September 4, 2014 La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Gear

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 (more...)...

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August 27, 2014 Black Diamond Speed 22 Gear

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. (more...)...

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August 15, 2014 Sony A7S Gear

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 (more...)...

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August 5, 2014 Salomon X Ultra Mid Gear

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 (more...)...

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July 24, 2014 Mountain Hardwear Optic Gear

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 (more...)...

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June 24, 2014 Sony RX100-III Gear

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 (more...)...

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April 30, 2014 The Vipec Gear

The Vipec’s Viability

In the immortal words of Lee Lau, NEVER TRUST A FIRST GENERATION TOURING BINDING YOU MORONS. I found myself admiring the clarity of Lee’s admonition as I was pondering the spectrum of reviews on Fritchi’s Vipec tech binding—or should we call it a nouveau-tech binding? Either way, the Vipec is both a remarkable evolution and (more...)...

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April 18, 2014 Kabookie vs. Bonafide Gear

Kabookie vs. Bonafide

Short answer: I prefer the Kabookie. I’ve played around with both skis for over a year now, and for my body weight (about 145lbs), I’m just not seeing much benefit from the Bonafide’s full metal sheet. Kabookie and Bonafide are geometrically identical—same sidecut, same dimensions. The principle published difference is that metal sheet, which extends (more...)...

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April 10, 2014 Tecnica Mach1 Gear

Tecnica Mach1

New for the upcoming 2014-2015 season is Tecnica’s Mach1, which employs what Tecnica calls a paradigm shift in ski boot construction: designing “from the inside out.” By this, Tecnica means they’ve built the liner to fit the foot, and then built the shell to fit the liner, instead of the reverse. Don’t other boot makers (more...)...

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March 14, 2014 GoPro Hero3+ Gear

GoPro Hero3+

GoPro’s Hero3+ is one of those vexingly-horizontal iterations that make it almost impossible to know whether it’s worth it to upgrade. Still, GoPro is making a number of claims of superiority regarding the 3+’s image quality, audio quality, and battery life. And then there’s the new SuperView mode. Plus a new included wireless remote. Existing (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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