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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May 26, 2012 Black Diamond Mission Gear

Black Diamond Mission

The big news with the climbing-oriented Mission 50 pack is that it employs Black Diamond’s patent-pending ‘reACTIV’ suspension system. ReACTIV suspensions, and the more aggressive ‘ErgoACTIV’, are designed to allow the pack to move naturally while you’re walking by adding a mechanical pivot to the frame-hip belt interface. In other words, the load is allowed (more...)...

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May 25, 2012 Salomon Speedcross 3 Gear

Salomon Speedcross 3

Salomon inarguably makes some of the most popular trail running shoes on the planet, but for my taste their lasts have tended to offer too much rigidity and/or support. Happily, the Speedcross 3 offers a fresh take. Unlike the high-pronation control of Salomon’s XT Wings, the Speedcross is noticeably softer—some might say cushier. Frankly you (more...)...

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May 3, 2012 Smith Parallel Gear

Smith Parallel

Smith’s Parallel replaces the discontinued Factor as their go-to performance multisport sunglasses. Smith says the Parallel’s styling is a little more contemporary, which is true. But more importantly, the Parallel is a better-performing sunglass, nicely addressing the Factor’s so-so wind protection without resorting to excessive lens coverage (more…) (more...)...

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April 25, 2012 Smartwool PhD Ski Ultra Light Gear

Smartwool PhD Ski Ultra Light

Believe it or not, I was a dedicated cotton socks hiker for a long time. I liked the extra texture of cotton, which kept my foot from slipping and sliding inside my shoes. Of course, I also loved the next-to-skin comfort of cotton. Then I got a pair of Smartwool socks as a gift. By (more...)...

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March 31, 2012 Voile XLM Gear

Voile XLM

Voile has updated its smallest shovel, the XLM. The original XLM was arguably the lightest functional aluminum avalanche shovel on the market. The new XLM is…arguably the lightest functional aluminum avalanche shovel on the market. What’s changed? Voile says the new XLM is lighter, which conflicts a bit with my 2007 notes (I think the (more...)...

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March 4, 2012 GoPro Hero2 Gear

GoPro Hero2

Despite the inarguably compelling dimension that helmet-cam video has added to my photography, I admit I’d begun to give up on it. I was tired of endlessly battling mount systems with my Contour 1080P cam, only to get home and discover that another two or three gigs of raw footage were useless because of color, (more...)...

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March 1, 2012 Black Diamond Justice Gear

Black Diamond Justice

Black Diamond’s revised Justice is a highly-specialized ski. The fat-waisted eight-pound Justice is built specifically for powder-bomb touring—and not much else. New as of 2012 (the green version), the Justice returns in 2013 with orange graphics but otherwise unchanged, offering tip and tail rocker and quite a lot of area—an impressive 111 millimeters underfoot. By (more...)...

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February 28, 2012 Rossignol Pursuit HP Gear

Rossignol Pursuit HP

Rossignol’s new Pursuit HP replaces the popular Avenger Ti, taking over the maker’s high-end frontside carver niche—non-race edition. Think of the wood/titanium-core Pursuit not so much as a race-stock relative but rather as a pedal-to-the-metal crowd-pleaser. The ski showcases Rossignol’s mastery of next-generation Frontside design, with an 81mm waist and a very slightly rockered tip (more...)...

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February 27, 2012 Nordica Fire Arrow 80 Pro Gear

Nordica Fire Arrow 80 Pro

Nordica’s Fire Arrow 80 Pro was one of the most popular skis at this year’s SIA demo. I waited diligently for a chance to ride the updated Fire Arrow, and I’m glad I did. This is a significantly improved ski, taking last year’s Fire Arrow 80 and giving it a much-needed jolt of energy. For (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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