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Tech-Forward Climbing Gear

DESIGN

Tech-Forward Climbing Gear

New products that make your outdoor adventures easier and safer

by Katharine Erwin
on 14 August 2017

Technology in climbing is nothing new—the industry is always evolving to assist humans with their mountain pursuits. That said, the tech keeps getting better. Gear is getting lighter, more durable, more functional and more fluid, giving climbers an edge while they are performing physically demanding feats. Having the right gear doesn't just make climbing easier, it also makes it safer. New products features mean your outdoor adventures need not be death-defying. Here we have outlined some of the most exciting new gear to come out this year.

The GriGri+ ($150) is an assisted braking device from the French climbing company Petzl. Although the GriGri has been around for many years, the GriGri+ iteration has taken belaying to another level of safety. When used correctly, this product breaks with some assistance instead of traditional belay devices that are entirely manual. The new GriGri+ has two modes for either lead climbing (which feeds rope easier) and top rope (which catches and locks faster). It also has an anti-panic locking system in place when the lever is pulled too hard during descents. Thus making the GriGri+ an ideal tool for both novices and experts.

Black Diamond Equipment’s new Camalots (protection devices used in traditional climbing) have shaved 25 percent of their predecessors' weight off. For longer routes, losing equipment weight can make a huge difference. Black Diamond was able to remove this weight off their Ultralight Camalots ($90 to $130) by replacing the steel cable with a stronger, lighter-weight Dyneema cord, smaller wires in the mechanism, and a lower profile sling.

American-made Sterling's new Dry XP ropes ($90 to $370) far exceed the UIAA’s (International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation) water-repellent standard of less than 5% water-absorption. Water changes ropes over time, making them heavier and more susceptible to damage. It can also affect the stretch and the rebound of a rope, ultimately changing the performance of the rope. Dry XP works with a DryCore process for the internal fibers and an external nanoparticle coating called DeltaDry that's environmentally friendly.

In the last few years, La Sportiva has been using rubber in a different areas than traditional climbing shoes to help give climbers more advantage. The brand's latest tech can be seen on their Skwama shoes ($145) which feature the S-heel and a new split-toe sole. The S-Heel is a rubber cup construction with two strips of harder rubber on each side resulting in more stabilization, helping climbers with “heel hook” moves. Giving climbers more solidity across various foot movements and positions, these shoes keep you safer and more flexible.

With airline size and weight restrictions, bringing gear to remote and spectacular climbing areas can be an issue. One of climbing’s most innovative companies Arc'teryx has come up with a solution with their new rolling duffels. The V80 and V110 (named for their liter volume) are rolling bags that can take the hard beating of airline travel and meet weight requirements, while being functional for climbers. Using 630d high-tenacity nylon fabric, this bag will stand up against sharp metal ice tools and climbing gear. The light and durable aluminum external frame makes for easy carrying, and the duffle will be available in spring next year.

Sometimes in climbing, design and function will trump weight reduction. When doing multi-pitch climbing, having a useful bag is key because the climber is often suspended by their harness and not on steady ground. Mountain Hardwear’s new Multi-Pitch series ($90 to $180) addresses all the issues one might have on a multi-pitch climb. Made from 840D ballistic nylon and 600D tarp material, the packs come in three sizes. The nylon helps with wear and tear against rocks and also keeps the shape of the bag—which is crucial for finding contents while high up on a cliff. With conveniently placed zippers (with easy-to-use toggles), the bag also features comfortable, adjustable straps and gear loops. The Multi-Pitch will be available in spring next year.

Duffle image courtesy of Arc'teryx, GriGri+ and Camalots images by Todd Dundon, all others by Kate Erwin

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