SNEAK PEAK Metolius Bouldering Shield $90; metoliusclimbing.com
Taking another step in bouldering protection, Metolius has developed a miniature handheld crashpad called the Bouldering Shield. With two handles in the back, you hold it up (which is easy at just over 3 lbs.) and angle it toward a boulderer while spotting. It’s designed to help a spotter redirect a falling climber with its larger-than-twohands surface area (36” by 23”), and it protects the spotter with two inches of foam cushioning. The Bouldering Shield can also double as a sit-start pad or gap-filler between larger pads.
EDITORS' CHOICE Stonelick Yose $279; stonelickclimbing.com
The only thing worse than hitting the ground while bouldering? Landing on your pad and still hitting the ground while bouldering. Thanks to an innovative hinge design from a new company, this just won’t happen anymore. Stonelick’s “step hinge” eliminates dead spots around the fold, saving your ankles and body from deep impact. The Yose is Stonelick’s medium-sized pad (36” x 48” X 4.5”), and the foam is top-quality. (The company also makes the Boom and Flip pads.) The top inch of foam is hard enough to save your ankles, and the middle three-inch layer is soft enough to absorb a big fall; a half-inch of solid foam on the bottom protects the pad. “I fell sideways onto this pad from 15 feet and stood back up unfazed,” said one tester. The Yose is dressed with two flaps to keep your gear from falling out, and the straps can detach to prevent catching on rocks and roots when you drag the pad. Testers noted that the hauling straps were a bit uncomfortable—and there was no hip belt—but overall this is a superior pad with an innovative design.
EDITORS' CHOICE Blank Slate $129; blankslateclimbing.com
So many climbers’ dusty hangboards have been abandoned in the back of a closet, either because they don’t have a good place to mount it, or they live in a rental where bolting plastic blobs to the wall is frowned upon. But Blank Slate Climbing has changed the home training game with its no-impact mounting system. Bolt some handholds, hanging rings, or a hangboard (sold separately; easiest with Blank Slate’s own hangboards) to this contraption, and then mount it between the sides of most doorframes and the top of the door jamb without using any bolts or screws—the system just cams into place. When you’re done training, you can simply unhitch the device and store it in a closet. Once properly adjusted, the Blank Slate was simple to put up and take down, and it was very stable during training sessions—just be careful not to push up on the board or it might pop off. Your doorway needs to clear 10 inches from the top of the trim to the ceiling, and have at least six to eight inches of blank wall on either side. We found it worked best with doorways between 24 and 42 inches wide.
EDITORS' CHOICE Mountain Project iPhone App $5/year; mountainproject.com
The good folks over at Mountain Project have finally legitimized that iPhone we’re all carrying around. The new Mountain Project app lets you download every route and problem on the huge website directly to your phone. The app is free, and to access all the data (other than the free Grand Teton National Park sampler), you pay a mere $5/year subscription fee. That’s an incredible bargain, considering a single guidebook runs $20 to $30 or more— not to mention that a phone is lighter and smaller than a book, the app is updated more frequently, and it includes user consensus on ratings and quality. Individual areas can be updated whenever you want at no additional charge, and you can connect your online Mountain Project account (ticks, star ratings, and to-do’s) with your phone to sync the two. The clincher? You don’t need a phone signal to access the info you’ve downloaded, which is incredibly useful, considering how remote most climbing areas are. The Mountain Project app definitely doesn’t make guidebooks obsolete—many routes are missing from the database, and a guidebook often provides better overview photos for locating routes, among other advantages. But if you own an iPhone, you’d be crazy not to supplement your guidebook with this app. An Android version is coming in winter 2012.