It’s that time of year again,
time to worship at the altar of capitalism celebrate the holidays with friends and loved ones. And nothing says “I care” more than getting that special climber in your life the perfect piece of gear they’ve been missing. Below is a list of what we feel is some of the more interesting and noteworthy gear available right now, from shoes to cams to jackets, and everything in between.
An update of the previous version, it’s lighter and more breathable, and easily one of my favorite approach shoes. Burly without feeling like overkill, I’ve hiked for miles, scrambled up choss and bolted a bunch of climbs in them this summer. The rands are showing zero wear, and the mesh upper breathes really well. I like the tread pattern, which unlike dot tread, actually works OK in mud and snowy conditions. The back carabiner loops are angled so that when you clip your shoes to your harness, they hang down straight, and not out to the sides like when the loop is just on the back. $120 but on sale for $84 currently. More info on the Adidas website.
I had hear some things here and there about this new shoe company called Butora, and at last summer’s OR show I decided to see what they were all about. I’ve been using a pair of the Acro’s since then, and I will say, I’ve been impressed. Typically a new shoe company would have me thinking, really, is this what we need, more climbing shoes? But these guys have a unique approach, in that the create a narrow and wide model for each shoe, recognizing that some of us with big feet have narrow ones and most “women’s” models, that are typically narrow, don’t come in sizes large enough. They also use high end materials, which is evident as soon as you pull them out of the box and slip them on your feet. The combination of synthetic and natural leather makes for a very comfortable fit. For sizing, I went with my street shoe size and that has been perfect. $154. More info on the Butora website.
A year ago, I got a sneak peak of the Camalot Ultralights, and took them to the desert for the weekend. I almost started a riot at Indian Creek when I pulled them out of my pack, everybody wanted to check them out and couldn’t believe how light they were. In fact, we started joking we had to be careful or they would blow away. Winter came and went, and I didn’t follow up on getting myself a set, I mean they were expensive and I have so many cams, I didn’t really need them. And then I did a route in the Black Canyon with a friend who had a set, and my mind was instantly changed. I reasoned that if I had a set and my friend had a set, our entire rack for longer climbs would be Ultralights, which was a huge weight savings. These aren’t meant to replace the workhorse C4s, but if you are climbing long trad or alpine routes were every ounce counts, a set of these should be on your radar for sure. It helps to have a trust fund if you are looking to buy multiples for the Creek. $89.95-$129.95. More info on the Black Diamond website.
Folks with wide feet have always lamented that most Sportiva shoes are too narrow for them, but there’s an extra reason to rejoice this holiday season, as the new Otaki is one of the widest shoes in the Sportiva line up. An excellent all-arounder, this is an ideal shoe for everything from techy vertical routes to overhanging jug hauls. Moderately stiff, it can edge with the best of them and it even jams cracks well thanks to a low profile toe. I also think the colors are super cool, and every time you look down at your feet you sort of feel like a superhero, which is proven to add at least 1/3 of a letter grade to your onsight ability. These run bigger than any other Sportiva shoes, and for those with narrower feet, you’ll want to go down a half to full size from your normal Sportiva size. $175. More info on the Sportiva website.
From alpine climbs to backcountry ski tours to cold weather cragging, the Deviator is a versatile jacket that is at home in just about any environment. Lightweight and comfortable, it climbs well and wicks away sweat thanks to the Polartec power grid material. The Alpha insulation on the body keeps you warm without overheating thanks to its breathability, and without fail I reach for this jacket more than any other when heading out into uncertain conditions. $185. More info on the Outdoor Research website.
Not happy with the environmental impact of synthetic insulation, Patagonia and Primaloft worked to come up with a more sustainable solution. The result was Primaloft Gold Eco, a synthetic insulation with 55% recycled content that performs as well or better than traditional synthetics. They were so excited about this new insulation, they decided to convert the entire Nano Puff line for Fall 2016, and it’s available in the jacket, hoody and pullover versions of the Nano Puff. If you’ve never worn one, it’s one of those crucial mid-layer pieces that works well on it’s own in fall weather, and then adds extra warmth in the winter. The hood fits over a climbing helmet, which is nice. The shell and lining materials have been made with 100% recycled materials since the line launched in 2009, making this a great gift for the environmentally minded climber in your life. $249. More info on the Patagonia website.
I been a dedicated climbing helmet wearer for many years, but when the Sirocco came out, I was hesitant to try it, and didn’t get to test one until this year. What I found was that when my pack started getting heavy, I reached for this one every time. Weighing a scant 165 grams, it’s the lightest helmet on the market, and fully CE and UIAA certified. It’s become my top choice for long trad routes, and any time I’m looking to shave any weight that I can. Yes, it’s day-glo orange, and let’s say isn’t the most stylish offering, but you don’t have to look at yourself while wearing it, so as long as you don’t stand in front of a mirror with it on, you won’t have a clue why your friends are looking at you funny. And if you have the Sitta harness and some orange climbing shoes, you’ll be one stylish-looking sender. $129.95. More info on the Petzl website.
For short multipitch climbs where you need to carry some food and a headlamp, the Ration capsule is great. I can get two bars, a packet of energy chews and a headlamp in there pretty comfortably. It hangs out of the way on the back of my harness, or I can even tuck it into my approach shoes if they are making the trip with me. A simple but cool idea. $14.95. More info on the Trango website.
Over the last couple of years, several companies have tried to address the issue of keeping your chalk bag from exploding in your pack. Many folks just pack it in a separate plastic bag, which generally does the trick, but Trango came up with a simpler solution. The Concealed Carry has a low-key elastic cover that keeps chalk out of your bag when in transit, and easily tucks away while you are climbing. There’s also a brush holder on the side. $16.95. More info on the Trango website.
I’d like to think I was an early adopter of belay glasses in the US after some friends came back from Kalymnos raving about them, and have been using them for years. Tracy could never get into them, as they made her sick, and I figured they just weren’t for her. But a month or so ago, we got to check out the Plasfun model from Y&Y Vertical, and all that has changed. Thanks to bigger prisms, she has now joined the ranks of those of us who look at least five times smarter with belay glasses. We also got to try the new clip on version, the Clip Up, which is good for folks who wear prescription glasses or sunglasses. The view isn’t as ideal, as the prisms are farther away from your face. But it’s a good compromise between getting to wear your glasses and not having to look up the whole time. Plasfun is $60, Clip Up is $69.90. More info on the Y & Y Vertical website.