Gear Review: “The Raven” by Free Range Equipment

If you follow this blog you’ve most likely heard of Free Range Equipment. Owned and operated by Bend, OR local Tosch Roy and his sister Zoë, Free Range makes sport-specific backpacks for fast-and-light adventures. Their backpacks for multipitch rock climbing, alpine climbing and ski mountaineering all boast svelte designs that pair simplicity with functionality.

The “Raven” is Free Range’s ski mountaineering/ski touring pack. I have skinned nearly every day this winter with the Raven on my back and have done my best to scrutinize and test its every feature. Here, I hope to supply you with an unbiased review of its performance in order to better inform our collective pursuit of “gear enlightenment.”

The Raven

Whether you’re trying to escape the garish confines of SkiMo fashion or just move faster in the mountains, the Raven has you covered. Pictured w/ standard diagonal ski carry. Read on for discussion of standard vs. race carry options.

Read on →

2014 Year-End Book Review

Ok, you’ve got one week until Christmas. Game face.

Your spouse/partner/sibling/parent is a climber/skier/runner and you haven’t done anything for them yet. Or maybe, you have all of your shopping done and it’s time to give yourself a little reward…a little something to keep you occupied when you’re hanging with the in-laws. I’m here to help you out.

Lots of blogs like to post a list of Christmas items this year. I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s because they get a cut of the pie. Commissions keep outdoor blogs alive, this one included. But I object a bit to the blatant Christmas slutting, so I’ve bagged my redundant list in favor of a book list from 2014. Full disclosure: these links do generate a commission if you buy something, but lets just say that I’m not getting rich when I get 6% of a book sale. If you’d rather, you can go search for the books on Amazon and cut me out.

The books are here because I like them. I’ve read them. I recommend them to friends, and I recommend them to you. And better than new ski straps or a chalk bag, books let you give an enabling gift of stoke (even just to yourself). So, without further ado, here are my seven picks for this year.

Training for the New Alpinism – Steve House and Scott Johnston

Training for the new alpinism

“A manual for the climber as athlete.”

This is an amazing book for climbers, but I think that this is an amazing book for almost any athlete. Never have I seen training theory so clearly and cohesively presented in writing. Steve and Scott tackle nutrition, athletic and technical training, programming, and mental tactics with clarity and insight.

Steve’s many years of climbing and Scott’s experience with olympic cross-country skiing making this an invaluable resource.Whether you’re a climber or a runner, the information in this book is useful and clear. It’s also far from boring– taking clues from Mark Twight’s Extreme Alpinism, the book mixes in photos and stories from climbers epic-ing and triumphing around the world. It will make you want to train and show you how to do it effectively. Read on →