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Ben Wilson

Salt Lake

Ben Wilson's Bio

Ben Wilson's Passions

  • Biking,
  • Climbing,
  • Hiking & Camping,
  • Paddling.
Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on March 30, 2020

Gearhead Approved! New Go-To Hiking Shoe
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 160 lbs
Size Purchased: 9

It's been less than a month but I have nothing but great things to say about these shoes so far. In short: they are durable, comfortable, and fantastic for casual use or serious trials. These are the main points but read on if you like nitty-gritty gear details! (1)They are light. The lightest Danners ever actually. "One pound on your feet equals five pounds on your back" to quote Sir Edmund Hillary after his Everest ascent in 1953. At 27 oz a pair (I measured the 9s I wore), I would expect something much more minimalist than this. Some sacrifice comfort or durability in their shoes to minimize weight. Instead, I was blown away by the performance and support in the arch and heel. These are light, breezy, and somehow still bomber hiking shoes. (2) They're high performance. Vibram soles are deservedly associated with the very best hiking shoes and boots. They provide lasting comfort and great performance. The 2650s are no exception as the 460 outsoles paired with Megagrip rubber crush it out on all conditions. I did plenty of scrambling, hiked in wet and dry conditions, and was always impressed by the deep, multidirectional lugs. I experienced no slippage whatsoever. (3) They're Versatile. The styling and fit make these fit in on the trail or in the city. Though available with a mesh lining, I opted for the Goretex version of this shoe because I plan to spend time in the PNW where conditions are always wet. They ended up being great in the snow too! A goretex lining means you will have a waterproof and breathable shoe. I've taken them through mud, snow, and light rain no problem. However, if your feet sweat a lot, or you step in a deep puddle or water somehow splashes into the inside of your shoe, your feet will get wet. This is true of ANY waterproof shoe. What is not true of every waterproof shoe is that these breathe better than most other options. The 2650s ventilate very well though even in the upper 60s - avoiding sweaty, uncomfortable feet when hiking. (4) They're innovative. Aside from the main points above, this is the first heel counter on the outside of a shoe. The EXO heel system is meant to lock your heel in place. If your hiking shoes have even a little bit of slippage, blisters and discomfort tend to follow. I failed to notice a tangible difference in the external shank from other hiking shoes without it, but it can't hurt!
As far as personal experience, I broke these shoes in by wearing them to work and for walks with my dog around the neighborhood. Then, I road-tripped through Utah for just shy of 2 weeks. In Moab I went on many desert hikes. From relaxed .25 mile scenic walks in Arches to 1,500 feet of elevation gain over 4 miles on the Gooseberry Trail in Canyonlands I had no difficulties with these shoes. They remained unwaveringly stable and comfortable throughout.
Then, I spent time in Bryce Canyon which had much more snow and mud on the trails than I expected! After encountering snow, ice, puddles, and oh so much mud, my feet were never cold or wet. I got up and down muddy/snowy trails just fine and with no wetting out.
A few notes: Hard to speak with authority on durability as . If you plan to have much weight on your back I would opt for the mid version of these or a full boot. If you wont encounter wet conditions I might lean towards the non-gtx version for more breathability, however, I have yet to have a problem with clamminess even in the desert.
Sizing: I wear 8.5s in Eccos, 9 in Hokas, and 9.5 in Adidas and the 9s were perfect for me. My feet are vaguely narrow so if you run wide these might not be for you. I tend to order a half size up for hiking shoes as a lot of activity after a long day will make your feet swell this requiring more room.
Every inch of the shoe illuminates the thoughtful craft and care that Danner put into the design of this trusty trail shoe. 5/5 from me!

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on March 19, 2020

Ready for the Torrential Downpour
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 150 lbs

To sum up what I love about this jacket in the few weeks I have used it so far (I want to respect your time):
1) It is amazingly light (14oz), featured, and breathable
2) Offers exceptional performance and style
3) I am pumped on the price (especially with the famous Patagonia lifetime warranty!)
Those are the basics but read on if you are at all a gear nerd or more interested in the new features of the Torrentshell this year (we in the outdoor community have been eagerly anticipating this version), who this jacket is perfect for (spoiler: most everyone), and why else you should pull the trigger!
The previous torrentshell was 2.5 layers as compared to this new and improved 3-layer build. Got a few main things to note about those improvements. The added backer improves the next to skin comfort which made me a happy camper/climber/backpacker. A 3L construction also increases durability. This model stands the test of time, heat, water, and general abuse better. Also, shootout to the construction which features (1) recycled nylon (2) biobased membrane and (3) fair trade certification! I am always a fan of more sustainability and durability. The adjustable cords for the brim and the back of the hood help you stay weather tight. The Velcro cuffs are also excellent for quick layering adjustments or the addition of gloves.
So, let's talk features: kicking it off with a built-in visor, a comfortable micro-fleece lined neck, 2-way adjustable hood, 2 zippered handwarmer pockets for chilly days at the crag or in town, vented pit zips so you can dump heat and avoid discomfort/overheating, and a snag-free zipper with a chin guard and storm flap. The hood also fits snugly over a bike or climb helmet in my experience due to the adjustable hood. A quick note on the waterproof hand pockets. There is a tradeoff here: I have a North face rain jacket with mesh pockets that I have suffered through for many years. Mesh pockets technically give you better ventilation, but oh my gosh I would rather have warm hands and dry items in my pocket any day.
I hate being wet when camping or outdoor adventuring. I spent 4 years of adventuring in the Pacific Northwest which led me to be a serious stickler about what companies consider waterproof. I have yet to test this in a serious downpour as of yet, but was hit by a random rainshower in Capitol Reef national park a week ago! I did not get a drop of water on me. I remain very very happy with the performance so far after a Utah road trip and I did not mind having it at the bottom of my crag bag or backpacking pack as it is only 14oz. I love wearing it out too because it looks great casually, and I have dug it on several long hikes so far.
As far as sizing - I'm normally either a small or medium. Typically I'm a small in Patagonia and that 's true for the Torrentshell too. I can put a down sweater underneath no problem or just kick it with a t-shirt underneath.
This jacket was obviously made by folks who wanted to emphasize quality, usability, and comfort. For just 2oz more than the previous torrentshell and at only $150, you get a jacket that will last a lifetime and be perfect for most all outdoor adventures.

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on February 27, 2020

Another 5 Star Review
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 150 lbs
Size Purchased: 9

These boots look at first glance like classic heavy boots - rigid, durable, but rather unwieldy and hefty. However, even when breaking these boots in it was clear Salomon incorporated the best of a heavy boot and the best of the upgrades in hiking shoe technology of the last few decades. The result is a powerhouse of a boot that is exceptionally comfortable.
I wanted to talk in-depth about the Goretex aspect of this boot because I feel like there might be some misconceptions. These have a goretex lining, so they will be waterproof. I've taken them through dozens of stream crossings throughout the PNW and through many rainy days with no problem. However, if your feet sweat a lot, or you step in a deep puddle or water somehow splashes into the inside, your feet will get wet. This is true of ANY waterproof boot. What is not true of every waterproof boot is that these breathe better than most other options. Even in the upper 60s my feet didn't feel clammy. Generally, if it's not raining out, you don't need to be wearing goretex. The Quests ventilate very well though - avoiding sweaty, uncomfortable feet when hiking. The nubuck leather and lighter upper make the boot feel just fine when summer hiking though, I just prefer something lighter. Of course, unless I'm carrying a heavy back, if it's summer I'm going to grab something non-waterpoof or a trail shoe if just for the lack of an upper alone. To summarize - great performance in the cold and the wet, okay when it's hot out but not my first choice.
I found the sole to be thick enough to keep my feet comfortable and protected, even on jagged rocky approaches. The tread was aggressive enough to handle any trail or approach I threw at them too.
I've taken these boots snowshoeing several times this winter with no problems with the waterproofing. They performed excellently with the exception of one full moon trip. it was roughly 0-10 degrees and of course, the boots got quite a bit of snow on them. Within half an hours, and even with thick darn tough hiking socks, my toes felt like they were freezing so we had to head back. In short, quite comfy in 20 degrees and snow or any kind of rain, pretty cold in 0 degrees and the snow.
For sizing, I normally wear a 8.5 or 9 in men's causal shoes and find 9 to be perfect for me in these.
if you want a super durable boot for some serious hiking and backpacking, look no further.

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on December 13, 2019

A Travel Must
5 5

My girlfriend and I love to travel and we have a completely justified love of packing cubes. They make organization, packing, and unpacking so much easier when hostel hopping or backpacking.

So what sets these packing cubes apart? Honestly, not much. 5 stars seems like high praise after that sentence, but consider that they're light, durable, and though they're not feature crazy there's no need for them to be. I like how lightweight and simple they are and the fact that they're see-through makes finding clothes in a hurry easy. Plus, I like the goat logo.
If you're a big travel or live out of your suitcase, this is a cheap purchase that'll make life easier. It's amazing how much space they'll save you too.

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on December 13, 2019

Simple, Non-Complicated, Necessary
5 5

I helped outfit my little sister for a semester abroad, backpacking in Chile. The only thing she regrets not taking my advice on bringing more of is packing cubes!
The 8L fits all my t-shirts easily. It's an inexpensive no brainer purchase for the travller in your life. It's hard to explain to people who aren't already sold on packing cubes why they're so great unless they try them. I'll give it a shot though!
For a minimal amount of added weight, you're saving quite a bit of spcae by compacting your clothes. This also reduces time spent digging through your backpack or luggage for what you need. I'm far from an organized individual and this makes me feel like I have my life together. It's a cheap purchase that reduces stress while traveling.

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on November 20, 2019

Personal Space Heater
5 5

Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 160 lbs

My girlfriend is the coldest human I've ever met. She can be cold on an 80-degree day. I say this because I want to understand my amazement when she tells me she is not only warm, but very warm, toasty warm in this jacket when it's freezing out. The 800 fill down offers amazing compression and astounding levels of warmth.
The features on this jacket are plentiful and remarkable. The jacket only weighs a pound and can compress easily. The slightly higher pockets are hardly noticeable when out walking the dog or around town, but when we have backpacks on, those pockets are still fully accessible. She hasn't taken the jacket skiing yet, so the oversized/helmet-compatible hood isn't her favorite feature. She's not bothered by having to adjust the hood though as the cinch makes it easy.
It's a tremendous piece for cold days whether you're being active or not!

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on November 20, 2019

So nice the girlfriend stole it
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 160 lbs

I've worn this almost every day for the last month+. That includes a trip to Chicago, a mtn biking trip to CO, climbing, and camping in the Utah desert. As you can see by the picture, I raved about it so much my girlfriend had to steal it.
I love that this piece provides enough insulation to keep out the chill but wont let to overheating on hot days. This piece more than any other midlayer I've had looks stylish when layered with most anything. The super stretchy poly/spandex material makes for a great fitting piece for most anyone as well. I'm a big fan of thumb holes so the subtle and comfortable "thloop" design on this piece gets 2 looped thumbs up from me.
In short, this can be worn anywhere and used for most everything.

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on November 20, 2019

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

I used this duffel for 2 trips back to back - a desert car camping trip for a long weekend with the girlfriend in St. George and a 5 day trip to Chicago.
I have absolutely no complaints.
The interior is so spacious I could've done without packing cubes. The backpack straps have the signature Osprey comfort so I trekked from the airport to the hotel in Chicago no problem at all. The straps unclip and fall away easily too, making for simple unpacking and repacking. These were the inaugural trips, but I can attest to the quality and the comfort.
This pack can fit in a trunk or overhead compartment easily. The nylon exterior dealt with rain easily as well. No worries on the safety of your gear here!

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on October 31, 2019

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

Let me lead with the bad - the pack's LightWire alloy frame fits between my shoulder blades fairly uncomfortable. I've used the similar system Airspeed system on the Osprey Syncro and love that it helps airflow and makes back sweat less a problem. The pack just fits me awkwardly I guess. That said, I still did about 30 miles of hiking with no noticeable issues beyond slight discomfort.

That out of the way, the pack is spacious, adjusts well, and feels light and great!

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on October 31, 2019

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

At this point, every family member that's seen this blanket wants a Rumpl. Lots of friends too. There's nothing really bad to say about any Rumpl! They're quality products with great down, they're incredibly warm and comfortable, and also cute! I always bring this camping with my girlfriend and it saved us on an unexpectedly cold night in the Utah desert.

The reason my review is 4 stars instead of 5 is 2 -fold. One, the price is luxurious. I fully understand that quality from the stitching to the down merits a premium price, however, $300 is a hard luxury price to swallow. Two, I've noticed a few small holes in the Rumpl. I'm guessing these are from nights by the campfire with small embers coming down. No down's coming out, but it still raises durability concerns. Still a wonderful product that the girlfriend and I love.

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on October 31, 2019

Travel Turtle Shell
5 5

There's a good reason why some of the best review pictures you'll ever see are on this page (sorry mine doesn't stack up or even have the bag in it!). I used this as my travel bag on a 2 week trip to Peru. I was flying/busing all over the country and needed something highly comfortable, spacious, with well thought out storage, and easy to take on buses planes and walks from place to place. I'm glad as can be I ended up with this on my back.

Osprey knows how to make a comfortable back. They back that knowledge up with the Almighty-Guarantee ensuring lifetime repairs. The Porter is no exception. The padded shoulders and hip belt make travel a breeze. I had no soreness to speak of after having this on my back on and off for 2 weeks. All of those straps zip or tuck away too! It looks like a large turtle shell on the traveler's back but feels great.

The internal pockets maximize the space available. There's the massive front, zippered top, and a side organizer. Unloading and reloading is easy peasy. The sidewalls are also padded to protect your souvenirs. The nylon ripstop material also withstands a beating like nothing else. It's designed to put up with an unreasonable amount of abuse. The straightjacket system allows me to reaaaalllly cinch the pack together, minimizing its size.

P.S. Most planes let me use this as a carry-on as this pack is smartly designed as a 46 Liter, the max for flight carryons. Oddly though, my flight back to the states made me check the bag. Probably became too overstuffed from poor packing and added goodies from Peru. Not an issue for me but thought I'd mention it.

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on October 31, 2019

King of the Mountain
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

The needs of the backpacker are many, and often unreasonable. This bag weighs 2 pounds and for comparison some other things that weigh about 2 lbs include a small bag of rice, maybe a carton of milk, a desk lamp. For that little weight you get what is in my opinion, the best sleeping bag on the market.
What makes this bag stand out? First off, the brand name carries all the accolades and associations it deserves. The sourcing (ethical sourcing with audits twice a year), water repellency, and hands on/in house processes are second to absolutely none. My bag's even signed by the person who stitched it (thank you by the way).
The 850-fill down (a conservative estimate) kicks in like a human tortilla sized toaster oven. It is a 2lb space heater. Up to the draft tube and cinchable collar, this is a cloud of down designed to make sleeping while camping nicer than a night in your own bed. I don't think it would be possible for me to wake up grouchy or unsociable after a night's sleep in this so this is a gift to your camping buddies too! The only downside is the willpower I have to muster up to leave my portable sleep machine.
It's the little details that make this feel as if your best friend made it given unlimited time and resources. The 20 degree rating is conservative for one thing. I run warm but I was very comfy in this bag at 7 degrees with the right liner and sleeping pad (PS please invest in your whole sleep system). The zipper simply does not catch. I had to do some research on the abilities of the benefits of a continuous baffle and I thought WM's site put it best "On a warm night slide down below you for less insulation, and on a cold night slide more to the top for warmer sleep!" Works just as advertised based on a warm California trip and a cold Oregon one.
I camp quite a bit but I’ve only owned one sleeping bag before the Alpinlite. I dealt with many of the downfalls of a cheap sleeping bag - made with synthetic material rather than down so it couldn't pack as well and weighed more than it should. The zipper caught. Poor warmth compared to the temperature rating. I've tried out and borrowed at least a half dozen other bags without being blown away by any since that one gave out. After much, much, probably too much research I decided on the Alpinlite as a buy once, cry once panacea to my outdoor needs.
My inaugural trip with this bag was a 2 day trip up to King's Peak. This gift to lovers of the outdoors was toasty, wide, and like the embodiment of a warm hug. It hardly takes up any space in my pack and the weight is negligible. I knew immediately I had made the right purchase.
The price tag will undoubtedly throw people off, as it did me initially. I can say I've gotten my money's worth and more though. The quality of sleep, warmth, and the care that went into construction are simply outstanding. This is the bag I’ll be using for many years to come.

Update a year later: still going strong! This bag is my best friend in the times of covid. No signs or wear and no regreats.

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on October 31, 2019

AstroMan, Take Me By the Hand
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 160 lbs
Size Purchased: Small

After practically living in the long sleeve version of this shirt and buying 2 for my grandpa, I figured it was time to try the short sleeve version.

In the month I've had this shirt I've taken it to 3 states, many hikes, many climbs, and a fishing trip. Why do I love it?
The nylon/spandex construction brings unparalleled comfort and stretch. It's super-stretchy without sacrificing anything in the style department. I didn't know I needed such a comfortable and practical button down until now. Heck, look at that handsome man in the picture below. I'm not too bad looking myself but that picture is ~90% glow from the astroman.

The UPF 50+ protection has been a lifesaver for more than a few desert adventures. That feature can't be emphasized enough. Some sacrifice comfort for sun protection or vice versa but the astroman provides the best of both worlds. I've only used the full collar snap up once on a very sunny day fishing but it's a nice feature to have when you need up.


How do you know if this shirt is for you? Do you like comfortable clothes? Do you like something with all the benefits of activewear without looking super active? Are you a human on this planet? As far as I'm concerned, this belongs in everyone's closet.

Note on size - I'm typically a medium but I'm a small in these shirts. I think I could get away with either a small or medium though.

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on October 14, 2019

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions

First things first, if you don't buy the glacier teal color, you're a coward. It is a beautiful pack and you deserve it.
I used this pack to carry climbing shoes, harnesses, and a rope for the girlfriend and I, other buddies brought all the other necessities for a day at the crag. I haven't had to use the external gear loops yet but it's nice that they're there.
The pack has everything I need, though the 5 star review is only based off of initial impressions so take that with a grain of salt.

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on August 14, 2019

5 5

Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 160 lbs
Size Purchased: Medium

The Proton FL balances the need to stay warm in the spring and late fall without overheating. No more layering up then layering down - just roll with this incredible lightweight insulated jacket.
There are 2 fleece lined hand pockets are lovely, I don't use the chest pockets but they don't bother me, the jacket blocks the cold and wind well too.
I've used this jacket while climbing more than anything up in the mountains. True to its name, the jacket feels fast and light. I don't feel restricted in the slightest.

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on August 14, 2019

5 5

Honestly, what's not to love? I've had so many friends and families ask me where I got my Rumpl and even what a Rumpl is. The price is a little high, but the comfort and warmth are out of this world.
So many color options too!
Mine has a couple holes from extended time by campfires with embers coming down but none of the loft comes out and I could easily patch those.

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Ben Wilson

Ben Wilsonwrote a review of on August 14, 2019

5 5

This bag is so warm. It's also incredibly comfortable.
I've never used a bag with separate foot compartment/zipper, it's a nice addition when my feet get cold too cold or warm at night.
I like that it comes with a compression sack and a storage bag for when it's not in use. I'm also a fan of the fact you can tighten it around your face for those cold fall nights.
Mostly, I love the foot zipper though - that needs another shoutout.
Also, I like the fun green color.

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