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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
The Grivel Stealth Hard Shell helmet offers the protection of a hard shell and a foam helmet in one, making it durable against repeated knocks as well as from side impacts. Alpinist Digital Editor Derek Franz found it to be a worthy brain bucket for big-wall, ice and alpine climbing, but the strap system and one-size fit left a bit to be desired. Four stars.
After lugging the Blue Ice Warthog 40L backpack around the mountains for several months, IFMGA/AMGA guide Mike Lewis came to some conclusions: the pack is ideal for ice, rock and alpine climbing (5 stars for that category), but the lack of a padded hip belt makes it less comfortable to carry long distances when you're not wearing a harness and you want to load more of the pack weight onto the hips instead of the shoulders. "For someone who is specifically looking for a pack with an unpadded, removable hip belt for technical climbing, this pack is a slam-dunk," Lewis writes.
If Alpinist Digital Editor Derek Franz had to pick just one type of shoe to wear for the rest of his life, there's no doubt it would be a pair of approach shoes. The Lowa Approach Pro Los have become his first choice to wear everywhere, all the time. Five stars.