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

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillips posted an article on March 19, 2014

A Day in the Life of an Avalanche Forecaster

Backcountry travel has really increased in popularity over the last couple of years, due to heightened emphasis on exercise and major technology improvements making the backcountry more accessible. But there’s hidden danger in this blissful paradise. Areas like these aren’t controlled by ski patrol and don’t have a continuous parade of skiers, snowboarders, or snow groomers consistently rolling over them. It’s up to you and your group to figure out what the mountain will do. If one wrong decision is made, this can happen: Thankfully, you and your group aren’t really alone in the backcountry. Organizations of backcountry scientists are [...]

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillips wrote 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 Phillips wrote 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 Phillips wrote 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 Phillips wrote 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 Phillips wrote 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 Phillips wrote 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 Phillips wrote 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 Phillips wrote 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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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillips posted an article on November 4, 2013

Wally’s Weather: November Part 1

As we all emerge from our post-Halloween sugar comas, we turn from jack-o-lanterns and sticky candy wrappers to what’s coming next: winter and the forecast. Our brains might still be a bit foggy from late-night costume parties, but the forecast, at least, is getting clearer than it was recently. Let’s run down what we’ll see short term, then focus on a more broad time range. EAST Big swings are in focus for the next couple of weeks. A normal temperature pattern will give way to a large high pressure ridge near the end of the next two weeks. We’ll most [...]

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillips posted an article on October 17, 2013

Wally’s Weather: October Part 1

Hey folks!  Wally again here, bringing you my update for the next two weeks.  Since I’ll be doing this sort of things more often (every two weeks), I’ll be following a format in which I’ll dedicate a section to each US region and maybe save the end for something that interests me.  Ready? Let’s begin: EAST I know I said in an earlier post that this winter was to bring a bit of a change for all our peeps near the Atlantic, but these next two to four weeks won’t support that.  From the NCEP (Government’s shut down, but weather [...]

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillips wrote a review of on October 8, 2013

3 5

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

Socks are socks. But, in my older age, I'd rather start looking better with my clothing as my looks are starting to run. I do really like the old-schoolish looks of these Spectrum Crew Socks and the sizing is pretty much as stated.

I must be getting spoiled however as the cotton factor made me cringe a bit. Also, a bit thicker of a weave so don't wear these in warm to hot conditions.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillips wrote a review of on October 8, 2013

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

"26", 27.5", 29", starting to feel a bit crowded in the MTB wheel size format." This was my thought when deciding to upgrade my rig before my disposable income goes kaput. I had a Blur LTc and while I loved the feel of the frame and the suspension was the perfect amount, the smaller wheelsize made things a little squirrely for some reason (I'm all legs - 33.5" inseam at 5'11" - might be part of it). When I saw that SC made the Solo (now the 5010, clever) with a very similar geometry as the Blur with the 27.5" wheelsize, it seemed to make enough sense for me.
(-side note- no 29er for me, for a do it all bike I don't like to get that tactical with my descents)

And I was right. This is a very capable do it all bike, especially in this particular build. The rolling resistance of the wheel size feels easy and it takes much less energy to maintain speed. Climbing comes very easily here with the three ring crankset and the fact that the Solo/5010's best quality is the rolling resistance on the small stuff when climbing. Descending feels almost as much at home as it is a harmonious blend of stability and nimbleness due to the Blur's geometry being instilled.

The build is fantastic as well with Shimano XT drivetrain and brakes, a RockShox Reverb seat dropper, Fox Float front and back and a nice wide Easton bar. Liked the tires (HighRoller 2s) and don't love the wheels for the weight, but gives me something to upgrade and can't afford that ENVE goodness yet.

Enough with the gushing, time for the down-points. Not many here as it feels like nitpicking, but while there is not much that the Solo/5010 doesn't do, I feel that there is no real bright spots either other than that rolling resistance I mentioned earlier. I also don't see the need for the triple crankset as I'm not using the granny or the biggest gears much.

Overall, a great do everything bike for those who loves the new 27.5 wheel size.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillips wrote a review of on October 8, 2013

4 5

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

Was able to score an M-Frame frameset with a broken lens so I decided to hop on a couple of these replacement frames. The vision is the usual better than most Oakley quality while the nose piece is good at hugging the shnoz without cutting off the air. The array of tints is endless (a good thing) and the shape is a good medium between wind protection while remaining low profile.

The lens is a bit strange to put on the frame itself. I'm a bit afraid of breaking the tip corner off of the lens each time I try, but that is the only complaint.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillips posted an article on September 18, 2013

Wally’s Weather: A Preliminary Winter 2013-14 Forecast

Above Photo By: Re Wikstrom 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. From Gearhead Wally Phillips: Hey-o, folks!  This is a fun time of year for us winter aficionados as the drag of summer heat is getting us antsy and the prospect of white stuff falling sooner than before puts a bit more kick in our step and widens the smile on our faces.  I’ve been brushing up on the trends of what the globe is showing me and am going to bring [...]

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillips posted an article on September 2, 2013

Rocker Camber Rocker: How to Choose a Ski Profile

The profile shape of a ski is a primary determinant for how a ski will interact with the snow, making profile an important feature to consider when selecting a pair of skis. But with the seemingly inexhaustible supply of proprietary profile shapes that debut year after year, choosing the right profile can seem like a daunting task. Worry not, the Backcountry video crew caught up with gear guru Wally Phillips so he could cut through the fluff and break down the basic know-how you need to choose the perfect ski profile.   Video Transcription Hey everyone! Wally here from Backcountry.com [...]

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillips posted an article on September 2, 2013

From Carving to Powder: How to Choose the Right Ski

If you’re just getting into skiing, the terminology can be confusing. We take a selfish pride in explaining confusing things, so sit back, read on, and learn about ski categories. The Obvious Let’s say you’ve literally never been on skis before in your life, and you’ve just opened a catalog, gear guide, or web page in hopes of figuring out the sport. The ski categories prescribed by retailers and manufacturers stay relatively consistent year to year, and for the most part, the skis themselves do fit into those roles. But what do carving, park and pipe (a.k.a. freestyle), all mountain, [...]

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillips wrote a review of on July 15, 2013

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Bike Computers are something that I have skimped on a bit. Since my rides are getting longer and rigs more sophisticated, I decided to plunge in to the Edge 500 from Garmin and I wasn't disappointed. A plethora of information awaits those who take the time, study the manual and plan out the display system that is right for them. The unit it self is very small and feels sturdy and most of the extra gadgets are pretty easy to install. This unit does come with a Heart Rate strap and while I feel that it could be easier taking on and off, it does the job well.
I want to revisit the earlier statement of "plethora of information awaits those who take the time" etc. etc. If you are the kind of person who doesn't mind digging in to the manual and experimenting with all the settings, then the Edge 500 will reward those people with a streamlined display of all the stats needed. If you are more of a "plug and play" type of person, the Edge 500 will be a little lost as it will be set to the factory pages of stats and that isn't necessarily what people need. Also to mount is good in a pinch, but if you want something that extends the unit further out then I would start checking Bar Flys out as I feel like I have to crane my neck down further than comfortable at times.
Overall, a great training tool for those who are willing to take the time to unleash it.

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