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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 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.