Apr 22 2014

Review: Petzl Tikka R+ headlamp


Petzl's Tikka R+ with reactive light.

Petzl’s Tikka R+ with reactive light.

Petzl’s new incarnation of the Tikka headlamp, the R+, keeps the same low profile and light weight, with a powerful 170 lumen high beam and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It’s great for use around the house, walking the dog, camping, or dawn patrols.

Gone is the ability to flip a fresnel lens over the beam to diffuse it optically. Instead, a default lens provides a high beam center with a wide spillover. You can select a reactive setting where the intensity of light reflected back is sensed and the output adjusted on the fly to approximate a constant level of illumination. Thus, if you’re in tight quarters aimed at a white wall, the light will dim, down to 7 lumens if you’re close and the white wall is actually a mirror. When you point away, where the closest surface is yards away, or a darker surface, the light intensity will increase, depending on the mode it is in, up to 120 lumens. It’s cool bit of technology but frankly my brain makes those adaptions faster and if I need more or less light I’d rather make the switch manually. YMMV.
Keep earning your turns

Apr 21 2014

TR: North side of Mt. Lassen


Mt. Lassen's north side from treeline.

Mt. Lassen’s north side from treeline.

Meeting people through the internet has always seemed a bit weird. The concept isn’t what is weird. Meeting strangers at a party, in a bar, through a dating service, or a notice on a kiosk is always a bit of an adventure with the unknown. The internet is just the electronic version of how strangers rub virtual elbows before actually meeting.

What is weird is the perverse perspective that results when you see the side of a persons personality they chose to project on the internet before meeting them. That face may or may not sync with their actual personage. To be sure half of that is due to what is lost in translation. The other half is due to what leaks through between the lines. It was the latter half that had me a bit nervous to join an ad hoc meeting of BCTalk regulars for a ski tour on Mt. Lassen.
Keep earning your turns

Apr 15 2014

BCM’s Gear Test: A Family Affair

Beer – it’s not just for breakfast anymore.

Snow Sista's sipping PBR's.

Snow Sista’s sipping PBR’s.

When you read the dispatches from the Backcountry Mag crew on the status of their annual Gear Test week at Powder Mountain resort you can’t help but think what a party scene the whole affair is. Indeed, a festive atmosphere does dominate the whole scene. How could it not? After all, a week of skiing where you simply MUST ski as much as you can, on as many different pieces of gear as you can, with a gang of like minded skiers sounds like a perfect formula for hedonistic bliss.

Except that’s only the facade that makes it to the headlines. What makes it all work is something far less sexy sounding – family values. Yes, I’m talking about raising families and doing the right things and not letting things get out of control even though they can, but in a family way, still do.
Keep earning your turns

Apr 14 2014

Testing AT boots at Mt. Bachelor w/ABB


The BC boot test team - Bob Egeland and Dostie at Mt. Bachelor, OR.

The BC boot test team – Bob Egeland & Dostie
at Mt. Bachelor, OR.

The annual ski boot test run by America’s Best Bootfitters for Ski and Skiing magazines was held last week at Mt. Bachelor. Conditions were classic spring with creamy corn conditions on all aspects allowing testers, a hodge-podge group of boot fitters, friends of fitters, and manufacturers, to put their feet inside more than 100 models of boots to see how they perform outside the showroom.
Keep earning your turns

Apr 06 2014

Apparel Review: Dynafit’s Mercury DST jacket


Dynafit does apparel too. And well. The Mercury DST. Breathable. Quiet. Sheds snow. Simple design.

Dynafit does apparel too. And well.
The Mercury DST.

Just as real skiers have a quiver of skis, at least two, so goes the wardrobe of backcountry skiers. You need two jackets – one that is more waterproof for when it’s puking rain, and one that is more breathable for when it’s not. Of course, the goal is always to have one that does both but anyone who has been around the block knows, you can’t really have both. Pick one, and optimize it for one side or the other – waterproof or breathable. Or, in this case, pick both, but a different shell for each. On most days, a softshell like Dynafit’s Mercury will be the better choice.

Breathable, not as Waterproof

For the sunny side of touring, you will be hard pressed to beat the performance of Dynafit’s Mercury jacket made of SilverShell. It’s a a dense weave of nylon and lycra that makes it fairly resistant to moisture absorption – no membrane required. Wind resistance is a default feature, where it rocks. You certainly wouldn’t want the Mercury in the rain but as long as you could stay warm by moving, which is where this jacket excels, breathing like a fish when the inside and outside are moist, you’ll stay dry and the snow will just pill up on the outside. It’s waterproof enough as long as it isn’t a drenching of the liquid variety of water.
Keep earning your turns

Apr 04 2014

TR: Tahoe rallys for best day of the season


Kris Thomas drops off Anderson Ridge near Sugar Bowl.

Kris Thomas drops off Anderson Ridge near Sugar Bowl.

The smiles around Tahoe are pretty deep this week. Most days you can find a smile on the face of any Tahoe local, especially if they’re a skier in the middle of winter. Work not withstanding, being in one of the finest places in the world to shred snow fosters an optimism that is harder to find in the big chity. Even when it has been the third wimpy winter in a row.

That enthusiasm for snow has been admittedly a dubious basis for good cheer recently, especially this season. As a backcountry skier though I must admit my patience for deliverance from the drought, however temporary, has been tested this winter. My smile, though not absent, was more stoic than bubbly. I noticed it with other backcountry skiers as well. The earning of turns has remained reliable throughout the season, especially with Sugar Bowl going official on their uphill policy. However, the turning has not been so good, at least, not compared to how good we know it can be.
Keep earning your turns

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