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stu smythe

stu smythe

Falls Creek Australia

stu smythe's Passions

Hiking & Camping
Biking
Snowshoeing
Climbing
Skiing

stu smythe's Bio

I work on a mountain...summer and winter, testing and using gear is a passion and an occupation...I trade hemisphere's for amazing powder (Japan my fav...) following one basic rule...: Get Up and Go Hard...
The start of the perfect day is first tracks and fresh powder...then skiing the rest of it with my two young sons...H and X...chasing steep and deeps wherever possible...
Swapping the ski's for MTB's in the summer, hitting trails, berms and kickers...

stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on July 1, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs large
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 225 lbs
Size Purchased: 2xl

AS per the below...have put this through the ringer...just bought a second one. I'm a fan of TNF...and partial to Arcteryx kit too...but the latter is expensive...TNF has really raised the bar with this fabric and seriously thrown a challenge out there. It's a softshell, but has many elements of a technical shell based on its "weatherliness". Have been using exclusively for -2 to 2C days with base layer, TNF thermoball vest and its super warm and functional. Only criticism would be sleeve pocket (for lift pass)and this would be a 6 star jacket. Fabric is flexible and moves with you, the brushed lining does add warmth. Its extremely windproof and repels moisture (snow and rain) well. Will be interested to know how long this lasts. Hood works well with helmet (smith Vantage) and when fully zippered on windy/powder days plenty of room around the face, velcro sleeve tabs provide options whether wearing cuff or gauntlet gloves...
Would highly recommend. Went one size up thinking i'd need to layer to stay warm...wrong...not needed. So say should fit true to size. Update: would recommend going down a size if you like tighter fitting shells, the stretch does give you added flexibility.

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on July 1, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs large

10 year old loves these...the fit is "large" - he's 10 - 42kgs and 151cm (so tall for his age) but the size rating doesn't "cling" and the length will be sufficient for him to "fill it out"... The hoody element fits perfectly under ski helmet - providing another layer of warmth...highly recommend, just size down a little. No issues with the base layer "itchiness" that other fabrics can have...wish they made it for adults!!!

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on May 21, 2017

5 5

This piece of equipment does exactly what it is designed to be...it won't insulate, but it will repel horrendous weather. Can't wait to test in ski/snow terrain. Have used extensively hiking medium altitude terrain, with unpredictable weather...it will keep you dry, insulate - though its not down or equivalent, but layer properly and you'll be fine...all the features necessary. Its not a hard shell, its a compromise, but a very worthy one. fit is true to size. Adjustable hood for helmet or hike depending on your purpose...great price for what it offers versus other equivalent (higher priced) versions...another great TNF product.

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on March 27, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 230 lbs

great hat...got as a xmas present...toasty warm...stylish to boot and always gets comments...so much so...have bought one for the plus1...she loves it...and rocks the look...brim just the right size for cold winter days, or snowy nights when you want to keep the snow showers off your face...great job Filson!

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on March 27, 2017

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 230 lbs

Have three pairs of these pants...love the versatility, storage and overall fit...only suggestion/recommendation/plea to TNF would be to add some stretch to the seat and thighs (yes they are relaxed fit - but a bit more stretch would be great)...don't want them baggier...just stretchier...(?)...occasional need to really push legs and extensions on step climbs impeded by lack of give in the fabric(have large thighs 30in)...otherwise the perfect pant for a hike and loading up with ancillary gear ie. phone/compass/maps/multitool...etc...dry quick, seams in the right places...easy use colour coded zips for each pant extension makings thinking in the morning easier...simple things!

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on January 19, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs large

Got this as a Xmas present and have used in Japan skiing and hiking. The outer shell fabric felt thin and was worried about waterproof capabilities, but has been used on days when its been puking snow and no issues with water penetration. The thermoball insulation jacket is a great addition. Have taken it out and using with other jackets as key layer. One complaint...pls put internal chest pocket, or liner pocket into the chest area for phone or music player...the jacket has this feature, but its lost when using the thermoball liner independently or with other gear.
Fits a little large and the stretch in the fabric gives plenty of movements..and there is ample room to layer...haven't used the shell on a standalone basis yet...but can imagine it will be quite a versatile jacket for hiking in summer/spring. The whole jacket (including liner) packs down to nothing. Combined with being very light, it will become a travel accessory for sure!

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on January 19, 2017

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs large

Bought this in the brown and Papa Smurf blue colour and matched to bomber blue TNF freedom pants (insulated) - great combo...warm as toast...
All features are great, but its the warmest north face jacket i've used. Venting works well! Only requires a thermal, plus woollen/synthetic layer underneath, yet you remain very well protected. Would probably go one size down next time, as bought thinking i'd need to layer up... Used in Japan powder, waist deep freshies (-10c). Stayed dry all day, no moisture penetration or dampening of the fabric. Relaxed fit means you pack it full of stuff, or layer up...but you won't need the latter.

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on June 6, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 220 lbs
Size Purchased: 10.5

I ordered the 10.5, beluga old gold colour...fit is fine, colour is fine...the fit was tight initially, mostly across the forefoot, have now moulded and stretched where needed. If anything i'd go half a size down if you intend to really use these boots for the purpose they were built.
At first the heel cup felt loose with that "sloshing" feeling. Lashing down the laces across the forefoot and the ankle bite solved for this and the lacing system here works ok, but a hook system would enable different lacing options. My greatest frustration being that, like other reviews, the "neck" of the boot is narrow. I have wide feet (general EEE last (102mm)), regardless of how loose the laces, these are still tough boots to slide on. Once on, laces tightened and lashed down (recommend a surgeons knot), particularly pushing the heel into the back of the boot, the boot work well. Remembering these aren't "everyday wear to the shops", or urban type shoes...they are for serious hiking in tough cold conditions. You put them on, they stay on for hours. That is what they're designed for. The lace loops however should be hooks and d-rings. When hiking through relatively flat terrain, its good to be able to loosen the ankle hold and let your feet "breathe". the lacing system doesn't allow this.
The sole and grip pattern is terrific...mud, snow, slush, even slippery basalt rocks...these work well.
Temperature wise, only pushed them to minus 5c, but toasty warm nonetheless after 5 hours of hiking through various terrain.
Given the need to really tighten the boot to get the best fit, the longevity of the top four lace loops/eyelets will be the challenge.
These are high ankle fitting boots. Push through the "rubbing" issues on the ankle and shin bone from the cuff pressure. Overall can't complain about this boot. Lace hooks would see it rank better. For the price, these boots function as intended.

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on January 22, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times
Fit: Runs small
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 235 lbs
Size Purchased: xl

I bought this jacket, to replace an older Half Dome Gore-Tex Stretch Pro Shell that TNF used to make. It was a BRILLIANT jacket. The Half Dome doesn't have anywhere near the features (ie. powder skirt, pockets etc) of this jacket, but the fabric is by far superior. I applaud TNF for developing the Brigandine Fuse Form fabric, the tapered seams and integrated powder skirt etc...The jacket has oodles of storage/pockets for a shell and the zippers are extremely effective in tough conditions. My criticism of the zipper is the hard ties used to toggle the zippers are cumbersome with gloves. Softer zip ties, with large toggles (as on the Half Dome) are a much more user friendly product, especially when coated in snow. Bring back the "two way" zipper on all shells - this alleviates the need to have the jacket either fully open, or off, when hiking or trekking in the backcountry. This jacket "rides" up as you stride for extended periods, similarly, stifling heat exchange. Furthermore, the general cut of this jacket is more fitting than the same size Half Dome Steep Series jacket, despite both being "relaxed fit". Has TNF changed their sizing metrics?
Solid shell, just wouldn't recommend for true backcountry expeditions.

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on January 20, 2016

4 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I'm 5'11, 235b (just outside the recommended user rating) wearing a size 11 Zamberlan Pro GTX RR boot. The boa action is really effective and holds well in all circumstances. Used on hikes between 6 and 10km in Hakuba (Japan) backcountry with these in 30cm of fresh laid over an icy crust, across variable/steep terrain.
Concerns around the boa system, clogging or being cumbersome to use...not a problem at all. The Zamberlan boots have a chunky toe and wide last. The latter maxed out the footbed deck, making the fit tight but workable, the rubber rands on the Zamberlan boots prevented any sliding/rubbing - increasing confidence in foot strike. The Viper 2.0 crampons are outstanding. Hard boiler plate steel ice and the occasional rock strike didn't impact or damage the teeth. In fact, over patches of 20degree plus icy terrain, these were outstanding. The flex is great in steeps. Suggest playing with/loosening the heel riser before heading out. Initially quite stiff and frustrating to initiate with poles. Work these over a little prior to use. The Zamberlan boots are especially stiff with carbon shanks offering little torsional rotation. The snowshoes transmitted this through, but with the torsion deck, this combination worked well and stability was strong. The tip to tail rails, riveted in four sections, ensure great articulation and traction in the steeps and traverse terrain.
I will be interested to see how the boa endures repeated use, versus more traditional bindings.

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on October 31, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've used it several times

I got a hold of these for the final part of the season (read wet and slushy) down in Australia.
The articulation from these gloves is tremendous. Their warmth, similarly exceptional for the value they present. Its early days, insofar as haven't subjected to huge abuse...but used on numerous days handling ropes, shovels, snowmo's etc...fit is true, the triple baked finish and waxing is amply repellent...I haven't added anything additional or waxed for increased resilience, to date no deterioration in "water proofing". For a glove with such great insulation to also have this level of feel and dexterity is massively impressive. Ordered two pairs! As an avid user of the Tough Guy Glove..(had four pairs in last few years - all still functioning and performing), I expected big things from this glove and haven't been disappointed. Recommend versus equivalent and significantly more expensive rivals!

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on October 8, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

After trying nearly every base layer on the planet, from merino, to under armour...you name it...these are the only ones that "aren't itchy"...10 year old wears them without complaint. They look great, fit to size and provide terrific warmth as a base layer. He uses when racing or just freeskiing with his buds. highly recommend. The quarter zip with the "web" pattern is also cool! Size L, for 148cm 10yr old. Two seasons sizing, so great value on sale.

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on August 18, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

This jacket is a must for anyone who appreciates warmth and compression...its packs down well, but punches above its weight for warmth. Fits true to size, if not possibly larger in the waist/hip. Have also used as an outer layer for Spring mtb riding. The stretch fabric is great and resilient. Post coming off, hitting some rocks etc, the fabric withstood the abuse really well.

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on August 18, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

Insulation is what sets these pants apart...plus oodles of pockets.
The fit is loose, plenty of room for the more athletic build. The key differentiator is the insulation...in the areas that matter and the resilience of the fabric. I wear these daily in the field and love them...
I'm 6ft, waist 38-40 (don't judge!)...love a good craft beer...these fit in xl with room to have a few more...my only criticism is the cuff tends to ride up, despite powder skirt pulled down.

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on July 17, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: Runs large

I'm 5'11 235lb, 38in waist, but 32in thighs...these are the only pants i wear for skiing. they are roomy in the thighs and butt, plenty of storage space and adjustable waist works well, removing the need for any belt. Use extensively for skinning so venting works really well. Have never had an issue with overheating, nor with chills. I do tend to run hot though. Can imagine for traditional pant wearers' these might be too baggy. But larger, athletic builds - these work well.

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on July 17, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

Bought this and love it.
Warmth well beyond expectation. Core body protection is tremendous with the 100g Primaloft. Oodles of storage, pockets galore for every conceivable use both secure and loose internal sleeves...Have used primarily as second layer under shell, so can't comment on water shedding ability. Highly recommend. The fit is "slim". Comparable to other brands the sizing runs slightly smaller.

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on February 6, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I gave it as a gift but have feedback to share
Fit: True to size

Bought as a xmas gift...so successful as a midlayer, my wife requested that I purchase two more! That speaks for itself! The technostretch fabric is incredibly warm when use as mid layer. The hood, with separate full zip neck "gaiter" enables use under any helmet (using Smith Variance) or adds to warmth around the neck when conditions aren't so cold. My wife particularly likes the athletic fit and the waist band which tho not able to be "tightened", functions well and stops riding up under shells or other garments.
Colours are true to picture. Size runs true. thumbholes further increase functionality and retain warmth. Highly recommend.

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on January 15, 2015

5 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

huge fan of the Thermoball...the first vest proved so versatile, I bought a second!! Cant fault it. Use casually and under shells on warmer days, or high excersion days...fit - no issues, warmth is exceptional.
ONLY Criticism: NEEDS a chest pocket...on all such jackets...whether the pullover (which has them), but for cell phone etc...chest pockets would make a great product better.

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stu smythe

stu smythewrote a review of on January 15, 2015

4 5

Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Fit: True to size

My preferred choice for hiking due to packability...and warmth. Use during transition phase or lunch breaks on hikes, then unpack for car trip home. The design provides core warmth, but with the stretch woven side panels, enables sufficient heat exchange if you've not quite finished the hike after lunch...
Would describe the fit as "athletic" vs regular, suspect due to woven materials "hugging" the torso.

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