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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
Alpinist Digital Editor Derek Franz tested the Beal Escaper, which the company describes as a "detachable abseil system" that enables climbers to rappel on a single strand of rope and then still be able to retrieve the rope from below. Franz reports that if used properly the Escaper can be a handy tool to facilitate a fast retreat, but he also found that the device has some limitations. Three stars.
Chris Kalman details his experience with the D4 Octapod, a unique portaledge designed by the legendary big-wall gear inventor John Middendorf. Kalman tells the story of his early frustrations with the D4 ledge and how he ultimately came to love it, awarding it five stars.
Tad McCrea used the Cnoc Vecto and Versa Flow Gravity Water Filtering System on an expedition to Aconcagua where the rivers ran thick and brown with sediment. The simple, lightweight Vecto-Versa system worked well and kept Tad healthy. He awards it four stars.