August 26, 2010 MSR Carbon Reflex Tent Gear

MSR Carbon Reflex Tent

At a published weight of two pounds, thirteen ounces, MSR’s ‘hyperlight’ Carbon Reflex 2-man tent sounds perhaps a little too good to be true. The Carbon Reflex employs a mostly traditional, tent-plus-fly double wall design at a weight typically reserved for single wall or solo shelters. If three pounds sounds too heavy, pitch the Carbon (more...)...

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August 17, 2010 Injinji ToeSocks Gear

Injinji ToeSocks

What the heck is this all about? That’s about what I thought when I first saw Injinji’s “ToeSocks”—socks with individually-fitted toes for your…toes. Injinji makes the intriging point that traditional tube socks are like mittens, forcing your toes to act as one unit, rather than individually. But do Injinjis offer a real performance advantage or (more...)...

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July 30, 2010 Thermarest DreamTime Mattress Gear

Thermarest DreamTime Mattress

I may be biased toward ultralight gear, but a select few heavier items have a place in my heart as well. Case in point: Thermarest’s luxurious DreamTime sleeping pad. Calling the DreamTime a sleeping ‘pad’ seems a little misleading. The well-named DreamTime offers the comfort and warmth you’d expect from a full-size, stay-at-home, quality mattress (more...)...

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July 6, 2010 Osprey Exos Gear

Osprey Exos

Osprey isn’t joking when it calls its Exos-series packs ‘superlight’—these overnight-capable packs come with a stiff and robust frame yet weigh about the same as most frameless daypacks. The 46-liter Exos weighs a remarkable two pounds, five ounces. Does that sound too heavy? My stripped-down Exos 34 weighs one pound fifteen point five ounces, lid (more...)...

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April 18, 2010 Scarpa Skookum Review Gear

Scarpa Skookum Review

I was under the impression Scarpa’s new Skookum was a Frankenboot of parts borrowed from other Scarpa models in an evil-genius attempt to create a downhill performance monster. To my surprise, this monster proved remarkably well mannered on both the uphill and downhill side of the equation—plus at a measured seven pounds, ten ounces (size (more...)...

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April 8, 2010 MSR Reactor Gear

MSR Reactor

Probably the most critical comment I can make about MSR’s Reactor backpacking stove is that it sat unused and unopened inside my closet for nearly two years. Winner of a 2007 Backpacking Magazine Editor’s Choice Award, the patented Reactor is an integrated canister stove that employs both a heat exchanger and a pressure regulator to (more...)...

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January 27, 2010 2009-2010 A/T Boot RoundUp Gear

2009-2010 A/T Boot RoundUp

Online at last are all of my boot reviews for the not-exactly-annual SierraDescents Alpine Touring Ski Boot Roundup. The majority of these boots were provided as loaners by the manufacturers—thank you! I must note, however, that after the thrill of seeing so many new pairs of boots sitting in my living room wore off, actually (more...)...

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January 5, 2010 The Factor Review Gear

The Factor Review

It’s impossible for me to assess Black Diamond’s new Factor ski boot without considering it in context: the Factor represents the flagship achievement of Black Diamond’s audacious (some might say crazy) 4-year project to turn itself into a major Alpine Touring and Telemark ski boot manufacturer. Ski boots, please note, are really, really hard to (more...)...

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December 8, 2009 2009 XMAS Recommendations Gear

2009 XMAS Recommendations

It’s finally here: the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the 2nd (or it is 3rd?) annual official top-secret 2009 SierraDescents Christmas gift recommendation list! Hooray! Hooray! Okay, I’ve been thinking, and I realize there’s a problem with this whole operation. My recommendations are really a list of things that I want, rather than (more...)...

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November 21, 2009 Pieps Freeride Beacon Gear

Pieps Freeride Beacon

Do you check to see what kind of avalanche beacon your partner is carrying? I ask because there are a wide range of beacons on the market, and some of them are a lot easier to use than others. Case in point: the new Pieps Freeride. The Freeride is a tiny-tiny device about the size (more...)...

Posted in Gear | 8 Comments

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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.

Pray for snow.