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Climb lighter: Ropes, cams, carabiners and harnesses all lose weight while maintaining safety

Check out the top new climbing products and trends for 2013 that we encountered at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 2-5. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

This SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Summer Market recap is brought to you by Cordura:

As in many outdoor categories, the latest climbing gear is looking to find a sweet spot and hit targets in lightness, performance, comfort and durability. The last is still crucial in this sport where gear is constantly dragged along rock and safety ranks above all.

Whether consumers are casting off on a big multi-pitch adventure, or pushing their personal limits on steep stone, the new equipment shown at Summer Market also will help climbers get specific with their adventure.

Harness design continues to utilize new materials to increase comfort while saving weight, most notably seen at this show in the redesigned Petzl harnesses. The Sama (MSRP $65) and Luna (MSRP $75) are premier sport climbing setups for men and women, while the Adjama (MSRP $75) and Selena (MSRP $65) offer more adjustability for trad climbers and mountaineers. Wild Country is offering up harnesses based on new materials, from the all-arounder Eclipse (MSRP N/A) to the sleek Boost (MSRP N/A), a no-frills sport rig. The CAMP Supernova (MSRP N/A) is a unique offering, designed by women, for women, with features that aim to eliminate the pressure points most commonly noticed by female climbers.

Petzl Sama

CAMP Supernova

In the rope world, it’s not just about getting smaller. Check out Mammut’s new 10.0 Sensor (MSRP $280, 60 meters), the first climbing rope to use both visual and textured markings on the middle and ends. Now belayers can know when they have passed the midpoint, or are getting close to the end, without taking their eyes off the climber.

The smaller ropes trend is still part of the game, and Mammut is leading the pack with the thinnest single rope available, the 8.7-millimeter Serenity (MSRP $250, 60 meters), while the smallest twin rope in the world is now the 6.9-millimeter Edelrid Flycatcher (MSRP $350, 60 meters).

Edelrid Flycatcher

Longevity is an issue, however, as climbers find they like smaller ropes, but don’t want to replace them more often. Beal has applied its Unicore process, which fuses the sheath and core, to several of its dynamic ropes, including the 9.1-millimeter Joker (MSRP N/A). Millet has taken its exclusive Triaxiale construction, a core composed of three larger cords as opposed to one, and created the new Absolute TRX (MSRP N/A), a 9-millimeter rope that promises increased durability for its size.

Beal Joker


Trad climbers can rejoice at some new protection options, especially the Black Diamond X4 Camalots (MSRP $70), a high range, small camming unit featuring narrow head width and double axle range down to the smallest size. The beloved CAMP Tri Cam joins the 21st century as the Tri Cam Evo (MSRPs $25-$28), now with a third placement option.

Black Diamond X4 Camalot

Carabiners continue to lose weight faster than a contestant on “The Biggest Loser,” and the new lightest carabiner in the world is the Helio19 (MSRP N/A) from Edelrid, at, you guessed it, 19 grams. And just when you thought it might never happen, Petzl took the Spirits (MSRP $8.95) from 1991 and brought them back to the future 10 grams lighter and sporting a modern look. The bent gate versions have a larger gate opening for easier clips, and the redesigned Express draw (MSRPs $21-22) saves weight while still offering the robust dogbone shape that hangdoggers know and love. And no matter how safe it is, a good idea will only catch on if it’s easy to use. The new Gatekeeper belay carabiner from Metolius features a small internal gate that easily connects to your belay loop and eliminates undue cross loading.

Petzl Spirit

Helmets have come a long way from the clunkers of the past, but we still haven’t quite reached the tipping point where wearing one at the crag will be the norm rather than the exception. To that end, both Black Diamond and Petzl are offering futuristic new models weighing less than 200 grams. Bill Belcourt, climbing category director at Black Diamond, explained the brand’s motivation for creating the new Vapor: “We have to be willing to make a helmet that people will want to wear. We have to take away all the excuses people use for not wearing one.” Perhaps there’s some insight there on parent company Black Diamond Inc.’s recent acquisition of stylish Swedish helmet brand Poc Sports. The Vapor (MSRP $140) uses thin layers of carbon and Kevlar to meet strength requirements while saving weight.

Black Diamond Vapor

Meanwhile, the Petzl Sirroco (MSRP $110) uses expanded polypropylene to keep down the weight and features a magnetic buckle that allows for one-handed chin strap operation. Both helmets offer excellent ventilation, taking away another common excuse from climbers who don’t wear helmets.

Petzl Sirroco

–BJ Sbarra