Mountain Standards Gear Review: Miya Tsudome is a former rock climbing guide who now makes a living as a photographer, and she’s also a van-life veteran who can appreciate camping accessories like the BioLite AlpenGlow Lanterns. She writes: “After I’ve lived with [them] for over six months now, [they have] definitely improved my camping game…. Each lamp features eight light modes: cool white, warm white, single color, multi-color, and candle flicker. There are also some fun options if you shake the lamp in each mode.” Four stars
Gnarly Nutrition BCAAs: A dietary supplement geared especially for vegans, alpinists and older athletes
Mountain Standards Gear Review: Digital Editor Derek Franz has been using the Gnarly Nutrition Pre and BCAA (branched chain amino acid) dietary supplements for the past year. Though unable to definitively say how much of a difference, if any, the supplements have made for his fitness, he writes: “What I do know, is that my fitness has been on an upward roll lately, and Gnarly has been one of many ingredients along the way, so I can’t discount it.” As with most any dietary supplement, Franz notes, there can be serious side effects if they aren’t used properly. Four stars.
Alpinist Digital Editor Derek Franz has been wearing the unusual “armless” Ombraz Sunglasses since last spring. Instead of the typical rigid arms that are on most glasses, they are worn with an integrated lanyard that keeps them around the face or allows them to hang around the neck. The glasses also pack flat, allowing for easy stowing. Franz reports that Ombraz are highly durable with quality Zeiss Optics lenses. They are comfortable to wear with a variety of helmets but are less fashionable than traditional sunglasses. Four stars.
Kate Erwin has been using the Scarpa Ribelle HD boots in the Canadian Rockies. The crossover style is similar to Scarpa’s Ribelle OD but with a leather upper and no ankle gaiter. Erwin’s Ribelle HD boots performed well in the Bugaboos while carrying a heavy pack. She reports that the balance point of the boots took some getting used to compared to other mountain boots she’s used, but ultimately she concluded, “I really like it.” Four stars.
Chris Kalman continues his quest to find the best all-day, all-around climbing shoe. Everyone knows that a certain brand’s TC Pro has set the standard in this category. Can the Acopa JB–named after the climbing legend and late Acopa executive John Bachar–compete? “It’s a toss-up,” Kalman reports. Four stars.
Alaskan alpinist Clint Helander tested the Mystery Ranch Tower 47 backpack for all sorts of activities. The pack is designed as a crag pack for rock climbing—for which it shines—but Helander also used it for ice climbing and skiing. The pack is big and bulky, he reports, but its durability and functionality make it worth the extra grams. Four stars.
Alpinist digital editor Derek Franz has been using the Zenbivy Light bed system for the past year. As a guy who prefers to avoid the constriction of mummy sleeping bags, he sleeps comfortably with the Zenbivy in a variety of environments. His only critique is that the setup can be a little tedious. Four stars.
Alpinist Tad McCrea has been using the latest model of the Petzl Quark ice tools for the past year. As a longtime user of the earlier models, he reports that the tools continue to live up to his expectations. He writes, “If you already have a set of the last Quarks, maybe you don’t need to jump to an upgrade just yet, but if you want a set of axes that handle it all, and are in the market for an alpinist’s dream tool, look no further.” 4.5 stars.
Whitney Clark used the women-specific Lowa Alpine Expert Gore-Tex boots in her snowy stomping grounds of the Sierra Nevada Range. She appreciated their lightness and comfort. The boots weren’t as warm as she would’ve liked, however, and on one occasion the supposedly waterproof boots soaked through while she was postholing and her feet got wet while her partner’s feet stayed dry. Four stars.
Scott Coldiron has a lot of experience when it comes to staying warm on frozen alpine routes. He’s been using the Valandre Troll jacket in Montana’s Cabinet Range and reports, “Simply put, this jacket lofts better under all conditions than other down jackets I’ve used, and the resulting warmth it creates is impressive.” It’s also more expensive, however, and it lacks a couple features he would’ve liked to have. Four stars.