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John's Passions

Camping

John's Bio

Test

Test wrote a review of on July 29, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Rei Flash and Marmot compressor packs are both in this lightweight category, but IMHO the Arcteryx Cierzo 25 feels more durable and has a better compression system. Even though the Cierzo 25 sheds water well, I carry anything that needs to stay dry in a dry sack. A hydration sleeve is included when the thin foam back pad is removed from it's internal pocket. Knowing how to pack a frameless backpack will make this easier, but there's really nothing to it. What I also like is the bag's other versatility---it's ability to expand from 1300+ cubic inches to 1600+. And even though the harness straps and belt are thin it delivers serious comfort w/ lightweight gear. I went with the black bag because the straps appear to be less stressed and just as effective. The one size fits all also fits all and that's a nice factor too. Over all I've given this
pack five well-deserved stars.

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Test

Test wrote a review of on June 4, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

I have bought four, maybe five pairs of these shoes and find them to be top notch. The shoes are lightweight, have durable sticky soles with Gor-Tex liners and fit great. I wear size 45 (11.5 US) have a normal D width. They hold up a lot longer and better than other trail shoes I've tried, both on and off trail, through rough canyons and across granite fields. Merrill and Salomon produce decent alternatives, but they're just not this shoe. I'm also into light and fast gear partially to go longer distances and these shoes provide great stability with or without trekking poles and lightweight packs. The laces are the only part of the shoes that need to break in--to soften up. Otherwise excellent! The mesh keeps the feet pretty cool in warm wet weather and on colder wet days I don't seem to notice them when in motion. As an avid trekker (former climber) and hiker for over 57 years I prefer these to any others I've tried.

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Test

Test wrote a review of on May 16, 2014

2 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: Runs small

A great running shoe, trail shoe or boot may need breaking in while some are just plain out of the box excellent. I've also found what doesn't work for me and this shoe doesn't. While all reviews are subjective, the foot bed felt too narrow, the toe box a bit too long and those problems won't resolve themselves over time.

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Test

Test wrote a review of on February 15, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

I recently eliminated a good number of rain shells and other technical shells from my gear closet. I now keep just two--a medium and a small Arcteryx Alpha SV Jacket. When Winter mountain trekking I wear the medium to accommodate a down mid-layer sweater and 220 ibex merino wool base-layer. I wear the small size Alpha SV with two Patagonia LS light-weight base-layer shirts and an Atom LT if needed, during spring and fall at altitude when wetter conditions roll in. I also wear Montbell rain pants with either when needed. I'm just over 6' and weigh 150lbs and the jackets and baselayers fit perfectly. These are durable against scrapes with boulders. The new material has 28% greater Evaporative Heat Transfer (heat loss) more than the 2012 model, but still seem to modulate body temperature very effectively. These shells are wind resistant and water proof even keeping my down mid-layer sweater dry. So I'll say it again: The Finest Technical Shell Ever Made!
Instead of getting the Alpha LT I went with the two Alpha SVs and I'm glad I did! I've put these through the wringer at Bryce, Rainier, parts of the AT, rafting the Rogue River and climbing Sisters. I like the slightly too long arm length because it cover the wrists and the storm hood is unbelievably effective. So yeah I'll say it again. Finest Technical Shell ever made! This is one happy trekker and I'been buying technical shells and gear since the late 1960s, but not one compared to these. Buy it!

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Test

Test wrote a review of on December 10, 2013

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

Trekking, climbing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing build up a lot of core body heat where the Nuclei has the most insulation, in the torso area. This is the reason the Nuclei warmer and is lighter than the Atom LT. If you are wearing a good shell jacket over the Nuclei or the Atom LT, use the pit zips to dump heat when you need to.

IMHO the Atom LT and the Nuclei are both great mid-layer and stand alone jackets for similar conditions. The Nuclei would be better with a drawstring hood like the Atom SV.

The Nuclei and the Atom LT have proven to me over and over they are great jackets for any active Fall to Spring pursuits. They are cut similarly and offer space for layering, the Nuclei offering just a little more. I wear an Ibex heavyweight woolly and a mid-weight Patagonia base-layer with either jacket and a shell if the weather calls for it and there is still room to spare if you want more insulation. The shoulder to arm articulation (angel-wing cut) and longer sleeve-length is great in reaching as you ski or climb or trek or in base camp because your wrists and midsection remain covered and heat is kept in; also the wrists closures on the Nuclei jacket are not as tight as those on the Atom LT and Atom SV. However if you trek or hike in weather that's equally snowy and rainy or more rainy you might like the Atom LT a little better as the front edge of the Nuclei hood is shaped to cover more of the face and is a little more exposed to the rain. Lessons learned. Overall the Nuclei and the Atom LT are both Great Lightweight Jackets! I've given the Nuclei five stars despite the shortcomings because it is so well made and the company is dedicated. I just really like what great gear does, a lot!

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Test

Test wrote a review of on November 21, 2013

2 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

Received the Makalu as a gift. My first impression was that the external Advent layer seems almost fragile and very thin. Also the tags on the jacket say that the DWR coating will hold up for several washings. Even sounded fragile. Wore the jacket on a walk in 35 degree weather (the weather advisory said 'feels like 27') with 2 number 2 Patagonia baselayers under it. I was cool but the Primaloft did it's job when it heated up. I like the shape of the hood and the brim is excellent but the hood adjusters are too old school and difficult. I had received a size small and the arm length seemed good, but the hem length seemed a bit short and overall the jacket seems somewhat pear-shaped. Also, I forgot to close one of the pockets and my keys fell out of it as I got out of the car. The bottom of the pockets it turns out are very close to the bottom of the zipper, so it's necessary to close the pockets to keep items in. Given the fragile feel of the shell material, the short-lived DWR coating, the old school hood adjusters, the shallow pockets and pear shape of the jackets torso, I have given the Makalu a two star rating. For years, North Face has been the trusted gold standard of durable excellent gear, but some things work and some don't. This jacket seems to be built more for short trips around town in winter than for hiking, snowshoeing or serious outdoor activity, except perhaps skiing on dry sunny days. I am thanking my friend for the gift and returning it.

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Test

Test wrote an answer about on November 15, 2013

If the Arcteryx Alpha SV is now 28% more breathable it reduces the warmth factor--the Resistance To Evaporative Heat Transfer . In short, the increased rate of breathability equals heat loss and 28% increased breathability equals a substantial amount of heat loss. I guess this is one difference between the 2013 and 2012 models. And if the jacket has 28% more breathability, then warmer mid-layers like the Atom SV or Nuclei may be needed, as any owner of an e-vent jacket will tell you. The event jackets have similar breathability and do require upgrades in midlayers! Actually the advantage of jackets which are more breathable or less breathable depends on the wearer's activity level. A layer of warm moist heat that isn't soaking insulation will be appropriate for someone who has limited activity, while crampon jamming ice climbers pulling themselves up 400 vertical feet will use a jacket with more breathable fabric (like the Alpha SV) wearing a light base- and mid-layer. Someone in between, who does winter hiking or trekking might use the same jacket with a similar mid-layer base- and mid-layer. But it may also depend upon how a person takes the cold... These all play a part in assessing the right base-layer, mid-layer and shell jacket combos for your needs.... The important thing is matching the function of the fabrics with your activity and your personal response to colder temperatures.

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Test

Test wrote a question about on November 14, 2013

I spend a lot of the winter hiking in cold wet (rainy wet) windy conditions. I have an Alpha SV and ordered the same size Atom SV Hoody because it's synthetic and synthetic works well in the winter conditions I described, but the front hem of the Atom SV Hoody was about two inches longer than the front hem of the Alpha SV shell. The back hem of the hoody was a perfect match for the shell and all this seemed odd. A rep at arcteryx verified this and recommended the thorium or cerium jacket. It's seemed odd it didn't fit because the Atom LT Hoody fits under the Alpha SV shell perfectly, but here's the question. In the really rainy, very windy and cold winter conditions of the southern Cascades, how well would the Thorium or Cerium jackets work? I hike substantial distances and wouldn't want to carry back a lumpy wet down jacket or get soaked. Ah the beauty of synthetics....

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Test

Test wrote a review of on November 14, 2013

3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

I have owned several Arcteryx Alpha Svs over the years. Love everything from the wrist closures to the drop tail hem, the Napoleon pockets and especially the storm hood. I do most of my winter hiking in the southern Cascades, usually at 20 to 30 degrees (without factoring in the enormous windchill) in very rainy and very windy conditions. I do a double traverse up 1500' across five miles five days a week. I usually wear the SV with a # 2 Patagonia baselayer and Atom LT Hoody through November. This year I wanted some warmer insulation for down time between hikes and just for general use on fall-to-spring days. I purchased the Atom SV Hoody and liked it right off, however when I tried it with the Alpha SV shell, I found that the front hem of the Atom Hoody was two inches longer than the SV shell, so it hung out below it. They are the same size jackets, so that wasn't the problem. The rear hem of the SV Hoody fit under the hem of the shell jacket as it should.

Called Arcteryx and they said yup, the front hem is longer than the shell. I mentioned that the Atom LT Hoody fits perfectly but the rep just said unh hunh. I said to the rep that I was still looking for a synthetic jacket that's warmer than the LT--one that would fit under the Alpha SV shell . He said they had down options, but no synthetic options. As I live in the Pacific Northwest where it's more often wet than snowy, this doesn't work for me. Because of this I dropped my rating of the Arcteryx Alpha SV to 3 stars. The Atom LT Hoody fits perfectly but there's no heavier synthetic mid-layer jacket, except in down? Backcountry mentioned I might try an Arcteryx Nuclei and it works great, fits just as well as the Atom LT light. Thanks Backcountry! I've since upped my rating of the Alpha SV to four stars (it is the best shell jacket ever made hands down) but a 4 star rating is the best I can give it because the poor fit Atom SV Hoody reduces the jacket's versatility.

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Test

Test wrote a review of on November 13, 2013

2 5

Familiarity: I returned this product before using it

I've had a couple of Arcteryx Alpha SVs over the years and this year I decided to go with an Atom SV Hoody in the same size. I already have an Atom LT Hoody, but for winter I wanted a little more insulation. I also have a number of other Arcteryx pieces and like them a lot.

Out of the bag, the Atom SV Hoody looked great--just as it should. Then I put on the Alpha SV shell on over the Atom SV Hoody and zipped in. I'm just over 6', weigh 155 lbs. and the size small Alpha SV shell is perfect. Unfortunately, when I put on Alpha SV shell, the hem length at the front of the hoody was an inch or two longer than the shell. The rear hem of the hoody was cut correctly and was under the hem of the shell. Very disappointed although it's probably just a production error, but I'm surprised at the lack of quality control at Arcteryx. Otherwise the Atom SV Hoody is a great jacket. Warm, toasty, made with coreloft, great sleeve length, hood fits nicely under a helmet (use a beanie otherwise) and it's a substantial upgrade in warmth from the Atom LT Hoody, by 100 grams. I'll revisit my review when I hear from Arcteryx.... Then I may change the number of stars I've given this hoody. With the exception of the too long front hem, the jacket fits true to size. But I don't want to wear something that may be wicking water and you would think that Arcteryx would be more careful!

Called Arcteryx and they said yup, the front hem of the Atom SV Hoody is longer than the front hem of the Alpha SV shell. They said they had down options but not synthetic. Living in the Pacific NW I totally prefer synthetic because it's often raining and windy where I hike in the Cascades rather than snowy. Gearheads at Backcountry suggested the Arcteryx Nuclei--warmer than the Atom LT and fits under the Alpha SV shell perfectly just as the Atom LT. Thanks Backcountry!

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Test

Test wrote a question about on November 11, 2013

A great water resistant down jacket with polymer treated down that sheds water like crazy. Since there's no hood I'd guess it could be a mid-layer jacket that needs an outer shell, like the TNF Varius Guide jacket, or, that it can be used solo on snowy days with a beanie or even in light precip? Sound about right?This kind of versatility makes a great jacket.

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Test

Test wrote an answer about on November 11, 2013

The jacket weighs 1 lb. 11 oz. That much hyvent material will keep you warm to about 35-40 degrees F, and at maximum output probably 20, as Pat Palmer noted above. If you've got room in a crag bag while you're climbing put in a down sweater or synthetic insulated anorak (depending on whether its wet or dry cold). If you're running in those conditions be sure those clothes are waiting for you.... Enjoy!

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Test

Test wrote a question about on November 5, 2013

Recently stood on peak wearing the Lt. The insulating material of the jacket was great and I was still hot from the climb. The cuffs kept out the hold and helped retain heat. But it felt like the hood needed a draw string and that wind was going right through the entire length of the zipper. It was only pushing 15 knots so I put on a squamish hoody and was toasty warm, but has anyone else noticed the air through the entire length of the zipper? A disappointing feature!

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Test

Test wrote a review of on September 14, 2013

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Traveled and lived for extended periods in the backcountry of Guatemala, Blue Fields Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica. I used a Katadyn micropur hand pump filter and then purified my water with tablets, specifically these tablets. Iodine does not kill cryptosporidium and there is a good deal of it in Central America, along with other things that do not survive the affect of these tablets. But some contaminant bugs and disease are attached to small particulate and its best to remove as much of it as you can, then use the pill. The Steripen won't work for these purposes either. Without a handpump you could also let the water settle and the sediment sink to the bottom of your reservoir for five to ten hours. That would help. I don't recommend it but it's an alternative. If you are going to drink glacial melt or canyonlands river water first use a t-shirt or pre-filter to save your hand pump. You'll love the simplicity! Great product! Compact! Stores easily! Be sure to use just one tablet per quart or liter and purify just one quart or liter at a time! Cheers! I have also used this on backpacking trips in the Sierra Nevada, Utah and Alaska. The handpump is a little heavy and if your trip is only going to last for a few days you might risk using just a t-shirt and carrying immodium. Personally I would not but some do it. For week-long or multi-week trips a handpump filter and tabs can't be beat and shouldn't be left at home.

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