The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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Boulder Based Designs The Mark: Save Your Stuff!
Posted on: October 2, 2008
Everybody knows that marking gear is essential—that is, if you want to return home with more than five carabiners after sharing gear at Indian Creek. I once used an assortment of marking techniques that were sure to get my stuff stolen: electric pen, nail polish, yellow tape and simply trying to remember (a method certain to lose gear). Last year alone, more than ten 'biners managed to "disappear."
It's not just me. My friend, Nathan, was so alarmed at his diminishing rack that he put all his gear in a pile and spray-painted it dark green. This is why Boulder Based Designs's new product, The Mark, is essential. It's a solvent-free, 1:1 epoxy mixture that you can dab onto your cams, 'biners and anything else. It's brightly colored—it comes in yellow, blue, green or red—and it's formulated to handle high-abrasion activities. It works, too. I've dabbed The Mark on four racks' worth of gear, and I no longer worry where I set down my cams. I can spot the bright paint easily, and I know my gear will no longer be confused with everyone else's (I was beginning to think marking with yellow tape was in vogue).
The Mark is so much better than all those tiny, barely visible initials I used to sketch onto my gear. The Mark takes only one application, and it stays on, no matter the beating. It's super durable. In the past four months, I've dragged my marked gear up Teton overhangs, banged it against perfect granite in Wyoming's hidden canyons and lugged it up Indian Creek's desert towers. It even survived big days in Colorado's Black Canyon. The marks are still there, unblemished!
I discovered two downsides, however. First, mixing the chemicals takes a few minutes—I want something quick and easy—and it's hard to perfectly dot each piece of gear. I wound up painting smeared blobs instead. Hopefully nobody else at the crag will mark his or her gear with the same color and technique. Secondly, because The Mark is an epoxy, the leftover goes to waste, and you only get two sets of polymers (one main set that sufficiently "paints" a few racks, and a supplementary set for gear you purchase down the road). But if you buy your gear in stages instead of guilty binges, marking your gear consistently with The Mark will end up costing a pretty penny.
Though The Mark does its job extraordinarily well, these drawbacks make me wonder if there's a better way. I'd rather be able to buy the same stuff in a tube, one that I could just squeeze whenever I needed to mark a new tricam or two. Luckily, Boulder Based Designs agrees with me. They're about to debut a new double-barrier syringe carrying case. They're just waiting for enough retailers to pick it up to make it a profitable business decision. Let's hope it happens soon.
Pros: Brightly colored; tough; induces peace of mind.
Cons: Annoying to mix; allows for only two applications; needs better packaging.