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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillips

Gearhead

Salt lake City, Utah and ANYWHERE there is snow

Wally Phillips's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Skiing
Running
Biking

Wally Phillips's Bio


Backcountry.com’s Gearheads are your instant connection to gear knowledge. They’re passionate outdoor experts hell-bent on helping you find the right ski, saddle, or pro. Follow their adventures and exploits.


As a Pittsburghian at birth, I began my outdoor foray on skis at age 2 1/2. Since then, the pursuit of the best turns has consumed me. I am willing to go the extra mile to get to places people only shake their head at (Utah provides many). I also bike, run and have as much fun as I can in this short life.


I’d love to answer your gear related questions. Here is how you can contact me:
Phone: 1-800-409-4502 ext 6112
Email: wphillips@backcountry.com

Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 31, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I have been using the SRAM Eagle X01 drivetrain on my new rig and I'm pretty enamored with it. The cassette is especially noticeable due to the HUGE 50 tooth ring at the biggest cog size. It really is a cheat code when getting to that gear range with a 30 tooth crank ring. The shifting has been crisp for the most part as under some poor pedal stroke weighting has caused some catching at times, but it is more pilot error than anything. Along with the cheating feeling of the 50 tooth ring, I'm finding it hard to pedal out of the highest gears as well at 10 teeth. If you have the means to, get on the Eagle drivetrain as soon as you can!

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 31, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs small
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 183 lbs
Size Purchased: 45.0

Full disclosure, I am a proponent of lessening the weight on the rotational forces around the crank/shoe/BB area to increase pedaling efficiency. Coming off of Giro Code shoes to these I thought that I was getting into some cement shoes that would bog me down. Couldn't have been so wrong.

The sole is JUST stiff enough for the right amount of power transfer while the middling weight helps to either push power through the end of the stroke or to reef on the outside pedals in the loose fast turns. Fit is a smidge small but I prefer that so if you are in-between sizes it would be smart to size up. Overall a really good options for trail/enduro/all-mountain riding.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 31, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 183 lbs
Size Purchased: Large

Second set of Giro gloves that I've had and the Remedy has been pretty solid so far. The ventilation is surprisingly good and the padding places itself well without being bulky. The sizing feels smaller at first but breaks in a bit while wearing. Beware of the wear as the seam failing is a thing as the previous gloves that I had from Giro suffered around the finger seams in about a couple months. Will update after more time.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 31, 2017

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Okay, I don't like pressfit BBs. I just don't. I had one threaded that spoiled me and now the pressfits feel more like high maintenance. The SRAM BB92 on my Evil Following has been good so far though I've be pretty hair trigger on the feel and sound of it and if things go sideways fast I'll try to upgrade to a Chris King. Stay tuned....

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 31, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Sorry for the title.... The SRAM Guide RSC brakes are quite the revelation after the last time I ran on brakes from SRAM (Avid Juicy 5s, not the best). The 4 pistons give great stopping power though it comes at a different feel which works if you know about it. I've now been on SRAM and Shimano brakes semi-extensively and I can say for sure that Shimano can have more immediate bite and stopping if needed though the squeeze to get it requires a ton of force while the Guides are more progressive and don't kill your speed as fast. If you are used to killing speed fast then either bleed these super tight or know to moderately brake more often in rougher terrain. It should sound like a negative, but it isn't as it makes you feel more proficient in your riding to approach things this way as long as you know that this is how you should approach your braking.

The only thing that I find is that the XTR brake levers are way more applicable to how my hands are shaped but this could be more personal preference. If you have the bankroll, get on these now.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 31, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I have only been on the SRAM EAgle X01 Eagle drivetrain for a few weeks though I am enamored with the performance to this point in shifting and gear ratio. The shifter plays a huge part of it as it is a brainless setup and tuning with a crisp single shift up or single/double shift down while being easy to place on the bars. The only thing I'll be doing is putting grip tape on the knobs and then letting it do its thing when I need more speed or climb-ability.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 31, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

So many pedals, so many options depending on who you are and how you ride. I prefer to be clipped in more often than not and for that purpose the Shimano XT Pedals just ROCK. After being on lower profile pedals the cage around the SPD cleat gives an immediate feeling of support when pressing into turns without the large weight gain and lack of engagement for the pedal stroke. It takes a bit of tuning in the beginning to get the tightness right but as long as you do that you can use these to your aggressive trail/enduro pleasure.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 31, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Maxxis and Schwalbe have been my go to tyres as of late and the DHR II 3C has been a good to great addition to my current build. Serving as a 2.3 size front wheel on my Evil Following is works pretty well with the current wheel (Stan's Arch MK3 29mm external) where I run it at around 21-23 psi where I find that it can grab a bit more in pumping on loose conditions. Durability has been spot on so far with no sealant leakage or flatting issues.

Looking for a possible 2.4 version down the road as I could get a bit more grab in super loose conditions but it is the only nitpick and it is more on the Following as the rear triangle can get a bit tricky with tyre clearance. Definitely give this a look if you are charging aggressive trail to light DH with dry to pretty loose conditions.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 31, 2017

3 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

This will be the second RockShox Reverb that I've worked with up to now and the first one was solid through about the first 1,000 miles when the bottom O-Ring failed and dumped hydraulic fluid into the bottom bracket area of the frame I was running at the time.

I've seen that a few internal changes have been made on the B1 version for better or for worse. I've heard of there being less internal problems occurring over time for these changes and that has yet to be seen and while it has worked pretty well so far it doesn't seem to have the return or collapse speed like the previous version. Also, since there is a 1x remote out now from SRAM (which looks awesome) the previous remote just needs to get phased out as I can place it well but the plunger type shape is cumbersome.

Will try to get the 1x remote eventually when it is released on its own for improvement and keep an eye on the internals but OK so far..

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 30, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Coming from the Next SL Bars from Race Face I knew what to expect with the 35mm SIXC version. I've left the bars uncut as of yet on my medium sized Evil Following with a 50mm Race Face Turbine stem and it feels god so far for my shorter reach yet wider shoulders. The color scheme is nice (green bars for the green frame) and I haven't felt any overflexing or durability issues as of yet. Will update this review after a bit more time on them.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 30, 2017

2 5

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

I had my LBS (not proficient on wiring up shifters as of yet) try to set up one of the white colored versions on my Evil Following and they found that they weren't able to get it to go as the inner plastic housing wouldn't feed into the outer housing. The shop seemed to try every method to get it to feed through with no success past the first two mm.

It is probably a one-off thing as the LBS replaced it with a different Jagwire version that worked on the X01 Eagle drivetrain. Just something to watch out for but I'm sure it is an anomaly and not the norm.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 30, 2017

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

The Race Plus from Elite is a good water bottle cage with a decently easy install and looks super sharp. It does require some break in time though and some water bottles were a tougher fit than others. Luckily most of the Camelbak ones fit pretty well and I guess that is the trade off for making sure you don't lose your hydration on a rough section of trail.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 30, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I just started to run the SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain on my new rig (Evil Following) and to say that it is shifting and pedaling bliss would be close to not doing it justice. The crank specifically has held up pretty well so far as the 175mm sizing works well for my almost 33

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 30, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Using these Stand Arch MK3 wheels on my newest rig which is an Evil Following. Previous research claims that these wheels are pretty "set and forget" and that rings mostly true with the tried and true Stan's tubeless system where I used the minimum amount of sealant and still retains stability and air pretty well and the performance, while isn't stellar, is solid especially for the money. The stiffness I would say is in the middle to upper tier for an aluminum rim and the hubs are spinning faster and more efficient than expected. Great Sapim spokes as well!

Any downsides? Again, nothing blew my mind with these wheels outside of the hub performance so far and how good the seal is for tubeless tires but for the money that is expected for the Arch MK3 wheels for them to be set and forget is not something to be neglected. Give these a look if you are interested in a good daily trail wheel or a backup set if you are balling hard on your current 29er rig.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 30, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I've been running Race Face as my cockpit/crankset setup on a few rigs now and getting the Turbine Stem on my newest bike (Evil Following, Med Frame size) on a 50mm size and it runs pretty well. Has a solid feel with a lower profile body and the sizing with my T-Rex shape is good with the frame I run. I may try a 32mm size to fine tune the fit and get a bit more reaction from the front end of the bike.

The only gripe I have is while the overall shape is low-pro the head of the stem is bulky enough to where it gets weird with my light system. Granted I run a Gemini Titan handlebar light (freaking awesome by the way) so the light is a bit bulky itself but it gets in the way a bit.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on May 4, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 181 lbs
Size Purchased: 11.5

Chaco is immortalized for their sandals though folks should maybe think of looking at them for other footwear segments. The Brio Boot is a suitable casual boot for Spring or Fall seasons as the suede upper does a pretty decent job deflecting light inclement weather and the tread is pretty solid for patches of snow or water. The look is also super clean to where I have a few people a week giving me props on the look.

The fit is pretty normal length wise though the boot does run a little narrow in the forefoot. The LUVSEAT footbed does hold your foot bottom better than most stock footbeds but don't expect it to feel like a spendier aftermarket one.

Only durability issue that I've seen is that the laces are fraying a bit already on the eyelets so maybe spring for some burlier laces. A great boot offering from Chaco nonetheless

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on February 25, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I have to say that Salomon has been on a bit of a roll lately. They have a bunch of money athletes such as Cody Townsend and Greg Hill while providing ski and boot product lines that seem to be mostly above the norm.

Then some rumblings began emerging of a boot that is close to as light as the Dyanfit Vulcan while having a cuff movement close to it and sporting the tallest cuff in AT boots lately. Those reports came to fruition with the MTN Lab boot and it does live up to all that is said about it. For how solid it feels after completely buckling and strapping down (120 is about right), the range of motion and the weight is impressive. I could actually feel the articulation almost better than I could in the Vulcan.

I've seen some folks balk at the 2 buckle design and while it doesn't have the responsiveness that a 4 buckle does, it keeps a more than adequate feel to the turn in all backcountry and some resort conditions. The mechanism on the top buckle that not only has a wide range but helps it reach to further tighten the top is one of the more overlooked pieces of tech out there. The size is great too as there is a shortened boot sole length but the boot wall is very thin so my long and thin 11.5 shoe size foot fit almost easily into a 27.5.

Complaints? Not many here, but it isn't a TLT Performance replacement and I wouldn't use it for resort charging either (though I do prefer a burlier boot so those that don't could do it) leaving it in that weird gray area of it does superb freeride touring and COULD do resort or alpine touring. I also think while the closure is great the power strap is a little mincy. I also haven't tried the liner yet as I Intuition'd this pair but will be back for an update.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on February 25, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

Candide Thovex. The man, the myth, the proven legend. While his complicatedly strung together POV videos make us ponder what is possible in life, he also has commissioned one of the better freeride ski lines out there. The 3.0 sports a 108mm waist width in the 186 length so it is geared towards a higher snowfall daily driver and backcountry booter ski and I'll be damned if it doesn't do more than that.

The Candide 3.0 combines a close to symmetrical rocker profile with a low 20s sidecut radius and balsa/flax wood core with a titanal binding plate. What does all this tech jargon mean? Well, it blends a poppy and playful ride with a solid underfoot feel. That isn't marketing fluff, that is actually what it does and does better than most skis out there, which is great as this is what most one-ski quivers are looking to accomplish.

Is it on the more playful than chargy side? Oh yeah, this is Candide's ski after all. I also am a race based skier so I did need to mount further back and after that needed to put a 7 degree duct tape strip on top of the AFD to get things right as I had too much tip initiation at first. After getting dialed, this ski is one of the more versatile freeride skis out there with how damp it is while staying light and poppy.

One of the best out there.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on February 25, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

So, this boot could be leading a revolution towards a different type of boot where you see a stiff type flex with a weight that will make you double take. The Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 Ski Boot tips the scales at less than 4 lbs but has a (pretty close to) 130 flex and the performance does not disappoint despite all the questions:

-how can a boot this light charge?
-what did they do to make a boot like this so light?
-how am I able to fit into this boot better and smaller than others?
-why do I like this boot so much?!?

The answers are complicated and simple. The simple part is that years of Atomic's race background have provided a four buckle overlap shell that provides superior steerability from the front of where the ankle bone pivots which garners unlimited feedback from the boot and a turn feel that seems unmatched. Another simple point is that Atomic greatly lessened the boot wall to shave a ton of weight off of the boot while keeping a poly lower shell and a few carbon parts to retain stiffness.

Here's where it gets complicated. The width of the boot has custom shell technology with the ability to add 4-6 mm of width in the toebox after heating properly with a credentialed bootfitter. The liner is also a bit more complex with having Thinsulate to keep the foot warm and Memory Fit (similar to Intuition) to provide a more custom fit.

To answer the last question, it is THE lightweight shell that can perform like it says. It seemingly glues you to the snow without setting in fatigue as quickly. The fit properties also fit the bill as my 11.5 street shoe long but skinny foot is able to go in a 27.5 size with only big toe punch. Only drawback here is the liner, which does do better than most, while still feeling a bit on the soft side in comparison to others and does pack out a bit more than expected earlier.

Overall, this boot has the ability to change how big mountain freeride boots are made going forward and those who love a boot that is super responsive while having the ability to fine tune may not find better on the market right now.

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