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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlex

Pac NW

VolkmasterFlex's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Running
Snowshoeing
Skiing
Climbing

VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 26, 2015

Most frequently used in my helmet quiver
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Of my 3 helmets this one seems to find its way into my pack most frequently. It is very lightweight, my Petzl Sirocco is lighter, but I like how this one sits on my head and I think it can take a more sustained beating. This has been my go to option for ski touring with a beanie underneath and has also been a great option for summer mountaineering. Headlamp clip works great and I've never had my BD Storm headlamp pop off. Chin strap is very comfortable and has never cut into or irritated my neck. Sure a hard shell helmet is more durable overtime but this piece is holding up well after getting tossed around in and out of my pack and being hit by small rocks and ice chunks and it saves precious ounces in a pack!

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 26, 2015

If you haven't already heard...
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 165 lbs
Size Purchased: Small

This is pretty much just piling on at this point, but this jacket truly does rock! This piece has been my partner on so many adventures I couldn't even count. Truly a bomb proof jacket that seems to find its way in to my pack every time I head out for a bigger adventure.

The fit on the jacket is one of the best features. I'm 5'10" x 165 lbs. (slightly trim build) and have a size small. This leaves me more than enough room to get a couple of layers underneath the jacket and still have full ROM when raising my arms or turning my head. I wouldn't say the cut of the jacket is generous but it does have some room which seems to sit nicely on the body with or without layers. Lots of comments on the massive and perfectly adjustable hood, and for good reason. The hood on this thing is so nice! It can cinch down in 3 different areas to really customize the fit based on your activity. Pockets on the jacket are unique and take some getting used to, but once you start using them you realize it is so easy to reach across your chest to grab things out of the cavernous pockets. Do I miss hand warmer pockets, yeah, sometimes when skiing, but for the most part, you quickly forget them because of the usefulness of the chest pockets. My only tiny complaint is on length of the jacket in front...currently the jacket tapers from just below your belt in the front to the bottom of your butt in the rear. I'd love like another 1-1.5" in the front to make the jacket work slightly better for skiing. I know skiing is not the intended purpose of the jacket, but a little more coverage should still be ok for tucking the front of the jacket under your harness for the technical ice climbers out there and make it work better for skiers as I'm sure many customers cross this jacket over like myself.

Materials are 1st class GoreTex Pro and seem like they'll last forever. Another big improvement is the handle of the material which is now much less noisy and easy to stuff in your pack.

In the last 5 years this jacket went from being great to amazing. It became less noisy and pack weight went down. I use the jacket for mountaineering, bc skiing, and a myriad of other outdoor activities. If you're looking for a do it all jacket that you'll have for years to come this is the best option IMO.

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 24, 2015

Always in my kit
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This thing is with me on every single trip i take skiing. Whether its backcountry or in bounds this thing is just a nice lightweight option to keep your face warm. I think most skiers know, that you can't have anything over your nose and avoid fogging goggles, but with this thing you can at least tuck it up to the bottom of your lip and it keeps your neck and lower face warm. Fit is fairly tight around the head but doesn't move around much when you turn you head. I highly recommend this for any skiers kit.

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 24, 2015

3 5

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

Hmm, i hate to criticize but this just isn't my favorite helmet. I had high hopes because I really like the Mammut Rock Rider Climbing Helmet but this as a ski touring helmet just doesn't really help me out much. I thought this option would help keep goggle straps out of the way like my alpine helmet but still be as light as my climbing helmet and allow me a dedicated ski touring helmet....but in reality it just was kind of a headache trying to keep my ski goggle strap attached. The concept is there, but refinement is needed. For skiing in the PNW I end up wearing my Mammut Rock Rider or Petal Sirocco with a beanie underneath. and goggles under the helmet. That combo seems to work better than fooling around with this option.

I like the idea of this helmet but it's just a little too finicky for me.

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 24, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 165 lbs
Size Purchased: Small

I don't know if OR is bringing this jacket back next year, but form what i can see it sells out every year, does that tell us anything? What it tells me from my experience is that this is a favorite Synthetic Jacket of many people who have owned it. I personally have taken this jacket as my heavy insulation place on multiple Rainier climbs and ski tours in the cascades. I love how lightweight down jackets are but this one really isn't all that heavy and it does so well when its in wet conditions like we have. I hope OR brings it back and I encourage folks to give it a try as this is a great jacket!

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 24, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I've been using these this spring and summer and am very happy with them! I like the softer foam areas on the grip which extend down the pole and are great for using while doing traverses on skis. I was a little worries about the plastic flip locks on the poles but they seem to be pretty burly and my fears have subsided. My last set of BD poles have lasted over 5 years and are in fact still in service so i would imagine I'll have these for years to come.

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 24, 2015

So light and strong!
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This is my go to touring binding for more technical missions here in the PNW. If you're doing lots of miles and technical descents this is a great option. I have never had a pre-release issue or any other wear related issues and have skied these a fair amount in the backcountry with lots of skinning. My version has the anti-rotation solve from dynafit which IMO 100% solved the problem of the binding accidentally rotating while skinning. The toe is super easy to step into, some people are a little scared the first time to go brakeless but once you do and lose the extra 2-300 grams you'll never look back. My only complaint with this binding is that the ramp angle you get out of the box is too steep for me. This is the same toe unit as the dynafit ST but doesn't have the plastic base plate that would help lessen this ramp angle. I went and bought the ST plastic base plate and had this mounted underneath my toe pieces and this significantly helped reduce the ramp angle and make the bindings have more of a traditional alpine binding angle which is more comfortable for me to ski. Just make sure you also get longer screws for your toe piece if you plan to do this mod.

Overall, very impressed with this binding. If you're going to be doing long tours and need a reliable binding that is time-tested and issue free, give this guy a shot. Since it is an option that has been around for a few years you can often find deep sales on this option, so very economical. I have the binding on K2 Waybacks and Black Diamond Currents.

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 24, 2015

An all time great!
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Let me start by saying this is my favorite ski in my quiver. I have had 3 pairs of Rocker2's now since they first came out. I'm still the biggest fan of my original pair in the attached picture. The white and black top sheet was classic! I have skied this ski since the day it came out and each year I pray they don't change it and fortunate for the ski world, Salomon has pretty much left this alone with the exception of the top-sheet which they keep fresh each year with cool new graphics, but IMO nothing will beat the original white and black and then year 2's purple and white.

So yeah, we get it, they look cool, but how do they ski? SO FUN! Truly one of the most playful and forgiving skis on the market while still having that touch of side-cut and camber to make it rail when you dump it on edge on the groomers. The rocker in the tip and tail make the ski easy to snake through any terrain but also keep the ski fairly mellow and damp in more challenging and variable snowpacks. This is my powder chaser, but has also been my inbounds daily driver here in the PNW. Sometime a wide ski can be less fun on a day of groomers, but IMO this thing just keeps having fun everywhere because it is so easy to pivot and pop airs off of anything you run across. The Rocker 2's are kind of heavy to tour on but I do have a pair of Marker Barons on a pair for side country laps which works pretty well. The honeycomb tip and tail help with weight a bit, but it is still a heavier inbounds oriented ski. I'm not 100% sure, but I do think the honeycomb does help to quiet some chatter in the tips, and it definitely saves weight vs. full wood core through the entire ski. All in all, this is just a great ski to have in the quiver. You name the snow type and this thing skis it well. It's most at home in the fresh and corn but it'll rip on anything. I recommend this ski 100% and send mad kudos to Salomon as this ski has been my partner on some of my most amazing days on snow and biggest lines I've skied!

I'm 5'10" x 165 lbs and ski the 184's but could easily handle the 192's because of the large rocker profile. However, 184 is plenty big to get perfect float and have a super pivoty ski.

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 23, 2015

Great Multi-use Tent
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I'm a big fan of this as my 3 season back packing tent option. It also serves as a great car camping option because of its durability and venting systems. Set-up is quick and easy, I have yet to see anyone struggle with it. Features of the tent are on the higher end of this price point. Tent fly is fully seam taped and seems to be of high quality construction. Body has experienced no issues after general wear and tear from ground abrasion. Vestibules on both sides of the door are large enough to get a pack under during a rainstorm, but not large enough to be using expedition style as a camp kitchen. IMO, this tent is a great option for those looking for a fairly lightweight do it all 3 season tent. I would highly recommend.

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 18, 2015

Mmm Orange!
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I've been cruising this set-up since February and am definitely impressed. The IONs feel great and drive the sticks nicely. No issues with the binding here, impressed with the ease of step-in and love the simple to reach heal lifters.

Kudos G3!

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 18, 2015

Whippet Great ?!?
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This updated version of the classic whippet is great! I've used it now for several months and definitely am enjoying having a whippet that collapses down like my other ski pole, if for now other reason than just transporting it to and fro. BD's flick lock system continue to get better over time as well as their wrist straps. I think this tool will be in my kit for years to come!

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 18, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 165 lbs
Size Purchased: Small

IMO this thing is mandatory for glacier walking. So versatile to be able to throw up the hood and get coverage for your neck and face. A lot of people in the NW this summer seem to be going with the tropic comfort hoodies from Patagonia but I think this option takes the cake and is worth and extra $30. I'm not a huge buff fan and now i can definitely leave it at home with this hood as an option. Material seems a little more durable than the tropic comfort as well, my guess is that this will take many seasons of abuse and constant wear on trips. I wore this piece as my base layer for 5 days straight on Rainier and it truly never developed the dreaded synthetic stench. Not sure what Patagonia did different with the material here but this sure made me feel cool, clean, and comfortable for a longer trip on the mountain. There are some nice reinforced areas under the wrist and in the hip area that work well for climbers / skiers as well as the intended audience of fly fisherman. These spots always see a lot of abrasion from packs and watches under the sleeve so i think this is a great thing to help extend the shelf life of the shirt. I am 5'10" x 165 lbs and went with the skipper blue in size Small. Sizing is pretty neutral not too tight not too baggy, maybe slightly trim. I highly recommend this piece for your next trip on a sunny snow walk!

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 18, 2015

5 5

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

This is a great minimalist overnight pack for backcountry missions. You could probably stretch it for slightly longer missions but the weight would be unsupported in the upper portion of the expandable collar of the main pack compartment. Suspension system worked very well with skis and boots attached to the side of the pack, definitely made booting up some steeper areas a little bit more comfortable because of the give in the shoulder straps and hip belt area. I'll probably use this mostly for overnight ski missions and shorter mountaineering trips as well as quick overnight backpack trips. I also own the Mission 75 and this pack seems to be made with the same durable construction. No signs of failure or surprising wear from either pack. 5' 10" x 165 lbs x torso length 18 - I went with the medium and would say that was perfect.

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 18, 2015

5 5

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

If you're looking for an ascender to travel fixed lines this is the ticket. From my initial uses it works very easily when clipping into a rope, a simple flick of the thumb and you can be on or off. Definitely not something you want to be fiddling with with two hands at high elevation. The descend feature is really pretty slick and works well but in order to use make sure you back this up properly so you can un-load the ascender from the rope because those teeth really bite! Easy decision to select this piece for my kit with the innovative new features and simple one-handed operation.

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 18, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size

This is my go to for ski touring and mountaineering in the summer. Very comfortable fit and really good coverage on my face. Definitely a little more "techie" looking but all that design comes out in great performance. They come with an adjustable "croakie -style" clip that can be used to dangle them on your neck which is nice for when you're in the tent or around camp later in the day. They also come with a detachable sweat blocking piece of plastic with a little goggle foam on it but i just removed this as they felt like they fit better that way.
Other (+)
-Great airflow, I don't think they've ever fogged
-Julbo Cat 4 lenses are by far the best for snow travel, way darker than anything else
-Moldable ear for a custom fit

Only (-)
-I had to trim the nose pad a bit to get these to sit slightly tighter to my cheeks. I was getting a little bit too much light in through the bottom of the glasses but i think by trimming down the nose pad with my knife i've solved the issue. Can't take a star away for that, just a funny shaped head ;)

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 18, 2015

3 5

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

Have this in my glacier rack. There are fancier faster turning models for more technical ice climbing, but having this piece for mostly anchor building and potential crack rescue this item works fine. I've spun it in the ice a few times and it works just fine. If you're looking for a lower-cost option for glacier kit this is a nice dependable option and I'm sure I'll have it for some time.

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 17, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This is definitely a quiver axe. For those looking for a standard Piolet to use as a walking cane on glaciers this probably isn't the best option as it is a little bit heavier and will only help you balance on the steepest of terrain. But for ski mountaineering and general steep ascents this tool works great! The bend in the shaft definitely makes it more friendly in technical terrain. For sure not a full on ice tool but could help you get through some sticky terrain. In terms of weight I am happy with where it comes in at as it helps drive in snow pickets quickly and efficiently. I'd recommend for those looking to expand their ice axe quiver to something for more technical climbs.

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 17, 2015

4 5

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

I'm 5' 10" x 165 and went with the Medium in this pack. So far I have used it on two backpacking overnighters, which is technically not what i bought the pack for but it well for this as well. For a minimalist pack I get a great carry out of it. My wife normally prefers a more robust hip pad but actually carried this pack for a bit on a trip and was impressed. In terms of features I thing the design is straight forward and seems to be holding up well. Durability will probably be tested more as I use this pack for longer ski missions and mountaineering here in the cascades. All in all I am so far very impressed with the fairly light weight of the pack as well as its carry out of the box. Keep up the great work BD!

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VolkmasterFlex

VolkmasterFlexwrote a review of on August 17, 2015

Good pack / small tweaks for perfection
4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

First off, I'm 5'10" x 165 lbs and purchased the S/M in this pack. In general I would say this was the correct size for me. This pack was purchased for longer trips in my nearby Cascades and Denali. I believe for my desired purposes this was probably the best option to fit my needs. I wanted a large 80L + pack that was as minimalist as possible but still provided lots of options for carrying items especially as I look to Denali. Overall I think MH did a great job making the pack as light as possible yet still leaving some features to allow you flexibility if you get in a pinch. Fabric in pretty much all areas is very durable and has taken general abrasion with no issues. Throw in the fact that this pack is made of a waterproof fabric and I really think this is the best "big pack" out there right now. Yes, there are packs that would probably carry a little bit better due to larger amounts of padding, etc. but get ready to add another 3-4 lbs to your back.
As to the features on the pack, some people have made comments about the massive # of straps, but I wouldn't call them a negative, in a pinch i think they do a great job of providing flexibility. Crampon pocket in the front is a little unnecessary but I used it with no issues. Just make sure to load your crampons in it before you stuff your pack full, otherwise fitting them in could be a little tough. Personally, if i was designing this pack, I'd ditch that crampon pocket and just put a stretchy shock cord here, but that's just my preference. There is a front pocket also behind the crampon pouch. While I didn't use this a lot, I did find it as a nice quick way to stash gloves and a few other things to keep them in an easy to access spot on my pack. Normally i would scoff at an extra pocket like this but in this case I was alright with it. The brain of the pack was also nice, large cavernous pocket of a thing, I normally just fill it and throw it inside the top sleeve of the pack once it is fully packed, like a purse ;) All in all i think most of the features on this pack were great and I would really only make small tweaks to make it perfect, but that's really just based off of other features i like on other more minimalist packs from First Ascent or Black Diamond.

So now for "how this thing carries". Here in lies MH's greatest opportunity to make some changes for the next iteration. First off, I've read a lot of reviews and heard a lot of people say that the difference in size between the S/M & the M/L is just too large. I could definitely understand this as it seemed people who have had/used this pack either really like it or hate it and my assumption a lot of that has to do with how it's sized. For me, the S/M actually worked pretty well for my torso length of 18. There is not a ton of wiggle room in changing the sizing on the pack but there was enough that I was able to get the shoulder straps where i needed them. My real challenge was with the hip belt and lumbar support in the pack. The hip belt that came with the pack is just tooooo small. If I would put any weight in the pack it felt like i had to crank the waist belt down to the point that i believe digestive systems were getting blocked. Luckily i figured this out early in testing out the pack and was able to look around on the internet and find another more substantial MH hip belt that was compatible with my pack. Upon changing out the hip belt I loved how the pack carried. In fact, even with around a ~60 lb load i found myself thinking, "this carries way better than i thought"! The last critique is lumbar support, I had to do some crazy bending of the aluminum stay and brace in the pack to make it sit better on my back, again once i dialed this, the carry of this thing was incredible! So all in all, I would absolutely recommend this pack, and hopefully MH takes the feedback here on backcountry to make small tweaks and I think they'll have the minimalist big pack market cornered!

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