By Owen Clarke
Has your uncle recently watched Free Solo? Has your cousin been eyeing that new climbing gym that just popped up in town? Has your grandmother been complimenting your toned physique, wondering where she can get that kind of bod?
The holidays are just around the corner, and what better gift to give your loved ones than a ticket to the vertical playgrounds? From longtime offerings like the legendary Camalot C4 to their new line of rock shoes, Black Diamond has been pushing the envelope on quality technical rock gear and apparel for decades. Below are a few ideal holiday gifts for loved ones getting into the sport, as well as solid buys for climbers of any experience level and a few accessories to boot.
The MOMENTUM HARNESS ($56.95) is the Toyota Camry of climbing. It’s affordable, gets the job done, and almost everyone has owned one at some point. This latest rendition of the MOMENTUM sits at a price point that’s almost impossible to beat given it’s offerings (four gear loops, a haul loop, trakFIT ™ leg loops and a pre-threaded Speed Adjust waistbelt for fast adjustment). It doesn’t cut corners on comfort either. The outer edges of the MOMENTUM’s waistbelt consist of twin bands of of high-tensile webbing, and the center is fitted OpenAir foam to minimize pressure points while maximizing breathability. I’ve worn a MOMENTUM on everything from sport burns to fifteen-pitch routes to rainy day hangdogging at the gym, and it handles all with ease.
Better yet, the MOMENTUM PACKAGE ($99.95) gives new climbers everything they need to get started on the wall. It consists of the harness, ATC-XP tube belay device, a RockLock Screwgate biner, a Mojo chalk bag, and a sack of BD’s iconic White Gold chalk. For little crushers, the MOMENTUM KIDS’ HARNESS ($49.95) offers the same product in a smaller package (minus the haul loop and two gear loops).
The HOTWIRE QUICKDRAW ($13.95 – $14.95) builds on a long legacy, with BD’s classic HOTWIRE biner now over 20 years old. The HOTWIRE draw’s two wire gate biners (the bottom one colored for easy spotting) are hot-forged to minimize weight. This allows fine-tuning of the geometry without any cost to strength or durability, resulting in a larger rope-bearing surface than the original. Strung on an 18mm Polyester Dogbone with a Straitjacket insert to hold the bottom biner in place when clipping, the HOTWIRE draws come in 12cm or 16cm lengths. The HOTWIRE draw is lightweight, at only 3.5oz or 3.6oz depending on length, and sells in a QUICKPACK of six 12cm draws for $99.95.
The HOTFORGE QUICKDRAW ($17.95 – $18.95) has it’s biners hot-forged like the HOTWIRE (in case you were wondering where they got the name from). It comes with a HOTFORGE straight gate up top and HOTFORGE bent gate biner on bottom, updated versions of BD’s POSITRON carabiner. These biners have snag-free keylocking gates with a flat face for easy clipping, and roll out on the same 18mm Polyester Dogbone with a Straitjacket insert to keep the bottom biner (colored for visibility) properly oriented. The hot-forged design allows minimum weight with maximum durability. Thus the HOTFORGE draws sit at 3.63oz (12cm) or 3.81oz (16cm). The HOTFORGE also rolls out in a six draw QUICKPACK for $99.95.
For those on the fence, check out the HOTFORGE HYBRID ($15.95 – $16.95) draws. These use the keylocking HOTFORGE straight gate biner on top and the wire gate HOTWIRE on the bottom for maximum versatility. They are also available in a QUICKPACK ($99.95).
The HOTFORGE SCREWGATE ($10.95) carabiners bring hot-forged tech to locking biners. Lightweight (1.76oz), with a low-profile, no-snag nose for easy cleaning and clipping, the biners are wide enough to hold a clove hitch. The HOTFORGE SCREWGATE is dependable and stout, everything you need in a locker, and sits much lighter than most other lockers thanks to the hot-forged design. Three HOTFORGE SCREWGATE biners come in a set for $29.95.
The VOLT 200 ($39.95) rechargeable lantern packs a big punch in a tiny package. 7.9oz, to be exact. It can operate either on an integrated rechargeable battery (via USB) or three AAs, and pumps out a max of 200 lumens, with an average run-time of 20 hours on the lower setting. It has a hanger/stand for easy setup in your camp or cave or closet or portaledge (or your daughter’s fairy princess castle in the backyard), and the charge port works in reverse too, so you can charge up a dead cell phone or other device with your VOLT 200. Most importantly, the VOLT has a power lock to prevent it accidentally turning on and burning all it’s juice lighting up the inside of your pack.
Ideal for trail runners, but also for climbers who enjoy a brisk run out to the crag in the morning (do those people exist?), the SPRINT 225 ($44.95) is Black Diamond’s lightest rechargeable headlamp at 2oz. Its 225 lumen output runs an average of 2.5 hours and is easily chargeable via USB. Like all BD headlamps, the SPRINT shrugs off rain, sleet or snow, and is IPX4 storm proof rated. It comes with a memory setting, allowing you to set your ideal brightness and turn it off and on at that level, as well as PowerTap tech for easy transitioning between full and dimmed power in a single tap, as well as the must-have lockout feature. Also, the thing is practically the size of my thumb. It’s like carrying an acorn around in your pocket. For lightweight, speedy missions, this is an easy buy.
Did you drop your phone in that bottomless crack between the driver’s seat and the center console of your car? Did your wedding ring slip off and roll behind that shelf in the garage? Are you afraid to start jamming that crack without first checking for spiders? Do you want to momentarily blind your buddy at the gym so he can’t finish that problem you’ve both been battling to send? The ION 40 ($17.95) has you covered. With 50 lumens in 1.6oz and a max burn time of 18 hours, all locked and loaded on your keychain, you’re ready for anything, anytime. And with its IPX4 storm proof rating, if inclement weather rolls in you’re likely to tap out well before anything happens to the ION 40.