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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeney

Salt Lake City/ The wild

Stephen McSweeney's Bio

I have grown up in Salt Lake City my whole life, having only moved away to be a raft guide. I grew up outside and have always considered the Uintah mountains to be my home. If you are trying to find me, I'll be outside doing anything from climbing, boarding, and hiking, to riding my motorcycle and playing disc golf. If it's outside, I've probably tried it, and chances are, like life, I love it!

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on May 10, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I own a few airhole mask, but only one in the merino version.

I am a huge fan of merino especially for base layers so it is no surprise it is about the only airhole I ride with these days.

The idea behind the air hole is simple and effective, my kind of solutions.

If I could change one thing I would make it slightly easier to find the hole side after having it around your neck, but I haven't figured out a great way they could do that so I wont complain! You also get used to it really quickly.

If you love merino like I do and like the concept of the airhole this is a definite recommendation.

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on May 10, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

There is not much to say about these other than buy them if you are looking for a great glove to ride in.

They do take a little more care to maintain the waterprofness of the outter layer than some options especially in full synthetic, but the extra care is WELL worth it.

I ONLY buy Hestra gloves for riding in general and these are the favorites that I own.

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on May 10, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I bought these as a back up pair of boots to my super stiff boots I also wear. I thought I would only use them on occasional casual days, but I have found myself wanting to wear them more and more so I have almost used them more than my stiffer boots.

The liners are super comfy and mold well. If you are looking for a softer all mountain boot or just a great all around option this would be a top suggestion.

Only concern is that the tops of the uppers seem to be showing a bit more wear than expected after the amount of abuse, but they are not falling apart by any means.

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on October 10, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

There are almost no reviews for this item anywhere on the internet so I will do my best to be very thorough on this one!

Let's start with why I bought this pad over any other. I am a first and foremost dedicated hammock sleeper. I have backpacked over 500 miles in the last 2 years and have only slept on the ground 4 times (yes exactly four, my shoulders still hurt...okay maybe they don't but I really don't like the ground anymore).

The biggest challenge with hammock sleeping is staying warm when the temperatures start to get down there. The main reason for this is because you are off the ground so there is a lot of air flow under you, and if you sleep in a classic sleeping bag you compress the insulation under you effectively cutting of 10-15 degrees (at least) off of the rating of your bag. I use the Grand Trunk Hammock Sleeping bag, which helps negate the crushed insulation problem to some degree but it can still get a bit drafty.

I bought this pad to go on the John Muir Trail, where I knew that temperature below freezing were not only likely but to be expected for the time of year I was there. This is just below my comfort level with my hammock sleeping bag.

I bought this pad to add back the extra warmth lost to drafts underneath the hammock. I did not want to carry anything heavier or bulkier than I needed to. While this folds so it is not the most trim profile compared to inflatable options when packed, it blows away every other pad on the market in terms of weight. It also has a much higher R value then any pad that is even close to its weight. For me it made this item a no brainer. 5oz for all that warmth? Done.

It's second function was to serve as a pad for going to the ground if I had to. I did have to do this twice on the JMT. It certainly kept me warm, but let's be honest, this pad is very spartan as the only means of padding between you and the ground. I was lucky to have softer camp sites those two nights so this was still plenty comfortable for one night and definitely kept me warm.

Overall this pad is killer, but you do have to know why you are buying it specifically. If this is going to be a stand alone dedicated pad and you are worried about weight I would say to look into inflatable pads or the other slightly heavier foam pads. Your back will prefer to carry the extra weight than to not sleep on it night after night.

If you too are a hammock sleeper or you want to use this to supplement another pad for colder weather camping then look no further this is exactly what you are looking for.

TL:DR?

pros:
-Ultralightweight
-super warm
-Flexibility makes it a great hammock pad
-Durable for a CRAZY light pad (didn't even show wear on the JMT)

Cons:
-not very comfortable for a standalone pad for sleeping on the ground
-will blow away in the wind if you turn your back at the wrong time (no seriously, it is that light)

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on October 10, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

These were definitely nice to have, especially near the end of the trip at higher elevations and colder temps where bathing in a stream or lake is a little trickier to fit in to the full day of hiking.

They definitely did their job. I would give them five stars but they are just not THAT much better than baby wipes. While they are a little better and having a larger pad is nice, baby wipes are cheaper and just as effective.

If you like the idea of the larger pads, and the added aloe then you should still totally buy these.

If you are on a budget or dont really care about those things classic baby wipes will get you taken care of

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on October 10, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 190 lbs
Size Purchased: Medium

You will not find pants that are this light and pack this small, even in a higher price range. If you do then they are definitely not going to be waterproof. Resistant at best.

And to top it off they have a fully waterproof rating and in the field stand up to the rating. I have been stuck in a storm where I swear it was raining up in these things and they kept me dry for the 6 more miles I had to get to camp.

If you want a backpacking rain pant stop here.

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on October 10, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Stinger.... They just do it better.

They have the best energy foods on the market and these are definitely no exception.

These are not quite as fast of energy as the chews or gels in my experience but they do stick to the ribs a little better.

Buy a box in every flavor but especially the gingersnap if you like ginger based cookies!

A must for long distance hiking.

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on October 10, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I purchased this for the John Muir Trail as most of the trail it is a requirement and for good reason.

Many reviewers have touched on a lot of the things I would have to say about this item, however I have to disagree about the size/weight ratio.

I own this canister in both sizes and for their carrying capacity they have some of the smallest overall footprints and weights. Realistically you are looking at getting a Bearikade if you want anything that is either higher in carrying capacity or lighter and have you seen the price tag on those things? Not worth the extra cost unless you need a much larger capacity.

Keep in mind the number of days that they say you can fit seems to be based around the average 2000 calorie diet. I was eating over 3000 on the trail and still lost 15 pounds so I could never get as many "days" as they say. Most people have little need for the smaller one because you end up needing to put more things than just food in there as well. One large and one small worked well for me and a partner but if either of us were alone we would have definitely needed the big one.

As for the lid opening issue, it can be a little tricky. I seemed to have less issues than many other fellow hikers (this was the most popular canister on the John muir trail with the garcia in a close second). Most people also really only seemed to have problems in the early morning when their hands were cold. If your hands are cold you can use a coin to push on the textured black part on the tab. Alternatively and what I did when I needed to was pick up a stick or a rock. Thumbs and tools are cool!

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on October 10, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This sink is so awesome!

It was something of a last minute purchase for the John Muir Trail. I figured at 3oz and such a small pack size I couldn't afford not to bring it!

I was right. While there are ways to handle chores without the sink and still practice LNT, this sink makes it so much easier to do both!

If you even think you could use it just go for it! For how light it is, it is super durable and very useful.

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on October 10, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This is what I would consider the best backcountry soap option. I have done the classic thing and used bronner's as well but I feel like being unscented allows this to be used for more cleaning duties, and trust me there are always more cleaning duties.

This stuff really is as concentrated as it says so take it easy! I made one 3oz bottle go almost the entirety of the John Muir Trail and the dishes were never put away dirty.

DO NOT PUT THIS DIRECTLY IN THE WATER
This is not what biodegradable means. Please for the love of all that is holy do not put this in streams, rivers, and lakes. This is not responsible LNT practices and effectively negates the purpose of this soap.

You need to take this at least 100 ft away from a water source to do your cleaning and then effectively spread the waste water around when you are done. Better even if you can bury it though in most areas it is not required. Just don't think it is safe to go straight in the water supply as it is just as harmful in some ways as none biodegrable soap to the ecology of our waterways.

LEAVE NO TRACE!

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on October 10, 2016

3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I took this with me for "brown blazing" the John Muir Trail.

It packs up relatively small and is pretty light. It survived 260+ miles of hiking this summer with two people using it, so it for sure does the job.

The thing is that it could definitely be lighter and a bit sturdier. It did not break but I felt like I had to be a bit careful in harder ground, and sometimes it was tough to get down the 6 inches you are supposed to.

Definitely works but my advice is to buy something metal, or better yet a super oversized stake. This is what many fellow JMTers did and their "shovels" were lighter and worked better in hard ground.

I will not be taking this on any more thru hikes. I will keep it around for car camping and weekend trips until it fails but I certainly wont be replacing it with another one.

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on October 10, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Well little did connor know, rope will inevitably save your keister.

I do not go into the backcountry without paracord anymore. I have needed it too many times, and have used it even more.

Just go ahead and buy 5 times more than you think you need. You will use it. I would consider this to be the second most important survival item I carry, behind only my knife.

This is some of the most bulletproof cord I have used as well. Be aware that the sheath melts much quicker while the core hardly burns, so burning the ends can be tricky. I typically just tie an overhand knot at the end unless I need it to be sleek, then I will take the time to burn it evenly (it can be done it is just tricky)

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on October 10, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs small
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 190 lbs
Size Purchased: 11

I have been wearing top siders for 11 years now, and go through a pair or two every year or two.

I will never stop buying them. They are stylish and super comfortable, and last through all the abuse I put on them.

You don't need to be a seaman to wear boat shoes! They are just leather covered flip flops that make you look classier.

I am a 10.5 in most shoes and I have to wear 11 in top siders, always have though, as their sizing is super consistent. Once you find your size you wont have to think about it again for the next pair you will inevitably buy.

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on October 10, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

These are by far the most delicious energy chews on the market, and I have tried them all.

They don't have a single flavor that isn't tasty, and several of them come with caffeine for those really hard passes.

I know these got me up an over the high sierra nevada passes of the John Muir Trail.

I will never backpack without these again. I will probably just never stop eating them cause they are delicious! take them away before I eat too many!

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on October 10, 2016

5 5

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

I typically come prepared enough on the water purification front to not need tablets, but always carry them for back-up.

I have only had to use these once, but I was 16 miles from the nearest city on a 260+ mile hike and this got my up and over the pass without getting any nasty tummy bugs.

I have used other types of purification tablets and these bar far had the least taste when the water was ready to drink. A big bonus for tablets, as taste is one of my least favorite aspects of having to use tablets.

A must as a back-up to a quality water filter.

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on October 10, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This towel is pretty incredible. SUPER lightweight and packs very very small.

It seriously gets me more dry in one pass than my normal towels at home and definitely dries out much faster. If it were a bit softer I would almost use it at home!

I also used this on the JMT while doing laundry. I would lay this on the line first dry on days where I wasn't sure my clothing would dry by dark. It would suck out the moisture over night leaving my clothes dry. Then throw it on the outside of the pack for the first few miles and it is dry again.

If you need a lightweight towel stop here.

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Stephen McSweeney

Stephen McSweeneywrote a review of on October 10, 2016

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I took this stuff sack with me on the John Muir Trail.

I was concerned about the durability because I had to carry my sleeping bag and hammock in the stuff sack on the outside of my pack, so I was concerned about setting it down or snagging it causing a rip because this fabric is super lightweight. I was not so concerned about it staying waterproof if I could keep it from snagging.

In both areas I was very pleasantly surprised. While the stuff sack shows some wear after 260+ miles of hiking it is still in service and will see many more weekend trip to come. I would buy a new one to do another thru hike but a lot of gear doesn't even make it through one thru hike.

Easy five star product.

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