First Look: GoPro Hero 11 Black

I’ve been rolling with three GoPro Hero 7 Blacks for a few years so it was time for an upgrade. I now have my hands on the new GoPro Hero 11 Black, which I intend to use for all my mountain sports as well as some FPV drone flying.

I’m looking forward to trying some horizon lock, especially for skiing and biking. Hope to do some biking soon.

NBD (New Boot Day) – Technica Zero G Tour Pro

I’ve been suffering bad blisters on my old Technica Cochise 130 touring boots.  I tried everything to resolve the blisters from tweaking/molding the liners, Squirrel’s Nut Butter, athletic tape, moleskin… None of those things addressed the problem, which was that the boots were too big. I finally did it right, and got some new boots completely fitted, molded, orthotic-ed (just made that word up), and every possible customization and adaptation to my feet possible.  I have faith in Technical and that’s one reason why I chose them again with the Zero G Tour Pro. That at the fitter said these boots are the best of the best.

Above: note the alternate buckle. Interesting.

This walk/ski mechanism above is very hot right now.

I’ve done one tour with them so far, then the snow melted.  The tour was a success.  No blisters on the achilles.  I had a little bit of rubbing on the right ankle bone, but I think I need to change socks to a less abrasive pair.

I felt great in ski mode. My feet and my skis were connected. My foot wasn’t floating around in the boot.  My toes didn’t go numb either, which was another issue I had.

This is way too early to come to a conclusion and I may need another tweak or two to the boots, but they’re already a huge improvement.

The Lesson

Do it right the first time.  Get the right boot.  Get the right size. Get fitted by a pro.

Testing: Deity Supracush Bike Grips

While replacing my tires I also have the need to replace my very worn grips.  The local shop only had the Deity Supracush in stock, so that’s what I’ll be testing out!

I’ve been using them now for a couple of months and so far I’m really liking them.  Full review soon.

Testing out Moreok Mountain Biking Gloves

My gloves have been super worn and I’ve desperately needed new ones. Stopped by a couple of bike shops and found the selection to be very limited, and very overpriced. So naturally my next stop was Amazon, where I found these Moreok gloves, one pair at about $7.00 and the other at $15.

It’s so hot here right now that I’m using two pairs of gloves per ride. One pair I use on the sweaty climb. The second pair I use on the downhill to insure I have a clean and solid grip.

So far the gloves are well worth the money and have more padding than my previous gloves.  We’ll see how long they last. Stay tuned for a possible follow-up report on that.

Testing: Maxxis Mountain Bike Tires – Minion DHF and Aggressor

Needed some new tires for my 29-inch Stumpjumper, so I decided to try out some Maxxis ones.  Maxxis seems to be the hip choice right now, so I’m going to find out what all the fuss is about.

I’ll post a follow-up review after a few months of testing.

Tubeless

I’m also going tubeless with these tires, and doing it myself. This is the first time I’ll have done the tubeless install myself. I plan to document that process as well.

Stay tuned.

Review: Atomic Bent Chetler 100 Skis

I picked up these Atomic Bent Chetler 100’s last spring when we thought the COVID lockdown would be two weeks.  TWO WEEKS.

Specs

Designed by legendary skier Chris Benchettler, the Bent Chetler 100 is a versatile, all-around ski suitable for a wide variety of ski conditions.

Length tested: 172. Other lengths available are 164, 180, 188.

The dual rocker technology is distributed as follows: Front rocker 20%, camber 70%, and tail rocker 10%.

The ski features HRZN Tech in the tip and tail for increased surface area and float. The Light Woodcore, directional shape, and Powder Rocker make carving, slashing, and even sliding (when necessary) a breeze.

The turning radius of the 172’s is 18, while the 164’s are at 16.4.  The 180’s 19.5 and the 188’s 21.

My Experience

I only had a couple of chances to ski the 100’s last spring before the resorts shut down due to COVID.  The resorts are back open now for the 2020-2021 season and I’ve been riding the Bent Chetler 100’s exclusively.

When I first tried the 100’s, I was not used to them at all.  I was coming from the perspective of much wider and much longer skis.  Now I’ve got the feel for the 100’s and I’m really digging them. I’ve managed to experience quite a variance of  conditions from light powder to groomers to ice.  The skis are playful and easy to ski, but strong enough to take on more aggressive skiing and terrain.

In powder they float well for being relatively narrow.  I’m typically on 108’s and 116’s underfoot. Here’s a little pow video.

While they don’t necessarily ride on top of super light pow, they have enough float to get the job done.

Some of the most fun I’ve had skiing the Bent’s is making quick, short turns in tight places:

Final Thoughts

The Bent Chetler 100’s are a great one-ski-fits-all solution, or a great all-mountain addition to a skier’s quiver. The ski is reasonably priced at around $600 (without bindings).

 

New Specialized StumpJumper Mountain Bike

It only took me 30 years to upgrade mountain bikes. My old Scott Pro from 1990 served me well, but I badly needed an upgrade.  Here was my list of requirements:

  • Full suspension (front and rear shocks)
  • Seat dropper
  • 29 inch wheels
  • Hydraulic disc breaks
  • Modern geometry
  • Good looking
  • Around $2k price range
  • Medium frame size

Shopping was a little difficult because of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Some shops were not open or were only open by appointment or special hours.  Some shops didn’t have inventory that met my requirements.  After visiting 4-5 shops I got a little bummed out and bagged the search.  Then after a few days I took it back up again and found a Scott bike and a Specialized StumpJumper in my size and with my requirements at one shop.  I test rode both.  The Scott felt cheap and didn’t ride very well.  The StumpJumper rode very smooth and “felt” like the one. I pulled the trigger right there and have been thrilled with the choice so far.

The bike is a 12-speed (photo below).  I didn’t have enough knowledge about the gearing options and manufacturer to have a “requirement.” I’m happy so far with this 12-speed setup.  It climbs well.  I just wish I had a gear or two more for higher speeds, but this is a mountain bike, not a road bike.

The rear shock (below) is fantastic. After riding a hard tail and hard fork I’ve felt every bump for 1000’s of miles.  Nice to have some absorption now and the shocks are a must when riding bumpy and rocky trails.

Upgrades

After my first ride, I had a flat tire.  We have these nasty, nasty thorns here in Utah.  So after some research I decided to go “tubeless.”  This is a process where they remove the tube and treat the rim with some tape, then fill the tire with air and sealant.  Since then I’ve had no flats at all.  Going tubeless was the right decision for sure.

I also upgraded the pedals.  My feet kept slipping off of the stock pedals.  The new pedals cost about $80, so that may factor into the purchase if considering this bike.

Total upgrades: $140.00.

On The Trail

I’m not the world’s foremost expert in mountain biking.  That said, I’m quite happy with how the StumpJumper performs in varying terrain.  I’ve taken it through mud, sand, rocks, gravel, pavement, slick rock, bark, pebbles, and just about any mix of terrain one could think of.  The only area that the bike doesn’t perform well is in sand, which is not unexpected.  The tires are pretty fat, but not fatties.

I find the bike climbs very well and I almost never need to use the lowest gears.

Downhill biking is a blast with the 29 inch tires and full suspension.  I love catching air and knowing that I can land softly without too much of a kick.

Final Thoughts

I’m just scratching the surface on my StumpJumper, and the whole mountain biking experience.  I’m thrilled with the performance, durability and style and looking forward to many years of riding enjoyment.

First Look: Arva Access TS Shovel

One of the most essential items in a skier’s backcountry equipment list is a good shovel.

The shovel must be light and compact for carrying, while being strong and efficient when digging in a rescue situation.

In for review is the Access TS Shovel, which looks to be up to the task.

The Access TS features a telescopic “T” handle with 32cm and 46cm lengths, anodized aluminum blade, and weighs only 620 grams.

I’ve been carrying the Access TS Shovel in my backpack for a few days in the mountains.  Have yet to put it through some tests of pit digging and rescue training.  I will report back with a full review when I’ve had a chance to fully evaluate the TS.

Stay tuned!

First Look: Backcountry Access Snow Saw

One of the snow study tools I’ll need when in the backcountry is a snow saw.  I finally picked one up.  It’s a BCA (Backcountry Access) 35cm Snow/Wood Saw.

This is a very solid saw with measurements up to 35cm, and even a snow crystal study card right on the blade.

I’m looking forward to trying this snow saw out the next time I’m in the backcountry.  I’ll post a review in a few weeks after I’ve had ample time to test it out!

Stay tuned.

 

Arcade Belts Review

I’m keen on what gear ski pros use because I want to use the best gear I can for myself. After all, skiing isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Gear can make the difference between enjoying a great run or suffering badly.

Arcade and Cody Townsend

Over the last year or so I’ve become a big Cody Townsend fan. If you don’t know who he is, I highly recommend checking out his YouTube channel and The Fifty Project, where he is skiing the 50 most iconic lines in North America. Cody started up a belt company for skiers, ski mountaineers, hikers and the like. He saw a need and a niche that wasn’t being filled and Arcade Belts was born.

Getting in Shape

I’ve since acquired a total of SIX arcade belts and love them all. I have numerous reasons why I have these belts in play, one being their flexibility.  You see, since winter of 2018-19 I made a decision to ski a lot more, both downhill and backcountry.  I knew I’d need to be in better physical condition, so in 2019 I made a big effort to “move more and eat less.”  It worked!  I lost nearly 40 pounds and several inches off the waist.  The problem with that is that none of my apparel fit anymore.  Good problem to have I suppose. Belts needed.

In Action

The Arcade Belts flexibility and adjustability has allowed me to milk some more use out of some of my old ski pants.  Plus, the flexibility of the belts has really helped me with my movement and comfort while skiing.  The belts move with me, and stretch when they need to.  If I’m taking a jump, bending down low to absorb bumps, or simply bending over to buckle my boots, my belt doesn’t choke me out.

I’m also using Arcade Belts on my pants and shorts, not just my ski pants.  I’ve got a lot of pants/shorts which would simply fall right off my body without my Arcades. Plus they look great!

Style

Not only are Arcade Belts super functional, they’re very stylish.  There are dozens of different styles, designs and colors to choose from.  With my arsenal of Arcade Belts I’ve got a good match for most outfits I wear, but I’m surely not done.  I need more.

Final Thoughts

Hats off to Arcade Belts.  They’re a great belt for outdoor activities like skiing, hiking, camping, climbing and so on and can go straight from the mountains to a night on the town.