When I was young, I would pour over the Toys R’ Us catalog, and any other toy catalog delivered to our house, and circle everything I wanted for Christmas with a big smelly Sharpie. My understanding was that these curated catalogs would be sent to Santa, and he’d pick worthy items from the list to deliver on Christmas Day. I can’t say for sure that those catalogs ever made it to the North Pole, but it sure was a fun way to dream about future toys.

Today, that tradition is coming back, for both Andreas and I. We searched through REI’s 773 climbing items and “circled” the gear that made us most excited, and created our own gear wishlist. And whatever we don’t get, we’ll spend our annual dividend on, since we’re REI Co-op members.

The highlighted items below are today’s equivalent to big circles in the catalogs of yesteryear, take note Mom and Dad!

Alison’s Holiday List

Wild Country Ascent Lite Belay carabiner – $21.95

Wild Country Ascent Lite Belay Carabiner

If I had to describe my dream belay carabiner I would say it needs a round top so the rope runs smoothly, an H beam body to save weight, a squarish bottom to fit well on a belay loop, a belay keeper for proper orientation, and an easy to use gate action (1st choice: a fast auto-lock, 2nd choice: a grippy thimble). It was as if Wild Country saw my dream list, because the Ascent checks all the boxes. It doesn’t get any better than this, unless maybe the Edelrid HMS Strike Slider FG and the Wild Country Ascent Lite procreated, but I’m not holding my breath.

Wild Country Ascent Lite Belay at REI

Petzl Djinn Axess 12cm quickdraws – $16.95

Our Rock Climbing Holiday Gear List 1

If you asked me what the “best” sport draws are, I’d say I’m tied between the Petzl Spirits ($23) and Edelrid Bulletproofs ($30). But those are both super expensive draws. As a value-first kind of climber, I would first buy (or in this case, request) the Petzl Djinn’s. They’re the closest option to the Spirits/Bulletproofs as they have a wonderfully smooth nose angle to avoid catching on bolts, a wide gate opening, a snappy gate action, and a more substantial dogbone that isn’t super floppy. In fact, when Petzl first brought them out I wondered, “why would anybody buy Spirits when they have this great option?” Now I realize some people are ok with splurging and truly enjoy having the best. But for me, I’d be completely pleased with a set of 8 Djinn draws in the 12cm length.

Petzl Djinn Axess at REI

Dry Ice – Ice Tools – $99.95

Dry Ice Tools

I’d been curious about the Dry Ice training tools for awhile, and after reading Kirk’s review on them, I was sold. They’re a great way to train indoors for the ice season. I really need to practice not over gripping my tools, and proper resting stances and I see these Dry Ice tools as the way to do that before it’s actually negative temperatures and I’m pushing my limits outdoors. Note: As a lady with small hands, I’d probably go for the “kids version” whose grip is 30% narrower.

Normal Version at REIKids Version at REI

Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center – $129.95

Trango Rock Prodigy Training Center Trangy Pulley Kit

When we interviewed Trango about the Rock Prodigy hangboard, Adam went into great detail about the angle of the holds and all the different finger positions–it was clear that every detail was scrutinized and then updated further in 2016. Adam even gave a solid testimony to his own climbing, which because of increased training, he was able to move up a whole grade level to 5.13. The biggest plus of the Rock Prodigy system is that this training regimen includes recommendations that help prevent injury but increase strength. Example: you have the ability to mount this board at your actual shoulder width instead of some standard size. In the past I haven’t been one for training, but as I’ve been spending more time in Vermont with my parents, I need some quicker ways to keep in shape. Since I already have pulleys and extra cord, I don’t need the pulley kit that is a necessity for this training system.

Update: Andreas bought this for me for Christmas 2018, so I don’t actually need it anymore.

Training Board at REIPulley Kit at REI

Edelrid Boa Eco 60m – $149.95

Edelrid Boa Eco

Let’s just say, I’ve always been attracted to rainbows. So when I heard about Edelrid’s upcycled rope the Boa Eco, which is a one-off rope made of spool ends that are too short for a full 1000 meter run and results in quite colorful patterns, I was sold. The 9.8mm is now what I consider a beefy rope size for abusive routes, and I’d get it in 60 meters–I’ll save the 70m lengths for skinnier ropes like Edelrid’s Eagle Light and Swift. I’m also a sucker for the fact that all Edelrid ropes are bluesign certified which guarantees a thorough ecologicial investigation of the entire process from raw materials to finished product. Aside: if you want to see how Edelrid ropes are made, you can read all the steps or watch a video of them here.

Edelrid Boa Eco at REI

Petzl Quark ice tools – $259.95 each

Petzl Quark hammer Petzl Quark adze

This picture is of the 2017 Quarks. The 2018 Quarks are out now.

I’ve gone on a few ice climbing trips with clubs and friends and have used quite a range of tools. My skill level and near-term goals are more in the WI2-4 range. For now, I’m not looking to do mixed climbs or dry tooling, but instead am seeking vertical waterfalls and/or want to be prepared when I stumble upon pitches of ice while mountaineering. These Quarks are a bit lighter than similarly shaped tools and a tiny bit narrower too. This makes them quite ideal for me and my small lady hands. They’re also fairly versatile with the moveable pommel and removable pinky rest, so I’d love to take them on trips up Rainier via the more technical Kautz routes, where I’d use them for plunging, daggering, and ice climbing. I’d request one of each version, the adze and the hammer.

Update: After testing Petzl’s 2018/2019 tools in Ouray, CO, I’m changing my mind. I would actually like the new Petzl Nomic instead. They were super fun to climb with and I’d like to take up ice climbing with them. 

2017 Petzl Quark – Hammer at REI2017 Petzl Quark – Adze at REI
2018 Petzl Quark – Hammer at REI2018 Petzl Quark – Adze at REI

 


REI’s Get Up Get Out sale is running through November 20th. Get up to 30% off on loads of gear (climbing, hiking, etc).

See all of the climbing gear on sale


Andreas’ Holiday List

Givel Tau auto-locking carabiner – $14.95

Grivel Tau carabiner

Typically, my favorite locking carabiners are the Edelrid Sliders, but this summer I had the chance to use one of the Tau lockers and I was impressed by how fast and easy it is to use, particularly clipping to bolts or gear. It can be a bit tricky to unclip in certain situations, especially when first learning how to use it, but after a handful of times in the field it becomes more intuitive. After the initial learning curve, it’s a fast and efficient anchor ‘biner that I’m hoping to add to my rack for next season. At 55 grams it’s not the lightest auto-locker available, but it is $3 cheaper than the Edelrid Pure Slider and much easier to operate than most other autos on the market.

Grivel Tau carabiner at REI

Mammut Contact sling – $8.95

Mammut Contact sling

In my opinion, you simply can’t own enough slings. And the Mammut Contact Slings are the cream of the crop. It’s not that they’re some crazy new innovation that’s totally different from anything else. What sets the Contact Sling apart from other skinny Dyneema® slings is the attention to detail. With a label that wraps around and covers the ends of the sling making them virtually snag free, using these are a dream. It’s a little thing, but it makes a big difference in use. I currently don’t have any of my own and would like this to change.

Mammut Contact Sling at REI

FrictionLabs Unicorn Dust chalk – $25.00

FrictionLabs Unicorn Dust

Let’s be honest, I’d never buy this gourmet chalk for myself at these prices because I use so much chalk I’d be broke after a season. But if I’m creating a wish list the Unicorn Dust chalk is certainly going to be on it. I hate chunky chalk, and this unicorn dust is as fine as it gets. I did get a chance to dry my paws with this stuff at the Red River Gorge and was thankful for it. Is it as superior to the competition as they claim? The jury is still out. But damn it is smooth and silky and I’d be happy to be gifted more.

FrictionLabs Unicorn Dust chalk at REI

Mammut Multipitch chalk bag – $39.95

Mammut Multipitch chalk bag

There are many times on multi-pitch climbs that I wish I could bring a Clif Bar, light jacket, and phone without wearing a backpack or stuffing my pockets. Enter the Multipitch Chalk Bag. It’s one of those products that begs the question, why didn’t I think of that? When we first saw this chalk bag at the OR show I knew I had to have one, but alas, I still don’t have one so this holiday season I’m making sure it’s on my wish list!

Mammut Multipitch at REI

Edelrid Bulletproof quickdraw – $29.95

Edelrid Bulletproof Quickdraw

For all if its amazing qualities, aluminum is not super durable when it comes to long-term abrasion. In sandy environments, a dirty rope can wear an aluminum carabiner surprisingly quickly. And it sucks to have to throw away a heavily worn carabiner that otherwise could last for many, many years. This is where the Bulletproof comes in. For anyone who spends a lot of time working routes or simply wants to invest in gear that’s going to last, the Bulletproof is an ingenious solution. By adding a steel insert into one of the best performing sport climbing ‘biners on the market (the Bullet), Edelrid has made a beautiful clipping, super durable, but still reasonably light-weight quickdraw. Compared to one of the ultimate sport draws on the market, the Wild Country Proton, the Bulletproof is only 4 grams heavier and $1 more expensive. Seriously impressive engineering, Edelrid.

Edelrid Bulletproof Quickdraw at REI

Petzl GRIGRI + belay device – $149.95

Petzl GriGri +

I can’t believe this, but I have never owned a Petzl Grigri. I know, right! So I figured it’s time to jump on the wagon and see how the Grigri + really stacks up to all of the options now on the market. I like the idea of the lead/TR mode switch, and the anti-panic lock can’t hurt. And getting more control on the lower will be appreciated. The added weight over the Grigri II isn’t super great but since I’ll only be using it for sport climbing and setting up a RAD system for jugging when taking photos, it’s less of an issue.

Petzl Grigri + at REI

Petzl Ascension Right ascender – $84.95

Petzl Ascension ascender

It’s time for me to bite the bullet and actually get a proper ascender for photo shoots. For me, it would be a toss up between the Ascension and BD Index, but the Ascension has been the gold standard of ascenders for so long it’s hard not to follow the herd and go Petzl. The smooth action, lightweight, and the ability to clip 2 ‘biners to the bottom hole nudge it over the competition for me.

Petzl Ascension ascender at REI

La Sportiva Kataki – $170

La Sportiva Kataki

My current go-to shoe is the Five Ten Quantum, but I’m looking for something with just a touch more edging power while keeping the comfort for all-day romps on the wall. The Kataki, like the La Sportiva Otaki before it, combines a moderately downturned and asymmetric last with more comfort than many other high-end performance shoes. My foot is weird in that I have a wide but flat and low volume forefoot and a narrow heel. This makes fitting shoes difficult and I have found after years of wearing velcro shoes, lace ups are really the only way for achieving the fit I need.

La Sportiva Kataki at REI

Black Diamond Camalot Ultralights – $89.95 – $129.95

Black Diamond Camalot C4 Ultralights

I’m not particularly brand loyal, but when it comes to cams, it’s really tough to beat Black Diamond. The BD C4’s set the standard by which all other cams are judged and the new Ultralights just raised the bar. I probably wouldn’t bother spending the extra money on the smaller (under .75) units as the weight savings over the standard C4 isn’t as significant as with the larger units. I can’t wait to get a double #1-#4 set for the holidays!!!!

BD Camalot Ultralights at REI

Mammut Wall Rider helmet – $99.95

Mammut Wall Rider helmet

I actually own a lot of different climbing helmets, from burly hardshell beasts to ultralight foam jobbers that offer little in durability but weigh next to nothing. The Wall Rider had my attention from the first time I saw a year before it’s release. It appears to do a great job of blending the lightweight of an EPP foam helmet and the durability of hardshell lid. From all of the reports I’ve heard, people seem to think the Wall Rider is the ultimate do-it-all helmet that stays comfortable all day and doesn’t require using kid gloves when it’s not on your head. Thanks, Mammut for making a helmet that just performs the way it should, and thanks to that special person who is going to put it under my tree!

Mammut Wall Rider at REI

Black Diamond Creek 50 backpack – $189.95

Black Diamond Creek 50 pack

I’ve been thinking about using a haul bag to lug our kit to the crag, but I just couldn’t get over the fact that I’d likely spend more time hiking with the pack on my back than actually hauling it. Then along came the Creek 50! A bag inspired by the gear schlepping capacity of a haul bag, but designed to actually be carried. Now that’s the type of crag bag that gets me excited. And I’m not alone in my excitement. When we finished filming all of Black Diamond’s hardware at the OR show right before the Creek 50 was released, BD’s Climbing Director Kolin “KP” Powick pulled us over to the new bags and said “But forget all that stuff, this is best thing BD is coming out with this year!” Since that fateful day I’ve been waiting for BD to send us one as a gift. Still waiting, BD.

BD Creek 50 pack at REI

Cassin X-All Mountain ice tool – $239.95

Cassini X-All Mountain ice tool

The truth be told, I’m not much of an ice climber. Frankly, it scares the s!*t out of me. But there are times when being in the mountains requires moving through icy terrain, and I’d like to have a tool that is versatile enough to compensate for my lack of skill on ice while still being useful on less-than-vertical snow and rock terrain. There are a number of tools on the market that fit the bill, like the Petzl Quark and Black Diamond Viper. The thing that puts the X-All Mountain on top of my list is its reported ability to climb ice really, really well. And for me that’s helpful as I attempt to overcome my fear on terrain that doesn’t require a full blown ice/mixed tool like the Cassin X-Dream.

Cassin X-All Mountain tool at REI

Black Diamond Snaggletooth crampons – $219.95

Black Diamond Snaggletooth crampons

As stated above, I’m not much of an ice climber. Some might say I dabble. I’m looking for a crampon that is primed for moderate alpine climbers and can handle some vertical ice. I think the Snaggletooth has just the right blend of technical monopoint capabilities while still being versatile enough for even moderate glacier hikes. Of course having three pairs of crampons would be ideal, a monopoint for water ice, the Snaggletooth for alpine, and an ultralight aluminum pair for glaciers. But I think I’ll just ask for the do-it-all Snaggletooth this year.

Black Diamond Snaggletooth at REI

Quick Notes about our Listicles

Our lists are missing many of our favorite products simply because we already own them. This is what we actually want for Christmas, not what we assume somebody else might want. You’ll notice a few main themes in our gear lists this year: ice, training, rigging, and the highest end products that exist that we don’t own yet.

If we didn’t already have offset nuts, they would definitely be on the list. Or, if we didn’t own an Edelrid Ohm, we’d consider it an ideal gift because it’s expensive and really nice to have but can be hard to justify the price. Similarly, if we weren’t already promised a Wild Country REVO for gear testing, you would have seen it on the list.

Although this post was sponsored by REI, and we were looking through the REI catalog specifically, there was no influence from REI about our lists. These are our picks which we would be truly grateful and stoked to receive and use.

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Alison Dennis

Alison Dennis

Alison (she/her) runs WeighMyRack from her 17' travel trailer. She is currently touring the US and would love if you contacted her to meet up to talk about climbing, climbing gear, or if you have any fun and/or ridiculous adventure in mind.

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