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Review

North Face Jester Backpack

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My North Face Jester Review

When it comes to ergonomically-designed backpacks that do not compromise utility, The North Face makes the best of them. Perfect as a day-hike backpack to hit the trails with, a school backpack to hold all your books and binders, a travel backpack to bring you from one place to another, and an everyday backpack that will basically hold all your day-to-day essentials, The North Face Jester does not jest in its functionality while bringing you durability, comfort and style.

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Remington 700 SPS 30-06 Review

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9.4tech score

Built to carry on the tradition of the Model 700™ ADL™ Synthetic, the Model 700™ SPS™ is leading the way for the next generation of hard-hitting, fully featured, affordable priced rifles. From the rock-solid receiver design to the famous “three rings of steel,” the Model 700 SPS offers the unrivaled out-of-the-box accuracy and high-end performance you’ve come to expect from America’s most popular bolt-action centerfire rifle.

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Springfield XDm 9mm Review

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9tech score

 

Springfield Armory, one of the most recognised firearms names in the world, have produced a new pistol – the Springfield XDm 9mm. Known for the quality of their tactical response firearms and have a reputation for producing quality handled and ergonomic pistols, the XDm 9mm is a whole new breed.

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Bushmaster CAR15 .223 – The Perfect Survival Rifle Review

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8.8tech score

You can ask 10 different people what the best survival rifle is and you will get 10 different answers. Well I am going to give you my answer. The Bushmaster CAR15 .223 in my opinion is a great survival rifle for so many reasons.

First lets start with the basics of the rifle. This is an AR platform that performs very well. It has a carbon 15 upper and lower, 16″ lightweight barrel, telescoping stock, Bushnell red dot sight, 30 round magazine and it weighs in around 5 pounds. The Bushmaster rifle is legal in most states but unfortunately is illegal in a few states because of certain features (you know what states you are, wake up and give your citizens their rights!.) We know we might hear a lot of negative feedback and disagreement because we are saying an AR with a .223 round is a great survival rifle. Do we care? Actually no we don’t. We think after are testing and the facts we are laying out we might actually change some minds. We are confident this rifle would perform in any situation and the reasons below are why.

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REVIEW: USGI Hot Weather (Jungle) Boots by Altama

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8.4tech score

Great set of boots for summertime fun in the outdoors. They are very supportive and durable, yet light enough for extended hikes. Since they are made for wet weather, they drain water effectively through dual drain vents and dry quickly thanks to the ballistic nylon used for the uppers. Overall, I’d say they are comfortable enough to wear all day without compromising support and protection.

I’ve put quite a few hard miles on mine, and they are holding up well. The soles are not the great vulcanized rubber found on more expensive boots, including the USGI version of this boot, but it has provided good traction on mud, wet leaves, and wet rocks while holding up pretty well under full load (60lbs + in a pack). Note: these do not have the spike plate found in the GI, so watch for the bungee sticks!

Milspec model:

I have owned and love using the commercial jungle boot by Altama. They are terrific: good support, lightweight, excellent traction, and they hold up well under heavy usage. However, I had difficulty donning them because the material forming the fixed tongue was too skimpy, and my high arches barely squeezed into them.

I called Altama to ask about my options. They recommended a pair of the government contract boots which are more generous than the commercials, which are built to “a price.” In other words, to economize for those who can’t afford the Real McCoy.

These GI boots are every bit as good and better than the commercials. The fit is excellent; the laces are much longer and easier to tie. There are REAL arch supports in the removable insoles. The soles are Goodyear rubber and stick like glue, though it seems they won’t last as long as the Commercial’s PVC construction.

On the other hand, these things, even with the anti-pungee-stick plate are wonderfully comfortable, even on Pennsylvania’s notoriously rocky Appalachian Trail. (Anti-spike protection was developed to defeat a North Vietnamese weapon that killed soldiers who stepped on a semi-buried, sharpened, poisoned stick.)

I haven’t put enough miles on these yet to give them the “tried and true” endorsement, but the early indications, and its heritage bode well.

 

Civilian Model:

I have used the civilian boots for an entire summer of hot, wet and very rocky hiking, and they have held up adequately. The thing I like the most is their ability to squeegee out water when you get your feet wet. I spent two days on the West Rim Trail fording run after run with no problems from wet feet and no blisters.

With the right socks, like the Ultimax Wigam (reviewed here), your feet will be dry in a matter of minutes, even after fording a river. The only thing I don’t like is that after an all-day hike on the rocky ridges of Pennsylvania, your feet take a pounding.

Still, I’m a big guy (250lbs+), so my experience may not be typical. I feel that the lightweight, price and dry feet factor make the civilian boots a good option when you might encounter water, and in my experience, that’s all the time.

The US Army has determined that adding 1 pound to your footgear is equivalent to adding 6 pounds to your pack. This is why the Altama’s are so light. Knowing this, I could feel the difference since my other hiking boots are all quite a bit heavier. The Altima’s are just a few ounces heavier than my New Balance running shoes, yet they still offer excellent support, particularly on long downhills. One complaint is that my toenails kept hitting the roof of the boot, and I eventually lost both of them over several long and painful downhills. I’m buying a set of the mil-spec model, so I’ll review them here later.

 

Milspec model:

Well, it’s later, and I’ve spent a summer in the mil-spec Altama jungle boots.

Wow!

I thought I liked the civilian Altama jungle boots until I spent a year hiking in the mil-spec version. Everything positive I said about the civilian model is true, but there are several big improvements for your extra $40:

Durability

The civilian jungle boots I had broken down and worn out after a single summer of hiking. The soles have holes, the lining is flattened and torn, and the soles are separating from the uppers. Now I’m a very big hiker, and I’m confident that this is a worst-case scenario, hiking over the numerous sandstone ridges of Rocksylvania. I was happy to get a good season out of them for only $70-80, but that was before I tried the mil-spec model.

The military version seems indefatigable. I’ve pummeled them with over 150 miles of wet, dry, rocky, snowy, icy trails and they are still going strong. I will probably get another whole year out of them and another 150 miles.

Spike protection

The mil-spec jungle boots have a steel protector in the soles designed to keep your foot from getting speared by a booby trap called a “Bungie stick’ used in Vietnam. As luck would have it, this gizmo also does wonders to protect your feet from getting pounded into mush by rocks of all sizes.

As I said above, I’ve put over 150 miles on these boots in one year, and my feet NEVER got sore on hikes less than 10 miles. With every other boot I’ve tried, my feet would ache for hours after a walk of that distance. Mostly, the steel spreads out and distributes the force of the rocks. It’s like you’re standing on flat ground the whole time. The steel still allows your foot to flex, though, since it only covers the front 3/4 of the sole.

Extra room

The mil-spec Altamas have a lot more room in them while retaining the same fit. I guess this material is expensive, so they give you less in the civilian model.

The extra room makes it much easier to get the boots on and off, and the generous amount of space up front makes a big difference to your toenails. If you’ve ever kicked a bunch of rocks or had your toenails pull out from hitting the top of your boot, you’ll appreciate this. I haven’t lost a toenail in the last year that I’ve been using these, and I’ve not developed a single blister.

Real rubber

The vulcanized rubber soles of the mil-spec model grip everything they come across. While they’re not much good on ice, they’re no worse than anything else I’ve tried, short of instep crampons. When strapping crampons onto these boots, even ice is not a problem. The rubber is much better than other synthetic compounds I’ve used, and even on mossy, wet rocks, these boots offer excellent stability and grip. The rubber is tough, too, lasting a long, long time.

All in all, I can’t see owning a better boot than the American Made Altama jungle boot. I hike in all four seasons in Pennsylvania, and they have given me absolutely no troubles. I wish all my gear were as reliable and trouble free as these boots have been. They may be designed for the jungle, but I haven’t seen anything yet to compare to them on the hiking trails of Pennsylvania.

The folks at Altama will also help you get the right fit, so don’t be afraid to call them up and order over the telephone. My pair fits perfectly on the first try, and the folks were happy to answer all my questions.

Don’t hesitate to invest in these boots.

 

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Salomon Speedcross 2 Review

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8.9tech score

There are so many things that could go wrong when you are not wearing the wrong pair of shoes when taking on the great outdoors. Pinched, constricted and stubbed toes, sore insteps, battered heels… Worst case scenario would have you twisting an ankle or pulling a tendon. Not only will you end up not enjoying trail running, you’d also be in agony. Why go through all that when you could avoid it simply by using the right pair of shoes for taking on the trail? Like the Salomon Speedcross 2, for instance?

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North Face Women’s Boundary Triclimate Jacket Review

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8.9tech score

The North Face has always been on the forefront of outdoor wear and equipment, coming up with products that, more often than not, set a high standard among users and a tough act to follow for competitors. With The North Face Women’s Boundary Triclimate Jacket, they are, quite literally, pushing the boundaries, by going a step further the usual “outdoor jacket”.

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Asolo TPS 520 GV Hiking Boots Review

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8.8tech score

My Asolo TPS 520 GV Hiking Boots Review

The least anyone could ask for from their pair of hiking boots would definitely be that they provide a lot of support, be waterproof, and can hold up and last for a long time. If they want to ‘take a hike’, so to speak, of course they would want to do it with a statement, preferably one that says “this will count”. The Asolo TPS 520 GV Hiking Boots for men makes a statement, and then some. Bear in mind that there is also an Asolo TPS for women, but for now, let us focus on the men’s version.

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Magnum Sidewinder HPi Boot Review

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8.8tech score
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Wilderness Systems Tempest Sea Kayak Review

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8.6tech score

Wilderness Systems Tempest Sea Kayak

The Wilderness Systems Tempest Sea Kayak, made with Polyethylene, is the leading product of the kayaks in the Tempest line of Sea products. With its exceptional designs, features and functionality in the industry, the Wilderness Systems Tempest recently won the Sea Kayakers Magazines prestigious “SK’s Readers Choice Award for the Best Weekend Touring Kayak”; a remarkable award that opened the eyes of boat lovers towards the wonderful features of this product.

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