ARCTERYX CERIUM LT HOODY
For a long time Arcteryx did not enter the down insulation game and stuck to making rad synthetic pieces with materials like Core-Loft and Thermatek. Honestly I didn't miss down. I was so happy with how warm, durable and long lasting my Atom and Fission pieces were that I didn't really feel like I needed down. Well of course with their launch of the down line several years ago I had to try it out. The line has expanded now to include a wide range of jackets, hoodies, and vests of a varying degree of fill and heft. I've been glued to my down pieces since the release. Especially this one: The Cerium LT Hoody.
I've used and abused this jacket - actually many of them - not because they wear out, but because I'm so stoked on it that I got several colors. It's a work horse, super light weight down piece that weighs and packs to nothing but remains warm and reliable season after season.
The Main body of the jacket is 850 fill goose down but the cuffs, shoulders and the part right in front of your face (proper name for this area?) are all Core-loft - optimizing synthetic insulation in the areas with the most wear and also the most exposure to water. That is, after all, the biggest bummer with down. It gets wet and it is essentially useless. But for climbing I am mostly in dry climates and despite this being the 'go-to' fear over buying down, I have yet to have an issue. It is treated with DWR which will protect it from a light rain on the hike out.
The baffling is well done, and this thing is shockingly warm for only weighing in at 275 grams. I've washed mine several times and they puff right back up. It has two simple zipper pockets and comes with a stuff sack. The hood has one simple adjustment on the back that is perfect for latching it down to your noggin.
For an insulating piece I have used the Cerium LT more than anything else since I first got my hands on one. It stuffs in your bag easily, puts up with a beating and keeps me warm on pretty brutal days at the crag. However, if you're less concerned with weight and packability and climbing in an often wet environ I would recommend a synthetic piece instead, like the Nuclei FL or the Atom AR. The Cerium comes in 8 awesome colors and there is also a women's version - which my girlfriend has and loves.
METOLIUS SESSION PAD
Simple, lightweight, rugged. The session pad got a face lift recently but kept its staggeringly low price tag. I really like this little pad. Perfect for your solo circuit after work or for that long alpine approach - as an entry level pad this one is without a doubt the best I've seen.
Four inches of foam with a three foot by four foot landing space. It's got a suit case style handle on the fold side and a perfectly sized key / snack / cell phone / guidebook / tape / shades / you-name-it Velcro pocket on the closure flap on the other side.
This is what I really love about the pad. A super simple closure system that guarantees you will not loose your gear shoved in the folded pad. Easy to pack up quickly and secure. The support system is simple but also has a nice waist belt and adjustable padded shoulder straps.
Bright orange (or grey is an option too) landing zone helps me find the safe spot before I jettison off the project back towards earth! And the Metolius stomp pad in the middle is great for cleaning off shoes before your burn. Burly 900d poly outside will keep this little guy running for many many seasons.
It's simple, it's lightweight and easy to pack and it's good looking. The perfect amount of features without any unnecessary bells and whistles. All this with a $149 price tag...
To learn more and find a retailer check out The Metolius Site!
MAXIM AIRLINER 9.1 BI-PATTERN
This is really a pretty simple review but I think it's still well worth posting. I've been exclusively using the Maxim Airliner 9.1mm rope since before it was even called an 'Airliner'. I've used this rope on long wall routes, while working projects, for hair-ball single pitch trad climbs and even for bolting (not recommended - but it gives you an idea of how burly this thing is). It truly stands up to the abuse that most other brands 9.8's can't handle. I would have been hard pressed to tell you how I might improve this cord but Maxim found a way with their Bi-Pattern Airliner....
As you might have imagined... the pattern in this rope changes at the middle mark, making it super super easy to locate the middle spot for rappel, judge the distance of routes and also simply to organize the cord - finding the top or bottom sides on a belay ledge or in your rope bag is a breeze.
As the middle passes through your hands you can actually feel the change as well, so even if you're not paying attention to the cord you will likely have a sense for when your partner is all of the way out there. The new colors are rad too... pretty simple really... just a kick ass rope made better! This will be my go-to for the next several seasons until they find a way to improve it again!
LA SPORTIVA GENIUS
By now many of you have probably seen a photo floating around on the web of the brand new La Sportiva Genius. Maybe you've been one of the lucky few to see one in person, as there are only a handful of pairs in the USA as of now. However, this will soon change... The Genius is set to launch before summer, so if you're one of the many who have fallen in love with the No-Edge technology and you're patiently awaiting a lace-up, your wait is almost over!
If you've ever noticed, La Sportiva doesn't really mess around when it comes to climbing shoes. They are so confident in their designs (righteously) that many of their shoes remain essentially untouched and yet still wildly successful for decades (enter the Muira Lace and the Mythos, not to mention the Testarossa). While many other brands may pump out new kicks to have something to show off at the next OR, Sportiva puts years of focus into every shoe they release, often creating a masterpiece that sells and stays relevant for a long time. Needless to say, this same level of attention was paid to the new Genius.
The Genius borrows a very similar toe box and the No-Edge technology from it's siblings, the Futura and the Speedster, but it boasts a lace-up upper and a few different features along with the super fast coloring.
The best way for me to describe the No-Edge is that it's like a nicely broken in pair of shoes. Instead of coming equipped with a laser edge, these edge right out of the box essentially like a pair of Testarossas with some mileage on them - not in the sense that they will wear out quickly, but in the sense that the toe is sensitive and rounded from the get-go. It definitely took me some getting used to, and much like the Solution, I felt like the Genius needed a little extra break in time compared to my Testa's or my Cobra's. I've been told by several other Sportiva pros that the No-Edge is incredible on Southern sandstone boulders, and for me, these have been an outstanding gym and training shoes on plastic. Outside I've climbed on granite, Red Rock sandstone and limestone, and they have performed very well. You do get the sense that you have more rubber on the rock, so smearing is especially nice.
|Genius vs Brand new Testa Edge|
The lace up system is great, and one of my favorite features of this shoe is that despite the laces they did not sacrifice the rubber on the toe similar to the Futura or Solution. My main complaint about the Testa's is that they are sub-pair for toe hooking - as is any lace up - accept the Genius. They sport the same P3 Platform as the other downturned kicks and so you can expect a powerful pulling shoe for it's entire life.
Overall I was impressed, as I expected to be. For me personally, the No-Edge is not my favorite, yet. I still prefer a fresh pair of Testarossa's on edging terrain (mostly what I climb on) but for steep bouldering or smearing these seem to be the ticket. I love the colors, I love the rubber on the toe and the heal system. If you are a fan of the Futura but you want a more supportive shoe, this is perfection for you. Buy them.
More on them here: La Sportiva Genius
Having good insulation is hugely important, and now-a-days the options are many. It's fall people, almost winter for that matter. Be warm at the crag. For the most part, I've been really thrilled and impressed with Arcteryx' new line of down insulation, but one new synthetic piece has been getting tons of use from me. The Nuclei. A crowning piece in the Arc Ascent line, I've been using the hell out of this tough insulator out here in wet and rainy New England. It's a very simple piece, but it remains very packable, light and warm. The Atom LT was for many years living in my bag as my go to crag attire for cooler days, but the Nuclei has taken it's place.
Like I mentioned - this is a very simple piece. Two zipper pockets, a small inner pocket (useful for holding it's stuff sack) and a smaller hood with no adjustment. The upside is that keeping it simple makes it super light at just 285 grams, and warm; packing 80g/m Coreloft. It's warmer than my Atom LT and cuts the wind as well or better than my Windstopper pieces.
It packs down very well. Definitely one of the top performing warmth vs bulk pieces I've ever used. It's easy to toss in your pack just to have something extra, and especially if it's on over a fleece it has kept me warm in wind and temps down near 40 F no problem.
Same attention to detail as you can always expect from Arc. And the face fabric is surprisingly durable. I've mostly been using it at the crag, and it's putting up with standard hard use - romping through trees, scuffing sharp rock and of course as an impromptu dog bed. It's really built for the alpine, but it's happy to get it's ass kicked at the crag or trailhead alike.
Every time I have grabbed a beer or was catching up with fellow Arcteryx athletes over the last year or so, and we got to talking about gear - this pack would unquestionably come up. I had not really thought to check it out because I guess I just assumed that it was mostly an alpinist or ice climbing bag. But recently I've been putting miles on both the 45 liter and my worn in 30 liter version of this pack and loving it. This is really a unique pack. It is absolutely bare minimum - but what is there, is done damn well.
The Pack is mostly constructed of Arcteryx AC2 fabric which is incredibly burly, water proof and still quite light - this thing is only 23 oz empty. Anyone who used the famed Naos or the more recent Arrakis knows how rad this fabric is - this version is similar but actually lighter. Think of it as haul bag material durable but much more malleable and lighter.
The pack is marked as a 45 liter pack but it's important to know that number is really its maximum capacity. I think it's more comparable to a 35-38 liter bag when packed with a reasonable amount of stuff. As you can see above however, the roll top design allows for you to really load up if needed and also provides some pretty bomber weather proofing.
The pack features just one simple zipper pocket on the front, which is extremely weather proof as well. This is an average amount of stuff for me to carry along for a mountain day - which filled the pocket nicely. Personally I would love a little more room, but aside from a sunglasses case I've yet to run out of space for a day trip.
Here you can see the size difference between the 45 (red) and the 30 (black). The size and the side attachment points are the only differences between the two packs.
The suspension system is super bare minimum. Which I was afraid of at first but this sucker carries surprisingly well. I loaded mine down and missioned up a 3 hour approach last week and I never felt discomfort in my shoulders. That being said, this is not the ideal pack for bolting missions or carrying an 80meter rope, a double rack and water.
Conclusion? This is a specialist pack - FL does stand for 'fast and light' after all. What it is intended to do, it does better than any product out there, no doubt. I am such a huge fan of the AC2 fabric that really anything Arc makes with it, I will naturally love, and this bare minimum alpine pack is no exception. I've already put many miles and a sizable beating on my 30 liter model and it shows no signs of giving up. I think that many people looking for a very simple bag for sport cragging or otherwise will also be keen on this thing.
Check out Arcteryx.com for more info.
So there are all sorts of random recovery and therapy devices out there. The Thera-cane, the foam roller, the stick (roller) and so on. I've used another forearm pain reliever device called ForearmRX which I like but it's both super expensive and also non mobile - needs to be attached to something to work. Enter the ArmAid. It's well built, burly, light and you can take it with you - and comparably inexpensive. I just got mine a week ago but I've been using it nightly since.
It's really straight forward - you put your forearm (or any other body part that's sore or worked and will fit) in the device and using a variety of methods (well explained on their website) you crank the rig with the other arm and work out muscles, increase circulation and simply offer yourself a pretty damn satisfying massage. I've been training at new-for-me levels and really destroying my forearms in the process so I've been using it mostly to aid recovery and loosen up my arms at night.
You can buy the device alone, or for $30 more get 3 additional attachments that are easy to swap out. I would highly recommend paying the extra $$ and getting the extras. They all have varying densities and intensities for different types of issues. The only one I haven't fallen in love with is the grey 3-ball chain you see above. It seem to really rip my arm hair out. The others are amazing though - especially this orange, very dense ball for really digging in.
This thing is built very well. I've been really cranking on it and it's not flexing or giving me any indication that it could break. The moulded plastic is also super light, and lastly as you can see here there are different settings for different forearm sizes. There is a strap on the bottom - adjustable - that secures it to your leg for use.
It's a pretty amazing device and I could imagine that if you suffered from pain relating to climbing that this could be a rad way to give yourself relief. Again, for me it's mostly to keep fluids moving and help me recover which I believe it has. I will admit though that like any deep massage you gotta be careful - if you dig too deep you will definitely feel it the next day.
It is super light but I'm still not totally sure if I would toss it in my crag bag and bring it to the cliff - although I know some do. All-in-all I think it's a worthy investment and a tool that I imagine will really last.
ARC'TERYX KONSEAL HOODY
For me, generally, I have a few layering pieces at any given time that I just, more or less, keep in my pack. They are usually climbing specific pieces and I designate them for craggin - so they end up getting abused and worn and depended on and all that. For me, that combo has typically been a fleece or light athletic layer that I can climb and move in, and then an insulating parka that I put on when I'm in-between burns or on belay duty and finally a Gore rain parka that I put on over both or for a wet hike out. I've experimented with and refined my set up over the years (for a while the Delta LT zip / Atom LT / Beta LT was my go-to) but the refinement process, at least for a winter fleece, is well over now. The Konseal hoody has totally blown my mind.
This is a killer layering piece - made with bomber fabric, the cut is great and allows for great freedom of movement, laminated zipper pocket on the chest, 3/4 zip up front, and a really cool built in hood and face mask for serious added warmth.
As you can see, mine is kinda beat up. I've been using it non-stop this winter. I climb in this thing, approach in it and totally love it. I've bolted routes in it, used it on all day wall missions and bushwhacking too. It's held up very well.
The sleeves have thumb holes that can be used for pulling your arms through an additional layering piece or for some added warmth to the hands.
The crowning feature in my mind is the hood. I thought that a hood on a mid-layer piece might get annoying when under an insulating jacket or when climbing, but I hardly notice it. I do notice it when I've left my beanie on the ground and I'm looking for some added warmth or when I just want to button up on a chilly decent. I find that with the hood zippered right into the tight fitting layer it keeps my neck and shoulders extra warm. Plus, in the back of the hood you can see a strip of fabric that can be pulled over your head and used as a neck gator or balaclava - super warm and protective - all built in and not bulky when not in use.
I'm a HUGE fan of this piece. It's one of my all time favorite climbing layers and every extra day that I take it out and beat it up I'm just that much more impressed with it. My only comment would be that for me personally I do not use the thumb holes and thus the sleeves tend to be a touch long especially for climbing - but it's never kept me from loving this thing. I actually just recently ordered a second one, just 'cause. Check this thing out, you'll love it.
METOLIUS BRAVO QUICKDRAW
Sport climbing, and sport climbing development is my main focus. So naturally quickdraws are important to me, and there's rarely a day that I go out without a handful of them in my bag. The Infernos were always my top choice until Metolius released a new middle sized biner and thus a new quickdraw - The Bravo. The new Bravo biner and a slight reduction in the width of the dogbone (13mm to 11mm) make the new setup over 10% lighter (@30grams / draw), still wicked strong (24kN major axis, 10kN open) and, in my opinion just as easy to clip and handle as a full size biner. I'm a huge fan.
The weight seems nominal but it really adds up when you're clipping 12 or 18 on your waist. Most people I climb with remark on how super light these bad boys feel - and for that reason I'm also super stoked to bring them up walls and on longer missions where weight can be a huge issue.
|The 5inch dogbone vs the 7 inch|
For my hand size, these function every bit as well as a full size biner and to be honest I rarely even remember them being smaller - except when I'm racking up and have the extra space. The 5 inch dog bones are my go to, but I also love the longer lengths for projects where you need an extended draw, wandering trad routes or a zone where you simply want to reduce drag. I use the 12, 16 and 20 inch versions all the time (the bravo comes in these lengths now as well!). The 16 inch (green sling) is slightly longer than double draw length and perfect for projects.
The JIG comes standard and holds the rope side biner snug in place on the dogbone. Plus the blue and black biners make it super easy to make sure you've got the correct side clipped to the bolt hanger and rope. Plus, they look bad ass.
|Bravo vs Inferno|
The Bravo QD is significantly lighter, just as strong and handles the way you would expect a full size biner to. I really like these draws - and they're at home just as well on a sport cragging project or well above the deck on your next alpine adventure. I could imagine a very big handed person might prefer the Inferno but I think for most all cases this should be your next draw.
Learn more at Metolius.com!!!
METOLIUS DIRT BAG II ROPE BAG
Rope bag. A bag for your rope. Seems simple enough, right? Well... wrong. Not all rope bags are created equal. In-fact many are a downright disgrace to your lovely rope. It's worth it to shop around and buy the right bag. I've used a bunch of models over the years and Metolius has made a consistently excellent product - the Ropemaster is widely considered the go-to rope bag, and now they have recently re-done the Dirt Bag. I really like this bag. A little lighter, simpler and less material than the Ropemaster, but the tarp is the same big size at 52 x 58 inches.
|Perfectly large tarp with new Metolius logo on the corner. You can see that the bag side corners of the tarp are folded and sewn into the bag for easier packing.|
|Two tie in points, one red and black - color coded so you know which side is on top and guaranteed not to turn your rope into knots.|
|Super easy to pack my Maxim 80m 9.1 in there. Plenty of extra room, and then just one easy zipper to close things up. Nice and simple.|
|There's a button to secure the zipper and a drawstring to cinch down the top collar. This is not a compression bag - but I prefer the simple wrap up to save a little extra space.|
So all in all... it's a simple bag. Which in my mind is king. The tarp is big, the close up is quick and simple, the materials are mega burly and the bag does your rope justice. It also comes equipped with a padded shoulder strap, but I ditched mine - again - all I want is a durable container and a big tarp for my rope to stay clean! At $30 this is the bag to buy in my opinion. Only improvements -- brighter colors...
ARCTERYX PHASE AR HOODIE
A good base layer is hard to find. Arcteryx has been improving upon theirs for years - the most recent edition is the Phase line. This new technology moves moisture extremely fast, dries quickly and performs great. I've been using a variety of the Phase line for a while now, but the new AR Hoodie caught my eye at Summer OR last year. I ordered one, and have been using the hell out of it this winter.
Arcteryx suggests using the AR as a mid-layer piece but I've been using it as a stand alone running piece for cold weather. I have been super impressed with it's warmth and breathability. It may sound crazy, but I've been using this as a stand alone top for runs in the upper 20's˚F and low 30's no problem. I do tend to run hot though.
The hood is the perfect size. Usually I'm sporting a light neck gator and a light hat - stuffing it all under the light-weight hood when temps get low. The hood is a really nice feature, and not too heavy or bulky so when you're not using it you forget about it - it's not flapping around on your shoulders annoyingly.
Branding is ultra subtle - very Arc' style. You'll have to look to find the logo, but once you use the piece you'll never forgot who made it.
The underarms feature an even lighter, faster wicking material (lighter weight Phase) for dispersing odors. I use mine 5-6 times, for an hour or so run each time, before washing it - don't judge me - and it only starts to stink towards the end of the cycle.
Overall, it's a rad piece. I really like the hood - it keeps your neck, head and shoulders so much warmer during activity. During strenuous aerobic stuff, this will keep you warm in pretty damn freezing temps. The only improvement I would make is let's see some brighter colors!
Check out the Phase AR Hoodie along with the rest of the base layer line at arcteryx.com
METOLIUS QUARTER DOME HAUL BAG
A haul bag would seem simple enough - how hard can it be to perfect such a simple product? Well, clearly it's not easy, because there are many on the market that can take a beating like they should. The Quarter Dome is Metolius' mid-sized bag from their line of haul bags, equipped with the same bomber material that you'd find on the legendary El Cap Haul Bag, just in a smaller size that's more versatile. I used the hell out of this bag on the Captain this season, but it's the perfect size for much smaller wall quests and even to use as a ultra burly crag pack.
|The Quarter Dome bag is around 65 liters|
|A sound support system that can be folded away quickly for hauling|
|6 independent loops strength rated to almost 1.5kn on the base|
A few of the little features that I really liked are the offset haul straps - one is slightly longer so that you can clip a locker to one haul strap, and then a standard biner to the other- keeping the bag secure while hauling, but making access quick, easy and safe. It also has a spacious zipper pocket built into the lid for food, sunscreen, phone, keys and all that. The support system is actually worthy of carrying a heavy load too, which is really nice. The backpack straps fold into the body of the pack, protected, and the hip belt comes off easily.
Compared to many other haul bags out there, a few of which I've used on the wall, I think this one stands out as best option. This size specifically is great for a cold / long day of effort, or a sub bag on a multi-day mission. Aside from Valley days and days on the Diamond, I'll likely be using mine for bolting efforts and new crag exploration - carrying heavy loads, hauling and stashing. After many days of torturing this thing the only real sign of wear came in the form of a faulty zipper - which I've been assured is a very rare occurrence, and of course Metolius has a bitchin warranty so it's no worries.
Check out more on this, and the 3 other mega burly haul bag models at Metolius.com
SPORTIVA VERTICAL K
Perhaps in part due to their demanding and seriously kick ass mountain running team, La Sportiva has really been upping their game in the running and approach shoe category over the last few years. Almost every non-alpine or rock shoe has had a remodel, and a few brand new kicks have been released too. I may not clock as many miles as the Sportiva running beasts, but I do fancy myself a mountain runner, and I like to get out a handful of times a week with Zeke dog when I can. I have been running with the Quantums for a while- a really nice, supple and supportive, very comfortable running shoe. Recently, I got my hands on a pair of the new Vertical Ks and after a test drive I was stoked.
|Light, flexible, sensitive.|
SPORTIVA BOULDER X MID
I tried out the LaSportiva Boulder X a couple years back and was really impressed with its rubber and burliness, but for me it lacked one thing-- ankle support. LaSportiva answered my call with the Boulder X Mid. This mid height approach shoe can kick steps, climb 5.9 and support a heavy load. It's become my go-to bushwhacking or bolting mission shoe- it's got great ankle support, and the leather upper protects from whatever gnarly plant life and talus you trudge through. It even sports a Gore-Tex liner, making it a bitchin' shoe for varied weather and stream stomping.
|As burly as they look and feel, they are surprisingly light at 500 grams. Unlike many comparable shoes, you forget you have such a bad ass mid height on- it feels only slightly heavier than your typical approach shoe.|
|As I mentioned with the Boulder X, the Mid has got an incredibly sticky rubber sole. These things walk slabs and scale boulder fields like a champ.|
|Gore-Tex lining comes right up to the top, and remains breathable so your feets aren't cooking on a long march.|
ARC'TERYX KAPPA HOODY
I've wanted to get my hands on a Kappa for a while, and as soon as I saw the redesigned version for 2012, I went for it. For a few years now, I've been using the Arc'Teryx Fission AR as my primary belay parka and loving it-- but it lacks a few of the features I really wanted for a belay specific insulated jacket. This is where the Kappa comes in. The Kappa features a beefy, two way zipper and a button closure at the waist-- perfect for retaining full coverage and still being able to access your belay loop. It also has a fully insulated and super adjustable hood to go over a helmet or a mid layer hood. The sizing on the Kappa runs a big... I can easily fit the size small Kappa over a base layer and a lofty mid-layer (even another insulating layer like an Atom). I see this parka as the perfect toss on and off belay jacket fortress, that will fit over your other layers, provide heavy wind protection light rain protection on cold days at the crag.
The Kappa is built with a durable Windstopper outer layer and thick Core Loft insulation - the same insulation used on the Atom series, but with a heavier fill.
Here you see the two-way zipper and the button closure at the waist - crucial for any kick ass belay parka.
I also really like the over sized interior mesh pockets-- great for warming up your climbing shoes or stashing gloves, hats, or food.
This parka will put up with a beating. It's really well designed as a belay / climbing piece and so far after vigorous daily use I have no complaints... but I should warn you - I'm a bright color fanatic (the brighter the better) but I will admit that my Blaze colored Kappa immediately showed filth, especially around the waist from belaying with a dirty rope (of course it can be washed). Next go around I would order it in a darker color for sure though.
Check out the newly redesigned Kappa, and the rest of the insulated line at Arc'Teryx.com
The long awaited return of Maxim's skinny rope! There's a good reason why this incredible cord has been praised by Maxim Pro's for years- it offers the type of extreme durability that you would expect from a larger Maxim rope, but with superior packability and much lower weight. I've been using one now for almost a year and it's still kicking ass! Many people have shied away from skinny ropes in the past for fear of reduced safety and durability, but with modern belay devices (especially the Gri Gri 2) and Maxim's rope manufacturing technology, there is certainly nothing to fear. I've used a wide array of skinnys over the last five years and I can say that unquestionably the Airliner is my top choice, in-fact, I'd go so far as to say that this is my single favorite rope I've ever used.
|Brand New Airliner on the left, well loved Airliner on the right...|
|At the clipping zone... essentially zero softening.|
You'll no doubt notice the low weight of the Airliner (at 53 grams/meter) right away, but once you see how well it packs down you'll be even more psyched. The difference between a 9.8 and a 9.1 in the bottom of my pack is significant-- I always have quite a bit more room when I pack the Airliner.
Pinnacle 9.5 or Glider 9.9, and while these larger ropes do show higher fall ratings (UIAA 7 and 7) the Airliner (at 6 falls) seems every bit as burly after over 100 days out redpointing, working routes, onsighting and even top-roping. That being said, do keep in mind that I am a small person, and typically so are my climbing partners.
Check out the Maxim Website for more info on their awesome line of ropes, including the brand new Airliner!
ARC'TERYX BETA FL JACKET
For 2012, Arc'teryx introduces a new modifier to their line-- the FL series. The FL series is the ultimate combination of weather resistance and breathability, using GORE-TEX' new Active Shell textile. Arc'teryx has a wide range of different cuts to their shells (including the Alpha, Beta, Theta and others), and over the years I've been the most satisfied with the Beta cut-- it's the shortest length of the cuts, and the most suitable for both my body size and also my activities. The Beta will fit beneath a harness, and below your pack, but also will not restrict any hip movement. I compared the fit of the Beta FL to my Beta SL and found them to be very similar, although I do prefer the more protective chin line on the FL.
I've used a wide range of GORE pieces, and I'll admit that the Beta FL is hands down the most breathable. I was very impressed with how well I was able to regulate temperature with just a fleece midlayer and the Beta. In-fact this coat breathes so well that Arc'teryx did not include pit zips (also saves on weight), and to my surprise over the course of the day I never reached for them.
The construction is suburb throughout, as to be expected. Tiny seam tape seals the interior, and the lines and stitching on the outside are beautiful. Arc'teryx added a reflective strip to each forearm, and also two on the back-- a great feature for seeing a partner ahead in the dark, or riding home in a rain storm.
The fabric around the high-wear points is reinforced for durability. The shoulders, cuffs (up to the articulated elbow), and the waist are all beefy. It has two large pockets on front, and an adjustable Storm Hood, that fits over a helmet.
Stuffed into the included stow sack, my size small weighed in at exactly 320 grams.
Alpha SV... you can certainly expect Arc'teryx quality and durability, but the Active Shell will not put up with the relentless abuse that the Pro Shell will. I'll let you know how mine wears over the next few months.
Check out a bunch more photos, a short video and all the tech specs here on the Arcteryx site!
METOLIUS RECON CRASH PAD
With my first bouldering trip in almost five years on the horizon, it was time to make an upgrade to my crash pad situation. I'd been using the Metolius Bailout pad, or previous generations of it, for years. I really liked the simplicity of that pad, and it's super light weight design, but I was also psyched to get one with a little more coverage and some new features.... enter the Recon!
The Metolius Recon Crash Pad was a perfect upgrade. It's a triple fold pad with a very narrow profile-- perfect for squeezing between trees or boulders. It features handles on both sides, and the entire pad closes up with just one unbreakable aluminum buckle.
It has a large velcro pocket built into the fabric that folds over the top of the pad. It easily fits shoes, a chalk bag and a water bottle. I also loaded mine down with a jacket and a few other soft goods just underneath the flap without problems.
It has a second, small velcro pocket on the front of the flap as well- great for tape, a bar, keys, etc.
The middle of the pad features a rad little felt diamond for brushing off shoes.
One of the coolest features.... The angle cut hinges can be secured (or not, for uneven landings). They have velcro both inside of the hinges, and a velcro flap that either prevents the hinge from being secured, or adds bomber reliability by closing up the surface of the pad-- and totally making it unfoldable (see photo below).
I'm super psyched about this pad-- it's a great size both folded and opened up, the materials are super burly, and it has reliable options for carrying your goods. It's also not too heavy and the support system is comfy enough to imagine trekking it in a long ways. Well done Metolius.
Go to the Metolius site to check out specifics and order one for yourself!