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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 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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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 31, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I've used a ton of alpine bindings and nowadays most bindings are starting to hone in close together from a basic technological standpoint. However, I do find how Salomon makes how they did their Driver binding into what it is today with the STH2 WTR 16 Ski Binding that it works best for what I do. I am mostly a big mountain charger where I use a fair amount of angles and strength due to my race background and I find that I don't have any issues with the release whether it is coming off prematurely or not at all. The wider binding platform is smart as most all mountain skis are starting to get wider in the waist so that you lose less power transfer with this binding. The WTR function hasn't been tested personally very much yet but I do find that the AFD plate has a ton of movement so it should fit a fair amount of rockered soles. The only complaints I have are that the ramp angle is slated a bit forward so you need to take that into account with your boot angle and where you mount on the ski as there is a propensity to get too far forward on the ski from a setup perspective. Also, I like having a 16 DIN max but it isn't for everyone, please make sure your personal DIN setting falls into the middle of the range so that you ride the binding in the safest way possible.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 31, 2017

4 5

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

The Sports CX-1 Ski Boot shows to be a great first option for those toddlers/kids who want to get their first turns with their friends or Mom and Dad. The rachet adjustable closure is easy to use and never feels too constricting. The sizing might be a bit long length wise but if you are going to have the size wander from normal for kids this is the way to go. The size range is amazingly accommodating as well and the only small quibble is a female version for colors would be nice. Will update when I have more.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 31, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 3' 2"
Weight: 25 lbs
Size Purchased: Small

The Obermeyer Oberundies Set makes for a very good traditional option for any toddler going out into the cold. The cotton weave, while being a bit of the old standard (merino??), still has a comfortable while durable feel. The fit is pretty close to on par with normal and while the style is a bit complicated it works here with the color schemes chosen.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 31, 2017

3 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs large
Height: 3' 2"
Weight: 25 lbs
Size Purchased: 1.0

I purchased the Hestra My First Mitten for my 2 1/4 year old and it has worked decently so far. The warmth is definitely there with some decent waterproofing. The sizing was interesting however as the closure was pretty close but the glove itself was a bit on the large side which made things a bit cumbersome on the taking off/putting on perspective. There might be some better sized options out there for skinnier hands/arms but when it comes to what counts they do work well.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 31, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs large
Height: 3' 2"
Weight: 25 lbs
Size Purchased: 5.0

Bought these for my 2 1/4 year old and they have so far been pretty good. The outer is super durable and very waterproof and warm while having a good fit albeit a bit bigger than usual. The velcro closure system is good for feet that are of the right size or slightly large but can see some small issues if they end up being more than a little small. Good traction is the cherry on top of a great winter boot option for Toddlers/Kids.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 18, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

I've been a Swix guy wax wise for a long time and I've also been using the Swix Base Prep Wax for almost the same amount of time. Since the temperature range is so accompanying to most snow conditions I find myself using this to either prep my groom running skis with some initial wax layers or use it as my primary wax for my all mountain-big mountain basher skis. It melts/scrapes easy enough and provides a great initial running glide over the snow surface. The only folks I wouldn't recommend this for are

-using it to hot scrape, a cheaper warmer wax works better for this as I feel this could be a bit wasteful
-SUPER wet conditions, this wax has no flourocarbons so it is a good start for a wet snow environment but it shouldn't be your only layer

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 18, 2017

4 5

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

I just got my 2 1/4 year old girl on the hill and was impressed by how this ski was to set up and perform. When it comes to Kid's/Toddler's skis, the setup and application should be brainless and Elan got that down here with a binding system setup that is super easy to mount (do not need certification for this one), helps to accompany a wide range of sizes and the shape of the dimensions and profile help my little one to concentrate more on how she feels instead of what the hill is throwing at her. Just make sure to note that this is more of an all-mountain ski and those daring enough to get their kid's in over their heads may have them finding a more backward balance point than usual in deep pow.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on January 18, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 180 lbs
Size Purchased: Large

I definitely get a little OCD with my ski socks as I run my boots super small (damn racing background..) and needs something that will be thin warm and comfortable and the Darn Tough Merino Wool True Seamless Over-The-Calf Padded Ultra-Light Ski Socks ticks all those marks so far.

The 64% merino wool, 33% nylon, 4% Lycra spandex weave allows the sock to balance warmth and comfort with stretchy fit and (with proper wash/drying) maintains shape while not being too firm. The thickness of the sock is just good enough for anyone who wants to run boots smaller than usual and I haven't had any rub points as of yet. I run a size 11 and the L fits me pretty well albeit a little bit narrow and the very top of the foot (damn bulbous big-toes).

If you are looking for a great all around lightweight ski sock, give this a shot for sure.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on October 30, 2016

3 5

Familiarity: I gave it as a gift but have feedback to share
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 6"
Weight: 150 lbs
Size Purchased: 10

The Arc'teryx Traverse Parapet Short, women’s size 10 in black. These shorts have nice detail on the front pocket; a zip pocket on a regular pocket, 5 pockets in all. The fabric & fit are great as expected, true to size, comfortable, the fabric light and quick-dry. Be aware the leg length is short, excellent for activities where you don’t need more coverage.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on October 30, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I gave it as a gift but have feedback to share
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 6"
Weight: 150 lbs
Size Purchased: Medium

The /29 Lightweight women’s shorts by Norrona for a recent week long river trip. Love these shorts! The fabric is light, quick-drying, nice zip pockets with a mid-thigh length. The fit is great, comfortable, relaxed but still gives a slim profile. I ordered women’s size large which seems true to size and the zipper with Velcro waistband provides an easy fit (I am 5’-6” 145-150 lbs. average build.) I selected the cool black, which is really a very nice darker grey with blue trim.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on October 30, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I gave it as a gift but have feedback to share
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 180 lbs
Size Purchased: 9

The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33 Running Shoe has been very comfortable for both everyday casual and distance running. The lighter weight than usual is very present and gives a more efficient feel to everything that I do. The size is pretty true on length and a tiny bit wide in the width.

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on October 30, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I gave it as a gift but have feedback to share
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 6"
Weight: 140 lbs
Size Purchased: Medium

The And I Must Go shirt has a nice deep color that is pleasing with most outfits. The size is close enough to true with enough room in the length to breathe. The feel is nice and soft as well

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Wally Phillips

Wally Phillipswrote a review of on October 30, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 180 lbs
Size Purchased: 34

Toad and Co. have been around in the BC.com catalog for a while now and I actually hadn't jumped on anything from them until the Rover Short which is an enjoyable casual/traveling option. The Polyester outer used is seemingly durable along with having a bit of stretchability which is nice as I feel like I can use it outside of the most rugged conditions and still have it comfy. The fit is pretty close on waist, right above the knee on inseam and a moderate leg opening. It's a god fit for me though since my legs are a bit bigger the opening is almost to small. The pockets give good functionality with a closable back pocket and the hidden pocket behind the left side is a nice touch for smaller items. Pretty good short overall.

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