I really, really love puppies. I pretty much want all of them, in my lap, right now. That said, I also really love outdoor and climbing equipment that doesn't just work, but works well and exceeds expectations. The kind you pick up on a whim on super sale, and after a few outings say 'Holy snot balls, I can't believe I've lived without this - I'd pay full price for this if I have to!' I've been playing in the outdoor world for a while, and have come across a few things that work, as well as some that don't. I'm by no means an authority on anything here, but I figure fellow gear heads would enjoy a nerdy gear blog post. So, with that said...
Stump Protection - Metolius Climbing Tape , $3.95
It should come as no surprise that I use a lot of tape. Any time I touch rock, whether it's real or plastic, I have to tape up my stump or else it quickly explodes into a bloody mess everywhere. So, you're welcome. On average, I go through three rolls as week - that's a monthly budget of about $50 a month on tape. Yikes.
A good tape will be sticky, but not rip out all of your hair and first three layers of skin when you remove it. Tape-on-tape layers must be able to peel off of each other and not become a mooshy mess when you go to remove it. It really sucks tweezing tape threads that have been ground into your raw skin, or not being able to get it off at all because the layers have melted together.
Grossed out? Good, now you know how important tape is! I've experimented with a lot of brands, from climbing specific to general athletic tape available at Dicks. Metolius climbing tape is by far superior to every tape out there. I have a box of Eurotape sitting in closet unused because it just does not compare to Metolius. While not perfect, the Metolius tape does last the longest when I'm crunching through a sweaty gym session and does the best at not disintegrating as I grind my stump into sticky granite cracks. Bonus - tears clean and easily without teeth.
No Sweat Juice- Rhino Skin Solutions 'Dry' , $9
Despite using the best tape available, I would inevitably sweat out of it during gym sessions - especially if I was working big, swingy moves or doing laps on the systems board where there's a lot of twisting. I know I've been working hard it my entire stump glove just slides right off in one piece. Gross...
It sucks to go through multiple stump gloves a session, and it sucks even more to be mid route and start to feel the thin layer of tape between you and the holds start to slide, get lose, and eventually fail you off of the wall. It's not a huge confidence booster!
Enter Rhino Skin Solutions and their 'Dry' product. I'm still pretty early on in playing with this, but so far I like it. The only tricky part is that it's designed to be applied 8 hours before you need it to work. I'm not very good at planning ahead, so when used immediately it leaves your skin that kind of dry as when you've just used hand sanitizer. I was able to get through a 2.5 hour comp without replacing my tape - so far, so good! Surely the product designers didn't have sweaty stumps in mind when they developed this, but hey...it works!
They do recommend that you only use this once every four days. I'm not sure I want to know why...so just don't, I guess? (Ok, it's not nefarious, I'm sure your skin would just overdry and crack to oblivion!)
Anti Cancer Layer - Patagonia Sunshade Hoody, $69
Sunburn and cancer isn't cool kids, MMMKAY? That's a rule that's easier to follow once you're a married old hag like me, I get that. I also get sunburnt in the shade, so I was on the lookout for a sun protection layer that wouldn't require me to reapply sunscreen every 4 hours - and the Patagonia Sunshade hoody is up to the task.
Psycholgically, wearing long sleeves in the searing heat will make you think you'd be cooler without the shirt. When I strip it off, though, I find I'm just as hot, if not hotter. I own three of these suckers - they stink, they snag, but its ninja hood and lightweight fabric are tops at protecting my pale Irish skin.
Purchasing tip - this, and other sun protection layers, can be found in Fly Fishing shops, and are often heavily discounted once the height of summer is over.
Shit Hauler - Trango Crag Pack , $99
As a rule, climbing packs kind of sucks for the average Jane Climber. Many are designed with the alpinist in mind, so there are few to none pockets, a non-existent frame and support system ('Hey man, gotta keep it fast and light!) and almost none are designed for ladies. The alternatives are hiking/backpacking packs which have pockets and can be gender specific, but those tend to carry climbing gear awkwardly and unevenly.
Last summer I picked up the Crag Pack from Trango, and while the fit is terrible on me (I'm 5'6" and very much a lady) I am continuously impressed by the amount of gear I can shovel in there and still have it carry with relative comfort thanks to beefy hip belt and shoulder straps. Perhaps my favorite feature are the massive side pockets, or as I call them 'Oh Shit' pockets to capture the random tape, belay glasses, and chapsticks of the world. This pack has no problem fitting a 70m rope, a double rack, 3 liters of water, lunch and layers with room for beer. Trango did come out with a small frame pack for shorties, but the loss in volume cancelled out and fit benefit, so I returned it and stuck with my trusty GIGANTOR pack.
In addition to climbing, this has become my go to Europe pack because you can fit a week's worth of clothes for two people, and with the heavy tarp exterior it's durable enough to just chuck on the checked bag pile and it comes out on the other side totally fine. What's this miracle pack missing? A loop or clip to attach your keys to in the brain. Having floater keys makes me nervous! I'd also love to see Trango come out with a small frame version without losing capacity.
That's it for Vol 1! I'm already working on Vol 2, which will include a write up on a new Beast Fingers training device and more puppy pictures. Any thing you'd like to see? Drop me a line!