The Climbing Zine crew was up in Salt Lake City this past weekend for the Summer Outdoor Retailer (OR) show. We always have our eyes out for everything climbing related, and came back psyched and stoked on several new products, and one very major leap forward in climbing competitions. Here’s our top picks, and some shout-outs to those that didn’t make the list, but we were impressed by anyways.
1. The Psicobloc Master’s deep water soloing climbing competition, held in Park City Utah, at the Olympic Park.
Hands down this is what the climbers who experienced Summer OR are talking about. A fifty-five foot wall perched over an Olympic pool, with the best rock climbers in the world, created an environment of excitement that I’ve never seen in competitive climbing. It seems like this was what the world of plastic pulling has been waiting for, an innovative leap towards something exciting to participate in, as well as watch.
The best part of this event was that the wall remained open for the next two days for us average climbers to get the experience. I got one lap on the 5.11 route on Saturday, and made it to twenty-five feet before jumping off. In the Olympic pool the landing was much softer than I expected, and if I didn’t have to travel back to Colorado afterwards, I would have been back on Sunday for more. Expect to see much, much more plastic psicobloc in the future. Sadly, it looks like the Walltopia wall will be put to rest until next year in Park City, but hopefully demand will get that thing out of storage and back over a pool somewhere. Special shout out to everyone who made this event possible, especially the staff at the Olympic Park who let us get a quick lap in at the end of the day on Saturday. This event was one for the history books, perhaps more of a landmark in competition climbing than ever before. Who knows, maybe this will get climbing in the Olympics ?!?
2. Black Diamond X-4 Offset Cams
It’s a great feeling to have a bomber Black Diamond cam below you. The problem was with more narrow cracks they wouldn’t fit. That all changed with the introduction of the more slender and versatile X4 cams this year. Now, BD is expanding their offerings with an offset version, with a similar look and size to the always popular Alien offsets. These bad boys will definitely be popular with big wall climbers, as well as those who climb at funky granite areas with awkward placements. Retail $69.95.
3. Jet Boil Joule Group Cooking System
The Jet Boil has become the staple for many big wall climbers, and folks just looking for a quick meal or cup of coffee. It boils water in under three minutes, and is incredibly convenient. The new, Joule Group Cooking system expands the options in Jet Boil’s line, and might prove to be as popular as their original model. The 2.5 liter pot is designed for cooking, something that is an improvement over the original Jet Boil. The Joule checks in at 25.2 ounces. Retail: $160 – 200.
4. Turtle Shell, Outdoor Technology
More and more climbers are bringing stereos to the crag, and on the wall. The Turtle Shell from Outdoor Technology is the first portable stereo I’ve seen that can handle the abuse that climbers bestow on their gear. Plus, it’s Bluetooth so you can keep your iPhone safe while the music bumps. Not to mention the Turtle Shell is water resistant and shock proof. When all of these elements come into play, there’s not a better portable outdoor stereo out there. Retail is $129.95.
5. Petzl Tikka PXP headlamp
Last year we posted a review of the Petzl NAO headlamp with “reactive lighting” technology. We loved the headlamp, but thought it was a bit on the expensive side, as well as slightly bulky. Ideal for cavers and rescuers, but not refined enough for practical use as a climber. We were more than psyched to discover that they will be offering a lighter, and less inexpensive headlamp with “reactive lighting” technology, the Tikka RXP. Look for a full review on the site in the near future. This one could be a game changer, with a retail price of $89.95 and an expected fall 2013 release.
While these products and icons didn’t make the Top 5, we wanted to give a shout out for catching our attention:
#000 Metolius TCU
If you’ve ever tried to place a #00 Metolius and found it too big, the #000 could just slide in and offer the needed protection. While designed for aid climbing, this piece might offer some peace of mind when nothing else will work on a cutting edge free climb. Just be sure to back it up. Retail is $59.95. Available, Spring 2014.
Metolius Ultralight Chalkbags
It takes a lot to notice a chalk bag, and Metolius gave us two this show: the Ultralight and the Uncle Sam. (Because we love freedom we gave the Uncle Sam a shout out.) The Ultralight weighs a mere 30 grams, and it’s basically featherweight. With every other gear shaving the ounces, why not do it with a chalk bag? Now, if we could nudge Metolius a bit, why not make the Uncle Sam in the Ultralight version? Available, Spring 2014. Ultralight chalk bags retail $22.50.
5.10 Team VXI (the MI6 shoe)
This shoe made my Winter 2013 top 5, but it still hasn’t been released. With the self-proclaimed softest rubber on the market, this shoe weighs exactly 5.10 ounces. One big clarification from our previous post, the 5.10 folks are changing their tune, and this shoe is not marketed strictly for climbing on plastic. I can’t wait to lace up with a pair of these for my latest steep project. Retails at $170. Available this fall!
These are the coolest flip flops I’ve seen in a long time, perhaps ever. With the Stealth rubber I can’t imagine a better flip flop. Colors are stylish and I expect to see climbers rocking these in J-Tree and any other casual climbing area. Expected to be available sometime in 2014.
Hydroflask water bottles
This one was unexpected because I never think about water bottles. It’s an double wall, vacuum insulated stainless steel water bottle, and a cure to lukewarm water. It will keep your drink cool or hot, according to your fancy and the season. Since I got a sample at the show, I’ve used it everyday, and even if I’ve left the bottle in a warm car the drink is still cool. It by far surpasses any water bottle I’ve used before. Perfect for hot cragging days when you don’t want your water to taste like pee (save that for alpine epics) 21 oz. bottle retails at $25.99. Other options available.
K-Bone’s Wolf Shirt
Every Friday Black Diamond employee Kevin Volkening (aka K-Bone) wears a wolf shirt. While many at OR flaunt nothing but their finest collared shirts, K-Bone keeps his tradition alive, bringing smiles to many. The rumor is that he has 12 different wolf shirts, and although we did not search his closet to confirm this, his dedication to the wolf shirt kept us psyched on Day 3. See you at The Creek K-Bone.
Samson and The Climbing Zine Crew will be using and abusing all of the above products until the next OR show, stay tuned for more in depth reviews on www.climbingzine.com.