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
August 24, 2009 Sigg Gear

Sigg’s BPA Deception

As of August 2009, Sigg has revealed that the secret ingredient in their top-secret formula was, in fact, BPA. SierraDescents’ position on BPA in water bottles has (hopefully) been clear: since good alternatives exist, I see no reason to use containers where BPA is present, and no need to get into endless arguments about just (more...)...

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July 15, 2009 Gear

Beacon Interference

Lou at has an essential post on how various electronic devices interfere with avalanche beacons. The quick hit on this is that several commonly carried PED’s, such as cell phones and Ipods, can render your beacon useless in search mode. Since this information is both critically important and horribly out of season, I’ll try (more...)...

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June 13, 2009 Black Diamond Tent Roundup Gear

Black Diamond Tent Roundup

As much as I love sleeping under the stars in the High Sierra in Summertime, I also enjoy staying warm, dry, and free from mosquito bites. I am therefore a big fan of Black Diamond’s single-wall tents, which remain the lightest ‘real’ tents available—freestanding, breathable, highly water-resistant shelters that shine in most conditions (more...)...

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April 14, 2009 Glove Review Roundup (2009) Gear

Glove Review Roundup (2009)

These past few days I’ve been working on a flurry of end-of-season gear reviews. First up: gloves. Swany was kind enough to send a pair of X-Change II’s a few weeks ago. Thanks to this year’s very strange Spring weather, we got to try these in a huge range of temperatures, from balmy SoCal 60’s (more...)...

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February 19, 2009 Snow Camping - Sleeping Pad Comparison Gear

Snow Camping – Sleeping Pad Comparison

We’re here in Flagstaff, AZ, en route to Colorado for our annual family ski vacation, and I’ve got my tent set up in my parents’ yard. No—it’s not that my folks are driving me crazy. With overnight lows an invigorating 8° and two to three feet of snow all around, I thought now would be (more...)...

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January 2, 2009 Mountain Hardwear Typhoon Gear

Mountain Hardwear Typhoon

The Typhoon Jacket is yet another of those affordable ambiguously technical rain shells that are fast becoming today’s bestsellers. Similar to the North Face Venture Jacket and Marmot’s PreCip Jacket, the Typhoon is the only one of the bunch to offer high-end Gore-Tex PacLite fabric (more…) (more...)...

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December 30, 2008 Big Agnes Two Track Gear

Big Agnes Two Track

In its two-inch version, the Big Agnes Two Track self-inflating sleeping pad offers a very warm advertised r-value of 6.5. To put that number in perspective, Thermarest’s equivalent winter pad, the ProLite Plus, is rated considerably lower, with an insulation value of 3.8. Exactly how objective those numbers are (and thus how valid the comparison) (more...)...

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November 8, 2008 TNF Apex Bionic Gear

TNF Apex Bionic

North Face’s Apex Bionic Jacket combines the best qualities of Windstopperâ„¢ fleece and a stretchy soft shell in one trim package. The Apex Bionic practically jumps out of the box when it comes to applications like downhill skiing, snowboarding, or cold-weather backcountry skiing, hiking, and climbing. This is a performance blockbuster and a Windstopper-killer. North (more...)...

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November 4, 2008 Marmot PreCip Jacket Gear

Marmot PreCip Jacket

Marmot calls the PreCip Jacket ‘full-function value-added rainwear.’ Given the PreCip’s bargain price, the value is easy to see. As to the question of function, the PreCip is a seam-taped waterproof/breathable shell that sits (like TNF’s excellent Venture Jacket) somewhat ambiguously between plain nylon rain gear and technical outerwear. Compared to the Venture Jacket, the (more...)...

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About SierraDescents

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.