January 2, 2012 Black Diamond Warrant Gear

Black Diamond Warrant

I’m going to coin a new term to try to capture the essence of Black Diamond’s Warrant, part of the revamped 2012 Black Diamond ski lineup: let’s call it ‘de-specialized’. The Warrant replaces the highly-regarded but aging Kilowatt, a ski known for its versatility. Like the Kilowatt, the new Warrant is also a generalist, but (more...)...

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December 22, 2011 Exped DownMat 7 Gear

Exped DownMat 7

Yes, there is down (as in feathers) in Exped’s DownMat-series sleeping pads, which include the DownMat 7 and the DownMat 9, in lengths from short to long. Putting feathers inside your sleeping pad may sound a little strange, but it works out to have exactly the same effect as putting feathers in your jacket: it (more...)...

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December 18, 2011 The Return of the Quiver Gear

The Return of the Quiver

In the good old days you needed two or three pairs of skis, depending on how serious you wanted to be on the race course. You would either tilt GS or Slalom, and ride those as your go-to board, and then typically you’d keep an old pair as rock skis for the early season, and (more...)...

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December 13, 2011 Canon XF100 Gear

Canon XF100

I understand that Canon’s XF100 is currently one of the very hottest items in the compact professional camcorder market, and I understand why. But to my eye, the XF100 is compromised by the inescapable limitations of its sensor, and that compromise overshadows the XF100’s otherwise-outstanding features. What’s good about the Canon XF100? Well, it’s hard (more...)...

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December 6, 2011 Scarpa Charmoz GTX Gear

Scarpa Charmoz GTX

Scarpa’s Charmoz GTX is a light Alpine/Mountaineering boot in the same class as the very popular La Sportiva Trango S EVO. On my scale the two boots are almost identical. The Charmoz weighs three pounds, five ounces per pair (size 42.5), exactly 0.5 ounces lighter than the Trango S. Both boots are lightly insulated, waterproof (more...)...

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December 1, 2011 Sony NEX-5N Gear

Sony NEX-5N

Sony’s next-generation NEX-5N looks pretty much the same as its immediate predecessor, the intriguing NEX-5A, but there the similarities end. The NEX-5N is in many ways the realization of the potential that the 5A could only hint at. The camera is capable of simply staggering image quality, no longer approaching DSLR quality but rather (more...)...

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November 30, 2011 The Malache Jacket Gear

The Malache Jacket

I’m a big fan of non-fleecy fleece. Yes, we all know the performance advantages of fleece, and we’ve all got at least one fleece jacket lurking somewhere in our closets—but does anyone actually like the stuff? Given the choice of fleece versus a cotton sweatshirt, I’ll take cotton every time, except those times which require (more...)...

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October 3, 2011 Fritschi Eagle Gear

Fritschi Eagle

Fritschi’s Eagle 10 and Eagle 12 (for maximum DIN setting) replace the Explore/Express bindings as the slightly-lighter alternative to Fritchi’s hugely popular Freeride Pro Alpine Touring Binding. In either version the Eagle is a highly-evolved step-in A/T binding, with a design and feature set almost identical to the Freeride Pro (more…) (more...)...

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September 22, 2011 North Face Verto Gear

North Face Verto

You’ve got to hold one of these to believe it. The North Face’s ultralight Verto Jacket feels like a less-crinkly version of your average grocery store plastic bag—and I’m not talking about the heavy-duty variety. On my scale, a men’s medium weighs 2.8 ounces, including a full zipper! And if that’s not enough to astonish (more...)...

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September 16, 2011 Gear

Sony NEX-VG10

The only way I can understand Sony’s NEX-VG10 camcorder is to think of it as an experiment. In general, I’m all for experimentation, especially when it leads to new and unexpected designs. But there is a difference between previewing a prototype and asking people to pay money for a finished product, and in my opinion, (more...)...

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When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

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