2018 has been a very quiet year for me, which I have to admit has been kind of nice.
In regards to purchasing new gear this year, well, there has actually been very few new things that I have bought, especially compared to the last eight years or so. Some of it I have thought really sucked and some I have fallen in love with.
I wanted to post a few brief thoughts on the Massdrop Veil Wind Shell, based on a couple dozen emails and questions on other social websites that I have gotten about this wind garment.
First a quick recap on the history of it. I placed the order for mine in late February of 2018. It was not yet in production, as has become common on Massdrop these days for their own line-up of products, and I received mine on July 26, 2018.
Recently a patron of mine sent me his new Pa’lante ‘V2‘ Backpack to check out, so thought I would do a brief write-up and video on this cool new backpack from Pa’lante.
The ‘V2’ is a 2018 backpack from Pa’lante and, IIRC, their fourth(?) iteration of a backpack. First was the Simple, then the Simple Cuben, then the Dx version, and now the V2 – maybe I missed one in there, but I think that is right. With each generation, Pa’lante has been refining the design of their backpack. In some ways, they have gotten away from their initial core idea of a backpack (a simple backpack) in order to meet the mass demands they never expected, but at the same time, that drive has caused them to really put in the effort to bring to market a more refined backpack, while staying as true to their dream of a simple pack as possible.
I have had the chance to use all of their backpacks with the exception of the Dx version, so getting a chance to try out this newest V2 has been a special treat for me.
A couple months ago I was up at the Six Moon Designs offices, just South of Portland Oregon. While I was there I had a chance to check out their latest backpack, the ‘Minimalist‘ – and they even allowed me to share a picture of it on my Instagram page.
They asked me if I would like to try one out when they got in stock and I said sure, of course, testing out new packs on the market is something that I love to do. So a few weeks later one showed up at my house. Free of charge, which is always cool. It is super rare for me to accept free gear, but at the same time, there are just so many new packs on the market right now that buying all of them has gotten to be too blasted expensive. Thankfully a few friends have sent me a few backpacks to do some testing with (such as when I did the initial-look of the Pa’lante Simple Pack, and another buddy is sending me his Pa’lante V2 to do the same, woot!) but anyway, yeah, full disclaimer, Six Moon Designs sent me the Minimalist free of charge, and with any obligations beyond reporting directly back to them my thoughts on what I like and did not like.
So onto my insights into the backpack, and down at the bottom of this article will be a video that I did while out on the packs maiden voyage.
I have been using the Enlightened Equipment ‘Copperfield Wind Shirt’ for a bit over a year. I have been getting questions about it so I thought that I would write up a few brief thoughts about the wind jacket after my first year of use.
I was lucky enough to get mine about 9 or ten months before they hit the market so that I could do pre-release R&D / T&E on the garment. So while mine is slightly different than the current on-the-market version, the changes they have made since I and other testers got ours, have been really nice to see. I think all of the changes that I recommended, with the exception of one, a larger #zipper, made it into the final production version.
Six months ago I received a new garment called the ‘Xenolith Sweater‘ from Kora, a UK based company that specializes in high-end garments – primarily for those who are doing expeditions and epic adventurers in some of the most awesome places that we humans go here on earth.
I have previously reviewed the Kora ‘Shola 230’ Leggings and the Kora ‘Shola 230 Zip’ Top, with the latter of the two being, by far, the most popular of the two garments. I have often responded to folks wanting to know my thoughts about the Shola 230 Top with: “the Kora Shola 230 Zip is the best warmth to weight ratio top garment that I have used“. I did ding the 230 Zip in a few ways but gave it significantly more praise than counter praise. It is an amazing lightweight layer 1 or L2 thermal garment for the typical day to day conditions that I face here in the Redwoods of Northern California. Likewise, the 230 leggings have been my go-to thermal bottoms since I got them.
Over the last, almost two years now, I have tried to stay devoted to putting the test to Yak wool products, from Kora as well as other companies trying to make a go at making Yak wool garments. This has not been easy. A lot of these garments made from Yak wool are hella expensive, often times a third or more expensive than their appropriate counterparts in the Merino wool market. It has also not been easy because I have encountered more than one company making Yak wool garments that have just turned out to be horribly disappointing in the durability world of things. And lastly, in the things that have made it hard to do long-term garment testing on Yak wool products is the simple fact that there is not a lot of them on the market.