1. What is it? MSR SURELOCK UL-3. Ultralight 3-Section Multi-Use Poles. Retail for $109.95. http://cascadedesigns.com/msr/surelock-poles/poles/surelock-ul3/product
2. Who is it for? Outdoor enthusiast looking for a multi-season trekking pole. The poles come with interchangeable, screw on/off ground guards made for dirt/rock as well as snow.
3. Pros: The poles used a push button release system for adjusting the length depending on the users preference. This system was extremely easy to use because instead of un-latching the pole catch and trying to clamp them back down at the right setting; the push buttons automatically engaged at the standard lengths that are used on most poles. With the poles completely collapsed they weren’t much longer than the height of my pack. The push button extension system also made it very easy to extend them with gloves on during our 2012 Veterans Day Summit attempt of Mt. Shavano.
These poles were also very, very lite at 14.4 oz. This was also an awesome feature because I was carrying multiple extra layers that day due to the weather conditions. For being so lite, the poles withstood all of the weight I could put on them with no failure of the push button system.
4. Cons: There was only one area of improvement that I would recommend for these poles. When I took the poles off of my pack and extended them, with great ease, I had trouble getting my hand through the wrist straps with my winter mittens on. I would recommend either, extending the area that the Velcro covers on the strap or, making the wrist strap larger to account for the sometime bulkiness of winter gear.
5. Overall Gear Rating is a 4.8 out of 5. I love the ease of use, the weight and the structural integrity of the poles. Only setback: The size of the wrist strap.
6. Is it in my pack? Definitely!
Poles Reviewed by Livio Ciciotti
Photo by Scott Ostrom
1. What is it? Julbo Tensing performance eyewear. The color is Green/Gray. The lenses are Spectron 4/Cat. 4. These glasses are from Julbo’s mountain collection and retail for $50.
2. Who are these glasses for? The Julbo Tensing is for the mountain traveler and mountaineer looking for premium high altitude protection at an economical price.
3. Pros: Ultra-wrap profile design offers all day protection. The side vents and flexible frame offer all day comfort. For the money, these glasses cannot be beat on the mountain.
4. Cons: The bright colors may turn some folks from these great value glasses but don’t worry, they come in black. http://www.julbousa.com/mountain/tensing/
Photo by Scott Ostrom
5. Overall gear rating is 5 out of 5. Can’t beat these performance eyewear for the price and performance.
6. The Julbo Tensing performace eyewear are on my face or in my pack as a back-up pair.
Gear Review by Nick Watson
1. What is It? The Marmot Silverton Jacket. The color is Fern/Wintergreen. The jacket retails for $495. It is a hard shell built to withstand big mountain weather without the weight and bulk of most Jacket’s in this category. http://marmot.com/products/silverton_jacket
2. Who is this Jacket for? The Marmot Silverton Jacket is for the back country skier and snowshoer who wants a premium shell to keep them dry and protected from mountain weather. The jacket performed well on Mt. Rainier this April during many snow storms. The jacket also kept me dry in rainy Seattle. This Jacket shines as an all around versatile piece of gear for the high mountains and the city raincoat.
3. Pros: I like the pockets (2 waist pockets, 1 chest pocket, and 1 left arm pocket). I like the zippers on the jacket, pockets, and pit zips. They have always worked without hassle. I like the protection the jacket offers.
4. Cons: The jacket has few cons. This Jacket has a fitted fit which works in some cases and not others. In my case the jacket fit me great except for the extreme high mountain winter weather type conditions. I would want the next size up for 7,000 meter peaks or higher.
5. Overall Gear Rating is a 4.5 out of 5. This is the perfect 4 season mountain jacket to keep you dry.
6. This jacket is in my pack for anything the Colorado high country can throw at me.
Photo by Chris Kassar
This jacket was reviewed by Nick Watson
Photo by Peter Cameron
Gear reviews will be written by military veterans who have been using and testing gear as they train with VetEx for upcoming expeditions, races, and events. The criteria for the reviews has been created with knowledge and experience of both military deployments and wilderness guiding. We bring a very practical approach to our reviews. Please note that the gear being reviewed may have been purchased at retail, pro-dealed, sponsored, etc.
Gear Review Criteria:
1. What is it?
2. Who is it for?
5. Overall Gear Rating
6. Is it in my pack?
VetEx Co-founder Nick Watson is the primary gear tester for VetEx, and we will gladly post gear reviews from any and all military veterans who want to post their reviews here.
Gear Tester Bio, Nick Watson:
Nick served 5 years as an Army Ranger with 3rd Ranger Battalion from 1991-1995.
Nick graduated from numerous advanced leadership and survival schools to include Airborne School, Ranger School, S.E.R.E. Survival School, Non-Commissioned Officer Primary Leadership Development Course, Combat Lifesaver, and Field Sanitation. He was involved in numerous international and national deployments. Nick has been working as an Outdoor Professional since leaving the army. He is a graduate of the Recreation Management program at the University of Vermont and has held numerous jobs in the outdoor industry to include: National Park Service Park Ranger, NPS Biological Technician, Trail Crew Boss, Wilderness Therapy Instructor, Field Director, Wilderness Guide, etc. That is 20 years of outdoor experience. Nick is an “all-arounder” who enjoys the challenge of the outdoors paddling, mountain biking, road biking, hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, climbing ice and rock, and most of all he enjoys those epic long days high in the mountains. His gear reviews focus on practical, real world application and function of each gear item. If Nick carries it in his pack, you want it in yours!
Photo by Scott Ostrom
Gear Tester Bio, Livio Ciciotti:
Livio Ciciotti is a native of Upstate New York where he grew up playing football and working on local farms bailing hay. Since moving to Colorado in early 2012 he has really found his home in the high country. Livio is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology where he studied Graphic Media and Communications. While attending RIT, Livio enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves, in the Infantry. Livio hoped to one day become a Marine Infantry Officer but due to a serious accident he was not able to fulfill that ambition. He served six years with India Co. 3rd Battalion 25th Marines. While serving in the Infantry Livio attended Tactical Small Unit leaders Course as well as Combat Life Saver Course and Combat Hunter Course. In 2010 Livio deployed to Southern Helmand Province, Afghanistan where he served as a Vehicle Commander and Team Leader. Livio was promoted to Sergeant and served as a squad leader before his contracted ended in 2012.
Livio loves getting high in the Colorado Rockies on isolated trails where he can enjoy the outdoors to the fullest.
Photo by Scott Ostrom
He continues to learn and advance his outdoor skills with Veterans Expeditions. His favorite part of the VetEx experience is sharing the trail with the “Brotherhood” as he calls it. “It’s a commitment that we owe each other and ourselves as veterans to stay connected and to support each other.”