It just dawned on me that I’ve taken to posting on gear-related topics on other blogs and various rock climbing related forums, but have done very little gear talk on my own blog. I do have a handful of favorite gear items at any given time, and here’s what’s on that list right now.
After last winter’s trip, and fighting with the rest of my climbing partners over who got to snuggle in to the guys’ down jackets, my present this year was a down puffy of my own. I tried on every down puffy at REI and landed on the Marmot Neve Down Sweater. After a few months of service, including a solid week of wear day and most nights at Red Rocks, I am thrilled with my pretty blue puffy. It was the one jacket that fit me really well, and that didn’t ride up when I lift up my arms or move around.
The other article of apparel that I’m in love with (I now own three different colors) is the Mountain Hardwear Sarafin Cardigan Sweater. It’s a wool blend, but is lined in strategic spots with fleece so it’s not itchy around the neck. The sweater is smart enough for everyday wear, but works wonders as an insulating layer at the gym or crag.
While my all time favorite shoe company is Evolv, and I trust nobody else with my resoles, I am still wearing my Mad Rock Frenzy Velcros for my everyday shoes. Now – that’s not entirely fair to give the credit to Mad Rock, since I wore out the original soles about two years ago and have been operating on fantastic Yosemite Bum resoles ever since. The resoles last significantly longer and stick significantly better than the original soles. The slightly stiff midsole, combined with the perfect fit for my feet and the speed of velcro make these a perfect balance of comfort and performance for me.
Even after three years of service, I adore my Deuter pack. After trying on every pack available at REI, and determined to select a woman-specific pack, I took a gamble on the not-gender-specific Deuter Futura 42. The pack has a lot of flexibility — outside pockets and pouches, a rain cover, an internal zipper divider that I mostly leave open for cragging to allow more room, and it is hydration compatible. The pack holds a rope plus basic crag gear for a day, and for shorter or lighter days the pack cinches down so that it’s easy to carry whether light or full. The suspension system is my favorite feature — somehow, the pack’s weight rests perfectly on my hips and shoulders without hurting my back or causing any pressure points, so even on long, day after day trips I don’t have any bruising or sore spots.
Finally, after some question about the device, I have decided that I love my Black Diamond ATC-XP. I regularly climb with guys who are heavier than I am, and although my hands have gotten stronger, I still generally use either my ATC-XP or a Petzl Grigri for belaying. With both, I typically use an additional friction point (a carabiner through my leg loop to pass the brake end of the rope through) when I lower bigger guys, and it is much easier to manage lowering even when there is a big weight difference. After accidentally ending up with Chris’s regular ATC for a rappel, however, I realized that the ATC-XP really shines for me on rappel. I like a slow, controlled rappel, and I’m one of those climbers who still typically uses a Kleimheist backup on rappel. The combination of the ATC-XP in high friction mode and my Kleimheist backup makes for a very safe feeling, controlled rap. If you prefer a speedier rap, I would not recommend this device, since when used in low-friction mode on rap the device can tip and cause a rope jam as I experienced last year in J-tree.
That’s it for now. If you’ve got gear questions, please add a comment or send me an email. Between my own gear stash, my hobby of shopping for gear, and my penchant for reading gear reviews, I’ve become quite the gear junkie.
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