Category Archives: Gear Reviews

Detailed description and opinion on various outdoor gear

Gear Review: FiveTen Anasazi High-Top Climbing Shoe

When FiveTen and Dean Potter went to work making a shoe to crank twenty pitches a day in, they came up with the Anasazi Hi-Top. A stiffer, more plush climbing shoe meant to soothe your aching feet as you stuff them deep into whatever crack system you are scaling in Yosemite. Fortunately, climbing shoes designed for granite are awesome in sandstone as well. The Anasazi Hi-Top fits the bill for an all-around desert shoe. It’s stiff, sticky, comfortable, and sized correctly, based on a last Chris McNamara calls his “cheating shoe.” But most importantly, it covers your ankles. Anyone at Indian Creek, Zion, or Red Rocks will tell you ankles bones are only to make you suffer more as you stuff your feet as deeply as possible into whatever crack you are ascending. That only sightly protuberant part of your ankle is constantly grinding into the lip of the crack. It’s not fun, you get a bloody spot that eventually scabs over only be cracked and ground bloody again and again. Hi-tops are an obvious solution to this problem.Most people will tell you you need to rush out and buy a pair of TC Pros from La Sportiva, almost universally held up as … Continue reading

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Gear Review: Petzl Ange Carabiner Nails Clean Nose Design

In the midst of a long climbing trip, climbers have a special event called Rest Day, a break from a week of leisure to pursue an entire day of deeper leisure. Writing this blog allows me to salvage some sense of accomplishment from this particular Rest Day. I can only sit by a pool, read a book, eat, and surf the internet for  so long. I have been climbing in El Potrero Chico, Mexico for the past five days and my fingertips are so raw it hurts to wash my hair, let alone grab onto sharp limestone edges and do anything resembling a pull up. I can, however, review the Petzl Ange carabiner. The Petzl Ange is commerically available in small (S) and large (L) versions, but we have been using only the Ange L. So, here goes… The idea of a”clean-nose” carabiner may not seem like a big deal, but sometimes snagging a ‘biner while clipping can make the difference between falling and sending. Since clean-nose solid-gate carabiners were released over a decade ago, carabiners have improved very little. Lightweight wire-gate ‘biners have replaced the solid-gate, but most wire-gates sacrificed functionality for weight, and reverted to the hooked gate. Several … Continue reading

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Gear Review: Totem Basic Cam Improves on CCH Aliens

When the Spanish climbing company Totem announced their intention to begin producing a cam based on the classic CCH Alien I was excited about everything but the name. Perhaps marketing is done differently in Spain, but here in the ‘ol US of A, companies go to great lengths to come up with cool names, flashy packaging, and sex appeal for their new products. Totem, however, went with “Basic Cam,” a name that would avoid drawing any special attention to their new product. It is like they are telling us, “Basically, this cam has some springs and cam lobes. It is nothing special, and it is used for crack climbing. Buy it if you feel like, it is the one called ‘basic cam’…” Well, I can believe they are so confident about their craftsmanship that the cam will sell itself. Without wasting time and money on marketing, maybe they can make this a profitable venture by sending them out to people like me, who are so excited about new equipment that we can do some marketing for them. Dang, maybe the Spanish know more about marketing than I give them credit for. So here it is, glamour shots, glowing review, and … Continue reading

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Imlay Canyon Gear Unveils 2012 Rope Colors

Just in time for the holiday season, new rope colors have magically appeared from Imlay Canyon Gear. The immensely popular 8.3mm Canyon Fire now comes in the forboding “Red with Yellow” AND the cautionary “Yellow with Red,” in addition to the old balanced “Red and Yellow.” Not impressed? Okay, well take a look at the new 9mm Canyonero colors, where jungle-vine “Green with Blue” and regal “Purple with Yellow” join the aquatic blue-green weave in the line up. Combing a Canyon Fire with the three Canyonero! lines, and you have serious contrast in your rope bags. So who really cares about rope color, anyways? Is this just for canyon aestheticists and rope dorks? Though I am occasionally sheepish to admit it, I DO care about rope colors… here’s why: 1. Colors provide intuitive indicators of rope length. Though a given rope will change length over its lifetime as it wears and gets chopped, using ropes of different colors on any given trip makes it easy to tell the 80′ from the 120′ from the 200′. Instead of “give me the 200-footer,” we say, “give me the red one.” Much easier. 2. When using any two (or more) ropes together, it … Continue reading

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adidas Acquries Five Ten for $25 Million

It’s no secret Five Ten’s sticky rubber and awesome canyoneering shoes are a core component of Zion Adventure Company’s product offerings. So when I heard this morning Five Ten is being acquired by global behemoth adidas, I sat up to pay attention. Evidently, adidas is purchasing Five Ten for $25M. You might think adidas would then immediately send the Five Ten plant over to China, but apparently they intend to keep Five Ten operations in Redlands, CA (where the company was founded in 1985) and perhaps even expand operations there. Whatever they do, I hope they o continue supporting their small, but important (to canyoneers) canyoneering segment, which continues to outshine all the other shoes that try (but consistently fail) to eclipse the fantastic 5.10 Canyoneer. Five Ten was small enough that canyoneering shoes were a decent slice of their sales, but for a billion-dollar company like adidas, I can imagine cutting a shoe line is a pretty insignificant thing. Another question I read on the net regards Stealth rubber… Will it continue to be available for resoling our climbing shoes? Stealth has become readily available for both self-resole or professional resole, but if adidas decides to cut off the supply to boost … Continue reading

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CCH Alien Cams – Coming Soon

I had a bunch of equipment and personal items stolen from my car while I was out climbing in St. George yesterday. It was a fairly upsetting experience, and without going into it too much, I have yet another opportunity to grow and to let go. I am reminded of a question asked about another upsetting experience this year. A co-worker asked, “Is it a problem or an opportunity?” His words echo in my head today and have helped me step back and find a new perspective. So, I have the opportunity to buy a bunch of new climbing equipment. In the midst of researching climbing gear I stumbled upon some information regarding CCH Alien Cams. These have been indispensable parts of my climbing rack, especially for aid climbing. For the past two years I have babied my few Aliens, because they are no longer in production. Well, I discovered today that Aliens are BACK. This discovery is very exciting for a climbing nerd like me. For a minute I forgot that I was preparing to spend a thousand dollars on new climbing gear. Anyhow, Aliens are set to be released by two European companies, Fixe-Fader and Totem. Both are … Continue reading

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Summit Hut Raves About Imlay’s Kolob Pack

Charles from Summit Hut recently gave the Kolob Pack a stellar review, noting: …my favorite all-around pack has become the Imlay Canyon Gear Kolob… these packs have been designed specifically for canyoneering, but the features make it a great pack for general use. While I understand why Tom removed so many bells and whistles from the “traditional modern backpack” in evolving his line of canyoneering-specific backpacks, it’s never been clear to me why he hasn’t marketed the Imlay packs to a larger non-canyoneering market. Maybe it’s a price point issue? I haven’t shopped around lately… is an ICG Kolob pack more expensive than a heavier, pocket-and-zipper-and-clip laden backpacking pack? ICG packs are certainly too heavy for the ultra-light crowd, but I think the general backpacking crowd appreciates a tough, bright, no-frills pack that carries well and lasts many, many miles. If you are a canyoneer AND a backpacker (I know there are many of us out there), it’s worth considering consolidating your arsenal, over time, to one pack that can do it all. And though I’ve never used my Imlay packs for “backpacking” trips, per se, I’ve certainly used them for multi-day canyoneering trips (backpacking trips) with great satisfaction. Anybody have an … Continue reading

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Polyester vs. Nylon Ropes – Which Absorb More Water?

How much water does a rope absorb? It has always seemed that polyester ropes hold less than nylon ropes, but is this actually true? How big is that difference? I decided to find out yesterday… Rope Water Absorption Test – July 13, 2011 Test Method: At least 30m of a particular rope is coiled, weighed, then immersed in a cooler full of water, and held under by weights, for one hour (+10 min, – 0 min). The rope is removed and hung in the air for 10 minutes (+1 min, – 0 min), then weighed again “wet.” The two weights are compared. Conditions: Summer conditions (85 deg F air temp, low humidity, no wind). Water at faucet temperature. Test Samples: I tested three samples: 1. Nylon climbing rope: Beal Joker 9.1mm x 60m dynamic climbing rope, lightly used (about 20 pitches), in good shape. “Standard” treatment on this rope is DryCore. 2. Polyester canyoneering rope: Imlay 8.3mm Canyon Fire x 40m static canyon rope, lightly used (about 40 rappels), in good shape. 3. Polyester canyoneering rope: Imlay 9.2mm Canyonero x 60m static canyon rope, brand new. Results: – The used climbing rope absorbed 42.4% of its weight in water. – … Continue reading

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New Zion App Released Yesterday – Free for a Limited Time

Outdoor-oriented software developer Chimani announced the release of its newest iPhone/Android app, Chimani Zion National Park. The app is currently available for free on either phone platform, though the copy I downloaded seems to be permanently frozen in “loading” mode. In reading the developer’s commentary on his site, it’s encouraging to know this app, along with it’s brethren (a number of other National Park apps), are personally researched and custom-implemented according to the particular attractions and logistics of each Park. Having not testing the app yet, however, there is one sign the tool is incomplete. According to the only review on iTunes, The Narrows is not included in the “descriptions for 29 of the most popular hiking trails in the Park”… what, no Narrows? There must be some mistake?!?! I’ll post more once I get a chance to try it out. For now, here are the details from the product website: Over 250+ unique points of interest (POIs) throughout Zion National Park. A 45+ minute audio/auto tour, GPS-enabled/custom-made map which works WITHOUT a cell/wifi connection, daily Ranger-Led events schedule, sunrise/sunsets data for over a year, free shuttle bus schedule, 75+ photographs, 29+ hiking trail descriptions, scenic viewpoint guide, a special … Continue reading

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Petzl Recalls GriGri 2 for Release Lever Problem

In February, Calvin reviewed the GriGri 2, awarding flying colors to the new-and-improved belay standard. Now, Petzl has issued a recall on GriGri 2 belay devices with serial numbers between 10326 and 11136. Here is the recall information: Petzl has discovered that exerting excessive force on the fully extended handle of the GRIGRI 2 can cause internal damage, such that the GRIGRI 2 handle may become stuck in the open position. When the handle is stuck in this position the assisted braking function is disabled. A damaged GRIGRI 2 in this configuration will function similarly to a manual belay device (e.g. tube style device). When using a damaged GRIGRI 2 with the handle stuck in the position as shown in Figure 1, failure to control the braking side of the rope will increase the risk of an uncontrolled descent. A GRIGRI 2 with a damaged handle must be immediately retired from service. Read the complete recall details on Petzl’s website. Sounds like even though the problem is serious, it should not directly cause problems for anyone belaying correctly, holding onto the brake line in addition to using the release lever. Still, a jammed lever could surprise you and cause something unexpected to happen with your … Continue reading

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