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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistak

Gearhead

SLC, UT

Koly Swistak's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Snowboarding
Yoga
Climbing

Koly Swistak's Bio

I am a Midwesterner transplanted to Utah by way of Montana. I currently live in Salt Lake City for the proximity to the mountains and In & Out.



I grew up snowboarding on a *literal* trash pile called Canonsburg and learning how to fall gracefully on ice. Since then, I've boarded all over Utah, Montana, Colorado, and the Spanish Pyrenees.



I love being in the backcountry whether its on a splitboard, snowblades, or my own two feet. As long as there's no uphill biking involved, I'm there. Sometimes I even bring my cat along.



Backcountry.com’s Gearheads are your instant connection to gear knowledge. They’re passionate outdoor experts hell-bent on helping you find the right snowboard, tent, or rope. Follow their adventures and exploits.



Let me know if you have any questions you can always give me a call 801-204-4694 and I work Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. Follow me to learn about the gear I use. If you would rather skip the phone call, you can reach me at my email, kswistak@backcountry.com


Instagram: @kolyswistak

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on May 4, 2017

Feedback from my customer Angie:
5 5

Familiarity: I gave it as a gift but have feedback to share

We received the Ruffwear Life Vest that we ordered from Backcountry. They arrived very promptly and fit perfectly. The quality is excellent and we could not be more pleased with your customer service. I’m attaching pictures of Max & Juno (she the larger of the 2) in their new life vests as promised. Max’s is a little big, but I knew that when I ordered. He is just so small , 3.6 pounds, but I’m hoping he will grow into it. They were sized exactly as described. Angie bought the XXS size for both of her pups.

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on May 2, 2017

Too Much Much
3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I demo'd this pack for a month and at the end of my time with it I was less than impressed. For a backcountry touring pack, there are just too many straps. Some of them I'm still not sure on the function! Even on my FULL day tours, the brain seemed to be too much and more often than not, I left it at home. The side straps for adjusting ski carry/ pole carry were very hard to adjust with the "snap to hold" system Osprey chose to use. I couldn't work this system with my gloves on - which to me is a major flaw for a winter specific pack. The avy tool pocket is also hard to get to! Major flaw! The J zipper is red and the tools fit well in the pocket - same as the 22 and 30 L version of this pack. In order to get into the tool pocket with the J zip, you have to unclip the brain and the top straps for ski carry. I could see this being an awesome trip for a Yurt trip but I think it's more trouble than it's worth.

Some features I did like: Back panel and top access to the main compartment, lined goggle pocket, decent sized hip pockets, color schemes available.

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on May 2, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

The gear pockets and J strap for your avy tools are what make this pack great. Easy to access and not a struggle to close. The ski/board carry is great and I never felt like my trekking poles would go flying while I was in snowboard mode. I would not recommend this as your main Backcountry ski pack. It's a little to small to carry all the essential gear for a full day tour. This pack is best suited for a trip off the sidecountry at the resort or a quick lap before work.

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on May 2, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 6"
Weight: 130 lbs
Size Purchased: Small

This is the jacket I wish I had when I was trekking in Nepal. Much warmer than my Patagonia Down Sweater and equally as packable. The hood has a great pull cord to adjust over a helmet or to hold 'er down when it's windy. I got the small and it fits with enough room to layer. The pocket on the upper chest is great for storing your phone while climbing with your harness on for easy access to your phone or a snack on cold days. I look forward to bringing this on backcountry splitboarding tours next winter!

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on April 26, 2017

Room With A View
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I took this tent out for the first time this spring to Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument and I have to say, I'm in love. It gives you the freedom of your high clearance 4x4 but the comfort of having a pop up tent. We drove around on the backroads most days and by the end of the trip we were able to pop her open and ready to be used in under 10 minutes.

The mattress it comes with is quite comfy - if you really want to upgrade, I think adding a 1 inch memory foam would turn this into a moving 5 star hotel. I definitely recommend getting the sheets that Tepui sells for this and getting a down camping blanket. We used sleeping bags for the first trip and folded them up into the tent when we were moving camp. It worked well but I wouldn't recommend leaving your pillows in.

The initial set up is, for a lack of better words, a b!tch. We had 4 guys help get it on top of the car. It then took us about 30 minutes to screw in all the nuts tightly.I think it's easier to set up if you have taller towers on your crossbars but on my standard Subaru Forester rack, we weren't able to use my socket wrench. I have some friends that instead of taking off their tent from the towers when they want to take it off, they take off the whole rack.

If you are interested in making this basecamp investment, have questions about tech specs or installation, give me a ring or shoot me a message: 801-204-4694 or kswistak@backcountry.com

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on April 25, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

So you want to take your fancy bottle of wine on a camping trip with your 2 kids, a dog, the neighbors, and crazy uncle Steve? HA! It might not even make it out of the door. Until now. The GSI soft sided wine carafe is here to save the day. Not only does this handy piece of gear keep your trash haul smaller, it will impress all of your camping buddies. It is also a great addition to backpacking trips, backcountry proposals, sneaking wine into sporting events, and bringing smaller amounts of boxed wine on trips (if that's your thing).

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on April 25, 2017

Best for Basecamp
5 5

I've heard of Yeti for years but this year I was able to bring this cooler on a 5 day camping trip to the desert and I am a changed woman. On day 3 we were still able to make ice cold Ginger Beer cocktails with ice cubes! Not to mention our meat and veggies were kept fresh. The 35 cooler worked for a 4.5 day/ 4 night adventure with food for 4 people but it was stuffed full. I think for a family of 4 it would be best to size up to the 45.

The Yeti is hiding in the corner of the picture here, but really I just wanted to show off our basecamp.

“That rug really tied the room together.” — Walter

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on April 25, 2017

5 5

Fit: Runs large
Height: 5' 6"
Weight: 130 lbs
Size Purchased: 2

I originally ordered a 4 in this pant and they felt a little baggy so I exchanged them for a size 2. They tend to stretch out a tad if you forgo washing them for days on end. I wear a size 4 or 28 regularly. I spent a month trekking in Nepal and wore these without washing them for the entire trip and they stretched out in the waist BUT they have a drawstring so it wasn't a problem!

Let me take a minute and tell you about why I LOVE this material. Say goodbye to techy-swishy sounding trekking pants. These pants feel like a hug but are tough enough to withstand a summer of bushwhacking to the tallest peaks. And it stretches! They dry quickly after a rain shower.

Other features I love: side thigh pocket big enough for the iPhone 6s with a lifeproof case on, snaps to hold the pants at capri length, button close back pockets, and articulated knees.

I wear these trekking, climbing, around town, and in the office. I have a 31 inch inseam and the regular fit with my hiking boots and trail running shoes but would be a tad long if I wore flip flops.

10/10 would recommend to a friend.

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on April 25, 2017

SO COZY
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 6"
Weight: 130 lbs
Size Purchased: Medium

I honestly feel like a fuzzy bear cub when I wear this sweater. I bought a Medium because I wanted to be able to layer comfortable under it and the fit is perfect. Great for chilly days at camp, cozying up at night, and sporting it on your next sport climb. If you like a snug fit, go with your normal size but it you want to wear a flannel under it go a size up.

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on April 25, 2017

Best Extended Day Pack
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I bought this pack to replace my TNF Casamir 28L pack that was designed with the same intentions in mind: engineering a lightweight daypack for mountain adventures. Now that I have this pack, I can't believe I waited so long to upgrade! The back panel is incredibly comfortable for a lightweight pack -- you won't find Osprey's full Anti Gravity system in this pack because it is designed with weight>comfort in mind. But comfortable it is!

I bought the mint color because turquoise is my favorite... and now I look like a giant Easter egg when I'm hiking.

The fabric itself is quite durable for a lightweight pack. I took it canyoneering last weekend in a canyon that was no wider than 8 inches at some points. It was dragged, dumped, tossed, and sandpapered down the canyon for 2.5 hours and I noticed minimal wear.

I look forward to using this in the summer as my mountain mission pack for 20 hour adventures. Enough room to pack a down layer, rain layer, med kit, snacks, helmet, map, half rope, sunglasses + case, gaiters, and the works. It is also able to pack down quite compact for shorter missions with all of the adjustable straps.

10/10 would recommend to a friend.

Favorite Features:
+ Tuck away trekking pole/ ice ax carry straps
+ Adjustable harness
+ Hip pockets (I keep chapstick and a knife in one and a clif bar in the other)
+ Top Clip in addition to cinch close on the main compartment of the pack (great for keeping a rope in place)
+ Fabulous color selection
+ Mesh pocket under the brain to keep keys, ID, map, etc

Complaints/Observations:
- hip pockets too small for a a phone
- strap pocket to small for a phone or GPS device



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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on April 25, 2017

Flowy and Fun
5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs large
Height: 5' 6"
Weight: 130 lbs
Size Purchased: Small

So maybe my product photo isn't the best here for seeing how it actually fits BUT it was a pretty fun shirt to wear canyoneering. The fit is super flowy and soft. The twists in the back are super cute and not uncomfortable to wear with a backpack. I normally wear something between a small and a medium and the small fit perfectly. Not snug but not baggy either.

This is the perfect shirt for casual wear, yoga classes, running errands, enjoying the summer sun, etc, etc. it looks extra cute with strappy backed bras! The fabric is more durable than I originally thought it would be. After a couple hours of scrapping against canyons it didn't show any wear.

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on April 13, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs small

Moving to the So iLL Runners from the more expensive Miuras, I expected a slight downgrade in performance. But after a fair amount of climbing, I have to say I’m really impressed with these shoes.

I was worried about the quality of the rubber, which they say comes from Navy Seal technology, but I found them to grip really well. On par with the Miuras, no doubt. I was plenty confident with my purchase on tiny, sloping footholds.

They’re comfortable and I like the balance these shoes find in their aggressiveness—not too intense, but you get enough of an edge to confidently climb through an overhanging problem.

I thought they looked awesome in the pictures, and in person they’re as bright as advertised. It’s definitely a way to stand out at the gym, for better or worse. Pretty much every time I climb someone will ask me about these shoes.

Overall, So iLL is a cool little company and they’ve made a pretty nice mid-grade shoe in the Runners. If you want everyone to watch you at the bouldering wall, buy these. Then again, if you’re not the strongest climber, maybe that attention isn’t what you want.

As far as sizing go, I ordered a half size up from my street shoe and the fit is perfect.

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on April 10, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Last year as I was investing in my split set up I wasn't able to afford new bindings so I went with the plate set up and tested out the Light Rail bindings a couple times. After using these bindings on one tour I am a changed splitboarder. Say goodbye to pins and say hello to the ease of popping in and out of touring mode. My transition time went from 10 minutes (I'm a goon that gets cold hands quicky) to 2. I was back in downhill mode before my friends had their AT skis ready to head downhill!

These bindings are far superior to the Light Rail and the plate set up. No chance of lost pins and 4x faster! The weight you lose the and the responsiveness you gain with this set up is well worth the cost.

Updates for 2017:
Heel Lock Down - No more Tele Turns (check out #telemarksplitboarding on instagram)
Upgraded touring bracket - the original version of these bindings had an affinity to snap under too much pressure in the cold. Voile virtually eliminated this problem by upgrading the plastic in the touring bracket to a Nylon material.

Feel free to give me a ring if you have any questions on splitboarding set ups! 801 204 4694 or shoot me an email at kswistak@backcountry.com

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on April 10, 2017

Essential Gear
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Do you have Karakoram bindings? Nah, you're too cool for all that mechanical engineering. You've chosen to stick with the OG puck sliding system. These pucks are essential to any Voile binding or Spark R&D binding system.

Set up is straight forward. I would recommend getting some locktite glue so they stay secure all season long.

If you're having a hard time sliding your bindings on and off I'd recommend getting some sandpaper and sanding the edges down a bit. When Voile manufactures a big set of these puppies, you can get a bit of extra plastic on some.

If you have any questions on your new splitboard set up, please reach out to me with questions. As a gearhead I'm here to be your personal expert to get you ready for an awesome season in the backcountry.

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on April 6, 2017

Ultimate Backpacking Comfort
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 6"
Weight: 130 lbs
Size Purchased: 9

I had the Vasque breezes for 2 backpacking seasons in Montana and a semester in Kenya. I was so sad to retire them. They are comfortable from the get go, run true to size, and are great for all summer romps. The ankle support is great for long backpacking trips and the mesh allows for better ventilation than your standard full leather boot. If you don't plan on diving through piles of jagged rock, you should plan to have these babies for a long time! The Goretex is a great feature for spring hikes and not having to dance around puddles. The photo below is from a hike during rainy season in Kenya. Paired with Gaiters my feet stayed dry on our day hike.

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on April 5, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

My customer got this jacket for his dog to go hiking in the PNW and it has been working very well! It keeps his pup nice and dry on short to medium distance hikes. The only complaint on the product is it can sometimes be difficult to clip the leash into the harness due to the protective storm flap.

His dog weighs approximately 30 lbs and ordered a Small.

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on April 4, 2017

More Please
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 6"
Weight: 130 lbs

This shirt is so comfortable! The fabric is soft and silky and falls well on the body. As you can see from my photo, maybe not the best pairing with a black bra but other than that I have no complaints! If you're a bigger chested gal and want to wear the buttons all the way up, I'd order a size up.

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Koly Swistak

Koly Swistakwrote a review of on April 4, 2017

Perfect Jeans
5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 6"
Weight: 130 lbs

I love these jeans! I tried on the 27 and 28 and while the 27 fit on my body movement in them was slim to none so I went with the 28's. They're comfortable like a pair of leggings but have the structure and fit of a great pair of jeans. When I was looking for a new pair of jeans it was a toss up between these and the prAna Kara denim pant and these ones won my choice because the jean material is thicker and more structured than the Kara's.
As for length, these things can fit over my heel and halfway down my foot. Good news is they look super cute cuffed and shrink a bit in the wash.
I hope in the future Patagonia thinks about making different lengths and washes in these pants because they're the perfect pant for travel/climbing/going to the pub/basically everything. The wash is dark and fades to a truer blue color over time.

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