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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.
Chris Van Leuven has been weathering the winter in Yosemite and Colorado with the Patagonia Micro Puff Storm Jacket. He found it to be a bit too warm to wear while climbing, but he enjoyed it for cold belays and camp life. Four stars.
Alpinist Digital Editor Derek Franz writes of the Mountain Equipment 30+ backpack, "This is the most hardcore rucksack I've ever used.... No frills. All utilitarian grit." Franz reports that the pack is designed for the hardest mountain routes and leaves some convenience to be desired for more casual outings, but the Tupilak is well made for its intended purpose. Five stars.