Autumn Awesomeness

Six must-haves for fall climbing

Safety +1

Metolius GateKeeper

With the surge of anti-cross-loading carabiners on the market, safety-conscious Metolius has entered the game with a biner that takes the category up a notch. On the GateKeeper, the top of the spine is wider, with a sharp angle that prevents assisted-braking belay devices (e.g., Petzl Grigri, Trango Cinch, etc.) from sliding around and down the spine. This is a second preventive design feature to keep belay biners from cross-loading; plus, testers loved the inner gate that opens down toward the harness. One said, “It was much easier to put on than others I’ve used: just slide it on the belay loop and pull, instead of having to lift the gate and wiggle the belay loop in position.” Nitpick: Because it is designed so assisted-braking devices can’t slide around the spine, these belay devices stick out awkwardly and hang clumsily when clipped to a gear loop. $18; metoliusclimbing.com

 

Have a Seat

Helinox Chair One

As if car-side cragging weren’t cushy enough. Well, it just got a whole lot more comfortable with this lightweight and packable chair. “I am in love with this thing,” said one tester who has had it for nearly six months. “I used to think a rock or log was good enough, but it’s wonderful to unfurl this packable seat and take a load off after intense activity.” Weighing in at about 2 pounds, the Chair One comes with a bag that’s easy to pack and repack—no straining or struggling to get it back into its dedicated stuff sack. Testers found it stable on all types of terrain at the base of crags across Colorado, thanks to a frame and legs that have just the right amount of flex. Huge dudes welcome: The package is rated to hold up to 320 pounds. $90; bigagnes.com

 

Ladies First

CAMP Supernova

Designed by sport crusher Paige Claassen, the Supernova is a well-performing and smartly constructed harness, the first from CAMP that is specifically for women. The waistbelt rises sharply on the sides to ride comfortably above the hipbones where the female’s natural waist is, and the back is extra-wide and extra-low, which made it very supportive in an area that doesn’t have much natural padding. Our testers favored it for sport climbing because it was “heavenly for big falls like the ones I took in Rifle, but it started to pinch on hanging belays that lasted 30 minutes or more.” Adjustable leg loops fit a variety of stem sizes, from our chicken-gam ladies to the athletic thunder-thigh chicks. At about 13 ounces for the medium, this rig has one of the best comfort-to-weight ratios we’ve tested. $90; camp-usa.com

 

Chase the Shade

Smith ChromaPop Dolen

“Wow,” was the first word uttered by all three testers who took turns checking out fall colors while bouldering at Guanella Pass, Colorado. The new ChromaPop lens technology clarifies color by filtering light at two points where different color wavelengths intersect, and our testers found colors were truly brighter and objects were more defined. “I hate climbing with sunglasses because it can be harder to see when holds and rock just look darker,” one finicky tester said. “But these upped brightness and sharpness so that I felt like I could see detail on holds better.” They were excellent on approaches when walking from spots of overpowering sunlight to full shade because the transition wasn’t from blinding to darkness; instead the lenses evened out the light. The Dolen frames were ideal, too, because they fit tiny and oversized heads alike, didn’t pinch after full days of wear, and they never once pulled testers’ hair. $209; smithoptics.com

 

One Shirt to Rule Them All

HippyTree Mineral Woven

From alpine days on the Black Wall of Mt. Evans, Colorado, to relaxed bouldering sessions in Bishop, California, the Mineral Woven shirt has been the go-to top for one tester this fall: “I have to force myself not to wear this shirt because it’s ideal for everything, and I want it to last forever.” Chances are good that it will, too, with a blend of cotton and polyester that strikes the ideal balance between comfort and burl. “It feels like my favorite cotton tee when I’m wearing it, but it stands up to abrasion almost like my offwidth-only jeans,” one wearer claimed. Plus, it looks damn good. $54; hippytree.com

 

Chalk Up

Pure Grit Chalkbag

If you’re of the mindset that all chalkbags are created equally, then think again. “I was skeptical at first, but as soon as I got on the pumpy route Free Fall (5.12a) in Boulder Canyon, I realized this bag was way better than others,” one tester said. “I had to chalk up speedily, and this made it easy.” The secret is in the thin (and lightweight) wire around the opening that keeps it wide and open so you can dip your hand in quickly without fiddling with material that has collapsed on itself. The size was ideal as well: large for big-pawed folks but not so huge that petite climbers felt like they had a bucket on their back. Buy one of their colorful and unique premade models, or specially request your own style. $28; puregritclimbing.com



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