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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
Chris Van Leuven used the Black Diamond ATC Pilot to catch gear-ripping falls and liked its simple design and smooth rope handling so well that it became his go-to belay device for single-pitch cragging. Five stars.
Alpinist Digital Editor Derek Franz used the Mountain Equipment Xeros 800-fill, Russian Goose Down bag in warm, sweaty conditions as well as cold, wet ones, and the bag kept him remarkably dry and comfortably warm. "I have never experienced a more efficient sleeping bag," he reports. Five stars.
Whitney Clark takes the Sterling Fusion Nano IX along for some rugged granite adventures in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada mountains. The 9mm rope can be used as a thick half-rope or a skinny single rope, and features Sterling's new DryXP treatment, which exceeds the UIAA certification of less than 5 percent water absorption, keeping the rope light and durable in even the wettest conditions. Clark put those claims to the test and awarded the Fusion Nano IX five stars.
BJ Sbarra reports on his experience with Petzl's redesigned Sirocco helmet, and reflects on the evolution of climbing's head protection. The new Sirocco is more durable and lighter than ever, making it one of the best all-around helmets available.