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Mark A.

Mark A.

Alexandria VA

Mark A.'s Passions

Skiing
Hiking & Camping

Mark A.'s Bio

Nothing like you and the sun, snow, and skis! I don't get to do it enough but sure love it when I do. Love a hike with a good view, too.

Mark A.

Mark A.wrote a review of on January 14, 2019

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 132 lbs
Size Purchased: Small

This is one amazing jacket. I needed a very warm jacket to replace my huge, bulky, old school down jacket, but when this one arrived, I thought I'd made a big mistake. It was as light as a late spring jacket and very thin. How could it possibly keep me warm in very cold temps? On top of that, I'd bought it post-season, so I would have to wait 6-8 months to even test it out.
So it was with excitement and apprehension that I took it out on the first somewhat cold day in D.C. Of course, DC isn't all that cold in December, but since I didn't have a whole lot of confidence in it, I considered it an acceptable starter test. It went fine, so I looked forward to the *real* test: Christmas in MN. And this jacket killed it!
I'm 5'9" and just 132 lbs with 3-4% body fat, and I was wearing only a long-sleeved T shirt and light sweatshirt as a midlayer, and I was quite comfortable on a 10-15 min neighborhood walk in 20 degrees. I felt a little cool when the wind blew, but not uncomfortable, and with a light fleece as a midlayer instead, I bet it would've been fine.
On my last morning, it was only 12 degrees, and I was fine dressed as above. Granted, I was only outside getting in/out of the car and filling the tank of the rental car, but I was surprised not to feel cold.
The fit is a little snug even for me, so I'm not sure a heavy sweater would work well, but you wouldn't be wearing one, anyway, if you're being active.
I haven't had reason to test the hood yet. It isn't adjustable, but it covers everything except your face. The waist is adjustable. There's only one thin inside pocket.
I'm amazed and pleased with this jacket. It may not be windproof for skiing, but otherwise, it will certainly be warm enough down to the teens. Oh, and I love the color I chose (Rigel), which is almost a jewel tone blue, bright without being too young (I'm getting close to retirement). I've gotten compliments on it, in fact. So glad I got it!

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Mark A.

Mark A.wrote a review of on January 25, 2016

Versatile Low Light Lens
4 5

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

I just bought a couple of these and won't actually get them out on the slopes for a while, so I'll update when I see how the lens actually performs. For now I'll just say it was pretty difficult to replace lenses. I'm a total rookie at doing so, so take that with a grain of salt, but it probably took me 10-15 min to get the new one in. That does not count getting the old one out, which was hard enough, but I didn't really know what I was doing, and I was afraid of breaking the lens. By the time I was ready to put the new one in, though, I was no longer handling it so gingerly, and it was still quite a job getting it in.

I watched a YouTube video on replacing another Smith goggle lens (don't remember the model), and that was just a matter of flipping a few levers, and the thing was out in about 7 sec. Putting the new one in required maybe 10 sec. But with the Prophecy, it's just manually working it out of the frame inch by inch, lining up the holes on the new one with the notches on the frame, and putting some muscle into getting it in. I never heard any clicking, so I'm not even sure I got it in right.

I could find no YouTube videos for this goggle replacement, and there are no instructions in the package, beyond starting at the top and working your way around to the nose, then reversing the order with the new one.

I put in the bright light lens, so I'm not looking forward to needing to put in the low light one! Let's hope the performance outshadows the difficult replacement process! I'm giving it three stars to start with, based on looking through them out the window on a clear, sunny day.

UPDATE: I skied Big Sky for three days in March. Since it was fairly cloudy, I switched out the bright light lens for the low light (Red Sensor Mirror) one upon arrival at the hotel. It only took me about five minutes, so discount what I said above...although it would still be a bit of a bother to come in from the slopes to change it out if light levels changed, especially if friends are waiting. As it happened, I left the red lens in the entire time, as the sun went in and out of the clouds throughout each day. It seemed fine to me whether it was cloudy/shady or sunny. My eyes didn't have to work hard in either condition, and I hardly noticed any change from one to the other. Upgrading to four stars.

Oh, and I looked cool. Not the most important thing, of course, but let's face it - it's part of the ski scene! :)

Maybe on my next trip I'll be able to review the bright light lens!

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Mark A.

Mark A.wrote a review of on January 24, 2016

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 132 lbs
Size Purchased: Small

It's clear this is a high-quality, well-made microfleece jacket, but I really wish I'd returned it because it just doesn't fit right.

PROS: It's well-constructed. The zippers are large and top-notch. The cut is athletic and flattering, even to this slim fit/tailored slim fit guy. The top of the zipper has an inside storm flap, and the stand-up collar is lined with a soft material.

PRO/CON: Depending on what you like... coverage is greater than with most fleeces; it covers half my butt. If worn alone, this could be a pro, but it's a con for me since I would want to be able to wear it under a waist-length midlayer, and this sticks out a couple inches below that.

CONS: The sleeves are ridiculously long. When pulled out full length, the sleeve covers my entire thumb and most of my pinky. The ends of the wrists have about 3 inches of a stretchy synthetic material that I suppose is meant to provide for a snug closure (but which I don't find comfortable), and if you fold that over the fleece completely, then the sleeves are almost the right length. Otherwise, the fabric bunches up along the length of your arm, which does not make for a good fit under a midlayer jacket if needed.

By far my biggest complaint, however, is that the arm holes are cut so high that the fabric is constantly digging into my underarm. I thought maybe I could just get used to it and eventually forget about it, but when I tested this theory in the house, I felt GREAT relief upon removing the jacket. (And why should one have to get used to feeling uncomfortable?)

I could deal with the icky wrist material and gorilla arms and just never wear it under my Atom LT midlayer jacket if it weren't for the Nazi arm holes. As is, I am stuck with a good-looking, well-made fleece that I will probably never wear - certainly not all day on the slopes.

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Mark A.

Mark A.wrote a review of on January 24, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs small
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 132 lbs
Size Purchased: Small

I bought this jacket after last season, so I haven't taken it out on the slopes yet but will update this review when I do. I've used the jacket a handful of times for other things in the meantime and love it so far. I'm 5'9" and 132, and a Small fits me great - close to the body but not restrictive at all. (I wear slim fit and sometimes tailored slim fit dress shirts, and while I abhor the word "skinny," it's what I've been called my whole life.) It has these stretchy side panels all the way through the underarms, so it allows total freedom of movement. I can even wear a base layer AND a thin microfleece jacket under the LT comfortably.

(I rated it as running small only because I'm so used to even Smalls being slightly too big for me in sports gear, and I've certainly never owned a jacket that fit so close to the body.)

Yesterday I wanted to field test what I am going to wear skiing at Big Sky this spring, so I had on a SmartWool base layer, the LT, and an unlined Gore-Tex shell to shovel during Snowzilla DC 2016. I was perfectly warm under grey skies, light snow, and 27 degrees. I didn't feel like I was sweating, but since I shoveled heavy, wet snow for two hours and was breathing hard, I probably would have realized I was, if I'd thought about it. And when I went back inside, the LT was heavy with dampness - so I guess it really does wick away moisture and keep me comfortable! I never thought about feeling wet or hot. I don't know how fast it dried, though I'd wanted to note that, because I hung it up in the guest bath and forgot about it.

Today at 1:00 pm, I wore a cotton t-shirt, a microfleece, and the LT, and just shoveling for 30 seconds under sunny skies and 33 degrees, I was hot and immediately took off the LT. After shoveling, I put it back on, and it was perfect for taking a leisurely walk at about 2:30 pm.

It is extremely light, and that makes its performance all the more impressive, as well as making it a pleasure to wear.

I've worn it in town when it's been maybe 50 or so, and it's too cold if there's wind, since its breathability also means the wind goes right through.

It doesn't have a bag, but it packs into one of its own sleeves. And you can do this cool parlor trick where with one yank of the wrist, the whole jacket reappears (you'll want to demo this for your friends) - but I have to say, when it comes out, it's completely wrinkled. (Eventually the wrinkles work themselves out, but it looks pretty bad until then! Next time I might try just folding it into fourths and flattening it in a Space Bag.)

It has this cool flap at the very top of the zipper so that the zipper doesn't come into contact with your neck if you zip it all the way to the very top. And the wrists are snug (not tight like elastic), which is great since you may be putting on another layer... but it's easy to put your hand through the end because it's stretchy, like the side panels.

Finally, I used to wish the Arc'teryx logo was embroidered, but I just realized it's reflective, so you can be seen when walking at night - especially important with the dark charcoal or black colors!

All in all, a well-designed, great performing, very comfortable, good-looking jacket! I'll let you know how it does for me on the slopes!

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Mark A.

Mark A.wrote a review of on April 10, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 132 lbs
Size Purchased: Small

Love this top - so much better than the old school cotton T-shirt/sweatshirt combo ('nuff said)! I bought a Small, and it was just a tiny bit loose (I'd been told that base layer tops are supposed to fit like a second skin), but then, I'm a string bean type. Anyway, it was a great fit otherwise and very comfortable. I was never dying to take it off after a full day of skiing. I know people are saying it runs small, but I think it might depend on your expectation of how it is supposed to fit...so I am saying it's true to size.

The super deep zip makes it simple to vent, and I did make use of it on my early March trip to Telluride. SO glad I bought a top with a zip!! Worked great with a zip fleece.

Wore it when it was sunny and in the 20s/30s on the mountain and warmer at the base, no wind. I was a little overdressed, so it's hard to judge accurately, but I will say I never realized I was sweating until I found my trail map all crackly in my internal jacket pocket and my fleece was damp! I thought, how can my fleece be damp when my skin is dry?! When it was time to change out of my ski gear, my top was never wet at all, even when I know I sweat! And after three full days of skiing, it still smelled fresh - no lie!

The seams run all over this top, so I was a little concerned about feeling them, but while skiing it was a total non-issue.

I am a total SmartWool fanatic!

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Mark A.

Mark A.wrote a review of on April 8, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 132 lbs
Size Purchased: Small

These were my first real ski pants (I was an old school long-johns-and-jeans guy), so this is just a baseline review for me, but I thought these were great on my recent trip to Telluride. The materials seem high quality - well-constructed, tough and waterproof. They feel comfortable, and they look nice.

I wore only a SmartWool base layer underneath since it was early March, with temps in the 20s/30s on the mountain, and I was always comfortable, never cold, even while on the chair lift. It was sunny and dry the entire time, so I can't fully assess water resistance, but I did fall a few times and remained dry and warm.

Yes, they're pretty big, especially on a guy whose dad used to be called "Bird Legs." But I got a Small, and the waist fit just fine after adjusting the Velcro a bit. (I wear 30x30 pants and 30x32 jeans.) I never once thought they were floppy or excessive while skiing or sitting around...so if you can deal with how they might strike you as clown pants at first, I wouldn't give it a second thought, functionally.

I was very happy with these pants, and if I had to do it again, I'd buy them again!

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Mark A.

Mark A.wrote a review of on April 2, 2015

Great OTG Goggles!
5 5

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

I was a little concerned about how these goggles would fit over my glasses, but they were just fine, and I couldn't have been happier! (The glasses I have on in my profile photo are what I was wearing.)

Every time I put them on, I worried over how I felt they were pushing my glasses down my nose and reducing my visibility, but somehow I adjusted after a minute or two every time and completely forgot about it. They were very comfortable the entire time I was skiing. I never once wished I could take them off for a break.

I was skiing in bright sun every day, and I couldn't believe how great I could see - no glare, no fatigue - they were perfect! Late afternoon shadows were a little tricky, but that's probably the case with any lens except clear. Had some very minor fogging a couple times, but it was only momentary and only partial, not over the whole lens.

Since these were my first pair, I got the cheapest ones - Rc36 - and while I was a little sad they weren't the cool, mirrored kind with a red lens, they worked so excellently that I forgot about their plain, brown looks once on the slopes. Like I said, I couldn't be happier! One hint that I just discovered a minute ago: if you click the Size Chart link, it tells you what conditions each lens is for and what the characteristics of that type are. Wish I'd known that before purchasing, but it worked out fine because my gearhead advised me correctly that Rc36 is for all conditions, and that's what I wanted. (Ignitor is the only other type for all conditions.)

Maybe if I ever get more advanced (in my goggle-wearing) I'll see these as middle of the road or "okay" like other reviewers...but right now I can say they worked great for me every day, and I'm very happy I got them!

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Mark A.

Mark A.wrote a review of on April 1, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 132 lbs
Size Purchased: Large

I was another one of those who scrounged through my sock drawer to find thick, wool socks - or just two pairs of white, athletic socks! - to go skiing in. I couldn't believe one could ski in thin socks like this; how could they possibly be warm and cushioned enough?!

I decided to trust my chat guy on BC, though - and now I swear by SmartWool socks!! For the first time in my skiing life, I didn't think about my feet being too cold even once! They were happy skiing three full days in a row!

They fit perfectly (9 1/2 shoe size, so Large), were soft and warm, and were plenty comfortable in my ski boots. (Oh yeah, and I hate talking about this, but after all the reviews I read, I had to do the sniff test...and after three days, they still smelled like new! It's true!)

This was three days in early March at Telluride (20s/30s on the mountain), so I don't know how they'd be in colder temps, but I wouldn't hesitate to try them.

Yes, $25 sounds like an awful lot for a pair of socks, but they are so worth whatever technology they put into them. I wouldn't wear anything else now!!

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