www.petzl.com, eight ounces
Light is right when it comes to most backcountry gear, and light is even righter if it’s an item you carry as often as you use, like helmets. Petzl’s Meteor has long been a standard for climbers and alpinists seeking an ultralight bucket, and like most collapsible foam and shell climbing helmets (think beefed up bike helmet design) it’s rated as a CE-certified helmet for cycling, inline skating, light kayaking, canyoneering, and adventure racing.
The Meteor III+, a modest upgrade, tipped our digital scale at exactly 8 ounces. That makes it lighter than every climbing helmet aside from the equal-weight, but less comfortable, Camp Speed. Black Diamond’s (cheaper) Tracer and the (pricier, less ventilated) Kong Scarab are a bit heavier. The weight differences aren’t much, but we found them obvious during wear – and glaring in relation to hard shell helmets.
“The Meteor III+ also felt cooler during bike rides and hot weather canyoneering than my other helmets,” our tester reported. “It’s a tad hotter than most bike helmets weighing two to three ounces more, but I really like the best-in-show upward vision, which is critical for route-finding and rock-fall avoidance.” Four outside clips hold headlamps very securely, better than any other climbing helmet we’ve tried.
Size range is another strong point. The Meteor III+ adjusts from 20- to 25-inch head circumferences—a huge range. Our 23-inch melon-headed tester was at the limit of his Kong, but easily had room for sweatbands or balaclavas under the Meteor III+. The only drawback was that the ultralight rachet sizing mechanism made back-and-forth layering adjustments fussy. Forward-backward, and lower-higher chin harness adjustments were easy.
The main downside to using a helmet like the Meteor? It’s fragile, so you need to baby it a bit during knock-around use. This isn’t some hard shell bucket you can sit on around camp. Like all helmets, it should be retired after taking a significant hit. Fittings like the head circumference adjustment could be broken if you get impatient, but spare parts are available.
One of the smaller items found on the floors of the Salt Palace Convention Center earlier this month may make the difference between life and death in your next alpine adventure. Dubbed The RescYou, Mammut‘s new mountain rescue device is one of the simplest ones we’ve seen. Attach the D-ring to your climbing harness (or to an anchor point to rescue your partner), then clip on the two clamps to the main rope and pull the handle. Each yank on the handle engaged a six-fold pulley, moving the device (and whatever it’s attached to) about two feet up the rope. It weighs in at a feathery 14 ounces and can easily be clipped onto your climbing harness or pack. It will retail for $125.
Mammut has also revamped their trail running collection with both new apparel and footwear. The Micro Jacket is an ultralight shell for cool/wet weather conditions that packs down into its chest pocket. Pair that with the new running shorts, which has a pouch at the small of the back that’s perfectly sized for the Micro Jacket. Their new trail runners, meanwhile, will have Dyneema webbing uppers for breathablility, strength, and abrasion resistance.
And in addition to the RescYou, Mammut continues to strive forward in their alpine and climbing lines. The Sensor rope adds a change in the rope’s color and texture at the midpoint and five meters from either end to offer both a visual and tactile indication that you’re reached a critical part in the line. They’ve also got the Realization Shorts, which has a climbing harness that’s integrated into the shorts themselves.
We’ll be testing these out over the coming season.
The all-foam, ultrabright Sirocco helmet is made from expanded polypropylene—the same material used for your car’s bumper—to create the lightest climbing/mountaineering helmet on the market. It weighs in at 5.8 ounces…and it was durable enough to barely display a wrinkle after we stood on it while at the Petzl booth; it boasts the same safety ratings found in helmets that weigh twice as much.
Available Spring 2013
www.mammut.ch; 9.2 ounces
A climbing harness is safety equipment—something you trust with your life, but reliability is where the characteristics of a harness should start. Our testers loved this light, easy-to-use harness, from its always-secure aluminum buckle (you tighten the webbing and it locks on its own) to the comfortable, gently padded hip belt. The light harness is made even lighter, and less sweaty, thanks to a mesh and foam construction with large cutouts to save weight and increase ventilation. Four gear loops hold a dozen quick-draws and slings, but you’ll need a gear sling for long, traditional routes. Although the harness only has minimal padding, it’s enough for you to endure resting on the rope or a hanging belay. You can’t remove the leg loops, or adjust their size, but they are attached to the rear of the harness with ingenious bungy-type cords that can be released when nature calls.
Sizes XS to L, men’s and women’s models
The Anasazi VCS from five Ten is an aggressive climbing shoe. With a relatively stiff sharp-edged sole and Stealth Onyx rubber, it can find traction on the smallest pieces of quartz, and clings to the tiniest of cracks. With a positive hand hold, smearing on the smoothest surfaces is a breeze—and the shoe’s proprietary sticky rubber makes all scrambles as effortless as Spiderman crawling up a sky scraper. The heel sticks out to offer an additional sticky hook for overhangs. They also slit the rubber on the heel to provide more grabbing surface, and built the sole out on the sides of the feet, so you can anchor in and rest the toes. The Velcro closure system allows flexibility; I can wear these shoes with or without socks and still get a very tight fit. Being aggressive, these shoes are probably not the best for all-day climbing; they’re designed to get you where you’re going, not necessarily to be luxuriously comfortable while you do it. On your most technical climbs however, you will be more than satisfied with the performance.