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I got my first pair of SmartWool socks in 2007 (for free, like any respectable dirtbag) and have loyally bought their socks since then. I love wool socks- they wick sweat, they keep your feet warm when wet, they’re snuggly, they are sustainable with natural fibers, and they resist odor. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve flirted here and there with different brands: a Stance pair here or a Darn Tough pair there. So, I was a bit skeptical when reviewing the Attain series of Wigwam socks, however, I love that they are thinner than wool socks but deliver the same performance because that gave my foot a touch more space to swell on those 50k days. The Attain series has multiple weights (UltraLight, Lightweight, and Midweight), features Wigwam’s patented Ultimax® moisture control and Repreve®, a recycled yarn from plastic bottles and comes in two silhouettes (Low, Quarter).

Wigwam Attain Socks

Product Description: Your workout game just got kicked up a notch. Not only does this lightweight low sock contain our patented Ultimax® moisture control, the sole is made from REPREVE®, a smooth fiber made from recycled plastic bottles. Work hard and save the planet at the same time, all while looking fierce!

Price: $13-$20

  • Durability
    (5)
  • Fit
    (5)
  • Features
    (5)
  • Quality
    (5)

Summary

These socks handled the sweat built up over 30 miles of trail, remained odor free in my funked up Altras, kept my feet warm and dry even when snow snuck past my gaiters, was a perfect fit in my tightish cleats playing indoor ultimate, and uses recycled fibers made from plastic bottles!

Overall 5

Pros

  • Fit true to size
  • Don’t bag out
  • Seamless construction
  • Made in the USA
  • Come in different heights and weights
  • Blister free
  • LIFETIME GUARANTEE!!

Cons

  • Only pastel “female” colors
  • Could use more cushion on long run days
  • Don’t wick quite as well as all-wool alternative

While testing these socks, I was training for an ultra, in winter, in Montana, and doing a large chunk of my training on skate skis. Every early training morning I’d reach for my trusty SmartWools, worried about how the Wigwams would hold up to the 12℉ temperature, the constant lateral movement in my ski boot, the wetness. And you know what? They kicked ass every time.

I’d go out in sloppy, majorly variable conditions: side-hilling on crust to gain 2300 ft, 50k of skate skiing on warm spring days, and long trail runs in freshly fallen snow. I’m not gonna lie, I always had an emergency pair of SmartWools in my run vest, and never once did I need to use them.

Fit/Comfort

The socks run true to size. I lost a toenail one night but didn’t have any roughness, rubbing, or seams adding pressure to a sensitive area with these socks on my run the next day. Yay for seamless construction!

Look/Style

The midweight quarter socks were my favorite for skate skiing and paired nicely with my running gaiters to keep snow out. The lightweight/ midweight low socks were my preference for OrangeTheory workouts and trail runs.

Features

These socks use Ultimax® moisture control and are made in the USA using recycled materials (seriously people, the yarn is made from recycled plastic bottles — love it).

Function/Performance

The socks kept my feet warm when wet on a negative two degrees Fahrenheit ten-mile run and didn’t bag out or lose shape over time. They are perfect low sock to wear with my ultimate cleats. Also, no blisters!

Durability/Construction

I used the hell out of these and was constantly washing them with no piling or loss of elasticity. I never had any rips, tears, or any issue with durability. Also, these don’t collect my cat hair like some other socks do, which I consider a win.

Final Word

These socks handled the sweat built up over 30 miles of trail, remained odor free in my funked up Altras, kept my feet warm and dry even when snow snuck past my gaiters, was a perfect fit in my tightish cleats playing indoor ultimate, and uses recycled fibers made from plastic bottles.

Wigwams website can be a bit overwhelming because they make hundreds of different socks in a multitude of colors. If you are looking for a great all-around sport sock I’d highly recommend the Attain series. They may not be your first choice if you need extra thick cushioning for lots of miles but are great for just about everything else. These socks were able to keep up with my harsh training schedule and always remained presentable, ready for the next round of training torture.

I’ll still wear my trusty old SmartWools and I’ve even worked some Injinji’s and Balega’s into my repertoire depending on my mileage, but these Wigwams will for sure be making an appearance at my next ultra in September.

Shop the Wigwam Attain Socks on Outdoor Prolink. Not a member? Apply today!

Amberleigh Hammond spends her 9-5 working for national conservation organizations in operational risk management, outdoor education, and training. She is an EMT, Outdoor Emergency Care instructor, ski patroller, Leave No Trace master educator, and Mental Health First Aid instructor. Mornings, evenings, and weekends she can be found playing ultimate, fastpacking, ski mountaineering, mountain biking, and training for ultras in the Last Best Place. You can connect with her on instagram at @LeaveNoTraceMontana.

The post ProView – Wigwam Attain Socks appeared first on Dirtbag Dreams - Gear Reviews.

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Often times, the legacy of the brand is a major factor in consumer trust, and people are generally attracted to brands with an attractive and established track record. Salewa is a brand I had interacted with very little – I had owned a pair of their approach shoes awhile back, but I didn’t really know a lot about them as a company. During the process of reviewing the Alpenviolet GTX boot and the Pedroc Wind Hardshell, I became acquainted with a thoughtful, family-owned company that designs specific, quality products.

Salewa Women's Alpenviolet Mid GTX

Product Description: A women’s modern, versatile and athletic mid-cut hiking boot with waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX® weather protection.

Price: MSRP: $169.95

  • Quality
    (5)
  • Features
    (4.6)
  • Fit
    (4.5)
  • Durability
    (5)

Summary

To wrap-up, I was thoroughly impressed with Salewa as a brand. The Alpenviolet boot is well designed and comfortable. The female-specific ergonomics were not what I would personally prefer, but a thoughtful design for those who are looking for specificity. The other technologies of the boot were functional and relevant. I was impressed with Salewa’s sustainable manufacturing processes and the thoughtfulness clearly evident in their designs. The products I tested were not only high quality and functional, but ethically produced and carefully thought-out. A current leader in sustainability, I would recommend their products to fellow outdoor enthusiasts.

Overall 4.8

Pros

  • Thoughtful features
  • Athletic style
  • Durable

Cons

  • Heel cup feels flat
  • Cannot be re-soled currently

Under the European conglomerate Oberalp, Salewa’s fellow subsidiaries include Dynafit, Wild Country, and Pomoca. Although each of these companies has their own story, Salewa has a unique set of roots in the alpine equipment world. Quite literally ‘born in the Dolomites’, Salewa has been making quality outdoor equipment since the 1930’s. The original inventors of the tubular ice screw and historically partners with Reinhold Messner, Salewa has only been a part of the North American market since 2007. Shifting their focus and redesigning the brand in 2014, Salewa now aims to be a global leader in mountaineering equipment.

Features

Salewa has been manufacturing shoes since 2005, but the Alpenviolet GTX is a completely new model. Also available in a low rise, the Alpenviolet is a modern, women’s specific lightweight hiking boot. Designed for steep and rugged terrain, the boot features a lugged Pomoca® outsole and an Ortholite® midsole. Ortholite®, a manufacturer of sustainable midsoles for over 20 years, uses recycled rubber and bio-oil as an alternative to petroleum, as well as open-cell foam, which reduces weight while maintaining rigidity. Between these two technologies, the sole of the boot is impressively light. The boot upper consists of suede and PU-coated leather with a weather resistant fabric and GORE-TEX lining.

Previous to testing the Alpenviolet I had never worn a GORE-TEX shoe and now I am a devout convert. The boots were warm but never felt overly insulated and the fabric uppers breathed well and kept my feet dry. I hiked in them in a variety of climates from red rock desert to Pacific North West spring floods and was continually impressed by their temperature regulation. The blister-free fit was indeed blister-free, and the lace-to-toe system was very secure. I’ve found other brand’s lacing systems to be harder to adjust and even harder to loosen once adjusted; the 3F system is exceptional.

Fit

The Alpenviolet fit integrates the Salewa 3F lacing system, which provides flexibility and heel support while eliminating hot spots. When laced up, the ankle portion of the boot flexes forward and backward easily without any pinching or rubbing. The tongue of the boot is exclusively fabric without any leather, so forward flexion is comfortable and unrestricted. The arced heel shape is designed to mimic the natural rolling motion of the foot when walking, and the heel cup itself is set slightly back to provide support on steeper terrain. The ergonomic design of the shoe includes a heel stack height of 14mm – this is the ‘female specific ergonomics and biomechanics’ advertised. Designers intended these features to alleviate tension in the Achilles, particularly in females who habitually wear high heels (more info here). While wearing these boots I could definitely notice the high heel stack over time and would caution women who prefer a more neutral sole away from these. However, I would highly recommend them for women who prefer stability or have Achilles tendon issues.

Room for Improvement

My only fit-related complaint is the back of the heel cup feels flat and rather stiff when walking up steep, loose ground. Perhaps this would break in with even more use but it was slightly irritating to my heel. It is evident Salewa designers have invested a lot of thought into the intended fit of the boot. The boot exterior has a sleek, athletic style and is very durable. A suggestion to make the boot even more durable would be to offer re-soling (they can currently be repaired but not re-soled in North America).

Pedroc Windshell

The Pedroc Windshell was sent to me directly by Salewa to accompany the Alpenviolet. Little did they know that I was actually shopping around for a similar layer at the time, and the Pedroc quite frankly blew away the competition on functionality. Although there are a variety of brands who make an ‘ultralight’ wind shell, some of the heavy hitters I looked into include the infamous Houdini (Patagonia), the new Black Diamond Distance, and the Ultimate Direction Moonlight (the Outdoor Research Helium II is a bit too bulky to make the cut).

Materials

You can’t talk about ultralight wind shells without mentioning the PFC dilema. All four jackets (including the Pedroc) are 100% nylon with a DWR finish – however, not all of the DWR’s are PFC-free, meaning the chemicals used to treat the jacket contain fluorocarbons. In 2015, Patagonia announced it was switching to a less toxic version of PFC, and invested 20 million into the effort and documenting it here. They have since developed a PFC-free treatment and use 100% recycled nylon. The Distance shell also features a new PFC-free DWR treatment developed by GTI (Green Theme International). The Moonlight is not advertised as PFC-free or recycled.

Features

The Houdini comes in at 96g, the Distance at 72g, the Moonlight 62g, and the Pedroc at 95g, so unless you’re a religious gram counter all alternatives are comparable. As far as features, of course, they all stuff into their own pockets, and most have carabiner loops for stowing on a harness (bar the Moonlight, as far as I could tell). The zippered pocket comes on the chest for all three jackets except the Pedroc, which has the pocket located on the lower back – similar to a cycling jersey (the zipper is minimal enough to not cause problems if you’re wearing a larger pack). This allows one to effectively use it while wearing a running vest or small day pack, or on a bicycle if you’re into that sort of thing. The Pedroc also has featured a different cuff, integrating a soft, flexible fleece rather than just an elastic seam, which is super comfortable if you pull your sleeves up just a touch. The elastic waist seam has a small rubber band around the inside, so the jacket doesn’t get sucked up under your running vest over time, which is a very thoughtful design feature.

Fit

As far as fit, I can only speculate when it comes to Black Diamond and Ultimate, but I am relatively familiar with the Houdini fit and I prefer the Pedroc. As with most European brands, it’s more tailored and has long enough sleeves and torso for a taller person (I am 5’10”, and a Patagonia medium is reliably too short in the sleeves). I am very impressed with the Pedroc in the categories of fit and function, and the fact that its sustainably produced only adds to its appeal. I would highly recommend it for trail runners, hikers and cyclists.

Environmental Practices

A fair-wear® and bluesign® approved company, Salewa actively associates with the need for environmental stewardship and collaborative action towards carbon neutral industry. They operate a full-service repair shop and are committed to recycling and upcycling several of their products. In 2016, the company was awarded the fair-wear® best practice award and has been a fair-wear® foundation leader since 2017, ensuring practices such as a living wage, reasonable hours, safe conditions and a legal contract are upheld and maintained in all of their manufacturing facilities. Information on fair-wear certification and other topics such as animal welfare, microplastic fiber containment, and chemical management can be found on their blog. As a company built and maintained by outdoor enthusiasts, they remain committed to protecting the places we all love to enjoy. 

Final Word (on both items)

To wrap-up, I was thoroughly impressed with Salewa as a brand. The Alpenviolet boot is well designed and comfortable. The female-specific ergonomics were not what I would personally prefer, but a thoughtful design for those who are looking for specificity. The other technologies of the boot were functional and relevant. The Pedroc jacket takes the cake for the ultralight wind shells with an unbeatable complement of functions and a sleek fit. It now happily lives in the back pocket of my running vest. I was impressed with Salewa’s sustainable manufacturing processes and the thoughtfulness clearly evident in their designs. The products I tested were not only high quality and functional, but ethically produced and carefully thought-out. A current leader in sustainability, I would recommend their products to fellow outdoor enthusiasts.

Shop the  Salewa Women’s Alpenviolet Mid GTX on Outdoor Prolink. Not a member? Apply today!

Sarah has worked for US Forest Service as wildland firefighter for nine years and spends her winters ski touring across the western US and Canada. Currently pursuing endurance sports as a hobby, Sarah has been working towards skiing all of the major cascade volcanoes as well as competing in ultramarathon trail races. Her feet are often stinky. Connect with her on instagram @stickyskins.

The post ProView- Salewa Women’s Alpenviolet Mid GTX + (bonus) Pedroc Windshell appeared first on Dirtbag Dreams - Gear Reviews.

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The right shoes can make or break a day of outdoor activity. The Terrex Free Hikers, new shoes in the adidas Outdoor lineup, are stylish, breathable, and sticky — designed for comfort on long hikes. These shoes are a fantastic choice for full days of moderate terrain.

Living in the northeast, I’m spoiled by short approaches and easy access to crags, rivers, and hikes, which meant I had to go out of my way to put these shoes to the test. I wanted to push them to the limit, so I wore the Free Hikers on everything from sidewalks to trails to Cannon Mountain’s infamous talus field. How’d they do? Let’s find out.

adidas Outdoor Terrex Free Hiker

Product Description: Hiking never felt better. Every ingredient in these shoes aims for comfort on long-distance hikes. The sock-like build and adidas Primeknit upper hug your foot for an adaptive, snug feel with every step. The Torsion bar provides a stable, controlled and natural flex of the midsole and foot.

Price: MSRP $200.00

  • Comfort
    (5)
  • Performance
    (3)
  • Fit
    (3.5)
  • Durability
    (4)

Summary

While they’re no substitute for a sturdy hiking boot on difficult ascents, the Terrex Free Hikers are my new go-to shoe for long days on moderate terrain where comfort is key. I love their cushioned sole, fantastic breathability, and snug fit. With durable construction and a water-repellent finish, you can expect these shoes to last.

Overall 3.9

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Super comfortable
  • Stylish
  • Durable construction

Cons

  • Not suited for technical terrain
  • Only lightly water-repellent

Fit

Though my street shoe size is a nine, the Free Hikers run slightly large, so I decided to wear the 8.5s. This size hugs my foot all around, with comfortable room in the toe box — not too much, not too little. The knit upper is also super flexible, so there is no break-in period on these shoes. The downside of this, however, is that the shoe tends to roll over (more on this in the Performance section). For my feet, the eights might have been a better technical fit to compensate, so I’d recommend trying on a few pairs and considering the intended use before committing.

Construction and Durability

Right out of the box, I was quite impressed with how these shoes (and I say “shoes” because they aren’t true boots) are built. They have the springy adidas Boost midsole with a Torsion Bar (for added rigidity), the Primeknit sock upper with a DWR finish, and surprisingly sticky sole from Continental. All the seams are sealed with a welded-on tape that showed no signs of delamination even after months of heavy use. Around the ankle is an elastic strap for added support, and the inside of the heel cup is lined with a thick cushion, so wearing Free Hikers feels like walking on a pillow. Throughout the whole testing period, these shoes held up remarkably well, and look almost as good as the day I got them (albeit a bit muddier).

Performance

Now onto the good stuff. As I mentioned earlier, these shoes are exceptionally comfortable, so I’ve actually really enjoyed them as a day-to-day shoe. But they’re designed for hiking, and they deserved to be tested as such.

First was water repellency: I dumped a water bottle on them. And then jumped in a puddle. And my feet were mostly dry. While these shoes aren’t completely waterproof, the DWR coating does a good job at beading off most fluids. While I wouldn’t trust them in a downpour, I have worn the Free Hikers in drizzles and moderate rain, with positive results.

On the trail, the trend was pretty similar. I wore them almost exclusively and really enjoyed them. To really test their abilities, I took them as my approach shoes on a linkup of two classic Cannon routes, which meant well over three hours of hiking on 40+ degree slopes and over sand and fields of car-sized boulders. I had mixed success. The shoes are comfortable, grippy, and stable on hikes and easy scrambles, but weren’t up to the task when more technical terrain (YDS Class 3 and up) was involved. Because of the soft sole and super stretchy upper, they tended to roll around my foot when weighted on edges, and cinching down the laces didn’t help. I also consistently lost my footing on wet rocks and soil, which slowed my progress. On the other hand, one of the major benefits of the knit upper was drastically improved breathability over any other hiking shoes or boots I own; even wearing wool socks, my feet have never gotten sweaty in these shoes, which I’ve found to be a huge asset for long periods of wear. So while the Free Hikers are exceptional on intermediate turf, I recommend a snug approach shoe or a boot with a thinner, stiffer sole for more difficult hikes.

Style

Who says hiking shoes can’t look good too? They come in several different designs and color combos, so they fit right into any wardrobe. They’re not too flashy but certainly catch your eye. Several of my friends have admitted they want mine, and more than once I’ve been approached in public by someone offering compliments, which has never happened to me with any other shoes.

The Final Word

While they’re no substitute for a sturdy hiking boot on difficult ascents, the Terrex Free Hikers are my new go-to shoe for long days on moderate terrain where comfort is key. I love their cushioned sole, fantastic breathability, and snug fit. With durable construction and a water-repellent finish, you can expect these shoes to last.

Shop the adidas Outdoor Terrex Free Hiker on Outdoor Prolink. Not a member? Apply today!

EJ Rimerman is an assistant leader of the whitewater kayaking program at the White Mountain School and an instructor at Rock Climb Fairfield in Fairfield, CT. When not coaching new climbers at the gym, you’ll find him running the classic creeks of New Hampshire or working as a climbing guide in the Gunks. You can follow EJ on Instagram @edge_outside.

The post ProView – adidas Outdoor Terrex Free Hiker appeared first on Dirtbag Dreams - Gear Reviews.

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Last week was Outdoor Retailer’s summer market! The summer market is focused on rock climbing, so I wandered the halls looking for the coolest new climbing gear. This is what I found.

adidas Five Ten Grandstone Climbing Shoes

This is by far the item I am most excited about. The Five Ten Grandstone’s have high ankle protection, a fully covered toe box, and a mostly flat sole perfect for long days on the wall. The Grandstones are designed to be a high-performance trad shoe, with the highly coveted C4 stealth rubber. (The color scheme is pretty slick too) On the Grandstones, The top of the toe box has a flap of rubber instead of being fully covered. I am interested to see how that holds up over time, as one of my biggest issues with all day trad shoes is how easily the rubber peels back from the rand. I asked one of the reps at the Five Ten booth and he assured me the testers have had no problems, but I’m going to wait to pass judgment until I’ve tried them myself. However, having the C4 stealth rubber is very exciting. In conclusion, I’m looking forward to seeing another high-performance trad shoe on the market and I can’t wait to try these out!

Z4 Camelot’s from Black Diamond

Just when you thought Black Diamond was done reinventing their own design with the new C4’s, they do it again with the Z4’s. These cams are going to replace both the X4’s and the C3’s on February 1st, 2020. For the first time ever, Black Diamond has created a (patent pending) RigidFlex stem. I played around with these cams (which come in 0-.75 plus a full set of offsets) during the conference and they are sweet. These cams have the flexible stem that made the X4’s popular, but an added stem sheath makes them rigid when the trigger is engaged to make placements easier. I placed the .75 a few times and found that unlike the X4 .75s, engaging the trigger does not cause the cam to ‘taco’ in half, which is why I never bought a .75 X4. After chatting with one of the reps about the Z4’s he let me know that these double axle cams are narrower and lighter than their C4 counterparts and the .75 is even lighter than the ultralight .75. To me, they seem like the perfect hybrid between the X4’s and the C3’s. I was never a fan of the 3 lobed C3’s, so I’m looking forward to trying out the new double axel microcams as well.

Half nuts from DMM

In the world of climbing gear, let’s not forget passive pro! The new DMM Halfnuts are 38% lighter than their Wallnut counterparts. With a single wire and reduced width, these bad boys are perfect for shallow placements and pin scars. In other words, they’re the nuts you need for Yosemite climbing. I have to be honest, I learned to climb in Indian Creek and so nut placements have never been my forte. However, messing around with these for a few minutes and I got to thinking about how nice they would feel sinking into a small flaring crack. They remind me of the DMM Peenuts, same offset shape, just a bit narrower. When 2020 rolls around I think I’ll treat myself to a new set of Halfnuts, and then finally I’ll start placing them.

First Ascent Instant Coffee

I first ran into these guys last fall in Indian Creek. They pulled up their camper van, pulled out a table, put up a sign stating ‘Free Coffee’ and waited for the dirtbags to show up. And show up we did. First Ascent Coffee is a brand of coffee made by climbers, for climbers. They offer instant coffee as well as regular whole bean coffee. While this isn’t climbing gear exactly, I do think it’s worth a mention in this list. Their instant coffee is designed for backpacking trips, multi-day climbing trips, bike-packing adventures and anything else you would need to save space, but also desire hot yummy coffee. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am unappealing (to say the least) before my first cup of coffee in the morning. With first ascent, I see the potential for wall climbing or alpine trips. The instant coffee packets are very very small, which makes them perfect for packing light. After a few cups of their Hero Day Blend, I’ve decided I quite like the flavor as well. For me, the price at $19.99 for 8 packets of instant coffee is a bit steep. However, as a gift for a friend, or something nice to treat myself with, I would think of this as a perfect solution.

Boulder Denim Alpine Pant

Boulder Denim is a Canadian company born out of the desire to have stylish and functional climbing pants. I’ve been enjoying their pants for a few years now, but I’m really looking forward to their newest line of Alpine climbing pants. They are technically called the “Chino-Jogger Hybrid” pants, but I’m calling them the Alpine pants because “Chino-Jogger Hybrid” is too much to say. Instead of looking like a pair of jeans you’d see on a hot guy at a bar in New York, these alpine pants look more like comfy Carhartts. They have tapered ankles with an elastic tightener, deep pockets (my favorite), a high(ish) waist, and zipper pockets on the thighs for the important things you don’t want falling out 8 pitches up. They are a unisex style, so everyone can look forward to trying these pants out when they hit the market later this year.

In conclusion

There is some high quality and experimental climbing gear coming out in the next year. As a climber, I am really excited to see the innovation and creativity put forward by these brands. And I can’t wait to try them out for myself. If you went to OR what gear should I have included? What were your favorite picks from OR? Let us know down in the comments!

Kaya Lindsay is the social media coordinator for Yosemite Facelift. She is also a writer and photographer with a passion for rock climbing and the outdoors. In 2016 she converted a Sprinter Van into a tiny home and has been traveling around the US & Canada to pursue her passion for rock climbing ever since. You will most likely find her in a parking lot or coffee shop, camera in hand, planning her next grand adventure. Connect with her on Instagram @OneChickTravels

Do you work in the Outdoor Industry? Looking for the latest gear? Apply for a pro deal with Outdoor Prolink today!

The post The Best New Climbing Gear from Outdoor Retailer appeared first on Dirtbag Dreams - Gear Reviews.

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If I were to title this review, I would call it “Camping Tent Meets Smooth Jazz.” Or “Leave the Candles At Home, Camping Just Got a Lot Sexier.” I’ll stop there. My point is that the LED feature that Big Agnes stitched into the roof of the Tiger Wall UL2 mtnGLO Tent is to camping what the lava lamp was to the VW Camper Van: mood, atmosphere, and a stab at improving upon an already perfect experience.

Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 Tents

Product Description: The Tiger Wall UL tents are our lightest two door/two vestibule, technical backcountry shelters yet. The two doors make tent life a little easier, and the weight savings is especially nice when out for multi-day trip and gram counting. Combining simple, yet strong single pole architecture with DAC Featherlite materials, interior storage pockets, and comforts around every corner, these tents are poised to be a backcountry favorite.

Price: MSRP: $399.95

  • Features
    (4)
  • Durability
    (4.5)
  • Ease of Use
    (4.5)

Summary

Leaving aside the mtnGLO perks, this tent sleeps two comfortably and doesn’t skimp on features in order to achieve its featherlight trail weight. There are plenty of storage pockets. Ventilation and visibility (without the fly attached) are outstanding on account of the mesh that comprises the majority of the tent. And while I don’t actually expect it to repel a mountain lion or black bear with dull claws, it did hold up extremely well in high canyon winds.

Overall 4.3

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Roomie for its weight
  • Sturdy in high winds
  • High bathtub floors
  • mtnGLO lights are fun

Cons

  • Durability questions (minor problems during testing but concerned about long term prognosis)
  • Awkward tent/fly opening

The mtnGLO Feature (LED Lights)

I’d like to think of my time in the outdoors as being removed from modern amenities, luxuries, and other distractions. And in general, I get somewhat upset when a comrade or partner pulls out their cellphone and starts listening to a podcast—or Sade (a singer from the 80s)—while sitting at the bottom of the most remote place I can imagine being. But having acknowledged that I like good gear, and that I’m not traipsing through fern-lined canyons with grape leaves around my privates, this little mtnGLO string of lights has made it to my exception list of outdoor amenities. And if the batteries should ever run out while in the backcountry, I’ll be none the happier for having carried in that extra four oz’s (the weight of the light system plus three AAA batteries) because the tent is very good and darn light (pun intended) too.

Back to Sade—or Leon Bridges for the younger folks out there. The first time my partner and I flicked the switch (pushed the button) on the LED’s, something special happened in that tent. As a photographer of 25 years, I am well-attuned to how light can affect mood. And in this case, the glow was magical, if not steamy. But if you are older than 35, and didn’t eat your carrots growing up, you’ll still need your headlamp to read. The lights at their maximum brightness weren’t strong enough for me to comfortably read bedtime stories.

Weight, Durability, and Stability

Clocking in at ~3lbs 2oz. (that’s including three AAA batteries and the footprint) the tent still weighed less than my solo rig. It’s only a tad smaller than the other two-person tent I have used for almost seven years. My point is that you get a lot of space for so little weight.

Of course, ultralight materials at this juncture in time often come with trade-offs. For one, the six-ounce footprint which retails for $70 is an absolute must. The floor material (which seemed similar to the fly material) didn’t look like it wanted to be poked too hard. On a few occasions, some small pebbles underneath the tent left the grey fabric with that smoky-white stretched look that an eraser gets right before it’s about to tear. Also, there are a couple of plastic parts on the tent that caused me a wee bit of concern. For one, the horizontal crossbar at the top of the tent is attached to the tent body by a plastic grommet on either end. Parts like these could get quite brittle and perhaps crack after enough snapping on and off. I personally prefer the security of metal grommets.

But don’t let these concerns bake-in too far. While in a canyon for a three-day solo, the winds were high into the thirties with even stronger gusts. I had the tent fully guyed-out and it felt and looked very stable. Nothing suffered from many hours of unrelenting abuse.

While it did rain one evening, it wasn’t enough to tell whether the relatively large gap between the edge of the fly and the ground was going to be a significant problem for splash back; given the high bathtub floors though (see comments below), my guess is that it wouldn’t be much of an issue.

Features

A desert/warm-climate friendly feature of the Tiger-Wall is the white mosquito-net mesh that is used on the vast majority of the tent. As I lay down on a 60-degree evening at the bottom of a high-walled canyon, the ceiling vista had me floating amidst the canopy of trees silhouetted against the stars and planets above. The frogs, crickets and great horned owls formed the soundtrack to this moment. All to be crashed by the snoring of my buddy in his vastly inferior and heavier tent nearby.

The fact that the mesh is white–versus the black mesh on my last three tents–at the very least gives me the internal sense that it is reflecting the sun in the morning rather than absorbing the heat. Whether there is any science to back up this claim is another matter. But if you care about aesthetics, the white mesh can get dirty very fast.

I want to step back for a second and examine the logic of sleeping in a tent. In its most stripped-down form, a tent can be viewed as A. a physical barrier between an inhabitant and the “natural elements,” or B. a psychological security wall between a human and a perceived threat. The former being snow, rain, and bugs (bugs are not a “natural element,” but for the purposes of my example, close enough). The latter being mountain lion or bear with very dull claws–if they have sharp claws, they could easily tear their way into your tent. In my case, the biggest concern is dirt. Which would fall into category A: the “natural elements.” For this issue, not all shelters are made alike. The Tiger Wall tent has generous bathtub floors which keep the bottom of the vestibule zipper ~5 inches off the ground. Bathtub floors, of course, serve many purposes. Other than monsoon season in the desert, I don’t worry much about rain climbing into my tent. But the greatest relief I have experienced from the high walls of the bathtub floors is that I am not dragging hectares of desert dirt into the tent and inside my sleeping bag. And when I am shaking tarantulas, scorpions, and other friendlies out of my boots to answer nature’s call at two am in the morning, none of those venomous creatures are bouncing off the ground and back into the tent. This has been a pet-peeve of mine that I can virtually kiss goodbye now.

Room for Improvement

One annoyance that became more significant after about my sixth day of using the tent was the door situation as it relates to the rain fly. I haven’t quite pinpointed the problem, but something about the design was causing the fly to get caught in the tent zipper. Also, when the fly door is fully rolled up, I noticed that it still didn’t create an efficient and wide opening to move through. It definitely isn’t a show-stopper. But I noticed it.

Final Word

In all honesty, no matter what I will always have my headlamp with me. But for me, turning up the steamy romantic mtnGlo feel is worth a few extra ounces. Some ultralighters are going to be rolling over in their sleeping bags thinking about the extra four oz.’s that have been permanently stitched into this tent. In which case, they can get the exact same shelter without this hot feature.

Leaving aside the mtnGLO perks, this tent sleeps two comfortably and doesn’t skimp on features in order to achieve its featherlight trail weight. There are plenty of storage pockets. Ventilation and visibility (without the fly attached) are outstanding on account of the mesh that comprises the majority of the tent. And while I don’t actually expect it to repel a mountain lion or black bear with dull claws, it did hold up extremely well in high canyon winds.

I used the tent throughout the state of Arizona: in the Chiricahua Mountains, the Coconino Forest outside of Camp Verde, down in a canyon up on the Mogollon Rim, and deep in a canyon in the Galiuro Wilderness.

Shop the on Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 mtnGLO Tent on Outdoor Prolink. Not a member? Apply today!

Serge J-F. Levy is an award-winning photographer and writer whose work has been exhibited internationally. Though he grew up in New York City and worked there as a professional magazine photographer (ESPN The Magazine, New York Times Magazine, and others), he currently calls the Sonoran Desert his home. He is a professor of photography and is working throughout the Southwest on book projects and exhibitions that relate to the outdoors as a metaphor for the human emotional landscape—and other light topics. You can view some of his work online at www.sergelevy.com or IG: @outdoorframes.

The post ProView – Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 Tent appeared first on Dirtbag Dreams - Gear Reviews.

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A few years ago, I rode the Kokopelli trail with some friends. I decided to take a single pair of shoes to lighten my load on my Knolly Endorphin (which is decidedly not a “bikepacking” bike). That pair of shoes was the 5.10 Kestrel Boa. I spent a few years riding in those shoes. They were stiff, durable, stylish, and sleek. More recently, I’ve given up the power of clipless shoes for the comfort and nuanced control of flat pedals. After a long term review of a carbon hardtail with very large, very sharp flat pedals (the Kona Wah Wah 2), I took a long, hard look at my shins. They are covered in scars, and the tops of my socks stained with blood. It was time to see how the skills that flat pedals have shown me translated to clipless riding. I dug around my parts bin and found my old pedals, and then began to look for my old Kestrels. They were gone. I racked my brain, and realized I had left them in Mammoth last summer. A week later, I got an email asking me to review the new version of the shoe. I was stoked, to say the least.

Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa

Product Description: Transfer maximum power to the pedals. The Kestral Pro Boa® combines our stiffest sole and clipless compatibility for an efficient all-mountain ride. The Boa® Fit system means you can dial in a secure fit, while the wide Stealth® C4 rubber sole provides confident footing in all terrain. Mesh inserts enhance breathability, and the quick-drying synthetic upper maintains all-weather comfort.

Price: $200 MSRP

  • Quality
    (5)
  • Features
    (5)
  • Fit
    (4)
  • Durability
    (4)

Summary

The new Kestrel Pro takes a tried and true performance All Mountain shoe from a trusted company and makes it better with added adjustability and thoughtful ventilation placement. The new shoes are different from the last iteration, but still keep the sleek aesthetics and industry leading stiffness and performance. They are high-end clipless shoes that I don’t mind wearing for most of my rides, and that’s coming from a former flat pedal devotee. Sure they could hike better, but honestly, if you’re walking up or down something while wearing these shoes, you have bigger things to worry about than the grip of the shoe on dirt.

Overall 4.3

Pros

  • Breathable
  • Adjustable
  • Stiff
  • Burly

Cons

  • Aesthetics on some colorways are very flashy and branded
  • Could hike better
  • Price is high, but this is the bike industry folks

Disclaimer: this review will focus on the changes I’ve noticed between the old Kestrel and the new ones, not clips vs. flats or 5.10 pre-Adidas.  We are just talking shoes here, people.

Fit & Adjustability

Fit is first in any pair of shoes, and that has changed in the new Kestrel. I’m a little dude, with equally little feet. I’m a solid 7.5 in nearly every shoe. My old Kestrels were 7.5, and they fit like a performance MTB shoe: tightly. The new Kestrels are a bit bigger, mostly longer, with a bit more flexibility in the heel cup and lateral room in the toe box. Some people might think this is a bad thing, and when I first slipped these shoes on, I did too. Then I noticed the velcro strap in the toe box, cinched it down, and my worries went away. Fast forward to a couple of hours into a ride and that changes. My feet swell significantly during rides. Part of why I started riding flat pedals and more flexible shoes was severe discomfort and toe numbness that would happen after an hour of riding. With the new Kestrel design, the Boa is responsible for the upper part of the shoe while the velcro allows adjustment for the toe box, unlike the last iteration that depended on the Boa for all adjustability. If you wanted to give your toes some room, the rest of the shoe would feel loose.

My feet were becoming numb. I rested my pedals in a descending stance and loosened my velcro straps. A few minutes later, my toes were wiggling again and blood was circulating. This is huge. The ability to adjust the shoe in specific areas to accommodate toe numbness is the single greatest improvement on these shoes, and shouldn’t be overlooked. Balancing endurance, comfort, and descending capability is something that bike designers have been doing for the past few years to great success, and it’s nice to see shoe companies finally follow suit. The Kestrel is an All Mountain shoe at heart, and on those types of rides, this on the fly adjustability is a huge benefit.

Breathability vs. Waterproofness

I’m always skeptical of any shoe that claims it’s waterproof, especially low top shoes. Your shoe is only as waterproof as the depth and direction of water, and generally, if I’m going to get wet, I get wet. That’s part of being outside. What I think about shoes is how well they will allow my wet feet to breathe and dry. This was a problem with the old Kestrels. They were a waterproof plastic shell of a shoe, and while that was a nice selling point, it was moot once you found yourself portaging through an unrideable active wash or flying at mach chicken through a creek. My feet would get wet and then stay wet. Those shoes ended up smelling like a high schoolers gym bag, and on the Kokopelli, my feet ended up very unhappy. During my review of the new Kestrels, I’ve been lucky enough to experience a very unusually wet spring here in northern Arizona. My feet have gotten wet. The difference is, they dried off again. The new Kestrel has some ventilation holes in the toe box, and they work at the cost of being a totally waterproof armor.

Durability

I wreck stuff. That’s why I’m a gear tester: I have a tendency to put things through the wringer. My old Kestrels magically held up for a few years, even after I broke the Boa and jerry-rigged it to still sort of work. Perhaps I haven’t had the new shoes long enough to wreck them, but that’s a good thing, isn’t it? The normal signs of wear and tear are there for sure. The toes are scrapped up from foot out corners, the inside arch area is scuffed and stained by my cranks, and a few bits of thread have torn at the ankles. A big complaint from friends about the new 5.10 climbing shoes is that they don’t hold up like they used to. The new Kestrel feels just as bombproof as the old ones.

Off the Bike

These shoes are stiff and hard. They are meant to give you a solid platform to attack the pedals and transfer power when pedaling and jumping efficiently. They do that very well. What they aren’t good for is hiking, pushing your bike up stuff, or scrambling on boulders. In the end, that’s probably fine. They are bike shoes, and the sort of rides I take them on, I’m barely walking if ever. But, this means that I wouldn’t grab them for multi-day bikepacking trips where I might be pushing/carrying my bike through some unrideable nonsense. The Stealth rubber is still there, but these ain’t approach shoes kids. A bit more flexibility would help in this department, but then they wouldn’t be a performance all-mountain shoe.

Aesthetics

I’m not much for flashy colors. My favorite MTB shoe to date is the 5.10 Dirtbag, a blue suede chukka with stealth rubber soles. They look great and don’t scream “endurbro” to the world. The shoes I received were one of the available colorways, and have bright orange/red accents. I’m not a huge fan of this and would prefer the all black version. Other than bright colors, these shoes look sleek and functional. If you’re a boring person who dreams of earth tones like me, buy the black shoes. The Adidas logo is front and center on the tongue, with the classic 5.10 logo on the side. The collaboration is clear here, and that might be weird for some. Personally, if I were a designer at Adidas Outdoor, I would want my logo on a flagship shoe like this. Take branding for what it’s worth, but it’s here to stay. I’m fine with it.

Fit

A hair large, which seems to be a trend for all the new 5.10 products. Size down a half size if you like your shoes to be super fitted. I would purchase the 7.5 again due to my foot swell.

Final Word

The new Kestrel Pro takes a tried and true performance All Mountain shoe from a trusted company and makes it better with added adjustability and thoughtful ventilation placement. The new shoes are different from the last iteration, but still keep the sleek aesthetics and industry-leading stiffness and performance. They are high-end clipless shoes that I don’t mind wearing for most of my rides, and that’s coming from a former flat pedal devotee. Sure they could hike better, but honestly, if you’re walking up or down something while wearing these shoes, you have bigger things to worry about than the grip of the shoe on dirt.

Shop the Five Ten Kestral on Outdoor Prolink. Not a member? Apply today!

Locke Hasset is an avid mountain biker, bikepacker, and photographer. He has worked as a raft guide, backpacking guide, road and mountain bike guide, and mountain bike coach. Currently, he spends his summers facilitating outdoor education through youth cycling programs in Montana and California, and his winters studying environmental education and working at the community bike shop at Prescott College in Arizona. When not riding backcountry singletrack or teaching kids about natural history or body positioning on the bike, he is driving around the American West in search of rugged trails, wild rivers, good light, and great coffee. Connect with him on Instagram at @liamkellyphoto

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Three thousand feet is a long way to fall. When picking new approach shoes to use for extensive simul-climbing and high exposure scrambling in the Tetons and Bugaboos, I chose to disregard price and pick what I thought was going to do the best job at keeping me on the rock. I chose the La Sportiva TX4s, and I put them through the wringer.

Five Ten Aleon

Product Description: With a leather-constructed upper for durability and comfort, the TX4 is designed for long approaches on rugged terrain. The "Climbing Zone” toe, featuring Vibram® Mega-Grip Traverse rubber, coupled with the burly Trail Bite Heel Platform provides maximum grip in scree and mud.

Price: $140 MSRP

  • Quality
    (5)
  • Fit
    (3)
  • Durability
    (5)

Summary

I had high expectations given these are La Sportiva’s highest priced approach shoe. I was sorely (literally and figuratively) disappointed in their comfort in long descents, but they far exceeded my expectations where it matters most: overall comfort, performance, and durability for approaches/uphill hiking and climbing/scrambling. For that, I give them a pass and a confident 5-star rating.

Overall 4.3

Pros

  • Impressive comfort
  • Durable
  • High performance on long (uphill) approaches and high consequence simul-climbing and scrambles

Cons

  • Uncomfortable on decents depending on size

This review is based on a climbing trip up the Grand Teton and to the Bugaboos in British Columbia (Pigeon Spire, Bugaboo Spire, etc) that included ~30,000’ of vertical change and ~30 miles of hiking, as well as a season of approaches/scrambles around Colorado.

I had high expectations for these shoes, and they have risen to every occasion I’ve thrown at them. I generally find La Sportiva shoes and boots fit my mid-width and fairly skinny feet very well, and these are no exception. The fit is snug but not cramped, they cup your heel well and provide far better stability than my Merrel Moab day hikers, and the rugged lacing system allows you really crank down where necessary to adjust the fit throughout. I’ve had these for two climbing seasons now. The leather feels as good as new and the rubber has maintained an impressive amount of rigidity and grip for scrambling. The true test, however, comes when they bump into distances that might require hiking boots and climbing that might require climbing shoes.

Versatility Hiking

The approach to the upper exum ridge on the Grand Teton is about as long and steep as they come for single days. The good news: the shoes performed beautifully on the ascent. Lightweight, great traction, extremely comfortable; I never found myself wishing I had a dedicated hiking shoe/boot and the benefits over a heavy trail running shoe were very apparent. 

Climbing

When covering vast expanses of 4th and 5th class terrain through a combination of simul-climbing and soloing, few pieces of gear play a bigger role in your safety, comfort, and success than shoes. I had my TC Pros at the ready for when things got too spicy for my liking, but to my pleasant surprise I confidently led up to 5.6 (simul) and soloed up to ~5.5 in these without hesitation or slip. I felt confident both smearing and edging, and the grip on the heel helped them perform as advertised when navigating tricky sections of the descents.

Room for Improvement

My one critique: I chose a size that was great for hiking uphill and snug enough for climbing, but unfortunately I paid the price for that snugness on the long descent. They felt like hiking boots on the way up, but unfortunately, it felt like I was hiking in climbing shoes by the end of the hike out. The tradeoff is understandable, but the severity was disappointing for La Sportiva’s “long distance” approach shoe.   

Final Word

I had high expectations given these are La Sportiva’s highest priced approach shoe. I was sorely (literally and figuratively) disappointed in their comfort in long descents, but they far exceeded my expectations where it matters most: overall comfort, performance, and durability for approaches/uphill hiking and climbing/scrambling. For that, I give them a pass and a confident 5-star rating.       

View some videos of them in action:

Alex trusting the TX4s to cross the infamous East Ridge of Pigeon Spire “best 5.4 on the planet”

Alex trusting the TX4s on a knife edge traverse along the Kain Route on Bugaboo Spire 

Shop the La Sportiva TX4 on Outdoor Prolink. Not a member? Apply today!

Alex climbed four of the seven summits by the age of 19, including a speed ascent of Kilimanjaro, solo on Aconcagua, and expedition leader on Denali. His career has taken him in and out of the guiding industry, and he takes an “all of the above” approach to adventuring from alpine climbing in South America and Europe to canyoneering in UT to competing in adventure and endurance races at home in CO. You can connect with him on Instagram at @shockleystuff

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The Scarpa Spin Ultra is a great shoe for 1-26 miles! Stomp through puddles, scurry through dirt and rocks, or conquer asphalt. This shoe can do it all.

Scarpa Spin Ultra

Product Description: The perfect choice for moderate to ultra distance runs, the Spin Ultra offers more cushioning than the Spin RD, in a stable package featuring ample upper protection to keep your feet feeling good in all types of terrain.

Price: $149 MSRP

  • Quality
    (5)
  • Features
    (5)
  • Fit
    (4)
  • Durability
    (5)

Summary

The Scarpa Spin Ultra Women’s Trail Running Shoe is comfortable, supportive, and breathable. It runs true to size but is a little narrow in toe box.

Overall 4.8

Pros

  • Super waterproof and breathable
  • Excellent traction
  • Great looking

Cons

  • A little tight on top of my toe box
  • Stock footbed could be improved

Testing Conditions

I tested this shoe in the rain, mud, and hardpack dirt roads while I was training for a marathon. This meant I was running anywhere from five to 20 miles in all conditions in Montana in the springtime. That means snow one day and sunshine the next.

(Full disclosure: I used these as training shoes that I could beat up in all conditions and opted for a more road-specific shoe for asphalt runs and race day.)

Fit

The Scarpa Ultra shoes are impressive. They’re comfortable, shock-absorbant, and the Vibram soles can handle anything. As someone who was putting down some serious miles, these shoes didn’t give me any blisters.

They do come up fairly high on the heels which caused mild irritation at first, and I had to purchase custom footbeds, but I really enjoyed their comfort combined with stability. Overall, stoked! They fit true to size with a bit of pressure on the toe box. I have narrow feet, and they worked really well for me.

Look/Style

They look awesome. I love the green and grey! The tread pattern is burley without being clunky, and the side ventilation is super effective. I didn’t have sweaty feet even after hours of nonstop running. They are light and sleek, and I seriously couldn’t get over how dry my feet were when I was running in the rain through mud puddles and slop.

I highly recommend this shoe. The Scarpa Spin Ultra helped me feel unstoppable.

Shop the Scarpa Spin Ultra on Outdoor Prolink. Not a member? Apply today!

Based out of Whitefish, Montana, Lisa owns Wheelie, a creative agency for people who thrive outside, and her main goal in life is to balance business with play. She keeps the office closed on Fridays and spends three days per week running, biking, snowboarding, and trying to destroy all her gear. You can connect with Lisa on Instagram @montanarado

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“You’re going to Mexico?! How exciting! Don’t drink the water!”

This April, with just a few weeks to go until my husband and I were set to fly to Sayulita, Mexico for ten days of surfing, my mental state was approximately 93% percent ecstatic and 7% gripped. The whole “don’t drink the water” thing has to be a cliche, right? Or at least an exaggeration?  I asked around to my friends and colleagues who had recently traveled to different parts of Mexico and all of their stories shared two common threads: 1) they had an absolutely amazing time and couldn’t wait to go back and 2) they or their partner spent at least 1-3 days with the dreaded Montezuma’s Revenge. In fact, most of them spoke about it a blase fashion, as if getting the runs was as much a part of the Mexico travel experience as sunburn and a hangover.

Grayl Ultralight Water Purifier

Product Description: 8 Seconds. Unrivaled Ease, Speed & Convenience. No other portable purifier rivals the speed, simplicity and effectiveness of GEOPRESS. In eight seconds, it makes 24 ounces (710 ml) of safe, clean drinking water – anywhere in the world. Effective on all seven continents, you can tap into the world’s water sources and safely drink from sketchy spigots, hotel sinks, murky rivers, wells or lakes. GEOPRESS protects from global waterborne pathogens (virus, bacteria, protozoan cysts), pesticides, chemicals, heavy metals, and even microplastics.

Price: MSRP $89.95

  • Quality
    (5)
  • Features
    (4.5)
  • Useability
    (4)

Summary

The GeoPress is a great choice for environmentally-conscious travelers looking to save money and the planet by forgoing bottled water during their adventures. While the bottle is a bit on the bulky side, it holds a refreshing 24 oz of water, quite a bit more than its predecessor. The purifying process is easy, if a bit tiring, but the slip-free ergonomic design of the bottle keeps pressing from becoming a pain. You do have to remember to take the bottle apart each night to let the cartridge dry out, but I do that with all of my water bottles anyway. 

Overall 4.5

Pros

  • Quickly filters a higher volume of water
  • Easy to use
  • Convenient

Cons

  • Takes strength to filter
  • Doesn’t fit in a conventional bottle holder
  • A little heavy for backpacking

The consensus from all consulted was that we needed to stick to bottled, purified water, or bring a purifying system with us. Fun fact: “Montezuma’s Revenge” is most commonly caused by either the norovirus or E.coli. Water filters work to remove bacteria like E.coli from water, but in order to safely eliminate bacteria and viruses, you must have a purifier.

Now, I have all but completely evicted plastic bottles from my life, so the idea of vacationing and abandoning my staunch anti-plastic vows was out of the question. But how to pick a purifying system?

Pump purifiers are great for purifying large volumes of water but are expensive, bulky, and slow. For backpacking trips, straw-style is the way to go, but the idea of using a straw to purify enough water for our daily morning coffee… no. I have a Grayl Ultralight Purifier that checks all the boxes and has been useful for short camping and backpacking missions, but it only holds just over 10 oz of water – a bit small for daily use on a ten-day journey. Luckily for us, Grayl just came out with their larger, 24 oz. GeoPress purifier and were looking for some testers!

I have to say, unboxing our GeoPresses was a real treat. The packaging is beautiful and the purifiers themselves are a work of art, especially when compared to their competitors’ product design.

“Sure, they are beautiful,” I told Clem as we packed the purifiers in our suitcases, “but will they keep me from spending a sleepless Sayulita night hugging the toilet and wishing for a quick death?”

¡Vamos a la playa!

Our destination was Sayulita, Mexico, a small surf town with hippy vibes about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta. As soon as we walked off the plane in Puerto Vallarta, sweaty, thirsty and dragging our giant backpacks, we were swarmed by travel agents and taxi drivers. They all beckoned to us with fresh, dewey bottles of chilled water, attempting to coax the two obvious gringos into their air-conditioned (and overpriced) taxis.

“No gracias, estamos tomando el bus.” I told them, without breaking our pace.

“Oh okay, as you wish. Good luck Senorita!” One man replied, in perfect English. Apparently, my Spanish was rustier than I thought.

We gave the Geopresses their first go in the airport bathrooms, straight from the tap. Though filling the bottle all the way up in a motion-activated faucet was a struggle, the rest of the process was a breeze. I placed the purifier on the floor for leverage to press the water, and after about 10 seconds, we were on our way to the bus stop. I was very glad to have 24 oz of purified water with me during the hot, bumpy, hour-long bus ride to Sayulita. The water was tasteless, without any residue, and generally unremarkable – in a good way!

As we rolled into Sayulita and started the short walk to our casa, we excitedly soaked in the sites of the town. The colorful buildings were decorated with pom poms and artwork. Some Mexican tourists pointed to a tree full of giant, dinosaur-like iguanas sheltering themselves from the blasting sun. Incredibly good-looking people with surfboards walked barefoot through the middle of the streets. Brightly decorated golf carts whizzed by, with no golf clubs to be seen. Buskers played drums and guitars on every street corner. And smelly, open drainages full of trash snaked their way through narrow streets and towards the beach.

As we walked into our casa we found our property managers had generously provided us with a water cooler and multiple five-gallon bottles to refill it with. Talk about borrowing worry! That said, we were determined to minimize our water use from the cooler, and agreed to only use the cooler water for cooking and washing dishes. That left all of our drinking and toothbrushing water to the GeoPresses.

Bottoms up!

Over the course of our ten-day trip, we tested the Grayl from multiple different water sources, from the acceptable-looking to some downright sketchy stuff. We purified water from the sink in our kitchen multiple times a day, generally before heading to the beach for our morning surf sesh, and multiple times throughout the evening once we returned to the casa.

I made the mistake of trying to press on the counter, and I will tell you that is NOT easy. In fact, right after this photo I moved the press to the floor with much better success. Pressing definitely takes some muscle; I found that I usually had to push with most of my body weight. After the first couple of days, I was very glad that we had the water cooler for soaking fruits and vegetables, cooking, and washing dishes. Pressing your drinking water a few times a day is no big deal, but I would not want to do it 5-10 times for every meal!

The Geopress was a bit too large for the tiny external water bottle holder on my backpack, but luckily the hook on the lid was the perfect spot for a carabiner, which I clipped to the strap of my pack.

Once we made it to the beach, I took to refilling my bottle with water from the hose outside of the surf shop. In fact, we tested the water from multiple different random hoses we found in the streets throughout Sayulita. I guess you could call this whole process somewhat thrilling… each time I finished pressing and took a swig I thought, “bottoms up!”

Ease of Use

Fill, press, drink… pray

Purifying with the GeoPress is as simple as fill, press, drink. First, find a running water source, whether it’s a tap, hose, stream or creek. The GeoPress will purify pretty much anything, but it’s best to avoid stagnant or brackish water just to be safe, and to prolong the life of the cartridge.

Pressing is the meat of the purifying process, and as I said, it does take a little muscle. Grayl definitely had this in mind when they designed the lid with ergonomic spots for the heels of your hands. With the GeoPress on the ground, I was able to use my body weight to my advantage. It’s also important to make sure that the small arrow on the lid is set to green (not red), which means the lid is completely closed to allow for air to flow out of the GeoPress during the purifying process.

When the GeoPress is full it’s definitely quite a bit heavier than your average water bottle. It wouldn’t be my first choice for a long backpacking trip for that reason, but it’s absolutely perfect for travel.

We filled, we pressed… how was the drink? I am very happy to report that after ten days of filling up from a variety of sources and pressing our little hearts out, neither I nor my husband got sick while in Mexico. Not even a tummy ache between us! Even more exciting is that we only used one five-gallon bottle of water during our stay in Sayulita – strictly for cooking and dishwashing – and did not use a single plastic water bottle during our entire trip. That’s a big win if you ask me.

Room for Improvement

I have only had the GeoPress for a few months, so I haven’t had to replace the cartridge yet.  I’m not sure how to know when to replace the cartridge exactly; Grayl says the cartridges last for 350 presses, so I guess you have to count? I will probably factor in an annual cartridge replacement to stay on the safe side, but at $25 per cartridge, it’s a small price to pay.

The Final Word

The GeoPress is a great choice for environmentally-conscious travelers looking to save money and the planet by forgoing bottled water during their adventures. While the bottle is a bit on the bulky side, it holds a refreshing 24 oz of water, quite a bit more than its predecessor. The purifying process is easy, if a bit tiring, but the slip-free ergonomic design of the bottle keeps pressing from becoming a pain. You do have to remember to take the bottle apart each night to let the cartridge dry out, but I do that with all of my water bottles anyway. 

Our trip to Sayulita was a dream. I could definitely spend the rest of my days surfing, eating tacos, drinking cervezas and exploring Mexico. We are already planning a trip back in 2020, and I can tell you for sure that our GeoPresses will be along for the ride.

Shop the Grayl Geopress on Outdoor Prolink. Not a member? Apply today!

Kenzie Rodriguez is the Head of Marketing at Outdoor Prolink. She lives in Whitefish, Montana where she loves to ski, hike, bike and hit the water with her husband and her dog, Bea.

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After a brutal winter season in Yosemite Valley, the sun is out creating perfect climbing conditions and I’m racking up. Having been climbing on a variety of terrain over the last five years, I absolutely despise climbing with a pack if I don’t need to. We decide to go light, stash our bags and hit the approach with only what we need to climb. Four pitches up, while belaying from a cave-like ledge, my skin starts to miss the sun, I grow cold, and I reach around to the back of my harness for my Kor Preshell Pullover.

Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell Pullover

Product Description: The Kor series is known for its weightlessness and exceptional softness. One of our most versatile pieces, it comes with extreme breathability. Wear it as either a base or midlayer.

Price: $100 MSRP

  • Quality
    (5)
  • Features
    (4)
  • Fit
    (5)
  • Durability
    (3)

Summary

As a person who is always cold, I really appreciate a jacket of this style. The Kor Preshell Pullover is a very versatile piece that I find myself tossing into my pack any time I’m heading out. From chilly belays to a light drizzle, this jacket has you covered with lightweight protection from the elements. This piece is abrasion resistant enough to stand up to some off-width, yet breaths well when hiking up an approach trail.

Overall 4.3

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Packable
  • Quick-drying

Cons

  • Durability
  • Stuff sack design

     

Being a Park Ranger means moving seasonally, thus creating a need for multi-use gear and keeping your load light. The Kor Preshell Pullover serves many functions and is definitely a piece I would recommend for a nomadic lifestyle. Filling the role of a wind-resistant, water-resistant, quick-drying layer that packs down small and looks stylish, this jacket has a spot in my pack almost every day. With the expected versatility of this jacket, I tested it cycling, hiking, and climbing in Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and California during the weirdest “spring” of my life.

Fit

As a petite woman with a climbers build, who is never the right temperature, I was pleasantly surprised by this jacket and how it fit me perfectly. I mostly wore this jacket over a base layer for extra protection from the wind. This jacket is great as a wind layer over a fleece or even as a base layer. The material is stretchy, soft and moves well through a variety of activities. The sleeves are a good length for cycling, yet the elastic cuffs keep them out of the way while exploring the more vertical world. The bright coloration of this piece helped me feel visible while cycling in the city, while the style of the jacket didn’t make me feel out of place popping into a coffee shop post-ride. This jacket very quickly became a piece of essential gear for multi-pitch climbs, hiking, and any bike ride.

Features

The Kor Preshell Pullover features a quarter-zip, front pocket, and stuff sack. The quarter zip has enough room to fit over a climbing or bicycle helmet so that you can put it on or remove it easily. The front pocket is large enough to fit an iPhone XR, but I generally use it for keys, chapstick, or stashing hiker detritus.

Room for Improvement

My only complaint about this jacket is the stuff sack. It doesn’t have a fastening closure, causing it to occasionally snag while climbing, and could be more compact. Though there is no solid closure, the outside of the stuff sack has carabiner loop that makes it perfect for bringing up a multi-pitch for that chilly belay.

Performance

The durability of the Preshell is an interesting topic. I spent a day jamming myself into off-widths trying to tear a hole into this jacket with very little abrasion to show. Yet, this jacket met its match when I decided that it stank to the high heavens and washed it. The washing machine spit out the jacket with a tear the size of a quarter on the sleeve, but nothing a gear patch couldn’t fix. Wearing this piece while hiking approach trails and while climbing demonstrated its ability to breath and kept me protected but not overheated. The water resistance was good enough to protect my base layer from a light sprinkling while cycling yet wetted out while chasing, I mean hiking to, waterfalls. Even after wetting out on the Mist Trail in Yosemite Valley, this jacket was completely dry after about ten minutes of hiking.

The Final Word

The versatility of this piece alone makes me feel ready for anything. Being so lightweight, wind-resistant, and water-resistant, I can’t help but feel ready for whatever the weather has in store with this in my pack. It’s incredibly easy to toss it in a pack or clip it to my harness and then slip it on over a helmet when I need it.  I love how it performs and feels while I’m wearing it but would really appreciate a better stuff sack as it tended to snag open in chimneys.

Shop the Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell Pullover on Outdoor Prolink. Not a member? Apply today!

Jen works for the National Park Service as an Interpretive Park Ranger for Zion National Park. With a strong passion for outdoor education, she worked as a climbing instructor for four years while pursuing a degree in Park Management and Conservation. During college at Kansas State University, she attained her Leave No Trace Trainer certification and enjoys volunteering at community clean-ups.  When she’s not wearing a flat hat, she can be found climbing, biking, drinking beers, eating good eats, and hanging out with friends. You can connect with her on Instagram at @jolly_jen.

The post ProView – Mountain Hardwear Kor Preshell Pullover appeared first on Dirtbag Dreams - Gear Reviews.

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