Gear

Archive

I trying to decide between a compact CelBak hydration system, with very little room to carry anything else, or a larger daypack-hydration system like Gregory's Scr. What are the pros and cons of these products? Justin Boise, Idaho

To me, one of the great mysteries of life has to do with load ratings on boots. For exple, some day hiking boots are rated to carry up to 30 pounds after which, the boots will fail. Now, what the heck is the difference between a 180-pound person carrying no load versus a 150-pound person with a 30-pond load wearing the se pair of boots? Your enlightenment will be eternally appreciated. Jake Kim Irvine, California

My summer bag is an Integral Designs Andromeda Strain (40-degree, Primaloft); my three-season sack is the North Face Cat's Meow (20-degree, Polarguard Delta). Both are sweet bags. My question: can these bags be combined (summer bag inside three-season bag) to make a winter bag? Will I gain much, or will the inside bag be unable to loft up and therefore not provide much additional benefit? Thanks! Bill Stell Charlottesville, Virginia

Gear Guy, dress me for kayaking in the marshes of the lower Connecticut River this winter. It's prime roosting territory for Bald Eagles through late February. David Hadd, Connecticut

I'm a letter carrier looking for a quality rain jacket to keep me dry in spring showers or pouring storms, all through the New England seasons. Could you please point me in the right direction? Michael Springfield, Massachusetts

I'm planning a trip to the Bahas this summer and in the market for a reliable diving watch. Can you recommend something that won't implode after the first ten meters and won't shatter my bank balance? Alison Austin, Texas

I'll be going to England, Ireland, and Scotland soon and will spend most nights in my tent or in hostels. My question for you is: what kind of pants should I bring? I want them to look good (since I'll be touring museums and all that), but still be lightweight and durable, since I'll be using these on backpacking trips in the future. I think I've narrowed it down to two choices: Ex Officio Explorer Pants and Royal Robbins's Go Everywhere Pants, but I can be persuaded to change my mind. My girlfriend (who goes with me on many of my trips) thinks zip-off pants look completely dorky, so I'm not interested in those. Thanks for any information! Steve Bockhold Memphis, Tennessee

What are the best boots for snowshoeing? I've tried winter boots and cross-country ski boots, but none of these fit well enough in my snowshoes. Jean San Francisco, California

Would you recommend a waterproof poncho for backpacking? My friends and I are thinking of doing the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island this summer. I have heard that even the best Gore-Tex fails under the onslaught of seven days of heavy rain. Previous trail users have suggested carrying a waterproof poncho to cover you and your pack. What are your thoughts on this idea? Chris Barnes Silverdale, Washington

I looking for a winter jacket that some may call extreme. I bought a down jacket a few years back that was supposed to be good for -40 degrees Fahrenheit but whenever it is around below zero and a little windy I feel like I have a light fall jacket on. My dre coat would be a down jacket rated to -70 (then I might be warm when it is -10). To top it off I would also like it if it had a fleece liner for extra warmth that I could take in or out depending on the weather. Is there a place that either makes such a jacket or could custom make one? So, I too extreme? Glenn Mulno Needh, Massachussets

I was out hiking in the west Texas desert a few months ago during a delicious spate of rainy summer weather. I was wearing a light pair of boots and found myself slipping and sliding all over the wet rocks. Crawling on my hands and knees over boulders is not my idea of fun, and it really ruined my week. I'm now in the market for a pair of light "day hikers," with soles that'll give me some traction on wet rock. Any suggestions? Paul San Antonio, Texas

I recently started taking my dog with me while backpacking, and he loves it. But, should I worry about him drinking from lakes or stres? Should I filter his water for him? Kevin Mississauga, Ontario

Do you know of any fully waterproof/breathable gloves made of two- or three-ply Gore-Tex? I'm looking for a glove that I can use for mountain biking when it is 40 to 50 degrees outside and raining hard. I'm not looking for a full-blown expedition climbing-type glove because I won't be out when it's 0 degrees. I've seen the Seal Skinz waterproof gloves but the outside material will retain water pretty much like a sponge. Steven Fleisig Upper Montclair, New Jersey

There is a well known canoe camping writer that advocates using a plastic ground cloth on the INSIDE of your tent. He says that not only will you be drier in a downpour, but that it will protect the tent floor just as well as if it is placed underneath the tent. What are your thoughts on this subject? Dave Cbridge, Minnesota

I've been looking to buy a (first) sea kayak. I've tried a number of different models and types and have come up with a tentative short list: the Synergy by Northwest Kayaks, the Corona by Perception, the Sirocco by Current Designs, and the Cortez by Dagger. (I haven't tried the last one out yet but I've included it because of Outside's recommendation.) If you were a six-foot, 190-pond guy (and maybe you are) what boat would you consider to be the best value? I'm only considering plastic boats but I want to get the skinny on workmanship, materials, and design. Are these four companies equally regarded? Are the boats? Brian McCarthy Glendale, California

I looking for a new lightweight backpack. I never carry over 30 pounds and had decided on the Gregory Reality until I found a new Mountainsmith backpack called the Mountain Guide at a local store. The salesperson told me it was brand new and can't find any information about it. She weighed it for me as the specs didn't include a weight and it ce out about two pounds lighter then the Reality. Does two pounds makes a huge difference in a pack? Kjaristy Salt Lake City, Utah

If I want to go mountaineering up here in the Northwest, is it enough to slap some crampons onto a pair of Scarpa Rios? I know Rios are great for just about everything else and that they stopped making the Edwardo climbing boot (why, I don't know). Or, should I try some other boot? Jim Trueworthy Coeur d'Alene, North Idaho

I looking to buy a new tent for canoe tripping in the barrens of Canada's Northwest Territories. I expect lots of wind and rain so an expedition tent would be best. But what is an "expedition tent" anyway? Robert Guelph, Ontario

I camp in the desert in the winter when temperatures can range from zero to 90. My main concern is the wind, which can be downright chilling but also kick up sand. I'm looking for a tent that will shed wind and also not flap like the sail of a 12-meter yacht when it tacks. I'd really like to sleep without the noise. Can you suggest a suitable three- or two-person tent, preferably something on the roomier side? Chip Cairo, Egypt

I need to find a tent for winter camping and mountaineering. Living in Oregon I intend to stay within the Cascades. I have narrowed my search to the Fusion 2 and the Fury 2, both made by MSR. They fall into the same weight/price/size category. The Fusion is a convertible tent while the fury appears to be a four-season tent. Given the conditions I'm expecting to face, which tent would be the ideal choice for me? Is the Fury too much tent, is the Fusion too little? Is there another tent that you would recommend? Kevin Portland, Oregon

On extended backpacking trips, does it make sense to pack both a soft shell and a waterproof jacket? Or just take along the rain jacket? Also, since I come from Europe, I'm a little bit confused about what exactly cross-country skiing is. I know what telemarking is (those graceful people on the piste) and also langlauf (with the thin skis), but what is cross-country? Karl Cottenie Leuven, Belgium

Does anyone make a waterproof tight for inclement weather running/cycling? InSport used to make one, but I guess it went the way of Activent. A European company supposedly makes something called the RaidLight tight, but I can't seem to find anyone who carries it. Erin Skowran Belleville, Illinois

What have you heard about the new Eureka Zeus Exo1 single wall Tent? I a big Sierra Design Meteor Light CD fan but need a very lightweight tent for a solo through-hike this summer. Thanks for your help! Lora Cochran Cody, Wyoming

I moving to Switzerland for two years, and I want to buy a stove. I've heard that white gas cannot be found in Europe. Then again, if I buy a canister stove, how can I be sure I can buy the right type of canisters? I have considered getting the MSR Superfly because it's compatible with almost every type of canister. What's your take on my situation? Jay Springfield, Massachusetts

Are Galibier boots still made? If so, where can you get them? No Name Given

It is better to have a full-suspension mountain bike or will a hard-tail with a suspension seat post be sufficient enough for a smoother ride? Paul G. Fort Wayne, Indiana

I recently purchased an Annapurna tent from Mountain Hardwear, because I'd like to start getting outdoors on more than day trips. However, the guy at the shop was reluctant to sell it to me, saying it was "junk" because it's a single-wall tent. What's the difference, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of this style tent? Lucas Denver, Colorado

I'm so frustrated by how much boot sizes vary, even within the se model! I'm a woman, narrowing my options to begin with, and I'm a woman with a narrow foot. I've tried several different La Sportiva and Salomon models, but still can't find the perfect fit. I don't have the option of trying boots on in stores as nobody around here has anything in women's sizes, so I've been mail ordering. Can you help me? BJ Guilderland, New York

Because I sweat at a moderate activity level in cold temperatures, my insulation gets dp and looses it effectiveness. Layering and reducing exertion does not eliminate the problem. I a human fire hydrant. I have heard that vapor barriers could really help. Any suggestions on what to look for and brands? Ed Eugene, Oregon

I have a Gore-Tex Mocha jacket, which is about seven years old and seems to repeatedly lose its water repellency. I have treated it with Gore Revive-X several times, but there are only a few areas on the coat where water beads up, and even then not for long. As a result, I often feel clmy if it's raining hard, although I don't think I'm actually getting wet from the outside. Does Gore-Tex have a lifespan, after which it's not that great even if you keep treating it? Basically, is it time for the old Mocha to be replaced? Karen Wellington, New Zealand

So, what exactly is Scotchgard, and can I spray it on fleece? Terry New Kingston, New York

I'm looking for a fleece that is both windproof and breathable, for use when cycling, hiking, and maybe skiing. What fleece would you recommend for someone who has just had all his stuff stolen on a bike trip through Poland (meaning: my budget is limited)? Matti Kiel, Germany

I'm looking to get a lightweight and compact pair of binoculars to carry with me on hikes. Do you have any general tips and some recommendations for good buys? Joe Voelcker Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Where can I buy climbing/hiking knickers? I used to wear them in the '70s, but styles have unfortunately changed. Now I don't know of a single outfitter that carries them. Anything from European sources, perhaps? David West Monroe, New York

I've heard that under non-extreme conditions my hiking pole can be used as a self-arrest tool when crossing steeply inclined snowfields. As much as I would love to buy an ice axe and add it to the chaos of my gear closet, I don't want to purchase an item when an existing tool would work just as well. Should I indulge my gear habit or stick with what I've got? PG Hancock Littleton, Colorado

I'm looking for a sleeping bag to use mainly for summer backpacking in the Northeast, something that's less than two pounds with a temperature rating down to about 30 degrees; I'd also really like a full-length zipper, so I can unzip the bag on those warmer nights. I've always enjoyed your gear wisdom, so I'm looking forward to any suggestions you might have. Kevin Boston, Massachusetts

I know you're not supposed to store your sleeping bag stuffed, but I need something to contain it in while I not using it. Will a garbage bag work, or should I buy some kind of mesh bag for it? Sarah New Canaan, Connecticut

I have been told that Sierra Designs & MSR's new range of four-season tents (in particular SD's Tiros AST and Stretch Dome AST) have floors that are not suitably waterproof for Australia's wet and windy winters. Is this true? Can a waterproofing agent be applied? Also, do MSR's continuous pole sleeves allow adequate ventilation between canopy and fly? What's the verdict on these tents? Justin Trevorrow Darwin, Australia

Is it 100 percent necessary to dry a tent in the sun after a few days of camping with heavy mildew? Miles Rowland Adelaide, South Australia

I'm looking for a women's pair of insulated, waterproof or Gore-Tex, crampon-compatible hiking boots. I'm not climbing Mount Everest—what I'm looking for is a boot to get me through the winter when I don't need snowshoes, but it's freezing out and I may need crampons. (Specifically, in the High Peaks area of New York.) I'll be using them for long hikes on paths and over rocks. I don't seem to be able to find the perfect combo as most options seem to be heavy-duty mountaineering types. BJ Guilderland, New York

I live in the city and looking for a bike that I can ride to my local bike trail via city streets (approximately three miles). The trail is dirt and gravel, but I'll also need front suspension because of reckless drivers who sometimes force you onto a sidewalk. I have been to several bike stores and really confused by all the options: Raleigh C500, Cannondale, Giant Cypress LX, Trek? One store advised me to wait until mid-August for the 2004 models to arrive in stores. My budget is $500 to $600. Chris Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I wear prescription lenses in my sunglasses and want to get a similar custom-made pair of glasses for paddling at night. I've heard that a yellow tint on the lenses helps to bring out objects. Is this true? Is there anything else I should consider when ordering this pair of glasses? Dennis Milton, Florida

How do you know when it's time to replace your running shoes? I have been road running on a pair of New Balance 804s for about a year. I weigh 200 pounds and run about two to three miles five days a week. Any suggestions for new shoes? Craig Portland, Oregon

What do you recommend for mountaineering in places such as Mount Rainier and Denali as far as headlps and bibs or pants? Would an LED light be better than a regular headlp? I know LED lights last much longer, but what about lighting up the trails? Also, are there any three-layer bibs that you would recommend that are warm, durable, and inexpensive? I like the description of the Marmot Alpinist but it's quite expensive. Are there any less expensive options? Charleton Churchill Pine Grove, California

A friend suggested that I extend the life of my leather hiking boots by proactively applying se-grip to the stitching and the area where the upper meets the sole of the boot. Is this legitimate advice or have the petroleum distillates simply gone to his head? Chuck Freeport, Maine

Can you help me choose a boot for a trip to Argentina's Mount Aconcagua? I have summited several fourteeners in my La Sportiva Makalus without a hiccup, but I'm afraid Aconcagua is too much mountain for these boots. We plan on tackling the Polish Glacier route, and I was leaning towards a plastic double boot like Koflach or Scarpa. But, as usual, your input could sway me! Eric Palmetto, Georgia

OK, so jogging on the trail with a baby isn't safe. But, I would like to go backpacking after our baby is born. Are there any all-terrain strollers suitable for trails? I know there are baby carriers to wear, but dad still has to carry the rest of the gear, doesn't he? M. Dittman Cleveland, Tennessee

Now that hikers are supposed to filter/purify all the water they consume, I'm curious if ANY contact with untreated wilderness water is safe? Is it OK to splash water from a clear stre on my face and arms to cool off? Is it OK to jump in a clear lake for a swim? Would doing these things expose me to infection through ears, eyes, nose, ETC.? What about canoeists and kayakers who are in and around untreated water all the time? Mark Her Fullerton, California

Airlines have regulations prohibiting travel with fuel bottles and stoves, even if they're empty and purged. How can you fly to backpacking destinations with white gas stoves and fuel bottles? Do the rules make such equipment obsolete for travel where flights are involved? Fun Walled Lake, Michigan

I would like to buy a digital camera to bring on climbing, canoeing, and hiking trips. I had been planning to buy an SLR, but I've recently been tempted by digital cameras and their ability to make you impulsively take snapshots. What factors other then weight and picture quality should I consider? Any help you can give me would be much appreciated. Eric Winnipeg, Manitoba

I looking to purchase a pair of snowshoes and wondering what length/style I should get. I'm five-foot, 11-inchess tall, and weigh about 180 pounds. I most likely will be using the shoes primarily for day hikes so I would probably be wearing a daypack and possibly carrying my skis. Scott Garvin Boston, Massachusetts

I'm planning to do some solo hiking this summer and would like to take along more than a bivy bag for shelter. I'm looking for a three-season tent that maximizes room (I'm six-feet tall) and minimizes weight. Perhaps a Walrus Microswift or the Sierra Designs Ultra Light Year? I'm not finding too much information or many reviews on the Net, and those that I do find are outdated. Any advice? Don Sherwood Park, Alberta

I own a 1994 Isuzu Trooper SE that has a moon roof and a factory luggage rack. I looking for a roof rack system to carry bikes. I've looked through Thule and Yakima online, and wondered if I could use the existing luggage tracks and buy towers to go with them and then the bars. I really want something for the roof, not a tire or hitch mount. WD Ray Columbia, South Carolina

I'm planning on hiking Vermont's LT, and because of past knee problems I'm trying to pack as light as possible. I've been considering buying the Mountain Hardwear Phantom sleeping bag, but I'm concerned about its down fill. Any thoughts? How effective is the water-resistant coating used on the superlight bags? Neil Westport, Connecticut

I'm an Australian looking to travel in North America from December to February. Can you recommend a good trekking tent for the season that will house two to three people and their gear? I would like to use the tent year-round and for it to be fairly roomy. Rod Sydney, Australia

In southern California the sun is out and the hills are green. Yes, it's almost spring, the time when a young man's fancy turns to...cycling. My helmet is several years old, and I think it's time to retire it. Thumbing through a number of catalogs, I can't believe the wide range of prices. Just what the heck does $200 buy me that $40 doesn't? Larry Long Beach, California

Help. After a winter of commuting by bike, my helmet stinks. I wear a helmet cover in the cold so sweat tends to accumulate and my head sweats a lot. I have tried washing it with antibacterial soap, but that only helps a little. I afraid of spraying Febreeze or other chemicals on the helmet's interior because I don't know if they would effect the safety of the helmet. And now my wife says that my head is beginning to smell as bad as my helmet. Before I either have to get a new helmet or sleep in the garage, is there anything I can do to get the smell out? Kevin Dalton Calgary, Alberta

I'm a woman with very small wrists and have had great difficulty locating an altimeter watch that I can actually wear. Are there any smaller altimeter watches out there designed for women? Tally Rockford, Illinois

What sort of cookware will I need on two- to four-night backpacking trips in the Appalachian backcountry? Kenny Birmingh, Alabama

Is Gortex XCR a form of Activent that has been taped and se-sealed? Activent is a great product, totally windproof and highly water resistant, but wouldn't this have been waterproof too if it had been se-sealed? Herb Morganville, New Jersey

Dear Gear Guru, Here is a question that no one ever talks about: the dreaded first aid kit. Of course, you'd never get injured, but in case you did, what do you recommend packing in the way of first aid for weeklong wilderness trips? I have looked around and can't find a pre-packed kit that seems very comprehensive. Andrew L. Salt Lake City, Utah

I was out hiking in the west Texas desert a few months ago during a delicious spate of rainy summer weather. I was wearing a light pair of boots and found myself slipping and sliding all over the wet rocks. Crawling on my hands and knees over boulders is not my idea of fun, and it really ruined my week. I'm now in the market for a pair of light "day hikers," with soles that'll give me some traction on wet rock. Any suggestions? Paul San Antonio, Texas

I'm looking for a pair of waterproof, breathable pants that will keep me dry and also withstand the rigors of off-trail bushwhacking (K-9 search-and-rescue work). The cheaper the better, ideally less than $200. Durability is key and full-side zips would be nice. I'll be using gaiters, so built-in gaiters on the pants aren't necessary. Thanks for your insight, Gear Guru. Eric Portland, Oregon

Please help! I recently bought a new lead climbing rope (Bluewater Accelerator 60m 10.5 mm) and I did what I have always done: mark the middle with a Sharpie marker. Then the other day someone told me this significantly weakens the rope at the marking, enough in fact to cause the rope to break in a relatively mild fall. I wasn't sure about this, because I thought it only marked the sheath and didn't affect the core of the rope. Should I throw the rope out? I would rather not due to the expense, but I will if it's gonna cost me my life! Mike Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I want to buy new liner socks to use for backpacking. Since my last purchase of these, many more choices of fabric type and combinations have become available. What have you found to be the best buy? Dennis Bender Hilton, New York

I live near North Carolina's Outer Banks and want to purchase a kayak for island hopping. What boat would you recommend for a beginner paddler? Jie Beaufort, North Carolina

I considering buying a pair of hiking shoes for day hikes with a light load (usually my 30-pound daughter in a child carrier). I have a pair of Merrell hiking boots and tennis shoes and I find both too warm (I don't know if its just me but I find tennis shoes very warm even though I don't have a tendency to sweat). Hence, I always end up using my Teva sandals, which don't give me enough support and don't protect my feet. Can you propose a closed hiking shoe that won't make me feel like my feet are in a furnace? Thanks in advance. Guillaume Frechette Columbus, Ohio

My ne is George, and I a Gearaholic. I know I have a problem, but I cannot control myself. Although I have eight packs, ranging from a Gregory Denali Pro to a Mountainsmith Ghost, I have the se dilemma with all of them. Though of average build, my hips are non-existent, causing my hipbelts to slide down my waist. This problem can be very bad in winter when lugging a heavy pack and wearing slippery Gore-Tex clothes. Are there any gripping solutions that can be applied, or is there another pack that can cure my problem? George Rochester, New York

This July I climbing Mount Rainer. My climbing partners have told me that a synthetic bag is necessary because of the rain. They recommended a 25- to 40-degree bag. We are going light and fast, and plan on using open-air bivys, so I think a bag with a microfiber shell would be a good thing. Unfortunately, I not having any luck in my search for the perfect bag. I have stumbled on only a few bags that are synthetic and have microfiber shells. Integral designs makes one, but it uses Primaloft2 as its insulation material. I have been warned to stay away from short-staple fibers because the bags don't last very long. Do you have any suggestions? Mike Ads Newark, Ohio

What type of bag would you recommend for climbing Denali? Down or Polarguard insulation? What specific bag would you recommend? What about as far as clothing—layers, brands, models etc.? Would you recommend a full down suit? Or a down jacket and either down pants or a shell with layers? Bob Grish Boise, Idaho

Can three-season tents be used in the snow? Is it necessary to have a "mountain" tent for snow camping? With a full cover fly, what is wrong with using a three-season tent for occasional snow camping? Lyn Greenhill Roseville, California

Are there any objective tests comparing the hard- and soft-shell products of different gear manufacturers? Yes, there's a huge ount of marketing hype easily available, but beyond XCR's assertion that it's "25 percent more breathable than standard Gore-Tex," there doesn't seem to be any hard numbers comparing materials. This is surprising when you consider how much consumers are prepared to pay for the latest and greatest. Jeff London, United Kingdom

My son is travelling to Costa Rica. He wants to take a small camping stove with him. Do you know what kind of fuel is available in Costa Rica and can you recommend a particular stove? Debbie Walker Vancouver, British Columbia

I looking to buy my first mountain bike and the more I look, the more frustrated I get. I've read some reviews in biking magazines, as well as Outside's March 2003 review of full-suspension bikes. Anyway, I'm looking for a full-suspension model with smart or rear-suspension lockout and good components (disc brakes would be a plus). Here's the kicker though: I looking to spend around $1,000, give or take a few hundred. I don't think that's unreasonable, so do you have any suggestions? Alex Hayward, California

I've read that good husbands buy gifts for their wives after the birth of a child. So, being a good husband, I'm thinking of getting a cyclocross bike—for me. Hear me out. Because of the recent arrival of our beautiful little miracle, I'm not going to mountain bike (that's one bike) or commute (that's another) as much as I used to, and probably won't be doing a whole lot of road riding (a third bike I was hoping to get), either. Plus, the missus would like me to pare down my belongings to make room for strollers and such. So, can I get by with one cross bike (sub $1,000)? I'm sure my wife will thank you. Michael Minneapolis, Minnesota

What do you think of the new mohair socks on the market? Are they as warm as wool socks? Are they itchy?" Alexander Do Toronto, Ontario

I'm completely new to backpacking and worried about buying gear from just anywhere. Here in Canada, MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) supposedly carries nothing short of the best quality equipment and the thought of going to just one place for all your needs sound really nice. Would you, with all your experience, trust MEC for all your needs as much as everyone here seems to? Or do I have to shop around for everything separately, looking for reviews and such, and then spend tons of money in U.S. stores due to the crappy exchange rate? Your answer is greatly appreciated. Tatiana Calgary, Alberta

I enjoy weekend hiking and overseas travel. At the se time, I want to look good when I dress casually. Because of this, I spent $400 on a Patagonia XCR Gore-Tex jacket when Patagonia opened its first branch in Hong Kong last year. It's a very expensive outfit, but I do like it. However, after reading all your gear recommendations, it seems I could have bought something similar or even better. So, I'm now thinking of buying a fleece jacket for cold weather. Do you have any cheaper recommendations? June Hong Kong

I'm going hiking on the West Coast Trail, and my boots have Vibr soles that are very slick on wood when it's wet. Since it constantly rains on the West Coast and I'll be traversing many wooden bridges and ladders, I was wondering if you could suggest a boot with a sole better suited to wet conditions. Dan Ottawa, Ontario

Hey Gear God, Help me find the perfect scrambling boots! I love my old Asolo backpacking boots. They never needed breaking in, and after years of conforming to my feet, they're about as close as you can get to slippers and still be boots. Alas, they don't edge worth a darn. I need a 3/4- or full-shank boot that is made for wide, high-volume feet and is crampon compatible for alpine scrambling. I bought a pair of Solomon Super Mountain 9s online because they were a great price. Dumb move! They perform great and are the right length but they squeeze my feet like sausage casings. Is there a happy medium between my slipper Asolos and those sadistic Solomons? Julie Busse Seattle, Washington