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ben wheeler

ben wheeler

ben wheeler's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Snowboarding
Running

ben wheeler

ben wheeler wrote a review of on May 14, 2012

Love the OTZ!
5 5

I've had my pair of OTZ 300GMS for about 6 months now. I wasn't expecting a ton out of such a simple shoe, but I've been blown away with how much I actually wear these. They are already super-comfortable out of the box... and get better with wear as the cork insole molds to your foot. The canvas upper is surprisingly durable... mine are still in very good shape after a LOT of use.

I wear to the office, around town, to the beach (Big Island, HI in the image), and everywhere in between. I'm constantly being asked about them, so I flip them off and pull out the insole to show how much better these are than similar styles from other brands. Check out some of the other sweet leather and suede styles from OTZ as well.

Highly recommend!

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ben wheeler

ben wheeler posted an image about on May 14, 2012

Runner's World Magazine's "Rain Jackets that Shine"

Here's what Runner's World had to say about the Stoic Wraith Jacket:

"The men's only Stoic Wraith Jacket packs a lot of punch into 2.5 ounces. It kept one tester dry during a soggy Seattle Marathon. "It proved invaluable toward the end of that very wet, windy race," he said. The see through jacket folds into a pocket when not in use. The four-ounce women's version is called the Luminous."

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ben wheeler

ben wheeler posted an image about on May 14, 2012

Outside Buyer's Guide - Spring 2012

Here's what Outside had to say about the Stoic Somnus 15 Sleeping Bag:

"BEST FOR: Side-sleepers, climbers, iconoclasts. THE TEST: Center-zip bags were designed for climbers, for the ease of threading a rope while zipped. But even non-climbing testers loved the simple entry and egress, and side-sleepers appreciated not grinding their hip bones on the zipper all night. Weight savings from the half-zip - combined with top-shelf 850-fill down and diaphanous Pertex Quantum fabric - kept Somnus's weight just under the two pound mark (the four minute mile of 15-degree-rated bags). And the zippered hot-water-bottle pouch to warm your feet is clever. THE VERDICT: A luxurious, incredibly light bag at a great price."

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ben wheeler

ben wheeler posted an image about on May 14, 2012

Outside Buyer's Guide - Spring 2012

Here's what Outside had to say about the Stoic Thrive Luminous Jacket:

"At five ounces, Stoic's super-lightweight, see-through Thrive Luminous jacket has nice touches like hand-warmer pockets and reflective tape along the front zipper. Plus, the ovious: wind protection. The breathable, DWR-coated fabric also sheds water, which made a run through a quick downpour no problem."

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ben wheeler

ben wheeler posted an image about on May 14, 2012

Outside Buyer's Guide - Spring 2012

Here's what Outside had to say about the Stoic ARX XL2 Tent:

"Two doors and vestibules? CHeck. Around four pounds? Check. Under $300? Check. The Arx XL hits two-person, three-season backpacking-tent benchmarks-and adds a lot of nice details. Testers liked the roomy, no drip vestibules and unique pole configuration, which increased vertical space. The mostly mesh body and the pop-up vent on the fly prevented condensation even on a sloppy Washington night, and the asymmetrical floor plan saves weight by reducing floors space."

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ben wheeler

ben wheeler posted an image about on May 14, 2012

Outside Buyer's Guide - Spring 2012

Here's what Outside had to say about the Stoic Vaporshell Jacket:

"BEST FOR: Minimalists pinching pennies. THE TEST: The Vaporshell is made with Stoic's proprietary polyurethane membrane, which testers found to be every bit as breathable as all the name-brand stuff. On a soaking weekend in the Cascades, the pit-zip-equipped Vaporshell never got damp inside, and rain still beaded off the exterior after two straight days of downpours. THE VERDICT: While it's not as full-featured as top-of-the-line jackets, it's tough to beat the Vaporshell's combo of performance and price."

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ben wheeler

ben wheeler wrote a review of on August 23, 2011

4 5

Used the Somnus 30 in Eastern Idaho/Western Wyoming recently. Temps were right around 40F. I'd typically consider myself a cold sleeper - can never keep my feet warm, but had a great night's sleep in the Somnus 30. There are many, many factors that affect the comfort of and temperature rating of a bag. A couple factors that I believe contributed to my good night's sleep:

* I had a good meal before bed - went to sleep with plenty of fuel for my body to burn/metabolize during the night.
* I had a plush pad (Stoic MDWT Sleeping pad) - typically sacrifice comfort for weight, but could afford some extra weight as this was a car-assisted camping campaign.
* I slept inside a tent (Stoic Arx XL3) without fly - plenty of ventilation, but no bugs.
* Slept in comfortable clothing - shorts and a shirt. Usually dress warmer

As mentioned slept very well - woke up once feeling a little too warm. My only complaint with this bag is the zipper - for some reason couldn't get it open in the night. I remember attempting to unzip a couple times to lose some heat, but was too tired, and ended up just falling back asleep. Don't know if the lining was caught in the zipper or not, but seemed to work fine in the morning when I woke up. On the other hand, I liked the center zip configuration because I sleep on my side quite a bit, and found it comfortable not sleeping directly on top of a zipper.
I was almost too warm in temperatures around 40F - I'd extrapolate that to being just right for temps down to 30F (assuming use of a good pad). If you're using a thin pad or no pad with no tent at 30F, the Somnus 30 might be pushing it at temps of 30F. Overall, I'd recommend this bag as a solid lightweight, 3-season bag. Great value.

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ben wheeler

ben wheeler wrote a review of on August 23, 2011

5 5

Took the Arx XL3 out this weekend in Eastern Idaho/Western Wyoming. We had some fantastic weather, so didn't end up using the fly. Nights were perfectly clear, and the mesh-heavy design on the body of the Arx XL3 was perfect for star-gazing in safety from the mosquitoes. I really like the additional head room created by the 3rd (brow) pole. I've used/liked the Templum 3 tent from Stoic as well, but really liked having some more room above when sitting up inside. Felt less confined - no fly probably factored into this as well. The length of this tent is also a bit longer than many comparable tents, which is nice for +6' guys.
As with most tents, the 3-person rating is generous. You could get 3 adults in there, but it would be cozy. Our 2 wider 30" pads fit nicely in the XL3.
Setup was easy and fast - even in the dark. We were still able to identify the color-coded poles and webbing with headlamp aid, and had the tent set up and ready in less than 5 minutes. The clips, instead of sleeves, design is an improvement over the Templum 3.
Overall, really liked the no-hassle set up, additional head room and length, and lighter weight of the Arx XL3. A good 2-person + gear option or cozy, 3-person weight-saving option. I'd highly recommend for late-spring, summer, and early-fall use.

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ben wheeler

ben wheeler wrote a review of on August 15, 2011

5 5

Typically wear US size 10... have been wearing the L/XL Stoic Synth Trail socks for several months. Socks have held up very well considering how light and thin they are. The minimal padding these socks have on bottom of foot is ideal for my tight fitting la sportiva trail runners. My next pair of shoes will not be so tight, and will likely be accompanied by a purchase of the Stoic Merino Comp trail socks.

As advertised - would recommend for warm weather and tighter-fitting shoes. Good value!

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ben wheeler

ben wheeler wrote a review of on April 26, 2011

4 5

The LTWT Short length sleeping pad is a great pad for those looking to shave some weight and gain some more room in their pack. On the other hand, if you're more concerned with a thick, plush pad that you don't have to pack very far - this is probably not the best choice for you.

Using this pad on the trail requires a little more discretion and or preparation of your tent site. If you decide to pitch your tent and pad directly on top of rocks and roots, you'll probably be able to feel them through this pad - not a whole lot of lightweight pads can overcome a poorly chosen tent site.

Your back and legs will be glad you chose to carry this LTWT pad on the trail, and if scoring a good tent site, they won't mind sleeping on it either.

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ben wheeler

ben wheeler wrote a review of on February 22, 2011

5 5

Just got back from a 3-day backpacking trip along the Napali coast in Hawaii. We wanted to travel light and fast, and had been looking for a way to avoid carrying too much excess water in our packs. Water along the trail is plentiful and clear, but prone to carry harmful buggies. In order to mitigate the risk of picking up Leptospirosis along the way, we opted to bring the Steripen Journey.

Was a little skeptical at first, especially with some of the other reviews on this product. We were sure to read the instructions and test the unit at home before leaving for the trip. Unit worked flawlessly at home, so decided to go with it. We brought along a few extra batteries just in case we had a similar experience as Sean Chism related in his review.

On trail, the Steripen Journey continued to work flawlessly. We devised a method of using one 'fill' container (nalgene) to fill from the stream. When filling from the streams, I would take care not to dunk the lid, and then wipe dry the inner rim and outer threads before purifying (as these are not purified during the process to my understanding). I was purifying for myself and 5 other adults. I had no problems whatsoever with the device. You have to ensure that the water sensors stay submerged during the entire purification process, or the Steripen will turn off and flash a frowny face to indicate an incomplete purification. I would stir the pen around the container as well to ensure all the water was being exposed to the light - not sure if this is necessary or not, but made me feel better about it. Once completing a purification cycle in the 'fill' container, I would dump into someone else's bottle and begin the process again until everyone's bottles were filled.

During the 30-day trip, I probably purified around 40L - 50L of water. The unit still shows full-battery life after the trip, but I'd recommend bringing an extra set of batteries in any case - even if just for peace of mind.

Overall: I loved the Steripen Journey, will definitely use again, and based on my experience with it, would recommend to any looking to lighten the load.

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ben wheeler

ben wheeler wrote a review of on June 13, 2007

4 5

I really like the fit of these shoes. They're pretty narrow in the heel area up to the mid foot, and they open up quite a bit in the toe box - perfect for my foot type. I've taken these on a few trail runs and have been very pleased. La Sportiva didn't go overboard with the cushioning - they probably could have added a little more under the forefoot. The heel cushioning is adequate, but you can feel the rocks through the forefoot pretty well. Overall, these are great trail runners.

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ben wheeler

ben wheeler wrote a review of on December 28, 2006

4 5

These snowshoes are great for hiking around in the snow – they’re comfortable to wear and fairly lightweight. The crampons grab into the snow and keep you from sliding down the hill. The bindings are totally adjustable to whatever boot you decide to wear. Another nice feature is the adjustable straps that allow your foot to stay more inline with your body if you’re walking on a slope. These snowshoes help keep you from sinking in deep into the snow, but you’ll still sink a little, depending on the snow conditions.

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