stuart smythe

stuart smythe

Falls Creek Australia

stuart smythe's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Biking
Snowshoeing
Climbing
Skiing

stuart smythe's Bio

I work on a mountain...summer and winter, testing and using gear is a passion and an occupation...I trade hemisphere's for amazing powder (Japan my fav...) following one basic rule...: Get Up and Go Hard...
The start of the perfect day is first tracks and fresh powder...then skiing the rest of it with my two young sons...H and X...chasing steep and deeps wherever possible...
Swapping the ski's for MTB's in the summer, hitting trails, berms and kickers...

stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on June 6, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 220 lbs
Size Purchased: 10.5

I ordered the 10.5, beluga old gold colour...fit is fine, colour is fine...the fit was tight initially, mostly across the forefoot, have now moulded and stretched where needed. If anything i'd go half a size down if you intend to really use these boots for the purpose they were built.
At first the heel cup felt loose with that "sloshing" feeling. Lashing down the laces across the forefoot and the ankle bite solved for this and the lacing system here works ok, but a hook system would enable different lacing options. My greatest frustration being that, like other reviews, the "neck" of the boot is narrow. I have wide feet (general EEE last (102mm)), regardless of how loose the laces, these are still tough boots to slide on. Once on, laces tightened and lashed down (recommend a surgeons knot), particularly pushing the heel into the back of the boot, the boot work well. Remembering these aren't "everyday wear to the shops", or urban type shoes...they are for serious hiking in tough cold conditions. You put them on, they stay on for hours. That is what they're designed for. The lace loops however should be hooks and d-rings. When hiking through relatively flat terrain, its good to be able to loosen the ankle hold and let your feet "breathe". the lacing system doesn't allow this.
The sole and grip pattern is terrific...mud, snow, slush, even slippery basalt rocks...these work well.
Temperature wise, only pushed them to minus 5c, but toasty warm nonetheless after 5 hours of hiking through various terrain.
Given the need to really tighten the boot to get the best fit, the longevity of the top four lace loops/eyelets will be the challenge.
These are high ankle fitting boots. Push through the "rubbing" issues on the ankle and shin bone from the cuff pressure. Overall can't complain about this boot. Lace hooks would see it rank better. For the price, these boots function as intended.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on January 22, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs small
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 235 lbs
Size Purchased: xl

I bought this jacket, to replace an older Half Dome Gore-Tex Stretch Pro Shell that TNF used to make. It was a BRILLIANT jacket. The Half Dome doesn't have anywhere near the features (ie. powder skirt, pockets etc) of this jacket, but the fabric is by far superior. I applaud TNF for developing the Brigandine Fuse Form fabric, the tapered seams and integrated powder skirt etc...The jacket has oodles of storage/pockets for a shell and the zippers are extremely effective in tough conditions. My criticism of the zipper is the hard ties used to toggle the zippers are cumbersome with gloves. Softer zip ties, with large toggles (as on the Half Dome) are a much more user friendly product, especially when coated in snow. Bring back the "two way" zipper on all shells - this alleviates the need to have the jacket either fully open, or off, when hiking or trekking in the backcountry. This jacket "rides" up as you stride for extended periods, similarly, stifling heat exchange. Furthermore, the general cut of this jacket is more fitting than the same size Half Dome Steep Series jacket, despite both being "relaxed fit". Has TNF changed their sizing metrics?
Solid shell, just wouldn't recommend for true backcountry expeditions.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on January 20, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I'm 5'11, 235b (just outside the recommended user rating) wearing a size 11 Zamberlan Pro GTX RR boot. The boa action is really effective and holds well in all circumstances. Used on hikes between 6 and 10km in Hakuba (Japan) backcountry with these in 30cm of fresh laid over an icy crust, across variable/steep terrain.
Concerns around the boa system, clogging or being cumbersome to use...not a problem at all. The Zamberlan boots have a chunky toe and wide last. The latter maxed out the footbed deck, making the fit tight but workable, the rubber rands on the Zamberlan boots prevented any sliding/rubbing - increasing confidence in foot strike. The Viper 2.0 crampons are outstanding. Hard boiler plate steel ice and the occasional rock strike didn't impact or damage the teeth. In fact, over patches of 20degree plus icy terrain, these were outstanding. The flex is great in steeps. Suggest playing with/loosening the heel riser before heading out. Initially quite stiff and frustrating to initiate with poles. Work these over a little prior to use. The Zamberlan boots are especially stiff with carbon shanks offering little torsional rotation. The snowshoes transmitted this through, but with the torsion deck, this combination worked well and stability was strong. The tip to tail rails, riveted in four sections, ensure great articulation and traction in the steeps and traverse terrain.
I will be interested to see how the boa endures repeated use, versus more traditional bindings.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on October 31, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I got a hold of these for the final part of the season (read wet and slushy) down in Australia.
The articulation from these gloves is tremendous. Their warmth, similarly exceptional for the value they present. Its early days, insofar as haven't subjected to huge abuse...but used on numerous days handling ropes, shovels, snowmo's etc...fit is true, the triple baked finish and waxing is amply repellent...I haven't added anything additional or waxed for increased resilience, to date no deterioration in "water proofing". For a glove with such great insulation to also have this level of feel and dexterity is massively impressive. Ordered two pairs! As an avid user of the Tough Guy Glove..(had four pairs in last few years - all still functioning and performing), I expected big things from this glove and haven't been disappointed. Recommend versus equivalent and significantly more expensive rivals!

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on October 8, 2015

5 5

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

After trying nearly every base layer on the planet, from merino, to under armour...you name it...these are the only ones that "aren't itchy"...10 year old wears them without complaint. They look great, fit to size and provide terrific warmth as a base layer. He uses when racing or just freeskiing with his buds. highly recommend. The quarter zip with the "web" pattern is also cool! Size L, for 148cm 10yr old. Two seasons sizing, so great value on sale.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on August 18, 2015

4 5

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

This jacket is a must for anyone who appreciates warmth and compression...its packs down well, but punches above its weight for warmth. Fits true to size, if not possibly larger in the waist/hip. Have also used as an outer layer for Spring mtb riding. The stretch fabric is great and resilient. Post coming off, hitting some rocks etc, the fabric withstood the abuse really well.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on August 18, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Insulation is what sets these pants apart...plus oodles of pockets.
The fit is loose, plenty of room for the more athletic build. The key differentiator is the insulation...in the areas that matter and the resilience of the fabric. I wear these daily in the field and love them...
I'm 6ft, waist 38-40 (don't judge!)...love a good craft beer...these fit in xl with room to have a few more...my only criticism is the cuff tends to ride up, despite powder skirt pulled down.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on July 17, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs large

I'm 5'11 235lb, 38in waist, but 32in thighs...these are the only pants i wear for skiing. they are roomy in the thighs and butt, plenty of storage space and adjustable waist works well, removing the need for any belt. Use extensively for skinning so venting works really well. Have never had an issue with overheating, nor with chills. I do tend to run hot though. Can imagine for traditional pant wearers' these might be too baggy. But larger, athletic builds - these work well.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on July 17, 2015

5 5

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

Bought this and love it.
Warmth well beyond expectation. Core body protection is tremendous with the 100g Primaloft. Oodles of storage, pockets galore for every conceivable use both secure and loose internal sleeves...Have used primarily as second layer under shell, so can't comment on water shedding ability. Highly recommend. The fit is "slim". Comparable to other brands the sizing runs slightly smaller.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on February 6, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I gave it as a gift but have feedback to share
Fit: True to size

Bought as a xmas gift...so successful as a midlayer, my wife requested that I purchase two more! That speaks for itself! The technostretch fabric is incredibly warm when use as mid layer. The hood, with separate full zip neck "gaiter" enables use under any helmet (using Smith Variance) or adds to warmth around the neck when conditions aren't so cold. My wife particularly likes the athletic fit and the waist band which tho not able to be "tightened", functions well and stops riding up under shells or other garments.
Colours are true to picture. Size runs true. thumbholes further increase functionality and retain warmth. Highly recommend.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on January 15, 2015

4 5

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

My preferred choice for hiking due to packability...and warmth. Use during transition phase or lunch breaks on hikes, then unpack for car trip home. The design provides core warmth, but with the stretch woven side panels, enables sufficient heat exchange if you've not quite finished the hike after lunch...
Would describe the fit as "athletic" vs regular, suspect due to woven materials "hugging" the torso.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on January 15, 2015

Great shell and jacket combo...
5 5

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

8 y.o. (135cm tall) in size 12 - would suggest runs true to size, if not slightly large - but not overly so.
Used in Japan, minus 20 (inc windchill) on "Japow" days...with base layer, mid, then the addition of the inner jacket and shell...no complaints...toasty warm! Powder skirt and draw string proved very effective on deepest of days. Highly recommend. Inner jacket in the black/graphite grey is a huge hit, loves wearing this independently.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on January 15, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs small

9y.o. loves this jacket...but runs small versus other brands "equivalent" sizing. He's 140cm, should have gone the L(14), not the M (12).
Pockets are great, plenty of them, most importantly sleeve stash for lift pass, chest pocket for "hot chocolate" money and 550 down warmth means that on most days, its a base layer, plus mid layer and he's as warm as toast!...xt.L and DWR is holding up well after 30 days in Japan powder, with no signs of wear or heat lost through dampening.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on January 15, 2015

Awesome versatility...runs small tho
4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs small

Bought a number of the Spyder pants and jacket combo's for 8 and 9y.o. boys for this season.
The consistent theme running thru all is that they run small compared to similar products purchased. This is particularly so for the Force pant, Bormio pant and the Propulsion pant. I deliberately upsized in the hope of getting Nth and Sth hemisphere seasons, but due to sizing, suggest going numerous sizes larger. For comparison - my boys are between 135cm and 140cm, so i chose Youth size 12 (M) for both...but should have gone 14 (L).
Positives - boys love them...bright fluoro colours were a hit...they have commented they are incredibly warm and durability after 30plus days in them suggests it was money well spent. Great product Spyder, just "off" on the sizing.
Photo shows Spyder Propulsion pant, teamed with TNF Gonzo insulated jacket. Worked well....

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on October 10, 2014

4 5

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

Used during spring skiing down in Australia, as an outer layer only, and with the active fit can see how this will match well under pretty much an shell. Tho active fit, there's no restriction in mobility and well positioned pockets work well with any pack. Dual front zips (my preference on any jacket) enable venting and heat regulation. I have several of Zephyrus jackets, for their size, compressibility (?) and resilience, together with the warmth generated they are a great piece of kit. Fabric withstood several skirmishes with a few snow gums or two, no damage to report. Recommend.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on August 28, 2014

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Big fan of Black Diamond - their carbon poles cant be beaten. Disappointed however by the flick lock mechanism on this pair needing constant adjustment. Trekking backcountry on near full extension (still 10cm to go), the pole continually slipping and needing adjustment. Will go back to the Razor's as preferred touring pole. The probe functionality whilst useful (not tested), was let down by the flick-lock.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on March 10, 2014

Starts Warm and toasty but....
3 5

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

bought these as i have the lobster version and find those too warm...was hoping these would be a happy medium...
have spent pretty much the last 30 days using these in mostly trying conditions (Hakuba Japan...from +5c to -12c) generally heavy powder and my "back to base" touring kit ....over periods of several hours however these gloves do lose their initial warmth quickly. Whilst highly water proof, the leather does get damp faster than similar gloves (ie. hestra alpine pro's)...not sure of the leather treatment process at BD, but have found Hestra gloves far superior in this capacity. Inserts are great initially, but quickly "pill" with constant use and don't particularly like getting damp from snow infiltration.

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stuart smythe

stuart smythewrote a review of on March 10, 2014

Not as warm as it could be...
3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs large

I bought this jacket because of the tech supposedly used in its constructrion..but have been underwhelmed by its "warmth"...you will definitely need numerous layers, ideally soft shell or fleece underneath, as this jacket doesnt hold out the cold, as suggested...on the positive side, great number of pockets, powder skirt, wrist gaiters, two way zip (tho a little "sticky" for first numerous uses)...its a big fitting jacket...suggest size down if in warmer areas, but it does need layering...

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