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Gear reviews

Gear: Petzl Arial Single Rope Review

Gear: Petzl Arial Single Rope Review

climbing gear at base of Kentheim crag
Petzl Arial – Ready to rock

With two years of lugging around my Mammut 10.5mm rope, it was finally time to splurge on something thinner. After feeling up many a rope in climbing stores and pouring over online reviews, I opted for the Petzl Arial.

Not being enough of a crusher to choose 9.2 mm or below, nor wanting to climb on a python sized rope, 9.5 mm seemed to be the ideal diameter for a mere mortal.

For two years now, it’s been my go to outdoors rope and especially beloved for multipitch in places like Stuhlfels, Aussichtsfels, Schreyfels, Battert and more.

Why the Petzl Arial Single Rope is Awesome

  • It’s supple and easy to work with. I can’t write a pulitzer prize winning description, but as a climber you immediately feel the difference between a rough, stiff rope and a smooth, silky one.
  • Dry coat! – No worries about snow  and ice, also more resistant to wear and dirt.
  • 9.5 mm is super light without losing durability. The weight difference (58g/meter) is amazing on multipitch, both when leading and just managing rope.
  • Comes coiled and ready to climb with – a small bonus admittedly, but still nice.
  • Feeds super smooth, catches just fine in a Grigri (i.e. not too thin)

To be fair, there are some small negatives, but nothing that would make me hesitate to fully recommend the Arial.

Petzl Arial: Minor Disadvantages

  • Good feeding and smooth handling means it can slip a bit on tube devices
  • Stretches a bit more than thicker ropes which may or may not matter to you
  • Will wear a little more than thicker ropes, especially if you do lots of wandery multipitch

Granted, these downsides are minor and mostly a result of higher performance elsewhere (e.g. handling vs slipping more in some devices). I’m a big fan of Petzl, having a helmet, Macchu kids harness, Grigri and lots of Spirit Express draws. The Arial continues their record of awesome gear in my opinion and I’ll definitely be getting another Petzl rope whenever it comes time to replace this, or I have magically have enough free time to make getting half ropes worthwhile.

Get It or Check It Out Here:

Gear: Belaggles Review – Belay Glasses

Gear: Belaggles Review – Belay Glasses

Several years ago while taking a lead climbing class at Franklin Gorge, West Virginia, my instructor pulled out a thick pair of pink glasses. He didn’t seem to mind the color, size and spoke very highly of them. Being intrigued by the concept of belay glasses, we all took turns trying them on. I was sold instantly. Not long thereafter I picked up a pair of my own Belaggles, albeit in blue not pink. So here is my Belaggles review.

Belay Glasses: Belaggles Review

Nowadays, belay glasses have proliferated. Here in Germany, at least every second climber has them at my gym. Yet, Belaggles are not very common. Instead, most people seem to have CU’s which lack a hand carrying case.

After owning a pair for several years now, they are permanently attached to my harness for the gym and single pitch crags

The only time I do have the typical belayer’s neck is on multipitch where I leave them behind because they aren’t absolutely necessary and I dont need the extra weight. If you have never tried belay glasses, nothing I write will match the instant “lightbulb” moment of trying them once and feeling the difference. While there are different styles, shapes and weights, the benefits are clear as soon as you try them.

With several other styles on the market, you may ask what makes them different.

  1. Size & Weight – Yes, they are a bit bulkier and heavier than others, but more durable and don’t easily slide around while belaying
  2. Color – More options if that stuff matters to you
  3. Carrying Case – Unlike some Euro brands, they come with a softcase that you can clip to your harness. This is hugely practical!

Get Your Own Belaggles!

 

Gear: Metolius Ultralight Mastercams Review

Gear: Metolius Ultralight Mastercams Review

I’m not a pure trad climber so keep that in mind while reading my ultralight mastercams review. I’ve used gear mainly to supplement and protect runout sections between bolts like at Stuhlfels and Kentheim and most recently on my first trad climbs at  Battert. So with that disclaimer, let’s dive into Metolius ultralight mastercams.

When just starting out, you’ll see Black Diamond Camalots (C4s) the most, making them seem to be the natural and automatic choice of cam. The honest reason I first went with mastercams? They just felt better. Perhaps because they were tighter, or took a bit more effort to manipulate they just felt better to use and “tougher” than Camalots. Of course, they’re both certified and rated by the same agencies and will hold falls when placed right. But there’s a certain ineffable haptic pleasure I get when using them. I also love the ultralight mastercam design personally.

You can find the technical specs in seconds with the Google, so I’ll focus on why I like them.

Klettergarten Stetten
My daughter, testing an UL mastercam #8 and staying happy/busy!

Original, or old Metolius Mastercams

There are two styles of mastercam, the original and the ultralights. The original mastercams feature a thumbloop, different trigger, horizontally notched cam lobes and some are slightly longer. The UL mastercams have no thumb loop and are comparable to DMM’s. There were few downsides to the original mastercams. The most frequent were that the #6 was floppy (totally true) and that they didn’t make any bigger sizes, whereas C4’s go up to well, gigantic! The rangefinder system is also nice, though I honestly can’t remember really using it while climbing. I found it more useful while practicing placements on the ground.

 

Metolious mastercams
Metolious mastercams, both original and ultralight

New Metolius Ultralight Mastercams

After years of mastercam awesomeness, Metolius redesigned them making them look even cooler, but more importantly reducing weight and size while maintaining all the same specs otherwise. Check out this chart, courtesy of Weigh My Rack with the differences:

Metolius mastercam comparison chart
Metolius mastercam comparison chart

I immediately got the 6, 7 and 8 where the weight difference is biggest, because the original #6 is indeed floppy and finally because there wasn’t a 7 or 8 before. As it stands, the new UL mastercams go up to a BD C4 #3. Most people’s final judgement on the new ultralight mastercams is decided by whether they want a thumb loop or not. I honestly don’t care and easily place both styles. I tend to prefer minimalist things in general which makes me favor the ultralights. I also like the sleek aluminum and steel vs the plasticy C4’s. The wire stems are taut enough not too be floppy or bend when pulling the trigger yet flexible enough to use horizontally without worry and take heaps of abuse. They are also just flexible enough to help minimze walking.

Other Reasons to Choose Mastercams

Any cam you buy that is certified will basically serve it’s purpose. Metolius as a company is still focused on climbers and has not gotten lost in the “lifestyle” products that others have (like Black Diamond). They aren’t busy focusing on selling t-shirts marked up several hundred percent and selling gear as a side business. All their cams are made in the US, and materials even sourced in the US.

For other and more in-depth mastercam reviews, you can check out Weigh My Rack, UKC Gear, Blister Gear Review, and Outdoor Gear Lab.