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Robert Ritchie

Robert Ritchie

Rhinelander, WI

Robert Ritchie's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Running
Snowboarding
Climbing

Robert Ritchie

Robert Ritchiewrote a review of on January 23, 2018

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

This stove is ridiculously powerful. Typically, I use a Jetboil flash for most of my backpacking needs, and until this last trip I took winter backpacking, it hasn't been a problem at all.

But when there's no surface water and you're forced to boil snow, the XGK leaves the jetboil in the dust. After boiling multiple liters of snow, I was still waiting on the jetboil to boil the first two cups I had placed in it. the XGK is definitely my go-to for anything below freezing.

However, the stove is a little much for everyday camping. I don't think anyone doing summer backpacking with accessible waters and temperatures that aren't detrimental to canister stoves would need this. But it certainly has its place in the hiking/camping environment.

As for liquid fuel, I can't say it's too much more work than canister stoves. It's certainly a little daunting to get into, considering you have to care for the stove, but with the shaker jet, the videos that MSR provides, and the kits they sell, it's not a very steep learning curve.

With weight, I can't say that this is as light or compact as a jetboil. Lugging around fuel bottles, the stove itself, and the inevitable cookset is definitely bulkier than a canister stove. I don't think I'd take it summer backpacking, simply for the weight savings that taking my Jetboil would provide.

I'd definitely buy this stove again, and it's already saved me from a pretty frigid couple of nights.

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Robert Ritchie

Robert Ritchiewrote a review of on July 20, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs small
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 130 lbs

I've been using these boots on a couple different backpacking trips as my only shoes. Typically I bring a pair of boots or shoes, as well as a pair of sandals or flip flops for around camp. But with the removable liners that actually have rubber soles on them, I've been able to simply use those. Plus, when I wear them around on their own, they breathe better out of the boot and seem to dry off pretty quickly.

The boots do run a little narrower, so be careful on that for sizing. Other than that, they broke in very quickly for me, and they haven't had any pressure points or hot spots during the time that I've used them.

As for practicality, the soles and versatility of the boots make them excellent for almost any terrain, they grip well, have great support, and break down with the liners to make an entirely separate pair of shoes.

My only problem with the boots is that my liners seem to have either lost some waterproofing ability, or never had it in the first place. I'm noticing now, after around 100 miles put into the boots or so, that the liners will take in a little bit of water if fully submerged, but not to the point where the gore-tex ends. It's not enough to even notice at first, but I've noticed my socks are just a little damp when I take them off afterwords. Other reviews lead me to believe that this is caused by the stitching in the liner, but mine could also be isolated and only require a warranty claim.

Overall, I'd highly recommend them. They dry incredibly fast, much faster than anyone's boots that went backpacking with me that didn't have liners, the removable liners are a necessity that I didn't even know I needed until I had them, and the overall quality of the boots is well worth the insane price tag.

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Robert Ritchie

Robert Ritchiewrote a review of on June 28, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I've hiked 36 miles with these poles so far, and for the first 30, I thought they were the were poles in existence. In snow or mud, they would simply fall apart into the 3 sections that they collapse into. Until I finally figured out that I'm an idiot and have to pull the pole all the way out. After that, they were a dream. They're lightweight, easy to pack into packs when not in use, I just used the loops on my pack for ice axes.

My only complaint is that when they're new, some black residue from the foam can rub off on your hands. It's not sticky, and it washes off easily, but after a hike, it's a little annoying.

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Robert Ritchie

Robert Ritchiewrote a review of on May 7, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

The pack has been nothing but amazing, I don't feel sore at the end of the day, and the suspension keeps the weight evenly distributed on the gigantic plush hipbelt. It works as a backpack perfectly, and includes all the features you'd expect, plus a couple more. Waterproofing helps a lot for peace of mind, I'm sure it's not completely waterproof, but it's kept everything dry in pouring rain without a rain cover, and the laminated fabric feels sturdy, while still being lightweight.

The only things I don't like about it:
-External Storage is so-so. The kangaroo pocket keeps everything accessible, but they include a couple loops for attachment on the sides.
-Hip belt is a little bit awkward when storing the pack in a vestibule or something. It just sticks out, so I clip it together and it's a little more manageable.

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Robert Ritchie

Robert Ritchiewrote a review of on April 10, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I've had the eTrex 20 for a couple years now, and it's never caused any problems for me. I've used it for hunting, geocaching, and for just finding trails and marking waypoints. It's got dependable battery life, lasting me a good couple hours of screen on time with full back light.
It lacks specialization that some other GPS systems integrate (marine or hunting focused systems), but you can still load maps onto it.

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Robert Ritchie

Robert Ritchiewrote a review of on March 31, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I bought this pack a couple years ago as my first backpacking tent, so keep in mind that this is not compared against any other tents.

So far, it's been a complete breeze to set up and tear down, it takes me only a minute or two even in the dark to get it together, and its simplicity has been a lot more helpful than I first imagined, and has saved me many headaches.

As for the roominess, I use it as a solo tent and keep my gear next to me, and honestly the tent compresses enough in my pack to justify a two person tent anyway, so it's more than enough room for one person, although with two people, a larger footprint and actual stakes will be required to safely store gear and packs without actually sleeping with them. Otherwise, I have had no need for stakes, and the freestanding aspect has made it a lot more versatile as to where I can use it.

Build quality is average. I wouldn't say it's outstanding, and I wouldn't say it's bad. The tent it self is great, and I've had no rips, despite how thin it is. The rain fly feels a little cheaper, but hasn't caused any problems or shown any wear, so it's help up fine.

Overall, it's a great tent, and unless you're looking for absolute weight saving, it's simple enough to set up, and has extra support poles that can be left behind to save weight. Build quality is solid, and I have no complaints.

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