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Review of the Voilé Charger and Voilé Charger BC Skis

Despite a name that incorporates an accent aigu, Voilé is not from France. In fact, they’re a small company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and they’ve been making backcountry specific hard goods since 1980. Today, they manufacture five different kinds of skis and three splitboards and in this review, we’ll be looking at two of their offerings – the Voile Charger and the Voile Charger BC skis. A slimmer version of their award-winning Drifter design, the Voilé Charger adheres to the company’s ethic of light but strong. It has an aspen core with a cap construction, a traditional sidecut and camber underfoot. Its tip is tapered and rockered as is the tail, although less so. (The dimensions of the 181cm model are 137mm, 112mm, 126mm.) The only difference between the company’s Charger and Charger BC skis is the latter has an extruded fish-scale pattern on the base which allows you to ascend slight rises without the need of skins.

Read the full review on Backcountry Skiing Canada.

Review of the Exped Ultralite 500 Down Sleeping Bag

In 2009 Exped completely changed my backcountry sleeping experience. Until that time I had endured innumerable nights on a well-known brand name sleeping pad, which was like sleeping on a slice of tissue paper. No matter how tiny the rock, root or rodent underneath me, I could feel every poke and prod the second I lay on my back. Then along came Exped’s Downmat 7 and suddenly I was sleeping on what felt like a warm, queen-size mattress. And I didn’t have to sacrifice that much weight! So when I received the Exped Ultralight 500 sleeping bag to review, I was curious to see if the company would further transform my backcountry snooze experience – and I wasn’t disappointed. The Ultralight 500 is comfortable, cozy and, above all, light. In fact, this bag is all about gram savings: by incorporating a super light-weight fabric, a 3/4 length zipper and 840 fill Down, Exped has ensured the Ultralight is indeed well named.

To read the full review, log on to Backcountry Skiing Canada.

Review of the Exped 40L Mountain Lite Backpack

Exped’s tagline is “Maximum outdoor experience with minimal means” and their Mountain Lite backpack series definitely lives up to the mantra. These packs eschew any of the bells and whistles in favour of the bare essentials wrapped into a comfortable hiking pack. Before I continue, however, I should be clear that while the Mountain Lite 40 backpack I reviewed is very good, it’s not ideal for a backcountry ski experience. I used this pack on both a day trip and an overnight hike into the Valhalla mountain range but I’ve not taken it skiing. The reason for this is, because it’s a minimalist pack with one main pocket, the Mountain Lite doesn’t comfortably store everything I need for a day ski into the backcountry. No matter how I tucked my shovel into the bag, for example, it simply did not feel good against my back and there aren’t any outer straps to affix it to. That said, because of its light weight and small size (when the two aluminum back stays are removed it can be compressed to the size of a rolled-up pair of jeans) I could imagine taking the pack along on a multi-day tour and using it for short summit runs rather than humping a large touring pack to the top of a bowl. What the Mountain Lite 40 is ideal for, though, is short hikes whether on foot or on snowshoes. At only 1100g (or 2.4 lbs) it barely registers on your back and yet its robust design ensures you don’t have to be gentle with it out there.

For the full review, log on to Backcountry Skiing Canada.

Review of the Evolv Rasta Shaman & Prime SC Climbing Shoes

There are three things one must consider when purchasing a rock climbing shoe – fit, performance and rubber. For this review of the Prime SC (strap closure) shoe and the Rasta Shaman shoe, let’s start with the rubber. Evolv says it’s the only manufacturer that uses “environmentally friendly” rubber on its rock climbing shoes. The company decomposes selective pre- and post-consumer rubber waste and then reprocesses it to make a useable compound. Currently, 30% of the eco-TRAX compound used on select parts of their outsoles is recycled material. That’s not a lot, granted, but at least they’re trying. Does this “green” rubber actually work though? Like the glue on skins, rock climbing shoe rubber must perform in a variety of different conditions and temperatures. For this review, I took the Primes and the Rastas to a shaded bouldering spot, a few hot crags in the direct sunlight and the Primes came with me on a chilly, early morning alpine session on a north-facing route in the Valhalla mountain range. I can definitely say that the Trax rubber lives up to its “high friction” reputation. It felt solid on micro-edges as well as stuffed into cracks. The one downfall would be that, because both shoes are covered in black rubber, on the hot days my feet practically cooked in them. These are not the shoes you want for a sunny day in J-Tree in July.

To read this entire review, log on to Backcountry Skiing Canada.