SF Bay Area, Backpacking in the Sierras & Cascades
Sure, it's not the lightest helmet in the world, but it breathes fairly well for this style of helmet and looks decent enough.
Also, it's tough as hell. It's a real skate style helmet, so the plastic shell on the helmet keeps it usable if it's dropped or if you're involved in a minor spill. (Skate style-d helmets that are just a foam shell will crack and break fairly easily, just like road helmets, making them useless after one impact) Sure, it adds some extra weight, but you aren't likely to have to buy a new helmet anytime soon.
Most importantly, if you're in a serious accident, it'll keep your brains on the right side of your skull. I got door-ed going pretty much full tilt (in a bike lane!) a few weeks back and went down HARD. The Flak did it's job well, and it has the busted foam and skid marks to show it. I'm 100% it kept me out of the ER that night. Outside of some roadrash and a busted up leg I came out of the accident ok, especially relative to how hard I hit the pavement.
A buddy of mine had a similar accident and damn near ripped his ear off while sliding on the pavement. With the Flak watching out for me my face was... Well, no worse than it was before I went down.
I'm buying a new one to replace it's fallen brother, that's about the best recommendation I can give.
I bought a handfull of these on clearance from another major outdoor retailer just to use them as normal keep-the-sun-off-your-head/neck bandanas. I didn't really believe they would offer much in the way of mosquito protection.
This week a bunch of mosquitos found their way into my house when a door was left open on a warm day and they were terrorizing us through the evening. When I went to bed I covered up with a sheet and thought "what the hell" I'll try the buzz-off bandana for my face. After tying the bandana around my neck I went the whole night with zero bites to my face or upper body. Meanwhile my roommates got eaten alive.
It's obviously no replacement for deet in area with heavy mosquito activity, and the protection only extends to the areas close to he bandana - it's not going to keep them off your legs and arms (thought I think there are buzz-off shirts and pants available) But for what it is it seems to work surprisingly well.
Let me start out by saying I tried out about half a dozen different messenger bags searching for something that I could use every day on my road bike, and this is the bag that came out on top.
All and All this is an awesome bag, the material it's made out of is tough like a coffin nail and when it's zipped up it's pretty much water PROOF. Not water resistant, but fill-it-with-ice-and-use-it-as-a-portable-beer-cooler waterproof.
Also, it's fairly unassuming and doesn't look like a trendy hipster messenger bag. I ride through some fairly gnarly parts of Oakland on a daily basis and not drawing attention to myself is desirable (for obvious reasons). Slap a band sticker over the big north face logo and the bag goes from looking a little pricey to a little dollar store-y. Mucho bueno.
However, where fit and finish is concerned it's rougher than those hipsterish bags are. At first the zipper is a huge PIA to close when the bag isn't resting on a table or something (IE, when it's on your shoulder). Once you break the bag in a little it gets easier, but you'll still fight it a little. Also, there's no cloth or padding over the plastic on the back so you can expect a nice big sweaty spot on the back of your shirt if you're riding in hot weather.
And finally, I don't know who North Face thought was going to be buying these, but I've never encountered a bag with some much superfluous length to the straps before. I literally had to roll up and zip-tie all of the extra length on the main shoulder strap, as a good 2ft of it would flap around behind me when riding, and the bag is designed in a way that makes it impossible to cut the extra length off.
All that said, it's a rock solid bag, and a steal at the discontinued color price.
These shoes seemed really nice, but were definitely designed with a different type of foot than mine in mind. The toe box is crazy narrow and the heels are tight as well. People with average feet might want to go up a half size for a comfortable fit. Those with wide feet like mine probably want to look for a different shoe, as these aren't going to ever fit right. I've got wide forefeet, and I'm used to having to grimace through a painful break-in period on most shoes but these were just too much. I put about 20 miles total on these shoes over several trips and they did not seem to be any closer to being broken in. If they had fit perfect out of the box that would be awesome, but as it is they are going back.
They also seemed designed for runners who underpronate, as they almost seemed to want to roll my feet inward when taking a step. Not great for keeping your balance while running for those who don't suffer from underpronation.
Other than that, they seemed sturdy and have very good grip even in very muddy conditions traveling downhill. They also seemed surprisingly water resistant for a mesh shoes... At least while I was hosing them off so send them back.
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