October 30, 2014

Dynafit Huascaran

Dynafit Huascaran

Dynafit’s Huascaran took me completely by surprise. With the Huascaran we know we’re getting a light ski, but who could have expected how solid its performance is? Skiing the Huascaran in-bounds at Copper Mountain, I go no sense I was on an underweight touring plank. To the contrary, the ski seemed right at home across a variety of frontside conditions, demonstrating a smooth, playful character (more…)

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October 28, 2014

Fly Creek Platinum vs Hubba NX Solo

Fly Creek Platinum vs Hubba NX Solo

Here are two interesting tents with very different approaches to the challenge of building a viable solo shelter. The overriding ethic of Big Agnes’ Fly Creek Platinum 1 is “make it light!” MSR’s Hubba NX Solo, on the other hand, comes at the problem more from the angle of “make it right!” (more…)

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October 10, 2014

Volkl Reboots the Mantra

Volkl Reboots the Mantra

The Mantra has changed. Yes, there have been minor tweaks to Volkl’s All Mountain masterpiece over the years, including the daring addition of a dash of tip rocker. But this time is different. For the 2014-2015 ski season, Volkl has rebooted the Mantra, giving us a ski that substantially departs from the concept and feel (more…)

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September 11, 2014

Dirty Girl Gaiters

Dirty Girl Gaiters

Of course we all hate scree gaiters, but the darned things tend to be useful—particularly (as is often the case) when we’ve decided not to bring them. Leave the scree gaiters at home, and you can bet that easy trail hike you’re expecting is going to turn into a steep field of calf-deep sand and gravel, where a nannyish voice will continuously snark in your ears if only you’d remembered (more…)

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September 4, 2014

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

The only thing wrong with La Sportiva’s Ultra Raptor is that it’s not a mid. For ultra-class hikers and runners, this is an outstanding all-day shoe. The Ultra Raptor is reasonably light (I’m measuring my US 10.0 pair at one pound, ten ounces, post-use), eminently stable, and confidence-inspiring in that most critical of metrics—extended use comfort. La Sportiva specs this as a medium/wide fit (more…)

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August 27, 2014

Black Diamond Speed 22

Black Diamond Speed 22

The Speed is back—sort of. In its original, 2005 edition, Black Diamond’s Speed backpack was a masterpiece of light-is-right design. The original, 30-liter Speed backpack gave us a floating lid, side compression straps, a stiff single-stay frame, and not much else. For fast travel with heavy loads, the pack was and is just about perfect. Big ski mountaineering day trips? Check. Desert hikes that demand (more…)

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August 15, 2014

Sony A7S

Sony A7S

Here is what I remember most about film: not the waiting, to get your slides back, but the anticipation. Film added something to every shot, a twist of scene or color or light, a dash of magic that took the mundane and made it art. Digital is not like that. We’ve gained in many ways incomparable advantages by switching to ones and zeros, but in those quantized bits surely anticipation has long since given way (more…)

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August 5, 2014

Salomon X Ultra Mid

Salomon X Ultra Mid

Salomon is well known for cutting-edge trail runners, but can they make a Mid? Yes—and it’s a good one. The X Ultra Mid GTX is rugged, stable, and very light. I admit I absolutely obsess over hiking shoes—and in particular, the mid category. Many of us prefer hiking in the lightest shoe possible, but still need the support of a heavier shoe for bearing overnight loads, scrambling over talus, or crunching vertical (more…)

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July 24, 2014

Mountain Hardwear Optic

Mountain Hardwear Optic

Let’s call Mountain Hardwear’s Optic 3.5 a car-camping tent with backpacking aspirations. The Optic isn’t light, but it is abundantly livable. You get 45 square feet of floor space and a 48-inch interior height. Combined with the Optic’s innovative marquee feature—a 180° view—all that space makes for a very comfortable interior, downright roomy for two adults, and easily big enough for three (more…)

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June 24, 2014

Sony RX100-III

Sony RX100-III

Is it possible the closer we get to perfection, the farther away it seems? The updates to Sony’s third-edition RX100 digital compact are practically a wish list of the impossible. How about a wider, brighter 24-70mm Zeiss lens, for starters? How about a bright, high-resolution pop-up electronic viewfinder? And how about Sony’s Bionz-X image processor engine, which confers the holy grail of HD video (more…)

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