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S. Wong

S. Wong

S. Wong's Passions

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Climbing

S. Wong

S. Wong wrote a review of on April 24, 2013

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

The 40oz is plenty big to last you throughout the day even if you're a camel. Well ok, I wouldn't go that far, but I always end up bringing it home or back to the campsite with me after a full day of activities still filled with liquid. This thing retains cold and heat really well - I can drop ice cubes in this and it'll still be there by the end of the day. I've also used it for hot chocolate too, and I practically burned my tongue assuming that, after 2 hours of not touching it in the car (don't try to drink out of this while driving by the way...), it would be plenty cool enough to drink. I can't say it keeps things hot for half a day since I've never kept anything in there for 12 hours without actually drinking what I packed (and really, for those that are complaining that it doesn't retain heat after n hours, how often are you going to pack something hot in one of these for that long without actually drinking it?).

One feature I really liked about 40oz I got was the wide mouth, which made putting in ice cubes, protein/chocolate powder, etc. much easier without the need of a funnel.

Unfortunately I'll be returning the 40oz for the 18oz wide mouth since the 40oz can't fit in the bottle pocket of my camera backpack (Kata bag), which I carry around to most hikes and climbs :(. Keep this in mind in case your bag doesn't offer a very spacious bottle pocket.

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S. Wong

S. Wong wrote a review of on April 24, 2013

My Shirt of Choice on the Rocks
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

One of if not my favorite climbing shirt. Something about the way Arcteryx makes their shirt, from the fit to sleeve length to even the little brand tag at the cuff of the sleeve makes this shirt the one I usually pick out before hitting the gym or crag. It's a shame they got rid of the purple one - I would really like that in my closet.

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S. Wong

S. Wong wrote a review of on April 23, 2013

Bring These Back!
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I went through a phase where I'm just looking for a good, comfortable, stretchy climbing pants that won't lint up over time, and these fit the bill perfectly! I like the higher waist too so your ass isn't hanging when you're sitting or have to put your feet super high while climbing. Stoic/Backcountry better bring these back!

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S. Wong

S. Wong wrote a review of on April 23, 2013

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I got this to help warm my fingers up while slowly recovering from multiple pulley injuries. They weren't tears, but at the time I couldn't put a lot of weight on my fingers, and having this to help bring blood into my fingers made a big difference before pulling on any plastic or rock. Never underestimate a good warm up.

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S. Wong

S. Wong wrote a review of on April 23, 2013

Great Climbing Shirt!
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

One of my favorite climbing shirts I own so far! The blue is bright, but not annoying fluorescent like some of the other hues of blue on other shirts. The sleeves also run a little short, giving more breathability and movement while climbing. I've also had people ask me what the "bison" thing in the middle of my shirt is a few times, which is very cool :).

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S. Wong

S. Wong wrote a review of on April 23, 2013

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

My preferred climbing shoe thus far. These shoes are the next gen. after the appearance of the blue Teams, and although not much has changed except for the obvious switch in color, there have been a a few enhancements. Most notably is the stitching where the "tongue" joins the shoe. If you wear your shoes tight, like most users who would opt for these shoes, you'll notice that the stitching between the tongue and the sides of the shoe will slowly rip. This has been enhanced a bit when 5.10 switch to the stealthier black and orange.

Prior to the Teams, I've religiously used the La Sportiva Solutions, and considering that both the Solutions and Teams are probably the biggest names in shoe models for boulderers, I think a comparison is in order.

The fit on the Teams are definitely tighter and narrower, especially at the heel. If you have a large heel cup, these shoes may not fit you properly without too much oversizing.

The velcro strap on the Teams are also much stronger and durable, which isn't saying much compared to the Solutions since the straps on the Solutions are notorious for breaking. However, the 3-point strap design on the Solutions do distribute their pull much more evenly, hugging your feet more comfortably than the Teams.

The toe rubber on the Teams are probably the best in the business, mostly due to the rubber but also to the design. It's solid and adhered well to the shoe, unlike the Solutions which is basically a small piece of rubber that rips off like sticker over time.

Healing "power" is debatable. Both the Teams and the Solutions provide excellent healing and friction power when you drive your heel down. The only obvious difference is the design between the two. The Solutions has a ball-cup design, which tends to not flatten when you're heeling super hard, while the teams are much softer and narrower, which sometimes annoyingly flatten.

FYI, I wear a size 9 street shoe, and 9.5 in the Teams fits deliciously tight for me.

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S. Wong

S. Wong wrote a review of on August 18, 2011

4 5

...or this much fun. Belaying with the Cinch is easy, and feeding the rope, as some reviews have it on the nose, is "as smooth as butter".. really! It's almost effortless with absolutely no resistance whatsoever (assuming you have the Cinch angled the correct way). In fact, it has so little resistance that if I wanted to, I can literally "throw" rope out of the Cinch to feed to the climber if I needed to.

When the Cinch is locked off, it stays locked. So much so in fact sometimes it's a bit hard to get it to release the rope (you have to rotate the Cinch back into its belay position, with your thumb and index finger grasping the pivot hole), but that could be a nice back-up on its own - to not release the rope until the climber is climbing and the rope becomes slack enough again for you to resume belaying.

Releasing the rope IS a bit counter-intuitive, but it's very easy to get used to. The only flaw to the Cinch that I can think of is pulling on the release lever to lower the climber takes a bit of effort, and yet, it's pretty sensitive once it gets going, especially if you're belaying a heavy climber. A solution to this is to use a redirect to give your brake hand a bit of extra leverage in feeding the rope through.

The Cinch overall is a great belay device. Very light, small size, and cost less than a GriGri. However, the Cinch is one of those devices where you really need to read the instructions to use it properly, so make sure you don't just toss the box away when you open the package (instructional video can be found here: http://youtu.be/R9TO5ikqXwo).

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S. Wong

S. Wong wrote a review of on August 3, 2011

IMO The Most Profound Climbing Shoe Ever Made
5 5

This is a long over-due review for these pair of climbing shoes as I've been using them for over 2 years, but it took this long for me to finally put my foot down (and into these beasts of a shoe) permanently and say that the Solutions ARE the best shoes I've ever used.

ALL TOE
The down-turn of the shoes are very aggressive, put huge power into the toe for those micro edges. And believe me, they'll stick on dimes. And the deal maker: the shape stays! The yellow band that is very visibly wrapped around the heel also wraps around the arch and toe box of the shoe in a mobius-style orientation, keep the shoe's aggressive posture permanent and arching proud for the life of the shoe.

STRAPPING UP
Putting on the shoes is like sticking your feet into a vacuum. I've heard many climbers who use these shoes, myself included, say that it feels like the shoe is "sucking" your feet in when you put them on. If fitted right, it's practically impossible for the heel to come off, no matter how hard you heel (believe me, I tried when I first demo-ed these).

MEAT AND POTATOES
When I demo shoes, I look for 4 criteria: fit, rubber, heeling power, and toe power, and these shoes really exceeds all expectations. For those that want their shoe to feel like it's a part of their feet and not just an extension, and having them do exactly what you want them to do, this is it. Feels like I dipped my feet into a bucket of stiff rubber. And the heeling and toe-ing power on these shoes is tremendous. Heeling or toe-ing on small edges have little difference than on larger holds, and the all-around rubberized toe box, made possible by the extra rubber at the top of the shoe, prevents the excruciating pain when toe-ing on sharp edges. I would even dare to say that the Solutions heel and toe better than the Five Ten Dragons or Jet 7s, especially since neither have rubberized toe boxes.

ALMOST PERFECT
While powerfully versatile and exceeding in many areas, the Solutions do have a few flaws. The first notable flaw is the velcro strap, not so much that it doesn't hold your feet in, but it's very fragile in design and nature. The single strap redirected with metal eyelets causes immense strain on 3 areas of the strap. Half of the people that I know that wear these shoes have complained on the strap heavily fraying, threatening to break at any moment, or have theirs already snapped and forced to using duct tape. And speaking as an engineer, I doubt it has anything to do with the strap, but the metal eyelets themselves. They tend to rust and become very abrasive, and combined with the amount of tension that's exerted on them and the strap, it's a disaster waiting to happen. If the strap breaks, your shoe is pretty much useless.

Also, the piece of rubber that covers the top of the toe box isn't very well-adhered. On one pair of brand new Solutions, I did this massive toehook on this gritty rock face, and the sharp rock texture almost ripped the rubber piece right off. The newer Solutions seem to have an extra layer of glue to keep the rubber piece of coming off, but what La Sportiva really need to do is extend that rubber piece until it hits the velcro, much like how Five Ten have done with the Teams. This will prevent any rock edges from catching the edge of the rubber piece.

The heel is also very specific in shape (ball-cup design) in that it doesn't fit well for people with narrow or flat heels (the back of the heel where your Achilles tendon and heel bone are). I've had a few say that the Solutions tend to pop out of their feet when they're heeling because their heel doesn't fill the ball-cup correctly. A blessing and a curse, fits like a charm for some, while a nuisance for others. They also aren't very friendly for those with very wide feet. If you have a narrow or flat heel, you may want to look at Five Ten shoes instead.

And the last point isn't really a flaw per se, since these shoes are designed to be aggressive bouldering shoes. Because of the aggressive position that these shoes put your feet into, I personally can't wear these shoes for more than 30 minutes before I have to take them off, so don't plan to wear these for multi-pitch climbs. They still do very well on sport routes however, and slabs too (some may disagree, but I've put away V5/6 slabs with these shoes)!

CONCLUSION
While not quite perfect, it's pretty damn close. After demo-ing over 20 pairs of shoes, the Solutions made me retire every pair of shoe I've ever owned, and I couldn't be happier. If La Sportiva continue to improve their rubber as well as fix the small issues on these shoes, they have a loyal customer for life.

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S. Wong

S. Wong wrote a review of on March 13, 2009

5 5

For a while I've been using the Five Ten Dragons. Love them, never fails to grab the tiniest crevices or most awkward toe/heel hooks. They hurt like hell tho', and the laces are a hassle to take on and off. I decided to transition to velcro strap shoes and found these babies. These things are pretty much Dragons, same awesome rubber, same awesome stickiness, but much better. 1. The low position of the velcro strap allows your ankle to flex without being restricted like with laces, making hard toe betas easier. 2. The shoe is very easy to throw on and off due to the single velcro strap design and large tongue and 3. the padded tongue is very comfortable. Summarized: it's like dipping your feet in liquid rubber that you can peel away at whim. Try these, you won't be disappointed.

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S. Wong

S. Wong wrote a review of on October 25, 2008

5 5

Awesome climbing shoes. First time I used them I was amazed on how well they performed compared to my cheap beat-ups. These things will smear and hold like a champ and make the toughest hooks feel unreal. The only thing I have to complain about is the size guessing I had to go through with backcountry.com to get the right fit. It was hard to guess which size fit the best. I ended up getting these 2 sizes above my street shoe after 4 returns. The only thing that would make this shoe even better would be to make a velcro version - laces gets tiring to put on/off and these shoes hurt after wearing them for a while. Great shoe, I'll be sticking with these for a while, no pun intended.

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