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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith's Passions

Hiking & Camping

Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on December 3, 2010

4 5

Overall, this jacket is very well insulated with a relatively low profile. It stays warm in extended severe conditions, even with little or no additional layering. I have two minor gripes, however:

(1) The hook and loop closures on the cuffs are misaligned causing them to abrade both your bare wrist and the fabric of the sleeve. Mine has worn a minor hole in the cuff from the flap. Seems like a poor design.

(2) The rain visor on the hood does not hold its shape. After wearing the hood off for an extended period of time the visor is crumpled or bent or otherwise not positioned well to serve its purpose. It eventually works out, but I don't like having to fiddle with my visor for ten minutes before I am comfortable in heavy snow or rain.

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on January 1, 2010

4 5

I have the 1999 model, but it look identical. I am sure they have updated materials and features, but I really love this tent. It is roomy enough to legitimately fit three large people, plus quite a bit of gear (not packs, obviously). It is pretty lightweight for its size and features, and for the price, you can't beat it.

The vestibule is a little bit awkward in shape, making it seem a lot smaller than it is, and the fly is hard to unzip from inside the tent without draining its content on you, but these are very minor concerns, IMO. The only major issue I have had with it is its lateral strength in wind. Make sure you pitch the tent either facing or tailing the predominant wind or the sides can come down on you in the night. The tent stays up and nothing breaks, but a firm 30 MPH wind at the side panel will fold it in.

I have had mine for 10 years, using it almost exclusively on all my group treks at high elevations (over 11k), in rainy weather, snow, and warm climes. I think it is very versatile, light, and for the price a great deal.

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on January 1, 2010

4 5

I have owned my Mountain Light since 1995, and have used it more than just about any other piece of outdoor clothing. It is my favorite jacket, notwithstanding its age and feature obsolescence these days. It is completely watertight, durable, and time-tested.

That said, and apart from my sentimental attachment, it has its limitations. One big one is that it is a bit heavy in today's world of ultralight shell design, but that is due in part to its extra mesh lining double zipper for zip-in linings, and reinforced wear areas.

Mine has duct tape and seam sealer repairing tears, burn holes, etc., and it still holds up in terrible weather.

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on January 1, 2010

5 5

I hate the feel of plastic when I eat. It isn't rigid, feels greasy after the first bite, and never seems clean. It also lacks that metallic tingle on your tongue that reminds you that you are outdoors.

As far a sporks go, this one is my favorite so far. Its tines are long enough to grab most food easily, and the spoon itself is thin enough to easily scoop without pushing. The depth of the spoon is shallow, allowing for better clearance of your lips. (I know this sounds absurd to analyze the features of a spork, but trust me, it is easy to eat with this thing. When you have lips chapped from a week in the sun and thin air and are sick of rehydrated food, every little joy helps.)

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on January 1, 2010

5 5

I really like socks, and have several favorite pairs, but this one is pretty special, especially for the price. It reminds me a lot of the XSock Air Force 1, but less than half the price, and seemingly more durable. It is very low-profile, adding padding/insulation only in the high wear areas. Although it is not left-right anatomically specific, it has a lot of great variation to support the ankle, arch, heel, etc. I like to wear it with everything from running shoes to light hiking boots that don't need a lot of protection from lace binding. Keep in mind I am a fan of light-weight socks, even for cooler temps, but this sock is a winner at this price.

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on January 1, 2010

4 5

I like this beanie. I have a hard time with itchy skin when wearing wool hats, and the inside fleece lining helps significantly. AT the same time, the edge is still exposed and itches a bit. I like the fit--you can wear it in many different configurations, from all the way down covering the entire ear, to perched on top, while still maintaining rigidity and a secure fit. I have a somewhat small head, and it fits great.

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on January 1, 2010

3 5

I got these for around $25, and for that price, they are serviceable. I use them for cool weather biking when I want a very light pair of glasses, polarization, and enough venting to prevent fog when I am huffing and puffing. These have all of that. The optics are terrible, but what do you expect from a cheap plastic lens. I actually really like the color and shade level.

They are pretty small. I have a small face, and they hug me pretty tight, but that is fine for what I use them for.

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on January 1, 2010

5 5

There are several complaints in this thread about various features of this jacket, but after wearing several others from Arc'Teryx to MHW to Marmot, to TNF, this is the best fit of any of them by a long shot. I am pretty standard 5'11", 180, 42-regular jacket, and this is the first softshell that fits in every way I want.

I get that the jacket is a little thin of features like core venting, outside zipper flaps, etc. At the same time, it is a softshell, with inherent limitations in protection from exposure. I love the fit--narrow and fitting with room for sub layering, even a 100-weight fleece pullover. The sleeves are the perfect length, and designed to easily pull away from the wrist when lifting or doing other technical tasks. The neck fits snug enough to keep out wind and cold, but not at all restrictive. The insulation is perfect for temps down to 25 F or so on its own, and it is great under a shell without feeling bundled. There are some nice extras like the plush neck lining on the internal zipper flap that prevent chafing and zipper "garages" to borrow a term from Arc'teryx. I also like the pull-string adjusters inside the hand-warmer pockets. The construction is super-tough and you can see the quality build in the seams, zippers, lining, etc. Lastly, it looks GREAT. I love the single color look.

I hate to write a love-fest about this jacket, but after searching a long time for the perfect softshell (for me), this is it.

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on January 1, 2010

3 5

I really liked the look of this jacket. I loved the colors. But I couldn't find any size that fit well at all. I am a pretty standard large in most other jackets, but I was swimming in this large. The Medium fit much better in the torso, but the sleeves were just slightly short. It is too bad I couldn't get the right fit, because I loved the pitzips.

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on January 1, 2010

4 5

I really like SmartWool, but for a dollar more I would go with the SmartWool Adrenaline or another sock with a little more design to it. I personally like socks that are designed with variable thickness throughout the anatomy of the foot to insulated and pad where necessary without excess bulk. This sock feels like an old standard hiking sock, with no such advanced design. That said, it is top quality for what it is, and very comfortable. I just find myself wearing it with casual shoes more than in boots and on treks. One complaint I have is the heel elasticity. After a few days on the trail, the sock stretches in the heel to the point where the heel seam starts creeping up the Achilles. This is minor and easily fixed with a quick rinse and dry, but, again, I prefer a more technically designed sock for this price tag.

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on January 1, 2010

5 5

I have no complaints about this sock. It is the perfect weight for light trekking or even extended trips in fair weather. I wear my boots fairly snug and require a sock that is low profile except in the padded areas. This, like all SmartWool, in my experience, is very durable, with no holes or thread-baring after a year of use. Despite some questions about price below, this is honestly a steal, compared with other socks in its quality range.

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on January 1, 2010

4 5

I love the thin, comfortable material, the slim fit in the arms, and the color/design. I don't think it is overly slim through the torso--just right for me (5'11", 180).One gripe I have is with the width of the neck. It is pretty wide, and the neck band a little insubstantial to prevent stretching. That said, I wear this shirt at least every couple of weeks.

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on January 1, 2010

4 5

These pants are amazingly comfortable and versatile. They don't have that "technical" feel that some similar pants exhibit. Plenty of room to move without feeling baggy. They are absolutely bomb-proof, yet the reinforced paneling does not stand out. I wear these for all but the worst weather treks and even around town. They are a bit heavy, but exactly what you would expect from the sturdy cotton material. The only thing keeping me from giving five stars is the lack of more flexible sizing options. This is par for the course with outdoor pants, but I am in between the regular and long sizes. If you are a perfect 33 inseam, the regular will be great after washing.

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a question about on September 9, 2008

For everyone complaining about the arch support: FYI, no high-end boots come with insoles you should EVER trust out of the box. Some La Sportiva's come with only a piece of cardboard. You should ALWAYS purchase quality insoles for any decent boot you buy. (Keep in mind that this may affect sizing, btw.)

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on August 24, 2008

5 5

This pad is great. I have been using a thermarest, as well as a couple other brands off and on, and this is the best yet by far. For such a thick pad it packs very small. I probably could have gotten away with the 3-season variant, however, and saved space (and a bit of weight.) I don't sleep in weather much colder than about 0/-20, and I think the 3-season would have been fine. The length (contrary to other comments) is perfect for me. I am 6 feet and have plenty of room for my feet, even with my head all the way on the pad.

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Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smithwrote a review of on August 24, 2008

2 5

I really like the form factor and look of these glasses, but they do not hold up well to even casual wear. I am a fan of Smith Optics. They sell relatively inexpensive glasses with decent optics and a variety of styles, but this pair was not a good representation of what I have come to expect.

First off, the nearly frameless design requires that the sides and nose bridge are held in place with a single screw on each end. These screws never stay tight. To worsen the situation, the screw requires some custom tool to tighten. I checked with three optical stores, and they all said they had seen the screws before, but could not help me adjusting them.

The inner lens coating is very sensitive, too. I noticed it wore through after a few days with just casual cleaning with the included cleaning cloth.

Finally, for a titanium frame, I would have expected a standard feature like a spring-loaded hinge. These have a standard friction hinge, which seems to suffer from the same loosening problems that the other screws on the frame do.

The style and feel was great, but I couldn't put up with what seemed like shoddy technical design and materials so I returned them.

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