October 19, 2008 Gear

Death Rays in the Backcountry?

The Goat has the report. (I’m holding out for a Lightsaber.) (more...)...

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October 10, 2008 North Face NSE Tent Bootie??? Gear

North Face NSE Tent Bootie???

Really the big disadvantage with these is all the taunting you’ll have to endure from your friends. If you can take it, however, the North Face’s 700-fill down NSE Tent Bootie offers several tempting advantages. For a long time, I’ve struggled with the issue of what to wear around camp while ski mountaineering. Basically, you’ve (more...)...

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October 3, 2008 Down Bags: GoreTex vs. Microfiber Gear

Down Bags: GoreTex vs. Microfiber

I got an email the other day from a Sierra mountaineer who was wondering what the pros and cons were of getting a down sleeping bag with a GoreTex Shell versus microfiber. GoreTex, of course, is the famous waterproof-breathable membrane that dominates the outdoor clothing industry. Microfiber, or its relatives, refers to the standard nylon (more...)...

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September 19, 2008 What Lies Beneath Gear

What Lies Beneath

One of the things I didn’t mention about my recent Pacific Crest Trail hike was that I froze my butt off at night. At first, I was convinced the problem was the sleeping bag I’d chosen: Marmot’s 30° Hydrogen. Since it was mid-August, I was anticipating temperatures to be mild. Instead, overnight lows dipped down (more...)...

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September 15, 2008 MSR Hyperflow Gear

MSR Hyperflow

With its various parts and configurations, MSR’s Hyperflow Microfilter weighs between roughly 7.6 and 9.9 ounces total. Go with the higher number—leaving parts at home (such as the Nalgene bottle adapter or even the carrying sack) is not recommended. That makes the Hyperflow roughly two and a half ounces lighter than my current pump/filter darling (more...)...

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September 5, 2008 God, I Love the Smell of HDPE in the Morning… Gear

God, I Love the Smell of HDPE in the Morning…

Among the more esoteric search topics that bring visitors to SierraDescents is the question of the scent of HDPE water bottles. Do HDPE water bottles really smell bad, people wonder? Or was that just a marketing pitch started by the creators of Lexan? Here at the world-renowned SierraDescents Institute for Plastic Odor Research (SIPOR), I (more...)...

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September 4, 2008 Jetboil PCS Gear

Jetboil PCS

Rarely does gear prove to be such a complete home run as Jetboil’s Personal Cooking System (PCS) canister stove. The only conceivable knock on the Jetboil is its potentially-alarming 15-ounce weight. That may sound a bit startling if you’re used to the 2.5 ounce posted weights of stoves like Snow Peak’s GigaPower or my Coleman (more...)...

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August 23, 2008 PCT Hike as seen by Spot Gear

PCT Hike as seen by Spot

We’re back from the Pacific Crest Trail, having successfully hiked from Onion Valley to the Cottonwood Pass trailhead at Horseshoe Meadows—roughly 60 miles through the hidden interior of the Sierra Nevada. I’ve got a TON of stuff to post on this hike, including hundreds of photos, a gaggle of new gear reviews, and many, many (more...)...

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July 18, 2008 Vasque Breeze GTX Gear

Vasque Breeze GTX

At two pounds, nine ounces per pair, the Vasque Breeze GTX qualifies as a light hiking boot—but don’t think that means they’re not durable. This is the boot I used to hike and ski Mt. Williamson’s West Horn, a tour-de-force of gear-wrecking savagery involving 2500 vertical feet of dry off-trail scrambling (with skis and overnight (more...)...

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July 16, 2008 La Sportiva Trango S EVO Gear

La Sportiva Trango S EVO

La Sportiva’s Trango S EVO GTX Alpine Mountaineering boot delivers a mighty punch of versatility and performance. What truly makes the Trango S EVO special, however, is its outstanding out-of-the-box fit. The Trango EVO GTX seems to fit like a running shoe when you first try it on. Even without a break-in period, I found (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.

Pray for snow.