In this second installment of our Summer Outdoor Retailer Show Reports we take a look at all the cool new climbing gear that’s on its way. From carabiners to cams, helmets to ropes, there was some pretty cool kit at the show this year! If you’re looking for harnesses though you’ll have to wait for the next post. There were quite a few this year so I did a separate write-up for them. So let’s get right to it!
Black Diamond Z4 Cams:
Say goodbye to the old X4’s and C3’s, say hello to the new Z4’s. These elegant new cams from Black Diamond are a definite upgrade from the overly heavy X4’s and the stiff C3’s. The Z4’s will come in sizes from 0 to .75 which means that there’ll be some overlap with the C4’s in the .3 to .75 range. The color coding will match with the rest of the BD cam lines, unlike the old C3’s.
The head assembly of the new cams looks fairly similar to the X4 cams with a few differences: all of the lobes are anodized, the faces of the lobes have a slightly different texture as they’re sand blasted and all the trigger wires are steel, no synthetics.
The stems are where some more significant changes can be found. The heavy metal stem-wire sheath that the X4’s had is gone. In its place is a flexible plastic sleeve that BD is calling a RidgiFlex Stem. On the larger Z4’s (0.4 to 0.75) BD has used double stem wires, twisted around one another to add some additional rigidity. This addresses the issues that the larger X4’s had with the entire cam folding when the trigger was pulled. A well-thought-out improvement!
No word yet on the weight of these little beauties but I expect that they’ll be reasonably light and they’re definitely going to be a strong competitor for DMM’s new dragonflies. If you like offset cams you’ll be happy to know that they will also be available in the Z4 design from 0.1/0.2 up to 0.5/0.75. MSRP: $70 USD.
Black Diamond Camalot Ultralight:
The Ultralight cams are getting updated for 2020 as well. Black Diamond will be giving the bearing surface of their lobes the same sandblast treatment as the Z4’s. A great move in my books as it’ll save me the time it takes to sand the anodizing off them for better friction on hard or wet rock. This is the only change though and BD has indicated that they don’t plan on changing the MSRP.
These new, single wire nuts are exactly as the name would suggest: half a nut. DMM took the shape of their regular Wallnuts and cut them in half providing a lighter weight option. These new nuts are designed for shallow placements, pin scars and the like where the thin, single wire shape will provide additional stability. They weigh in at about 60% of the weight of a regular Wallnut and are rated at about half the strength. 4kN for the #1 up to 6kN for the #7, the largest in the set.
Edelrid Swift Protect Pro Dry 8.9mm Rope:
Definitely one of the coolest ropes to come out in a while, the new Swift from Edelrid has aramid woven into the sheath. What is aramid, you ask? Well, as with all such materials the answer can be somewhat complicated. But from a functional point of view aramid fibers have good tensile strength, are lightweight, tough and heat resistant. This makes the fiber great for slings and cords but not really a natural fit for a dynamic climbing rope.
Edelrid has been working with the material for some time and have even developed a few climbing products that use the fiber including the 6mm Aramid Cord Sling and Rap Line II. They have now taken this expertise and applied it to their 8.9mm Swift. Using a special processing method they were able to reinforce the sheath of the rope with aramid to markedly increase its cut resistance while still maintaining enough stretch to keep the impact forces within the required standards. Quite an achievement!
The result is a thin (8.9mm), lightweight (53g/m), triple-rated, dry treated dynamic climbing rope with much improved resistance to cutting over sharp edges. Talk about an alpine climber’s dream rope!! I cannot wait to get my hands on one of these guys for testing.
The new Swift Protect Pro Dry will come in 60m and 70m lengths and retail for $269.95 and $309.95 USD respectively. If you’re a big fan of the other Swift rope options don’t worry, they’re still in the line as well.
Other New and Updated Edelrid Ropes:
Edelrid Canary 8.6: This amazingly durable triple-rated climbing rope had a new color added to the line for 2020. It will still be available in the classic neon-green of course but now bright pink will be available as well. A great option for anyone wanting to climb on a pair of these fantastic ropes.
Hummingbird Pro Dry 9.2: This new rope seems to be replacing the old Topaz Pro Dry. It’s a bit lighter than its predecessor at 57g/m and is designed as a high-end sport climbing rope. It’ll be available in a green color (icemint-citrus) in 60m, 70m and 80m lengths. MSRP is $239.95, 269.95 and 299.95 USD respectively for the 60, 70 and 80m versions.
Kinglet 9.2: This new rope is designed as a go-to for any type of rock climbing from cragging to multi-pitch projecting. Kinda like the Boa just in a lighter, more performance focused package. It weighs in at 56g/m, comes in 60m and 70m lengths and comes in a single color: snow. Now if you’re thinking that means white, you’re definitely mistaken. It’s actually rainbow colored. It could be worse mind you, it could be called “snow” and be yellow. MSRP: $219.95 and $239.95 USD.
Skimmer Eco Dry 7.1 Twins: Basically the same as the previous version of the Skimmer twin ropes but with an updated dry treatment and colors. The current version utilizes Edelrid’s Pro Dry treatment process whereas the 2020 version of the ropes will be upgrading to the Eco Dry treatment process. A PFC-free dry finish that makes these uber-thin twin climbing ropes more environmentally friendly.
Edelrid Rap Line Protect Pro Dry: This unique and innovative rappel line that can be used as a lead rope in a pinch gets yet another upgrade. This is in fact the third iteration of Edelrid’s Rap Line. Upgrades include the Pro Dry treatment and a weight reduction from 31g/m to 29g/m. Edelrid has also improved the feel and handling of the rope/line with what looks like a slightly tighter weave. What hasn’t changed is the construction using a combination of high-strength polyamide and aramid for good cut and abrasion resistance. MSRP $239.95 and $289.95 USD or the 60 and 70m versions.
Mammut has made some big changes to their rope line for 2020 in an effort to simplify the buying process. Basically, they’ve created 3 different rope categories: Gym, Crag and Alpine. Each category is populated with ropes appropriate to the related activity. As the ropes in each category bare the name of the intended purpose, all the current ropes have been renamed following the new scheme. These new names are definitely more descriptive of their features and intended use. For example, the classic 8.7mm Serenity rope will now be called the 8.7 Alpine Sender Dry.
Ropes in the Alpine Line:
- 7.5 Alpine Sender Dry (Twilight)
- 8.0 Alpine Dry (Phoenix)
- 8.0 Alpine Classic (Phoenix)
- 8.7 Alpine Sender Dry (Serenity)
- 9.0 Alpine Sender Dry (New)
- 9.5 Alpine Dry (Infinity)
I’m not going to list all the Gym and Crag ropes for now. If you want to see them, fire me an email.
Hidden in with all the naming changes is a brand new rope called the 9.0 Alpine Sender Dry. However, as per the new naming scheme, the same rope can also be found under the Crag line as the 9.0 Crag Sender Dry Rope. The only difference will be the packaging as I understand.
This new 9.0 Sender rope utilizes a 48 bobbin construction instead of the more typical 40 which makes the sheath more compact, kind of like a higher thread count in sheets. The result is a smooth rope that should belay very nicely while retaining good durability. The 9.0 Sender certainly had a nice supple feel at the show. It’s triple rated, has a reasonably high sheath percentage for durability (40%) and weighs in at 54g/m. It will be available in two colors: orange with blue highlights and blue with orange highlights, and will be available in 60m, 70m, 80m and 100m lengths. The MSRP will be between $259.95 and $399.95, depending on length.
That’s it for ropes that I saw, on to helmets.
Black Diamond Vision Helmets:
This new line of hybrid helmets from BD includes a Mens, Womens and MIPS version. The overall design of the helmet is fairly standard: the main body is constructed from EPP foam with a small EPS foam puck over the crown that’s topped off with an ABS shell to protect the front and top of the helmet. A design that’s similar to Petzl’s Sirocco, Edelrid’s Salathe and Mammut’s Wallrider.
Weighing in at 215/22g for the S/M and M/L sizes, the regular version of the Vision helmet comes in red, green, dark blue and light blue. The helmet will of course sport all the regular features such as a rear headlamp/goggle clip, front headlamp clips and lots of venting. The lightweight harness looks the same as that used on the Vapor with a sliding plastic bar across the back. The sides and back of the helmet are also designed to protect the wearer from impacts in those areas, a move that every helmet manufacturer has been making of late in anticipation of the new UIAA requirements.
The Womens version of the Vision is much the same as the Mens version, just with a bit of room at the back for hair. It will come in a single size and weigh in at 215g. Both the Mens and Womens versions of the Vision will have an MSRP of $100 USD.
The MIPS version is basically the same as the regular Vision just with the addition of the MIPS technology. While it’s fairly commonplace in ski and bike helmets, the Vision MIPS will be just the second climbing helmet to offer the safety technology after Mammut’s Wallrider. For those not familiar with MIPS, it’s basically made up of a thin sliding layer mounting within the helmet. In the event of an angled impact to the helmet, this layer allows some torsional movement which means that some of the rotational forces are absorbed and redirected rather than being transferred to the brain. Unfortunately the Vision MIPS will only come in black, so it won’t make the best summer climbing helmet as it will be HOT to wear in the sun. Of course the added protection also adds to the weight bringing it up to 240g for the S/M size and 250g for the M/L. The MIPS version of the helmet will be a bit pricier with an MSRP of $150 USD.
Mammut Crag Sender Helmet:
This new low-profile helmet from Mammut comes in both a MIPS and regular version. And like the BD Vision helmet, the MIPS version only comes in black. The regular version comes in a somewhat drab grey. In-mold construction with a polycarbonate shell over EPS foam, a fairly standard design in lightweight helmets, was used in creating the Sender. However, Mammut added some Kevlar reinforcements to improve strength around the numerous vents. And like most quality helmets nowadays, Mammut conducted additional side and rear impact tests for improved safety.
Other features include a comfortable harness, headlamp clips, etc. MSRP 149.95 USD for the MIPS version, I don’t yet know what the regular version of the helmet will sell at but of course it’ll be a bit less.
CARABINERS AND DRAWS
Black Diamond Wire-Gate Carabiner Updates:
BD has discontinued the HoodWire, LiveWire, Freewire, Oz and Neutrino lines of wire-gate carabiners, draws, etc. and have instead focused on weight and durability in the creation of a series of light, notched ‘biners of different sizes.
- MiniWire – new
- LiteWire – new
- HotWire – updated
As the name suggests the MiniWire is the smallest of the bunch and is BD’s lightest fully functional carabiner. It will come in a quickdraw, extendable alpine draw and color coded rack packs as well as being available individually in an incredibly wide range of colors. No word yet on the weight.
The LiteWire is basically a slightly larger version of the MiniWire making it a basic notched, wire-gate carabiner. It will be sold individually, in a rack pack and as a quickdraw and of course comes in a variety of colors. The LiveWire also features a larger rope-bearing surface on the top for additional durability while the bottom has been designed specifically to hold the sling of a Camalot.
Last but not least is the updated HotWire. Designed for uses where a little extra weight can be sacrificed for better handling and durability. Updates include a deeper, flatter bottom to better hold webbing or dog-bones, a larger rope bearing surface at the top and optimized nose geometry to make unclipping easier. It will come in three colors: black, grey and red.
I must say that I was surprised to see BD dropping the hoodwire technology altogether and I’m going to miss the Oz ‘biners. And I have to admit that I’m not overly impressed with the new wire-gate carabiner lines either. The action feels cheap, not smooth and crisp.
Black Diamond Solid Gate Carabiners:
BD is also upgrading their solid gate carabiner and related quickdraws with the retirement of the Positron and the introduction of the new HotForged solid gate carabiners. It features a slightly different geometry with a deeper and flatter bottom for slings, more surface area at the top for wear and a different nose. It will be sold individually in black only but will be found on a couple of new quickdraws such as the HotForge Hybrid (Hotforge straight gate with a Hotwire rope ‘biner) and the HotForge ‘draw (Hotforge straight and bent gate ‘biners).
The Nitron will remain unchanged for now.
DMM Shadow HMS:
DMM is discontinuing the regular BOA locking carabiner and replacing it with the new Shadow HMS. This new HMS ‘biner will be slightly lighter (70g instead of 86g) and stronger (27kN along the major axis instead of 25kN) than the carabiner it’s replacing. Other features include a small gate which allows the gate to open wider before hitting the spine and a very deep and wide top basket for extra space. A great option for a masterpoint carabiner.
CAMP Carabiners: New and Updated
Many of Camp’s Screw Lock carabiners are getting an updated locking mechanism for 2020. They’re also introducing a few new locking carabiners as well as design updates for a few others. Let’s start with the new locking mechanism and go from there.
Updated CAMP Screw Lock:
The screw mechanism on the screw-lock carabiners got a facelift this year with an elegant new lightweight, low profile nut. The idea was to make the gate assembly a bit smoother so it was less likely to snag and shave a little weight. Also, CAMP has added a small laser etched warning to the gate that shows when the carabiner is unlocked, much like Petzl’s red strip on the gate. The locking carabiners with the updated screw include:
- Orbit Lock
- Photon Lock
- Atom Lock (new)
- Core Lock (new)
- Nitro Lock
- Nimbus Lock (new)
New CAMP Locking Carabiners:
As you can see from the list of lockers with the new screw, CAMP is launching three new carabiners for 2020. Let’s go through them one at a time.
This new high-strength HMS locking carabiner is designed for belaying and rappelling. It comes in four colors, features CAMP’s proprietary SphereLock nose and has a large 24mm gate opening to make clipping hitches easy.
The Atom will come in four different styles:
- Atom Lock: screw gate lock, 82g, MSRP $14.95 USD
- Atom Belay Lock: screw gate lock with captive eye, 85g, MSRP $19.95 USD
- Atom 2Lock: double action twist lock, 88g, MSRP $19.95 USD
- Atom 3Lock: triple action twist lock, 88g, MSRP $21.95 USD
This new HMS locking carabiner has a very round cross-section and unique shape that positions the rope in the center between the spine and gate for very smooth rappels and belays when using an Italian (munter) hitch. Of course it features CAMP’s proprietary SphereLock nose, has the new gate design and sports a large, 27mm gate opening.
The Core will come in two different styles and any color you want as long as you want orange:
- Core Lock: screw gate lock, 81g, MSRP $13.95 USD
- Core Belay Lock: screw gate lock with captive eye, 84g, MSRP $17.95 USD
This compact but still very functional HMS belay and rappel carabiner is basically a smaller version of the new Core. It features a similar geometry and material design for smooth belays and rappels in a smaller and lighter package. Of course as it’s smaller than the Core, the gate opening isn’t as wide. However it’s still a very useful 22mm. The Nimbus weighs 69g and will come in the grey with a screw lock gate. MSRP $12.95 USD.
Other CAMP Carabiner Updates:
Also new for 2020 CAMP will be offering longer, 18cm versions of their popular quick draws and are adding a new 60cm alpine draw to the line that utilizes 2 full-sized Proton Wire carabiners. Other than that you will see some color changes to various carabiners and draws, but that’s about it.
Well that’s about it for climbing gear! Next up: harnesses.