Keyring 2.0 and Keyring Social Importers 2.0

Yesterday I released new versions of both Keyring and the Keyring Social Importers packages, containing a bunch of updates and new additions. If you’re already using them, you should have update notices in wp-admin. If you’re not yet, then download them at the links above, or search for “keyring” in wp-admin under Plugins > Add New.

What’s changed? It’s been a while since the last official release of Keyring, so there’s a bunch to catch up on:

  • All Google services have been modified to use a shared base service (cuts down on code duplication significantly).
    • Added a GMail Service (props @poisa).
    • Added a YouTube Service (based heavily on @superbia‘s work with Google Analytics).
  • Added a Pocket Service (props @roccotripaldi).
  • Keyring is now available for use with Composer, via Packagist.
  • Lots of bugfixes, including token refreshing should now work properly.

The Social Importers haven’t seen an official release since 2017, so there’s a ton going on there as well:

  • Added a Strava importer (props @mdrovdhal) and introduced a bunch of improvements via iteration (props @marekhrabe). Having another service with map-based data makes me want to add some core to make it easier to map things visually.
  • Introduced a global option (for all importers) that allows you to set posts to published, draft, private, or pending when importing them. A lot of people were asking for/hacking this in, so I figured I’d just add it to the core package. Being able to import as draft and then selectively publish, or import an entire service to “private” posts is a nice addition.
  • Lots of improvements and bugfixes to both Twitter (some props @chrishardie) and Swarm/Foursquare.
  • Added a Pocket importer, again props @roccotripaldi. It works similarly to the Instapaper one, so if you’re using Pocket instead, check it out.

If you’d like to keep an eye on things more closely, or even contribute, check out Keyring, and the Keyring Social Importers on GitHub. It’s been really awesome to see some more contributions to both packages coming in, so I’d love to see more of that.

Download Keyring and the Keyring Social Importers plugins for WordPress.

DJI Mavic Air Review

After drooling over it for months at Costco, I picked up a bundle package with a DJI Mavic Air back in November. I’ve now flown it a fair bit, and wanted to write up some observations on it.

First of all — this thing is amazing. It’s so much fun to fly, and honestly feels a bit like magic, especially when compared with cheaper, fully-manual quadcopters. Probably the coolest feature of this thing (for me, a n00b) is that if you let go of the control sticks, it’ll automatically just hover in place. Brilliant.

The bundle that I got came with propeller guards (2 sets actually, which turns out to be ridiculous — if you break those guards you’ll almost certainly manage to destroy the drone itself), so I started out flying with them on. It has object detection/avoidance in three directions (forward, backward, downward), so between that and the prop guards, it’s relatively safe. I still managed to crash it pretty hard a couple of times, and break some propellers. I got carried away and bought a bunch of replacements, but now haven’t needed any in a while.

I’ve purchased a second battery, and got a little carried away and purchased an Anbee Power Bank so that I can recharge batteries without access to an outlet (e.g. if I was out backpacking or mountain biking or something, and watched to capture more than 2 batteries worth of action; about 30 minutes). The batteries claim to be 21 minutes of flight time, but in my experience they’re pretty much always 14 or 15 minutes (stopping at about 20% battery remaining, for safety). I haven’t tried running them down to 0% to see how long they actually go, so maybe that’d get me to 21 mins before it fell out of the sky.

Beginner mode + propeller guards is a good way to get used to things. Once you graduate out of there, you’ll end up turning off/ignoring a bunch of warnings and things; these devices and their software really try to make sure you’re doing the “right thing”, safely. The app takes some getting used to (especially the special flight modes), but generally is pretty good and pretty intuitive. It always tells you everything that’s going on, and lets you tweak and configure things a fair bit.

I find that I have to calibrate the compass almost every time I go out to fly, which is kind of annoying, but pretty quick and simple. It reminds me of calibrating the compass on an iPhone, where you have to way the phone around. In this case you’ll be spinning yourself around in a few directions, and then you’re up and running. From deciding to fly, to having it in the air, it’s normally less than a couple of minutes.

The drone itself (and the controller) is amazingly portable/compact. When you pack it down into the small case that comes with it, it’s hard to believe that the whole thing is in there. I specifically love how compact the controller is. The control sticks detach and stow inside the controller itself, genius! With the controller compacted down, and the drone folded away inside its case, you can just slip them both in jacket pockets, or throw the whole kit in a backpack.

I’m definitely still figuring out how to get the most out of my drone, especially when it comes to video. I’m looking forward to spending some more time on that, and trying my hand at editing some short videos.

Thoughts to Ponder

Loved these thoughts from the outgoing Chief Data Scientist of the White House:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  • Dream in years
  • Plan in months
  • Evaluate in weeks
  • Ship daily
  • Prototype for 1x
  • Builder for 10x
  • Engineer for 100x
  • What’s required to cut the timeline in 1/2?
  • What’s required to double the impact?

h/t ma.tt

New Year, New Theme

To ring in 2019, I’m changing this blog’s theme to Twenty Nineteen, the new default WordPress theme, designed and primarily created by my excellent colleague, Allan Cole (check out his music, published as The Stuyvesants, they’re groovy).

Apart from being pretty similar to, but a nice upgrade from the previous theme here, Twenty Nineteen also harnesses the full power of Gutenberg, the new WordPress Block Editor. I’m going to convert some posts to blocks so that I can use some of the better gallery options and whatnot, and will be using Gutenberg for everything going forward. It also reminds me a bit of the styling used throughout Instapaper, which I’ve spent a lot of time in lately 🙂

Happy New Year!

Honeymoon in Japan

After our wedding, and cleaning everything up, we had just another day or two at home before heading off on our honeymoon. We decided to go to Japan, since neither of us had ever been there, and we both really wanted to go. It was a really amazing trip, even though it was brutally hot and humid at the time of year we went. We managed to do most of it on award points/miles as well, so that made it all even sweeter 🙂

Tokyo

Flew from Denver to Los Angeles, and then LA to Narita (Tokyo). When we landed, we caught a train to our hotel near Shinjuku, got settled, and then explored Tokyo for a few days. Highlights were ramen (duh), soba, hotel room views, Tsukiji fish market (and buying our own knives from there), catching up with Moser, and deliciously strange little mushroom chocolate snack things.

Matsumoto

From Tokyo, we caught a train up to Matsumoto where we stayed for one night before heading to the Alpen Route. We had delicious soba noodles, visited the amazing Matsumoto Castle, dropped in to a local craft brewery, then got some sleep before a long day ahead of us.

Alpen Route

The Alpen Route is an interesting series of “public transit” systems, connected to provide passage through the Japanese Alps. It includes electric buses, a couple of funiculars, some walking (across the top of a dam), and a gondola. It’s really beautiful up there, and it was a nice way to break up our city visits, see some of Japan’s amazing nature, and also get from one part of the island to another.

Toyama

The end of the Alpen Route for us was Toyama. We stayed there a night and had probably the best sushi meal I’ve had in my life. It was amazing, and a very unique experience. No one spoke english, we just took what they ordered, and there were signs talking about purity and no smoking and no drinking. We also went to a strange rockabilly bar, drank beers outside a Seven Eleven, visited a trendy little coffee shop, had black ramen and strolled through another castle grounds.

Kyoto

From Toyama, we got a bullet train down to Kyoto where we stayed for a few days. Kyoto is the city of temples, but we only actually visited two of them. We also went to some cool tiny whiskey bars in alleys, went shopping, had more great coffee, more great food, watched a Maiko (Geisha apprentice) show, and visited another awesome market (Nishiki).

Hakone

From Kyoto we were off into the mountains again, this time to Hakone for a relaxing retreat and special experience at a very fancy ryokan. It was more of a 5-star hotel than a traditional guesthouse, but it was a really unique experience. We had a private suite with our own hot-springs-fed bath tub on the deck with a view. It was amazing. We stayed 2 nights and were treated to absolutely mind-bending food in our own private dining room. During the day we visited the Hakone Open Air Museum which was also a highlight.

Tokyo

After all that relaxing, it was time for a couple more nights in Tokyo before heading home. We stayed in the Godzilla hotel in Shinjuku, and then a capsule hotel for the final night (super weird, but pretty cool!). We got a chance to catch up with my friend Adam, from high school (hadn’t seen him in about 18 years!). We went to “Golden Gai“, an area where there a tons of tiny bars all stacked in next to each other, and we also went to all you can eat + drink with Moser, which was amazing. On the last day I went to the Samurai museum, and then we were headed home on a direct flight from Narita to Denver. We managed to get first class thanks to all the points I’ve collected from work travel, so we flew in style 😎

Japan was really amazing, and I’d love to go back. I feel like we barely scratched the surface of anywhere we went, let alone all the rest of the country that we didn’t even touch on. It’s such a unique place in so many ways, and I really feel like I just got the tiniest taste, even though we managed to fit so much in. One day, I shall return!

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Married

Erika and I finally made it official and got married this year. We were legally married on July 5th (at the courthouse), and then we celebrated with friends and family properly on July 7th. Here are some pics from the week.

Thursday Courtroom Wedding + Photos

Friday BBQ

We invited people from out of town over to our house for a casual BBQ on Friday the 6th. Since a huge portion of the people attending the wedding were from out of town, it ended up being a pretty big affair, but it was fun. I was running around like a madman, so I mostly forgot to take photos. Here are a couple though.

Saturday Photos

Before our main reception, Erika and I spent some time with our photographer in our neighborhood to get some pictures. The neighborhood is Five Points, and this particular area is referred to as River North, or RiNo. There’s a bunch of really cool street art, and we wanted to feature that in our photos. I think they turned out pretty excellent.

Saturday Big Party/Reception

On Saturday we held “the main event”. We rented to rooftop of the coworking office where I work from sometimes, which has a great view over Denver and the Rockies. We had some drama between gale force winds, sudden and heavy rain, lightning, a 911 call when the band got stuck in the elevator, and having to rescue the photo booth tent out of a tree… but we stuck it out and once things calmed down it all turned out great. We had a great time, people ate, drank, danced and chatted, and generally it was a good night.

It was stressful, it was exhausting, and hey, it was pretty expensive, but it was worth it. We had a really good time, it was excellent to see everyone, and now we’re married. We’ve got some stories to tell.

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Loosely Joined

I had to chuckle recently when I realized just how complex some of the systems in my life are, even if I rarely think about the details.

  1. Most nights, I weigh myself on a Withings wifi scale (an older version).
  2. That data syncs over Google Wifi, via a Comcast Xfinity connection, to the Nokia/Withings Health Mate service.
  3. Then MyFitnessPal automatically syncs the data from Health Mate, and keeps a copy,
  4. before Garmin Connect also syncs a copy to integrate back with other data (like heart rate and activities) .
  5. If I’ve been doing specific activities, then some of the data from Garmin Connect (although not that weight info) will also sync out to Strava and create activity records.

The last step remaining is that I want to hook up my copy of WordPress to sync all of the data back so that I have a copy under my direct control.

Fjällräven Classic USA, 2018

This year, for the third year in a row, I participated in the Fjällräven Classic USA here in Colorado. Read about the 2016 USA Fjällräven Classic and the 2017 USA Fjällräven Classic.

As with previous years, this was a 3 day, 2 night backpacking trip in the Colorado backcountry, hosted by Fjällräven and their sister brands. This year felt like they are really hitting their groove with organization, distance, and difficulty, and I think it was overall the “best” one yet.

Erika came along this year as well, and we did a lot fewer training hikes because we knew the course was significantly shorter, had both been really active all year, and were generally just pretty confident. We were also busy getting organized to get married (which happened the week after the Classic!), and I was breaking in a new mountain bike, so we had some other things on our schedules 🙂 Nonetheless, we got in a few training hikes (or rides) at Table Mountain and Aldefer/Three Sisters.

The Course

This year’s course was significantly shorter than last year’s (thank god). I think the first day was probably too short to be honest, and it left a lot of time at the end of the day to just sit around and… drink too much. That’s partially because we had to start earlier than last year (apparently a requirement of the Forest Service), so the day was just over really early. Day 2 was pretty long, and pretty hard, but there was a lot of variability (compared to last year’s long, hot, exposed slog), so I quite enjoyed it by comparison. I was definitely tired by the end of it though. Day 3 was “all downhill” and quite easy, although it went on a lot longer than expected based on looking at the map quickly.

Here’s the entire course, again created on the wonderful Caltopo. Note that these paths are based on trail information stored in their database, so it’s not necessarily exactly where we hiked. One of my friends on the trail said Day 2 in particular was quite different, and actually came out at more like 14 miles. I’m looking forward to tracking this myself using my Garmin watch next year.

Fjällräven Classic USA, 2018
Distance and elevation breakdowns per day.

Day 1, June 27

We were heading up from Denver with my friend Michael, so we had to get a really early start. We arrived at Copper Mountain Resort by about 7am, so that we could get the last bus to the trailhead at 7:30. Once at Tennessee Pass, we got prepped, hit the trail, and made good time for the first day. From memory we got to Camp 1 by about 2pm. The last section (through Camp Hale) was pretty flat, dry, and exposed, plus we were just trudging along gravel roads, so not that great. The rest of the day was nice single-trail through forest though, which was beautiful. Camp was on the grounds of Nova Guides, a snowmobile/ATV rental company based out of Camp Hale. They had a nice (fishing) pond, green grass, and plenty of space for us to all set up camp (either together on the grass, or a bit more dispersed up the hillside, which is what we chose). Our friends Rene and Michelle even had an amazing surprise for us, having lugged in a small bottle of champagne to pre-celebrate our wedding!

  • 9.4 mile hike (total of 15.66 miles for the day, per Fitbit)
  • +352′, -1,559′ elevation
  • 31,471 steps
  • 5,046 calories

Day 2, June 28

This was the long one, with all the elevation gain. Out of Camp Hale (early – we left at about 6:30am from memory), we wanted to try to clear the exposed valley floor before the sun got too high and hot. From there it was up, up, up, over Kokomo and Searle Passes, past Janet’s Cabin, and to Camp 2. We stopped for multiple lunches, had a photo shoot with one of the official photographers (it’s very awkward getting close-up video of each cheese and elk sausage), stopped to use the Grayl to get clean water, snapped a bunch of pictures from the amazing views, and trudged into Camp 2 pretty weary, but pretty happy.

  • 12.8 mile hike (apparently more like 14.5 mile, total of 19.42 miles for the day)
  • +3,542′, -1,133′ elevation
  • 39,016 steps
  • 5,766 calories

Day 3, June 29

The last day was a bit of a sleep in, break camp, then head mostly-downhill to the Trekker’s Inn, finish line, and closing party. We managed to intercept an ATV taking some supplies up the trail and snag a beer on the way down, and there were even llamas at the closing party!

  • 5.9 mile hike (total of 9.65 miles for the day)
  • +399′, -2,019′ elevation
  • 19,381 steps
  • 3,989 calories

Passport

We carried a small “passport” with us throughout the hike, which was used to keep track of us (stamped at each checkpoint/campsite), and also included a map. It had some details from Leave No Trace and info about sponsors as well.

 

Wrap-Up

As I mentioned earlier, I think this was the best organized/executed iteration of the USA Classic yet. Before going, I had sort of decided that it’d probably be my last for now, and that I’d go on my own backpacking adventures rather than do this again next year. After going again though, I’m reminded of the fun I have, the great people, and the sense of accomplishment that I think is different in a group setting than it would be on my own (or even with just a few close friends). If the timing works out again, I think you’ll probably see another of these posts from me again next year :).

Final Stats

  • 3 days, 2 nights
  • 28.1 mile hike (apparently probably closer to 30)
  • +4,275, -4,711 elevation
  • 89,868 steps
  • 14,801 calories

Note on numbers: distances and elevation are from Caltopo, so they’re based on the trail data they have available, for the specific trail that I’ve marked out (which is I think pretty accurate). Steps, calories, and “total distance” per day are from Fitbit, using a Fitbit Blaze throughout the hike.

Other people’s experiences:

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Specialized Enduro 29″

I bought a bike!

Back in Australia, back in the day, I had a Specialized P3 which I used for some downhill riding. I sold that eventually in San Francisco, after years of not really using it (it’s not a practical city-bike, and I didn’t have easy access to get out and mountain bike with it). When I moved to New York I bought a Cannondale Bad Boy 9, which was a much better choice for in the city. Fast forward a few years, and living in Denver means I’m close to mountains and a bunch of world-class downhill riding. In 2016 I picked up a Motobecane Boris X9 fatbike, which was fun, but pretty impractical.

Ever since getting the Boris, I’ve been itching to get a “real” bike and get back out there. With a fat tax return coming my way, I was feeling cashed up and spendy, so last weekend I jumped on Craigslist (again), and found myself a sweet bike. I managed to get around and see it the next day, and bought it on the spot.

The bike is a Specialized Enduro Comp29/6 Fattie, with a bunch of modifications. I bought it from a guy who works in a bike shop, so he’d built it up, but never actually ridden it on a trail, so it’s brand new. Here’s an attempt at a breakdown of the modifications.

Stock Mine
Drivetrain
Chain SRAM PC-1110, 11-speed w/PowerLink
Crankset RaceFace Aeffect, 6000-series alloy, 24mm spindle, 52mm chainline, 28T SRAM Eagle GX 32t chainring
Shift Levers SRAM NX, 11-speed, trigger
Cassette SRAM XG-1150, 11-speed, 10-42t SRAM Eagle GX, 10-50t
Rear Derailleur SRAM GX, long cage, 11-speedSUSPENSION
Suspension
Fork RockShox Yari 29/27.5+, Solo Air, rebound & compression adjust, 15x110mm Maxle Ultimate thru-axle, 160mm travel 170 MRP ramp control
Rear Shock RockShox Monarch Plus, Rx All-Mountain Tune, AUTOSAG, rebound and 3-position compression adjust, 216x57mm Rear link changed to 2018 flip-chip system, configured in low setting
Wheels
Front Hub Specialized disc, alloy, sealed cartridge bearings,15x110mm thru-axle, 24h
Rear Hub Specialized disc, alloy, sealed cartridge bearings, 12x148mm thru-axle, 28h
Inner Tubes 29×1.75/2.4″”, 60mm Presta valve Tubeless
Spokes DT Swiss Industry, stainless, 3x, 2.0″”
Rims Roval Traverse 29, hookless alloy, 29mm inner width, 24/28h, tubeless ready DT Swiss m1700 29″, 54t star ratchet
Front Tire Butcher, GRID casing, 29×2.3″”, 60TPI, Aramid folding bead, 2Bliss Ready Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5×29
Rear Tire Slaughter, GRID casing, 29×2.3″”, 60TPI, Aramid folding bead, 2Bliss ReadyCOCKPIT Maxxis Ardent 2.4×29
Cockpit
Saddle Body Geometry Henge Comp, hollow Cr-Mo rails, 143mm
Seatpost Command Post IRcc, 12 position micro-height adjustable, alien head design, bottom mount cable routing, remote adjust SRL lever, 30.9mm, S: 100mm, M/L/XL: 125mm travel
Stem Specialized Trail, 3D forged alloy, 4-bolt, 6-degree rise Truvativ 50mm
Handlebars Specialized DH, 6061 alloy, 6-degree upsweep, 8-degree backsweep, 27mm rise, 780mm width
Grips Specialized Sip Grip, half-waffle, S/M: regular thickness, L/XL: XL thicknessBRAKES
Brakes
Front Brake SRAM Guide R, hydraulic disc, organic pads, Guide S4 4-piston caliper, 200mm rotor TRP Quadiem (TRP splined rotor)
Rear Brake SRAM Guide R, hydraulic disc, organic pads, Guide S4 4-piston caliper, 180mm rotorACCESSORIES TRP Quadiem (TRP splined rotor)
Accessories
Pedals Resin Test Ride w/toe clipsFRAMESET OneUp Poly
Tools OneUp EDC
Frameset
Seat Binder Specialized, alloy, 2-bolt, 27.2mm
Frame M5 alloy, X-wing layout, All-Mountain Geometry, threaded BB, internal cable routing, ManFu link, oversized pivot bearings, 12x148mm dropouts, replaceable derailleur hanger, 165mm of travel

I’ve already had it out for a couple of rides, and am getting used to bigger wheels, lots of suspension, a dropper post (love it!), and a long wheelbase (awesome for bridging gaps, less awesome for tight turns). Overall I’m stoked to be able to get out there and ride the beautiful Colorado countryside.

Backpack Review: Arc’teryx Brize 25L vs Patagonia Nine Trails 28L

Looking for a simple daypack for quick adventures? Me too. I’ve been using a Geigerrig Rig 1210 (looks something like this one) for a while, but found it to be a little too small, awkwardly configured, and generally just not really what I wanted. After weighing some options, I ended up with a decision between 2 packs: the Arc’teryx Brize 25, and the Patagonia Nine Trails 28L.

In getting there, I worked out a rough list of things I cared about:

  1. Approximately 25 liters. Based on my current bag, and looking at some options, somewhere around this amount felt right. I specifically didn’t want something too big, because it’d just encourage me to carry more stuff in there.
  2. External pockets. I wanted a few spots accessible without having to dig into the main compartment. That being said, I don’t want the whole bag divided up into a million small pockets (as the Geigerrig is), because that never ends up being useful for me.
  3. Hydration compatible. I mostly want something for day hiking, snowshoeing, and mountain biking, so something with hydration space is important.
  4. Sleek/minimal. I don’t want this bag to be overbuilt, heavy, or trying to be a full-on hiking pack. It’s not going to carry that much weight, but it does need to be reasonably sturdy in its own right.
  5. Decent structure. I didn’t want one of those fold-into-its-own-pocket type bags that’s just a loose sack of material.

So I narrowed things down to the Brize and Nine Trails. Both were the same price (at least when I was looking at them — $160), roughly the same weight, and seemed to meet most of the above requirements.

Backpack Review: Arc’teryx Brize 25L vs Patagonia Nine Trails 28L

Backpack Review: Arc’teryx Brize 25L vs Patagonia Nine Trails 28L

Patagonia Nine Trails 28L

I liked that this came in a “L/XL” sizing, which was quite a bit taller/longer, and fit my body well. The main reason that was relevant though, was because it was trying to be more of a hiking pack than I was really looking for. It has a much more substantial hip-belt than the Brize, including some small hip-belt pockets. I found those pockets hard to access while wearing the pack though, and they were really small, making them feel a bit useless. There was also a defect in the manufacturing in one of them where the padding was stitched in folded over. The pack had load-lifters on the shoulder-straps, which felt like overkill. The fabric on the should-straps was also strangely loose and bunched up in places, which made things feel poorly constructed.

Backpack Review: Arc’teryx Brize 25L vs Patagonia Nine Trails 28L

Backpack Review: Arc’teryx Brize 25L vs Patagonia Nine Trails 28L

There’s a large external stuff-pocket which is nice conceptually, but I don’t like that type of fabric much as I’ve had it tear and stretch on other packs previous. There’s also a long, asymmetrical zipper to get access to the main part of the pack, although it’s constrained somewhat by the compression strap on one side. I was not really a fan of the long zipper combined with the “light” fabric used on the pack, which meant the zippers didn’t really run freely.

Backpack Review: Arc’teryx Brize 25L vs Patagonia Nine Trails 28L

Up top you have a top pocket which faces away from your back when wearing the pack (good for other people to get things out for you, probably not great if you’re wearing it the city or somewhere else that crime is a concern). Down the bottom is a semi-hard bottom, with corner lashing points for attaching a sleeping roll/tent externally. They’re pretty minimal, but an interesting touch.

Backpack Review: Arc’teryx Brize 25L vs Patagonia Nine Trails 28L

Backpack Review: Arc’teryx Brize 25L vs Patagonia Nine Trails 28L

Arc’teryx Brize 25

Overall, the Brize just felt much better constructed. The main fabric is a heavier/denser weave, everything seemed to be stitched more accurately, zippers felt more solid etc. There are daisy-chains down both sides of the front, although they’re really unobtrusive, which I liked. The main opening, and the top pocket, both face in towards your back when you’re wearing it. This is an interesting departure compared to most packs, but provides a little more security if wearing the bag in the city, since it’s hard to get into them.

Backpack Review: Arc’teryx Brize 25L vs Patagonia Nine Trails 28L

The shoulder pads are really comfortable and well-padded. The waist-belt is minimal (just webbing, no padding), and really just provides some stability. You definitely wouldn’t want to try taking any weight on it. There’s an ice-pick/hardware loop at the bottom, as well as what I assume is intended to be a loop of attaching a bike light or similar.

Backpack Review: Arc’teryx Brize 25L vs Patagonia Nine Trails 28L

My biggest complaint with the Brize is how the hydration routing works. It makes no sense. You put a bladder in the internal pocket, then you have to route the hose over the internal pocket to get to the exit port. From there, it comes out right in the middle of the top handle. It’s really awkward, and not only makes it difficult to get to the internal pocket, but means the hose gets in the way when you use the top handle as well. I think they should have just put an exit port on each top corner and been done with it.

Similarities

There were a couple of things that I thought were interestingly similar between the 2 packs. In both cases, the back was made of a thermoformed mesh style material which provides structure and airflow against your back, but is super light:

Backpack Review: Arc’teryx Brize 25L vs Patagonia Nine Trails 28L

Both packs also had incredibly similar buckles on the sternum straps (which I noticed because it was a “new” design that I haven’t seen before):

Both packs also had decent side pockets on each side, which can fit a 1L Nalgene bottom. The Nine Trails uses the same super stretchy fabric as the front stuck-pocket, while the Brize uses a combination of the same heavy fabric used elsewhere, with a portion of heavy stretch fabric that feels more substantial than the Nine Trails.

Verdict

I ended up going with the Brize. It felt like a better fit for my needs, and felt more versatile especially for using while riding (whereas the Nine Trails felt like overkill for that in particular). I really like the build quality, the sleekness of the pack, and I’m honestly just a bit of a sucker for Arc’teryx’s gear in general. I can live with the weird hydration routing issue highlighted above. So far I’ve taken it on a bike ride (loaded up with hydration, pump, layers, and the Nine Trails itself, since I was returning it), and on a snowshoeing/snow-hiking trip and it worked nicely. Plenty of room to drop my Jetboil in there, along with gloves/hat/sweater at different times.  I also have a small kit of emergency items (med kit, small knife, lighter, etc) that now lives at the bottom of the pack, just in case.

Backpack Review: Arc’teryx Brize 25L vs Patagonia Nine Trails 28L