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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.
Drew Thayer describes the Valandre Shocking Blue Neo Sleeping Bag as "the Cadillac" of cold-weather sleeping bags. But all the added features increase the weight and the price compared to other cold-weather bags. Four stars.
Yosemite Search and Rescue member Josh Huckaby puts the CiloGear 30:30 backpack to the test and is stoked with the product. He plans to use it in Patagonia this January. Five stars!
Mike Lewis finds that the Tenaya Ra has everything he looks for in a climbing shoe, including a great out-of-the-box fit that doesn't require a break-in period. Five Stars!
Chris Van Leuven compares the new DMM Dragon cams to other brands and finds he likes to mix and match for optimal weight and size-runs, awarding them four stars out of five.
Andrew Councell awards the La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX boots four out of five stars for their lightness, warmth and versatility on rock and snow.
Corey Buhay finds the Montane Hi Q Lux Pro Pull On jacket to be a versatile piece of equipment for staying warm and dry in the mountains. She awards it four stars out of five.
The Grivel Lambda HMS Twin Gate is an unusual auto-locking carabiner that can be clipped with one hand and provides extra security on critical protection points. Just don't try to use it with gloves.
Mike Lewis awards the Dynafit Yotei GTX Jacket five stars for its light weight, versatility and thoughtful design. There was but one tiny flaw...
Chris Van Leuven takes the Metolius Ultralight Master Cams on a cragging tour from New York to Colorado, and awards them four out of five stars.
The DMM Apex ice tools hold up to abuse and work well in a variety of terrain. Vermont climbing guide Tim Farr awards them four stars out of five.
The DMM Pivot shines as a simple, all-around assisted-braking belay device.
"Smaller rocks inevitably rained down. Just as the barrage ceased, a small rock whacked me in the head.... On the hard shell of the helmet, where the rock had hit, was a small ding. No cracks, no mess, just one clean dimple." Drew Thayer reviews the Mammut Wall Rider Helmet.
Chris Van Leuven reviews the Arc'teryx Acrux AR Mountaineering Boots, crafted to be the "lowest volume weatherproof double boot ever made," the company says.
YOSAR team member Josh Huckaby reviews the Adidas Terrex Solo approach shoes: "The Terrex Solos felt light on my feet, and have just enough support for extended carry outs down the dusty trails around Yosemite National Park."
Reviewer Drew Thayer notes, "The Ultamid 4 is currently the lightest option for a spacious, four-person shelter that can adapt to just about any conditions.... It's a great shelter for backcountry pursuits where versatility and light weight are necessary. And it's made right here in the USA."