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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.
Mountain Standards Gear Review: Alpinist Digital Editor Derek Franz has been using the Black Diamond Crack Gloves to jam cracks across the west for the past several months. He writes: "I've used these gloves in Yosemite, Black Canyon and Utah desert, and also crammed them into some sharp, crumbly choss cracks near my home on Colorado's Western Slope, and they're holding up well, much better than I predicted based on how thin they felt when I first tried them on.... I found these puppies to perform well in thin hand cracks as well as for offwidth teacup fist jams." Five stars.
Mountain Standards Gear Review: Corey Buhay, a member of the US Ice Climbing Team, has been testing the Sterling Ion R 9.4 XEROS rope. The new XEROS technology is the first of its kind in which every filament of the rope is dry-treated, a process that adds a deeply integrated level of protection from water absorption. Buhay writes: "While I haven't been using the rope long enough to vouch for its long-term durability, the new XEROS technology exceeds expectations on all counts so far. If you're looking for a rope that's meticulously dry-treated and reliable in all conditions, the Ion R 9.4 XEROS is a safe bet." Five stars.