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Petzl Altios

I feel naked without it.

Good ventilation
Rides well
Rides a little high

I've had this helmet (in gray, of course) since 2011. I'm a little ashamed to admit it, but I have a pin head. No doubt it's crammed full with a dense and incredibly efficient brain, hence the headaches, but it does create a problem when finding helmets that fit properly. I really hate looking like an 8 year old girl on a barbie bike with handle bar tassels while a bowling ball that's been chopped in half, painted like a ladybug, and passed off as a helmet sits so far back on her head there is actual danger the chin strap might at any moment constrict her esophagus and cause an untimely death. But that is often the case with One-size-fits-all helmets for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm a proud supporter of girls on bikes, even pink bikes, but loose fitting helmets suck. I say loose instead of poorly fitting because I've never really experienced a helmet that was too tight.

The small size in the Altios fits me pretty damn well. The quick-adjust wheel knob deelie works well with one hand when switching between wearing a hat under the helmet and not. I've used the helmet on rock, ice, and glacier and I have been pleased by it's performance, if sitting in one place all day, attempting to not get noticed can be considered a performance. I haven't taken any major falling objects to the head while wearing this helmet but I have been pretty rough with it and it still looks almost new after 3 years. I wish I could say the same for the fading Justin Bieber stickers. The hybrid suspension system is very comfortable and has allowed for more ventilation than non-suspension helmets. I used the past tense for the ventilation because over time the suspension has relaxed/streched and now sits on the foam. I don't notice this from either a comfort or ventilation stand point but I think it's worth noting. The one other thing I'm not super stoked about on the Altios is the side straps that go around your ears do not have any length adjustment. The chin strap does and that buckle works alright, but I've found that the side straps can end up biting into the bottom of my ear over time. It only happens on one side because of course God thought it would be a good idea to make my ears lop-sided.

Overall I would say I've been very pleased with how the Altios has held up over the years and how it only rarely made its presence known over a long day in the mountains. That being said, it's not the lightest helmet on the market and I think, depending on fit of course, I'm going to be looking to a foam helmet in the future. Something like the BD Vapor or the Petzl Sirocco, but only if they change that heinous color.

Classic Keylock 11cm

Omega Pacific
Omega Pacific Classic Keylock

Wanted to like it

inexpensive and good lookin'...
Nose design makes clipping a challenge

So, we were given one of these 'draws for testing along with the Dash Dirtbag 'draws. I immediately gravitated to the this quickdraw as I've used but never owned a keylock draw before. I had high hopes. After only a couple of weeks, this draw started spending most of its time on the ground. The Dash Dirtbag eclipsed the Classic Keylock in most ways. The problem: the keylock nose is designed in such a way that it meets the body of the 'biner at an almost 90 deg. angle. This makes clipping the 'biner to a bolt hanger a challenge, especially if the threads of the bolt are a little long which requires rotating the carabiner through the hanger. The carabiner doesn't suffer from this problem when unclipping from bolts or harness. I would be inclined to use these draws on non-sport climbs where desperate clips to small bolt-hangers are not the norm. The carabiners' gate action was pleasant and the nice blue anodizing ensures that they look good dangling from your harness. I can't speak the durability yet but given how robust they feel, and our experience with other Omega Pacific carabiner, I wouldn't be surprised if they hold up very well.
Take away: if I could pick these up on sale I'd be tempted to grab them. But I don't think they'd be my first choice if I were going to invest in a new set of keylock draws.

Dash Dirtbag 11cm

Omega Pacific
Omega Pacific Dash Dirtbag

As cheap as a Scottish dirtbag and about as pretty


I've been using the Dash Dirtbag 'draws for a few months now, almost exclusively on sport routes. Although I was not initially impressed by how these draws looked, climb after climb, I find myself reaching for these things instead of the other draws in my pack. The simple reason is that they work. For such a dirt-cheap draw, the Dash Dirtbags do what they're supposed to do and they do it pretty damn well. No pretty colors, no fancy key-lock nose, just easy clipping bolt after bolt. They're size is deceptive too. At first I thought they were going to be a little small, and with two straight gates they may not clip the rope effectively. Wrong. The smaller size and rounded nose actually make clipping bolts pretty easy. Especially those bolts where the threads are protruding and might interfere with larger carabiners. The Dash Dirtbags clip ropes surprisingly well also. The dog-bones are sewn tight around the rope-side 'biner, which negates the need for a rubber keeper and makes identifying the loosely sewn bolt-side 'biner easy enough for proper racking.

Conclusion: If you're looking for a dirt cheap quickdraw that will last for years and won't leave you cursing at each clip, the Dash Dirtbags will perform admirably. But if you're someone that wants to look like they climb so hard they need the absolute best (read: most expensive) gear available, these are not for you.


Black Diamond
Black Diamond ATC

Smooth but a little limiting

no teeth
Only basic features
no guide mode

After loosing my ATC Guide, I've been using a borrowed std ATC for the last couple of months. When climbing single pitch routes, with relatively light partners, the std ATC is great. Super smooth pay-out, lowering, and double-rope rappelling. The problems with this belay device come into play when I'm climbing multi-pitch routes or with climbers that are heavier than I am (unfortunately, this is hard to find). The lack of teeth does limit how heavy of a climber you can belay, and if you're on the heavier side of spectrum, it might be unnerving to repel with if the ropes are skinny. But if you're looking for an inexpensive, simple belay device that'll last you years, and you know you'll only be climbing with the ladies or the dudes that look like ladies, this device will be fine. Nothing special, but works well for what it was made to do.


Metolius Torque

Yup, it's a nut tool.

It's metal...
it has a little hooky thing
it has a palm protector
It's not titanium...

Grabbed this thing on the way to my first introduction to trad climbing. No regrets. It works. According to WeighMyRack it maybe could be a little lighter, I guess. But seriously, it's a nut tool. I do like the palm protector. It has saved my hands a great deal of pain. If the leader takes a whipper, I wouldn't want to be stuck using one of those pieces of stamped sheet metal some people use. Or the one with the knife?!? It does its job and it's done it well for years.


Wild Country
Wild Country Neon Full View

Super slick little locker

Nice Gate Action
A little small

I bought a couple of these babies to use for multi-pitch sport routes. My only complaint would be they are on the small side for a locker. But unless you need to stuff a giant rope in it, it should be able to handle almost everything you'd want. I love using it as a belay biner with a 9.6mm or smaller rope. If you're looking for a Locker to slip into the power point of your 1" webbing anchor, I'd suggest something bigger. But for almost any other application, these little beauties perform like a charm. And you get a locker at the weight of many of the non-lockers on the market. They're tough to beat in my opinion.