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Paul Mandell

Paul Mandell

Yosemite! Just about anywhere in the Sierra Nevada mountains!

Paul Mandell's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Biking
Skiing
Climbing

Paul Mandell's Bio

I just like being outside, going new places, seeing new things, working up a sweat and anything I can do to fuel my passion for the outside world. From frisbee at the lake to throwing myself off a 5.11 over and over just to be able to say I sent it, Im down to give it a go!

Paul Mandell

Paul Mandell wrote a review of on October 25, 2012

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I had the pleasure of living in Yosemite over the summer and found myself using these as my main bouldering shoe. My first impression of these shoes was not great, however. I decided on a 42.5 since I size my muiras the same way, and holy sh*t these things were tight out of the box. I couldnt stand to wear them for more than five or ten minutes at a time. That being said, the uppers are unlined leather, and after a while they stretched quite a bit and now provide an aggressive, yet comfortable fit. (though sizing aggressively means losing out on comfort no matter what shoe you wear)
As far as performance goes, the instincts dose not disappoint. Theyre very, very sensitive and edge almost too well. Ive also found that the added bit of rubber on the toe makes these shoes decent for short bouts of crack climbing, even with your toes curled up in a down turned toe box. I will say that these shoes arent entirely stiff enough for me, which is why I prefer Muiras, but I do think that the soles on these out perform the soles on my Muiras (XS grip2 vs. XS edge). I can stand on the smallest of edges comfortably, smear slabs all day, and even get after the cracks in these, but where they REALLY excel is overhanging sport routes. They just get the job done. The only downside, other than being incredibly tight out of the box, is that the heel does not work for hooking AT ALL. Granted, an experienced climber will make due without, but the heel does little to ease your mind when you find yourself in that mandatory heel-hook situation.

Bottom line: Great aggressive slipper. Works well for bouldering and sport, excels at overhangs, stymied by heek-hooks.

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Paul Mandell

Paul Mandell wrote a review of on August 8, 2012

3 5

I have had this pack for quite some time now. I plan on returning it for something larger.
Since Ive had time to adequately test this bag, Im going to throw down a straight-forward review for those of you considering the Stratos 24.

Make no mistakes this pack is great. It's well designed and when it comes time to perform, it does not disappoint--to a degree. The name of the game here is day hikes. Some people have written that they can fast-pack or rock a minimalist over-nighter out of this pack. Some people even claim they can go up to three days out of it. I call shenanigans. With the compression straps loosened all the way, I can fit either a fleece or soft shell, first aid kit, 2 liters of water, one day of food, my headlamp, a spare knife, a role of duct tape and a small amount of cord into the main compartment. If I'm extra careful, I can also get a water filter in there. Recently I used it for an over-nighter. I managed to fit my sleeping bag, one beer, an extra layer, my headlamp, and a small first aid kit. In the top mesh pocket, I can fit my wallet, a pen, a small moleskin, and my ipod or camera and my keys. Originally I used this pocket for sunglasses but on a short hike with a loaded pack, I reached for my glasses at the end of the day, only to find that they had somehow been smashed and irreparably damaged. Now, eye wear stays on my face when this pack is on. The other small pocket on the top is useful for miscellaneous items, but with a full pack its difficult to load or retrieve anything. The pockets on either side of the lumbar straps are very cool, and quite handy. I generally reserve the left one for trash (mine or whatever I might find along the way). The right one holds anything from snacks to gear I may need to access quickly. In addition to that, there is a pocket located on the right shoulder strap for your phone or gps. An iphone will not fit. Any small brick phone will fit wonderfully and securely, and access is easy. I really love this feature.
Another feature I particularly like is the rain cover and stash pocket for it. Located towards the bottom of the bag, above the gear loop is a small zipper. Unzip it and pull the rain cover out, and wallah! Dry bag. That being said, its not totally waterproof and pressure points will allow water to get through in heavy rain. No big deal though, unless you deal with downpours on the reg.
The gear loop on the bottom of the bag is pretty useless. An ice axe will fit well, and there is a small elastic snap mid way up the bag to secure the shaft and keep it from wriggling loose. You might also be able to carry a pack shovel with this feature, but do so at your own risk. I attempted and do not recommend it, but with the right handle, your shovel will stay put. Frankly, I would not attempt to ski or mountaineer out of this pack.
The airspeed back panel is a pretty nifty feature. On hot days it makes quite the impression. However, if you're expecting a sweat free back, you'll be sorely disappointed. The AirSpeed system makes a difference to be sure, but your back still sweats, albeit to a much lesser degree than with other packs. This system also presents somewhat of a catch-22. In designing the pack to breath, and choosing to do so with a fixed external frame, Osprey drastically limited the carrying capacity of this pack. Simply put, the frame basically makes it impossible to carry books or a laptop because of the concave shape of the frame. It is nice however, to be able to throw gear wantonly into your bag and not worry about a lumpy mass digging into your back.
The shoulder straps are comfortable and this pack features adjustments normally saved for much bigger packs. The lumbar strap system works well, though the straps are much too long for my tastes and serve only to get in the way. The chest strap works well, and the whistle in the buckle is a welcome sight. Comfort and adjustability aside, if you overload this pack (which is easy to do) you will suffer mercilessly. I've been using this as a crag pack for the six weeks now, and if Im honest, its a hellish ordeal to try and carry anything more than my draws, harness, shoes and chalk bag. I fandangled my rope onto the top of the pack via the two cinch straps located posterior to the shoulder straps, but anything more than a mile or two becomes unbearable and I have to stop and take my pack off. I recommend keeping it below 25lbs whenever possible.
Inside the main compartment is space for a three liter water bladder and dual port holes (left and right) to feed your hose out. There is no dedicated hose holder, however both straps have elastic bands which can be used to keep a hose well out of the way. There is a strap to hang your bladder located against the back panel of the pack, but accessing it is a a nightmare, and the top mesh pocket needs to be empty if you seek to stand any chance of securing your bladder. Also note that due to the shape of the frame, pack space is eaten up by a fuller bladder and its very easy to place un-due pressure against it.
Bottom line:
This pack is light and sturdy, and for anyone looking for a very solid day pack, this would be a worthy addition to your gear selection.

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Paul Mandell

Paul Mandell wrote a review of on August 8, 2012

5 5

Ive been climbing on these all summer in Yosemite. Not a day goes by where I dont whip at least once. I trust these bad boys with my life, (literally) so let me break it down a bit for you discerning shoppers out there:
First off, they're bomber. If anything, they're almost overbuilt. The previous years posi-wire had a thinner dogbone, but the new ones have a thicker, and as far as Im concerned, better made dogbone. I had two of them, so I replaced them with slightly longer dogbones and everything is extra legit now.
For those of you whom weight is an issue, I will be frank and let you know that there are other lighter draws out there. If its really that big of a deal to you, then look into the new petzl draws. Also, have fun spending more money on a product which is in no way superior to any other draw on the market. For the price, you absolutely cannot beat these draws.
Something of note: I particularly like these draws because the biners snap LOUD, so even 8 or 9 bolts up, I can hear them click while Im on belay. Obviously you cant trust just the sound, but I find it helpful and reassuring, which makes for a better belay and a smoother climb.
These are the only draws I have in my rack. They're no frills, not very heavy, and priced perfectly for anyone who feels the need to be frugal with their hard earned cash.
If you need draws, look no further.

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Paul Mandell

Paul Mandell wrote a review of on August 8, 2012

5 5

I've been rockin' these things for two summers now, and I've logged countless hours in them. I wear them at work five days a week, and currently they serve as my main approach shoe.
I wear them a smidgen loose because well, I can. Basically, I do what I want.
That being said, they're still incredibly secure. I have no worries whatsoever about them moving around while hiking, scrambling, or screwing around in the river/lake.
When the tread is new they stick to everything, even nasty slabby granite, which makes for a great approach shoe. After they're worn a bit however, traction definitely noticeably decreases. This can make for a sketch-fest when you're rock hopping down the river or cranking it up a slippery approach.
They also make for a great hot-weather hiking sandal for short to medium length hikes. I wouldnt backpack in them, however. The ankle support is non-existent.
Also, something to be aware of is that when walking in dust or gravel, little bits of stuff WILL get stuck between your foot and the footbed. Most of the time it will work itself right out, but it can be bloody uncomfortable and there is one spot, under the ball of your foot where once lodged, an item will not come out. I like to refer to this spot as "Gnarnia," mainly because it can get extra gnarly trying to get something out of there. Plus it usually hurts a lot.
There's also the issue of what has been affectionately dubbed "Chaco Funk." Basically, if you wear your Chacs religiously, as many people do, eventually they will begin to smell. You can try all you want to clean them, but the smell will always return. I highly suggest learning to love it. Also, showering in them seems to mitigate the problem to a small degree.
Finally, as Im sure you may have deduced, there is no toe protection. This, Ive found, is not a huge deal if you remember two rules: 1. Don't stub your toe. 2. Dont drop anything on your foot.
Crisis averted.
All of that said, I want to drive home the point that these are the most comfortable shoes I own. I wear them everywhere. They last forever, and Chaco backs their product good and proper. If you're in need of a shoe/sandal that you can wear anywhere and do anything in (weather permitting of course) then you will want to seriously consider Chac's. The 100+ dollar price tag can be daunting, and at first I was not too sure about my purchase, but the more I wore them, and the higher my mile count rose, the more I loved them. These days, its difficult to convince me NOT to wear them, and if you dont believe me, ask anyone else who has a pair. They're great.

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Paul Mandell

Paul Mandell wrote a review of on July 4, 2012

5 5

Im six feet tall, 190lbs, and I ride the 184. I have Marker Jester Schizo's mounted to these bad boys and since Ive started skiing on them, there is literally nothing I cant shred. The Mantra has a metal top sheet which runs the entire length of the ski and it makes for a ridiculously stiff and responsive ride. That being said, the ride is far from harsh. For groomers, I move my bindings +1 of boot center and I can hook up on even the iciest of days. For choppy cruddy snow, I move them to 0 and just ride it out. No problems. And should it get deep? Well 96 under foot keeps me floating happy, and my moving my bindings back -2 my tips stay afloat no problem.
My only regret upon purchasing these is that I dont have the early rise that the new Mantras have. That being said, if you know how to ski, traditional camber aint no thang. These skis are confidence inspiring to say the least, and if you have an opportunity to pick a pair up, you wont regret it one bit.

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Paul Mandell

Paul Mandell wrote a review of on December 27, 2010

3 5

Picked this hoodie up a few weeks back from BC. I'm actually wearing it right now! The one redeeming quality about this sweatshirt is the extra thick hood, which I adore. Buuut thats about it.
I like it, don't get me wrong but the craftmenship is sub-par compared to other TNF products Ive owned. Ive washed it three or four times now and the elastic in the cuffs and at the bottom is pretty much done for already, which means that it isnt fitting right anymore. The sleeves shrank in a really strange way so now they're tight around my arms whenever I pull it out of the dryer. I bought it for those cool mornings on campus but these days it more of a housework type hoodie.
You're probably better off spending some extra money and buying a TNF Greenwhich or Surgent hoodie.

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Paul Mandell

Paul Mandell wrote a review of on December 27, 2010

5 5

Ive been using these for a few weeks now and Im loving them so far. They fit well, and match perfectly with my Smith Hustle helmet (go figure). Did I mention they're comfy, stylish AND functional? The little snapy-hooky feature at the back of the strap is ridiculously useful and not at all uncomfortable on the back of your head. The lenses have this nifty vent system which works really well for keeping them fog-free and paired with the airflow systems incorporated into Smith's helmets, it works swimmingly. You get two lenses with these goggles; a yellow one for cloudy-type days and whichever lens your goggle comes with. I ended up getting the sensor mirror lens which is great for most conditions, but I do need to address the issue of not being able to see a damn thing when it starts to get cloudy. I feel like Smith would be better off including a rose lens rather than yellow, since you can see shit when the weather turns through either lens. But hey, I have an old pair of electrics with a rockin' rose lens and they get the job done for those kinds of days.
Definitely look into getting a pair of these. The price is right too!

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Paul Mandell

Paul Mandell wrote a review of on December 27, 2010

5 5

Alright so in the last 2 weeks of skiing Ive taken two branches to the dome, smashed my head into the ice, knocked myself senseless and royally screwed up a 20 foot (+/-) drop, and this bad boy stayed secure and performed flawlessly.
So here's what I really like about it: its comfortable and adjustable, so you can get your fit just right via the cinchy thing at the back of the helmet. Its warm when you want it to be, and cool when you dont want to melt your brains out. It does this via this nifty little venting system at the top which you can open and close arbitrarily - which is really useful on those days when the weather cant seem to decide what its doing. The ear pads are removable for those extra warm days, but they stay secure unless you want them to come out. Another nifty feature with this helmet is the zipper along the back of the ear pads; skullcandy and smith teamed up to get some audio system worked out for these helmets, so you can buy a specifically designed system that will fit in the ear pads, but its a tad pricey and kind of pointless since you can just jerry-rig your ipod headphones in there, which still works great. There are also these air-flow vents in the brim which allow for airflow passed your goggles in an attempt to keep them fogging up, and so far as I can tell it works very well.
Having said that though, there are some things that Im not a huge fan of. This helmet is HUGE, and some goggles dont work with it correctly so you end up looking like a mong. Smith had designed their helmets to work with their goggles, so if you have o-frames or something, youre going to look retarded. Mose electric goggles match up, as well as a-frames and crowbars, but thats all Ive seen work. Definitely think about getting some smith goggles with this helmet.

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Paul Mandell

Paul Mandell wrote a review of on March 30, 2010

5 5

This knife hasnt left my back pocket since I bought it last summer. (Though I normally take a fixed blade CRKT with me when hiking/backpacking) Ive only sharpened it twice since I got it, and it stays sharp for a long time. I even lost the thumb stud, emailed sog and had one in my mail box two days later free of charge.

This has been, dare I say it? The best pocket knife Ive ever owned. I've snapped Buck blades clean in two, broken the tips off every Gerber Ive ever owned, mutilated my Kershaw , and destroyed lethermans but this one has lasted. Get one, you wont be disappointed.

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Paul Mandell

Paul Mandell wrote a review of on March 28, 2010

5 5

Seriously guys. Its a humble little harness that gets the job done and doesnt give you any lip. Comfy, secure, perfect for beginners or experts alike. And you cant beat the price! I know climbers who bought this as a backup and started using it as their primary because they liked it so much.
You cant go wrong with it.
Get one.
Climb.
Be happy.

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Paul Mandell

Paul Mandell wrote a review of on March 28, 2010

4 5

I bought this as a birthday present for a friend who's really into photography. When it got here I was downright surprised at just how roomy it was and when I gave it to her she immediately transferred all her gear into it (lenses, body, film, flash, ect.) and she still had room to shove a sigg water bottle in there. Not saying its a bad thing or a good thing, its just a thing. If you need a jumbo camera bag then look no further!

The only downside about this bag is the shoulder strap. I understand that its meant to be an insert for a backback, but the shoulder strap on this thing is damn near useless and digs into your shoulder pretty bad. Just something potential buyers should be aware of!

-Paul

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Paul Mandell

Paul Mandell wrote a review of on March 21, 2010

Solid
4 5

So I just got back from my first hike in these bad boys. As first impressions go, these are pretty damn good. I honestly dont know how everyone has managed to be so lucky as to not have to break them in first, though. By the end of my 2 hour adventure my feet were beginning to hurt. They'll need to be broken in for sure.

Things I like about them:
Stiff
Grippy as hell on rocks, loose pack, hard pack, whatever!
Well built
The "Impact Brake System" which really does what it says
Pretty damn water resistant

Things I don't like about them:
Toe box - They're new, so Ill let it slide but we may have some issues if the toe box doesn't wear in soon.
They run a little bit small
They get hot! (I was wearing wool socks though)

All in all Im pleased with them so far. Ill have to break them in and really test them this summer before I can give a proper review. Heres a photo for you guys.

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