I play hard in the mountains and beat the shit out of my gear. Blog here- www.noahhowell.com. Currently skiing/filming/producing with Powderwhore Productions. www.powderwhore.com
BC.com is the best place I've found to get reviews and the real story from folks that love to use and abuse gear. Backcountry.com has asked me to swing by now and then to review products and answer questions.
En route to an 8th place overall finish at the 2015 Wasatch Powder Keg
Perfect little pack-able vest when you're not sure you'll need it, but you're glad as hell you brought it when you do.
About to drop in on the Devil's Bedstead in Idaho
I picked this up last spring and it quickly became my favorite mountain jacket. I've used it spring skiing, running, hiking. It breathes really well, it's lighweight, and repels rain and snow and wind. What more do you need?
This bad boy is my home away from home in the wintery mountains. I've taken a Trango 2 or 3 on so many expeditions that I can't remember how many. Never a concern when weather hits that you won't be comfy and cozy sitting it out in a Trango. Plenty of pockets and storage make organizing all your shit a breeze.
I've been a fan of the Phantom bag for many years now and it continues to be my go to for winter camping and expeditions. It packs down so small that it doesn't eat up room in your duffle and it's warm enough for most winter outings. Just put on a few more layers that you'll already be packing if your heading to AK, or someplace really cold. The bag really packs some serious loft even after I've forgotten to take it out of the stuff sack for some time. The outer shell sheds water nicely and it dries off quickly even when you get that morning dew and frost on it. There are a few things you just can't skimp on and a good sleeping bag is one.
Most race skis are stuck in the past with conventional side-cut and design. The do well on groomed runs, but that's about it. The WSP has an innovative shape and rocker to make it a much more forgiving ski in variable conditions in which many of these races, or long traverses take place. They aren't quite as light as many of the other competitive skis, but they aren't far off. I'm 6'3" and 190 lbs and it sounds absurd to be on a ski that's 160cm long and only 63cm under foot, but surprisingly they do really really well!
This is my favorite choice of ski for ski mountaineering/steep skiing. It's light enough to allow long link-ups and perfect for remote expeditions. The stiff tail gives you something to rely on when you need it. (if all else fails, ride the tails) And there isn't so much side-cut that they hang up or hook into the snow, they release nicely . The rockered tip allows them to smear through chokes and cut up any variability you may encounter. When your life counts on it, count on the Vector (good tag line, just made it up, Voile should use it).
I don't believe in a quiver of one. There are too many different conditions and objectives that require multiple skis for maximum enjoyment. BUT, If I could only have one ski it would be the V-6. This really is the sweet spot for one ski that can do it all really well. The rocker makes it really forgiving in a variety of variable BC conditions.
This has been my go-to ski for the Wasatch Mountains for the past two seasons. Voile really nailed it with this ski! It'll turn tight in the trees, you can open them up to high speed and the weight won't tear your legs off from touring them around all day in the BC. If you're looking for a fresh snow ski this baby excels at it in any depth.
This boot has been out for a few seasons now with minor mods and it continues to be the perfect balance of weight and performance for pow and ski mountaineering. It's light enough that you can haul it around all day and then enjoy ripping turns on the descent even on bigger stiffer skis. Scarpa fit has always been great for my feet and I never even have to cook the liners to fit I can just wear them right out of the box. The range of motion for touring is great, but once you lock them in they're as stiff as you need for the down. The in and out is a bit strange and I do struggle with it still, but it's a small annoyance that's worth the over-all package that is Mastrale RS!
I've now spent well over 50 days of my life living in out and or around the Stronghold Tent. This thing is the best home away from home if you're looking for a base camp that will handle ANYTHING that gets thrown at it!
It's kinda complex to set up so make sure you have the instructions and a good crew to follow them. Once it's up you can climb on the thing it's so tight and sturdy.
The internal skirt/flap acts as all the anchor you need. Just line the inside edge with all your gear. Then shovel a bit of snow around the outside to seal it from wind and snow.
I've slept 4 with all our gear and a dug out cook area and it was perfect. It once snowed 8ft of really heavy snow in as many days in Haines. We hardly had to dig the thing out while our 2 and 3 person tents were collapsing and required hourly digging.
It's a beast to travel with and pay for extra baggage fees, but well worth the cost once it's up and running. I've never tried it, but I think you could get away without some of the poles if you wanted to save weight, and still have a great shelter.
Can't say enough good things about this product.
These vest style packs are really nice! Even if you're not a serious trail runner. They hug your body really nice and don't shift around. Tons of handy pockets for your water, gu and phone right there. The only drawback is that they are pretty hot! Because of so much body contact they seem to create more heat and sweat, but that's not a huge deal.
You can actually pack a lot into this model. Plenty of room for a light jacket, camelback, extra snacks, headlamp, etc.
My first day out and the plate that's supposed to securely snap into place popped off without my noticing and was lost. This could have been my error, but I don't think so. Seems like a poor design. With the help of a little electrical tape it's now fully functional and I'm happy with it. It sits nice above the bicep and doesn't cut off circulation. Quick and easy in and out for changing tunes and snapping pics of the beauty all around.
Ok, I'm very biased since I helped make this film. However, I think it's a nice mix of backcountry adventures from all over the place and you should buy it so that Backcountry.com will order more from me and I will be able to continue traveling and skiing to create another film. It's the circle of life, be part of it!
The Epic has been the go to shoe for longer traverses/hikes and scrambles, but the Epic GTX takes it one STEP (pun intentional) further in the rugged and stable department. The standard Epic is much more like a running shoe and doesn't favor my feet as well on really long days and rough terrain. The GTX really keeps my feet protected and in place even while scrambling rugged terrain and running off the mountain. They are substantially heavier, but a great addition to the quiver of trail slaying.
I love my fairshare mug! Some minor modifications have made it an even better winter camping companion. First, cut up some closed cell foam and using duck tape make an insulated coozy. Don't tape it to the mug, make sure to make it removable so you can clean it. I also removed the handle since it sticks out all awkwardly and makes it hard to pack into a cook kit.