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Kirk W

Kirk W

Prescott, AZ

Kirk W's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Running
Biking
Snowshoeing
Skiing
Climbing

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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

5 5

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

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.

My only suggestion: look for them on sale!

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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: 46.5

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, EU46.5 in both the Wildcat and Ultra Raptor work best for me.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on March 25, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Here's why I make that statement:

1. They fit - now there's a novel idea! FITS offers more sizes so I can find a better fit. The XL fits great on my size 12 foot, whereas I fall between sizes in the other major brand socks.

2. The fabric has a slightly softer touch to it.

3. The toe seams are less pronounced, saving my toes the harsh reality of a long downhill.

4. They're about a buck cheaper!

I have several pairs of DT and SW socks and I'd gladly trade them all for the FITS.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on February 23, 2018

3 5

Familiarity: I returned this product before using it
Fit: Runs large
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 170 lbs
Size Purchased: 12

These boots seem like they might be warm but I returned them for two reasons: (1) the fit was not really very well thought out (despite selecting the right length the fit was so loose that I might as well have worn the box), and (2) the footbed offers no support. They might be ok for tripping around town or shoveling snow, but I wouldn't wear them in the back country.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on February 16, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Here's why I make that statement:

1. They fit - now there's a novel idea! FITS offers more sizes so I can find a better fit. The XL fits great on my size 12 foot, whereas I fall between sizes in the other major brand socks.

2. The fabric has a slightly softer touch to it.

3. The toe seams are less pronounced, saving my toes the harsh reality of a long downhill.

4. They're about a buck cheaper!

I have several pairs of DT and SW socks and I'd gladly trade them all for the FITS.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on February 16, 2018

5 5

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

I picked this up for a trip to Patagonia, where down might have been a disaster given all the rain, and was not disappointed. Positives:

1. The fit is great. Fortunately Arc'Teryx hasn't succumbed to the recent trend of sizing for the more rotund. It's large enough to fit over a light fleece layer, light enough to fit under my rain shell, and retains a nice athletic fit.
2. The materials and finishing are top notch.
3. It performed flawlessly given my expectations for a synthetic insulation layer in these conditions.

What's not to like? The price. But I guess you get what you pay for...

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on February 16, 2018

2 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 170 lbs
Size Purchased: 34X34

I don't get the popularity of these pants. The fabric is the only positive - nice and stretchy, and a great weight for fall and spring hiking and summer climbs. That's where the positives end. What's not to like?

(1) The fit is definitely not to my liking and is quite uncomfortable. If you like really low-riders with a short fly zipper, then this might work for you. Also, they fit great through the thigh but are too baggy at the ankle.
(2) The pockets are made of a mesh-type fabric that almost instantly pilled out.
(3) The side zip pocket is way low (nearly to my knee) and is barely large enough to fit my iPhone 6 (regular, not a plus).

If I was still inside the return policy timing, I would have returned them. If you want a pair, you might look in your local thrift store - that's where mine resides right now.

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Kirk W

Kirk Wwrote a review of on December 12, 2016

3 5

Familiarity: I returned this product before using it
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 175 lbs

There’s a lot to like about this jacket – the mid-weight fabric, placement of the pockets, hood adjustments - it even looks good! Unfortunately the cut is a bit strange.

I’m 6’2” 175 lbs and usually take a large in Black Diamond jackets. The large in this jacket was just too big in the body (I don’t care for my technical jackets to be way loose due to thermal inefficiency). The medium fit my body very well, the sleeve length was great (I have 34” arms and this jacket would have worked fine for reaching overhead), and the shoulder fit was just about right. The fatal flaw (for me) – where the arms attach to the shoulders is just too tight, causing the jacket to bind up into my arm pits.

If it fits you, I think you’ll like it. I don’t like to leave less than positive reviews for fit reasons, but the cut of this jacket is just plain weird (for me).

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