Fall Gear Spotlight

Sendtember is here! That magical time of year, when it rains all the time and the humidity is hovering at a solid 70-80%? OK, so maybe that’s just the weather pattern we are stuck in here, but at least it’s cooled down some. And surely good conditions are on the way, which means fun times ahead. There’s a bunch of new products out there worth a look for anyone considering upgrading their gear for the fall season, here are our top picks:

Petzl Sama Harness

Updated for 2013 with comfort and performance in mind, the redesigned Sama is a burly sport climbing harness that can hold up to repeated air time on your current project. The harness provides more support on the sides, and less on the front and back, which seems counter intuitive but makes for a very comfortable fit. For sizing, I have a 32” waist and found the medium to be a perfect fit, but if you have bigger legs, you might want to check out a large. Retail is $64.95, more info here.

Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

In talking with Bell Belcourt, Black Diamond’s Climbing Category Manager, about why helmets hadn’t gained more popularity with the cragging crowd, he noted that he felt like the manufacturers hadn’t put out a helmet that people would be willing to wear. This certainly seems to no longer be the case with the Vapor. Weighing in at 6.6 ounces (S/M), this is one of the lightest helmets on the market, with a low profile and incredible venting that all adds up to it being barely noticeable while on your head. I’ve been using it all year, and can say it’s by far the most comfortable and well ventilated helmet I’ve ever worn. A couple things to note, this is not a good choice for alpine climbing, as it’s not designed to take a repeated, large impacts. For sport and trad cragging however, it’s hard to beat. Also, it’s a bit pricier than other models, at $140, so you’ll have to decide if the added cost is worth giving yourself one less reason to not wear a helmet. Retail is $139.95, more info here.

Petzl Spirit Express Draws

The perfectionists at Petzl didn’t see a reason to update these for twenty years, but the result is an even better mousetrap. The new Spirit carabiners are easier to clip, with an improved bent gate that seems to suck the rope in like a black hole swallowing stars. They are lighter, thanks to a new shape, and even a little bit stronger. And the Express draws lost a little weight, giving them a more shapely profile, but don’t worry, they are still really easy to grab. Retail is $20.95, more info here.

Outdoor Research Air Brake Gloves

Belay gloves are belay gloves, right? I mean, what’s the difference between something that costs $40 and the stuff I can get down at the hardware store? Good questions, and something Outdoor Research sought to address with the Air Brakes. After a solid five months of use, these are holding up incredibly well, thanks to the Kevlar stitching in the high abrasion areas. They use gel pockets on the palms to dissipate heat and friction, allowing you to comfortably lower your friends quickly so you can get on to the next climb. And they breathe really well, meaning you wont get sweaty hands every time you wear them. One note on sizing, I typically wear a L in BD gloves, but for these I wanted a Medium. Retail is $48.95, more info here.

Metolius Monster 8.9mm Rope

My first sub 9mm rope, and I have to say, I’m a believer. It’s funny to look back on when 9.4 felt small and I was hesitant to take falls on what at the time seemed like a piece of dental floss. Well this cord is even skinnier, but now that I’m used to smaller diameters, I don’t give a second thought to flying off the wall. This rope has been getting some positive press recently and for good reason. It’s a skinny cord that holds up well, thanks to the TEFLON Eco treatment. This is important, because while having a really small rope is nice, if you burn through it in a couple of months, it’ll be pretty pricey to keep replacing. We’ve been using the 8.9 since March, and aside from one stint at a local rope eating crag that will trash even the stoutest of cords, it’s held up incredibly well. It can be a bit squirrelly through the Gri Gri at first, but after a couple of pitches it locked down no problem. And when trying long pitches that are at your limit, you wont notice any rope drag, or much weight while making the last couple of clips, and that’s the whole point. Retail is $179.40 for 70m, more info here.

Arc’teryx Miura 45 Pack

For roadside cragging, I want a pack that’s big enough to hold the essentials, and is easy to get into quickly. The Arc’Teryx Muira has been my constant companion in Rifle this summer, as it comfortably holds draws, a couple pairs of shoes, food, water, some clothing and my helmet. When I get to the base, it’s easy to open it fully and access everything inside. A few other packs have played with this idea, but none that I’ve used are as functional as this one. Lay it flat, unzip and viola, everything is laid out before you and ready to go. Retail is $228.95, more info here.


Disclaimer: Wait! Before you go handing over your credit card number, ask yourself, do you really need to buy more new stuff? If so, this product is worth a look. In the spirit of full disclosure, these products were provided to SplitterChoss.com for the purpose of reviewing. Don’t worry, though, our integrity can’t be bought!



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Bulldog Creek Dog Walk (IV WI 4+)

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