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The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
The rest of the MS Team
Does size matter? This question, historically the domain of trashy women's magazines, is now relevant to the ever-evolving climbing gear industry—in particular, rapidly shrinking carabiners. The Metolius FS Mini wiregate now stands as the smallest full-strength carabiner on the market, but how small is too small?
The TC Pros are comfortable, offer great protection while jamming and edge powerfully. However, because these shoes lack the sensitivity and aggressive shape of a sport-climbing shoe, face-climbing bolt clippers might not be impressed.
In all, the Shangri-La 2 Shelter is an efficient use of expertly constructed material, whose simple design makes for a well-balanced space-to-weight ratio.
After a couple months of testing, this shirt has become a reliable and durable addition to my base layer arsenal.
Unlike many other lightweight packs, the Cierzo had enough room for my gear, enough suspension for comfort and enough durability to outlast a few seasons.
in the alpine, or other situations where weight is a critical component, the Oz is a pretty hot piece of work. While there are other great lightweight 'biners on the market, the weight and quality of the Oz make it an outstanding piece of gear worthy of the Alpinist Mountain Standards medal.
After a spring and summer of using the Brooks-Range Alpini Mountain Anorak Hoody in Alaska and Wyoming, it has become my insulating layer of choice—better, in almost all circumstances, than any syntheic puffy I've used.
With an ultralight piece of equipment, I usually expect ultralight performance. But the little axe whacked solid placements on water ice just like a technical tool. It even overdrove at times, forcing me to bang on the adze to get it out.
While many packs boast functional versatility, it's clear that the Osprey Variant 37 was designed with the influences of professional alpinists.
The Firetail GTX could be the ultimate all-in-one Teton or Rocky Mountain National Park shoe, with enough hiking chops for long approaches and plenty of climbing prowess for moderate routes.
For its price tag, the Togir Light has a great set of features. But a few drawbacks are hard to ignore.
Nearly as light as aluminum crampons yet much more technical, the Nanotechs will sit lightly on the pack for the approach and still perform decently on a section of steep ice or mixed.
In winter it's charged through powder in the Absarokas and high Rockies; in spring it's tackled mud season on hiking and biking trails across Wyoming; in summer it's scraped up long alpine routes in the Tetons; and in fall it's explored from the canyons of Red Rocks to the top of Castleton Tower.
The Express is to ice climbing what the Camalot is to rock climbing: a well-designed workhorse that sets the industry standard.
I look for equipment that will do everything. For me this means finding the driest and most durable half rope I can. So this autumn I picked up a pair of Petzl Dragonflys, curious to see how much winter climbing they could handle.