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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
MSR, Minimal...Simple…Reliable…, these are all words that come to mind when describing the Superfly from Mountain Safety Research. This lightweight (4.6 oz) torch will provide endless performance for years. Its clean, basic design has minimal moving parts making it less likely to fall apart when you really need it.
The Mountain Hardwear EV2 tent is so high tech, when I'm in it, I feel as if I am in the space shuttle. With its integrated vestibule, it's kind of shaped like one too. The three-pole design and non-stretching fabric reinforcements make it out-of-this-world sturdy against the warp-speed winds at high altitude.
This jacket demonstrates Cloudveil's ability to create clothing that performs well in the backcountry yet also corners the fashion market for the "post-adventure" night out on the town.
"Wow" is the typical reaction I get when showing the Charlet Moser Atzar Ice Tool.
This is the kind of sleeping pad that should not be allowed near El Cap. It is far too precious to be rubbing up against harsh granite all night long. After all, we must treat this "super-food" of the gear world with the utmost care and respect. This superlight pad keeps your hips happy and consciousness in deep slumber without adding any more weight than necessary.
When Craig Luebben assigned Curt Love and me Cloud Tower for the last day of our AMGA Rock Guide Exam, we were psyched. Our first question was, "Can we borrow your rack of new C4s?" The weight difference, at 20-percent less, was very noticeable.
It hurts to take off the Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody as the temperatures rise here in the Tetons and hardshells become the jacket de jour. I have become so attached to this jacket that I can't wait for the winter months to arrive so I can put it back into the rotation.
At 3lb 3oz, and 30.8 sq. ft. of space, the Lighthouse is an awesome choice when space, weight and strength are priorities. It is surprising that a tent this light can also be so sturdy.
The Arc'teryx NoZone backpack belies the need for a porter or a weight-carrying boyfriend. The suspension makes lugging a Cassin Ridge load feel like going for an afternoon of sport climbing.
Mammut has scored big with the Butterfly suspension system in its 2005 Ice Pack line. Available in 35 and 45 liter options, the Ice Pack delivers in performance, weight and value.
This spring I have managed to get my hands on the new Metolius SuperCam. Its wide range, 1.55 inches to 2.77 inches, is twice that of most cams currently on the market. It also has wider cam faces, i.e. surface area, that give me more confidence on softer rock, as well as a range-finder feature with color-coding to congratulate me on my bomber placements.
At 7 oz, this uber-light shell Marmot engineered has upped the ante of the revolutionary PreCip by cutting its weight nearly in half. When rain shells were heavier, I would often leave one out of my kit.
The C.A.M.P. USA XLC 390 is the lightest semi-rigid twelve-point crampon in the world.
The smooth gate operation of the Hotwire continues to allow flawless clipping in all situations, and its full size permits easy handling with gloves.
The Switchback Pants from Cloudveil offer a complete balance of fit, function and fashion, as we transition into the warm summer days. So far, I have exclusively worn this pant on my motorcycle (KLR650), to the chiropractor and on the Grand. They are perfect for all three.