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Kirk W

Prescott, AZ

Kirk W's Bio

Kirk W's Passions

  • Hiking & Camping,
  • Running,
  • Biking,
  • Snowshoeing,
  • Skiing,
  • Climbing.
Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on October 16, 2019

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This is a great climbing shoe. There's nothing I can add that hasn't already been said - EXCEPT my experience with sizing. So here's what fits my feet:

Katana Lace - 45.0 for all day comfort. I tried a 44.5 for a more technical fit but they destroyed my toes during break in. If I was climbing radical stuff I'd have stuck with the 44.5
TC Pro - 44.5
Mythos - 44.0
Scarpa Helix - 45.0 (used in the gym)
Brooks, Asics running shoes - US12
La Sportiva Ultra Raptor - 46.0
La Sportiva TX3 approach shoes - 45.5

For what it's worth... hope this helps.

(3)

 

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on September 2, 2019

3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 175 lbs
Size Purchased: 12


Granted I'm pretty rough on these shoes. I've used a pair of the original Sawtooths and then the Sawtooth II for longer distance backpacking days in both desert and alpine environments. Both versions offer a supportive mid-sole, sufficient stiffness to protect from rough trail obstacles, a real-life footbed, and a roomy toe box. My issues with the original Sawtooth included separation of the toe bumper and an upper that was not very breathable and durable. They pretty much looked trashed after less than 100 trail miles.

I had high hopes for the II's, and the ills of the original version were somewhat addressed. The stable platform was retained, and the upper is now more durable and breathable. Unfortunately the toe bumper separation issue was not addressed (enter shoe gu), and a new problem has arisen. The linings of both heels have developed holes, possibly due to an underlying seam. I had no blister issues with the originals, but the II's have inspired me to break out the duct tape and blister patches.

Perhaps they weren't designed for my application. If you're a casual day hiker they might be your ticket (I prefer trail runners for day adventures). As far as a backpacking shoe, I'll be exploring other options.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on September 2, 2019

So close ...
3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs small
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 175 lbs
Size Purchased: 46

For years I've run, hiked, backpacked, and scrambled in the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor. I found them supportive, versatile, and comfortable with one exception. I've lost a few toenails, not due to sizing too small but because of irritation from the rubber overplate which folds over the toebox. As a replacement I've tried the Wildcat (high on volume and low on technical fit) and Akyra (weirdly narrow and pointy toe box), as well as various offerings from Salomon, Oboz, and Merrell (by far my least favorite). None worked as well as the Ultra Raptor.

Enter the Bushido II - it has a lot to offer. First the pluses: (1) a breathable, pliable, quicker-to dry upper, (2) no annoying fold-over rubber bumper to irritate the piggies, (3) a cushioned, comfortable ride, (4) an aggressive sticky rubber tread pattern, and (5) a look even my wife likes!

So what's not so great? The midsole is considerably softer, more flexible, and less supportive than that incorporated in the Ultra Raptor. This results in more trail "sensitivity", but that's not always a positive if you need the support. In addition, the tongue shares a problem with the Ultra Raptors in that it will not stay centered but rather migrates to the outside of each shoe (a worse problem on the Bushido than the Raptor). This can result in ankle irritation from the shoelace. At least the Utlra Raptor has shoe lace slots on the tongue to hold it somewhat in place (see photo). Come on Sportiva, this problem is easy to resolve.

For me, the five-star shoe would be the Bushido II upper on the Ultra Raptor platform with a stable tongue (La Sportiva - are you listening?). Until then I'll probably go back to the Ultra Raptor and ensure I'm wearing socks with no toe seam. The tongue-centering ankle thrashing problem with the Bushidos is a deal killer for me.

Sizing: I'm a men's US12 in Asics, Brooks, Nike, and such running shoes. A Bushido (and Ultra Raptor) 46 gives me the right fit.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on July 29, 2019

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I've used the Mutant 52 on two overnight climbs so far, the Cooper Spur on Mount Hood and the standard Rainier DC route. On both climbs the pack performed very well - it was just the right size for lightweight overnight gear plus the standard sharp stuff, is relatively light, carried very comfortable, is relatively weather-resistant, provided a stable carry, and was as comfortable as any pack I've used for climbing. I initially thought the helmet carry was a gimmick, but in practice it proved useful.

So why only four stars? I'd suggest Osprey consider a few modifications: (1) the dark blue color is not conducive to searching for gear in the pack (I prefer bright colors for a climbing pack), (2) the lid straps interfere somewhat with the ice axe handle attachments, and (3) removing the lid and using only the "flap jack" exposes the hydration hose exit hole to the heavens (I have no use for hydration bladder compatibility on an alpine climbing pack anyway, so removing it and plugging the hole would reduce the weight even further).

Would I buy it again? Probably because of the comfortable and stable carry. But it would be a no brainer if the suggestions listed above were incorporated.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on July 16, 2019

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

The Rab gaiters are lighter and more breathable than their OR counterpart, but what I really appreciate about them is the low-profile strap connection to the body of the gaiter. The OR versions tend to have a more protruding metal attachment that could easily catch a crampon.

The downside? The fabric is probably not as durable, but I believe as long as I keep my crampon points away from the fabric they'll last a few seasons. What more could I ask? I've retired my OR gaiters in favor of the Rabs.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on February 6, 2019

3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 175 lbs
Size Purchased: 12

I’ve moved from trail runners to the Oboz Sawtooth for my day hiking and backpacking shoes (I‘m on my third pair now). They offer my duck-shaped flat feet a higher volume toe box, good heel lock, great support, no blistering on my non-arch, and decent traction. The insole is particularly an asset – as good as many third-party add-ins. The fit is true to size.

So why the ehhh..? The durability of the Sawtooth is just plain awful. The toe rand on each pair has separated after about 20 miles (enter shoe goo), and by about 50-100 miles the upper looks worn out due to fraying of the multiple seams. I actually continue to use them beyond that point (looks can be deceiving – they’re still functional) but I expect more from a shoe designed for hiking. Also, the upper is not as breathable as that on my trail runners.

Still, I keep coming back…

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on January 18, 2019

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Being a little older than the average Backcountry customer, to me a good night’s sleep in the backcountry relies to a large extent on a comfortable sleeping pad. The BA Q-Core SLX Insulated is my pad of choice for warmer temperature backpacking trips. The 4 inch thickness comfortably accommodates my need to sleep on my side, the I-beam construction helps to keep me from rolling off sideways, and the air valves just plain work. Weighing in at a little over 18 oz (including stuff sack) on my scale, the Q-Core is not ultralight but I’ll take a couple of extra ounces for a good night’s sleep. The size regular works adequately for my 6’2” 175 lb frame (I don’t want the extra weight of the larger size). An added bonus – in my experience the noise factor is less than pads made by that other leading brand.

The downside (and it’s not insignificant) is that this pad sleeps cold in temperatures below maybe 35 degrees F. For a pad which is advertised as “insulated” this is a bit surprising. On colder nights I can actually feel the cold creeping up through this thing and sucking the warmth out of me. It's interesting BA doesn't provide an R-value rating for this pad, but the 15F temperature rating is misleading according to my experience ... hmmm...

The BA Q-Core is outstanding for warm weather adventures, and I highly recommend it if the 18 oz weight doesn’t put you off. Just don’t be fooled by the word “Insulated” in the description.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on January 18, 2019

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I use this for my day bag in a variety of applications (hiking, trail running, air travel, etc.), and it’s excellent for these purposes. The pack is minimalist (which to me is a positive) with a slightly padded waist belt and shoulder straps and a comfortable but minimal back panel. The pocket arrangement is typical of a small zip-top pack, the side mesh pockets easily hold my 27 oz water bottles, and the single waist belt pocket (yes, there’s only one – a minor gripe) is large enough to be functional and accessible. The pack carries well and holds the load close to my back. All in all, I’m very pleased with this pack and highly recommend it. The Mammut Speed 20 has relegated my Osprey Talon 22 to the closet (and perhaps soon the donation bin).

If you want a fully featured whiz-bang pack with a trampoline suspension, extensively padded shoulder straps and waist belt, Nalgene-size side pockets, and the weight that goes along with these features you should look elsewhere. But if a minimalist, lightweight pack which fits comfortably and functions well is what you need, look no further.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on November 29, 2018

3 5

Familiarity: I returned this product before using it

There's a lot to like about this pack: the manufacturing quality, pocket layout, ventilated back panel, comfortable hip belt, adjustable back panel length, and overall quality of the materials employed. So why three stars? I'm 6'2" (sort of tall) and when I adjusted the frame for my height it caused the junction of the shoulder straps and the back panel to dig into my shoulder blades. Life is just too short to hike around with blunt daggers in your back...

If you don't experience this issue I think you'll like this pack. Otherwise you just might be returning it as I did.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on November 29, 2018

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I use this rack to store two mountain bikes in my garage. It does the job - seems to be sturdy and stable, the cradles are coated so as to not scratch the bikes, it doesn't take up additional floor space other than the footprint of the bikes, and assembly was relatively easy.

So what's not great? (1) The hardware which mounts the arms could be better quality. While I've had not problems, I suspect durability issues may arise if the arms are repositioned more than a few times. (2) While not difficult to assemble, the assembly instructions are downright miserable.

All in all, a good unit at this price point.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on November 25, 2018

2 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 175 lbs
Size Purchased: Large

Original review: What's not to like about this short? The liner is comfortable and provides good support, the outer fabric is light and airy, the zipper pocket is great for securing car keys, and they look good. I've worn various reincarnations of the Better Than Naked short for years and keep coming back. I like the longer length in particular for trail running.

Update: I've used this short for years and ordered another pair in June 2019. TNF has changed the fabric to a heavier, almost light softshell fabric; the liner is made of a more coarse fabric; and the liner seams are more pronounced. I returned them and will look for something else in the future. I'm not sure what TNF was thinking with these changes - maybe saving a few pennies while losing customers?

Bring back the old ones and I'm a customer once again. Until then, no thanks.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on November 25, 2018

1 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

If you’re going to leave the Yakima RidgeBack 2 on your vehicle season-long and carry only one bike you’ll likely be satisfied with this rack. For the rest of us, I’d suggest you look elsewhere. Why? Let me count the ways: (1) it is heavy and a bit unwieldy when mounting and unmounting, (2) the tongue doesn’t simply slide into the receiver but requires some wrestling given you need to align a moving part in the hitch adapter required for a 2” receiver (come on Yakima, why not just build the tongue from 2” stock?), (3) I don’t care for the method by which the tongue is secured to the receiver (again Yakima, why isn’t a solid pin anchored completely through the receiver used rather than the small-diameter pin which penetrates only a fraction of an inch through one side?), (4) the old rubber stretch-style anchors for attaching the bike are easier to use and much less likely to be lost than the “ZipStrip” anchors included with the RidgeBack series, but most importantly (5) there is insufficient room on this rack for 2 bikes without either scratching them or padding the bike frames (yup, I scratched two brand new mountain bikes on this thing while transporting them home from the shop).

Bottom line: I typically begin a review with what works before offering suggested improvements. The poor design of the RidgeBack 2 doesn’t leave much to praise.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on June 29, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 170 lbs
Size Purchased: 45.5

This is the most versatile approach shoe I've worn in a long time. It hikes, scrambles, and climbs (low grade) very well. It is also supportive without being over burly. I give the TX3 my unqualified recommendation.

A note about sizing: my normal shoe size is US12 (Brooks, Merrell, Oboz, etc.), and I size up to a 46.5 in the La Sportiva Wildcat and Ultra Raptor. The TX3 has a roomy toe box and I find the TX3 45.5 fits me well - enough room to be comfortable without compromising performance.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on June 28, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I have a hot/cold relationship with Osprey products as many of their items have design features which limit their flexibility (sometimes I wonder if the folks at Osprey use their own products) ; however, the Talon 11 in my mind is a winner in the small daypack category. The shoulder harness and hip belt are very comfortable, the packbag seems to swallow a bit more than its 11 liter capacity, the bag itself offers good organization of my day hiking kit, and the Spring Green color is pretty cool. The only flaw I'd mention is one common to other Osprey packs: the hip belt pockets are small and too far rearward to be useful. I have no experience using this pack with a water bladder, but the side pockets hold my 0.7 L bottles very effectively.

Bottom line: would I buy this again? Answer: "definitely".

Fit: I'm 6'2" about 170 lbs and the M/L fits me very well.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on June 27, 2018

3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I use the Kestrel 38 as my out-the-door pack for volunteer SAR work. The Kestrel has a lot going for it; burly pack bag, adjustable and comfortable suspension, effective padding, daisy chains, and a fairly low weight for its size and durability. Unfortunately Osprey continues to hinder this pack with design flaws which could be easily remedied:

(1) The hip belt pouches are small and too far to the rear to be easily accessible (a relatively minor issue and a common problem on other Osprey packs).

(2) The big problem: the lid is fixed, doesn't have much volume, and what will fit in the lid is rather difficult to sort through and retrieve. A larger volume floating lid would improve this pack's versatility by a quantum leap.

Bottom line: would I buy this again? Only if Osprey decides to improve the lid. Otherwise I'll purchase something else when I finally wear this thing out.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on May 30, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs small
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 170 lbs
Size Purchased: 46.0

The Ultra Raptor has been my shoe of choice over the years for hiking, trail running, backpacking, canyoneering, and scrambling. It provides great traction and support; however, the toe box area is low volume vertically (thickness, not width or length) resulting in a few toe problems on more than one occassion.

Enter the Wildcat. With a more spacious toe area and great cushioning it is all around a more comfortable shoe offering similar traction . Am I abandoning my Ultra Raptors? Not really, as the Wildcat does not offer as much support. I use the Wildcats for light activities, while the Ultra Raptors are still my mainstay when I need a more supportive midsole.

Sizing: I wear a size US12 in Brooks running shoes and most Merrell shoes (I don't recommend Merrell, but that's another story). After trying a wide variety of sizes over the years, EU46.0 in both the Wildcat and Ultra Raptor work best for me.

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