BIG: Best in Gear Awards
Mountain Equipment Tupilak 37+
The Tulipak caters to the wants and needs of alpinists, offering impressive carrying capability, durability and comfort, while being outstandingly minimal and weighing only 20 to 27 ounces depending on which accoutrements you strip off. Several innovative design ideas make this specialist pack stand out, including the robust one-handed Grapple buckle fastening system, the over-the-top leash for securing ropes or cinching the bag neatly when carrying less, the internal roll-top dry bag, and the floating EVA foam “hip fins” on the waist belt. The pack sits out of the way when you are climbing, and the tapered shape distributes weight well when fully loaded, equally, it packs down neatly when carrying minimal loads, making it extremely versatile and as appropriate for multi-day winter alpinism as single-day fast-and-light outings.
The Maestro is a high-performance all arounder, a rarity among rock shoes. It has just enough downturn, just enough rand tension, just enough midsole, to power up your feet with just enough squeeze and support to be a precision tool for face and cracks, routes long and short, yet it is still comfortable. Decades ago every shoe strove to do everything well, but as routes got shorter and steeper, shoes became monomaniacal. The Maestro is a refreshing reminder that there is much more to climbing than scuzzing out a cave. It is available in mid-high and low-cut versions.
Sterling Nano IX 9.0 Rope
The Sterling Nano IX 9.0 is so good that after one outing, one of my friends—a former gear editor—bought one that night. This performance-oriented cord has ample structure, almost stiff but not quite. I got mine with their DryXP treatment, and it outperformed other dry cords of the same price and caliber. The Nano IX is suited for long big-wall trad days, alpine or ice cragging, or your sport project. Given its thinness, don’t use it for toproping, and I don’t recommend it for beginners, but rather for those who want a sending rope for a variety of climbing styles.
Metolius Ultralight Asymmetric Curved Nuts
MSRP: $149.50 (set of 10)
At just 11.2 ounces for the set of 10, the Ultralight Asymmetric Curved Nuts save weight without limiting your protection toolkit. Metolius achieves the featherweight by forgoing the swage model of most chocks—the Curve Nuts are fixed at the end of their wires. The asymmetric taper and curved sides let you seat these babies in even the meanest flares, and the stiff cables make placing them swiftly a cinch. When you need to be fast and light on long routes, reach for these.
Five Ten Anasazi Pro
While the Anasazi Pro is not super aggressive, the slight camber and new rubber-smothered toe make it suitable for steep, involved routes, while its high degree of stiffness still allows you to drive huge amounts of power through your toes for small edges. Despite a fairly thick sole, we found the smearing capability of these shoes to be superlative. And comfort? Wiggle in, layer the mesh tongues, fasten the Velcro straps, and your feet are in fit heaven.
Black Diamond Momentum
The Momentum is an entry-level shoe that delivers on comfort, durability and non-fussiness. The fit is soft and intuitive, and the sole is responsive yet stiff enough to deliver on vertical terrain, jug hauls and your 5.6 – 5.11 gym project. The shoe fits to your street size too. After a good session, I can attest that their use of an “engineered knit” fabric will keep the stink at bay. A price point of $89.95 alone should get your attention.
Blue Ice Choucas Light
The Choucas is a “barely there” harness. Weighing just 3.1 ounces, the Choucas is so feathery it’s easy to forget you have it on, and it rides unnoticed under a pack. The alpine realm, where lightweight trumps everything except performance, is the Chou- cas’ specialty. Innovative hook-and-ladder toggles let you in and out of the leg loops without removing crampons or skis. When you don’t need the Choucas, its mesh-and-tape construction let it easily stow in a top pocket.
Adidas Terrex MultiPant
They are light, majorly stretchy, and, not that we’d notice, flattering, or at least some of us are grateful to avoid the dreaded puff caused by many an elastic waistband. More to the point, the adidas Multi Pant does anything. Drag them across granite, wear them to the gym, roll around town in them or stand and address a conference in a mountain lodge. It almost becomes embarrassing how often you use them, and they just last and last. Quick to dry; fend off rain.
Wild Country Friends
MSRP: $404.95 (set of six)
Wild Country went all out to upgrade their new Friends, making noteworthy changes to bring the legendary units back to the top of the market, and for that they deserve a nod. By adopting a hollow-twin axel design to increase range, an updated color scheme to match other main brands, and combining the ease of a thumb loop with the convenience of an ex- tendable Dyneema sling, Wild Country has produced a smooth, ergonomic and lightweight unit that vies for the top spot among camming hardware.
Big Agnes Big House
Small, featherlight tents have their place in the mountains, where you carry your world on your back, but the other 99 percent of the time you are either car camping or working out of a base camp. Then, you want room to stretch. The Big House tent is as the name says, a big tent. It sleeps four and with a center height of five feet, it has lots of overhead—you can almost stand up to change clothes. At just under 10 pounds the Big House actually isn’t that heavy, either, especially when you divide by four. The Big House isn’t a new design and has been featured in this magazine numerous times. It is here again because it ages well: It is a great value, it holds up and if anything does ever tweak or tear, Big Agnes is quick to repair or re- place it. The Big House is, with a mesh ceiling, a three-season tent, but toss on the fly and you can snooze through a cold snap or sudden snow squall. Want even more room or a sheltered place to cook? The Big House has an optional vestibule ($129.95).
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