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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.
Mallorie Estenson, an alpine guide and climber based in the Pacific Northwest, has been using the MSR Advance Pro 2 Ultralight—a single-wall, four-season tent—on some ski-mountaineering trips in Washington this winter. The tent is intended to be simple and compact so that it can fit onto narrow ledges found on the side of a mountain. Estenson reports that it was light, easy to set up, and comfortable enough for her to give it four stars.
Blue Ice is a small, relatively new company that started in a garage in Europe and now has a presence in North America. IFMGA/AMGA guide Mike Lewis has been using the Blue Ice Yeti 50L backpack, and aside from a few details that didn't comply with his exact personal preferences, he liked it well enough to award it five stars.