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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmes

, Employee

Dana Holmes's Passions

Running
Skiing
Biking

Dana Holmes's Bio

"Go West, young man." I'm not actually sure who said this (maybe you can tell me?) but I took the advice anyways. Left Maine after college and went to Wyoming, then Alaska, then California, then... you get the picture. Currently calling Salt Lake City home and working on exploring the Wasatch.

I believe in getting into the mountains and moving through them. With friends. Alone. When it's sunny. When it's raining. In the dark. Before Work. After Work. I prefer skis in the winter and a pair of running shoes when there's no snow on the ground, but sometimes I also roll through the hills on two wheels. My climbing friends take me along when they need to feel better about themselves.

Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on September 18, 2019

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

If you know have even a passing knowledge of sleeping bags, you know that the Western Mountaineering brand speaks for itself. This holds true to their general brand ethos - simple, bomber, and functional.

This packs down quite small, saving space in your pack for supplies on longer trips or allowing you to carry a smaller pack on a quick overnight. I was able to very comfortably pack everything I needed for an overnight in a 30L pack thanks to this bag's excellent compress ability.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on September 18, 2019

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Considering this thing basically weighs nothing and takes up no space in your pack, there's no reason to forgo a pillow (or worse yet, try to make a ghetto pillow out of your dirty clothes stuffed in to a bag) on your next backpacking trip.

I found that the X shaped baffles did a nice job holding my head in the middle of the pillow. As with most inflatable pillows, this one is most comfortable if you inflate it so it's fairly soft - just enough to keep your head off the ground.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on March 18, 2019

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 165 lbs
Size Purchased: Medium

This is a great lightweight piece to throw in your pack if there's a chance of rain, but you don't want to waste the space or weight bringing your burly rain gear. I found it to be great for spring bike commuting and around town use. This would be a great emergency rain shell for those of us in the generally dry western ranges that often have afternoon thunderstorms and rain showers. I did find myself wishing it was an inch or two longer, but I'm relatively tall and wear a medium, so this won't be an issue for many folks.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on March 7, 2019

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I'm usually not much for skiing groomers, but I had so much fun demoing these for a sunny early spring groomer day at Snow Basin. They absolutely rip on groomers and hard snow. Tip em' over and they just lock up into a carve like they're on rails, with plenty of camber to rocket you into the next turn. They have virtually no speed limit and edge hold is limitless. If you have a racing background or just want to embrace the art of the carve again, these are the ski.

I found them to be super stiff and quite damp, so in choppy leftover powder and half-formed moguls, you can pretty much just let them run and bulldoze through everything - quite satisfying if your legs can keep up. On that note, these do require quite a bit of user input and decent technique. I would recommend them for strong intermediate skiers and up. Ski them actively and stay on top of them and you'll be rewarded with a lively and attentive ski. Get in the back seat, and they'll get hooky and take you for a bit of a ride. I didn't get a chance to ski them in fresh powder, but I'd imagine they would be passable, although probably not my first choice given how stiff and cambered they are.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on February 24, 2019

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 165 lbs

A super fun and practical piece for resort riding in inclement weather be it deep powder, super cold days, gale force winds, storm days, or anything else mother nature can throw at you. The one piece design is extremely comfortable and really helps keep in warmth and eliminate any gaps where wind or snow might get in. Your friends will never, ever, have trouble finding you in the lift line, either.

This thing has it all - pockets galore in all the right places, helmet compatible hood, burly zippers, padded back for cold chairlifts, bomber waterproof breathable fabric, built in gaiters. Take every feature you'd expect in a pair of premium snow pants and a high end jacket and put them all together and you've got this one piece. Pair it with a one-piece long underwear like a Ninja Suit and you'll be in one piece heaven.

I wear a medium in most ski pants and jackets, and wore a medium in this. I'm 5'11" and about 170lbs. It fit with plenty of room and range of motion in all the important areas. The fit is loose, bordering on baggy by design.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on February 24, 2019

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Skied these two days at Sun Valley in packed power/hardpack conditions, with 4" of new snow on top the second day. I'm about 170lbs and was skiing the 180.

In two words, I'd sum them up as snappy and light. I came away thinking they would be an excellent daily-driver for many skiers, regardless of which coast they reside on. They are a pretty easy-going ski, most at home at medium speeds making small to medium radius turns. Edge hold is impeccable - they simply don't wash out if you aren't trying to make them do so, and I think they would fare quite well on east coast ice. They're quite playful if you stay on top of them with lots of rebound between turns and a low swing weight due to the lowe overall weight. They're also an excellent bump ski for being 99mm wide, and I quickly found myself seeking out bump runs and hopping in and out of bumped up areas on the edges of trails.

What they ain't: a dedicated powder ski (too stiff and traditionally shaped), a beginner's ski (they don't wake up until you hit a certain speed - dull at low speeds) or a Mach-10 GS turn through anything regardless of snow conditions ski (not quite substantial enough to really charge).

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on February 12, 2019

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

These are a necessity for ski-mountaineering any time of the year and for general touring in late winter and spring when sunny slopes are crusted early in the morning. Huge increase in both efficiency and safety while skinning icy slopes. As they only weigh a couple ounces, throwing a pair of these in your pack is a no-brainer!

One tip - you can use a crampon that's quite a bit wider than your ski with no real downsides performance-wise, so buy one to fit the widest ski in your quiver, and you should have no issues using it on your narrower skis.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on January 30, 2019

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 165 lbs
Size Purchased: medium

A well-designed skiing and mountaineering soft shell. The fit is great and allows for full range of motion without lifting or bunching. Construction is quite burly and should stand up to encounters with sharp rocks and branches. I love the cinch-down system on the helmet compatible hood that keeps it secure on the ski down. The wind resistance is excellent, and while it's not waterproof by any means, it has done a good job shedding dry Utah snowfall.

For me personally, the jacket is a little thicker than I want for ski touring - it's too heavy for me to wear on the skin up without sweating, so I have to take it off, and for me the whole point of a softshell is to throw it on and leave it on all day. For that, I really love another jacket from Outdoor Research - the Ferrosi.

If you move at a slower pace and/or run cold, this would probably be the ticket, however!

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on January 24, 2019

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

An excellent sub 1-kilo offering with reasonable downhill capability for those that like to move fast and put in big days.

The design of the boot is simple and eye-catching, especially the BOA system on the brass rollers. I can't say if these make much of a difference over a traditional BOA, but they certainly look cool. The ski-walk mechanism and the single top buckle are both solid well-machined aluminum. With both unlatched, the range of motion is insane (I can drive my manual transmission car in them). The simple design of the boot limits the amount of failure points on the boot over some of the more complex offerings from the competition, and would make field repairs easier to figure out in the case of a failure far from civilization.

These boots fit me wonderfully right out of the box. The liner is quite thin and dense so I didn't bother to mold it, and it seemed to have molded/packed out to my foot shape after a few days in them. While the last isn't exceptionally wide at 100mm, they have quite a bit of volume in the forefoot and arch area of the boot compared to similar offerings from Dynafit like the TLT series or Scarpa like the F1 (both of which I have tried and not had much luck with). After plenty of 6-8k vert days, I've yet to have any major issues with blisters, hot spots, or foot pain.

The Palau liners are light and thin but surprisingly warm, and seem to be very well made. After ~30 days skiing in these boots, the liners are not showing any unusual signs of wear. They do have eyelets to lace them, but I haven't found the need to lace them up. The back of the liner has a place to attach an included velcro-on spoiler, which I have found helps a lot with the stance and fit in the calf area.

For real-world backcountry use, the downhill performance is quite adequate. I certainly don't forget that I'm skiing a feather weight boot, but I don't feel held back by it either. An experienced skier should be able to ski (although perhaps not exactly charge) on just about any terrain or snow condition on these boots. Like most tongue-less boots, the flex is not progressive and they ski best if you keep your weight relatively centered vs. really driving the cuff. They're nice and stiff until you hit a certain point, then they just fold over. In real world backcountry ski conditions I don't find this to be much of a problem. It would be more of an issue resort skiing in choppy conditions, which I definitely wouldn't recommend these boots for.

In summary - a light, warm, and comfortable boot that you can spend all day running around in the mountains in and confidently make it down anything you end up on top of. Light is right!

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on December 26, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I've never paid much attention to the specs on headlamps. Always just grabbed the cheapest one on the rack and used it til I lost it or destroyed it. Recently I've found myself doing more pre-dawn or post-sunset adventures and decided to try something a little more substantial.

I've been really surprised on how much of a difference the extra ~100 lumens of this light makes over your standard 2 AAA lamp that usually clocks in at around 200 lumens. For example, it's enough to change a backcountry ski run in the dark from an exercise in survival to something that's actually enjoyable.

While this is a slightly larger and heavier light, having the battery pack and the lamp separated out distributes the weight evenly and I haven't had any issues with the light bouncing or slipping. I've only used this for dawn/dusk patrols on skis, but I think it would work just fine for running as well.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on December 26, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This helmet is insanely light and breathable. It literally feels like you're not wearing a helmet at all. Don't worry though, it looks absolutely ridiculous, so all your buddies will remind you that you're wearing it as you hear them snickering at you behind your back.

This is a great helmet that you can bring along with you on long adventures in the mountains when you need a helmet for parts of the day, but not all of it, and don't want to carry something that will weigh you down.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on December 26, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I tested these for a full day inbounds, including several boot packs.

These boots strike an excellent balance between weight, comfort, and downhill performance. The stated flex of 125 feels accurate, and is quite progressive. The wide 103.5mm last didn't feel sloppy, but had plenty of room to keep my feet comfortable all day. The liners seem to be high quality and are quite substantial feeling (although not heavy) for a touring liner. My feet tend to run cold, but they were toasty warm in these all day.

The skiing performance of these boots is truly impressive. They felt just like an alpine boot on the downhill. I didn't feel like I needed to hold back at all or adapt my style because I was skiing a touring boot. Having tried dozens of touring boots over the years, that's a rarity, and even more so for a boot that only weighs ~3lbs.

In walk mode they have a decent range of motion. Being a four buckle boot with a traditional tongue, they don't have much forward flex like the two buckle tongue-less boots that have hit the market in recent seasons, but you do get quite a bit of rearward flexibility which really helps with a natural stride. It's easy to flip the walk mode switch and I like the simple but effective dual-locking mechanism.

I would recommend these to folks that like to ski fast and/or in committing technical terrain in the backcountry and don't want to be held back by their boots. They'd also work well if you are primarily a backcountry skier, but want something that can be pressed into service on the odd lift serviced day (if you're using alpine bindings - just make sure they support a fully rockered, rubber AT sole - the Tyorlia AAATack 14 is a good option that does).

Final note - the 103.5mm last is one of the widest on the market. Great for folks with wide feet or lots of weird bunions from years spent in ill-fitting boots. Those with very narrow feet might want to look elsewhere.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on December 26, 2018

4 5

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

I tested these for a full day at Powder Mountain in Utah. Conditions included groomers, consolidated snow with 4-6" of fresh snow on top, wind scoured areas, and some deep untracked powder that was quite heavy due to temps near freezing. I am around 170lbs and was skiing the 182. This length felt just about perfect.

Overall I found these to be a great all mountain ski for the rocky mountains. They have a nice round feeling medium flex with a rockered tip on the softer side. They're stiff enough to handle high speeds and variable snow, but not so stiff that they're unmanageable in tight spaces and at slower speeds. They're also surprisingly damp for a reasonably light ski. They have excellent torsional rigidity and really rail turns on groomers and other firm surfaces.

In unconsolidated snow, the ample tip rocker and softer flex in the shovel made the skis plane well. Even in dense snow that was starting to get damp, they were not difficult to control. I did find them to prefer big sweeping turns - they were a bit hooky when trying to make smaller turns due to the tail design.

Overall I found these to be a great well rounded ski. For a western skier, I'd place these in the "quiver of one/anything but a storm day" category, rather than the dedicated powder ski category. They'd also be a very reasonable fat ski to own for an east coaster that makes occasional trips to snowier locales, as they perform very well on hard snow for a wide ski.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on December 13, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I have been closely watching the development and testing of the Alpride E1 system for the last couple of seasons and eagerly awaiting its arrival in the US. I've always loved the fit and function of Black Diamond's ski packs, so I was stoked to hear that they had partnered with Alpride this season to get the E1 system into their lineup.

The E1 system is nothing short of an engineering marvel in my opinion. The initial charge of the fully discharged capacitors takes about 45 minutes, after which a pair of regular AA batteries maintains the charge level for several weeks. The engine for the system is quite small - about the size of a 28oz can of tomatoes - and contained in a tidy little hard-sided zippered pouch in the main compartment of the pack. This means that this 26L pack has almost as much usable space as my old 32L cannister-based system.

The user interface is reassuringly straightforward. A dual action (pull and twist) switch arms the pack, it beeps at you a couple times to indicate you're ready to rip, and a strip of LEDs that is visible from the outside of the pack continuously blinks to indicate you're still fully charged. Basically - it just works. Turn it on at the car and forget about it all day just like a compressed air bag.

The one test deployment I have done went as expected, with the airbag inflating in a similar amount of time to my compressed air pack. Note that this system does not have an automatic deflation feature like BD's in-house designed Li-Ion powered JetForce system. Not a huge concern for me as my compressed air pack didn't do that either, but some folks really like the idea of having the bag deflate in a full burial situation to have a little more of a breathing pocket - I'll let you do your own research and decide how important this is to you.

The fit and design of the pack will be familiar to anyone that has used any of Black Diamond's ski packs in the last decade. Pleasingly minimalist yet fully featured. You get an avy gear pocket, a large main pouch, a top pouch, an internal pouch, the ever-useful snack pouch on the hip belt, a stow-away helmet carry bra, as well as horizontal ski carry and ice-axe carry. The suspension design carries weight well and does a good job virtually eliminating any bouncing or movement of the pack while skiing.

If you are a believer in the life-saving potential of airbag packs, want a lightweight and streamlined pack that won't slow you down on big days, and want to ditch compressed air and move to an electric airbag for hassle-free practice deployments and travel, this is the bag you need!

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on November 25, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs large
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 165 lbs
Size Purchased: Medium

These are quite a bit nicer and more substantial than I expected for the price. The upper part is a stretchy, highly breathable material, the lowers are a wind-resistant softshell, and the inside of each cuff has rugged cordura-like material to protect against crampons and ski edges. Pockets all have beefy YKK zippers, and there's also one you can unzip to expand the leg opening for extra room to fit over big ski/mountaineering boots.

The sizing as listed on Backcountry is the "American" sizing - so, if you order a Medium, you're getting a "European Large." As such, they actually fit a little on the large sizes. I ordered the Medium, and I have to cinch the waist down quite a bit. Consider sizing down if you are between sizes. They fit well other than that, with a slim but not at all tight or restricting fit.

They are thick enough and windproof enough to wear with no base layer, and a soft fleece backing throughout makes it comfortable to do so. I have been quite comfortable wearing these for ski tours in mild temperatures (20 +) with no base layer and. The breathability is top notch as well. No issues with sweating them out so far even during really hard efforts. These will be my new go-to for fair weather ski touring in the dry, sunny, Wasatch range.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on November 21, 2018

3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I bought these glasses because they're on of the only pairs of performance sport sunglasses on the market that accept a prescription adapter (the Smith ODS3). If you have bad eyes but can't or prefer not to wear contact lenses, these are a good option for wrap around sport glasses that will take a prescription insert. They wouldn't be my first choice other than that, but they're certainly not a bad pair of glasses - just not a great one.

The optics and lens tint options are excellent as I've come to expect from Smith. It's the rest of the package that's just not that inspired.
First off, for a pair of glasses that's supposed to be oversize, they're just not that big. I have a big head and they fit, but they're honestly right on the threshold of what I'd consider too small both fit and coverage wise for sport sunglasses. A little more coverage would be nice for wind protection and to reduce glare.

They are extremely light, but perhaps at the cost of feeling a little bit cheap/fragile overall. The Pivlock system is perfectly functional, but feels like it will break in the long run. The arms feel pretty chintzy too. The plastic has quite a bit of flex so they ought to hold up fine through some abuse, but definitely don't feel super high end.

The fit is a mixed bag. I have a pretty average width nose and have never had issues with that aspect of fit on sunglasses, but the nose piece on these is way too narrow for me so they sit a little bit strange. At first I didn't think they would work at all because the fit on the bridge of my nose was so bad, but because they're super light and have very grippy rubber on the nose piece and the arms, they stay on just fine and are pretty comfortable for extended wear.

Overall - acceptable. It's nice to be able to swap lenses depending on conditions and the optics are great, but the rest of the package is pretty uninspired. I've stuck with them so I can use my prescription insert. If it weren't for that, I'd probably look for another option.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on November 21, 2018

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I bought this mug because I realized all of my travel mugs were 20+ oz and while I can certainly drink that much coffee, I've realized it's not always the best life decision.

This little guy is the perfect size for a quick cup on the way up the canyon for a dawn patrol when I don't want to get completely over-caffeinated. It keeps my coffee plenty hot til I finish it and the lid fits securely for sipping while driving.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on November 15, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I used this on a week long road trip this fall and it was super handy! Way better than the gas powered Coleman lantern I grew up using on family camping trips.

I was a little skeptical at first as I've always just used head lamps camping, but this produces a nice bright but diffused light that really lights up a whole area. As a bonus, you also don't have to worry about blinding your companions.. It was a great source of light for everything from hitching and unhitching our trailer to walking the dog.

We used it daily and never came close to running out of battery, so I can't say I tried the hand crank charging out, but it's nice to know the option is there.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on November 15, 2018

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This little panel puts out plenty of juice to charge small electronics like cell phones and cameras. It's rugged and feels like it will stand up to quite a bit of abuse. It's a bit too big for backpacking in my opinion, but is a great size to stash in the car for off-grid desert camping or for yurt trips and river trips.

Note that this panel doesn't have an integrated battery pack, so it will only charge when it's in the sun. I'd recommend pairing this with a small battery pack so you can store the energy you collect from the sun and charge your devices at night while you're sleeping.

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Dana Holmes

Dana Holmeswrote a review of on November 15, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 165 lbs

Lots to like about this trailer, starting with the ease of setup and attachment. Simply remove your rear QR skewer and install the one included with the trailer, and you're ready to go. Mounts for other axle types (thru axle, etc.) are also available separately. The trailer simply drops on to the ball mounts on the special thru axle, then squeezing a lever allows you to easily lift it off. The whole system is nothing short of an engineering marvel, especially compared to may of the clunky and inelegant trailer attachment systems I've seen from other manufacturers.

On the road, the trailer pulls straight and easy. I quickly got used to the extra length and slight change to my bike's center of gravity and had no problem navigating my normal commute to work, which is a mix of bike paths, dirt paths, busy streets, and sidewalks. The suspension really helps keep the trailer pulling smoothly on rough surfaces.

The kick stand is great! Super burly and strong enough to hold up a loaded down trailer and the bike you have attached to it. Overall, a great and well designed trailer for turning any bike into a cargo bike or a touring bike.

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