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Patrick Fink

Patrick Fink

Portland, OR

Patrick Fink's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Biking
Skiing
Climbing
Running
Fly Fishing
Yoga

Patrick Fink's Bio

I'm a ski mountaineer, trail runner, rock/ice climber, mountain biker, adventure junkie, and beverage connoisseur based in Portland. I like moving fast and far through the mountains under human power, and I grind my gear into the ground. I share my adventures, tips, techniques, and photos on Mountainlessons.com.

Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on June 6, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I replaced the 2x on my Santa Cruz Bronson with a 32T narrow-wide, and I'm not looking back. Paired with a clutch-type derailleur, the days of chain-drop are long gone, and I've ditched my bash guard too. The simplicity of the 1x setup is something I still can't get over. My friends are tired of hearing about it.

This ring installed easily with my stock chain and on the inner ring of my 2x chainring. Even at more extreme chain-lines, the ring is pretty quiet and breaks in to be even quieter.

There has been slight wear of the anodization where the teeth engage the chain, but it is startlingly minimal after 250 mi of riding.

Everyone has an opinion about this, but I have yet to encounter something that I could ride up with my 2x that I can't surmount with 1x 32T (11-36 in back). It calls for more power than spinning in a granny gear, but it has only made me faster because I can't go slower a certain RPM and keep the pedals moving. If you live somewhere with really sustained climbs >3 mi at a time, you might like a 30T, or you can convert your cassette to wide-range 11-42 with a wolf tooth or OneUp product.

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Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on June 6, 2015

Lightweight but could use some beef
3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 160 lbs

Pros: light, neutral fit, low drop, aggressive tread.

Cons: Lacking a toe-guard, non-durable upper, floppy upper.

This shoe is an almost for me. I was excited about their light weight and aggressive tread, but I found that the lack of weight came not from precise build/engineering, but from an inferior upper.

For me, a trail shoe needs to have some kind of protection at the toe. If you're running on flat ground, ok, leave it out, but with the tread on this one, its off-road pedigree deserves a bit more foot protection.

Also, the upper is too flexible. Without structure, it allows my foot to pronate off of the foot bed, which is not a problem that I've had with other shoes. Additionally, the shoe buckles with each foot strike, bending near the ball of the ankle and making a perfect little basket-ball hoop to collect rocks and dirt along the way.

I've switched to using the S-Lab Ultra SG for my traction-y shoe, and I couldn't be happier, as it has all of what I want in a shoe like this, and nothing more, and it achieves its weight with thoughtful use of material, not by leaving out necessary features.

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Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on June 6, 2015

3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 160 lbs

I picked up a pair of the X-Series hoping that they could serve as a more-cushioned S-lab for pavement, hard-packed trail, and speed workouts. In that respect, I got what I wanted. The X-series has a bigger drop and more heel-cushion than the Sense 4, but has a similar fit through the midfoot and is still lightweight overall. The toe box has a bit more room, and the heel comes up a bit higher at the ankle.

I'm giving the product 3 stars because it doesn't hold up to what I expect from the S-Lab series. While the shoe has the cushion that I expected, the fit isn't as dialed, and there are a few functional details that need sorting out.

First off, the ride characteristics are good. It runs well on pavement and on trail. The added cushion contributes to slightly less sensitivity, but it's still a low-enough shoe for some non-technical trail running.

Why they roomed out the toe box, I'm not sure. This could be a boon at distances over 25 miles when the feet start to swell, but I prefer the more snug fit of the Sense.

Additionally, the quick-lace system has been bruising the top of one of my feet. Unlike the S-Lab Sense or SG, one of the eyelets for the X-Series sits right over the second knuckle of my large toe, and will bruise it with repeat sessions. As a consequence, I have to cycle this shoe in and out, swapping with others on different days.

Lastly, and again inexplicably, the heel is taller at the ankle. which has given me my first running blister of the last 1000 miles. With a low sock, it reaches past the sock and can chafe a bending ankle. A piece of tape set me straight, but it's just not what I expect from salomon.

I think that this shoe is pretty great, and will fit some feet better than it fits mine. The fit is similar but a bit more roomy than the Sense, there are other small changes that I've highlighted above. I'd like to see the fit fall in line with the other S-Lab shoes, and the details with the heel and laces should be sorted out. I'll be looking for that in the X-Series 2, and in the meantime, it'll still be a training workhorse for me, with a few caveats.

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Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on June 6, 2015

S-Lab Chassis, All-Terrain Tires
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 160 lbs

I came to this shoe from the S-Lab ultra, looking for something that could handle the wetter days that we have in the UpperLeft USA. In the past, I've used the La Sportiva crosslite for when I needed traction, but the SG is my new rig.

The fit is identical to the Sense 4 as far as I can tell, and they required no break-in. They're well worth the price for a thoughtful, all-terrain shoe in such a slick package.

The SG has all of the benefits of the S-Lab Sense 4: the out-of-the-box fit, the quick lacing, the rock guard, the sensitivity, the minimal weight, but in addition, it has a solid, lugged sole that does a great job on wet corners without collecting mud.

I also like the the SG for longer runs, as the lugs give a little bit more cushion to the Sense 4, which can me a bit hash on hard ground over longer distances. While the SG does make a funny noise when running on pavement, it still behaves well, and runs well on hard-packed dirt and rock.

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Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on June 6, 2015

Nearly-Perfect Minimal Touring Binding
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This binding is ideal for lightweight ski touring and ski mountaineering. It's not a Duke, a Beast, or a Baron, but it does weigh next-to-nothing, provides all of the clamping power that we've come to expect from dynafit, and provides a bit of release safety on top of their race-weight toe.

I've put thousands of feet on these bindings, and the only wear or tear that I've seen is a bit of anodizing coming off where my boot hits the risers. I suspect that the low reviews for durability are isolated cases, and dynafit has been amazing with their warranty in the past.

Of note, this thing is getting even better next year with a removable brake! That solves the only conundrum with this binding. You have to run a leash if you want to ski with the binding unlocked and not missile a ski. I primarily ski with them locked out, but appreciate that they can be unlocked for releasability when there is avalanche concern, etc.

This binding will pair perfectly with a Scarpa Alien, Dynafit TLT6, Scarpa F1 Evo, etc, and if you mount it up on a light ski, you'll be impressed with both the weight and the skiability.

Because there's no adjustability in the binding for boot-sole-length, make sure that you like your boot pairing and have them mounted at a solid shop. There shouldn't be play in the boot-binding interface if they're mounted up right.

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Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on June 6, 2015

The Old Standby
4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs small
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 160 lbs
Size Purchased: Large

This has been my glove of choice for the last three seasons. I like it for its snug fit, reasonable durability, good looks, and light weight. Like almost any glove in this product category, it is essentially expendable, but for how light the glove is, each pair lasts me a long time. The last pair made it around 1200-1500 miles before popping a seam.

This year's glove has a slightly different cuff closure which is lower profile. I initially didn't like the change, but decided after a few rides that it stayed closed better and had a good look to it. For the price, I don't think that you can get better.

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Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on September 30, 2014

Light shoe for long distance
5 5

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

I've used these shoes now for >250 miles, all on trail and most recently running around Mt Hood. I disagree with the reviews here that say it fits narrowly, or that it hasn't enough padding in the heel.

For comparison, I have run through two pairs of cross-lite's, and a pair each of anacondas, wildcats, and multiple other branded shoes. Compared to other LaSportiva shoes, if you fit for length, the width is greater. I've usually had issues with the width of some of their other shoes, but the Bushido continues to fit my foot, even with swelling during the day. The durability of the shoe ha been better than any of their other models as well.

The shoe feels great while running-- it's not uber-sensitive, but what you lose in sensitivity you gain in protection (toe guard!), a bit of heel cushioning, and a great underfoot rock guard. The trail is aggressive enough for all but pure mud, but not as knoby as the xlite or anacondas. This is a bonus for running on firmer surfaces or on smoother rock. The tongue is also bonded with a nice elastic guard on each side, so the shoes fit like a sock but still breathe.

What else is there to say? They're light, and they look sexy.

(I've marked fit true to size. LaSportiva sizes vary between ALL shoes I've tried, so you should try them on in person.)

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Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on December 26, 2011

4 5

This is practically NOLS instructor uniform in the rockies. It's super light, and for its weight, its incredibly warm.

Compared to the standard jacket of this weight -the mountain hardwear compressor- this jacket is better cut, weighs less, looks better, and is only slightly less warm. It has great stretch cuffs and the zippers are of appropriate weight for a lightweight jacket.

It's not the most durable jacket ever, but nothing made of featherweight nylon is. it quickly frayed a little bit around the cuff and at the jawline, but it's on the whole snag resistant. Not for offwidth climbing.

Mine has seen at least 100 days in the field heavily used, and another 50 in the city, worm everywhere, and its still going strong. It's also easy to wash, and unlike down, you don't have to worry about it getting wet.

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Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on December 7, 2010

2 5

Unlike Peter, I cut these to fit my S7s and they failed to impress. It's true: they save a few ounces for the climb, the fold and pack more easily, and in some cases they seem to have a little bit more glide. That said, those few onces saved translate into greatly decresed climbing performance on steeper tracks. They climb just fine if you're cutting mellow switchbacks to-and-fro, but if you're skinning a ridge with steeper steps then you're in for a time. I'm switching back to the normal STS skins, which have done the trick for years.

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Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on November 14, 2010

2 5

These skis feel great under foot and ski well in a large variety of conditions. However, the inserts are not to be trusted. I had a pair of Dynafit FT12 bindings mounted on my manaslus at a dynafit-certified shop. Then, 3 months later after about 25 days of touring, I ripped the insert of out the ski. Not just the screws-- the inserts came with. And this was on moderate terrain. Had this happened 10 minutes earlier, I might not be writing this. Dynafit offered me a full refund, but no explanation. Having talked to friends at a couple ski shops, this isn't an isolated problem, but is a recurring one with this ski. I can't recommend this ski to anyone who needs a no-fail system.

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Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on January 17, 2010

4 5

I have the non-stainless contact strap from last season, and I've used it extensively in the cascades, both with Scarpa Freney mountaineering boots and with my Dynafit ZZeus ski boots. I have been very happy with them when I've used them as designed. For hard snow and glacier travel, they're great. the lacing is solid, though the strap is too long (this looks like its been fixed on the new model), and the toe/heel bales sit comfortably and securely on both boots. The steel is durable, and easily tolerates walking on rock and gravel as well as hard ice. The toe points are a good length for glacier travel, not so long that they catch while walking but just long enough to front-point when needed. The antibot plates work really well, even in gloppy summer snow. I've never bothered to remove them.

For pure ice-climbing, these crampons aren't so great. They have horizontal rather than vertical front points, and they're not quite long enough to feel really secure. Though they work well enough for ~WI3, you'll be happier with something more ice-driven.

All in all though, as an all-around crampon, they're a workhorse that I expect to last quite a while, and I'm very satisfied.

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Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on January 17, 2010

4 5

This is a great tool. I used these (usually use CF Black Prophets w/leashes) on moderate water I and I was very pleased. The curve in the shaft makes sinking tools a breeze, they just fly right in. If there's a downside to the tools, it's that the pick is so easy to place it can be easy to over-sink them and make them difficult to remove. Once you learn to deal with that though, it means less energy spent all around.

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Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on January 17, 2010

5 5

I've been using this binding for 3 months now, and I love it. I graduated away from Fritschi Diamir freerides, which I used extensively over the summer on the cascade volcanoes, and it has been a dream getting to know the FT12. Though i was initially concerned that a tech binding wouldn't hold up to how hard I wanted to ski, I haven't had one problem with the FT12 in 21k' of backcountry skiing on everything from powder to breakable crust. I've even had this in the resort for several days of hard skiing on ice, bumps, drops, etc, and it hasn't pre-released or caused me any problems.

Switching between heel-post settings and from tour to ski modes is very easy once you become familiar with manipulating the heel post. I have brakes on my bindings, which I think is a mistake, as it hinders the ability to switch from ski to tour without stepping out of the binding. That said, making the switch is very easy and quick once you're used to it.

As to releaseability, this binding has performed perfectly, releasing only once when my leg found a buried tree, likely saving my knee. The only word of caution that I offer is to make sure to lock the toe lever when switching to touring, because if you forget to do so it will release more easily than you'd think-- a problem on steep or prone terrain.

All said, this is an excellent binding, and I look forward to using it for years. I would certainly make this choice again.

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Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on September 20, 2009

5 5

I've put about 150 miles on these puppies since they arrived a month and a half ago, on everything from blacktop (so-so) to super-gnarly all-fours terrain (great) and I have to say that these are the best rail runners I've ever had. They breathe well, a very stable on chunky terrain, and they grip the slippery stuff like a boss. Like any non-gortex shoe, when the trail turns into a river, these get wet, but all told they perform well when soaked. The only downside that I've seen is that they don't shed mud really well, but that's the tradeoff for having such a nice knobby sole to negotiate rocky terrain. I'm sold.

you can see a longer review here: http://sittingstone.wordpress.com/2009/08/27/gear-review-la-sportiva-wildcat/

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Patrick Fink

Patrick Finkwrote a review of on September 14, 2009

5 5

It's hard to beat a classic, and this is no exception. Descriptions of lines and the rating system are great, as is the huge selection. My only beef is that the description of the approaches is a little lacking, but I think andrew apologetically addresses this in the into.

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