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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
Patagonia introduces a modern version of an old idea for an unconventional alpine sleeping bag—the Hybrid, which is intended to be used with an insulated jacket to avoid redundant layers and save precious space in your alpine kit. Ryan Wichelns awards it four stars.
Part steel, part aluminum, and with Dyneema cord in place of a metal bar to connect the two halves, Mike Lewis finds that the Petzl Irvis Hybrid Crampons hit a nice balance between durability and lightweight packability. He would have awarded them five stars if not for one shortcoming.
Alpinist Associate Editor Paula Wright puts the Alpine Luddites White Light/White Heat backpack to the test, awarding it four stars. The company takes an a la carte approach to the gear it sells so that minimalists will have only the accessories they want, such as the foam layer that comes in a customizable thickness and doubles as a "bivy pad."