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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillips

Salt lake City, Utah and ANYWHERE there is snow

Wally Phillips's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Biking
Running
Skiing

Wally Phillips's Bio


Backcountry.com’s Gearheads are your instant connection to gear knowledge. They’re passionate outdoor experts hell-bent on helping you find the right ski, saddle, or pro. Follow their adventures and exploits.


As a Pittsburghian at birth, I began my outdoor foray on skis at age 2 1/2. Since then, the pursuit of the best turns has consumed me. I am willing to go the extra mile to get to places people only shake their head at (Utah provides many). I also bike, run and have as much fun as I can in this short life.


I’d love to answer your gear related questions. Here is how you can contact me:
Phone: 1-800-409-4502 ext 6112
Email: wphillips@backcountry.com

Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on April 21, 2015

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: Runs large
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 182 lbs
Size Purchased: 11.5

I recently gave the Altra Olympus a test spin over a mild April weekend over some road and light trail conditions and here are my thoughts:

Fit: As can be seen from a bird's eye view shape of the upper, the Olympus has a much more anatomical design which gives a wider feel and a little bit of a larger than true length. Not quite enough to size down, but do that if you are in between sizes. The toes are roomy while the forefoot/arch is decently locked and the heel is semi snug. I interestingly felt a bit more dropoff between the ball of the foot and the toes than normal. The feet that will like these the best are ones with a bit more girth or a running style that promotes a more comfy/relaxed foot.

Tread: Handled road and light trail pretty well, but got a little slippy when the conditions really got rocky and loose. Also has decent rock grip but a difference can be felt in the type of rubber used between this and an actual approach shoe. Best conditions are road and light trail.

Stride Feel: When pounding pavement or flat terrain, the weight of the shoe seemed to bear down a bit and while the dual layer EVA gives A TON of cushion it wasn't an springy here as it should be. Uphill felt similar but more understandable due to incline. The downhill is where this shoe shines as much natural stride brought out a ton of spring. The Olympus seems to be best utilized on hills where the downhill performance rewards you for the uphill grind.

Summary: A roomier and very cushioned road training/light trail shoe with an affinity for hill running.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on February 18, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This is my first foray into bluetooth earbuds as I was digging on Skullcandy's buds but got sick of the wires. Overall things are going well so far.

The design is pretty intuitive as there are the earbuds connected with one cord where the right side has a charger under the logo and an LED light that indicates certain functions under the right side ear pads. The controls work decently well though I felt that they could be a bit easier to use out of the box, definitely takes some practice. The range of sound is accurate at 30 feet, but I feel that it lacks slightly to Skullcandy buds as far as sound quality and volume. Attaching to a device is accurate and easy though. The rubber ear pads are a bit of a turn off for me as the foam pads are tried and true for my ear shape. Thankfully I can retrofit Skullcandy's foam tips on there and that makes the fit EXTREMELY good.

Durability is very good as well as I'll update this going forward while using these on my workouts. A very good bluetooth bud option if anyone is constantly looking for music during activity and hates wires.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on February 18, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

So, yeah. I like waffles. Who doesn't? I've been going on the Honey Stinger waffles that most cyclists originally turned me on to, but a few of my homies got me on these interestingly named natural waffles and I have to admit that I'm pretty impressed.

The initial wrapping is a little tough to open in a pinch, but once you get there things get pretty blissful. The waffle itself is pretty stable and doesn't break apart terribly easily. In breaking the waffle in two, there was a bit of a soft center like those crazy good energy waffles from MT but on a smaller scale. The taste is a good balance between cocoa and coffee while not being overly sugary and I did dip it in coffee with pretty good results.

I wish it left me slightly more filling at times and as an energy snack it does well in regular intervals but doesn't quite supply enough kapow taste and weight for those really hard days when you want to find a reason to keep going. The packaging has a nice color design though. I would definitely recommend this waffle to anyone looking for a bit more than the standard offers.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 24, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I LOVE the Flylow Tough Guys gloves. Love them so much that when I saw a lighter counterpart in the John Henry for the warmer or higher activity days I immediately jumped on a Large version. I was immediately happy with the toughness of the outer construction as I felt that it could withstand more of a beating than even the Tough Guy.

There is also relatively no insulation to this glove so it is great on warmer days or when the activity level is high, but be careful as I've found that the pigskin leather does run a bit colder than I thought it would. The wrist pull is a good idea as well for easy on/off and the John Henry has one of the better finger articulations on the market.

The fit is a little on the small size. I went with the Large where my wrist to end of middle finger is 8", four finger circumference is 9" and circumference of the largest part of my hand is just under 10". I would've probably went one size up for more warmth and maybe to get a glove liner under it for the really cold mornings, but the larges do work. It is just interesting as the Large in the Tough Guy fits me perfectly.

I'd definitely recommend this to anyone looking for bomber spring or high workload glove, but tell them to be sure of the sizing and that they don't have any circulation issues.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 24, 2015

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs small

I extended by base layer quiver recently with the Icebreaker BodyFit 200 Oasis Legging With Fly to accompany Icebreaker BodyFit 200 Oasis Zip-Neck Top as I am not only a creature of habit but consistency as well. As with the Oasis top, the 200 weight merino and the way it is woven gives a fantastic balance of warmth and breatheability while still comfy on the skin.

The fit for me is a bit strange though. I'm 5'11", 180 lbs with a 32.5 inch inseam a med-smallish waist/hip and a larger upper/lower leg size that comes with most skiers that did back squats a ton so that they could bash gates better. The waist and hip size was pretty much good, but the length of the leg was definitely a bit small and the leg opening was very small on the upper side. The merino may stretch and break in, but I found I was pull the leg of the garment up more than normal for a comfortable feel.

I would recommend this legging to anyone looking to accompany the Oasis top for all winter conditions, but with skinnier legs.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 24, 2015

5 5

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

I updated my quiver of baselayers recently with the BodyFit 200 Oasis Zip-Neck Top from Icebreaker as I have mostly merino with less of a insulation weight and crew tops. It did not disappoint as the 200 weight is great for most winter time conditions and breathes pretty easily, especially when paired with another merino piece as a mid-layer. I was even pretty comfy going hard on the skintrack and since I run a bit warm personally this was a pleasant surprise. The weave is also amazing as there is no hint of discomfort or itch on the inner or outer of this layer.

The fit is pretty much perfect as well. I'm 5'11" 180 lbs with a med-smallish torso, short arms, wide shoulders and med-smallish waist and the Large worked great. The only nitpick I have for this piece is that some people like a longer arm length with thumb holes, but it does still come down to personal preference.

I would highly recommend this the Icebreaker BodyFit 200 Oasis Zip-Neck Top to anyone looking for a go to baselayer for most winter conditions.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 24, 2015

4 5

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

I have two mid-layers right now: Arc'teryx's Atom LT for possibly wet 0 to 20 degree days and Cerium LT for the dry -20 to 10 days. This left a large gap in the warmer sector of my mid layer quiver so I decided to give the Sierra LS from Icebreaker a shot and was pleasantly impressed.

First off, the other two mid layers I mentioned above do great with warmth/weight ratio, but sometimes they are a bit too warm on those days where it's close to freezing temps and the activity level is high. The 260 weight merino gives pretty good warmth layered with a shell for the 25-40 degree days and does well on its own between 45-60. I also was happy about how well it breathed as I've put in some grinding skintrack days on this piece and I don't overheat nearly as much. The weave is also very comfortable to the touch on the in and outside of the jacket.

The zipper pulls and zippers feel strong with good quality of worksmanship to them. The media pocket is nice but be forewarned: the inner pocket lining material is not too stiff on the hand pockets so if you are a person who likes putting a ton of stuff in those pockets, be prepared to have the lower part of the garment sag due to the weight.

The sizing is mostly good. I'm 5'11" 180 lbs with a med-smallish torso, short arms, wide shoulders and med-smallish waist and the Large was a pretty good fit with a reasonable amount of stretch. The length might end up being a bit on the longish side, but that may be due to my dimensions.

Overall, a pretty good piece that I'd recommend to anyone looking for a good fall time outer layer or a mild winter time mid layer.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 21, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Today I’m looking at one of the lesser known offerings for this category, the Double Helix for Liberty. This beastly (git it?) looking ski has most of what I covered above except the core uses a not too widely utilized wood for this particular purpose in bamboo. The bamboo with poplar strings is to keep the ski sustainable, but more importantly durable, poppy and light which sounds pretty appealing in a tech speak way. Let’s see how it got on after a few off and on light pow days at Alta ski resort in the grand Wasatch mountain range of Utah:
Powder – What the Double Helix should be best for and it definitely doesn’t disappoint here. The width and the Stealth Rocker provide support for what seemingly could be an endless amount of fresh snow. I kept trying to dive the tip in and regularly failed so good stuff there. The behavior of the ski was relatively damp with a tiny bit of pop as the Stealth Rocker engaged the fresh snow so a faster speed overall will yield more favorable results. I also was happy about the landing platform of this ski as it seemed to absorb landings from airing it out better than most.
Chop – The true proving ground of a versatile labeled ski, cut up conditions turned the Double Helix into a different ski, for better or for worse. Let’s start with the better. Any softer leftovers that remained breakable the Double Helix seemed to just charge through with no regrets. The mix of the Stealth Rocker and the positive camber helped to keep me on line with speed. The hard chop however left the Double Helix feeling a bit dead considering the bamboo core is there to keep the ski lively. Don’t get me wrong, with its bomber construction, sidecut and width, it could still charge. But, when I wanted a predictable pop out of the turn for a change in rhythm or when something caught me off guard the Double Helix had a surprising lack of energy and I had to power all the way through leaving me a bit unsatisfied.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 5, 2015

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs small

Funny that in life it took me a minute or two to find my flannel phase. I guess it was all that suburbia living I did back in the 80s-90s.

In full swing on it now since moving to SL, UT and I think the Neff Scott Flannel Shirt is a winner in the looks department. The color schemes somehow have a way of standing out with staying in that same neutral feel so that you stand out, but don't pop out. The feel of the cotton is very good as well as it is soft enough for all day wear, yet feels decently durable.

The sizing is the one thing that got me as I went with my usual Large size (I'm 5'11" 183lbs, shorter arms/torso and wider shoulders) and while the shoulders did fit good, the fit was a bit smaller than normal in the arm length/width and in the torso length/width. If in-between sizing at all, I would go up one for sure.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 28, 2014

3 5

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

When you buy a pair of Carhartts, you usually are buying a hybrid work/casual pant and you do get that here. The material is super bomber as it does not stretch very much but can still take a beating so work or play these will hold up but make sure the fit is right from the start.

Speaking of fit, things are a bit weird here as I did label them True to Size but I'm kind of balancing out a few fit aspects. I bought a 34x32 size for me as I'm 5' 11", 183lbs with a waist of around 33 and an inseam of 31.5". The size is right, but the cut of the legs are weird as the the waist is just a hair big which I like, the length is slightly long so good there two, but the upper leg is cut a little less relaxed than the lower leg and this is a bit of an issue as my skier legs end up being a bit tight on the top of the inseam yet loose at the bottom. I'm thinking that Carhartt is starting to go toward the more casual wear of jean as most fashion jeans have legs that fit this way.

A good jean for sure as it is something that I can work and chill in, but I'd look elsewhere if your upper legs are more than a bit bulky.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 27, 2014

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size

Some people just say a shirt is a shirt in their reviews, but we put some tech into the Backcountry.com Send It T-Shirt to separate it from others. The Dri-Release material is top notch for comfort as it keeps me not too warm, yet not too cold and can be worn consecutive days unless you do something pretty strenuous. The fit is definitely on the regular side as I'm 5'11" semi-short torso and wider shoulders and the Large fit me well. The drop collar is a bit interesting to get used to, but a more fashionable look with the function given. Hard to hate on the slogan as well, gives me a bit of inspiration...

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 27, 2014

4 5

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

Now that the airbag systems are starting to take over the backcountry pack industry and are now honing their systems to be the safest ever, the focus turns to the features the rest of the pack holds as that can be just as important. The ABS Avalanche Rescue Devices Vario 18 Ultralight Cover is an excellent cover for short jaunts or an easy access day trip and is probably the best cover ABS makes in the 20L and under side.

The design is very sleek and simple as there are two side pockets for smaller items and two pockets on top that are for glasses and perishable items and another that leads into the main compartment. The main area inside has a shovel blade/hydration bladder sleeve, probe/handle straps (attached via buttons and a bit clumsy) and a very good amount of room to it.

Features include a helmet/gear carry and a ski/snowboard carry. The helmet carry is a great addition as it uses clasps instead of prong clips and one can often use this part as both a helmet and gear carry at the same time. The ski carry is pretty good as it can go both vertical and diagonal so that the helmet carry can still be used. Snowboard wearers will be found wanting however as it only carries single planks vertical and makes the helmet/gear carry unusable.

Overall a great pack if you are looking for that everyday dawn patrol or 1/2 day zip on to your ABS base unit.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 8, 2014

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I went through my current collection of headlamps for the winter and found that they had all died miserable deaths at one point in time. Now, I thought, is when I go big, so I got the
Princeton Tec Apex Headlamp - 275 Lumens. I showed this off to my amazed extended family and after some use, i know why.

This lamp is STRONG. I can't believe how much power and sight can come from such a small bulb. I've been using this on dawn patrol ascents AND descents along with anything that I need to do in the dark. The regular bulb and the red caution bulb has two settings (high turns on first, then press again for the lower setting and once more to go back to high. holding in turns the light off) and a battery pack in the back.

Durability is still in question, but so far so good so long as I don't snag the cord on anything. The weight is a bit heavy, especially for those who like their heads unweighted. But, the power one gets from this light is well worth the weight penalty. Will update durability and helmet use soon.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on December 5, 2013

4 5

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

So, yeah. Never have worn a glove with a leash before so the new territory that the Armada Duffy JP Auclair Signature Gore-Tex Glove led to some great results and I enjoyed the first tour with them as I could drop them on a whim yet they wouldn't need to be picked up off the snow. Good thing too as there was 20" of cold smoke on the ground at the time -_-

The weatherproofing is exactly what you'd expect from a GORE Tex membrane (no wetness or wind) and I could feel the 100g of thinsulate pretty well.

The fit is a bit tight at first, the leather however should stretch out so don't worry if it is running a bit tight at first. More updates to come, but pretty good so far.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on December 2, 2013

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This concept is quite the sleeping giant as far as binding innovations go: since skis are getting wider, why shouldn't the base plates of the bindings? It only makes sense, a wider base will need less ankle flexion to get a response from the wider to widest of skis and the Salomon STH2 WTR 16 adds a bit more precision with their tried and true XL wing/3D Driver toe piece.

The binding is whole lotta metal so it will be heavier, but if you have the power to push it they will deliver in spades. The power transmission is pretty amazing and I always love how Salomon bindings give that satisfying noise whenever I click my heel down.

The 16 DIN maximum is great as I know they won't come off when I'm charging, but it certainly isn't for everyone as the safest binding is where your personal DIN setting (use http://www.dinsetting.com/ for an estimate) is in the middle of the binding's DIN range. My personal DIN is a 12 and the range is from 7 to 16 so it works pretty well for anyone in the 10-14 DIN area.

Once more, it is a bit on the heavy side even though the profile is low so if you're doing spins or getting inverted, be sure to air it out enough. A pretty strong entry into a binding category that I'm sure will grow over time.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on November 17, 2013

4 5

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

There was a mad amount of hype surrounding the Magic J. Whether it be through Tanner Hall destroying lines in BC with this very same ski or from the Armada representatives who, considering they could run the JJ every day of their lives, consider this ski the funnest they've been on. Needless to say, I was interested to put these to test.

And they passed. For how wide this ski is, I'm once again surprised at the versatility. What needs to be realized is that this ski doesn't like a traditional style. It enjoys more of the slarving (letting the ski run a bit subtle and pivot through the initiation of the turn and hitting the edge around the middle to end of turn) type of technique as it actually felt more stable when slarving the turn. I can't say I've ever felt that kind of response from a ski before.

The float is, as predicted, unbelievably easy with a centered stance giving total control in super soft or manky pow. Chop is guzzled up as well with a little more aggression. The swing weight is pretty good for the size, but be prepared to draw out your airs and tricks to get more than one rotation done.

I guess the only drawback to this ski is that if you don't know how to slarve, skiing on this ski won't provide any good results. Carving is very unwieldy and feels super unstable through the beginning to middle of the turn. Also, very hard and choppy conditions obviously don't suit this ski very well.

In conclusion, if one is looking for a big mountain pow jib ski, you probably won't find much better on the market right now.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on November 11, 2013

4 5

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

I'm now smitten with merino as a base layer material. It makes me wonder why I used cotton in the first place and who better to go to than Icebreaker with the BodyFit 260 Tech Zip-Neck Top.

The mid-weight amount of insulation was very adept at keeping me regulated temperature wise even at a high rate of work. Also, the Merino quality is BOMBER and no feelings of pilling here at all. The fit is slightly on the athletic side, but with my build (5'11" 185, slightly wider shoulders and narrower waist) the large size fit pretty well. The thumb holes are a big plus as their location is near perfect and I also did enjoy the style of the colors.

A few things to mention though. The material blend, while it didn't chafe much at all, had a tiny bit of scratchiness to it and while I was okay someone with super sensitive skin might at least want to wash it a few times before extensive wearing. I'm also not a super big tall turtleneck individual and it does ride a bit high and tight on the neck.

An overall pretty good winter type baselayer for those peeps out there who love the stylish turtleneck types with functionality.

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