Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar Pack Review

Mountainsmith outdoor products are designed in Golden, Colorado which is only a couple of miles from where I grew up. I love that this review hits so close to home. For this product review, I tested the Tour lumbar pack.

What is a lumbar pack? It is Mountainsmith’s quintessential waist pack that pioneered this product category almost 35 years ago. Don’t call it a fanny pack or a bum bag. It is far from that. Instead, this pack has made me rethink what it means to travel light in the mountains. Read on to find out more about this great piece of gear that should be in every outdoor enthusiast’s gear quiver.


Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar Pack

Price:

$79.95 MSRP
Colors: Heritage Black, Otter Brown, Deep Blue, Lichen, and Asphalt Grey

Ratings:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Comfort & Fit

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Versatility

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Durability

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Value

Overall Rating: 5.0

Summary:

Overall, it was a great experience using the Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar pack for hiking. Keep reading to find out what I carried in it and how it performed in each of the rating categories.

MY REVIEW

First impressions out of the box were solid. What I mean is that the pack felt well designed and it wasn’t as heavy as it looked. Every inch of this pack was well thought through when it was built and the materials used were top-notch. I could tell right away that I was in for a treat.

As Mountainsmith would say, the Tour pack is “Forged For Life” meaning that it is built to last just like all of their other products. Their commitment to durability is impressive and it is visible in both the materials and craftsmanship used in this pack.

The fabric used in the production of this pack is Cordura® HP. When compared to other popular materials like nylon or poly, it excels in both abrasion resistance and anti-tear strength. It is also water resistant. The material is firm, yet very comfortable when the pack is worn.

The waist belt is well padded, soft, and flexible for a great fit. It has a high level of comfort and includes a small zipper pocket on the right side which is great for a compass, a mobile phone or a small satellite communicator.

Using the included shoulder belt, a consumer can add additional stability by throwing it over one shoulder and cinching it down. This belt also adds an additional level of comfort while on the trail. Throw it over one shoulder with the waist belt tucked in and it doubles as a carry bag for around town.

The Tour pack is extremely versatile. On one of my hikes, I was able to carry water, portable stove, fuel, base layer, fire starter, compass, mobile phone, and a puffy jacket. I had additional room for other small items in the main compartment, inner sanctum™, and in the front zipper pocket.

My favorite feature of this pack is the ability to shrink down and tighten up the load with the bottom panel compression straps. They can also double as a spot to carry an alpine bivy.

Mountainsmith left nothing out of this pack. It includes easy to use pull tabs on the zippers, an internal clip for keys, front panel bungee system, and two large handle straps on the top for easy hand carrying. They literally thought of everything with the features of this pack. Oh, and I almost forgot. The interior yellow fabric makes it easy to see things inside the pack, especially at dusk and dawn when the light is flat. This and the features listed below are a fantastic feature set for such a small pack!

The only feature that I felt was unnecessary was the pass through headphones port. With technology these days, it seems like the majority of people now have bluetooth headphones so this would not be needed in most cases.

An added bonus for this pack would be to include a small, packable rain cover. That would make me more comfortable tossing in my DSLR camera or an extra lens.

Pro Tip:

It’s not obvious at first, but the outer bungee cord is perfect for stuffing a jacket onto the outside of the pack so that it doesn’t take up precious internal pocket space. Simply scrunch up a jacket, place it under the bungee cord and cinch it down.

Here’s a quick list of features on the Tour lumbar pack direct from the Mountainsmith website:

FEATURES

  • Backpanel stash pocket ideal for securing passport, boarding pass, etc.
  • Patented Delta Compression System load adjustment
  • Side reinforcement bottle pockets (Fit up to 32oz)
  • Inner Sanctum™ interior zippered compartment for small valuables
  • Front panel bungee attachment system
  • Zippered front panel pocket with key clip
  • Bottom panel compression straps
  • Bright yellow lining promotes interior visibility
  • Strapette compatible (sold separately)
  • Headphone port
  • Bar tack reinforcements
  • YKK® Zippers
  • 3M™ Reflective Cord

MATERIALS

  • 610d Cordura® HP
  • 210d Nylon Embossed Liner

DIMENSIONS

  • 11.5″ x 10″ x 5″ / 29 x 25 x 13 (L x H x D)
  • Waistbelt Width: 1.5″
  • Waistbelt Circumference: 28″ – 48″

VOLUME

  • 550 cubic inches / 9 L

CAPACITY

  • Up to 12 lbs

WEIGHT

  • 1lb 9 oz / 0.73 kg

Pros & Cons:

👍 Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Great design
  • Comfortable fit
  • Lots of functional features

👎 Cons

  • No rain cover included

Mountainsmith Tour Lumbar Pack. A classic pack that can be taken on trail, travel, and everyday adventures. It is durable, reliable, comfortable, and carries the perfect amount of gear to support all of your favorite activities.

Visit your local shop or order online. Head on over to their site now and check out this great lumbar pack.

➳ Outdoor Prolink provided equipment and associated materials for this review. All photos are a courtesy of LaGuardia Adventure Photography. That’s me!

SOLE Active Medium Footbed Review

SOLE is a Canadian company that was born in 2001 and is focused on making a positive impact on people’s lives. It is worth mentioning in this review that their products are obsessively designed to help athletes of all skill levels while also putting a strong emphasis on sustainability. Using recycled wine corks in their new products and planting cork oak trees are just two examples of how they are offsetting their company’s carbon footprint. They are growing their company in a responsible way while providing great products to the outdoor industry. These facts encouraged me to perform this testing.

For this product review, I tested the Active Medium footbeds which are a perfect fit with running shoes, every-day sneakers, and tennis shoes. I have to admit that I had never used custom footbeds prior to this review, but I was pleasantly surprised with their comfort, quality and performance when testing them in general running shoes and trail running shoes.


SOLE Active Medium Footbed

Price:

$49.00 MSRP
Colors: Black/Red

Ratings:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Fit

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Comfort

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Performance

Overall Rating: 5.0

Summary:

Overall, it was a good experience using the SOLE Active Medium footbed for general running and trail running. Keep reading to find out how these footbeds can benefit you and how they performed in each of the rating categories.

MY REVIEW

Out of the box, my first impression was a good one. The first thing that I noticed was how lightweight the footbeds were. The packaging was simple, straightforward and recyclable.

At first, I was concerned about the fit inside of my running shoes because out of the package, the footbeds looked a bit too long. However, once I removed my old insole from the shoes and replaced them with the SOLE footbeds, they fit perfectly. No trimming was required during my initial testing in the running shoes, but I did end up trimming them slightly for a perfect fit in my trail running shoes.

When looking at the side profile of these footbeds, one can see that they have been constructed with an attention to detail and are of high quality. The 1.6mm open-cell foam (blue layer) provides excellent shock absorption and comfort. These footbeds are latex free and consist of three important layers – the moldable orthopedic base, softec cushioning layer, and a thin top sheet. The moldable orthopedic base offers personalized support to prevent the arch of the foot from collapsing and the deep heel cup provides cushioning and helps prevent lateral movement.

After inserting the footbeds and slipping my feet into my everyday running shoes, I instantly felt the cushioned support and I felt my weight distribute evenly over my feet. On my first run with these footbeds, I decided not to heat mold them and see how they performed. Then before subsequent trail runs, I followed the directions that were provided in the packaging and popped them in the oven for a custom fit.

Heat molding the footbeds was quick and easy with the following steps:

  1. Heated the oven to 175 degrees
  2. Removed the factory insoles from my trail running shoes
  3. Trimmed the top of the footbeds just slightly
  4. Placed the footbeds on a baking sheet for 5 minutes (3 min didn’t quite do the trick as described in the directions)
  5. Inserted the footbeds back into my trail runners
  6. Stood on them for 2 minutes

I found these footbeds to be super comfortable both before heat molding and after. However, heat molding them gave me an even more customized fit that left me wondering why I had not invested in custom footbeds prior to this testing.

During trail running, I typically have some heel pain and some mild soreness in my knees. However, I did not experience any pain while using this product during trail running sessions. I enjoyed feeling like I was floating on air as I took each step along the trail.

An added bonus to the consumer for these footbeds would be the ability to customize the graphics and colors online. It would be great to be able to match colors to running shoe colors as well as upload a custom image online that would be custom printed directly on the top of the footbeds.

Pro Tip:

Be sure to perform the heat mold method that is provided on the instruction card. It will give you a solid fit, faster than wear molding!

Here’s a quick list of features on the Active Medium footbed direct from the SOLE website:

FEATURES

  • Provides cushioned support
  • Reduces plantar fascia strain
  • Improves balance
  • Promotes natural foot alignment
  • Distributes weight and pressure equally
  • Heat and wear moldable for a customized fit
  • Polygiene odor control
  • Supportive arch and heel cup
  • 90-Day guarantee

DIMENSIONS

Width – Forefoot (approx.)

  • Men’s 10 – 98mm 
  • Women’s 7 – 87mm

Length – Heel to toe (approx.)

  • Men’s 10 – 290mm
  • Women’s 7 – 245mm

Pros & Cons:

👍 Pros

  • Clinically proven to reduce plantar facia strain
  • Custom moldable
  • Durable construction
  • Comfortable fit
  • Earth-friendly packaging

👎 Cons

  • No image customization or custom color options available

SOLE Active Medium footbeds. Lightweight, durable inserts for your trail running or athletic shoes. These footbeds provide amazing cushioned support and promote healthy alignment for adventure-ready feet.

Visit your local shop or order online. Head on over to their site now and check out these great footbeds.

➳ Outdoor Prolink provided equipment and associated materials for this review. All photos are a courtesy of LaGuardia Adventure Photography.

Adidas Agravic Alpha Shield Men’s Hooded Jacket Review

Adidas is getting people geared up for their cool weather missions. This review will cover one of the outdoor jackets in their Terrex line that is made specifically for aerobic activities like trail running, hiking or cross-country skiing.

I tested the Agravic Alpha Shield Hooded jacket for this review, but first things first. What the heck does the term “agravic” mean? A quick Internet search reveals that “agravic” pertains to the condition of zero gravity. Once an outdoor enthusiast puts on this jacket, they will quickly realize that the name is appropriate because of the fact that it is extremely lightweight.


Adidas Agravic Alpha Shield

Price:

$159 MSRP
Available colors: Shock Blue, Legend Ink, Carbon (tested), & Active Orange

Ratings:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Comfort & Fit

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/5) Venting & Breathability

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Weight & Packability

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Wind Resistance

⭐️⭐️ (2/5) Protecting Our Planet

Overall Rating: 4.2

Summary:

I was impressed with the weight to warmth ratio of this jacket. I was also psyched by the way in which the fabric released sweat vapor while regulating my body temperature during aerobic activity. Overall, I enjoyed wearing this jacket on the trails for hiking, running and Fall season mountain biking. Keep reading to find out how it performed in each of the rating categories.

MY REVIEW

First impressions are important and Adidas did an outstanding job getting my attention in a positive way. When I removed this jacket from the packaging, the first thing I noticed was how light it was. At 6.3 ounces, it resembled the weight of a feather. However, the jacket left me wondering if it was going to be warm enough on early morning, Fall missions.

The lightweight fabric was super comfortable, even with the collar fully zipped to the top. I am wearing a men’s small in these photos and I am 5’7″. You can see that it fit great in the shoulders and was the perfect length in the arms and around the waist.

The design is form fitting, yet flexible enough to still be extremely comfortable while trail running or hunched over the handlebars on a mountain bike. The Polartech® Alpha and the Pertex® Quantum® Air fabrics are soft to the touch and seemed to have just the perfect amount of stretch for outdoor aerobic activities.

The fabrics are engineered to be air permeable for maximum breathability and warmth. Polartech® Alpha was originally invented for the U.S. Special Forces. They wanted an insulation that kept out the cold, but allowed for high-output activity without overheating in extreme temperature changes. Alpha was created with lofted-knit fibers connected to a solid mesh core. It allows for other outer fabrics such as Pertex® Quantum® Air, used in this jacket, to be paired with it for maximum performance.

The combination of fabrics in this jacket limit cold air intake while moving excess heat away from the body. As activity increases and moisture in the body increases, the fabrics move the moisture outward, keeping the body warm and dry. Adidas states that the more one moves during activity, the harder Alpha will work to regulate temperature. I found this to be true while trail running in 40 degree weather. This jacket kept me both warm and dry while layered with a thin, long-sleeve baselayer.

The only feature that I felt was missing from this jacket was pit zips. Adding a small zipper under each armpit would allow for greater venting capability on warmer days.

Pro Tip:

Use the bungee-adjustable hem and hood mechanisms to cinch the jacket up snug to your body. This will minimize the amount of air being let into the jacket. Use one hand to push the button with your thumb and use the other hand to pull on the plastic tab and cinch the bungee cord.

Sign up for the Adidas Outdoor mailing list and get $20 off your first order.

On the bike, I could tell immediately that the resistance to wind was ok for a jacket of this weight. It does not fully break the wind and keep out all of the cold, but it cut out just enough air to keep the upper body warm and comfortable during early morning, athletic outings in Colorado.

Here’s a quick list of features about Agravic Alpha Shield jacket direct from the Adidas website:

  • Slim fit is snug through the body and arms
  • High neck
  • Long sleeves with elastic cuffs
  • Zip pockets; Wind-resistant overlay; Bungee-adjustable hem; Full zip with bungee-adjustable hood
  • Polartec® Alpha padding for lightweight warmth and insulation even when wet; Pertex® Quantum® GL for best strength-to-weight ratio

Pros & Cons:

👍 Pros

  • Great fit
  • Simple, yet effective design.
  • Lightweight and breathable.
  • Packs up small.
  • High neck and hood keep out the elements.
  • Unique cinching mechanism around the hem and hood.

👎 Cons

  • Price point is too high.
  • No pit zips
  • Made from 100% nylon materials that are new, not recycled
  • No fair trade certification

As far as protecting our planet goes, I did not see any mention of Adidas using recycled materials in the construction of this jacket. I also did not uncover any evidence in my research about this garment being fair trade certified. Unfortunately, this brought the overall rating down quite a bit, but I feel it is important to take this into consideration when rating or purchasing outdoor clothing. For more information about Adidas’ approach to sustainability, please visit their website as they are doing some great things in other areas.

Adidas Agravic Alpha Shield Men’s Hooded Jacket. Live without limits when you wear this incredibly light and capable jacket for early morning or late evening missions when the air is crisp and cool. I definitely recommend this jacket for anyone looking for a strong performing shell without the extra bulk and weight.

Visit your local shop or order online. Head on over to their site now and check out this great jacket.

➳ Outdoor Prolink provided equipment and associated materials for this review. All photos are a courtesy of LaGuardia Adventure Photography.

Ride Concepts Livewire Mountain Bike Shoe Review

Ride Concepts advertises their shoes as premium footwear for mountain biking. I set out on this review to either confirm or deny this claim and to give an honest rating based on my experience using their product.

I had the privilege of testing out the Livewire model for this review. The Livewire is part of the men’s Session Series products from Ride Concepts. The models in this series of mountain biking shoes cover park pumpers, single track riders and casual cruisers.


Ride Concepts Livewire

Price:

$100 MSRP

Ratings:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/5) Comfort

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Traction

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Durability

Overall Rating: 4.6

Summary:

I was pleasantly surprised with my experience testing these flat pedal shoes. I wore them in a number of different situations including cross-country and downhill riding as well as post-ride walk around town.

The Livewire is a do-it-all, flat pedal, mountain bike shoe with an impressive amount of technical capability and comfort.

MY REVIEW:

Overall, I found myself more impressed on each ride with this mountain bike shoe compared to others shoes on the market.

The first thing I noticed about the Livewire was the build construction when I pulled them out of the box. I noticed that the soles looked extremely durable and I could tell that all of the glued seams were there to last.

The toe box was cleverly constructed with molded toe protection and a durable mesh top cover.

As I loosened the laces and slipped my foot inside, I felt the wide tongue mold around the top of my foot.

The heel cup fit snug and I had no slippage when walking. The shoes felt like they were custom fit to perfectly match the shape of my feet.

The insoles felt soft and comfortable, both under the ball and heel of each of my feet.

Pro Tip:

After you lace up these shoes, don’t forget to place your tie loops underneath the included elastic band. It is located on the tongue between the third and fourth lacing holes and has a pull tab for easy use. This will keep you from catching those laces on your pedals or in your front chain ring.

What about on-the-bike performance?

On the bike, I could tell immediately that the DST 6.0 soles were not going to fail me when riding aggressively. They were tacky, yet firm, and the hexagon lugs matched up well with the pins on my flat pedals. On climbs, my feet stayed connected with the pedals on both the downstroke and the upstroke. I asked myself, “Why do these feel just as good as clipless-pedals and shoes?” Traction was amazing both on the pedals and on rocks when hike-a-biking uphill on gnarly sections.

When descending rocky, technical terrain, I never felt like my feet were going to slip off the pedals. I could place my feet on the pedals at the beginning of a downhill, quickly twist my heels back and forth a bit and then I felt connected and in total control. The shoes performed amazingly well in dry, wet and muddy conditions.

Bunny hopping and launching off rocks was satisfying in these shoes too. They gave me complete confidence that my feet would stay positioned correctly and that there would be no slippage upon landing. This proved to be true each time I launched into the air.

Here’s a quick list of features about the Livewire:

  • Rubber Kinetics | DST 6.0 HIGH GRIP Rubber Outsole
  • D3O High Impact Zone Insole Technology
  • Durable, synthetic upper with anti-abrasion mesh
  • Custom molded toe and heel guard protection
  • EVA midsole provides support and shock absorption
  • Fully gusseted tongue prohibits intake of dirt and debris
  • Modern lifestyle Performance Fit
  • Approximate weight – 16 oz (455 g) 

Pros & Cons:

👍 Pros

  • Excellent comfort on and off the bike.
  • DST 6.0 Rubber performs well in all conditions.
  • Comfortable insole and form fitting outer shell.
  • Convenient elastic band to keep tie loops tucked in.

👎 Cons

  • Long tongue tends to rub against top of the ankle until broken in.
  • Elastic band should be a different color. It’s hard to spot but a great feature everyone should use.

Ride Concepts Livewire Mountain Bike Shoes. I found them to live up to what is being advertised. Ride Concepts could very well produce the most comfortable, most durable and most reliable mountain bike footwear on the planet. I highly recommend these shoes. They took my riding to the next level.

Visit your local shop or order online. Head on over to their site now and check ’em out.

➳ Outdoor Prolink provided equipment and associated materials for this review. All photos are a courtesy of LaGuardia Adventure Photography.