We don’t do many soft reviews here at Rock and Ice. Field Tested is almost always about hardware—cams, ropes, harnesses, helmets, climbing-specific shoes and boots. Every so often we’ll write up a jacket or some technical pants, but you will never see a review of blue jeans, après-climbing apparel or electronic gadgetry in the magazine unless they’re somehow specifically relevant to climbing. Maybe that’s not always a good thing. In the great game that is climbing, a comfortable pair of flip-flops can be as important as a carabiner with a nice gate action.
Editors get bombarded with “product” all the time and, honestly, some of it sucks. For example, I was recently sent a hydration powder that tasted exactly like sweat. I get rubber-band finger trainers by the bushel; tar-black food bars that look and taste like they’ve been consumed once already, and way too many tiny carabiners. And the amount of plastic and cardboard it all comes packaged in must have Rachel Carson spinning a gyre in her grave.
But once in a while I’m gifted with bling that really works, but if it’s only tangentially related to climbing I don’t have the opportunity to share it. So, in an attempt to pass it on, I’ve decided to periodically review the coolest “soft” gear that comes through the office—and offer you a chance to check it out, too. Here are five pieces of essential summer bling for climbers. Enter below to win OOFOS sandals, Outdoor Research Airbrake gloves, a Black Diamond hoodie and a Rock and Ice chalk bag.
OOFOS OOriginal Thong $39.95
It’s rare that you put on a pair of shoes and feel instantly better, but that’s the case with these flip-flops. Durable, non-marking and waterproof, these sandals are perfect for spotting and belaying, and tough enough for short hikes to the crag or between boulders. The OOFOS foot bed was designed by footwear-industry pros and is supportive. But the secret to the “ooh” is the foam. The sandals are being marketed for athletic recovery and, according to the company, OOfoam absorbs 37 percent more impact than traditional foam. Maybe that’s why I feel like I’m walking on air when I wear these? No kidding. I’ve been wearing these flip flops for about a year now and they still look practically brand new. You might think I’m bullshitting you when I say that these are the most comfortable sandals in the world, but as soon as you try them on you’ll see what I mean.
Outdoor Research Air Brake Belay Gloves $49
Outdoor Research has been focusing a lot of energy recently on developing its line of gloves and the Air Brake is an example of how that R and D is paying off in a form applicable to all climbers. I’m a big proponent of wearing belay gloves. A good pair of gloves keeps your hands clean, provides better grip and protects your skin from splinters and burns. The Air Brakes are super comfortable and fit so well that I’ve even used them for hard mixed pitches. Gel packs are sewn into the palms and act as padding and to dissipate heat. Ventilation holes in the sides and back of the leather fingers keep your hands cool without sacrificing durability. These are the best belay gloves I’ve ever used, bar none. Men’s and women’s styles and colors.
DoTERRA Peppermint Essential Oil $27.33
If you Google “essential oils” you’ll find testimonials stating that certain blends have cured everything from allergies to seizures. I received a bottle of DoTERRA peppermint oil last year and discovered that the oil worked like a charm to clear my sinuses and soothe my heartburn when I drank too much coffee (every day). In fact, DoTERRA peppermint oil is a new secret weapon in my redpoint arsenal. Put a drop on your tongue and run the oil over your gums and inside your mouth. The fumes rush up your nose, clearing your sinuses. The fresh taste of peppermint will take over your mouth and you’ll find that your breathing is improved. Be warned however, this stuff is strong. Some folks will prefer to simply lick the applicator and experience somewhat attenuated effects. Also, be aware that not all peppermint essential oils are equal. DoTERRA exercises quality control and makes pure peppermint oil that is safe for internal consumption.
Black Diamond CoEfficient Hoodie $159
What’s the most essential piece of climbing bling? Could be the hoodie. The wizards at Black Diamond just concocted a stylish yet functional hoodie that I’ve been “testing” all spring. Warm, breathable, fast-drying. Stretchy, durable and fits well under a helmet. This piece works in the field, puts a comfy fleece nap against the skin and looks good après-climbing (whatever the hell that means. Tapas!) Unfortunately the CoEfficient Hoodie won’t be available untill September. But, because we love you, we’ve asked BD to kick in a sample for one lucky winner. (Enter below).
Rock and Ice Chalk Bag
It’s summer. You need a chalk bag. This one is plastered with images once featured on the cover of the best climbing magazine in the universe. Fill out the form below to win a Rock and Ice
chalkbag designed by ace chalk bag tailor Sam Krieg.
Good luck and stay tuned for more climbing bling give aways.