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Erik K.

Erik K.

SLC

Erik K.'s Passions

Hiking & Camping
Snowboarding
Running
Biking
Skiing

Erik K.'s Bio

The backcountry is constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy. Loving the Wasatch!

Erik K.

Erik K.wrote a review of on November 27, 2017

Upgrade from my 1999 Burton AK 20L
4 5

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

I still tour in the Wasatch with my 1999 version of this pack and it works really well, so I bought the 2017 Burton AK Incline 20L because I wanted to. I didn't need to. The initial differences -- time will tell if they're improvements or just differences -- are several: The base material is ripstop, just like my old one. But the 2017 has a thin, rubberized coating that may make the pack more water resistant. The 2017 has two main compartments, one for touring and avy gear and another for everything else. I got creative with my 1999 that has only one big compartment, using the hydro sleeve to store my skins and the slot in the back panel where the removable reinforcement sheet goes to store my probe and shovel handle. The 2017 waistband is padded and has small zipper pockets on both sides, whereas my 1999 was merely webbing. Last of the major differences, but not least, is the "trampoline" back panel on the 2017, which creates an air space between the mesh that will contact my back and the pack, itself. I'm stoked about this feature more than any other, because the one part of my touring set up that isn't nearly perfect is a sweat-soaked back. It seems this feature may make a big difference. But I haven't taken the Burton 2017 Incline 20L backpack out for a tour, yet, mainly because there is no friggin' snow. So, I suppose when there finally is and I give it a few trials I will update my review to clarify which features are "dope" and which features are "nope."

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UPDATE: Well, that was quick ... it's later the same day I wrote the initial review. All the usual kit I have packed into my 1999 AK pack for an ordinary day tour many dozens of times will not fit in the 2017 AK Incline, not even close. So, despite all the cool features on the 2017 I'm still going with my trusty old '99er.

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Erik K.

Erik K.wrote a review of on May 5, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Note: these are now called Nuun Active.

I take them with me when I'm backcountry skiing or mtb'ing or hiking in the summer, i.e. situations where I'll be working hard and sweating lots for hours and hours. Otherwise, these or any electrolyte supplement are unnecessary, you won't need to replace electrolytes because you haven't run out of them.

The nutrient composition of Nuun electrolyte tablets is comparable to other performance brands like Skratch, meaning that there're enough electrolytes, particularly sodium, to really help restore a dehydrated body. Read and understand your labels because many "hydration" products are crap. Nuun is good, though.

Nice things about Nuun electrolytes is that they're pressed tablets that can be packed individually. I usually wrap one in plastic and tape it to the side of my water bottle. They're also easy to handle with gloves on, unlike powder or some pills.

I tried adding a tablet to my water before I took off on an outing, but it seemed to spoil. So, instead I've learned to add the tablet 5 minutes or so before I need it. It takes about that time to dissolve. It works just like Rolaids or whatever that antacid is that fizzes when you drop it in water. For that reason, you need to leave some empty space in your water bag or leave the lid off you water bottle so the gas has somewhere to expand, or you could get sprayed as if you opened a beer that was dropped.

I got the tropical fruit flavor. It's nice because it's not too sweet and there a few flavors in the tropical mix that keep it appealing. And the effervescence gives some carbonation to the drink, which makes it refreshing, like when you glug some soda and say "Ahhhh" afterwards.

All in all, I think Nuun Active electrolyte tablets are one of several quality options on the market. I happen to like the tablet form and the tropical flavor, so I'm sticking with Nuun.

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Erik K.

Erik K.wrote a review of on May 4, 2016

Horrible Set-Up
1 5

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

As "they" say, people are usually more motivated to write reviews of negative experiences than positive ones. So, here goes . . .

I'm a strong dude, not an Olympic power lifter, but I can do a lot of dead arm pull ups and setting this thing up was a pain in the ass.

First, it came with no instructions. I'm still trying to figure out how the sun shade attaches. I'm sure this is all easy after doing it a time or two. But out of the box set up instructions are helpful, which is why instructions are typically included with a product that requires some assembly.

Second, the effort required to stretch the fabric so the poles reach the holes at the corners is absurd. No way could my mom or my girlfriend do it. And I had to curse a couple times to coax the fabric to reach.

Okay, I'm done venting now. I'll update the review after I've used the product, if I don't return in out of principle.

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Erik K.

Erik K.wrote a review of on May 3, 2016

Premium towel
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs large
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 170 lbs

I went down the rabbit hole shopping for these towels (I bought two). Apparently, not all cotton is created equal. I wrote to Pendleton, after reading about fibre staple length and how it translates into softness, absorbency and durability. These towels are made from long staple cotton fibers, which means they're legitimately premium quality. Anyone can call their product premium, but Pendleton actually told the truth.

Weird thing about these towels: you have to wash them at least three of four times before use, otherwise, when you're drying your naked body off tons of cotton fuzz will rub off on you and it will make you look like you have purple body hair, which depending on the person could be attractive. Still, I've never had that occur with a towel before.

Also odd, even though these are 100% cotton, Pendleton says to dry them on the low setting, whereas usually cotton is dried on medium or high. I suppose that simply makes them last a lot longer, because using the high heat setting degrades fibers and fabrics relatively quickly.

The size of these towels is enormous. Not very travel friendly for that reason; they don't pack down well. But on the upside, you can dry yourself and your significant other simultaneously, kind of like snuggling with the towel between you two, or three, if that's how you roll.

Overall, once you wash out the lint these towels will be everyones' favourites. They're big and soft and absorbent and the colors and designs are attractive. Pendleton just makes good products.

Photo of the "long staple" cotton fibers that make these towels so dank

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Erik K.

Erik K.wrote a review of on May 3, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 170 lbs
Size Purchased: Medium

Got these since I can't find my TNF versions for sale anymore.

The fabric has some texture to it; it's not totally smooth as are my TNFs. Not sure that matters, but FYI.

I plan on eventually cutting out the swim suit liner because eventually I'll find a situation where the hem on the liner chaffs. I've worn these on an 8 miles run on the mulch track in Liberty Park and had no chaffing issues, so may be I won't have to cut out the liner. But you can't wear anything but tidy whities underneath.

I wish one of the hand pockets zippered, like my TNFs. But the pockets are relatively deep, so keys and pepper spray and gummy bears don't fall out.

The adjustable waist string is a nice option, but not critical.

Overall, I prefer my TNF version of these, but since I can't get them anymore, I'll wear these til I wear them out. Then I might look at other brands' offerings. Still, a very well designed and made item, just not quite the same as my beloved TNFs.

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Erik K.

Erik K.wrote a review of on May 3, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I already had a Therm-a-Rest compressible pillow and this one is waaay nicer.

The addition of memory foam over the air bladder is clutch. So comfy, just the right squish. And because the air bladder can obviously be adjusted to various firmnesses, if that's even a word, this pillow will satisfy all pillow preferences and circumstances. I would be a great airplane pillow. I've only used it car camping, so far.

The micro fleece cover feels like my Sea to Summit camp towel. It's smooth, so it's cool when it's hot out. But because it's fleece it never feels cold, even on chilly nights. Apparently it's removable and washable, too, which is nice for me because I slobber in my sleep so much Homer Simpson has nothing on me. Interestingly, I slobber more when I'm dreaming that someone is chasing me. I must have been a bloodhound in a past life, but I digress.

The pillow deflates and rolls up nicely, but the internal stuff sack is shit ... way too small. F'n frustrating.

The zig-zag bungee on the back side is for stuffing clothes so you can adjust the thickness of the pillow. I haven't found that feature useful, yet, but there's no downside to it, as far as I can see. Plus, the cord can be removed if you need an impromptu bow string for your crossbow. Okay, I'll stop.

The Nemo Fillo Lux pillow is pretty lux. Nicest camp pillow I've come across. So long as the air bladder doesn't get punctured, this thing will be a very faithful camping companion.

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Erik K.

Erik K.wrote a review of on May 3, 2016

Ingenious
4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

If you're looking to have the new gadget that everyone wants, too, buy one or more of these.

I wouldn't buy the other camp light made by Lumin Aid because it projects only white light, whereas the Spectra has numerous colors and a rotating color mode, which blows minds like that new puppy-monkey-baby Mountain Dew commercial. Each color sets a different mood in the camp: green is nice if you're going for a spec-ops military vibe. Red reminds me of the opium dens I used to frequent in Indo-China. Cool blue makes me feel like I'm inside a box of breath mints. Purple puts the ladies in the mood. Etc.

The lantern charges quickly in scattered sun and lasts one long night before needing a recharge. I wouldn't make this, or any solar powered light my only light, but this is more of a useful novelty item; it will never replace a headlamp. It's really not very bright and doesn't project over much area.

The packability is uber clever. The hard top contains the solar cell and the LEDs, then there's a rubbery, plastic bag, essentially, that has a pool toy valve you use to inflate the globe so the lantern takes on its cube shape. Unfortunately, the valve doesn't recess or sit flush with the bottom, so there's a little wobble. When you're packing up, the globe deflates, then collapses into the top with a quarter twist. The handle strap wraps around to keep it compressed. Pretty neat. Also, the strap has three studs to adjust it's size. I found the strap convenient for hanging the lantern from a tent ceiling gear loft or a bungee running from the ceiling handles in the back of my 4Runner. Not sure why you'd need three adjustment studs, because they change the strap length by only a few centimeters.

Overall, the Lumin Aid Spectra lantern is a very clever design, offers several features you'll enjoy, and will seemingly last for a very long time. Plus, it's a good ice-breaker conversation topic the girls in the camp next door will use when they really are interested in getting to know you. Then, turn on the purple light and the rest is easy.

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Erik K.

Erik K.wrote a review of on May 3, 2016

Hella Convenient
4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This is my first packable table. So, I can't make a direct comparison to another similar product.

Not sure why they call this "roll up" because nothing rolls. The top does a sort of accordion fold, and in a way so do the legs. So, it would be more accurate to call it the Crazy Legs Fold Up table, IMO.

There are three parts to this table: the legs, the struts that attach the top to the legs, and the top. Perhaps, the storage bag could be a fourth part, because without it packing this thing would be irritating.

When I was car camping in Zion I found the struts and legs to be optional. I just laid the top on a Rubbermaid tub and voila! But the tub was the right height for the chairs we had. The adjustable height of the legs is a nice feature because I tend to be 6' tall when standing, unless I've got my stilts on, but I'm only about 4 1/2" tall when I'm sitting. Go figure. Also, each leg length can be adjusted independent of the others, which could come in handy if you're building a beer-a-mid on uneven terrain.

On the flip size, I could see the legs and struts breaking. They're seemingly made of thinnish aluminum, which saves weight at the expense of durability. If you inadvertently stepped on one of those pieces it could fail at various points, me thinks, but that's just hypothetical. Still, I'd be mindful of it. Likewise, there's some kind of spring or elasticized cord inside the leg tubing that automatically retracts the legs when the flip locks are open. I could see that failing internally after lots of use.

Otherwise, the Crazy Creek Crazy Legs table is a pretty light, versatile, packable piece of gear that will probably be invited on every car camping trip from here on out.

Photo shows that the table top folds up, doesn't roll up as the name suggests. See also the clip where the struts attach to the table top (black C-shaped thingy). If you broke this you'd be screwed.

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Erik K.

Erik K.wrote a review of on May 3, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Snow Peak is kind of like the Arcteryx of camp kitchens. You overpay, and usually feel like it was worthwhile.

$10 for a spork? What's $10 these days ... not much. So, I got a purple one and a green one.

The finish is kind of like a powder coat texture; there's a little grit to it. The size is is more tea spoon than table spoon. If there was a bigger size I'd have gotten it over this size because I eat lots and like to put max food in my pie hole, and I'm super lazy, so I don't want to have to raise my arm any more than absolutely necessary. The tines are appropriately sized, but you couldn't stab very far into a piece of sous vide muskrat that you caught in your deadfall trap. So, I think it's more spoon than fork, but that point could be argued til the end of time. The weight is so minuscule that when I put a spork on a digi scale the read-out went negative. The hole in the handle could be useful if you want to put a loop of cord through it. Not sure why you'd want to do that, but still.

The Snow Peak spork gets 4 of 5 stars because I'd like to see a larger size with longer tines.

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Erik K.

Erik K.wrote a review of on February 28, 2016

Polartec Alpha is incredible stuff!
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 170 lbs
Size Purchased: Medium

Gear junkie always looking for something better. Since it's currently winter, ski gear has been on my mind.

Been trying to optimize my layering system for ski touring. I was intrigued by the claims that Polartec Alpha insulation provides puffy-type warmth for weight and breathes like a champ, i.e. it will dry quicker than virtually anything when soaked through. I tried on the Outdoor Research offering in this category and some other brand's that I can't remember, but I didn't like the fit, feel or price of either.

I tend to score with Norrona, and the Lofoten Alpha has been as good for me as any of their products. I'm 6' 170#, athletic build. The medium fits perfect. Not snug, but not baggy. Sleeves hit at the top of the thumb. Hem is slightly below the hips. Collar, when zipped up, rises above my mouth and below my nose.

BTW, I have the blue and it's not the same shade as the powder blue shown on this web page. Mine is a pretty true royal blue. I had a color discrepancy with another Norrona jacket last year -- tomato red versus apple red. Buyer beware.

The exterior fabric feels like tissue paper. I'm sure it'd rip on sharp rock or branches. I would not wear this as a outer layer if i was expecting to encounter anything sharp or abrasive. The interior lining is mesh throughout, which floats over the Alpha insulation. The cuffs are snug, but not tight. The pocket zippers are small and sensitive and are the type that snag. The center zipper is smooth sliding and normal size. There are no interior pockets. There's a tiny loop below the hood on the exterior to hang the jacket. No other features. Pretty minimalist piece. The jacket is ultralight and packs up tiny.

I wore the Lofoten Alpha touring in the Wasatch backcountry a few days ago for a first serious aerobic test. I wore it over a North Face flash dry t shirt, and for the first few ascents I had my shell lashed to my backpack. It was sunny and warm on south faces and I kept the jacket on to test the quick drying claims, when I typically would've gone down to just the t shirt. By the time I'd topped out, I had soaked it through in the body and the arms. The Lofoton Alpha jacket was completely dry after a short (500') descent, plus the time to switch back over to skinning. As I moved onto higher and shady north ridges and faces the jacket kept me warm, including when the wind was howling from the other side. After putting on my Gore Tex Pro shell for the first significant descent, I kept it on for the rest of the tour. Even with the far less breathable Gore Tex over top, the Lofoton Alpha still breathed unbelievably well and kept my dry at seemingly all times other than when I was really pushing hard and working up a major sweat.

I've never experienced such fast drying time in a fabric of any kind before. I kept thinking that only bare skin dries faster after working up a lather. My previous favorite insulating fabric, Polartec PowerStretch Pro, is great, but pales in comparison to Alpha for warmth relative to dry time. While PowerStretch stays warm when completely soaked through, it takes a bit of time to start drying and a long time to get bone dry. Alpha also has reasonable wind-blocking properties; certainly far better than Polartec PowerStrech, which doesn't block much wind at all.

The Lofoton Alpha jacket is my new favorite layer for aerobic activity in cold environments. In terms of how fast it dries, how warm it is for its weight, and how light it is, I am amazed by Polartec Alpha insulation and how Norrona worked it into the Lofoton jacket.

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Erik K.

Erik K.wrote a review of on January 24, 2016

2 5

I prefer 3/4 length thermal bottoms for ski and snowboard purposes. I've scored with most Norrona clothes, but not these. While the fabric is soft and mid-weight, it bunches up in the crotch area whenever hiking. I find myself opening the side zips on my shell pants and readjusting them way to often to gives these a good rating.

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Erik K.

Erik K.wrote a review of on January 5, 2016

2 5

Fit is the same for both the insulated and non insulated types: snug. But the design does not seal all the way around. So, if you've got a 3/4 full glass and you move quickly the liquid will splash out. If you tip it it will definitely spill. It's not much of a lid.

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Erik K.

Erik K.wrote a review of on December 14, 2015

4 5

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

The Trollveggen fits its description; it's the most durable GoreTex put into a shell designed and built for hard work in the mountains. No bells or whistles, although not lacking in functional features, except one: wrist gaiters. Maybe another, a powder skirt, which matters alot to some but not much to me since I wear bibs and the jacket has hem and waist draw cords, but I digress.

IMO, wrist gaiters should be a standard feature on a top of the line shell. While the cuff velcro-type closure on the Trollveggen wraps the wrist way tighter than any other shell i've owned, it's still not as good a barrier against snow as wrist gaiters. Consequently, when I want to be sure I won't get wet from the cuff up I wear my Black Diamond Guide gloves which have a gauntlet. I'd prefer to wear my Mountain Hardwear Compulsion gloves with the under cuff wrist, so that's irritating.

Other than my wrist gaiter complaint, the Trollveggen so far meets my expectations, which basically match up with Norrona's description of the jacket.

PS I bought the Trollveggen to replace the Norrona Lyngen DriFlex3. The Lyngen was better than GoreTex for me for most activities but the zippers are not waterproof. Got soaked to the skin while canyoneering during a flash flood type rain squall in the Swell. The Trollveggen is the only Norrona jacket with waterproof zippers. All other Norrona jackets advertised as "waterproof" are not, like most brands waterproof jackets that don't have waterproof zippers. Buyer beware or read the zipper tech specs like I didn't!

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Erik K.

Erik K.wrote a review of on December 7, 2015

Strictly for deep pow & big turns
4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I bought a whole new set up this summer. These MTN Labs were called QLab BCs when I bought 'em. Apparently, they're the same ski in every way, but the branding. I put the Marker Kingpin 13s on them and added Technica Cochise 120s with the aim of having a reasonably light set up that I could tour with all day, yet ride as hard as my body will permit me, and maybe beyond what my ability allows.

I've toured only four days so far, all in the upper Cottonwoods.

On the skinner, these skis are light for their size. I notice the low weight in the honeycomb tips when switching back on a steep track. Skins clip in well to the tail slot, but not really any better than my Volkls that didn't have a tail slot for skin tabs. I think the G-Spot technology for better edge hold while traversing in tour mode isn't noticeable, so far. This morning, the slick skinner accessing Grizzly Gulch sucked as much as doing in in my old skis. I haven't had to do jump turns, yet, so I can't comment on how the G-Spot works there.

On the downhill, these skis want to fly! No question, you can make tight turns with 'em, but they want to make small arcs big and big arcs into straight lines. It's like the feeling of driving slow in a truck with a big engine or a fast car; you just want to gun it! I can't wait for more snow to fill in the rocks so I can access some of the bigger faces in the Wasatch. I'll update the review then.


END OF SEASON UPDATE:
I've put around 50 days in the Wasatch backcountry on these this winter. Most of those days were pow days. In deep pow, you can ride anything and it'll feel great, and so did these. Beyond trackless pow, these skis make you work to turn 'em. Apparently, this is because they've got very little side cut. They absolutely wanna make small turns into big ones, and big turns into straight lines. But unless you're bombing Alaska lines these aren't going to be the best skis for you.

The flat tails grab in crusty or damp/thick snow, making the second half of the turn tiresome.

The skin hook cut-outs in the tails make no difference in keeping skins attached. To the contrary, the flat tails get in the way on really steep kick-turns; I've kicked off the tail hook of the skin on one ski with the other ski multiple times. I didn't have this issue last year with my Volkls that had twin tips.

The ski is sort of durable. I hit a submerged rock right under the binding, which dented the edge and cracked the laminate apart, The ski shop tech said they're unfixable, and eventually moisture would compromise the core and ruin the ski. I've been riding with that damaged edge on the outside, so I don't risk hooking it on another rock and ripping the edge out. Maybe I the rock damage is right in the ski's Achilles' heel. But I've never had this happen on any ski or snowboard I've owned, and I've damaged several of those.

All in all, this ski rips, but it doesn't like much of anything except huge, super fast turns. May not be the most durable ski out there.

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