Will Gardner

Will Gardner

Wyoming, Connecticut, Mongolia

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Stephanie's Passions

Mountain Biking
Road Cycling
Alpine Skiing
Sport Climbing

Stephanie's Bio

Yale University Archaeology;


Will Gardner

Will Gardner wrote a review of on December 17, 2013

Milli Vanilli said blame it on the rain
3 5

But the Barenaked Ladies said "if you blame it on the rain what can be gained so, if all else fails you can blame it on?.. [Sawyer's water treatment system]".

Yes that is right, Sawyer. Had it not been for the pure awesomeness of a similar style gravity filter system by Sawyer, I would blame my Platypus water treatment system's difficulty purely on the rain. Why?

An exceptionally rainy year this past field season (I guide research expeditions in Mongolia) deposited a lot of silt into the rivers/streams in the remote valley of Mongolia where we were working. Although it was nice having a wealth of water for bathing (something we had not enjoyed in the past), the overload of fine silty sediment really clogged my Platypus system, resulting in daily cleanings by the end of the project.

(As a side note the system is easy to clean via back flushing, but does waste time and water).

I was more than willing to excuse the poor performance to the overload of silt; however, a member of the research team was the proud owner of a Sawyer water treatment system? a system that never once had any difficulty or reduction in flow capacity. Their system filtered water just as fast on day 30 as it had on day 1. Weight or filter life be damned, next time around I recommend a Sawyer.



Will Gardner

Will Gardner wrote a review of on October 23, 2013

Almost as good as goat curds
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

It’s not often that I find myself mapping 1300 year old villages, but when I do, Goal Zero, coffee, and goat cheese curds powers my day. Pictured here is the Sherpa 50 battery with the Nomad 27 panel. In this section I will focus on the Sherpa 50 battery and not the associated solar panel.
For a little bit of context, I conduct archaeological research in remote regions of Mongolia. We have an extremely large power budget, fueling numerous computers, GPS units, iPads, phones, cameras, and other types of equipment for a very large group. Equipment, in order of importance, is: 1) computers; 2) iPads; 3) GPS units. To meet our power requirements, we also use the now discontinued Sherpa 120 and the Extreme 350 battery (and a generator for rainy days). Of the three solar batteries, I think the Sherpa 50 is the most useful. I say this because of its light weight, quick recharge time, and number of smaller electrical items that can be recharged from one power cycle of the battery.
Because the computers are the most important item for our daily operation we mainly reserve the Extreme 350 and Sherpa 120 for powering them (these are also great batteries and we still sneak in a GPS unit or two on the power strip running off the 350), as such these batteries are stuck at base camp constantly cycling through various states of charge. The Sherpa 50 fills in nicely because it can quickly power an item, be taken into the field where it can be recharged in a morning or afternoon and then either provide an important ‘top-off’ charge that allows us to finish a day of work, or be taken back to camp to power a second item that night. The only slight drawback is that the power button is a bit touchy and can give you a little trouble turning off but nothing that would reduce the overall ranking of the product. At the end of the day, it is a good product – okay, maybe not as good as goat cheese curds but at least it leaves your breath a whole lot fresher.



Will Gardner

Will Gardner wrote a review of on October 17, 2013

Rab Latok Extreme"ly good" Gaiter
5 5

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

Coming from the west I have discovered many interesting truths in life that few are aware of – e.g. bored sheep herders like to stack rocks. How is this important in the review of a gaiter? We’ll get there, but first let me ramble.

I am a PhD student in archaeology conducting research in a remote region of north central Mongolia. Imagine the foothills of the Wind River Range - not so much the dune covered, camel caravans, region of the Gobi.

Despite what some movies have said about my profession, I actually don’t get to spend a lot of time rescuing damsels in danger of having their hearts ripped out. I chose a more tame side of the profession, specializing in landscape archaeology. Basically, I spend a lot of time scientifically wanderings in the wilderness looking for remains of Mongolian sheep herders. As such, I have put my fair share of hiking equipment through the wringer.

In total, the performance of these gaiters for hiking in variable terrain has been second to none. The project area where I work gets a lot of summer moisture. Despite long days tramping through knee high, wet grass, these gaiters have kept my feet nice and dry. Similarly, the body material of the gaiter has held up well in thick, thorny, underbrush.

I was a bit concerned with the durability of the strap that goes under the boot. Hundreds of kilometers of hiking later & these things are still going strong. Granted, the hiking has been mostly in grass/dirt terrain, however, (if you recall my earlier nugget of wisdom) I do feel confident saying that the lower strap will handle rocky situations also. Why? As it turns out, the Mongolian sheep herders of antiquity took rock stacking to new heights. These guys are the proud creators of huge rock monuments (10’s of meters), boat loads of rocks. Spending days recording these monuments has roughly approximated scrambling over a talus field so I do feel confident that the gaiter will last.



Will Gardner

Will Gardner wrote a review of on October 7, 2013

5 5

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

These boots are a giant ?steppe? up from anything else I have ever worn! Get it? Steppe! Sorry, I work in Mongolia so I ?plague? everyone with ?steppe? puns. Yeah I know - not funny.

Before I jump into my review, I want to quantify my usage. I am a graduate student working on my PhD in archaeology. I conduct my field research in the middle of nowhere Mongolia. Sadly, I do not get to carry a whip or a gun and I have never had to run from poisonous dart blowing natives. I do, however, direct a substantial survey project in the mountainous northern regions of Mongolia. As part of this project I hike several kilometers each and every day for several months each summer. Needless to say I have gone through my fair share of hiking boots and as such, I feel well qualified to talk to the greatness of the Pamir boot.

First, I should say that I have a high arch and a moderately narrow foot. With this in mind, the boot was a great fit right out of the box. More impressive was the fact that they needed relatively little break in time. While prepping for a two-month foray into the Mongolian wilderness I accidentally forgot to get boots until the last minute. As such, I pretty much got them in the mail, threw them on, and headed to the airport. Despite the lack of a proper break-in period, my feet felt great from the get go; eight to ten hours of straight hiking over variable terrain did not tax my feet during the first work week. Overall, ankle support and supportive foot bed are the main reasons my feet felt fine during the first real break in week and over the course of the entire project.

Water proofness of the boots is also a big thing for me. In the past, rainy nights would saturate the grass and result in wet feet despite bright sunny days. I did treat the leather a little before heading into the field with mink oil and when combined with a good set of gaiters, these boots rock - 307andbeyond.tumblr.com




Will Gardner

Will Gardner wrote a review of on October 3, 2013

Big Steppe Up
5 5

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

“Ganda” is:
A. A town in the Nagqu Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China
B. An ethnic group native to Buganda, a subnational kingdom within Uganda
C. By far the most versatile shoe I have ever owned.
D. All of the above (or at least as far as I can tell from Wikipedia)
If you answered ‘D’ you were right but really the only answer that matters is ‘C’. I really cannot stress how versatile these shoes are. So far, I have:
Climbed 5.8 trad
Bouldered V3
Free-ride Mountain biked
Ordered a large Americano at Starbucks
In all honesty, I feel a bit bad about putting the last one on there - I went through the drive through so the role of the shoe was limited.
In all seriousness, the versatility of these shoes is amazing. Granted, they are meant for climbing, but the grade to which I was able to climb, while still feeling confidence in my footing, is impressive. The design of the toe box allows you to confidently line up (and as such get good traction) on middle of the road edges. The most valuable aspect of the shoe, however, is the stiffness of the last. I feel confident weighting the toe, but does not restrict your foot when hiking. This makes for a good climbing shoe, a comfortably hiking shoe, and (unexpectedly) a great biking shoe - seriously.
For cross fitness I often mountain bike . I specifically enjoy all-mountain free riding, and as such, I use an aggressive platform pedals. These shoes stick to the pedal like the pedal is a clip in. At the same time, the last of the shoe creates a supportive base that allows me to spend a lot of time in the standing position. This is noticeable on long descents when I am spending a lot of time off the saddle and in an aggressive standing position.
Seriously, all around great shoe - 307andbeyond.tumblr.com