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Archive | Gear Reviews

Goat Crest Saddle, the final of many passes on a thru-hike of the Kings Canyon High Basin Route

Long-term review: Sierra Designs Long-Sleeve Pack Polo

It’s back! After it was disappointingly dropped for the 2015 season, the Sierra Designs Long-Sleeve Pack Polo is in stock again, creating the perfect opportunity for a review. This is my go-to shirt for 3-season backpacking in sun-blessed locations like the Rockies, Sierra Nevada, and Southwest. Its optimal conditions: Daytime high temperatures above about 55 degrees F Abundant sunshine No or low bug pressure A […]

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Top: The stock locking mechanism, which is prone to failure. Bottom: My inexpensive solution, using a #10-32 nylon locking nut and washer.

Long-term Review: Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock Poles | Two design flaws + solutions

This summer I used the Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock Trekking Poles (short-term review) on two significant outings, in addition to some local day-hikes: a 10-day thru-hike of the Kings Canyon High Basin Route, and an 8-day yo-yo of Wyoming’s Wind River Range, including a northbound thru-hike of the Wind River High Route. The cumulative […]

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The SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger. The $150 device weighs 4 oz (with batteries) and can send 1-way emergency and non-emergency messages.

Long-term Review: SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger

My mother has requested only once that I buy an outdoor product. It wasn’t an uber warm sleeping bag, a highly engineered stove, or a rain jacket that was guaranteed to keep me dry. No, it was a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger. She was not shy about her motivations. While a messenger would allow me […]

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Foam is the second best grip material, behind cork but ahead of plastic and rubber. The extension grips are key -- I use them regularly on steep climbs and sidehills.

Review: Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock Trekking Poles | Shockingly awesome performance for $30

Update, November 11 2015:  Also read my long-term review. Two months ago at the local Costco I bought Cascade Mountain Tech Quick Lock Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles. They are also available from Amazon (go here) with Prime shipping. At a minimum, I thought they would be useful for visiting family and friends. At best, I hoped […]

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My experience with wood stoves is that they are much less user-friendly than this picture suggests they are.

A skeptic’s review of the BioLite CampStove: it’s neat but mostly impractical

A major attention-grabber at last week’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market (ORSM) was the BioLite CampStove, a unique biomass-burning stove that will boil water and charge your electronics via USB. The CampStove was featured by many of the most popular online media outlets, including Outside, GearJunkie, and TrailSpace; Brian Green has also written about it a few times. […]

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Product Review: SPOT Satellite Messenger

My mother is not a backpacker or a hiker, and “outdoorsy” is definitely not among the Top 10 adjectives I would use to describe her. But, as a mom, she gets gravely worried and concerned when her hyper-outdoorsy son goes into the backcountry, usually alone, regardless of the season, and almost always with the intention […]

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