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High performance usually equates to an extreme when it comes to rock shoes: You either get complete flexibility or maximum stiffness. By breaking that mold, the Oasi offers a successful balance of movement and rigidity to be excellent for steeps and slabs alike. “If the La Sportiva Solution is on the most rigid end of the stiffness spectrum and the Five Ten Team shoe is on the soft end, the Oasi is right in the middle—with the same level of performance, if not more because of its additional uses,” one tester said. A stiff forefoot, aggressive downturn, and chiseled toe gave testers precision on micro-nubs, but an incredibly flexible midsole “was more like a rubber sock wrapped around my foot for maximum torsion.” One tester chose these as her quiver of one for Yosemite because they’re aggressive enough for bouldering, comfortable enough to jam into cracks all day, and have more than enough flex to smear on the Valley’s plentiful slabs. Plus, the rubber that extends up and over the toe increased grip for foot jams. Testers with feet of every size and shape praised the Draxtor closure system, which at first looks like any other Velcro strap setup. The key difference is that each of the two straps is adjustable in itself, so you can lengthen them all the way out for high-volume feet or tighten them way down for low-volume feet. A synthetic upper means a truly consistent fit over the life of the shoe; one tester has worn the Oasi for six months and has seen no change in shape or fit. Vibram XS Grip rubber on the outsole was just as sticky as other premium rubbers on all types of rock, and the 3.5-millimeter thickness upped sensitivity for delicate moves on small holds. $165; trango.com
Although your chosen rope-carrying system shouldn’t make or break your day—you can survive just fine without one, after all—over-complicated setups will annoy you, while a spartan design might not fit all your needs. Enter the Petzl Bolsa, a rope bag and tarp that is thoughtfully designed for sport climbers. The bag, which has two shoulder straps so you can carry it like a backpack, is attached directly to the tarp, with an opening in the center of the sheet that allows you to quickly grab the four corners of the tarp and slide the rope right in. “It couldn’t be simpler,” one user said after hopping between a dozen climbs in one day at Shelf Road, Colorado. “Just pick up the tarp, and boom, the rope is already nestled neatly in the bag. Unfurl it at the next route and you’re ready to go.” A large 55” x 55” tarp holds an 80-meter cord easily, and testers found it durable and hearty: “I give my rope tarps hell, but this dragged across sharp granite, gnarled roots, and abrasive sandstone slabs for four months of weekly use without a single tear or pill,” one tester said. A flat design (instead of the long-tube or rounded-disc shape) makes it easier to pack in the bottom or on top of a larger crag pack. $40; petzl.com
Millet Opposite 9/10
How many ropes does one climber need? That answer might depend on the day and the discipline, but most sport climbers have one burly fat rope for toproping and working projects and one skinny line for send attempts. Millet has taken those two cords and married them to create one long rope that serves both purposes. The Opposite 9/10 has 50 meters of 9 millimeters on one end, while the other 30 meters is 10 millimeters. Tie into the fatter section for days spent on toprope or the early projecting sessions when you’re falling a lot and beating the crap out of your cord. When you get close to sending, tie into the 9mm side so you cut weight and carry as little as possible when pushing yourself to the limit. “Why has no one thought of this before?” said one tester who sent her first 5.12 in Ten Sleep, Wyoming, while roped up with the Opposite. “I carried one cord to the crag everyday, but never questioned the durability when I took fall after fall. Then when I went for the send, I had significantly less weight—no diet needed!” The rope only comes in an 80-meter version, and it’s a bit pricey, but it’s well worth it for the versatility. $300; milletusa.com
Wild Country Boost
“It’s like falling into the arms of a million angels,” one imaginative tester said of the cushy Boost. “My other sport harnesses are so slimmed down I feel like a roast with the string cutting into my flesh, but this nails it.” Wild Country calls it Load Spread Technology, which is a single piece of two-inch webbing that splits into two pieces as it wraps around the backs of your waist and legs. This disperses your weight throughout a wide contact zone with the harness. That means no more pressure points, hotspots, or digging into your sensitive kidneys; another tester took more than a dozen falls in one day when projecting in Clear Creek Canyon, Colorado, and never felt discomfort. A large Ziplock buckle in the waist closed and opened quickly, and elastic in the leg loops were snug but not tight, just enough to keep them in place. And at just over 13 ounces for the medium, you won’t feel weighed down when redpointing. $55; wildcountry.co.uk