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Climbing Gear Review Roundup – 8/25/09

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Here is the latest climbing gear review roundup:

New S10 Black Diamond Products –

Five Ten’s Prisms – The Mountain World

DMM Dragon Cams –

La Sportiva Exum Pro – Colorado Mountain School

Arc’Teryx Alpha LT jacket and the CAMP USA Alp 95 harness – GearFlogger

Chaco Pro Series Sandals –

New dual axel cam from DMM – Carabiner development blog

New Petzl Tikka and Zipka headlamps –

If you’ve seen any good climbing gear reviews recently, please link them in the comments.

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  1. This is all cool stuff, and those DMM cams look SWEET!

    But, it got me thinking again. How often do we see negative reviews? If you just read gear reviews, you’d think that every new toy is full of awesome. Surely, that’s not the case, is it? Maybe all reviews are positive because all gear is good? Or maybe we just don’t want to admit it when we’ve spent money on crap?

  2. Perhaps most gear is good enough which is the problem. Some gear is better but the additional performance, which is not needed by most, is costly. Defining what makes gear great vs good enough is a problem…

    Its hard to have a “good” negative review. Most seem to err on the side of ranting instead of being informative.

  3. Kate – I have some thoughts I’ve been putting together for a future post on exactly that point – except I’m more focused on the magazines. I still tend to think blogs at least point out some negatives while you NEVER see anything negative in print.

    Luke – For the most part I agree, but I also think that a) no piece of gear is perfect for everyone and b) I have found the occasional peice of crappy gear (ex. first generation Trango Cinch)

  4. I think that “no piece of gear is perfect for everyone” is one of the reasons reviewing is really hard. I know Lizzy and I have very different opinions on some items. Even if I think an item doesn’t work well it could be exactly what Lizzy likes or needs.

    Also when I find a has a flaw in a piece of gear it can be hard to find something better. Or if there is something better it is prohibitively expensive, as I mentioned before.

  5. Hmm, I think there’s an interesting assumption in your comment Luke. All of the gear that you will review (or Lizzy) is gear that you or Lizzy have already researched and bought. You wouldn’t have purchased it if you didn’t expect it to at least be “good enough” and it’s rare that we’d be disappointed in the outdoor industry, especially for the money we shell out for climbing gear and the importance that it works well.

    I was thinking about the double ropes after your comment on my blog last night, Luke. We’ve climbed on those doubles a few times now, what kind of review would I give them?

    Well, they seem to be perfectly fine. They didn’t blow to pieces when we rapped on them. They haven’t been shedding thread or behaving poorly. I couldn’t think of a single bad thing to say about them. So, should everybody buy these exact doubles? Probably not, and that’s because you can do better if you want to spend the money and if it matters to you (lighter weight, bi-pattern, dry coating, etc).

    Would that be an honest review then? “They haven’t killed me yet, but that doesn’t mean you should buy them!”

    I have decided that I don’t have a specific point here. I guess I look at the list of links up there and wonder why I should even read them. I know they’re all going to like their purchases, everybody is going to recommend the gear, and we’ll all go home happy. Maybe, instead of reviews, we should just start calling them “recommendations.”

  6. Interesting. Can you think of any gear you personally thought was bad/poorly designed/just not quite good enough?

    For me its the aforementioned 1st gen Trango Cinch – it was impossible to lower someone with that thing due to the tiny handle. I also have a particular screw locking biner (can’t remember brand/model) that always sticks the way it was designed.

    Shoes are so personal though, I guess they’d be hard to objectively say good or bad except in the case of poor manufacturing quality. With the main companies these days though, we’re usually assured of quality product.

  7. I’d still like to reiterate that I think there is in fact no-so-great gear out there. For example, I run into ropes all the time that constantly kink up new versus ones that are just smooth as silk from the get go. This is just one factor obviously, but a good review will look at all the parameters of a particular product and examine the pros/cons for each.

    Personally I think there are two main issues here. With respect to people reviewing gear they purchased and then reviewed, it needs to be a treated as a critical review and most people just don’t care to take the extra work to do that. They are usually excited one way or another about the gear and write the review accordingly.

    For gear that was provided for review (like all the mags), I think there is a hesitancy to negatively review gear due to the implication that they may not continue to have good relations with the companies.