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Robert's Passions

Camping

Robert's Bio

TropX

TropX wrote a review of on May 1, 2007

4 5

I've had this tent for several seasons now and have used it in a variety of conditions, from high desert to high alpine, from perfect weather to mountain storms. For the most part, this tent is great. The front awning is one of my favorite features; you can get out of the rain yet still have a decent view. Inside, it is very roomy for its weight and offers better protection than a floorless tarp, but I will say that the layout is not ideal for two people since there's only one door, so when nature calls somebody's gotta crawl over their partner. The corners, on the other hand, are useful for stashing gear. Setup is very simple; it's ready to go in three or four minutes if you're not fussy about catalog-perfect tautness. This tent has proved quite stable in some pretty strong winds, but you do have to guy it out to get maximum stability.
Now, the cons: Ventilation is pretty good, but you WILL have condensation under the right conditions (no leaking, though). Most of my camping is done out West, where it's dry, but I did notice during bad weather at high altitude (cold and wet) that I had to keep a sponge or a towel handy. Placement relative to wind is imperative, as is making sure the rear vent is nice and open. I don't think I'd want this tent for muggy, wet places. Also, I can never get the door to pitch completely taut, which means I have to grab the tent wall to zip/unzip it.
Overall, though, it's a nice "in-between" tent for those that aren't quite ready to go floorless yet want to shed some weight. I recommend it for most applications.

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TropX

TropX wrote a review of on April 9, 2007

5 5

I completed a tour of the South Dakota Badlands and Black Hills last summer, and this pack performed flawlessly. It is very comfortable for loads up to about 18 pounds (the maximum I carried on this trip). The Air Core back panel is great for ventilation, and the shoulder straps and hipbelt are very comfy. I did notice the suspension creaking once in a while, but it was minor and not an irritant. The pack itself is not ultra-light (2 lbs, 12 oz. in large), but that's not a concern for short hikes anyway.

When the pack first arrived I was concerned that it was far too small (the curved back panel makes it look that way), but it stretches and swallows much more than you'd think. Like another reviewer noted, though, it's not ideal for flat, bulky items like books or laptops--I don't think this would make a good commuter/student pack.

I like the dual-hydration option (one in the pack, one in the mesh backpanel), since I do a fair amount of hot-weather and desert hiking. Obviously using the interior hydration sleeve uses up pack space, but even then I still find plenty of room for a tarp, softshell jacket, first aid kit, and assorted sundries. In fact, if you pack light you'll find enough room for an overnighter or even maybe a fair-weather weekend in it. The small zippered pouch uses up main pack space but is very handy for small stuff. Speaking of small stuff, the hipbelt pockets are big enough for a small GPS, knife, and maybe a pocket digital camera, but not much more. They sure are handy, though.

The external compression system is excellent (I used it to carry a lightweight tripod) as are the little looped zipper pulls. The curved side pockets look shallow but hold a 16 to 20-ounce bottle securely. The front stretch pocket is quite handy as well, and deep enough that I don't worry about things falling out.

I wish the shoulder straps were perforated like the Atmos series, but otherwise I can't find anything to nitpick. This pack seems very well made and I expect it to last a long, long time.

A note on sizing: I tried the medium but found that the shoulder straps pinched in too far and felt constricting (I have a 44 inch-plus chest with a relatively short torso). The large is a bit "tall" feeling but overall is a much better fit. Big and barrel-chested guys might find this useful especially when you're ordering on-line.

(4)

 

TropX

TropX wrote a review of on April 2, 2007

5 5

My Chaco sandals have become my favorite pair of footwear for several reasons. The first are fit and comfort. I have very wide (4E) feet, and it is very difficult to find sandals that accommodate my big ol’ paddles. The wide version gives me plenty of room. Secondly, the support. I wear orthotics in most of my shoes and boots due to severe overpronation; thus, sandals are typically not the greatest choice for my particular foot mechanics. The Chacos are masterfully shaped and give me far more support than I’ve ever experienced with any sandal, better even than some shoes. I can walk long distances in them and don’t feel that I lack support at all.
Third, Chaco's customer service is simply outstanding. The sole of one of my first pair started peeling off at the toe shortly after I received them. I was really bummed because I was leaving on a week long fishing trip to Canada in a few days and really wanted them for the water. I called Chaco and explained the problem. Not only did they do a “rush” custom-order to get me a new pair, the overnight-shipped them to me to make sure I had my sandals for my trip. Now THAT’S service. The second pair has been just fine, with no quality problems whatsoever—I think I just was unlucky the first time. This kind of treatment of their customers is why I am a loyal Chaco fan and willingly pay the asking price for their product. Even though they’re expensive, they are still a good value.

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TropX

TropX wrote a review of on August 15, 2006

5 5

I always have this headlamp in my duffle or pack since it's so handy. It's great for use around the house, under the hood of the car, going for a walk at night, and around camp. The retractable line is very useful; you can put it on your head (though they tend to leave marks on your head after a while and can get uncomfortable) or on your wrist for hands-free use. The batteries last a long, long time. Plenty of light even for light trail use at night, though I use a Princeton Tec EOS for that. Great little light.

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TropX

TropX wrote a review of on July 18, 2006

5 5

Replaced my Gregory Shasta with this pack as the core of my new lighter-weight setup. This pack is amazingly comfortable and swallows much more stuff than you'd think. I had plenty for a four-day excursion and even brought my bulky Nikon D70 camera and tripod along (just strapped it to the outside of the pack). Comfort even with 30 pounds is outstanding. I sweat a lot, but the meshy fabric breathes well and dries quickly. The pack has also proven quite durable in the two season's I've owned it.
Nitpicks: I wish the pack liner was a lighter color to make it easier to spot things inside, and the external stretchy slash pockets are hard to access when the pack is stuffed full. It would be nice if you could remove the hydration bladder without having to dig down inside the pack itself, also. Overall, though, its a simple, dependable, and versatile pack that's quite literally a pleasure to wear.

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