Chris Van Leuven has been weathering the winter in Yosemite and Colorado with the Patagonia Micro Puff Storm Jacket. He found it to be a bit too warm to wear while climbing, but he enjoyed it for cold belays and camp life. Four stars.
Chris Van Leuven
Chris Van Leuven tested the latest version of the Petzl Nomic ice tools. He reports that the upgraded Nomics have that same familiar look and feel–same swing–as with previous generations, but are now more functional and come with additional features. His main criticism is that the tools come standard with the Pur’Ice pick, which is too narrow for hard mixed/dry tooling, and other picks must be ordered separately. Four stars.
The Cragsmith 45 is Patagonia’s largest backpack, which the company refers to as the “gear dumpster.” Chris Van Leuven has been lugging it around for several months and enjoys the pack’s durability, convenient loading options and how well it encapsulates just about anything he wants, from clothes and a sleeping bag to ice tools, in addition to the standard rock climbing kit. Four stars.
Chris Van Leuven used the Black Diamond ATC Pilot to catch gear-ripping falls and liked its simple design and smooth rope handling so well that it became his go-to belay device for single-pitch cragging. Five stars.
The new GriGri+ is heavier and packed with new features, such as a switch for toprope/lead-belay modes and an anti-panic function. Chris Van Leuven learns why the GriGri+ doesn’t replace the GriGri 2 yet still adds a worthwhile option to the family of Petzl belay devices. Four stars.
Chris Van Leuven wears hoodies often and has tested his share of them. His latest review awards the Ortovox Merino Fleece Light Hoody four stars. Van Leuven reports that the Ortovox is lighter than many other tops, but in terms of loft and warmth it’s similar to heavier ones.
The Five Ten Quantum rock shoes were designed to be an all-around, high performance shoe. Chris Van Leuven tested them on slabs, cracks and steeps, and on a variety of rock types: he scampered up them all, and was so pleased he awarded the redesigned Quantums five stars.
The Black Diamond First Light Hoody does its job but it’s bulky for climbing and some features could be improved. Chris Van Leuven gives it three stars.
The 9.2mm Edelrid Topaz Pro Dry CT is a skinny rope that handles like a mid-weight. Chris Van Leuven has put thin cords to the test before, and he was mostly pleased with this one, awarding it four stars.
The VOORMI River Run Hoodie keeps Chris Van Leuven comfy in all kinds of conditions, from rainy trails and toothy offwidths to social scenes. He awards it five stars.