Review: Black Diamond Trail Shock Trekking Poles…

These are the first poles I ever bought or even tried. Next to getting hydraulic Cyborg legs these are the best thing for hiking.  Ever. They instantly turned me into a four legged mountain goat.

Took them on a 7 mile fastpack initially, and I was flying down wet rocky trails faster than I could free fall. These give you the balance and confidence to make some INSANE steps and jumps you would have never tried without them!  If your into crazy technical hiking  these are must haves.  I also have a questionable ankle that always gets sore and this negated that completely.  Also great for skirting around a large muddy or wet section of trail and for water crossings.

Upper body workout is impressive as well, I read they take 25% of the work off of your legs.  Spreading out the exertion kept me from taking breaks every 20 minutes. The shock absorption is a nice bonus, grips are great. On downhills I was putting 20-30 lbs of pressure on each pole and they held it like champs. Putting that much weight on them GREATLY diminishes leg impact. Pairing them with my Osprey Aether (60) with its pole storage straps made coverting to scrambling or walking flats super fast.

Some tips I picked up: Use the wrist tethers correctly and spread your weight through your wrist as well as your hand; you can make your lead pole longer than the other; sometimes using one pole is better than both; alternating your leg and pole arm on hills is clutch – try to maintain that form and you will crush uphills and get a serious workout.

If you are on the fence with a pole purchase ask yourself this: Would you go skiing without poles?  Its really the exact same difference.  Also if you go hiking with a friend that doesn’t have poles or good gear, letting them use one will greatly improve the odds of them hiking with you again.

Categories: Hiking Camping Gear, Review | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: Red by Burton, Mutiny II Snow Helmet…

The RED Mutiny II Helmet is my first helmet and I’m glad I decided to invest in one as I’ve been fighting it for years. I wear a Marmot DriClime helmet liner with it, the only time I didn’t, I got really sweaty and cold, the helmet liner is a nice insulator.

I have a big dome and this was one of the best fitting XL helmets I tried on. The brim style means it doesn’t ventilate like others do but it still has interior vents that work good enough.  Also no holes in the exterior to get packed with snow if you crash or let in water if its raining or snowing.  This helmet saved my ass (and goggles, just drop your head) in the glades when branches and sticks are clawing at your skull and I was in the glades a lot this year.

Best part about this (and most helmets) is the headphones in the earpads. I can listen to my music softly on the chair and conversate or blast it on the ride down. I can fit this helmet in the nose end of my snowboard bag for easy travelling also.  I pack my goggles inside them so they won’t get crushed.

The ear pieces also are removable for either warm spring skiing or cold weather mountain biking.  I biked with it this winter and it worked great without the ear muffs.

UPDATE:  I’ve had this helmet for a few years now and its saved my life probably 5-6 times where I’ve smashed really hard off either ice or hardpack snow.  I’m considering upgrading as I recently tried on a few pair of Smith helmets like the Smith Variant Brim and found them to be much nicer and more comfortable with better ventilation options.  A helmet is one piece of gear that is worth spending on as a cheap one won’t last you as long as you think and its the one piece of gear that is saving your life.

Categories: Mountains, Review, Snowboarding, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: REI Flash 18L Pack…


Very Versatile Pack…

I bought this for a Montana snowboarding trip after I realized my beloved REI Traverse 30L was just too bulky for riding on chairlifts and too heavy when full. I really just needed something for water, snacks, a scarf or facemask if it got warm, and other small things.  XC skiing in Glacier National Park it was PERFECT, nice and lightweight. Snowboarding at Whitefish Mountain, I strapped my helmet to it at the bar at the end of the day and threw my goggles and gloves in it.  I get antsy about losing my gear so this is my new BFF on the slopes.

Honestly most of the time I forgot it was even on my back which is perfect when you are riding or skiing.  Plus it has a built in chest strap whistle that is loud as all hell in case of a backcountry emergency.

When my trip ended, I turned this inside out and packed all my dirty clothes into this and put it in my suitcase, segregating it from my clean clothes. The stuff sack dual-functionality make this a genius little bag and the price is nice at around $30.

5 stars already and I haven’t even used it for hiking yet!  This is also hydration compatible (probably could handle 1-2L) and has two small interior mesh pockets.  Will likely use it for a reserve pack for friends when day hiking or a beach bag for sure.  Recently been using this as a gym bag for my keys and jump rope.

Hellroaring Peak, Whitefish Montana

Hellroaring Peak, Whitefish Montana

Categories: Hiking Camping Gear, Review, Snowboarding | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra GTX Trail-Running Shoes

These are so comfortable that they’ve replaced my come-home-from-work slippers. The shoelace system is the SHIT.  One pull and they STAY PERFECT, pop the lace cinch into the hidden tongue pocket and it doesn’t bounce around, get loose, or get snagged.  I have had mega issues in the past keeping my shoes and boots tied while hiking and snowboarding.

I’ve taken them trail running and boulder scrambling and they’ve been great; lightweight, breathable, and awesome grip.

Just did some post blizzard city running and they performed impressively.  Sprinting on ice and snow, I hardly slipped once and feet did not get wet. Only thing to watch out for is getting sweaty feet in the cold, they are so breathable my feet get chilly, not a fault of the shoe though and a positive in the summer when it will be hot.  Another option is the midtops of the same design.  I tried these on as well and they are very light and just as comfortable but not high enough for good ankle support.  After getting these I also got the Salomon Quest 4D boots which are incredible as well as a great pair of Salomon Boa Snowboard boots (to replace my old Salomon boots).

Categories: Hiking Camping Gear, Review | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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