Radio Backpacker

Radio Backpacker

Southwestern Ohio

Radio Backpacker's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Biking

Radio Backpacker's Bio

It is a shame there is not much to do here in Ohio. But when I get out occasionally, I live for it.

Radio Backpacker

Radio Backpacker wrote a review of on January 17, 2011

4 5

I have an Exos 46 and love it for loads between 20-25lbs. Unfortunately I fall right between the medium and small size. A bigger pack was needed for winter and longer duration trips. My hopes were that the Exos 58 would be ideal given my good experience with the 46. For some strange reason, I found that even with the same size frame, the 58 fit differently and was not very comfortable with loads in the 35lb range. It was doable but felt that the pack would be pushed to the limit if overloaded for long stretches. Durability would concern me in the long run with more than 35lbs. It sure is light though compared to the 70L pack I ended up having to get!

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Radio Backpacker

Radio Backpacker wrote a review of on January 10, 2011

3 5

The Helium is marketed as an ultralight sleeping bag at 1lb 13oz but ended up weighing 5oz over spec bringing it to 2lb 2oz, the included stuff sack weighs less than an ounce. Accurate temperature rating of 15*F but that is only if you have a well insulated sleeping pad. I found that the zipper snags occasionally.

Fit wise, I am a skinny 5' 9" and had tons of excess room to heat. I personally roll around a lot a night and don't like having the hood cinched down, not having a true draft collar allowed air to flow in and give me chills. Also found that through the night the hood creeps up over my mouth and nose, thus causing me to breath into the bag and creating ice crystals by morning. The fabric seems to shed frozen condensation well, it shakes right off. The bag never got real wet so I cannot comment as to how water resistant the fabric is.

Backcountry lists it being made in Barbados but the Helium shell, stuff sack, and storage bag are made and sewn in China while the bag filled with down and finished in the USA.

It does stuff down tiny like the photos above but I found it very difficult to cram into the included stuff sack, almost to the point of over compressing the bag. I recommend getting a dry sack in the 13L range. Be sure to store it in the included cotton sack. This thing does loft up quick to around 6" and explodes out of the stuff sack when removed.

On one night I did take it down to single digits wearing insulated pants and a down parka and was comfortable enough to get some sleep.

Overall, I would recommend it to broad shouldered individuals or those who want lots of extra room if skinny. There are some shortcomings as mentioned but is still a very high quality bag compared to most on the market. I would probably keep it if it had a real draft collar.

I replaced it with a Western Mountaineering Apache and found it to be a somewhat superior product compared to the Helium. Measured weight is lighter, has a real draft collar, better fitting hood (at least on me), extremely well made in the USA, right zipper option (Helium only comes in a left zip), and less room that is better suited to slimmer people.

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Radio Backpacker

Radio Backpacker wrote a review of on August 14, 2010

3 5

I have used the Brunton Sustain for a few trips now and still have mixed thoughts about it. I use it to power some lightweight communications radios and this thing puts out a TON of noise in the VHF spectrum, so-so on HF/Shortwave. If it is used to charge batteries, all is ok. I can power my laptop directly off of it with the 16v output and that is pretty cool.

One of the other big issues I have is that when the unit is being charged with a solar panel (I have a Brunton Solaris 26) the output voltage is much higher than what it should be. For example, the solar panel puts out about 20v in full sunlight. With the voltage output switch set to 12v, I was reading anywhere from 16-19v! This can damage some devices.

To make a long story short: Charge the Sustain with the wall adapter or a solar panel and THEN use it to charge batteries. Run your electronics after their batteries have been charged, not directly off the Sustain. This was somewhat disappointing. I am considering to return it but the thing is light compared to other power options.

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Radio Backpacker

Radio Backpacker wrote a review of on October 26, 2009

4 5

I took this pack to the bottom of the Grand Canyon earlier this year. It is great as a overnight pack when you don't need to carry all your gear (we stayed at Phantom Ranch). After about 25 miles of canyon hiking, the hip belt was starting to annoy me some, it could use better padding. It is small enough to use as a carry on for airliners and can carry enough stuff for a traveling trip lasting a few days.

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Radio Backpacker

Radio Backpacker wrote a review of on June 30, 2009

4 5

I was looking for a decent warm weather bag that was light, packed small, and a good value. Caught it on sale and decided to give it a try. I have used this bag a few nights at a time over a few weeks. It was too warm for 75 degrees and got chilly with just shorts on at 45 degrees. With a long sleeve shirt and bottoms, it would probably do fine at the rated 40 degrees. It does not have much loft and I would recommend using a lightweight sleeping pad since it is thin. Construction quality seems to be decent. I noticed some "down feathers" floating around the first few days of use but it was probably just loose down from assembly. Pack size is about 5.5"x10.5" and weighs about 1lb 7oz (23oz). With a different compression sack, it could possibly stuff smaller. The zipper has a florescent grip that glows nicely in the dark. For what this bag is, I could not justify spending three times as much for a different brand bag for casual usage. Hard core ultralight backpackers may want to go for something else smaller and lighter but for lightweight guys or hikers on a budget, it is great.

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Radio Backpacker

Radio Backpacker wrote a review of on May 22, 2009

5 5

For the insane price I got it for on steep and cheap, I cannot complain. It did great in a recent trip to the Grand Canyon. The barometer/altimeter needs calibrated regularly to stay accurate but seems to work pretty well. Weather Trend feature seems to work ok. My experience with the digital compass is mixed, seems to act a little sporratic, could be the calibration needs done again. Keep it away from ferrous objects when using it just like any compass. The thermometer is a nice feature to have in the Canyon. I hag the watch from a strap on my pack to get accurate temp readings and easy access to an altimeter. Highly recommend it.

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Radio Backpacker

Radio Backpacker wrote a review of on February 5, 2009

5 5

I have had this stove for a couple of years. It has worked great every time I have used it. This thing works best as a blow torch on a tripod but it can be adjusted for a lower flame with practice. We have had power grid blackouts a couple of times and I was the only one in the family that could eat hot food at home!

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Radio Backpacker

Radio Backpacker wrote a review of on January 22, 2008

3 5

I got these pants for Christmas and they are ok. The fabric feels a little more natural than The North Face convertible pants. There were many threads that needed to be cut off. The Velcro fastening side pockets do not like to stay closed and should have two Velcro pads instead of one. They are comfortable but seemed to shrink a little. I am not very impressed with the quality of these pants compared to some other top outdoors brands.

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Radio Backpacker

Radio Backpacker wrote a review of on January 9, 2008

5 5

I got this jacket for Christmas and love it! The fabric does a pretty good job of repelling rain and snow and blocks the wind very well. It is not the warmest, but with a fleece shirt underneath I was comfortable down to freezing. The drawstring chords at the waist are nice and keep wind from coming in. I am 5'9" with long arms and a Medium fit perfect. A good all-around jacket for running around town and rainy/windy days on the trail!

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Radio Backpacker

Radio Backpacker wrote a review of on January 9, 2008

5 5

The e+Lite is a great little lightweight headlamp. The red LED is nice for preserving night vision. The head can be mounted on a hat with the clip on the back and can be rotated up/down and 360deg. Great for someone who does not hike at night much and needs a very versatile, light, water resistant, rugged, and multipurpose headlamp or backup. When not on the trail, this is going to be in my emergency preparedness kit!

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