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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
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.
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.
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.
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.