Mountain Standards

Posted April 12, 2011

MSR Reactor Stove: Powerfully Efficient

For many years, stove inefficiency was a problem that was largely unaddressed by manufacturers. Finally, a new generation of hyper-efficient stoves hit the market, and MSR's Reactor is by far the best. In my experience, the Reactor reduces my fuel needs by 50 percent.

Posted March 31, 2011

Metolius Master Cam: Sleek and Sexy

While there is a cam or two on the market that has a wider expansion range and can handle shallower cracks, the Master Cam is a worthy competitor and an expertly manufactured piece of pro.

Posted March 21, 2011

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32: Packs Like A Peanut

Weighing just 1 pound, 7 ounces, this down-filled sack has no frills. No Gore-Tex or other waterproof coatings to repel moisture and no extra, hidden pockets for your snicker bars. It's just a simple pairing of paper-thin nylon and 800-fill down.

Posted March 14, 2011

Five Ten Grandstone Rock Shoes: Oldies, But Goodies

The generous coating of sticky rubber and a roomy toe box make the Grandstones perfect for chimneys and offwidths, but they flail on smaller cracks that require a sleeker profile.

Posted March 2, 2011

Black Diamond Cyborg Crampons: A Beautifully Crafted Hack-Job

Even though stainless steel isn't the ultralight miracle metal that one might believe, Black Diamond's design and construction alone make the newest Cyborg one of the best tools available for hard winter climbing.

Posted February 21, 2011

Prana Tangra Pant: Fashionably Dysfunctional

After several months of abuse, capped off with a thrutchy ascent of Red Rock's Epinephrine, I was amazed to find Prana's Tangra pants still looking new. However, when it came to everyday use, the pants are clearly designed for fashion over function.

Posted February 8, 2011

Petzl Sum'tec Ice Axe: For The Weight-Conscious Climber

While the axe is fairly light, it is the weight distribution that really impresses me. With a curved aluminum shaft and a stainless steel head, this tool feels solid in the hand and swings like champ.

Posted January 25, 2011

Marmot Helium MemBrain Sleeping Bag: Old Faithful

In a seven-month period I logged 100-plus days in the Helium in a wide variety of situations: spring snow storms on Mt. Rainier, trekking in India, bivouacs in the North Cascades and more than a few nights in the guide lounge and my VW van. Thinking back on all those trips I can't recall a single instance where the Helium let me down in any way.

Posted January 11, 2011

Petzl Selena Harness: Women-Specific, but Lacking Function

I thought the flashy pink (and I mean pink) color of the Selena was a cover-up for a disappointing lack of women-specific features. When I actually put the harness to the test, I was pleased to find that the design is thoughtfully tailored for the smaller, curvier climber. However, ladies who plan to climb more than just single-pitch sport will be frustrated by the Selena's other design features on long trad climbs.

Posted December 30, 2010

Scarpa Force Rock Shoe: Light and Comfortable, Basically

Those in search of bondage slippers that match a sporty banana hammock to wear while working "the proj" in Thailand will be disappointed. The Force are a comfy and reliable factory basic, but that's what I like about them.

Posted December 17, 2010

Black Diamond First Shot: Cadillac of V-Thread Tools

When it comes to V-thread tools Black Diamond's First Shot is the most advanced. It is the first V-threader that cannot be replaced with a pocket knife and a piece of wire. And the only tool with a guidance system for quick and easy V-thread creation.

Posted December 7, 2010

Metolius FS Mini Carabiner: Size Matters

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?

Posted November 19, 2010

La Sportiva TC Pro: Trad Machines

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.

Posted November 10, 2010

Golite Shangri-La 2 Shelter: Keep It Simple Stupid

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.

Posted October 6, 2010

Ortovox Merino Competition Base Layer: Sheep Meet Science

After a couple months of testing, this shirt has become a reliable and durable addition to my base layer arsenal.

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