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paulba

paulba

I spend most of my time in the Presidential Range and the rest of the White Mountains.

paulba's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Biking
Snowshoeing
Skiing
Climbing

paulba's Bio

I love being outdoors, and more specifically, in the wilderness.

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paulba

paulba wrote a review of on June 15, 2009

5 5

This set marks the first pieces of pro I've owned and lead climbed with (now have full rack). Boy do these have their place on the rack. For their weight, they are easily the best pro. On most trad climbs I use about an equal number of nuts and cams.

Nothing inspires as much confidence as a well-placed nut. They stay put while cams walk. When placed well you should have no question that it will hold a fall and not pop out of the rock because of rope drag.

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paulba

paulba wrote a review of on May 7, 2009

5 5

This pack is the shit!! Wow, where do I begin? There are so many good things to say about it. It is clear that this thing is extremely well thought out. The pack's name, "Variant", is quite apt, as it is very capable of a wide variety of excursions.

The ice tool holders are awesome - they keep the pick of your tool or axe mostly covered and secured tightly against the pack so there's no wobbling around, as is typical in almost every other pack. It has nice low profile gear loops on both hipbelts for racking ice screws, quickdraws, or whatever else. The crampon pocket works nicely for this purpose, and I'm sure most people will find it very useful for things other than crampons, such as hat and gloves. For me, the lid size is just right and not too big (I only use the lid for small items and hate when they're all giggling around). It carries skis securely in an A-frame (I have tested this). The waist belt can be either be removed entirely, or tucked around the opposite side and clipped together for when you're climbing and don't want it in your way. It has three-point haul loops. Lastly, I have never seen a pack that is overall so glove-friendly. You can easily adjust literally everything with gloved hands, including the ice tool clips and bungies.

It is also extremely comfortable, and fits soo nicely when you dial in the straps, provided you loaded it properly (with the heavy stuff against the backpanel in the middle-upper area). The weight goes where it belongs on the hips, and it is the most stable carry I've ever felt.

There are small pockets on the bottom/sides for poles or wands, but if you're someone who insists on side water bottle pockets, look elsewhere. But anyone looking for a hardcore climbing pack knows you can't put water bottles on the outside, as that ruins the skinny, streamlined profile which makes it so great for climbing. I'm not quite sure what the point of the spindrift collar is...I've never had snow get into my pack in blowing snow conditions. But you probably wouldn't even notice the thing tucked in if you weren't looking for it.

The bag seems like its volume can definitely expand beyond 37L -- maybe to 42L or so -- because of the floating lid, which I love. I can fit all I need for an overnighter nicely, including a two-person tent.

On top of all of this awesomeness, it still weights only 3.5 lbs! Oh, and if you want to go lighter for the summit push, you can strip it down to a feathery 2 lbs, almost half of the already light weight! How did they do it?

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paulba

paulba wrote a review of on December 15, 2008

5 5

This cookset is awesome -- it packs quite small, is impossibly lightweight, and has an awesome built-in handle. I love the way it doubles as a mug, and it also comes with a lid so water and snow boils faster.

Lastly, and here's the kicker: my entire stove (MSR Pocket Rocket), including fuel canister, fit inside the included sack! The stove, inside its own plastic case, fit in the pot with the lid on top, and the fuel easily fits in the extra room in the sack. Great buy.

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paulba

paulba wrote a review of on September 30, 2008

5 5

Carolyn - these are not ski-specific pants--they are mountaineering/climbing pants. Arcteryx does make a few lines of ski pants.
They did not omit internal gaiters in order to cut costs. Rather, they have no internal gaiter because its intended users, who opt for external gaiters in all their pursuits, have been known to actually cut out an internal gaiters from their ski pants. This is because internal gaiters add unnecessary weight (and especially bulk in an already bulky area), so they just get in the way.
To conclude, these pants are intended only for users who are already planning to use real gaiters.

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paulba

paulba wrote a review of on September 30, 2008

5 5

These bibs rule. Like the jacket, they are perfectly designed. I am 5'10", 155lb., and small fits perfectly for jacket and bibs. The articulation is phenomenal, with no bunched up fabric whatsoever, but still plenty of room for layers underneath. For above-treeline winter trips such as the Presidentials I usually use two long underwear layers under these, but one is plenty for most other applications. There is definitely room for heavier insulating layers under here too.

There is a downside to the bib design (as opposed to regular pants): in order to fully take advantage of the bibs, if you stop to change upper layers, you have to remove the suspenders as well as your jacket to do so. However I don't consider this a drawback, because it is the only way that one might achieve such a high level of warmth and protection from elements. The alternative is to just layer over the bibs, but this sort of defeats the purpose. Picture yourself wearing a baselayer and thick fleece top with these bibs zipped up and over these layers. The bib top (when zipped over your upper layers) keeps all of your heat in while effectively blocking updrafts and snow that might make it past the hem-cinch of your jacket. Also, since the Schoeller softshell material has been chosen for this section, the breathe-through characteristics are as good as it gets.

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paulba

paulba wrote a review of on March 20, 2008

5 5

There is no question that this jacket is the best of the best: fit, design details, materials, performance, and aesthetic are all of the highest caliber. In my opinion, it is literally perfect -- I can't think of a way to improve it. However, I think paying this much for a shell is not worth it for most people; while I love my SV, I am still unsure of whether or not it was worth the heavy dough. This thing sure is nice though... got the bibs too and they're just as perfect as this jacket.

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paulba

paulba wrote a review of on February 18, 2008

5 5

This gaiter employs a very classic design and fit. They work quite well for lighter-weight alpine (or any other) applications. I am looking forward to using them on Mount Adams tomorrow. On first use with crampons i put two small little scuffs in them, however, because the cordura bottom section isn't anywhere near as heavy-duty as that of a classic Crocodile gaiter.

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paulba

paulba wrote a review of on January 9, 2008

5 5

I have owned the Atmos 35 for over a year, and must have used it over 50 times (without ANY wear). The comfort afforded by the airmesh backpanel has the ability to make loads of almost 30 pounds feel like nothing. I started by using it for dayhikes, and there was more than enough room for my stuff, but the compression straps keep it tight and snug against your back. The hipbelt pockets are a great for snacks, camera, etc. The axe loops and ripcord clips can be used to carry trekking poles very securely. I moved on to overnight trips, and to my surprise, found that there was enough room for everything -- including my Mountain Hardwear Raven 2 tent! The packed performed EXTREMELY well on several overnight trips. I have used my Atmos for longer mountain biking excursions when I need more room than my camelback could offer. Indeed, I found it to be more comfortable than the tiny camelback, despite being capable of holding about 20 times as much, even on a long bumpy ride. Now, into my second winter, I am finding that the pack works impeccably for snowshoeing (I found a way to strap snowshoes using side pockets and axe ripcord clips!), and its close conformance to the body make it great for backcountry nordic and touring applications. I went on a trip to the White Mountains two weeks ago involving 12 miles of x-c skiing in the woods while carrying snowshoes and lots of other gear. I could have asked for a better-functioning pack for that trip. I also found the pack to perform incredibly well during alpine climbs in the Presidential Range. Everything about this pack rocks. Those used to the traditional "tube" pack may be perturbed by the curved backpanel, but believe me -- the space of 35 liters is there -- you just have to get used to packing a little differently. The attention to detail is all there, the materials used are so light and so durable. My 2 pound Atmos doesn't have a scratch after a year of HEAVY use. Oh, and I should mention -- it is still the most comfortable pack I've ever put on my back!

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paulba

paulba wrote a review of on September 20, 2007

5 5

This is a hard-core fleece. Fabric is sort of stiff because of the tight knit on the outside, but super soft and comfortable on the inner side. The tight knit cuts the wind very effectively. Because of high wind resistance, it can be layered as outer piece to if no precipitation. I wore a light (Rho LT) baselayer under this when climbing Mt. Washington last weekend and was plenty warm during 10-20F windchills. Fit is not tight like many Arc products, but articulated elbows and the cut in general are very nice, designed with layering in mind. Shoulder pocket is handy for 2-way radio, camera, cash + ID, or keys. This fleece is also great looking. Like all Arc products, this is a top of the line piece, at a top of the line price -- but if you will use it for what it is intended (any type of mountain endeavor), it is well worth it. It is so well constructed that I have no doubt it will last for many mountains and many years, and for that reason it is worth every penny.

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