This week marks one year that I’ve been signed on as an athlete for Trango Extraordinary Climbing Gear, and I must say it’s been a delightful ride! I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to represent Trango and their affiliates (such as Stonewear Designs and Tenaya) at numerous festivals and demos, provide feedback on products still in the testing phase, as well as meet some really great people. Oh yeah, and I also got loads of free gear along the way too! And though I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of the gear I’ve received from Trango, a few products in particular have found their way into the “favorites” category. So it seemed fitting to celebrate me and Trango’s one-year anniversary with a “Best of the Best,” list. In other words, if you can only buy one piece of gear from Trango this year, I would strongly recommend it be one of these 5 items. So here’s the “best of the best,” in no particular order…(And it hopefully goes without saying that this best of the best list is my unbiased opinion, despite the fact that I did not pay for any of this gear.)
CINCH. For a lot of climbers, the Cinch is their first introduction to Trango. This innovative product probably gets the prize for “most talked about” piece of gear at the crag. It’s simple in design, easy to use, and feeds smoothly on a wide variety of rope sizes. I posted a review on it last summer, and referred to it as “A Belayer’s Best Friend.” I like it so much better than any other belay device I’ve ever used that between my husband and I we each have one for the crag, and one for the gym, as we don’t ever want to get caught without it!
No longer are the La Sportiva Miuras my go to shoe on projects. In fact, they aren’t even in my climbing pack anymore. They’re stuffed in a box in the garage, while my 3 pairs of Tenayas proudly assume the on deck position in my pack. Finding the optimal balance between performance and comfort, these shoes are designed to crush your project at the local crag one day, without killing your feet at the top of pitch 8 the next day. I have 3 pairs and use them all pretty much equally – Tatankas for the steeps, Masais for vertical faces, and Ras for everything in between! For a detailed run down of my thoughts on each shoe, check out the review I wrote last fall.
CHOCKSTONES: When my hubby and I went out to Red Rocks this past November, I think I led 2 pitches in a row on nothing but chockstones. And on that same trip the Crag-Daddoo managed to finagle a chockstone into a wily constriction that none of his BD Stoppers would fit in! These guys fit everywhere! The curved design gives you more versatility in placements, and the stability groove hugs bumps and other imperfections in the rock, wrapping around them for an extremely secure fit. These nuts utilize an alternating color system (gray and orange) that eliminates the need to fiddle with gear, so that you can find the piece you need when you need it.
SPLITTER CAMS. These little babies are very cool. If I’m climbing over gear, you can bet I’m gonna carry up all 5. The direct-offset cam alignment combines the stability of a 4-camming unit with the narrow head of a 3-camming unit. This translates to extra peace of mind in shallow, tight placements. I’ve never tried it, but they are even fully rated when hung off a single pair of lobes (cue scary music!) Because of the opposing lobes, it’s impossible to over-retract them, decreasing your odds of getting your gear stuck. The doubled slings provide an extra clip in point, and save a lot of weight since you don’t have to drag up a bunch of extra slings. The only con I found was that the Splitter Cam’s range is smaller than other small cams, so there’s not as much overlap between pieces. But that certainly doesn’t make them difficult to place. In fact, on a recent project the .5 Splitter fit much better than the same size equivalent my friend was using…So if you’re looking to add to your rack, or are starting from scratch, be sure to check out the Splitters! (I would also recommend the Flex Cams, which offer solid protection, and feature the same alternating color system as the chockstones!)
SMOOTH QUICKDRAWS. With a Cragbaby in tow, weight makes a big difference, which means that we often end up leaving the trad rack at home in favor of a handful of quickdraws, so this is probably the piece of gear I’ve gotten the most mileage out of at the crag. And I must say that these draws are top-notch. The action is smooth, the dogbone is sturdy and won’t twist, and you can purchase them with any solid/wire gate combination. I use a straight gate solid for the hanger, and a bent gate solid for the rope end, and was pleasantly surprised at how lightweight that set-up was. The only drawback is that they only come in one length, but that hasn’t proved to be a big deal. It’s easy to connect two together to extend a clip at the sport crag, and for gear routes I generally carry a hodge podge of sling lengths anyway, so it’s a non-issue there too. I liked this piece of gear so much that it was the first product I chose to review for Trango, so for the longer version, click here.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has put this gear to the test – if you’re a fan (or even if you’re not!) of any of these products, please comment below and let me know what you think! One lucky commenter will be randomly chosen to win a 5-pack of Smooth Quickdraws! (You can also gain multiple entries by liking Cragmama and/or Trango on facebook, just let me know that in the comment threads as well!) Winners will be chosen on Saturday, March 30, at midnight EST. Meanwhile, I’d like to publicly send a big thank you to Trango for supporting me and my climbing endeavors this past year. I’m looking forward to another great year…and it’s worth noting that Cragbaby has already taken command of one of my team shirts, and is anxious to know when Trango will start taking applications again 😉