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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
The Corsa is ideal for low-angle glacier travel, moderate ski mountaineering and adventure racing but, if there's a chance you might find yourself in more serious terrain, you'll wish you packed something more hefty.
The Millet Peuterey 40 is marketed as a “versatile summer/winter mountaineering pack for one-to-two day excursions,” but at 4.2 pounds, this little pack weighs in heavy for its limited capacity.
This jacket is ideal for colder, higher-altitude alpine climbs like those found in the Canadian Rockies, Alps and Andes, making it an amazingly versatile jacket for cold-weather use.
The Enclosure survived two months in the Chugach, two weeks in the Alaska Range, and a week rock climbing at the local crag with only slight abrasion marks, one pinhole, and a lovely stain pattern.
Because of its ability to hold up in the rugged, perform well on peaks and offer superior suspension in all conditions, this little pack gets an Alpinist Mountain Standards medal.
If you like a stiff and aggressive shoe that offers supreme advantages for edging and toeing in pockets, then this is the shoe for you.
These hot-forged 'biners are so sleek and small that friends have asked if the Nano Wire is designed for a key chain. To their surprise, I say these little guys are full-strength.
Having used the Apollo ski touring and climbing in the Canadian Rockies, I am so impressed that I feel the need to give this bright guy some hype.
I've found generally that what bouldering lacks in height, it makes up for in difficulty. Big-Nosed Millie (V9) at Hueco Tanks—a short, powerful, pocketed roof problem—is a classic example: a dirt-burgling lowball that will cramp your abdominals and snap your tendons. Although the aesthetics of this climb are far from world class, it was a perfect venue to test the aggressively downturned Scarpa Spectro climbing shoes.
the Pali looked innovative, and I was excited to see what possibly could be new in rope bag design.
At 235 grams the Petzl Meteor III is extremely lightweight, and throughout the day I had to tap my head to make sure the helmet was still on.
Though marketed for "competitive ski mountaineering," and complying with the minimum requirements of the International Ski Mountaineering Federation, I have a feeling that its featherweight design will attract more than lycra-clad rando racers. Who wouldn't want to shave a few more ounces from their packs?
As a lightweight gear freak (and an aging alpinist), I am always looking for the latest and greatest in the ultralight world.
Although I found that the PSolar BX made breathing super-cold Alaskan air more comfortable, I have always been skeptical of any techy do-dads like flux capacitors and time machines.
Sometimes you have to try new gear that's really good to realize that your old stuff just isn't as effective as you thought. This was my experience when trying out the new Black Diamond LiveWire Quickdraws. Though not light, BD's deluxe sport rig offers big and beefy 'biners with features that enable quick and efficient clipping. Whether pushing tricky sport clips or extending ice and mixed protection with a gloved hand, this quickdraw truly makes the job easier.