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Mike Cochran

Mike Cochran

Washington, DC

Mike Cochran's Passions

Climbing
Running
Hiking & Camping
Snowboarding

Mike Cochran's Bio

DOB: 12/11/1990

Mike Cochran

Mike Cochranwrote a review of on November 1, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I love this pack and everything about it.

I have used this pack for both technical purposes (i.e., climbing and hiking) as well as just basic commuter/daily purposes and I find it works great for both. However, it clearly is designed, and excels the most, in the alpine environment.

Pros:
(1) The pack is amazingly lightweight for its size (there is a caveat to the size I will mention later).
(2) It is incredibly durable and water proof. I personally have yet to tear a hole into this pack or managed to have any water permeate it whatsoever.
(3) Simplistic design with just enough support in its frame and straps
(4) The design allows it to hold tightly to your body, which is incredibly important in a pack while climbing.
(5) Easy to manipulate (i.e., open the main and external compartments, put on/take off, adjust straps, unclip waistbelt) in the freezing cold while wearing multiple layers of gloves. Hell, although I haven’t tried, you could probably do everything you need to even with mittens on.
(6) Ice axe/tool attachments are easier to use than traditional attachments
(7) Crampon straps work great. I thought my crampons would have cut these by now, but I have yet to have any issues. Also, you can use the straps for other things you need to attach on the outside (e.g., helmet, belay jacket)
(8) I actually find the key hook in the external pocket quite useful most of the time. That said, I am not carrying my house keys on me for big alpine objectives and haven’t found a use for it then.

Cons:
(1) Expensive, but it find it is worth it
(2) It lacks the external attachment points that are found on the Alpha FL 45. I found these quite useful for the 45L version, particularly for attaching boots for approaches.
(3) The size is a bit deceiving, as the size in the name of the product is actually the size with the roll top fully expanded.

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Mike Cochran

Mike Cochranwrote a review of on November 1, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I love this pack and everything about it.

I have used this pack for both technical purposes (i.e., climbing and hiking) as well as just basic commuter/daily purposes and I find it works great for both. However, it clearly is designed, and excels the most, in the alpine environment.

Pros:
(1) The pack is amazingly lightweight for its size (there is a caveat to the size I will mention later).
(2) It is incredibly durable and water proof. I personally have yet to tear a hole into this pack or managed to have any water permeate it whatsoever.
(3) Simplistic design with just enough support in its frame and straps
(4) The design allows it to hold tightly to your body, which is incredibly important in a pack while climbing.
(5) Easy to manipulate (i.e., open the main and external compartments, put on/take off, adjust straps, unclip waistbelt) in the freezing cold while wearing multiple layers of gloves. Hell, although I haven’t tried, you could probably do everything you need to even with mittens on.
(6) Ice axe/tool attachments are easier to use than traditional attachments
(7) Crampon straps work great. I thought my crampons would have cut these by now, but I have yet to have any issues. Also, you can use the straps for other things you need to attach on the outside (e.g., helmet, belay jacket)
(8) I actually find the key hook in the external pocket quite useful most of the time. That said, I am not carrying my house keys on me for big alpine objectives and haven’t found a use for it then.
(9) The external attachment points on the Alpha FL 45 (do not exist on the 30L model) are very useful, particularly for attaching boots for approaches.

Cons:
(1) Expensive, but it find it is worth it
(2) The size is a bit deceiving, as the size in the name of the product is actually the size with the roll top fully expanded.

(2)

 

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Mike Cochran

Mike Cochranwrote a review of on November 1, 2017

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This is a very lightweight pack with a particular size for very specific uses. I find this pack to be useful for a few situations: (1) a summit pack for big mountain objectives or for multi-pitch rock climbs, (2) a day hiking pack, (3) day-to-day pack carrying small things on maybe your commute to work.

Here’s what’s good about this pack:
(1) It is very lightweight. I find that it beats most of the competition.
(2) It is the perfect size for it’s purpose—enough to carry an extra layer, your water, some food, extra gear (e.g., headlamp, map, keys, phone, etc.)
(3) Durable and relatively waterproof

Here’s what I don’t like:
(1) I don’t like the compression “SwiftCord.” I don’t personally see much of a use for it, and I find it gets caught on things too easily (e.g., trees, rocks, doorknobs).
(2) The lack of a frame makes things shift around and objects stick into your back if you do not pack it thoughtfully
(3) I haven’t figured out how to use the key clip. The one of the Alpha FL is much more intuitive.
(4) I personally find the divider in the external pocket more of a nuisance than benefit

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Mike Cochran

Mike Cochranwrote a review of on November 1, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Since this is a bit of an abnormal product, I figure I should first explain how I use this jacket. I primarily use this jacket for alpine climbing, using it as I would a normal hardshell (i.e., my outer layer when not donning a belay jacket). I will say, I also use this jacket in day-to-day wear on rainy days in the city as a non-technical but still useful purpose.

As much as 3-layer GORE-TEX is meant to be breathable, it also very much isn’t due to the conflict between making a fabric that has air permeability yet also blocks wind and rain from passing through. This is where the Arc’teryx Procline Comp (and other Arc’teryx Comp jackets come in). I find it allows a great deal more breathability with the added softshell panels. However, due to the location of the softshell panels, they do not have as much direct exposure to precipitation. Therefore, reducing the need for these areas to be made of a hardshell material, as these parts only need to block a limited amount of precipitation. I usually have a pack on my back, which is mostly where the softshell material of this jacket is located. The rest of the softshell material is in the armpit area of the body, which is naturally blocked from most precipitation by your shoulder and arm.

I have yet to experience any precipitation leaking through the softshell material. I find its water repelling ability sufficient given the amount of exposure those areas have to precipitation. Additionally, the wind blocking ability of the Gore-Tex Windstopper is great! I have tested this jacket by wearing it with just a t-shirt underneath in very windy weather and I couldn't feel the wind even on my bare skin, making it appear as if the wind will not penetrate the jacket at all. This is crucial when dealing with the extreme wind often faced in big mountain environments. This makes the jacket a clear winner to me. Arc’teryx has come up with an innovative way of adding breathability without really sacrificing on the water repelling front. It combines the best of both worlds (hardshell and softshells) in a logical and practical way, and it is decently lightweight to boot.

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Mike Cochran

Mike Cochranwrote a review of on July 14, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

The Ange S has become my go-to carabiner when it comes to alpine draws for big climbs.

Beyond the obvious benefit of being one of the lightest carabiners out there, I find the unique gate design easy for clipping and prevents the rope from getting hung up.

As comes with the territory of the lightest biners, is the small size. It takes a bit of getting used to manipulated the carabiner with multiple layers of gloves on in the alpine. The size is large enough though that it becomes easy with some practice.

If you are planning on using these carabiners for sport climbing, I would go with something a bit larger and cheaper, as the weight is obviously not as big of a deal. However, when it comes to long multi-pitch/alpine climbs, I find these an excellent choice.

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Mike Cochran

Mike Cochranwrote a review of on May 14, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This is an overall excellent water filter. I have found it particularly useful on extended backpacking trips. It is totally worth the water weight it will save you. With this, I just about never find that I have to carry more than a liter or two of water, unless I am worried that water sources will be scarce.

The filtration is very easy and intuitive. The buckle on the top of the bag makes it very easy to hang from a tree branch, so that you don't have to stand there holding the bag.

The filtration is quite fast. It takes only a minute or two to filter 4 liters of water, so long as your filter isn't damaged or significantly clogged.

Buying replacement parts is very easy. At the same time, the number of parts can make losing the parts somewhat easy. I know I lost the cap to the clean reservoir once (I did find that a regular disposable bottle cap from bottled water or soda you buy at the store can fit on just fine). I also believe they could design this using one less tube (likely the one leading to the clean reservoir), but I could be wrong, and they may have thought of that already. I would really like to find a way to feed it directly into my MSR Dromalite reservoir.

Be careful not to filter freezing or near freezing water. You will damage the filter. I learned that the hard way. This filter isn't great for alpine environments for that reason. If you are near snow you can just melt that. Otherwise, you will have to put the water on a stove first to melt any of the frozen water, which can be a lengthy process.

One complaint I have is that the tubes are designed with a sort of material that seems to just be a magnet for dirt and debris. I have found this kind of annoying.

All said, this is an amazing filter that will clean out any bacteria and debris leaving for great tasting, clean water (note, viruses can still get through).

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Mike Cochran

Mike Cochranwrote a review of on May 12, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This is what I almost always use to light my MSR reactor. This igniter is reliable in windy and/or wet conditions where other methods (storm lighters/matches) will fail. It produces enough sparks that I always get the stove lit by at least the third try.

I love that you never have to worry about running out of fuel or matches. Although the product does have a limited lifetime (number of uses), it has a long enough lifetime that you don't have to worry about it running out part way through the trip, which can be very reassuring.

It's lightweight, takes up little space, and the magnet helps keep it together so you never have to worry about losing either piece.

(2)

 

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Mike Cochran

Mike Cochranwrote a review of on May 12, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I love this design. This is by far my favorite auto-locker and potentially even my favorite locker overall. It takes a little getting used to, but once you have used it a number of times you become incredibly fast with it. Faster than any other locking biner in my opinion.

I always use this as my locking biner for belaying/rappelling, so long as I have it available to me.

For an auto-locker, I think the price is fantastic. Cheaper than most all of the competition.

As much as I love this biner, I wish it was a little on the lighter side. I know auto-lockers tend to be heavier, but when comparing it to other HMS locking biners, I find it falls towards the middle of the pack in terms of weight. Biners like the Petzl Attache make for a very nice HMS locking biner that is also light.

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Mike Cochran

Mike Cochranwrote a review of on May 12, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

The Losi offers incredible "livability" for a 2 person tent of it's weight. The way Nemo designed the tent prevents it from making it feel as if the tent is collapsing upon you. There is plenty of space to sit up and roll up sleeping pads, stuff sleeping bags, and get your pack ready. The tent is wide enough to have two 25inch sleeping pads side by side with some extra space.

This tent is incredibly durable. Although I have yet to endure any extremely harsh winds, I have no fears whatsoever about it collapsing/breaking in any way. I have also never had any issues with water leaking or condensation.

I love the way the tent is packed. The tent bag they give you is subdivided for the different poles and a separate section for the tent fabrics. I never worry about not being able to pack the tent tightly.

Personally, my next backpacking tent will be lighter, as I care very much about weight (I plan on investing in the Nemo Blaze). However, if you want livable space and a tent that will stand up to anything, the Losi is a great choice.

Lastly, I find the set up incredibly intuitive. It makes for easy set-up and take down. The Jake's feet are very easy to use. What would normally be two separate main poles that go from corner to corner are actually combined into one. I have never had any issues setting up this tent on my own.

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