Holiday Gift Guide for Climbers

We’ve come to take pride in our gift guides. There’s plenty of fun stuff out there, but every year we really strive to bring you the most worthwhile and unique gifts that that special someone in your life might enjoy. The items below range from self massage devices to car top carriers, and everything in between. So don’t worry, if you haven’t yet settled on what to get the most important climber in your life, they are sure to enjoy something from this list. Happy Holidays everyone!


As climbers, we are rough on our bodies. We demand the most from them, and don’t have much sympathy for body parts that don’t want to cooperate. Part of becoming a skilled climber is knowing how to take care of your body to get the most from it, and the Armaid is a tool that every climber should have in their self-care kit. (I’d argue a Theracane and foam roller would be the other big ones.)

This first caught my eye in an ad in Rock and Ice, and I knew I had to check it out. When I opened the box, there was the stock instructions that come with it, along with a hand written note from Terry Cross, the inventor, about how important it was to “watch the videos to learn how to use it properly.” So I made a delicious coffee drink and sat back to learn the in’s and out’s of the device. About 20 minutes later, I had a pretty solid sense of how to get the most out of it, and I could always refer back to the online videos if needed (it also comes with an instructional DVD.) Fortunately I don’t have any pressing elbow issues at the moment, but I’ve heard about success stories from others, and after the first time using it, I could tell some serious work was going on in my muscles and tendons.

The basic kit is $69.95 and the full version with every add on is $99.95. Personally I’d spend the extra twenty, as I thought the big orange ball was the most effective at getting into tight elbow muscles. Like any self-maintenance, this takes discipline to use, but if you are looking for the best way to maintain elbow health, the Armaid is hard to beat. More info here.

Rab Zephyr Jacket

The Rab Boreas is one of my favorite climbing tops of all time, and the Zehpyr is a jacket version that adds a little more versatility to this already excellent piece. With reinforced material in the high wear areas of the shoulders and arms, this is the perfect choice for those who need some lightweight sun and wind protection. It’s treated with Polygiene antibacterial agent, which means it wont stink, even if you end up living in it for days on end. More info here, retail is $99.95.

Trango Cord Trapper Rope Tarp

While I like rope bags for roadside cragging, I hate carrying them on longer hikes, as they just tend to flop around and throw off my balance, especially on more rugged/technical approaches. So typically I’ll just throw the hole shebang into my pack, but that can leave precious little room for other things. Enter the Trango Rope Tarp, a minimalist rope tarp that does only what you need, keeps the rope out of the dirt. For places like Indian Creek, I’ll often coil my rope and carry it on the top of my pack, as the interior is loaded with a gazillion cams, water, food, layers, etc. Add this simple tarp and when you get to the cliff, you can lay it all out. Personally I don’t find it a big deal to grab the corners and move it between pitches, though some might prefer the more refined systems of other bags. But for simplicity, this rig can’t be beat. More info here, retail is $16.

Mammut Broad Peak Hoody

This has quickly become one of my favorite down jackets. It’s that perfect combination of warmth, weight and bulk, and the bomber construction means you’ll have it for a long time. With a Pertex Microlight shell that is water resistant and durable, and 750 fill down, including the hood, this is a cozy warm friend that will put their arms around you and make you feel safe, no matter where you might actually be. More info here, retail is $248.95, but it’s 25% off at right  now!

Wild Country Helium Friends

Despite what you might think by reading the latest Indian Creek guide book, in the desert Southwest, you still need cams that fit in between Camalots. There aren’t any other places in the world I can think of where this is so crucial, but unless you want tipped out #2’s or fixed #3’s, a 3 Friend is the perfect piece sometimes. Likewise with other sizes, and while most of our Friends are the old rigid stem design, this fall I finally got a new tech friend to play with, and it was everything I hoped it would be. Light, color coded, and it fit nicely in between the Camalots. If you have a Creek loving friend you are wondering what to get this year, look no further. More info here, retail is $74.95 but they are 20% off at!

Yakima Sky Box Pro 21

Let’s face it, as climbers who car camp often, we are not known for “going light.” In fact, it never ceases to amaze me how much stuff four people can bring for two days of camping in the desert on a weekend trip. When it comes time to load everything in, it’s always a masterpiece of puzzle solving and shape analysis skills to get everything in, along with four people and some dogs. We got the new Yakima Sky Box Pro 21 this summer, and it has truly changed how we roll on trips. I’ll never forget when I decided to see if our kitchen box of cooking supplies would fit, which it wouldn’t in most other carriers, and it slid right in no problem. Oh my, this thing is huge! Access from both sides means it’s easy to get to anything you’ve packed, and it’s unreal how much room is up there. It was fairly simple to put on, and when we were taking a long road trip where it wasn’t needed and we wanted to maximize gas mileage, it look less than 5 minutes to get it off. Simple, effective and huge, this is everything you could want in a car top carrier. Available in three sizes and colors. Retail is $699, but right now it’s 10% off at

Mammut 8.7 Serenity Rope

Several of our newer local sport crags requite a 30 min or more approach, but with a skinny rope and light draws, the time passes quickly and isn’t too hard on the legs. Reading forums on Mountainproject where folks are still climbing on 10mm ropes always makes me smirk a little. Don’t they know, there’s a better way? But like so many things, you can only show them the path, they have to walk it for themselves. The Mammut 8.7 is one of the smallest diameter single ropes out there, and touted as the lightest in the world, though honestly in hand it doesn’t feel much different than the Edelrid Swift 8.9 or Metolius 8.9 Monster. What you will notice is how effortlessly it clips, and how little rope drag you’ll have, even on super long pitches. Like all skinny cords, it’s not the best choice for high wear scenarios, but you can also use it as a half or twin rope, adding some versatility to what some think is only for hard redpoints. Retail is $279, but it’s on sale right now for $199.96 through

Helinox Camp Chair

I’m not a big take-the-chair-to-the-crag kind of guy, but on a City of Rocks adventure this summer, we found ourselves bringing this thing along with the mellow approaches and comfort of having a nice place to chill while waiting for our forearms and toes to recover in between pitches. The poles fold down so the whole unit can fit into a stuff sack maybe half the size of a football, and it only weighs 2 pounds, meaning you’ll barely notice it’s in your pack. And unlike some lightweight chairs out there, it’s actually really comfortable to site in. We thought the lack of drink holders was the only down side, but I guess you can’t always have it all. More info here, retail is $89.95.

Edelrid Mega Jul

I was skeptical of this device when it was first shown to me. I didn’t love the Mammut Smart, as it was bulky and really kinked ropes on rappel, and so something in that same vain I admittedly had a somewhat closed mind about. However, the guys from Edelrid were adamant about it, and they in fact wouldn’t let any of us use it until they had fully gone through all the little tricks and quirks. After several days of use, however, I came to realize it definitely has a place in the quiver of belaying tools, and where the Mega Jul shines is on long mulitpitch routes where you want the safety of an assisted locking belay device, but not the weight of bringing both a GriGri and ATC. In fact, we were jokingly calling it the GriTC, as it combined the best elements of both of those devices. It feeds out rope easier than a GriGri, but I don’t love it for belaying top ropes, as it’s not very smooth on the uptake. I found the assisted brake rappel to be a bit too complex for my liking, but the beauty of this device is that you can use it like a regular ATC and throw a prussik back up on. There have been some wear concerns, given the nature of it being stainless steel and taking a bite out of softer carabiners, but that seems like a small price to pay for such a versatile device. Weight is 2.2 oz, and it works with ropes from 7.8 to 10.5. More info here, retail is $29.95.

Jetboil Sumo Group Cooking System

The largest Jetboil in their lineup, the Sumo is perfect solution for climbers who want a simple stove setup that’s versatile enough for a variety of situations. Car camping? Get the frying pan attachment. Going big walling? Get the hanging kit and viola, good to go. Simple and effective, this will surely make any climber on your gift list happy. Given how fast Jetboils are, I’ve started using them for boiling water on camping trips, while I get breakfast going on the Coleman. The stove and 1.8 liter pot weigh only 16 ounces, and there’s even a titanium version for weight freaks who want to lose a few more ounces. If you’ve never used a Jetboil before, the beauty lies in their simplicity. With push button ignition and a simple, integrated unit, this is a crucial part of any car camping or backpacking kit. More info here, retail is $129.95.

Petzl Tikka R+ Headlamp

This one seems like it’s straight out of a science fiction novel. Reactive lighting basically reads the distance of what you are looking at and supplies the appropriate amount of light. So for cooking, reading, etc, it’s on a low output (7 lumens), but then look up to see what that noise in the bushes was and instantly you have full brightness (170 lumens). One funny quirk is when you are looking at fire, the sensor goes all wonky and it flashes all through the different levels. It was also a bit disorienting on a bike at night, where you might be looking up and down rapidly. However, as an all purpose light that will last a long time, it’s a pretty ideal rig. And if you just want a simple, steady beam, well you can easily set that up too. Oh, and let’s not forget it’s customizable via the Petzl OS opperating system. Straight from the future to your headlamp. More info here, retail is $74.95.

Outdoor Research Deadpoint Pants

I love winter cragging. There’s something about the light this time of year, it has an otherworldly quality to it, the way it plays across the surface of a sunny cliff. Add to that the fact we get to climb in the sun, instead of hiding from it like most of the year, and you almost feel like a kid steeling cookies from the cookie jar. Aside from a warm puffy, a good pair of pants that are warm yet good for climbing is essential. There are some nice climbing jeans already on the market, and Outdoor Research’s answer is the Deadpoint pants. The first thing I noticed was how burly they are, and then, wow, they sure have a lot of stretch and mobility, like Carharts that are actually good at climbing. The heavy weight adds some warmth for cool weather cragging, and also ensures they will hold up to several season’s worth of abuse. More info here, retail is $79.

Julbo Stunt w/Zebra Lense

I still get a kick out of photochromatic lenses. There’s just something pseudo-magical about clear lenses turning darker in the sun. And far from being just a circus trick, this actually has some very practical application for climbers. Say you are out ice climbing on a cloudy day and want some eye protection. No problem, and if the sun comes out, you don’t need to put on another pair, they’ll simply adjust for you.  Also think about rock climbs that go into the shade, no need to ditch the glasses once the sun pokes around the corner, the lenses will lighten up and you can keep climbing in style. The Stunt with Zebra lenses have been my eye wear of choice on many mission this fall, and will likely be perfect for winter conditions as well. You can read more about the Zebra lense here. More info here, retail is $159.95.

Splitter Choss Apparel

Whoa, how did this  make such an illustrious list? Oh right, because it’s AWESOME! T-shirts and hoodies with the oh so cool SplitterChoss logo (thanks Jimmy!). Seriously, these make great gifts, so spread the love this holiday season!

Disclaimer: In the spirit of full disclosure, these products were provided to for the purpose of reviewing. Don’t worry, though, our integrity can’t be bought!

2 Responses to Holiday Gift Guide for Climbers

  1. Ha ha. I still use my 10.5mm 70M Mammut Flash. Thing is a tank of a rope. Maybe its time to upgrade.

    Jestep December 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm
    • Nah, just having some fun. Fat ropes have a place for sure, I have one for ice climbing, bolting, etc. And they still last longer, which is nice.

      bj December 9, 2013 at 10:48 am
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