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Stephen M. Bennett

Stephen M. Bennett

Southern Applachains

Stephen M. Bennett's Passions

Hiking & Camping

Stephen M. Bennett's Bio

I like things that work and don't weigh much.

Stephen M. Bennett

Stephen M. Bennett wrote a review of on January 31, 2013

4 5

Familiarity: I returned this product before using it

Last ski season I ran across the Sabre SV in the greenlight color. It fit and I should have purchased it then but I didn't. Flash forward to this year and I finally bit the bullet and ordered the jacket in Tungsten. I'm a large in virtually everything Arcteryx but this was just huge. Overall the construction was nice and professionally done. The hood easily envelopes a ski helmet. The powder skirt always being there is annoying to me, but that's more of a personal issue I think. The fleecy inside is a nice touch as well.

The jacked looked cool but the fit did not work for me. I'm a large in virtually everything Arcteryx but this was just huge. It was too baggy in the torso and the sleeves were too long. I understand it's cut for layering and a relaxed look but coupled with the powder skirt being permanently attached and the fleece backer that limits this jacket to snow activities and nothing more I decided to return it. I did opt for the Theta SV, which is cut large but doesn't have a powder skirt and can be used in all seasons.

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Stephen M. Bennett

Stephen M. Bennett wrote a review of on November 21, 2012

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I have been doing a lot of research on super lightweight down jackets and narrowed things down to two options; the Patagonia Ultralight down jacket and the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer. I ordered both and my impressions favor the MHW in almost every discernible way.

The MHW is lighter (the large weighed 7.6 ounces on my digital scale), the fabric is softer to the touch, the down lofts higher because it's higher quality down (850 versus 800 fill), and, as a result, it's a warmer jacket. Additionally, the Ghost Whisperer packs down into its own pocket and doesn't require a stuff sack (the Patagonia comes with a stuff sack).

Now, a comment on fit. The cut of the MHW is fuller than the Patagonia for sure. I wouldn't really say the Patagonia is a "slim" fit as the website indicates but it is fitted somewhat. I don't think the MHW is an athletic fit as this website indicates. Frankly, I would call it "relaxed" in terms of fit but it still fits fine under my shell (as an aside, docking this jacket to 2 stars, like one of the reviews below, because it fits "large" is silly as it gives zero actual information on the actual merits of the jacket). I wear a large is virtually everything and that's what I purchased in the Ghost Whisperer. I have plenty of room for layers and honestly, if I didn't eat for a week, I could probably wear a medium. But I'm happy with the large.

In short, I returned the Patagonia. That was hard for me b/c I really like their stuff and I had sort of lost respect for MHW after they were purchased by Columbia. However, the Ghost Whisperer is simply superior to the Patagonia in every way to me. I'm very impressed and it really opens my eyes to MHW products again.

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Stephen M. Bennett

Stephen M. Bennett wrote a review of on November 7, 2012

3 5

Familiarity: I returned this product before using it

I wanted to like this jacket. It was light. I liked the color (Paprika). It was on sale. It was warm. I didn't find the snaps to be tight like others.

However, the cuffs are the fatal flaw for me. They are ridiculously tight to the point where I can't ignore it. I tried a large size and it fit perfectly in the body except for the cuffs. It was nearly cutting off my circulation. Because I was unsure of sizing I also ordered an XL. The cuffs on the XL felt no different. I've never considered myself to have large wrists, if that's even a thing, so be wary of the cuffs. If they were different, I'd probably be keeping the jacket. Oh well...

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Stephen M. Bennett

Stephen M. Bennett wrote a review of on October 26, 2012

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I've used capilene off and on for the past 8-10 years and I feel like things have really improved over that time. The present iteration is very nice and to me, fits a little looser than it used. Perhaps I'm just small. Who knows. I feel like the piece wicks very well, dries quickly, is warm, and regulates temperature quite well. I had been using wool baselayers exclusively the past couple years but I may reevaluate things. The Capilene 3 is half the price of a nice wool piece. Good option.

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Stephen M. Bennett

Stephen M. Bennett wrote a question about on September 1, 2012

How much longer is this jacket really than the Alpha SV? The specs say the center back length on the Theta is 0.7 inches longer. Is that all we're talking about here?

Other questions:
1. Would you pick this or the Sabre for skiing (resort skiing only at the moment)?
2. What about for winter backpacking?
3. Which would you pick if you could only have one?

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Stephen M. Bennett

Stephen M. Bennett wrote a review of on September 1, 2012

5 5

I've used this jacket for the past 2 winters as my insulted ski jacket and have been pleased. It's windproof and very warm. It kept me toasty on a January ski trip in Jackson Hole for reference. I have been hesitant to really test its waterproofness since it's not marketed as being waterproofed but the DWR seems to work well in the light rain/snow I've had it in.

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Stephen M. Bennett

Stephen M. Bennett wrote a review of on January 31, 2010

5 5

I used to use Leki's exclusively but no anymore. I received these as a gift and haven't looked back. I love the lock on the bottom portion of the poles (such a great idea) and the locking mechanism in the second section is much more reliable than the twist mechanism Leki uses. These things are perfect and have never collapsed on me.

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Stephen M. Bennett

Stephen M. Bennett wrote a review of on January 31, 2010

4 5

I have the small size and my Western Mountaineering Sycamore fits inside quite nicely. I've never had an issue with it letting in moisture although I can't say that there's really been much occasion for it to let in water. I found that it's a touch heavy for a stuff sack (there are lighter waterproof ones out there) and a bit expensive. All in all, I'm not displeased.

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Stephen M. Bennett

Stephen M. Bennett wrote a review of on January 31, 2010

5 5

All Western Mountaineering bags are super. This one is a narrow version of the Badger MF, which is at least 66 inches in the shoulders. If you're looking for a 15 degree bag (a conservative rating like the ratings for all their bags) that'll last the next 20 years look at this one or the Badger (depending on how narrow you like your bag).

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Stephen M. Bennett

Stephen M. Bennett wrote a review of on January 30, 2010

5 5

This is currently my favorite summer sleeping bag on the market right now. I like the way Marmot cuts their bags (wider in the shoulders than Mountain Hardwear), the way the hood fits, and the roomy footbox. The bag itself is super light with 800+ fill down and compresses quite well (an puffs back up quite nice). The only thing you need is a waterproof stuff sack!

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Stephen M. Bennett

Stephen M. Bennett wrote a review of on January 30, 2010

5 5

Received the large version as a Christmas present this year and it's very impressive. I find the cross-chambers to be better supporting of my body than my old Big Agnes pad. As long as you don't intend to use this in cold temperatures you'll be fine. If you want to extend use into 4 season situations try and closed cell foam pad (maybe 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch) underneath for additional r-value. If you're sleeping in shelters, consider a piece of tyvek to go under the pad to keep it safe from nail heads or splinters.

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Stephen M. Bennett

Stephen M. Bennett wrote a review of on January 30, 2010

5 5

Received the large version as a Christmas present this year and it's very impressive. I find the cross-chambers to be better supporting of my body than my old Big Agnes pad. As long as you don't intend to use this in cold temperatures you'll be fine. If you want to extend use into 4 season situations try and closed cell foam pad (maybe 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch) underneath for additional r-value. If you're sleeping in shelters, consider a piece of tyvek to go under the pad to keep it safe from nail heads or splinters.

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