Mountain Standards

Posted July 25, 2011

Ueli Steck Special Edition Titanium Knife: Sometimes Useful

Ueli's tool has a function for every piece of gear in my backcountry quiver: a sixty-five millimeter blade, file, hexagonal keys, flat- and Phillips-head screwdriver, wire stripper and can opener. For three months, I used the multitool to tune, tweak, sharpen, crank, slice, saw and open a beer at the end of it all.



Posted July 11, 2011

C.A.M.P. Speed Helmet: The Lightest Lid

Helmets can be so top heavy the straps can't hold them in position. You look back at your partner and his frontal lobe is shining in the sun while the helmet humps the back of his head. Thank goodness technology has finally caught up.



Posted June 20, 2011

Wild Country Rockcentrics: Flexible Not Stiff

The trade-off with the smaller Rockcentrics versus wired hexes is strength, flexibility and weight at the cost of a couple inches of reach. But that is a trade-off that many climbers will be willing to make, especially if you want to supplement an existing rack or simply plan on using them in anchors.



Posted May 13, 2011

Oboz Valhalla Shoes: Climber Inspired, But Not Approved

The Valhalla does an admirable job of balancing the contradictory demands of climbers—light but durable, waterproof yet breathable, stiff but comfortable—but this also means that in no one circumstance do they truly shine. However, that didn't stop them from being my preferred shoes on trips with a little bit of every kind of terrain.



Posted May 2, 2011

Black Diamond Kingpins: Better Than Hardware Store Gloves

Ultimately, the Kingpins don't fit my hand as snugly as I had hoped, though they are still one of the best multi-purpose gloves I have used. The combination of durability, craftsmanship, warmth and attention to detail make these my current favorites for a variety of alpine endeavors.



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.



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