"Life is brought down to the basics: if you are warm, regular, healthy, not thirsty or hungry, then you are not on a mountain... Climbing at altitude is like hitting your head against a brick wall - it's great when you stop."

Chris Darwin

What's new

News

Forums

Magazines

Blogs etc.

Sites

You did have to tamper with it, didn't you

I have said before that if you find something that just works, it would be good idea to buy rest of the stock as you can rely on manufacturers to either discontinue the model or tamper with it so that everything that made it great in the first place is lost.

Two latest examples of this are:

  • OR has ruined the Outdoor Research VertOutdoor ResearchVerthttp://05030077193e809f264e-1522c9aa9166aed90604201d00e4590f.r7.cf2.rackcdn.com/470x500_72524_189.jpgThese close-fitting gloves are the perfect choice for any cold-weather activity that requires sure grip and precise dexterity. Soft shell fabric resists wear, breathes well and lets you move without restriction, and the leather palms provide a natural, conforming feel and excellent grip.. While seemingly the changes to current model appear all good at first, they have also fiddled with the fit making the fingers far longer. This has made the fit worse for me. They are still usable but not very good like the old model. The change also required me to go one size smaller, which eliminated the possibility of using very thin liner inside to boost warmness. So all in all, far inferior product to me.
  • BD joined the wagon by tampering with the Black Diamond ImpulseBlack DiamondImpulsehttp://demandware.edgesuite.net/sits_pod21/dw/image/v2/AAKN_PRD/on/demandware.static/Sites-BlackDiamond-Site/Sites-bdel/default/v1374991456448/products/gloves_gaitors/801452_impulse_blk_up_web.jpg?sw=472The Impulse is Black Diamond's lightweight, breathable, four-season softshell glove. The Impulse's stretchy Polartec Power Shield shell, neoprene knuckle padding and bonded, high-loft fleece lining give you the ideal balance between warmth, protection and dexterity. Imported.. The new model seems to have a different fit as well and it is also stiffer and thicker due to reinforcements. This doesn't feel that bad, but some of the suppleness of the older model is lost and fit is also somewhat worse to my hand.

All changes are not all bad though. New Marmot Spring gloveMarmotSpring glovehttp://cdn.marmot.com/sites/marmot.com/files/imagecache/product/product_images/15390_1087.jpgThe Spring Glove is a reliable, functional, top-value glove that has proven its mettle with guides throughout the mountain ranges of the world. A versatile lightweight glove well suited for Spring Skiing. (model 2012/2013) seems to be an improvement over the previous model. AFAIK the model has been changed yet again, but at least in the pictures it looks exactly the same, colors aside of course. And anyway, this time I was foresighted enough to buy several pairs.

Lo and behold

Lo and behold, there appears to be newish pants made by Haglöfs that seem to have several things done right that most everyone gets very wrong time and again.

Just as a reminder, my ideal climbing pant, both soft and hard shell should have the following features:

  • High waisted cut with suspenders. I do not like bibs as they add unnecessary weight and diminish breathability. They can have elevated back provided it is made out of mesh or some else extremely breathable fabric (good but not mandatory on my book), but should not be very high in the front. I see no gain out of that. On the minus side, they adds bulk and decreases breathability.
  • Cut needs to be trim to reduce unnecessary bulk and prevent them from snagging too readily. Which greatly increases their real-life robustness while actually making the pant lighter, a real winning combo imo. This requires good functional cut which in turn benefits greatly from stretch fabric. Particularly, lower legs may not be too wide to avoid them from snagging to rock, crampons and the like, which greatly increases the risk of ripping. And adds utterly useless bulk and weight with no gain whatsoever.
  • Full length side zippers are completely unnecessary. They have no use, and add bulk, weight and just another thing that can break. Furthermore, they also make the pant less breathable and stiffer. While I can see the logic behind the thinking of putting in full-length zips (I just agree with the line of reasoning), I can't figure out what the heck has been going on through the designers at Rab who put 3/4 length zippers so that it doesn't go through waist and upper thigh. This is a stupid joke in my book that brings all the bad point of full-length zippers with none of the benefits.
  • They should have a two-way zipper from the waist to mid thigh to facilitate ventilation by opening them and to make it easier to answer the call of the nature. This seems to be something no one gets.
  • Decent integrated gaiter complete with tightening and, more importantly, loop so that you hook it under your heel or the boot to prevent it from raising. Hook doesn't work for me, as I use Scarpa Scarpa Phantom GuideScarpaPhantom Guidehttp://www.scarpa.com/images/products/87411-210/detail.jpgRedefining mountain performance, this boot is suitable for challenging the most technical routes in cold climates, whether ice cragging or in the high mountains. Phantom Guides that have no place to fix that hook properly. Inside the boot's integrated gaiter would be a possibility of course, but the loop is far better.

While not ticking all the points above, Häglöfs models don't have full length side zippers which most manufacturers seem to be dead set to have. They also make Haglöfs Couloir pantHaglöfsCouloir pantphoto to Häglöfs Couloir pant of Gore-Tex stretch soft shell fabric complete with membrane and all. This seems like a winning combo to me, a hard shell pant that is as comfortable as a soft shell. I have not even seen the pant, much less tried it, so can't comment on how well it performs in real life. That might change though.

Update 2013-10-22: I went ahead and bought Haglöfs Couloir pants 1,5 years ago. Those are fairly ok, but nowhere near as good as they could have been. First of all, they are far too wide in lower legs. Also, integrated snow gaiters are poorly done. And the fit isn't otherwise very good either, nowhere near as good as on some identically sized Haglöfs softshells. So unfortunately this is yet another good idea spoiled by half-asset execution.

On a more general note, Polartec NeoshellPolartecNeoshellWaterproof fabrics have forced outdoor enthusiasts to live with the restrictions of sweat, saturation, cold and overheating for too long. Introducing Polartec NeoShell. The first truly breathable, fully waterproof, temperature regulating fabric ever. Tested and proven by some of the most committed outdoor enthusiasts on the planet. With unprecedented breathability in a waterproof fabric, it's the ultimate in personal climate control. and hybrids may have stolen the thunder of Gore-tex softshell before many garments made out it ever got to the market. Not quite sure whatever happened to stretch versions of Gore-tex which were far more common several years ago than they are now. Currently Millet uses stretch Gore fabrics, but no one else as far as I know.

DMM ice gear lineup

On the hardware front, DMM seems to be modernizing their axe line up for 2012/2013 season.

DMM The SwitchDMMThe Switchhttp://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2012/01/new-dmm-ice-toolsthis-week.htmlSetting new standards for technical climbing in any terrain – ice, mixed or alpine. A true, leashless all rounder! If swinging around on a marginal pick placement with both hands matched, gunning for the next sketchy hook is your thing, then look no further, likewise, if quick enchainements in the Alps or psychedelically featured Continental ice float your boat then this is the tool for you. The Switch is DMM’s new ‘state of the art’ full strength leashless tool that takes all of our design heritage and manufacturing knowledge and brings them together as a modern classic. looks like a pretty exact replica of Petzl Nomic. Interesting to see can they one up the competition. I reckon at least their grip rest won't be wobbling and shouldn't break off either, as the handle appears to be fixed part of the shaft. This obviously means that it can't be adjusted, but it probably isn't too bad if the size fits you inthe first place. Might be a bad news for anyone with really small or really large hands though. It is also rumored that they are working on bringing new screw to the market.

On paper the new Switch looks a lot like Petzl NomicPetzlNomichttp://www.petzl.com/files/imagecache/product_outdoor_slideshow_image/node_media/nomic-1_1.jpgThe NOMIC allows the entire rock climbing repertoire to be transferred to ice. Thanks to its adjustable ergonomic handle, it offers multiple grip modes and limits the risk of snagging when switching hands. The ICE pick allows easy penetration in any type of ice, and pulls out easily. The modular head has two removable pick weights to balance the axe and propel it into the ice with an exceptional swing. The NOMIC can also be equipped with a hammer when placing pitons.. it would be interesting to try them out to see whether they feel like it as well. That beings said Black Diamond FusionBlack DiamondFusion looks very similar to Nomic on paper as well, yet feels quite different.

Nomic micro hammers

I have been trying to find new Petzl Lightweight hammersPetzlLightweight hammers for Petzl NomicPetzlNomichttp://www.petzl.com/files/imagecache/product_outdoor_slideshow_image/node_media/nomic-1_1.jpgThe NOMIC allows the entire rock climbing repertoire to be transferred to ice. Thanks to its adjustable ergonomic handle, it offers multiple grip modes and limits the risk of snagging when switching hands. The ICE pick allows easy penetration in any type of ice, and pulls out easily. The modular head has two removable pick weights to balance the axe and propel it into the ice with an exceptional swing. The NOMIC can also be equipped with a hammer when placing pitons., which Petzl apparently manufactures now. I reckon the older larger hammer would be better for actually pounding in pins, but their weight has adverse effect on the swing, which I reckon is usually far more important than the effectiveness of hammering in the pitons.

They seem to be very difficult to locate though. Maybe vaporware, all too familiar from the IT industry, has landed in climbing gear industry as well.

Update 2013-10-23: I did manage to find those hammers and have used them the last winter. I can verify that they do not spoil the swing, so all is fine on that front. haven't pounded many pitons with them so jury is still out on that front, but given the shape of the shaft I suspect hammering is about exactly as awkward as it is without it. The difference is that you won't abuse the head of the tools. So, looks to be pretty sweet compromise. The only real downside is that you need to use new style picks which have a cutout for the hammers. This is unfortunate, as I feel the old shape of the picks was better, mainly because it was easier to sharpen (new picks require a mjaor reshaping when your picks shortens.)

History