Climbing gear lightens the load on climbers and the environment

A look a climbing ropes, packs, harnesses and other 2014 equipment for the rock and wall.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 – Aug. 3. 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.

Stripped down packs and smaller ropes top the list of product debuts around the climbing wall at Summer Market.

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With extensive athlete feedback, climbing packs are getting lighter and more functional, marking a major step away from overbuilding them with too many features. The Arc’teryx Alpha FL (MSRP $199; 30L) takes the concept to the extreme, offering an alpine climbing workhorse that weighs in at a scant 610 grams for the 35-liter version, thanks to the brand’s Advanced Composite Construction that uses lightweight yet tough fabric, and eliminating a top lid, opting instead for a roll-top closure.

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A couple new cragging options round out the pack category, including The North Face Cinder (MSRP $149), which Peter Croft calls, “The best crag pack TNF has done by a long shot.” Available in 32-, 40- and 55-liter versions, the pack stands on its own, allowing for easy access through the top.

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Lastly, the Metolius Freerider (MSRP $129) blurs the line between pack and haul bag, offering 41 liters of durable carrying capacity.

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Several companies are locked in a race to see who can come out with the smallest diameter rope, looking to redefine what’s possible. In 2014, the Edelrid Corbie (MSRP $259.95; 60m) will have the distinction of being the new smallest single rope in the world, at 8.6mm and 51 grams/meter, while also being a certified double and twin rope as well. Thinking outside the box, the Millet Opposite TRX (MSRP $299) is an 80m cord where 30m of the rope are 10mm in diameter, and the other 50m of rope are 9mm, with the idea being you use the thicker end for projecting and anything that will be harder on your rope, and then flip ends to go for the send, eliminating the need for two different ropes. In addition, Petzl is unveiling a completely revamped rope line, with eight models, from 10.3 to 7.7. The Arial 9.5 (MSRP $230-$290, photo above) is a nice mid-sized rope, available in 60, 70 or 80m lengths. And the MammutInfinity Classic (MSRP $150; 60m) is an affordable, lightweight rope for those looking to get their first sub 9.8 cord.

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With all these fancy ropes, you’ll need something to cart them around in, and there are several innovative offerings for 2014. The Petzl Kab (MSRP $50) rolls up into a messenger style bag that’s easy to cart around, and has some style, too. The TrangoCord Trapper (MSRP $16) is a simple rope tarp that folds up and cinches shut so you can stash it in the bottom of your pack. And for those who prefer a more traditional design, the Antidote (MSRP $34, photo above) offers all the features you could want, including an oversized tarp, removable straps and window into the bag so you easily can see which rope is inside.

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The Metolius Vortex (MSRP $49) is the brand’s take on the modern rope bag, where you can grab the four corners and the rope falls into the center of the bag, with a single strap that makes carrying it in between pitches a breeze.

Some companies are looking at how they can help preserve the rock for future generations, with a focus on innovative protection that can fit in places previously considered too flaring, too small or too big. Bill Belcourt, climbing category director at Black Diamond, said, “Our goal is to provide solutions for modern climbers where we can create something that will fit in that spot where nothing would work before, and now you don’t need to place a bolt.” The Black Diamond Offset X4 Camalots (MSRP $70) take on flaring and grooved out placements with ease. Built on the design of the X4’s, there are five cams covering the full range, offering up the first offset cam to utilize a double axle design. The cam lobes also are anodized, making it easy to identify visually which side of the cam you are placing in the crack.

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A host of other new products are worth mentioning. One of the world’s most popular helmets, the Petzl Meteor (MSRP $100, photo above), gets a stylish upgrade, along with improved venting, a magnetic chinstrap, and it’s lost some weight, now coming in at 220 grams (size 1). The Arc’teryx Aperture chalkbag (MSRP $29) utilizes a unique twisting closure system that seals the bag and prevents chalk from spilling out into your pack, no matter how much gear you pile on top of it.

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Fans of the comfortable Edelrid Orion harness now have the option to get the same harness without adjustable leg loops, the Cyrus (MSRP $115, first photo above), or a lighter version that uses the same construction, the Atmosphere ($100, second photo above). Several other new harnesses hit the market, including the BealInstinct (MSRP N/A), which utilizes the company’s Web-Core technology to distribute pressure evenly across the hips and thighs.

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The Wild Country Pro Guide Lite (MSRP $30) looks to improve upon existing autoblocking belay device design with an enlarged loop that more easily accepts a carabiner to aid in releasing the device once it’s been loaded. Black Diamond is taking its Magnetron technology and adding it to its most popular locking carabiner, the Vaporlock (MSRP $28, photo above). There are several new quickdraws on the market, including the lightweight Mad Rock Concorde, the Mammut Crag and the Petzl Djinn Axess (MSRPs $17). And for fans of the Petzl Spirit, they now come in a screwlock version (MSRP $16) that weighs 45 grams, making for an excellent, lightweight locker for longer climbs.

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