Monthly Archives: January 2013

Gear Review: Black Diamond Dome Beanie

January 31, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Black Diamond Dome Beanie

Black Diamond Dome Beanie

Lightweight Hat
Black Diamond Dome Beanie
$19, 1 oz.
One size
blackdiamondequipment.com

Nordic skiing, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing—those high-energy winter activities require a little head coverage to stave off a chill, but too much hat will make you overheat. Enter the Dome Beanie, perfect for aerobic activities when you only need light insulation on your head. I’ve worn it for several days of skate-skiing and backcountry skiing and found it ideal in temperatures from the mid-20s to 30s when I’m exerting at moderate to high levels. This stretchy skullcap feels soft, covers your ears, fits under a helmet or even a warmer hat (as a wicking layer in deeper cold), and dries lickety-split. Continue reading →

Gear Review: L.L. Bean Ultralite 850 Down Jacket

January 28, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
LL Bean Ultralite 850 down jacket

LL Bean Ultralite 850 down jacket

Down Jacket
L.L. Bean Ultralite 850 Down Jacket
$179, 1 lb. 1 oz. (men’s medium), $189 tall
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, tall M-XXL, women’s XS-XL, petite XS-XL
llbean.com

In heavily falling snow at around 9,000 feet on Copper Mountain in Idaho’s Boise National Forest, I felt the cold touch my bones. We had been climbing uphill on skis, breaking trail, for about 90 minutes; I was wet, and now the wind on the exposed ridge where we had stopped for a bite hit us. I pulled this down jacket on over my shell jacket and kept it on while skiing back downhill—I was that cold—realizing the snow could saturate the feathers and thinking, “Well, we’ll see if this water-resistant down works.” Continue reading →

Gear Review: REI Salix Insulated Jacket For Kids

January 25, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
REI Kids Salix Insulated Jacket

REI Kids Salix Insulated Jacket

Winter Shell For Kids
REI Salix Insulated Jacket
$62, 14 oz. (boys medium, size 10-12)
Sizes: boys and girls XXS-XL (4-18)
rei.com

When your kids get old enough for hours of active backcountry recreation in winter like cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, they need a shell jacket that offers protection from snow and wind and some insulation without causing them to instantly overheat. In other words, they need a shell that it fits into a layering system, just like an adult. You want a well-made, durable jacket, but it’s nice if it doesn’t rival the price of an adult model. REI’s Salix Insulated Jacket for boys and girls fits that description completely. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Patagonia Capilene 4 Expedition Weight Zip Neck

January 22, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Patagonia Capilene 4 Expedition Weight Zip Neck

Patagonia Capilene 4 Expedition Weight Zip Neck

Base Layer
Patagonia Capilene 4 Expedition Weight Zip Neck
$99, 6.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL.
patagonia.com

No matter what your outdoor activity, in any season, the most versatile piece in your apparel quiver will always be a highly breathable, fast-drying, midweight top. That’s especially true in winter, when instinct tells you to go for a thicker, warmer base layer—which will often just make you overheat while on the move and then dries slowly. (More on that point at bottom of this review.) Patagonia’s Capilene 4 Expedition Weight Zip Neck fits the fill perfectly, pulling duty alone or over a lightweight, wicking top in winter, while being light enough for cooler days in spring and fall or in the mountains in summer. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Three Sleeping Bag Liners

January 14, 2013  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , ,   |   2 Comments
Insect Shield Cocoon Safari Bag

Insect Shield Cocoon Safari Bag

Sleeping Bag Liners
Insect Shield Cocoon Safari Bag
$80, 6 oz. (with included stuff sack)
cocoon.at

Sea to Summit Premium Blend Silk+Cotton Liner
$50, 5.5 oz. (regular, with included stuff sack)
Sea to Summit Coolmax Adaptor Travel Liner
$53, 10 oz. (mummy style, with included stuff sack)
seatosummit.com

Sleeping bags liners are essential gear for hut trips and a useful supplement to a sleeping bag, increasing a sleeping bag’s temperature rating by several degrees and keeping the inside of your bag cleaner longer—and it’s easier to wash a liner than a bag. I took several bag liners on a weeklong hut trek in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park using them under thick, wool blankets, and these three emerged as my favorites. Each has strengths that will appeal to different personal preferences. Continue reading →

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