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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.
We love this hardshell. This winter we wore the men's and women's Stretch Element in all conditions, from touring in Grand Teton National Park to competing in the Jackson Hole Freeskiing Open. It is one of the best all-around jackets out there, warm enough for cold days in the winter and light enough to wear during cool evenings in the spring and summer.
After enduring nearly a year of abuse throughout the Tetons, La Sportiva's Exum Ridge has established itself as my go-to shoe for approaches and scrambles up to easy fifth class.
I was pretty psyched when the new MSR XGK EX recently showed up at my door for testing. Being well acquainted with its predecessor from a number of trips before, I was immediately impressed with its new looks and features. The first things I noticed were the flexible fuel line, which is definitely the biggest improvement, followed by the slick, ultra stable retractable legs and pot supports, which compact neatly to fit in a 1.5 Liter pot.