Vertical versatility: Climbing equipment and trends for 2015

Climbing brands bring more multi-discipline products to the rock. See what's ahead in equipment for 2015 at outdoor retail.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2014 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 6 – 9. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

Though niche products are typically the most exciting, it’s no secret that consumers prefer gear that works well across a range of uses. According to Tony Richardson, designer at Arc’teryx: “We saw that people are much more interested in the all-around models versus the smaller niche ones, so we decided to simplify our harness line, which should also appeal to retailers.” Many of the new climbing products for 2015 are aimed at increased versatility and durability, though there are, of course, specialized tools that will please the discipline-specific crowds.

Arc'teryx revamps its entire harness line, going from nine models to five, in three categories, two of which have men's and women's versions: the superlight SL-340 (MSRP $119), all-around FL-365 (MSRP $145) and ice climbing/mountaineering AR-395a (MSRP $159). They all feature improved strength, durability and comfort, thanks to the Burly Double Weave fabric, and the leg loop shape has been improved for better fit. Black Diamond updates its Momentum (MSRP $55) and Primrose (MSRP $55) harnesses, which feature new foam for increased comfort and durability. The Camp Energy (MSRP $50) is an affordable harness offering lightweight comfort usually reserved for more expensive models. Lastly, Petzl unveils a complete redesign of its Hirundos harness (MSRP $100), which now uses Fuseframe technology that incorporates webbing elements into the foam to eliminate pressure points. The new Aquila (MSRP $125) is similar, but with a beefier design aimed at being a lightweight trad/mountaineering option.

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The biggest news on the carabiner front is the Grivel Omega K6G Twin Gate (MSRP $17), which utilizes a unique two-gate closure system to offer the functionality of a locker, but the ability to manipulate it one-handed. Mammut brings its take on the solution with the Crag HMS Slidelock (MSRP $20). The Metolius Bravo is now available in a keylock version (MSRP $7.95) and a corresponding quickdraw (MSRP $19). The Wild Country Wild Wire quickdraws (MSRP $13) use a color-coded sling and bottom ’biner to differentiate between each length.

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Two new assisted braking devices are coming out. Mad Rock introduces the Lifeguard (MSRP $80), a combination of hot forged aluminum and stainless steel, which works with classic belay technique on ropes from 8.9 to 11mm. The CAMP Matik (MSRP $200) works with ropes from 8.6 to 10.2, and has several unique features for this kind of device. The Anti-Panic system automatically locks down on the rope if the user loses control, and gradual camming action reduces the force of a fall by up to 40 percent.

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Before now, rope companies could claim a rope was “dry” treated without any kind of regulating standard in place. As such, the quality of dry treatments has varied greatly, but with the new UIAA Water Repellent certification, ropes will have to pass a rigorous test that requires they absorb less than 5 percent of their weight in water after being subject to abrasion. In response, Mammut is offering its new 9.8 Eternity Dry (MSRP $230; 60m), which only absorbs 1 percent of its weight during the UIAA test, and is 120 percent more durable than the Classic (MSRP $150) version of the rope. Sterling introduces four new dynamic ropes: the Aero 9.2 (MSRP $199; 60m) and Helix 9.5 (MSRP $213; 60m) are skinny but durable workhorses, while fans of the old Nano and Ion likely will enjoy their new incarnations, the Nano IX 9.0 (MSRP $224; 60m), and the Ion R 9.4 (MSRP $211; 60m) with updated construction and handling characteristics.

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For the growing number of kids hitting the rocks, there are several new products. The Black Diamond Whiz Kid (MSRP $45) gets upgraded with better foam, while Petzl shows a new kids’ harness, the Macchu (MSRP $50). Based on the Endoframe technology found in their adult models, it’s a comfortable option for youngsters who want a harness that will grow with them. Edlerid has a fully adjustable kids helmet, the Kid’s Shield.

Realizing that there is rarely one solution to a problem, several companies are offering packs that appeal to two very different user groups. For the crowd that likes as many bells and whistles as possible, in a fully customizable package, The North Face Shawdow 30+10 (MSRP $220), Vaude Simony and Mammut Trion Pro (MSRP $190) are worth a look. The other side of the spectrum, the ones cutting weight wherever they can, will be interested in the North Face Shadow (MSRP $149), the Vaude Croz and the Mammut Trion Guide (MSRP $170).

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Not happy with the current crag pack offerings, Trango launches what it feels will be the ultimate cragging pack. With a stand-up design, pouches for guidebooks, shoes and more, the Crag Pack (MSRP $99) offers all the features you always wished your pack had, without breaking the bank.

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On the ice axe front, the Petzl Glacier Literide (MSRP $90) is extremely light (320 grams) and simple, likely to appeal to ski mountaineers and summer mountaineering enthusiasts. The redesigned Trango Raptor (MSRP $175) ice tool features an improved grip, and now comes standard with an ice pick, with the mixed one available as an add-on.

A few other items round out this show’s most notable new offerings. Wild Country is introducing its Superlight offset nuts (MSRP $70) that not only incorporate a new, tapered design, but also utilize innovative cut outs to make them extremely light. The new Index Ascender (MSRP $80) from Black Diamond replaces the nForce and is lighter with improved trigger finger operation.

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--BJ Sbarra

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