Spring 2018 gear reviews.

I will admit that testing new gear is amongst my favorite things to do. Just finding activities in which I can put a piece of gear through hell and see what it can withstand is extremely enjoyable to me.  

 This spring I added a few pieces that deserve a worthy mention. These are not technical reviews. These are just my thoughts about my favorite pieces of gear this season. There are plenty of technical specs in the links provided. Here are my favorite pieces so far. 

Gear List:

1. Arc'teryx Cerium SL down jacket.

 This is the best piece of clothing I've added to my collection.

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Pros:

Incredibly light and compressible with only two minimal outer pockets and a stuff sack in one the pockets. It's 850 filled with white goose down. Can be worn as a mid layer in extreme cold or a stand alone in spring and summer nights.  This is an incredibly warm piece and I've put it through many tests( backpacking the Sierras, Utah, Mt Hood, and many others.) Seems very durable!

Cons:

The retail price is $349 which is not unheard of for premiun down jackets but certainly more expensive than synthetic filled ones. Limited colors. That being said, I've never liked purple and I was given the choice to pick black but i loved this color once I saw it on. Also,  there's no inside pocket which some people prefer. 

https://arcteryx.com/us/en/shop/womens/cerium-sl-hoody

2.  Julbo Vermont Glacier sunglasses

I've had other Julbo glasses and they are all pretty good but the Vermont Glacier  is outstanding.

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Pros:

You'll look a little steampunk or like an old school pilot. That's a pro in my book.  Your eyeballs won't get sunburned (this is a real thing) and the leather shielding is very useful for high altitude hiking. Comfortable rubber ear pieces that won't let the glasses move at all even when drenched in sweat. You can remove the leather shields for less intense glare conditions. 

Cons: The Steampunk look may not be for everybody.

https://www.julbo.com/fr_fr/lunettes-de-soleil/vermont#216=168&318=2451

. Arc'teryx brize 32L daypack. 

Arc'teryx Brize 32L daypack. 

Arc'teryx Brize 32L daypack. 

 Pros:

The Brize daypack is water resistant with 2 stretchy side water bottle pockets and a large front zippered pocket. The top flap has a pocket as well that is very handy for maps, flashlights and snacks. The inside has a large pocket and a small zippered pocket useful for keys and little objects. Very durable material and comfortable fit. Somehow it always looks really clean, even the yellow color one. 

  Cons

My biggest issue with this pack is that the waist belt doesn't have pockets. The Arc'teryx larger packs, like the Bora, have the huge padded waist bands with large pockets which are such a great feature. A shame that the smaller packs don't have the same quality of waist straps. 

https://arcteryx.com/us/en/shop/brize-32-backpack

5. Arc'teryx Delaney tights.

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Pros: 

Thick, stretchy, flattering with HUGE pockets. I use them to hold camera lenses. That's how big the pockets are! These are not see through. They are thick but breathable. Perfect for running, gym, outdoors and everyday wear. They dry quickly too! These are my favorite leggings for the outdoors as I can wear them as a base layer too. 

Cons: Not sure how they hold against porous and rough rocks. I haven't taken them out climbing. I did tear a hole on my first pair from getting stuck on a tree in Bryce Canyon so they might be prone to tearing against really rough surfaces. 

6. Katadyn hiker microfilter

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Pros:  

Ultralight and compact. Perfect for backpacking. It filters really well and only needs a tiny puddle to pull water out of. This is a life saver for muddy regions or places without large water sources. Pumps at a very fast rate and has an adapter to the Nalgene wide mouth bottles.  

Cons

 It doesn't work against some viruses. Still have to use tablets. 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009T7IYIA/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_jSTkBbMX883XF 

 7. Arc'teryx Norvan VT GTX trail runners. 

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 This is my first pair of trail runners that are not La Sportiva. La Sportiva has been such a great brand for my shoes that I never even thought about trying anything else. 

 Pros:

This is a hybrid shoe. It's between an ultralight approach shoe and trail runners which work really well for my type of activity. I'm often walking in rugged terrain rather than running. It has two compounds on the sole for extra grip and it is a beast in slippery terrain. The supportive soles come at the cost of flexibility. It's still very flexible and nice to run in but not as flexible as most trail runners. It has a double wall with the interior one being a meshed one. The moisture management of this shoe is outstanding. Now, my favorite part of this shoe is the adjustable volume mechanism (something that every hiking boot should have). They have a mechanism in the front that allows you to reduce the volume after the laces have been tied. So when you are going downhill, you can adjust it so that  your toes won't slide forward. With my history of lost nails, this is everything I've ever wanted in a shoe. 

 Cons:

No Gore-tex. The fabric around the ankle gets damaged somewhat easily. My soles are still looking really good after 300 miles and this is the only spot where I see tear and wear.  


https://arcteryx.com/us/en/shop/mens/norvan-vt-gtx-shoe

8. Black Diamond Whippet pole.  

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 My new favorite toy that I use in the least conventional ways. 

Pros:

Ultralight and versatile ski pole which I use as a walking stick, a river paddle and everything else but a ski pole. Very comfortable handle with an ice pick and self arrest tool. I use it for everything all the time and it gets me out of a lot of sketchy backcountry situations. I find that ice axes are often such an overkill and trekking poles often fall short in some of the places I go to. This is the perfect in between and great for winter to spring transition mountaineering.

Cons: This cannot be collapsed below 60cm or so. I call it 'my antenna' because that's what it looks like when I have it on the side of my pack.  Also, skiing and running around with an ice axe is the equivalent of running with scissors. Please, be careful. 


https://www.amazon.com/Black-Diamond-Carbon-Whippet-100-140/dp/B00QMFH5N2/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1529536781&sr=8-3&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=black+diamond+whippet&dpPl=1&dpID=21pEP9ejp-L&ref=plSrc


If you are curious, this is my set up for a spring weekend in the Sierras.

Although I've replaced my ice axe with the carbon whippet pole. Woohoo!

Although I've replaced my ice axe with the carbon whippet pole. Woohoo!

The Chilean Traverse - The Plan.

I know I've been quiet. I'm working on this huge upcoming project. Here's a quick update!

In February 2018, I was searching for my next big mountain after a few exhilarating treks in China where I climbed my first above 6,000m peaks. I wanted to go for my first 7,000m peak. Naturally, I turned to the Himalayas but for some reason it didn't feel right.  In my search for the next project, I ran across an image from NASA of Llullaillaco that stayed with me and I decided that I would instead head down to Chile. 

NASA - Llullaillaco from space.

NASA - Llullaillaco from space.

Llullaillaco is the tallest archeological site in the world. It's a volcano that sits between Argentina and Chile in the Atacama desert with an incredibly fun name to say as fast as possible. A few hours in the depths of Google, I was sold on Chile. I would climb Llullaillaco before the year was over.I

I knew I'd graduate from UCLA in the summer and I decided I'd do a once in a lifetime trek around this climb. I decided to try to merge my skills in scientific research, mountaineering and photography into a single job position. Bringing 3 differently skills together into a position that doesn't really exist is tough and it has proven very difficult to sell to those who sponsor this type of trips. But I do believe traveling could be done in more meaningful and useful ways. I've never been unemployed. I've always has a job in physics since I was 17 years old. For the first time in my life I will be unemployed and freelancing as I attempt to make this new job a reality.  

 I pitched the idea to the Access Collective campaign ( http://www.getaccess.co/ ). This is group of Nat Geo photographers, athletes, models and all sorts of traveling talents which I've been lucky enough to be a part of.  This group is all about meaningful travel with the help of  'soft' branding. The trips and stories are not built around the brand. Instead the brands partake in more meaningful endeavors that go further than "bucket list box checking" trips.  We are now working on the biggest trek I've yet to do both physically and mentally. 

 The itinerary is a work in progress but I will be traversing Chile starting in the desert of San Pedro de Atacama, climbing Aconcagua and heading down to Patagonia. I'll be there for 4 months bringing photographic content, science articles in conservation and virtual reality experiences! 

Here's a draft of the itinerary:

Chilean traverse itinerary plan

Chilean traverse itinerary plan

Currently, I am working in finding sponsorships and science research. We're still in much need of help. Any recommendations or contacts will be greatly appreciated! 

 I'll try to keep you more updated. Much love,

Eylene.  

PS: I'm sorry I deleted all the comment sections. There's a weird stalker that has been harrasing me so we can't have nice things. :)