When I started climbing in the mountains, around 4 years ago, I bought pretty much everything you need, to survive “up there”. But being a total mountain n00b, I didn’t have a clue on what to actually buy. I did not know what I need, let alone what I want, so I asked other, more experienced climbers for advice. What I learned from them was good, and the gear I bought was fine. But by actually using it in real life situations, I quickly realized, that what works perfectly for someone, might not be the best for me.
In this short period I learned three very important things about the gear:first, each and every one of us must figure out by himself, what gear is best for him (or her). It’s all about the small things. But you can only figure this out through experience. So go out, climb and have fun. Second, when you’re “on the edge” and your life depends on it, the last thing you want is bad quality gear getting in your way. Quality before price I say! Easier said than done. And last, if you actually climb with your “shiny new equipment”, it will sooner or later get worn out, there’s just no way around it. So don’t hesitate to throw away that old rope you’ve been climbing with for the last 5 years or so.
Of course, with so many different products on the market, finding that perfect piece of gear is very hard. By being a part of The Mountain Academy, I am lucky to have the oppurtunity to test Mountain Hardwear, Black Diamond and Aku equipment for free. And I found my perfect 3 pieces of gear.
This backpack from Mountain Hardwear is just perfect for light and fast ascents. It is super light, super comfortable and just big enough (30L) that you can pack pretty much anything in it you need for one day – for multy-day winter ascents, I’d go for a bigger pack. It also has two ice axe loops, and 6 straps – a hip belt and a chest belt and two on each side – no unnecessary “shit” hanging around while I climb! The only problem I found so far is that the hip strap occasionally get detached on one side, but you can easily reattach it. Also the material it’s made of (specs say nylon) seems very durable. I’ve been using it 2-4 times a week ever since I got it, and it’s still in one piece, so yeah … it seems quite durable. I also like the fact that you can roll it up and attach it to a bigger pack – expedition style.
Scrambler backpack – plain, simple and efficient – just the way I like it.
I really like this Black Diamond‘s harness because it is very comfortable and because it is built for any style of climbing. Those 4 ice clipper slots are just awesome. Of course you could attach ice clippers to a harness with rubber, but if you’re on a hanging belay, those things can really start itching after some time. I usually use only two for ice climbing and for me, it makes a huge difference. When I’m on vertical ice, hanging on one hand, getting pumped like crazy and I need to find the right ice screw fast, those ice clippers are a life saver! They’re also great for carying pitons and keeping the gear more organized. It might seem I’m overreacting, but for me, this harness makes a huge difference.
Aspect harness – comfortable and universal.
SL Pro GTX II
I first heard of Aku when I joined The Mountain Academy, so unlike the MHW and BD, I had no idea of what to expect from their products. But as it turns out, they are actually really great. At least the model we got, SL Pro GTX II. They are soft, comfortable and what’s most important for me, very light and super technical. Only 850g for one boot! They’re ideal for one-day winter ascents, drytooling, mixed and ice climbing. I especially like them for ice climbing. I’ve used them in Rjukan (Norway) at -15°C, but never felt cold. For me, they’re warm enough. The only problem I’ve had so far, were the blisters I got when I first wore them, but that is quite normal with new boots. Now, they fit perfectly. Ever since I got them, I’ve used them for almost every one-day winter ascent I made this year. For multy-day ascents however, I prefer a boot with inner shell, which you can put in the sleeping bag.
SL Pro GTX II – comfortable, super light and very technical.
That’s it. I hope you find your perfect piece(s) of gear. And don’t forget to actually use it, so go out and have fun destroying it!