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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.
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.
When it comes to V-thread tools Black Diamond's First Shot is the most advanced. It is the first V-threader that cannot be replaced with a pocket knife and a piece of wire. And the only tool with a guidance system for quick and easy V-thread creation.
Does size matter? This question, historically the domain of trashy women's magazines, is now relevant to the ever-evolving climbing gear industry—in particular, rapidly shrinking carabiners. The Metolius FS Mini wiregate now stands as the smallest full-strength carabiner on the market, but how small is too small?