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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
Todd Preston is a geologist for the US Geological Survey who has been ice climbing for 20 years. He tested the Black Diamond Reactor ice tools and concluded that the Reactors are ideal for steep ice and cragging, awarding them a solid four stars.
Chris Van Leuven tested the latest version of the Petzl Nomic ice tools. He reports that the upgraded Nomics have that same familiar look and feel—same swing—as with previous generations, but are now more functional and come with additional features. His main criticism is that the tools come standard with the Pur'Ice pick, which is too narrow for hard mixed/dry tooling, and other picks must be ordered separately. Four stars.
Whitney Clark tested The North Face Women's Summit L4 Softshell Pants in a variety of alpine climbing conditions and found them to be well designed to handle the wear and tear of ascending rock and snow and they were also well-made for female climbers. Her main complaint is that the fabric pilled after washing. Four Stars.