How to: Surviving “Bug Season”

After a long snowy winter many climbers and hikers are chomping at the chance to get on some dry Spring rock and trail. Unfortunately right around this time many insects are chomping at the chance to chomp on us! Namely:

Black-flies

Gnats

Mosquitoes

Ticks

Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody Review
Black flies try to fly away with my climbing partner Tom on White Ledge in Albany, NH. How many black flies can you count?

In this post I’d like to share some of my favorite strategies to keep the dreaded “bug season” from keeping you from enjoying what it is you do in the mountains! To combat these four little buggers we will use a four-pronged approach! First…


Clothing

Step 1: The first line of defense should be clothing. Everyone knows long-sleeves and pants are preferable for bug protection but they seem so hot when the temperature and humidity is high right? Well some long-sleeve options actually feel cooler than going shirtless! Here’s my current favorite tops when dealing with an onslaught of bloodthirsty insects and warm temps!

Patagonia Sunshade Technical Hoody
The Patagonia Sunshade Technical Hoody

Patagonia Sunshade Technical Hoody (Women’s Here)

I have a detailed review of this staple of my outdoor clothing kit here, but the gist of it is every New England climber (and possibly every climber/traveler everywhere) should own this piece. Solid UPF protection and bug protection in a super comfy hoodie. Win win win.


Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody Review

Black Diamond Alpine Start Hooded Jacket (Women’s Here)

This ultralight ultra-breathable hooded “wind-shirt” is an excellent physical barrier for Cannon Cliff’s renowned alpine tough black-flies. You can see my detailed review of this piece here.

As for pant protection there are a ton of solid choices out there so a lot of it comes down to personal preference/style. I’m a fan of the Black Diamond Modernist Rock Pants but there are so many good options out there as long as you treat them with Step 2:


Permethrin

rock climbing bug protection

Step 2: I’ve used this stuff on my clothes from Peru to Okinawa to my home-state of New Hampshire with a season blatantly called “bug season” and I’m 100% convinced it is the most effective and safe option for true bug protection. You can Goggle all the research in the world on this product but I’ll just leave the highlights here:

  1. It is for clothing/gear/shoes… not skin.
  2. It dries in a few hours after treating and is then 100% safe to humans, no “leaching” into your sweaty skin
  3. It lasts for weeks even with washing (I only treat my “bug season” outfit once a year each Spring)
  4. While safe for almost all mammals it is not safe with cats for some reason. Do not spray your cat with this.

Pro-tip: treat your approach/hiking shoes and you will likely never find a tick crawling up your leg unless the grass you walk through is higher than your shoes. Treat your hiking pants and shirt and wade through fields of ticks with little worry. You can pick up a bottle cheap on Amazon here.


Timing

Black Diamond Vapor Helmet Review
The author topping out the Northeast Ridge of the Pinnacle, Mount Washington. Photo by Brent Doscher

Step 3: Generally bug season in the US is from early April to early May but in the White Mountains it’s a usually a little later, and Spring we’ve had some prolonged late season cold and snow that has pushed it back a bit further than normal. I’ve only seen two ticks on my so far and haven’t seen my first mosquito yet, while southern NH is probably getting into the thick of it as I type this. Also biting things are most active an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset. Climbing mid-day might help reduce bloody interactions.


DEET/PICARIDIN

rock climbing new hampshire bug season

Step 4: I have long carried a small 4 oz bottle of DEET as a last resort when all the above measures fall to protect from an onslaught of thirsty flying things. Both products are effective, but Picaridin is showing more appeal as it is definitely less toxic to both us and the plastics/nylon we come in contact with. Regardless of which you use, I recommend trying the first three steps on my list and carrying a small bottle of this as a “last resort”.


Summary

Protecting yourself from biting insects and the diseases they can carry should be more thought-out then just stepping out of the car and soaking yourself (and your kids) with an aerosol can of bug dope. Hopefully some of these tips can help keep you bite-free while you are out doing what you do!

See you in the mountains,

Northeast Alpine Start



Affiliate links support this blog.

Gear Review- HitCase Ferra iPhone Case

I had already been a huge fan of HitCase after reviewing the HitCase Pro iPhone case back in October 2018. You can find that full review here. Now HitCase has entered the more casual/stylish iPhone case market with the new HitCase Ferra model and I was happy to receive a media sample to check out a couple months ago.

In a market flooded with fashionable iPhone cases I was curious why HitCase would deviate from their “hard-core” type protective cases. As the founder and CEO of the company says, “Protective products on the market today are focused on making products cheaper, but in the race to make things cheaper, things got worse, sharp edges, flow lines, rough textures, careless design.”

Hitcase Ferra iPhone Case Review
HitCase Ferra Case with TrueLux SuperWide Lens

HitCase definitely doesn’t take short-cuts with their cases and the Ferra looks and feels like a swanky hand-crafted Italian leather phone case. With 2 meter drop protection it certainly isn’t as bomber as the Pro case which boasts a 5 meter drop protection rating, but 2 meter’s is pretty good for a casual case. Stainless steel buttons add more style and I appreciate having access to my mute switch through an open port while using the case.

The best thing about the case, and all HitCases for that matter, is the ability to use the TrueLux lenses with the case.  These lenses open up the photography capabilities of the already amazing iPhone X to new levels. With Macro, Wide, and SuperWide options you can get pretty creative with your smartphone photography. One important distinction between the Ferra and the more active sport Pro model is how these lenses secure to the case. While the HitCase Pro has these lenses secure by a few screw threads keeping the lenses safely attached during bumpy mountain bike or ski descents they only attach to the Ferra with a bit of magnetism. This is fine (and fast) for casual use/outdoor photography but if you want to shoot while being less stationary you might be better off with the HitCase Pro.

Hitcase Ferra iPhone Case Review
HitCase Ferra iPhone Case with attached TrueLux Super Wide Lens

Summary

The HitCase Ferra is for someone who likes hand-crafted leather and wants something more than a cheaply made case to accessorize their tech. The ability to use the TrueLux lenses with a casual case is an additional benefit. While I appreciate the style my iPhone is now snuggled back in the HitCase Pro case which has become my all time favorite case so far! If you are looking for a really nice casual iPhone case maybe the HitCase Ferra is for you?

See you in the mountains,

Northeast Alpine Start


Affiliate links help support this blog. A media sample was provided for purpose of review.

Gear Review: Hydroflask Tumblers, Bottles, and Food Containers

Hydroflask Review
Our Hydroflask Family

Our little Hydroflask family is growing! It started with the orange 21 oz Standard Mouth Insulated Bottle that I bought about 5 or 6 years ago. This has served as my wife’s gym bottle and my “light cragging” water bottle quite well. I then bought my 40oz Tall Boy, which has carried everything from ice water for relaxing on the beach in the summer to hot mulled apple cider for Fall/Winter day hikes. A couple of years ago I picked up a first generation food flask (far left) which kept soups and chili’s hot while winter climbing on Mount Washington and ice climbing in Crawford Notch. Just recently Hydroflask sent me their updated version of the 12 oz Food Flask and a 16 oz Insulated Coffee Flask to review.

25% off Site Wide + Free Shipping! Use offer code UNDERTREE in cart. Offer ends soon! Coupon Code: UNDERTREE

IMG_1645
Hydroflask has coffee mugs now! Photo by Cait Bourgault

So what makes Hydroflask different from all the other water bottle/tumbler companies out there? Well that would be the TempShield™ double walled vacuum technology that keeps drinks hot or colder longer than the competition. I wanted to try to quantify this statement with a little informal testing. Granted this is not some “double blind” research but it illustrates the point. First test…

Keeping Hot… Hot

I had experienced it many times before finding my coffee or tea still piping hot 4-5 hours into a sub-zero climb on Mount Washington. More recently I’ve used the Food Flask to keep soup & chili hot for a mid-day hot lunch sans stove while ice climbing or back-country skiing. To illustrate this I added just boiled water to a room temperature 12 oz Food Flask.

Hydroflask Review
Freshly boiled water at 195°F (90°C) degrees

I then placed this in my freezer at -10°F (-23°C) for about 4.5 hours.

Hydroflask Review
After 4.5 hours

Impressively the water temp was still quite hot. In real life practice you can get better results then this when using the Hydroflask for food or drink. First, you can “pre-heat” the container by filling it with boiled water while heating up your food or drink separately. Then dump the hot water and immediately put your hot drink/food in and seal the container. Second, the container gets even more insulation when carrying it in my backpack surrounded by puffy insulating layers of clothing. Finally, if it’s a hot meal like chili or soup I tend to not open it until I want to consume the whole container (lunch time). Having it open for only a few minutes in arctic temperatures and moderate winds will see stored heat quickly lost!

Hydroflask Review
Keeping drinks hot long after they’ve been made! Photo by Cait Bourgault

Keeping Cold… Cold

I have also discovered that this much insulation can keep my ice in solid form for multiple pours of a refreshing beverage while hitting our local little pond beach or a town music festival. It’s almost hard to believe how effective these can keep ice. For this informal experiment I packed the same room temperature 12 oz Food Flask with ice from our freezer, sealed it, and sat it on our kitchen table overnight. We are currently burning wood so our house is sitting around 70 degrees (yay shorts in the winter).

Hydroflask Review
Almost 6 pm on a Sunday Night

Around 1:30 pm the following day (19.5 hours later) I remembered I was doing the experiment, moved it to the kitchen counter, and opened it.

Hydroflask Review
About half the ice had not yet melted

I’m confident that if I reran this for 24 hours there would still be some water in frozen form at the end of the 24 hours! So how does Hydroflask insulate so well? It comes down to their patented TempShield™ technology. I spare you the nitty gritty and just say that not all “double walled” constructions are created equal. If you are interested in some of the finer details you can read about it here.

Hydroflask Food Flask

Finally of note with this updated 12 oz Food Flask is the more rounded “pill shape” design and leak-proof design. This packs in my smaller ice climbing packs quite well and I haven’t had a single leak during over fifty miles of trail and thousands of feet of climbing.

Hydroflask Review

Social Responsibility

I also have to say I love finding products that not only work well for my family but are made by companies committed to giving back, especially when it comes to our natural resources! Through “Parks For All” Hydroflask is currently providing over $110,000 in grants to help protect, restore, and provide access to various park projects. You can learn more here.

World Surf League Partnership

I’m not a surfer, but I have quite a few friends (and one kick ass niece) who is, so you surfer types can read up on what this is all about here.

Great Warranty!

Hydroflask stands behind their products with an excellent warranty. It’s not a “drop it off a thousand foot cliff get a new one” type warranty (I’m personally glad those types of warranties are becoming a thing of the past) but one that truly stands behind the craftsmanship yet maintains a slight bit of realistic expectation. You can read the full details here.

Disclaimer/Exclusive Reader Discount!

Hydroflask Review

First off you should know of the 5 Hydroflask models I’ve talked about the updated 12 oz Food Flask and 16 oz Insulated Coffee Flask were provided by Hydroflask to review. The other three models pictured in the first pic were purchased with my own money. Getting a couple samples has not influenced my opinion on these items in any way!

Buy from Hydroflask

Second, Hydroflask has already started offering free Holiday Shopping on all orders, no minimum purchase! You can find the daily code for free shipping at the top of Hydroflask website. Then you can also enter “ALPINESTART18” in the cart and get an extra 10% off your order (minimum order of $20). The free shipping and 10% off codes work together! I just tested it to buy myself a 16 oz Insulated Coffee Flask since the purple one they sent me works better for my wife!

Summary

A water bottle or coffee mug is such an essential for our daily lives. Once you start using a quality one from a company like Hydroflask you quickly realize that design matters. Whether replacing that old funky plastic gym bottle or realizing you can have hot soup 4000 feet up a winter climb without firing up the stove there is most definitely a Hydroflask model that would be a nice addition to your kit (or your friends & family’s kits). These make awesome holiday gifts and as such will be included in my 2018 Holiday Gift Guide coming out at the end of the month. Thanks for reading!

25% off Site Wide + Free Shipping! Use offer code UNDERTREE in cart. Offer ends soon! Coupon Code: UNDERTREE

See you in the mountains,

Northeast Alpine Start

 

Affiliate links above support the content created at Northeast Alpine Start at no additional cost to you! Thank you!

GrandyOats Granola Review- And Contest!

Honestly I’ve never been a fan of granola, GORP (Good Ole’ Raisins and Peanuts), or trail mix preferring an eclectic mix of cured meats, hard cheeses, left over Flatbread, and home-made trail sushi. That is to say until I met some folks from GrandyOats during this past April’s Wild Corn event. They handed me a sample as I passed their vendor table and while chatting with other attendees and munching on my sample I discovered what good granola really is.

GrandyOats Review

Since 1979 these real life Granola’s have been making wholesome organic hand mixed food in Western Maine. Their business philosophy is rooted in a sustainable life-style where good business is just not profitable but environmentally and socially responsible.  You can read more on their story here.

Having been convinced that this quality of granola was changing my long held belief that granola is bland and boring I swung back around to their vendor table for a conversation and asked for a larger sample to take with us on our upcoming Iceland trip. They obliged with a 6-pack of Chocolate Chunk Coconola- Coconut Granola.

GrandyOats Review
Photo by Erik Howes

Here’s the official description of this tasty blend of goodness:

Chocolate Chunk Coconola is the delicious evolution of granola. This paleo, gluten-free, organic granola is vegan and loaded with coconut chips, seeds, nuts and dark chocolate. It’s made by hand in small batches at our solar-powered bakery and just like the sun, Coconola provides you with sustained energy to power your adventures.

  • Certified Organic
  • Certified Gluten-Free
  • Grain-Free & Certified Paleo Friendly
  • Non-GMO Verified
  • Kosher
  • Made in Small Batches at a Solar-Powered Baker

Ingredients: Organic Unsweetened Coconut, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Coconut Nectar, Organic Dark Chocolate (organic cane sugar, organic cocoa liquor, organic cocoa butter), Organic Sesame Seeds, Organic Pecans, Organic Cashews, Organic Maple Syrup and Organic Vanilla.


What struck me as different from the admittedly low amounts of granola I have eaten over the years is how light this granola feels while munching. This is not only impart due to GrandyOats using the highest quality ingredients they can source but also the perfect level of minimal process baking. With other granola’s I would need to mix them with yogurt, drown in milk, or constantly wash down each bite with some water. This granola goes down easily handful after handful with out feeling heavy or too dry.

While I’ve already admitted I’m not a granola connoisseur quite a few of my friends and fellow mountain guides are. Each time I’ve shared some of my stash with them the feedback is consistent. They love it. I’ve also been able to share this tasty snack with multiple guests while out guiding and I have yet to find someone who didn’t take that first bite and pause before saying something like “That’s good granola!”.

The 9 ounce bags have 8 servings, 170 calories per serving (1,360 total), and cost $8 each when bought in a 6-pack from their website. That’s 1$ a serving for something that was literally hand-crafted, sourced ethically, baked and mixed perfectly! It doesn’t just stop at granola though. GrandyOats has a while line of trail mixes, roasted nuts (Organic Turmeric Ginger Cashews!), and hot cereal.

If you are a granola or trail mix fan you got to try these guys out. I am grateful I got to discover I actually do like granola, especially when it is made like this!


CONTEST

Win a free 9 ounce bag of Chocolate Chunk Granola! Just click the Rafflecopter link below for ways to enter the drawing and you might find yourself munching on some seriously good granola soon! Contest ends 6/30.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

GrandyOats Review

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

See you in the mountains,

Northeast Alpine Start

Disclaimer: Product samples were provided for purpose of review. All opinions are my own. Affiliate links help support the content created at this blog at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

 

Gear Review- UnTapped: All Natural Athletic Fuel

It’s New Hampshire Maple Weekend which is a perfect time for me to share a company I discovered during Ice Fest that makes all natural athletic fuel in a few different varieties. UnTapped started in late 2013 with a desire to share only of natures best energy boosters… pure maple syrup. I’ll be honest and state I thought maple syrup was just basically sugar and didn’t understand how it could offer more than just a quick sugar boost. On Untapped’s website the benefits are made clear:


• Maple syrup is low glycemic. Containing all natural sugars, maple syrup provides prolonged, sustained energy rather than offering a quick burst and subsequent crash like many adulterated sports sweeteners.

• Maple syrup contains Calcium, Riboflavin, Manganese, Zinc, and Potassium. These inherent components of maple syrup promote energy production, muscle recovery, and help prevent cramping.

• Maple syrup features more than fifty antioxidants. This cocktail of polyphenols have powerful free radical fighting properties. Foods with similar qualities include berries, green tea, red wine, and flaxseeds.

• Maple syrup contains amino acids, which help prevent muscle deterioration.

• Maple syrup is water soluble making it easy to digest, quick to absorb, and no more gut-rot from downing chemical-laden energy gels! Plus it’s a cinch to clean up; just rinse with water. Alternative sports gels are like tar to clean up.

All this means that UnTapped maple is an organic, single ingredient, one-stop-shop for your on-the-go needs.


UnTapped offers 5 varieties of energy boosting products, 3 different flavored “waffles” and 2 styles of syrup pouches. I received a box with a full assortment and have been testing them while ice climbing and back-country skiing for the last two months. I also enlisted my skeptical (and incredibly loving) wife, cultured and sushi aficionado 6-year old son, and “all I want to eat is Cheerios” two year old daughter. We are ready to share our experience…

Let’s start with the simplest of the products…


Maple UnTapped

Slopeside Syrup- Untapped Review
Slopeside Syrup- Maple UnTapped

Maple UnTapped is a .96 fl oz (28.4ml) pouch of 100% pure organic Vermont maple syrup, Grade “A” which is “amber/rich”. Essentially 100 calories in the one ounce pouch, 80 mg of Potassium, and 26 g of carbohydrates  (all sugar). For daily vitamin allotments it provides 4% Calcium, 30% Riboflavin, 4% Zinc, 2% Thiamin, 2% Magnesium, and 60% Manganese.

Slopeside Syrup- Untapped Review
Amber Rich in Color

As far as syrup goes I don’t have to much to add here. The taste is on par with the best local syrups we usually pick up this time of year. At about $1.85/pouch* it’s a bit more expensive than well known GU Energy Gel (at about a $1.25/pouch). That per pouch cost equates to $29.60/pint, against an average Vermont maple syrup pint price of $14.50.

Slopeside Syrup- Untapped Review
The author gets a quick boost before climbing Pegasus, WI 4, Frankenstein Cliffs, New Hampshire

While the convenience of the pouch may be nice, I have to say this is the one product from UnTapped I would probably avoid in lieu of just buying a pint, or quart, or gallon, of maple syrup and filling up a 5-ounce soft flask for a more affordable multi-shot option. While the first product in the line failed to win me over the rest of the offerings had much more to offer so read on to check them out!


Coffee UnTapped

Slopeside Syrup- Untapped Review
Slopeside Syrup- Coffee Untapped

Essentially the exact same thing as the previously mentioned “Maple UnTapped” but now organic coffee has been added bringing an average amount of 27 mg of sports enhancing caffeine. 27 mg, in case you are wondering, is about 1/3 the amount of caffeine in the average cup of coffee. I think this is a good amount for reaping the benefits of caffeine while exercising without experiencing the negative effects (dehydration, nervousness, shakes, etc).

Slopeside Syrup- Untapped Review
Coffee UnTapped

While the addition of coffee obviously darkens the syrup beyond the typical spectrum the flavor is quite smooth. I was expecting a bitterness from organic black coffee but the two flavors are balanced and while I typically cut my coffee with a little cream or milk I found these to be quite tasty. What I am most surprised about here is how the pricing is the same as the un-altered Maple UnTapped. $1.85/pouch* is quite competitive when you compare it to other caffeine supplemented energy gels on the market (they average $2.08/pouch.

So Coffee UnTapped was a winner for me. A 100% pure and organic caffeine induced energy boosting product that tasted great at a cheaper price than the competitors. This one is worth trying!


Next up we look at some of the more “solid fuel” type offerings UnTapped has. Basically these pressed “waffles” based off the Dutch “Stroopwaffle“. As before I’ll start with the one that didn’t get a lot of rave reviews.


UnTapped Maple Waffle

Slopeside Syrup- Untapped Review
UnTapped Maple Waffle
Slopeside Syrup- Untapped Review
Adding some calories somewhere cold

First, what’s in it?

Slopeside Syrup- Untapped Review
Maple-Waffle-Nutrition

That’s a decent amount of calories from a 1.1 oz snack, and I especially like the amount of healthy fats derived from the Palm Fruit Oil, healthy fats are my friend in the cold months, but this one came up a bit flat in the taste department. My six-year old made that classic wrinkled face during his taste-test then asked if he had to finish it, the wife claimed it had a lack of flavor, and the two-year old decided it would be better to smush it into a paste and treat it like Play-Doh rather than food. Luckily, the other two flavors fared a bit better!

Slopeside Syrup- Untapped Review
Family taste testing…
Slopeside Syrup- Untapped Review
Slopeside Syrup- UnTapped Waffles

The Coffee Waffle, while not a winner with the wife, past my taste test for “need calories now” while schlepping up a few steep snow & ice slopes this winter. UnTapped does not disclose how much caffeine is in this product and I’m assuming it’s hard to get an accurate measurement somewhere along the processing part.

Slopeside Syrup- Untapped Review
Top of Pinnacle Ice Climb, Mount Washington

The Raspberry Waffle however won Best-In-Class from the whole family. Organic Red Raspberries added the sweetness and character that the regular Maple Waffle seemed to lack. It also boasts an extra 20 calories of fat (I knew Black Bears liked Raspberries for a reason). At about $2/waffle** this is a solid contender in the field of energy bars.

Slopeside Syrup- Untapped Review
I think I ate one of these a day for about two weeks!

Summary

This is a cool local company with a great idea and some solid offerings. All natural athletic fuel is pretty dope. While the more “simple” offerings like the straight up syrup and maple waffle left us a little uninspired the caffeinated syrup and Raspberry Waffles became daily favorites. I have just enough left of my sample packets to hopefully get me through my upcoming ski trip to Iceland where we will be putting in some serious vertical mileage. If you are in the market for some locally sourced healthy energy “gels” and snacks you should check this company out!

See you in the mountains,

Northeast Alpine Start

* based on 20 packets / 1 carton pricing

** based on 16 waffles / 1 carton pricing

Disclaimer: UnTapped provided a sample for review. Some affiliate links above help support this blog at no cost to you! All opinions expressed our those of the author (and his immediate family).

How To: “Belaying in the Gym” by PETZL

Petzl is a well known industry leader in climbing gear and safety. When I first started climbing over 20 years ago I looked forward to each annual Petzl catalog for the wealth of technical information they would include, along with some of the most stunning and inspirational photos! I probably learned as much about climbing from these catalogs back in the day as I learned from that timeless classic Freedom of the Hills!

Petzl Gear Review
The author on the summit of Forbidden Peak, North Cascades, wearing the Petzl Sirocco Helmet and Petzl Sitta Harness

Now Petzl has just launched a new series of downloadable “ACCESS BOOKS”, basically a collection of technical tips centered around one particular aspect of climbing. In their first PDF “booklet” Petzl focuses on indoor climbing.

Petzl Access Books
Petzl Access Books- Download your own copy here.

As always the illustrations are clear and to the point. The techniques described are considered “best practices” throughout the industry. Whether you are a new climber or a salty veteran a little review of the basics never hurts!

Download your own copy here

See you in the mountains!

Northeast Alpine Start

P.S. Speaking of Petzl here are some recent reviews I’ve posted of some of my favorite Petzl gear!

Petzl Sirocco Helmet (2017 model)

Petzl GriGri+

Petzl Sitta Harness

Petzl Hirundos Harness

Petzl Ice Screws (comparison review)

Petzl Bug Backpack

All links are affiliate links and making a purchase through one of them supports Northeast Alpine Start at no additional cost to you! Thank you!

Best Climbing Gear of 2017

As the year draws to an end I’m looking back at the plethora of amazing advancements in the field of climbing gear and clothing this past season and calling out some of the best stuff I got to review this year that has become a permanent addition to my kit. Check them out below!

Petzl Sirocco Climbing Helmet

Petzl Sirocco Helmet
Petzl Sirocco Helmet- photo by Matt Baldelli

A fantastic update to what was already one of the most competitive climbing helmets on the market I went into great detail of the changes in my review here.


Arcteryx Acrux AR Mountaineering Boots

Cassin Eghen 22 Backpack Review
Black Dike, Cannon Cliff, New Hampshire- photo by Peter Brandon

Without a doubt the most sleek and comfortable ice climbing boots I have ever worn. From Mount Rainier to Grade 5 waterfall ice in New England these have been a serious joy to wear. See my detailed review here.


 Black Diamond Alpine Softshell Pants

Black Diamond Alpine Softshell Pants Review
Black Diamond Alpine Softshell Pants Review- photos by Alexandra Roberts and @cfphotography

From Spring rock climbing in New England, Summer alpine climbing in the Cascades, to warmer winter ice climbing, these pants came in clutch this past year. Check out my full review here.


Petzl GriGri+ Belay Device

Petzl GriGri+ Review
Petzl GriGri+ Anti-Panic Handle- photo by Alexandra Roberts

There’s a lot to love about the safety improvements to the iconic GriGri with the new “+” version. My favorite feature is definitely the fact that this device is engineered to work with any single rated rope on the market so I don’t need to think about whether my ropes are too skinny to use with this device. See my long review on this advancement here.


Cassin X-Dream Ice Axes

Cassin X-Dream Ice Axe Review
The author on Black Pudding Gully, WI 4+, photo by Brent Doscher

While these amazing ice tools have been around for awhile Cassin just released some more customization options including an alpine handle and two new pick options! Details in my review here.


Petzl Laser Ice Screws

ice climbing screw review
The author places a screw on the classic grade 5 backcountry ice climb, Drool of The Beast- photo by Brent Doscher

I ran some numbers and did some comparing against other popular models of this screw here. While I deal with the “sticky screw” placement from time to time these still make up the bulk of my ice rack!


Climbing Skins

climbing skins review
Author ripping Contour Hybrid Climbing Skins before descending Karlsarfjall 988m peak in Northern Iceland, photo by Brent Doscher

A lot of great skins hit the market late last winter and I got to test three of the top models! Check out the results here!


DPS Wailer 99 Tour 1 Skis

DPS Tour 1 Skis Arcteryx Procline Boots Dynafit Speed Radical Bindings
Built for uphill performance!

This set up absolutely slays the uphill skinning yet performs quite impressively on the descent. I logged over 50,000 feet of skiing this rig last season and I couldn’t have been happier. Bonus that the Arcteryx Procline Carbon Ski Boots could also climb technical ice!


Summary

Well there you have it, 8 of my favorite climbing (and skiing) pieces of gear and clothing from the past year. I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings!

COMMENT BELOW!

What was your favorite piece of new gear from last season? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in the mountains,

Northeast Alpine Start

P.S. Still shopping for the climbers in your life? Check out my hand-selected Holiday Shopping Guide!

Affiliate links help support this blog.