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Will Gardner

Will Gardner

Wyoming, Connecticut, Mongolia

Will Gardner's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Biking
Skiing
Climbing
Surfing

Will Gardner's Bio


Yale University Archaeology; - http://anthropology.yale.edu/people/william-gardner

http://instagram.com/willygbro

www.tarvagatai.org

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Will Gardner

Will Gardnerwrote a review of on November 3, 2015

A fashion all his own
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 3' 9"
Weight: 49 lbs
Size Purchased: 6y

My son has a fashion all to his own and he is as stubborn as a mule. While I can't remember all the subtle "styles" that have come and gone there are a few memorable ones that stick out. The insistence to wear nothing but button up shirts and clip on ties; the soccer uniform look (nothing but tall socks and shorts - even in the winter); and probably my personal favorite; the obsession with "work" shirts. What's a work shirt? A work shirt is any over-sized cheap white shirt kids get from school, camp, etc. that my son would then wear while rolling in dirt in order to get the "worked in" look.

This "style" really took the cake because he would horde these shirts in little nooks and crannies around the house in order to avoid laundry day. My wife and I would literally spend hours searching the house for them. Thinking that we found them all the next thing you know little "pig pen" would come walking around the corner with a big grin on his face.

I know what you're thinking you are the parent "MAKE" him change. I would but honestly life with kids is conflict management and our son is NO STRANGER to conflict. Ultimately we just decided to pick and choose our battles. Really there is only so much you can do unless you just want to scream at your kids all day long. So we decided to hell with fashion it's kind of more important to teach him not to lie and other such important moral lessons of daily human existence.

I will say though, it wasn't easy, especially for my wife. He was our first kid and boy did she really just wanted to doll him up. After a while we came to accept his uniqueness and we did learn a few subtle tricks for when we really wanted him to wear something - kind of like going from actual street to street combat to more covert spy operations.

For example, introducing the Joules jacket to the wardrobe lineup wasn't exactly a straight forward process. We couldn't just be all excited and hand it to him - by weird kid disposition the natural reaction is to hate all things we like. Instead we hid the box when it arrived and then after he went to sleep we opened the package and "casually" left the jacket sitting out for him to find the next morning.

Waking up to what should have been a Christmas morning like surprise was instead met with subtle apprehension and thus the "dance" begun.

Son - "what's this"
Dad - "I don't know some jacket I found"
Son - "ohh..... It's orange"
Dad - "yeah, thought you didn't like orange?"
Son - "hunters wear orange"
Dad - "Oh yeah I guess they do (TOTALLY knew he would say that - he recently spent time with grandpa "hunting" and orange was on his mind, my hooks have been set hahahahaha - in fiendish evil laugh voice BTW)
Son - "guess it is a hunters jacket - it also has got this cool wool/fur hood thing going on that would be good for hunting in the cold"
Dad - "yeah I guess your right - well wear it if you want"
Son - "Okay"

I WIN. And this is what life in our household has come to. But it is for the best in this situation because the Joules Nevis Padded jacket is pretty rad. Although we have only had it for a few months, the exterior material feels very durable so it should last a while and the weight of the jacket gives it a good warm feel. I am more than certain that when the weather turns really cold here in New England this will be the go to jacket for long days outside in the snow.

In regards to fit, we bought him a size 6 and it fits well. I want to say that my son is like 3'9" and 49lbs but honestly I am kind of lying here - I better check with my wife. I might change this in a day or two. But for the time being I will tell you what I know; he's 7, in 1st grade, is about middle of the pack in terms of height and the 6 fits him perfect.

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Will Gardner

Will Gardnerwrote a review of on October 13, 2015

Princesses Wear Purple
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Height: 3' 6"
Weight: 37 lbs
Size Purchased: 6y

Life definitely moves in ways you would not expect. Never before would young me believe that old me would be cruising an awesome outdoor website (Backcountry.com) with TONS of sweet outdoor gear looking for kids cloths. And let's be honest here, if you by chance are reading this review, you too are in my shoes.

Somehow life took you from cams, fly rods, bike parts, etc... to toddler clothes, diapers, and sleepless nights. It's a weird paradox where things are totally rad and totally suck all at once. I could wax poetically about my statement and this new found position in life, but I must move rapidly to the point before the wife starts yelling at me for only "pretending" to be working at the computer instead of helping with the kids - a completely true accusation.

The Joules's Kinnaird jacket is TOTALLY RAD. Unlike my son (see some of my other reviews for a more detailed explanation here), my daughter is a little princess through and through. And this little princess loves when her daddy gets her "princess" cloths. So when this cool little purple jacket arrived in the mail (don't forget purple is the color of royalty - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrian_purple) she was absolutely psyched. Throw in the comfort of light weight down and a nice little hood and BAM you have a perfect jacket for the new found fall crispness that is setting in on the New England region. I must also say that I am pretty excited about the future potential of this jacket come winter. It seems to be pretty form fitting so I am sure that it will wear nicely under a shell as an added insulation layer.

I probably should speak to fit. My daughter is 5 years old and is wearing a 6y. If you are a mom you know what I am talking about. If you are a dad please do as I did and reference a mom. But warning dad, DON'T ask them to explain it, just ask them to tell you what size clothes your kids wear and quickly run away before they start just volunteering information.

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Will Gardner

Will Gardnerwrote a review of on August 12, 2015

No guts no glory?
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I must warn you out right before we go too far, there is no real useful information below. Here's the deal, I totally wanted to do a legit review of this knife cuz I straight up LOVE IT. It cuts stuff and stays sharp, it hasn't broken yet when doing non-knife things, and I have had it for a while, so it's kind of like a thing for me. With that said, I felt the need to do the knife justice while also providing the good people of backcountry.com with a helpful review. As such, I googled other reviews to get the feel of what should go into a good knife review. It turns out, that like real knife review people (internet is amazing for finding subcultures) are CRAZY detailed about properties, facets, nuances, etc.. that I didn't even know a knife possessed. Like I said - I thought saying it's sharp and cuts things for a long time would be enough - nope, not even close. So since I am not really qualified to write about the knife like properties of my knife, I will instead just tell the story of how this knife found its way into my pocket/life.

I work in Mongolia. Along with conducting my own research I guide research expeditions to remote reaches of the northern part of the country. In the taiga environment where I mostly work, the only source of protein is fresh sheep purchased from the local herders. How fresh - still baaaaah'ing fresh. Inevitable, after the first sheep or two, our camp cook grows tired of field dressing with his dull blade and thus begins to prowl around the camp for a shaper instrument. Usually picking on the apparent newbies first, he just casually ask to borrow their knife - like as if he needs to quickly cut a piece of string. Politely, the newbie will acquiesce, not knowing that their knife is about to find itself knee deep in some poor sheep's chest cavity. When finally returned, it is sticky, stinky, and not quite working the same. I know because I have been there - I've fallen victim to it and then later watched the process. I've also watched the cook eventually work his way through newbies and then start on the veterans. During which time he employs a more delicate tactic; "hey you like eating - well then help me help you. Let me borrow your knife". How can one avoid this, how can one avoid dealing with awful and dried blood permanently stuck in the knife casing? GO PINK.

Unlike Stateside fashion, Mongols have yet to embrace pink as a color. It's more of a watered down blood stain to be avoided. As such I thought that if I could find a reasonable knife that was pink, then I just might avoid being bothered. To be honest, when I started my quest for a pink knife I didn't really think I would have much success, but thankfully pink is also the adopted color of breast cancer awareness. A very serious topic not to be taken lightly, even though I jest a lot this is a serious subject - I care about boobs. So when I googled PINK KNIFE one of the first things that popped up was the Benchmade Griptilian. Needless to say I was pretty stoked. Although (as before mentioned) I don't know much about knives - I did know that Benchmade is pretty well accepted as a manufacturer of good blades. More importantly they are MADE IN THE U.S. and they had a pink handle in support of breast cancer research. In total, it seemed like a win, win, win; me and my Mongolia problem, supporting workers of America, and the health of women.

So come the next field season I was pretty animate in showing off the knife: ostentatiously cutting things, making a big show of it as a I pulled it out of my pocket, secretly cleaning the heck out of the handle at night so that the pinkness stood out bright and clean. All said and done - IT WORKED. Despite my fanfare, no one even raised and eye. More importantly, as the cook started making his rounds through camp, my little hovel was treated like a quarantine zone. So while I may not have much objective knowledge to share, subjectively I can say that the knife rocks.

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Will Gardner

Will Gardnerwrote a review of on July 22, 2015

More embracing than a hug from your mom
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 175 lbs
Size Purchased: Large

So as it turns out, shaking my backside with nothing but these bib shorts on does very little for my wife. It is not for a lack of effort. Pre-ride, when I am fresh and clean, post-ride when I am lathered up in a sexy glistening of sweat, randomly in the middle of the day when I am not even going for a ride. I have yet to find a time or a place where the shaking of my backside in nice tight clinging spandex helps illicit basic primal urges from my wife. Why might this be of importance? Honestly it's not - it's just that these bibs are so darn awesome on the bike I was just hoping that the awesomeness might have some transcendent properties that could expand into other areas of life. But they don't - oh well.

As for on the bike - they rock. Let's be honest, there are times when size does matter when it comes to what you are packing in your pants. In this particular case the ProTour Chamois is exactly the size you want. With good coverage and a comfortable level of thickness I haven't noticed any discomfort during my longer 3 to 4 hour rides (I wish I could say it's good for the longer rides to, but by hour 1 or 2 of the ride the guilt of leaving my wife with 3 kids usually kicks in so inevitably I turn around and head home).

As for the material - AT2 Force Lycra Power fabric - do I need to say more. I mean seriously, it sounds like a wicked cool battle droid from Star Wars and preforms like one as well. It's mechanical and methodical in its performance. It sits nicely on my thighs and doesn't seem to move an inch over the course of a ride. Additionally, the color scheme is essentially all black with very small logo on the right thigh which means these bibs pair nicely with a lot of different jerseys.

Over all I am super pleased with these bib shorts. At 5'9", but with a very keg like build (I weigh in at 180lbs - on a good day) I decided to purchase a large - and I am happy with that . To date I have logged about 1,000 miles in these bib shorts and I couldn't ask for more.

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Will Gardner

Will Gardnerwrote a review of on July 1, 2015

Modern Marvel of Physics and Travel
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Hi, my name is Will and I am a 'Pataholic'. But although admitting you have a problem is typically the first step on the road to recovery, I am not yet ready to change my ways. Why? Well let's just put aside for a moment the fact that as a company Patagonia has committed to a series of responsible manufacturing practices that is good for both the laborers and the environment. Let us even forget the simple fact that Patagonia has been able to set the world of physics on its head. (How can these be so? see attached photo - actual living proof that Patagonia has made it possible for multiple Black Holes to share joining space).

Let us look past the mind blowing physics and awesome social well fare awareness and instead focus on the fact that the black hole duffel is pure amazingness in shiny slick canvas (or some material of the sorts) form. I travel A LOT. When I travel I also find myself carrying A LOT of gear. It is the curse of being an archaeologist. Shovels, trowels, metal sample boxes, super awesome goat curds made by pastoralists on the Mongolian steppe; at one time or another I have transported this equipment across the country and across the word. Each time the black hole duffle has come through like a champ. The numerous different size categories means that you can either use one as a carry-on (ca. 40L) or as that awesome massive bag to transport large bulk checked items (ca. 60 to 120L). Although Patagonia has yet to figure a way to keep TSA from rumbling through your junk, they at least provide a tough durable bag to help you carry your stuff to your final destination.

My favorite feature has to be the large top opening that allows you to pack/access your gear in a very organized manner. You can both fit large items in as well as see all that you have pack in a pretty convenient top opening. This has been really helpful when I use the 40L bag as a carry on. The large opening means it is easy to organize my equipment as well as easily access stuff I put on top. This is important during the security checks as it allows me to quickly pull out things like computers and solar batteries (all items that the TSA wants to x-ray separately).

Inevitably it is not the bag that makes the trip but rather the destination and the gear you get to carry during various adventures. But with that said these bags are durable, tough, and well constructed. Be it baggage handlers worldwide or chicken filled dusty buses on back roads, these bags are up to the task.

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Will Gardner

Will Gardnerwrote a review of on June 1, 2015

No need to waffle - Honey Stinger rocks
5 5

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

To the relief of most of my family, my children have taken after my wife. This also turns out to be quite a boon for you, the backcountry.com community, as Backcountry.com and Honey Stinger were wise enough to bypass me and ask my children to review the Honey Stinger?s Kids? Organic Waffles (honey) and Kids? Organic Chews for the benefit of the backcountry.com community (See what I did there? Yep - product plug. But just in case you missed it I will be even more outright - go check out my review of Honey Stinger Kids? Organic Chews).

Honey Stinger Organic Waffles have a lot going for themselves; organic, NO high fructose corn syrup, cool back story about beekeeper Ralph Gamber and his wife Luella. But let?s BEE honest, the main quality I look for in kids food is whether or not it can quiet my kid's complaints of being hungry and thus prolong our time outdoors. A recent after work boulder session proved that Honey Stinger is up to the task.

I am a graduate student, but I am also a pseudo-stay at home parent of three - so needless to say, I stay busy. Despite all this though, my wife and I place a high priority on spending time outdoors as a family. This means quick family hikes or rushed bouldering sessions after school are the norm. Packing healthy, "good", food can be tricky though. Thankfully Honey Stinger fits the bill. Limited amounts of sugar, good serving sizes, and great taste makes them an optimal "treat". "Treat" definitely being the key word. Why? Cuz when you tell kids they are getting "treats" they stay quiet and happy while you squeak out a few extra laps at the local crag.

In this particular instance the Honey Stinger waffles were perfect for our 10 month old while my wife and I put in a few laps on some of our favorite boulder problems. The best part about these tasty treats is that teeth are not needed, good for babies and rednecks (I can say that - I'm from Wyoming!). What kept the older kids happy? Check out the Honey Stinger Organic Chews for tips there.

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Will Gardner

Will Gardnerwrote a review of on June 1, 2015

"Not Ewwwww"
5 5

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

Mom: "KIIIIIDS - time to EAAAAAT!"
Kids: "Ewwwwwww- I don't like it"
Mom: "You don't even know what we are eating!"
Kids: "What are we having mom?"
Mom: "Hamburger with French fries, YAY!!!!!"
Kids: "Ughhhhhh we hate hamburger and French fries!!!!"
Mom: "Ughhhhh What DO you want then?!?!?"
Kids: "ICE CREAM!!!! or cookies!"

While this conversation is not verbatim - it essentially is a boiled down representation of EVERY single evening at our house. We tried so hard to always expose our kids to new foods as they grew, but yet here we are, each and every night re-enacting what must look like U.S./Iran nuclear weapons negotiations. We have even followed our government's lead and enforced sanctions, like withholding food. Hoping that starvation may inspire rationality we are instead left with hungry, emotional, sacks of tears.

So needless to say that when Backcountry.com and Honey Stinger asked my children to review the Honey Stinger's Kid's Organic Chews for the benefit of the backcountry.com community - I was a little bit nervous of what may happen. But given our inability to find proper sustenance for our children, the opportunity to try out healthy, organic, snacks was too good to pass up.

The first opportunity to try these little snacks out came about a few weeks back when schedules and weather worked out for a full family, post-school/work bouldering session at the local crag. These trips are usually a mixed bag of hiking, dragon fighting, treasure hunting, running from bears, and occasionally climbing. Yet regardless of how much fun is had, eventually hunger takes control and tears ensue. This time, however, my wife and I had Honey Stinger chews as reinforcements.

The fun flavors of mixed berry and citrus proved to be SUPER enticing "treats" to the kids. Not only did they help stave off supposedly "MASSIVE" stomach pains - my wife and I were also able to sneak in a few extra climbs while the kids snacked away. The kids meanwhile had enough energy to arrest some bad guys and even chalk up for a few attempts on their own personal problems. Now if only Honey Stinger could make a product to help the bedtime routine go a bit smoother.

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Will Gardner

Will Gardnerwrote a review of on March 18, 2015

Down with the 'Rab'ness
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 175 lbs
Size Purchased: Medium

First and foremost I want to thank Backcountry.com and Rab for not using better judgment and instead hand-selecting me to review the Rab Neo Guide jacket for the benefit of the backcountry.com community. I must admit this has been a unique process for me and I embraced the opportunity with open arms, if not a little bit to enthusiastically. But at least I can give pointers as to some stupid things that do not effectively help you review a jacket. For example:

1) Showering with a jacket on
2) Wearing nothing but a jacket while flirting with your wife after the kids have gone to bed
3) Using a jacket as an impromptu blanket during a diaper change

If you do choose to do such things you will end up wet, rejected, and stinky. But this is just anecdotal evidence I picked up in passing. When this jacket is used within its designed realm.... well let's just say that there are tigers and then there are saber tooth tigers. Which would you want on your side in a fight? Rhetorical question - Saber Tooth and you aren't thinking twice about it. Why are we talking about extinct felines? Cuz the Rab Neo Guide jacket is the Saber Tooth of hardshell jackets.

Work recently required me to spend a fair amount of time outside during a cold snap here in the northeast. Although temps ranged from -5 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit with blustery winds, the strength of the shell kept the wind chill at bay, while the low bulk of the New Guide allowed for a wide mix of layers. For example, around 25 degrees F and below the jacket paired well with an 800-fill Patagonia down sweater. For warmer temps (25 F and up) a nice 260 weight merino wool layer (like the Icebreaker Quattro hoodie) worked out great.

One should be forewarned that like Achilles, this jacket does have a heel. Rab did not give the jacket a normal pocket structure. Instead of the very standard pockets just above the waist, there are 2 cavernous pockets on the chest of the jacket. I understand the thinking behind the design. When wearing a harness, lower pockets are often blocked by the hip strap. With the pockets on the chest you have full access to its contents while harnessed in. But when not harnessed up you might end up like I did - natural instincts had my hands seeking refuge in lower pockets only to be rebuffed by the solid mass of Polartec Neoshell (registered trade mark due to awesomeness).

As disappointing as the pocket setup is, I stopped caring once I got a taste of how fully water-proof the Polartec Neoshell / YKK Aquaguard zipper combo is. Spring ice conditions these past few days have left the local ice routes weeping more than my wife at the alter (tears of joy or sadness? - the jury is still out). As such, pulling a cruxy roof section left me literally stuck under a faucet for a good period of time. The Polartec Neoshell, however, laughed it off while the YKK Aquaguard zippers (just don't get to close to a public swimming pool or they start blowing their whistle and telling kids to stop running) spurned any attempts by water to enter.

At 5'9" but with a slightly longer torso (I'm taller than my wife but we share pants - again tears of joy or regret?), I found the medium to be an excellent fit. The sleeves stayed in place the entire time I was swinging axes above my head and the length of the body kept any cool breezes from tickling my nether regions. Although I have only had the jacket for around a month - between work, boulder sessions on course granite, and ice the jacket has a pretty tough feel and should be able to stick around for a while.

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Will Gardner

Will Gardnerwrote a review of on February 4, 2015

5 5

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

My wife is a terrible gift giver. I on the other hand - to put it mildly - I total ROCK at giving gifts. Ipad Mini, Patagonia (or is it Patagucci), babies (easy to get, hard to return) - really the list could go on for a while. Meanwhile I get wal-mart tube socks - FROM HER MOM. This is not intended to be a low blow - she has other redeeming qualities. However, it did mean that in order to save my Christmas this year I had to take matters into my own hands. If I wanted a good gift - well then, dang it, I had to take some of my own gift giving magic and just sprinkle it on me. And again - not to be vain - I hit another home run.

Okay I will admit, wrapping my own present on Christmas eve was a bit cheesy - I should have been more diligent and wrapped it a few days earlier to let the suspense build. But none the less, I was more than happy to open my box bright and early, as my kids (one of my awesome gifts to my wife) opened their Legos, barbeis, and other great gifts from me. After making a bit of a scene thanking myself, I put the shirt on and immediately noticed the temperature regulating qualities. The icy stares the wife sent my way barely even registered as I was in wrapped in 'Bodyfit 200 merino wool' bliss.

Since that magical Christmas morn, I have used the shirt as a layer under thin button up work shirts as well as a layer under softshells while ice-climbing. It is nice under a thin button up shirt when the weather is cold as I can run outside on those brief errands that pop up during a work day without having to grab a jacket (except for when it is windy - wind blows - gotta wear a jacket when it's windy). As a base layer while ice-climbing it is pure joy. We have had some cold snaps lately and day time highs were sub 20's. However, between this shirt and a nice softshell jacket, I have been totally warm while climbing. I do have to throw on a puffy while belaying but whatevs, try standing around, not moving, in the cold and stay warm - not an easy task. As for fit, I am 5'9", 175 lbs and the large worked out perfect for me. So seriously. If you ever need some gift giving magic for yourself or anyone else take it from a gift giving PRO - this shirt rocks.

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