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I live in Ames, Iowa and work as a mechanical engineer for Iowa State University. I love alpine/sub-alpine backpacking and have packed in Colorado, Wyoming, Washington, California, Utah, South Dakota, Arkansas and Iowa. I've posted a lot of 5 star gear reviews on backcountry.com. I keep a VERY detailed log of my gear -- every piece of gear/food/clothing has been weighed down to a tenth-of-an-ounce -- and I scrutinize the crap out of this stuff! If I give it 5 stars, I mean it.
Contrary to previous reviewer, I thought the size of the watch is fine (watch case O.D. = 1-3/4" / see pic). Larger watch faces seem to be the trend lately. The band is thin, but comfortable. The watch itself is very light - a plus for some but, for me, it's missing the "heft" of a quality watch. My only real complaint is that the crown pulls out a little too easily and I occasionally mis-adjust the time by accident.
Final analysis: This watch is a fashion watch, not a serious outdoors watch (and, thus, the Backcountry.com recommended use is "Casual"). A pretty good watch for the (on sale) price.
From Tech Specs above, the new Leatherman Juice S2 model weighs 130g (4.6 oz). My previous S2 model comes in at 4.35 oz. The leather holster adds 1.10 oz. Combined, my S2 and holster weigh 5.45 oz.
I think the Leatherman Juice S2 has one of the best function-to-weight ratios out there. I've used mine on hundreds of miles of alpine backcountry trips over the past four years and can't recommend it enough.
How do I use this multi-tool?
- I use the knife always
- I use the scissors even more
- I use the pliers for pulling tent stakes out of frozen ground
- I use the phillips-head screwdriver in town, but not on the trail
- I use the medium screwdriver for opening the back of my watch
- I use the small screwdriver in town, but not on the trail
- I use the extra-small screwdriver for adjusting compass declination
- I use the bottle opener for beer
- I don't use the can opener (does anybody?)
Backpacker Magazine gave this tool an Editor's Choice Gold Award in 2014 (Backpacker's Gear Editor, Kristen Hostetter, REALLY likes this knife) and a video:
This pad does not abosorb water, even if punctured. See "Therm-a-Rest Closed Cell Technology" video, posted on 5/5/14, above.
This video answers a couple community questions posted below:
A1. The closed cell pad doesn't absorb water, even if punctured.
A2. The pad is meant to be used "silver side up" when placed on the ground.
Last fall I carried this pack (last year's model) for 38 miles x 6 days - mostly above 12,000' - in Colorado's South San Juan Wilderness. Fully loaded on the first day, my pack weighed 31 lbs and the Exos 58 carried the load nicely.
Osprey built this pack to be a super-lightweight, full-featured pack. My size large weighs in at 2 lbs, 12.2 oz and, other than low weight, I wouldn't call this a "minimalist" pack (look at the bullet point list of features above). I thought the previous model's zippered, mesh waist-belt pockets were too big / too floppy and Osprey addressed that with their current model. I wouldn't use the elastic shoulder strap pockets, but no star deduction for that feature here.
I'm a big proponent of using 55 - 60 liter capacity packs for week-long trips. My other pack in this category is Gregory's excellent z55 (also received an update for 2014). My older z55 weighs 14 oz more than the Exos 58 but carries the load a little better at the heavy end of the spectrum. I'll likely choose the z55 for 6- and 7-day trips and the Exos 58 for 3- and 4-day trips. (Looks like it's gonna be a fight to see who gets to go on the 5-day trips!)
Photo shows "gear dump" at Bear Lake camp site in Colorado's South San Juan Wilderness.
Last year's model in an 11,500' snowstorm in Colorado's South San Juan Wilderness.
1.5 oz without lanyard - see my 10/10/12 review, below.
See "Sizing Guide for Trekking Pole Length" picture/description that I posted, above, on 5/4/14.
I went through the trekking pole sizing exercise a couple years ago. I'm 5'-11" and went with the 120 cm length in Black Diamond's UDTP. After many adventures with these poles, the 120cm length feels great (!) on ascents, descents and level hiking. The pole length (my example = 120cm) is measured from the pole tip to the top of your hand at the top of the grip - just below the "knob" at the top of the pole grip (see pic). Wear your boots, stand on level ground and have a friend assist with measurements**. The goal is to have the underside of your forearm level (+/- 5 degrees) when holding the pole in this position.
** Note: inches x 2.54 = centimeters
NOTE: This video needs to be watched in full screen mode (click on the "full screen" icon in lower right corner of video). If not, most of the notes, created in YouTube Video Editor, get chopped! (?)
Jetboil's "color change heat indicator" is built into the insulating cozy. Use this feature to save fuel.
Photo shows a Jetboil Jetpower 100g / 3.53 oz fuel canister weighing in at 6.95 oz (full) and 3.40 oz (empty). Therefore, weight of gas in canister is 6.95 - 3.40 = 3.55 oz (darned close to the stated 3.53 oz!).
Jetboil says their stoves can boil 12 liters of water (= 24 half-liters) with one of these canisters. Therefore, on average, each half-liter uses 3.55/24 = 0.15 oz of fuel. With this information, and if you have a decent scale**, you can estimate how many "half-liter boils" remain in your used canisters using the following formula:
Remaining "half-liter boils" = (x - 3.40) / 0.15
where x = weight of partially used canister, in ounces.
When I return from a backcountry adventure I write remaining gas weight and remaining boil info, with a Sharpie, on the bottom of my canisters.
** I bought this scale - accurate down to 0.05 oz - and a set of calibration weights (to confirm accuracy) for $15-20 on eBay - search "5kg 11lbs 1g digital kitchen scale". I've also used a digital postal scale, at work, in the past.
...this little guy can also puncture Jetboil (and other) fuel canisters for safe disposal/recycling. From Jetboil website:
- Rugged stainless steel construction
- Safely vents fuel prior to puncturing
- Bottle opener and jet orifice wrench integrated into handle
- Clips onto carabiner or key ring for convenience
The can-opener-shaped tool is sharp - sharp enough that I wouldn't attach this tool to a key ring and stick it in my pocket!
1.90 oz - Mini Hozuki Lantern
0.80 oz - (3) lithium AAA batteries
2.70 oz - total
(scale accurate to 0.05 oz)
For me, stuff like this isn't always intuitive. I thought a video might help explain the "stowable design".
If you're looking at this cartridge you probably already know about its features and benefits. If not, see my review of the excellent Platypus GravityWorks 4.0L Filter System. I think the GravityWorks systems flow like a stream!
Video (test/first video upload) shows Arkansas' Buffalo River Trail after a spring rain.
First off, I think Platypus GravityWorks Filter Systems are the bomb! I give this 2.0L Filter System a 2 star, or "not recommended", rating only because I think the GravityWorks 4.0L Filter System is the best backcountry filtration system out there (see my separate review of that excellent product)!
Reason: For virtually the same weight, cost and space in your pack, you get the flexibility to manage up to 8L (with the 4.0L system) vs. only up to 4L (with the 2.0L system) - again, see my review of the 4.0L system.
It seems as if the usefulness of the 2.0L system is for day hikes (and it's presented that way in at least one Platypus product video). In contrast, the 4.0L system can be used for day hikes AND overnights AND weekend trips AND week-long trips, etc.
Reviewers Note: Upon re-reading backcountry.com's product description above, the 2.0L product would be a good choice for solo backpacking adventures. But, for all the reasons I've outlined above, I still recommend the 4.0L system.
I've been using the Platypus GravityWorks filter system for over four years and it may be the best backcountry water filter system out there. It's light (under 11 oz), fast (4 liters in 2-1/2 minutes) and flexible (you can carry up to 8 liters into camp).
I use the clean reservoir as my hydration bladder, thus eliminating the weight of my 4 oz hydration bladder. The performance specs (1.75 liters per minute) are as good as the fastest pumping systems out there. And while the water is filtering - by gravity - I can take care of other backpacking tasks (try doing that next time you're pumping 4 liters of water by hand). And... with two 4 liter reservoirs (one "dirty", one clean), you can carry up to 8 liters - useful when you're camp is away from a water source. Lastly, this system is super-convenient for dispensing clean water at camp: Hang the 4 liter clean reservoir and use outlet tube and shut-off valve to fill water bottles, wash hands, etc.
The magic in the GravityWorks filter cartidge is its hollow glass fiber technology. The tiny glass fibers filter to 0.2 microns to remove bacteria and protozoans (i.e. giardia). But... hucking a glass fiber filter around the backcountry comes with some caveats: 1. Treat her gently - the ends are protected with foam rubber, but a slam to a rock might cause damage; 2. Protect from freezing (I keep my filter in the foot of my sleeping bag when overnight temps drop below 32 deg); 3. Carefully follow Platypus' instructions for backflushing air bubbles (air bubbles being the scourge of hollow glass fiber filtration).
I've backpacked for over 25 years and have previously used First Need Deluxe, Katadyn Pocket, Katadyn Hiker and MSR Hyperflow pump-type filters. I won't go back.
I'm a big fan of Platypus products and their SoftBottle is no exception. On backcountry adventures I use my 1L SoftBottle around camp / in my tent and as an emergency backup for my Platypus hydration system. I got the push-pull cap for easy drinks during the night. This cap is so hard to open and close that I mostly screw it on-off (and, thus, a one star deduction).
Photo shows my Grey 1L SoftBottle weighing in at 0.90 oz (empty) and 35.0 oz (full).