ski carrying straps and it worked fine.

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NickW

NickW wrote a review of on March 23, 2009

5 5

Lets hit the basics: (1) Sizing - Due to the rockered tip, they ski shorter than they are. I am 6'3", 185 and ski the 188s. I think the sizing works perfect, but would even be pumped for a longer pair to really open up on steep slopes. (2) Weight - For a ski this big (125 waist), they are surprisingly light. Much more so than some of the other fat pow ski competitors. I have FFR+ on mine and would/can definitely tour with them for those ultra-deep days that I don't want to take my Verdicts. I have seen these mounted with Dynafit FT-12s and they seem super light and bomber. (3) Powder Performance - What do you want here? These things rock in bottomless pow. The zero camber alows you versatility to smear turns, and the huge shovel w/ rockered tip means there is NO WAY you can dive the tips. No need to lean back here - you can drive these hard in an agressive stance. With the 125 waist and almost "pin-tail" design, the tails just sink and the tips float. (4) Crud/Crust/Variable - This is where I think these truly shine. At the end of the day, we all know bottomless, hero powder doesn't always turn up at the end of the skin track. The Megawatts absolutely destroy any variable conditions. The large shovel and rockered tip will keep you up above any crust or chopped up crude. Although the tip is nice and flexy to stay up, the remainder of the running length of the ski is very stiff (as with all the current BD "freeride" skis). Therefore, you are able to essentially "point and shoot" through nasty conditions that would otherwise equal survival turns with other skis. I have never had so much fun in variable snow. (5) In-Bounds Hardpack - At the end, this is not what they are designed for. With that said, these do have some slight side-cut, so they are manageable on groomers. WAY more so than the current generation of reverse/reverse skis (e.g., Pontoons, Spats, Praxis, etc...). Because of an effective side-cut, you can also tour with these where steep, switch-back style skin tracks are found. Not really possible with reverse/reverse skis b/c not enough sidecut and effective edge to hold on steep, switch-back skin tracks. SUMMARY: BUY THESE NOW!!! They are awesome pow/crud/crust skis that ski shorter due to the larger rocker, can be pointed at warp speed due to the stiffness, but are very "turny" as well due to the rocker.

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NickW

NickW wrote a review of on March 13, 2009

4 5

On sunny days, I generally wear Spy Omega goggles with platinum mirror lenses. I picked these up, however, after reading reviews of the effectiveness of the Sensor Mirror in flat light. I couldn't agree more. You really have a good field of vision with the Sensor Mirror in flat light - with the ability to see the subtle changes in the snow surface. I would note that the Sensor Mirror is not really effective in sunny conditions (as that is not its purpose). I accidently grabbed these goggles on a bluebird day in the Tahoe area, and I was squinting the whole day. With that said, once again, these are my go-to for flat light conditions. I would note that I did have some issues with fogging up (even with the vents open), but that was while wearing them in a whiteout storm while skinning a ridge. I was sweating hard, and I think any goggle would have fogged up. Finally, I would also point out that these fit a medium face (e.g., they are much smaller than the frame/lense of the Spy Omega goggles).

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NickW

NickW wrote a review of on January 26, 2009

5 5

This pack is the perfect size for a 2-3 backcountry ski tour. It is a top-loading 50L with A-Frame ski carrying capabilities. Although it does not have diagonal carrying option, that can easily be modified with a few straps. Although the weight is slightly heavier than some comparable packs (e.g., Osprey, BCA), the construction is bomber and quality is, well, Arcteryx! The design is very useful with a SUPER LARGE avi gear pocket on the front (easily fits my Black Diamond Deploy 7 Shovel, Probe and skins). The interior pocket is large and can fit all the essentials for 2-3 days (especially using a compresion bag for your down sleeping bag). When not fully loaded, the compresion straps work well to cinch down the bag so ski-carrying still works nicely. The fit of the bag is very nice and it carries well. The waist belt is VERY strong - this was a problem I found in the BCA 50L bag and the BD Anarchist (both have weak waistbelts). The pack comes with a removable plastic internal support. I have taken it out and it weighs practically nothing (I could not tell the difference in the weight with it in and then out). Therefore, I will keep this in as it helps the pack keep its suspension and will greatly assist in carrying full loads. The pack skis very well and is form-fitting to the body. Basically, I strongly recommend if you are looking for a 2-3 day touring bag. Better jump on this as Arcteryx is no longer making these and has replaced with the "Silo" (which appears much different).

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NickW

NickW wrote a review of on October 26, 2008

5 5

I have to respectfully disagree with the review below. I am 6'3", 185 and wear a large in this jacket. It fits me perfectly (and I like my jackets/technical clothing in an athletic fit). I do agree that it bunches up someone when you sit down, but the same thing happens with the Patagonia Down Sweater and comparable OR jacket. To me, this fit exactly the same as the Patagonia Down Sweater - the only difference being that the Patagonia has smaller down pockets (see pictures of both). I frankly went with Marmot b/c (in my experience) I have had better luck with durability and better down products. You really can't go wrong with either, but I did want to offer my opinion that this jacket fit me correctly and I am virtually the same size as the reviewer above.

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NickW

NickW wrote a review of on September 16, 2008

5 5

Gotamas are frankly an amazing ski. Yes they rock in powder (that is a given). But they are surprisingly good in crud, wind-blown crust and even hardpack.

I initially bought these as my powder skies, but they are now my daily drivers. If I don't know what the conditions are, these come with me. ALSO GOOD is the fact that they are super light for the size of the ski. This makes touring much more enjoyable. If it is below boot-top powder, I ski these. If higher, then the uber-fat skis come out.

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