September 26, 2012 Nikon D600 Video: No Free Lunch Gear

Nikon D600 Video: No Free Lunch

The D600 is arguably the very first affordable full-frame Nikon DSLR, and for many still photographers, it will be nothing less than a dream come true. We Nikon faithful long ago got used to the limitations of DX-sensor cameras, and their 1.5x crop factor, but spend a day shooting with the D600 and it’s like (more...)...

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September 19, 2012 Garmont Cosmos Gear

Garmont Cosmos

Garmont’s new Cosmos delivers a perhaps unprecedented combination of skiing and touring performance, at a marvelously low weight. I’ll admit it: where Alpine Touring ski boots are concerned, I’ve long considered myself a Garmont man. Their shells have always seemed the most Lange-ish to me, in terms of fit and feel, which remains my gold (more...)...

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September 10, 2012 Black Diamond Twilight Gear

Black Diamond Twilight

The water-resistant/breathable Twilight replaces Black Diamond’s Winter Bivy as the lightest bivy sack in the Black Diamond collection. The major difference, aside from a color change, is a switch to ‘NanoShield’ fabric (from Epic). We also get the addition of a mesh over-the-face panel for bug protection. What is NanoShield? I believe it is basically (more...)...

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September 3, 2012 Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2 Gear

Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2

Mountain Hardwear’s new Direkt 2 is a single-wall tent built in the style of Black Diamond’s Firstlight, but updated in a way that makes it both more and less useful. The twin headlines here are a crazy-low measured weight of two pounds, nine point five ounces (tent and poles), plus a completely 100% seam-sealed single-wall (more...)...

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August 22, 2012 AKU SL Trek GTX Gear

AKU SL Trek GTX

Aku’s SL Trek GTX is not the boot I was expecting. At two pounds, 15.5 ounces per pair (US 9.5), the SL Trek is light but certainly not ultralight. In fact, if you’re looking for a light GTX hiker in the class of something like the Vasque Breeze, the SL Trek will likely perplex you. (more...)...

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August 9, 2012 Sony RX100 Gear

Sony RX100

Yes, Sony’s RX100 is a revolutionary digital camera—but is it really the best compact in the world, as many reviewers are now proclaiming? If you’re only interested in bright-light image quality, I think the answer has to be a resounding Yes. The RX100 puts a next-generation 1.0 inch, 20 megapixel CMOS sensor and a branded (more...)...

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July 11, 2012 North Face Verto S4K Gear

North Face Verto S4K

The North Face was tired of seeing their elite athletes in other makers’ boots, so they decided to make a boot of their own. The result of that effort is the Verto S4K GTX. The Verto is a technical/mountaineering boot very much in the class of La Sportiva’s popular Trango S Evo. In-hand the Verto (more...)...

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July 6, 2012 The Contour+ Gear

The Contour+

The Contour Plus (or Contour+) is Contour’s flagship helmet camcorder, offering a wider 170° angle of view, wireless streaming capability, and a sharper lens. Think of the Plus as a horizontal rather than vertical evolution—particularly where picture quality is concerned. Compared to Contour’s earlier top-of-the-line 1080p camera, image quality is only modestly better and in (more...)...

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June 7, 2012 Thermarest XLite Gear

Thermarest XLite

Thermarest’s Neoair XLite replaces the original Neoair pad, offering upgraded warmth (from a spec value of R2.4 to R3.2) at a slightly lower weight—one ounce less overall. The weight differential isn’t really big news, but the added warmth is: an R-value of 3.2 is pushing into the 4-season category, and even for 3-season use, you (more...)...

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June 1, 2012 Ortovox 3+ Gear

Ortovox 3+

I say Ortovox’s 3+ is one of the best choices in today’s crop of avalanche transceivers. The class of 2012 offers us a lot of innovation, but it also offers a lot of complexity. Leave the complexity to others (if you don’t explicitly need it) and go with the Ortovox’s effective fusion of simplicity and (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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