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rab-microlight-apline-jacket

Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket

AT A GLANCE

The Good: warm, durable, hood, chest pocket, waist draw cord, cost

The Bad: bulkier than average, tad short for larger athletes


Whether bagging an Adirondack Peak, sailing the North Sea from the Lofoten's enchanted islands or skinning up Tucks in New Hampshire's whites this jacket has proved to be a jack of all trades. Warmer than your average microlite from competitors, this jacket is also on the more rugged looking side as opposed to one you might wear on a casual day to the office. The  big differentiator for this jacket is the full draw storm hood with formable brim. This jacket is definitely warmer than it looks. As mentioned above it was windproof at 50 mph plus winds aboard a ferry in the North Sea and proved to be tough enough for a tour into Mount Washington's Tuckerman Ravine with the winds howling and 5 Degree F high. 

The full storm hood serves not only as a wind and weather blocker but is plenty warm, as it is filled with the same insulation as the rest of the jacket. Waist drawstrings also help to keep unwanted frigid air out. The complement of features is completed with zippered hip pockets and one chest pocket.

The jacket has proven durable with repeated wear with backpacks, 35 lb ski packs and an overly excited pup clawing at it with his nails.  No stitching has shown any compromise. I'm 6'2" and 220 pounds with broad shoulders and I have a size large and the way the jacket sits on me it can use some length. The only ask of the jacket is that it could be an inch longer, but for 95% if users the fit will be fine. 

This was my first intro to Rab, and it has definitely peaked my interest. We were ready to pull the trigger on a competitor like Arcteryx, BD or the North Face but are glad we went this route and a very competitive price point. 

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salewa-wildfire-hiking-shoe

Salewa wildfire hiking shoes

The Good: Sturdy, Great Grip, Long-lasting

The Bad: Laces untie often, a bit stiff

I have been a fan of Salewa from my first pair of true hiking shoes. I started with a high top version close to the Firetail since I had weak ankles, but then, on a deal from REI, got my absolutely favorite pair to date – the Salewa Wildfire. I always had both on hand, but I kept going back to using my Wildfire’s as they were just more user friendly and less bulky. 

The frame of the boot is pretty stiff, so if you are a fan of a more flexible shoe, this may not be the one for you. I like the stiffness as it makes me feel a bit more confident in my steps, especially in the rocky ADK’s and with an ongoing running injury I’m constantly tending to.

The grip is phenomenal. I have yet to be in a situation where they have failed me. Even on the steepest slopes of Reinebringen, I doubted them – but they always kept me slip-free.

The laces are a little tricky. No matter how tight I tie them, they always come undone. This is an extremely small issue, mostly due to my laziness of not just going out and getting new laces.

They are also extremely long-lasting. I have had these shoes for a few years now, and it was only about 2 years in where one of the non-essential rubber pieces on the side had a stress fracture on it. I haven’t seen anything since – but it seems that those bridges are the first to go.

All an all, I am a huge fan of Salewa, and these are definitely a win for me.

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Norrona Falketind Short Glove

Norrona Falketind Glove

AT A GLANCE

The Good: light, warmer than expected, wind proof, simple, excellent dexterity, attractive looks.

The Bad: light residue left on hands after extended use, putting them on and off is slightly laborious


The Norrona Falketind glove is a quality product, as expected from Norrona. Its best qualities are simplicity and function. While intended to be a wind proof glove for moderately cold temperatures these gloves have proven adequate in a variety of settings and applications. The simplicity removes any bulkiness and unnecessary straps which are found all over today's outdoor product and keeps them looking serious enough to wear to the office. 

I've used these gloves in a range of activities from waking the dog, packing gear into the truck, trekking, ski touring and skiing, handling equipment. They have proven themselves time and time again. The excellent dexterity and durability they offer make them perfect for setting up your gear while getting ready for the day whiteout letting your hands go numb before starting your adventure. Setting up skins, adjusting bindings and preparing the pack was a breeze. Additionally, carrying gear, with edges such as skis has demonstrated their durability, even in the inseam between the thumb and index finger where so many other gloves, even ski gloves can fail. After reaching you destination, these gloves prove to be warm enough to not even warrant a ski glove for the ski back down. 

On long treks, with an amply excited 70 pound pup, the gloves hold up to the repeated rope chaffe caused by his antics. One would assume this would translate into comparable belay characteristics.

These gloves have a non adjustable wrist which has is ups and downs. This adds to the simplicity and ensure your sleeve always naturally glides over the gloves to reduce drafts. However, they are a slight nuisance to put on and remove due to the same.  On extended use in warmer temperature or excessive sweat a black reside maybe left in your hand. However, none of these are a showstopper for me and this is a glove I will not be looking to replace.

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vidda-pro-pant

Fjallraven Keb Trousers

The Good: Durable, Wind & Waterproof G-1000 material, Comfortable, Warm, Flexible (in places), Multi-use

The Bad: Material is a bit heavy

 

I got the Keb Trousers when planning for our trip to Norway. We knew it was going to be cold and wet, so this was an ideal purchase. I have always been a tight-wearer on our hikes for the sake of flexibility, but I knew I need something more durable for the arctic elements.

Why the yellow? It was on sale, BUT I personally thought the yellow color was amazing. From a technical perspective, the pants held up. Both in the arctic of Norway, to our local trails in the Northeast. I even wore them skiing once when I forgot my Mammut’s.

For best use, I wouldn’t wear them in any particularly harsh conditions like blizzard or heavy snow, but in rain, winds and 35F – 60F weather – they are ideal. They are very durable so they will protect you from the elements, but they will also keep you relativity warm. That said, they aren’t a warm pant, so if it is 35F or colder, I would recommend either layering up or wearing a different pant. Same on the flip side, 60F+ is simply too warm and you will be trying to roll them up as far as possible. They do have nifty zippers on lower and upper leg that you can use to breathe a bit.

As far as storage, they have multiple pockets for keeping things safely on you. This definitely comes in handy on the trail for when you need full use of your hands. I usually keep my phone on the thigh pocket and with an iPhone7 plus - it fits perfect.

As far as flexibility. There are elastic ankle bands which I have found extremely useful to make sure my pants aren’t dragging on muddy days.  Also, you can’t see it, but the back knee area is stretchy, and that flexibility comes in serious use when climbing through technical rocky areas and scrambles.

Overall, an ideal pant for not so ideal conditions.

 

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fjallraven-kaipack

Fjallraven Kaipack (28L)

AT A GLANCE

The Good: Weather-resistant material, comfortable, storage-friendly, strap-full

The Bad: No water storage

 

I got the Fjallraven Kaipack (28L) as I was looking for a better solution for longer hikes in not-so-great weather. I needed more carrying load, and as a fan of Fjallraven’s G-1000 material, it was a solid option. Overall, the pack is sturdy, durable and comfortable. I have carried it over significant mileage, in questionable weather without complaint. I can easily adjust and carry a decent amount of load along the way without feeling the weight, especially with its sturdy back.

The material is durable and it comes with a rain cover that I have used time and time again.

The pockets are plenty, two on the sides, one zippered in the front (mostly for flat items) and one on the top. The pocket on the top is one of my favorite features. It is easy to get to and has an epic storage volume for everyday items you need to get to fast. There is one pocket on the inside, but as it is against the frame, it holds little to nothing.

This is where the bag comes to a fault with me. The inside back pocket is always my go-to for my water bladder. However, this pocket is so thin, I simply cannot fit it there. In this case, I tend to put my water bladder inside the main compartment of the pack, which not only takes up space – but it slumps and falls. There is also not a slot for the water valve, so that is consistently sticking out of my pack awkwardly, making it uncomfortable at the top. I honestly end up filling a bottle instead of my bladder to solve for it.

Aside from this issue, Kaipack is a great durable pack. It won’t be your solution for a multi-day hike, but for a long day-hike in questionable weather – it is a great solution.

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