Best New Climbing Gear of 2017

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Mostly 2017 was the worst of times—and I fear it’s all gonna get a whole lot worse before it gets any better.

Still, if you really push me, I will concede that there are some things to be happy about.

9c-Adam-Flatanger_NIK4995New levels and milestones were reached by top climbers, once again proving that there are no limits in this incredible sport. Angie Eiter climbed a 5.15b and Margo Hayes took down two very famous 5.15as. Adam Ondra climbed a 5.15d (which I was lucky enough to write about for the current issue of Rock and Ice). Barbara Zangerl and Jacobo Larcher just got the second free ascent of Magic Mushroom, which dope. And Alex Honnold free soloed El Capitan and didn’t even die. All of that was way cool.

I’ll spare you the runout of all of the ways that 2017 sucked, however, and save that for another post, or just my own private journal to be burned in the next campfire I sit near. Best to focus on what’s good, if not great. The climbing industry put out some great new products this year for us to use and abuse. I reviewed some of these items, and so did my friend Julie Parker. Here are our picks for best climbing gear of 2017.

Petzl Grigri+

Evening Sends Petzl Grigri+ Review 1It’s great when you can take something that’s already great and make it even greater. The Petzl Grigri+ is just like the Grigri 2, only it’s a tad bit safer and way more durable. The anti-panic lever provides a safeguard against dropping a partner while lowering, and the addition of steel plating in high-use areas ensures this device should probably last twice as long as its still-great predecessor.

Where to Buy Amazon | REI


Black Diamond Full Rope Burrito

630150_Full_Rope_Burrito_webNot sure who came up with the idea that rope bags must be lashed down with bombproof metal buckles and difficult-to-adjust compression straps, but those additions seem a bit overkill. After all, a rope bag is just a convenient vessel for a flaked rope. It’s not a burlap sack filled with rabid animals that you wouldn’t want escaping. The BD Full Rope Burrito is one of my favorite new items form 2017. It’s just a simple bag with two carry handles and roll-out tarp. It fits into packs easily (without any compression straps!) and can easily double as a gym tote. I only wish there was a light/removable shoulder strap. Is it weird to be so psyched on a rope bag? Climbing is difficult enough. Thanks to BD for recognizing that moving your rope from one route to the next doesn’t need to be so damn tough.

Where to Buy

Amazon Black Diamond


Outdoor Research Ascendant

OR AscendantFleece is dead, and active insulation is what’s hot in the streets, word up! (or at least any mountain town.) I’ve been a huge fan of active insulation outwear since I was first introduced to it in Chamonix a few years ago, especially because I live in Colorado where conditions are often dry and cold. Since that trip, just about every major outdoor outerwear brand has produced their own iteration of this genre of technical, active clothing. The Outdoor Research Ascendant, which comes in a jacket or a hoody version, is one of the best pieces of active insulation I’ve tried. It’s got a great fit. There are no tight spots in the shoulders, and the jacket isn’t baggy around the waist. Fully zipped, the collar doesn’t irritate your face/neck, unlike some other pieces I’ve tested. Best of all, the jacket uses Polartec Alpha insulation, which I think is the category leader for active insulation.

Where to Buy Amazon Outdoor Research


Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody

WBF17_84701_FLGRDown jackets will always be comfortable and comforting, like a bowl of your mamaw’s beef stew on a cold winter day. But that doesn’t mean that timeless traditions can’t be updated and improved. Patagonia’s new Micro Puff Hoody uses Plumafill synthetic insulation, a hydrophobic fiber that has all the coziness and packability of down but will also insulate even when wet. The quilting patterns on this smart-looking jacket are also engineered to help retain loft. Patagonia is calling this the best warmth for the weight jacket they’ve ever built, a lofty claim that just might be true. At $300, this jacket doesn’t come cheap, but at least you can take comfort in knowing that part of those profits will indirectly go toward the lawsuit against popular-vote-loser Donald Trump and the ongoing fight for public lands. Of course, there are easier ways to support those suits, including a donation directly to the Access Fund.

Where to Buy



Edelrid Bulletproof Carabiner

EdelridBulletproofEdelrid gets my vote for consistently being one of the most creative hardware companies out there. This German brand is always pushing the limits and rethinking every part of the climbing experience. And just so long as you don’t mind the gaudy key-lime green color that they insist on branding every product with, Edelrid has produced some of my favorite pieces of gear, including the Mega Jul. The Bulletproof Carabiner is an aluminum-steel Franken-biner, even though it is far more elegant and smart than how I just described it (I just wanted to use the word “Franken-biner”). This hybrid design pairs an aluminum carabiner with a steel insert on the part where you need it most: the basket. Such a simple idea, and such a good one, too—though I’m sure the alchemy of combining these metals into a useful object is anything but simple. For sport climbing and cragging, the Bulletproof biners deserve to become standard issue equipment for long-term projecting. These biners would be great for top-rope biners, as well as on the first bolt of any route. There’s no excuse for climbing on sharp, old draws—even more so now. You can purchase this as a single carabiner, or as a whole quickdraw.

Where to Buy Amazon Edelrid


Mammut Magic Sling

magic-sling-12-0_red_mainIn a brilliant bit of lateral thinking, the engineers at Mammut took some of the concepts behind what makes a rope so resilient and strong and applied it to one of the important pieces of climbing equipment that we use: the sling. The Mammut Magic Sling 12.0 derives its exceptional strength from a wrapped Dyneema core encased in an abrasion-resistant sheath. This design also gets rid of a load-bearing connecting seam found in other slings. The result is a stronger, harder-to-kill beast, with an incredible breaking strength of 22 kN. I’m always updating my old slingage with freshies. From now on, I’m only going with Magic Slings. The only downside is how stiff the Magic Sling is, making a little cumbersome, but not a dealbreaker. One big plus is that a knot in a Magic Sling only reduces its strength by 20 percent compared to the 40 percent strength reduction other slings experience. This is one of the reasons my friend Steph Davis highly recommends using a knotted 120cm Magic Sling, as opposed to a daisy chain, as a personal tether for clipping into anchors. I wholeheartedly concur.

Where to Buy

Mountain Gear REI Mammut


Black Diamond Ultralight Camalots

Black Diamond took the best set of cams on the market and made them about 25 percent lighter. Not sure what else you need to know.

The only downside is figuring out what to do with your old rack of Camalots once you upgrade to these new ones.

Where to Buy Amazon REI Mountain Gear Black Diamond


Scarpa Chimera

YLEarlier this year, I wrote that the Scarpa Chimera is a contender for the best sport-climbing shoe on the market, and over the last few months of use, that opinion hasn’t changed. The asymmetrical shape fits my medium-width foot, and the slightly stiffer design excels on long pitches with demanding footwork and edging. As long as you don’t mind laces, which aren’t my favorite, the Chimera is a great choice for 5.11 and up sport climbers looking for every edge they can get in their performance.

Where to Buy Amazon Scarpa


La Sportiva Kataki Women’s

EveningSends_KatakiWomens_Review1My fellow gear tester Julie Parker raved about the women’s Kataki from La Sportiva, calling them her top pick for an all-around women’s climbing shoe.

She loved the aggressive asymmetrical shape, the slight down-turned toe for steep routes, and the low-volume toe box that fit her narrow foot well. “I believed I was going to like the Katakis before I even laced them up,” she wrote.

“But what shocked me most was that, after a few months of wear, the Katakis, with their slightly more aggressive shape and lower-volume toe box, edged out the Otakis as my top pick for favorite all-around women’s climbing shoe.”

Where to Buy Amazon La Sportiva


Arêt Basewear’s TOURA Sports Bra

aret-basewear-climbing-braBuilt by women with muscles for women with muscles, the Arêt Basewear’s TOURA Sports Bra is Julie Parker’s top choice for best climbing sports bra this year. Parker said this bra doesn’t give the dreaded “lat fat” that other chaffing sports bras sometimes produce. “It gave me a sensation of being gently supported and held in, but not smashed down,” she wrote.”

“I wear one for some amount of time pretty much every day. Having complete comfort and freedom of movement, plus quick dry times, and a cute design is seriously a game changer.”

Where to Buy

Aret Basewear


Metolius XL Campus Rungs

metolius_pan_gullich_xxlThis is a surprising choice, I’ll admit. After all, shouldn’t the idea behind campusing be to progress down to smaller and smaller rung sizes? I was skeptical about mounting the Metolius XL, 2XL, and 3XL campus rungs on my board, which are all basically giant, incut wooden jugs, which range in depth from 1.375” to 1.75” to 1.875”, respectively. What’s cool about these holds are, first and foremost, they’re made out of wood, which is hands down my preferred material for all training holds. What makes them unique is how big and juggy they are. It begs the question, why would you want to campus on jugs? The answer is, why wouldn’t you?

The simple truth is that it’s probably best to train pure finger strength on a hangboard. A campus board is best for training big-muscle recruitment and power, and you can probably more effectively train that on larger holds. At the very least, it opens up more options. I’ve only had these sizes mounted on my board for past couple of weeks, but I’ve been loving campusing on them. They kind of make you feel like a hero. I like the 2XL size best, though they’re all fun and satisfying to latch onto.

Where to Buy Amazon Metolius


Tension Flashboard

DSC06022Whether you’re traveling, or you just need a good woody to warm up on at the crag before trying your proj, the Tension Flashboard is an excellent addition to this genre of portable hangboards.

Throw it in your duffle bag or climbing pack, and kill all the excuses you have for why your fingers aren’t warmed up or strong enough once and for all.

Where to Buy

Tension Climbing