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Hiking & Camping

Test

Test wrote a review of on December 16, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Have used this lamp for three years on multi-week treks. And when we ended up on the trail on dark dark nights in the rain and cold in temps down to five or ten degrees we were glad to have this solid gear. If you need serious illumination in the dark this tried and true lamp does a great job! The light it puts out is just amazing!

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Test

Test wrote a review of on October 15, 2014

5 5

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

Okay, so here goes. Two yaks and a trekker walk into a bar...I know this is supposed to be about the Alpha Lt., but I couldn't resist and the trekker was wearing an Alpha Lt. jacket. Anyway this is a great jacket and I don't see it listed on the Arcteryx website anymore. Just as the Atom SV 100 gram insulated mid-layer jacket it seems as if Alpha Lt. is being phased out.

Next to it's big brother the Alpha SV, the Lt is four ounces lighter with a very durable face fabric laminated to 3 layers of Gortex. I actually prefer this jacket if I'm expending a lot of energy because of the weight. It also breathes a bit more than the SV although both have great pit zips. The Alpha Lt. has a storm hood like the Alpha SV. It's a little different than the the storm hood on the SV but the cut is the same. I once wrote that the Alpha SV is "finest technical shell ever made." The Alpha Lt is the second finest technical shell ever made. Buy it if you can. You won't be disappointed!

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Test

Test wrote a review of on July 29, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

The Rei Flash and Marmot Kompressor packs are both in this lightweight light and fast category, but the Arcteryx Cierzo 25 feels more durable and has a better compression system. The Cierzo 25 also sheds water like a duck, and I enjoy this a lot, but I still use a dry sack for gear that needs to dry. The Cierzo 25 also has a hydration sleeve when the thin foam back pad is removed from it's internal pocket. The backpack can also expand from 1600+ to 1900+ cubic inches. That's plenty of space for a day trip. The pack's harness and belt are thin, but they deliver serious ergonomic comfort. The zippered compartment on the lid is also very large and has waterproof zippers. Also, the one size fits all backpack design eliminates sizing issues and this is a nice factor. For durability, workmanship, material and design I've given this backpack 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 body heat and the Nuclei runs hot, not breathing as well as the Atom LT. IMHO the these are both great mid-layer and stand alone jackets for different conditions. The Nuclei is just a little too warm during heavy exertion.

They have proven to me over and over they are great jackets for any active Fall to Spring pursuits. They are cut similarly, the Nuclei offering just a little more room for layering. The shoulder to arm articulation (angel-wing cut) and longer sleeve-length are great in forward or upward extension as you ski or climb or trek and your wrists and midsection remain covered. I've given the Nuclei five stars 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 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 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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Test

Test wrote a review of on May 10, 2013

5 5

Bought another pair. Still prefer these shoes for trekking or hiking compared to boots if going ultralite because they provide good support and reduced weight. These shoes may be a little on the heavy side for some trail runners, but there are still no problems with the quality of the shoes themselves. Nice to see them on sale! They are worth more than the ninety-seven bucks! If I hadn't just purchased a new high end UL tent, pack, sleeping bag, etc. I'd order two more pair at this price just to have on hand for winter treks here in Oregon. These are just great shoes, plain and simple!

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Test

Test wrote a review of on April 20, 2013

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I have North Face, Marmot, Patagonia and MontBell technical shells. I've trekked and climbed for over fifty years, in the Sierra Nevada, at Ranier, the AT, Bryce and in Alaska. If you want to go further,faster, lighter this is the kind of gear you need. The Alpha SV is professional grade, remarkably well designed and perfectly constructed. Our home is on the southern Oregon coast near Cape Blanco where winter winds routinely run at seventy to one hundred miles per hour with heavy heavy rains. The zippers of this shell do not let in water or wind. The storm hood is flawless and remarkably better than those of other shells I own. The sleeves are wonderfully articulated to fascilliate overhead reach without lifting the torso of the shell. There are no front pockets at hip level to get in the way of a climbing or backpacking harness. The bottom hem of the shell has a removable foam strip sewn into it to prevent the shell from riding up under a climbing or backpacking harness. I'm sixty-five, trek five miles a day, five days a week, twelve months a year, going on two multi-week treks in the summer. In my opinion this is the finest technical shell ever made, hands down.

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