First Look: The G7 POD – The World’s Lightest Climbing Ledge

The G7 POD is a really light and durable portaledge. But more than that, it’s a fully insulated sleeping system too!

Walls, walls and more walls…

“Walls are meant for Climbing” reads The North Face t-shirt on the guy climbing a few routes away from me at the local sport crag. This was a couple of years ago, and a few weeks before I climbed my first big wall. I don’t think I really knew what I was getting into back then, but now big wall climbing has changed my life.

The Boulder Problem – Freerider, El Cap

I climbed my first big wall in the “traditional” big wall style, also known as hauling up way too much weight. It sucked! We packed for seven days including water, our two haul bags weighed about 80lbs each. Let’s be honest, we had no idea what we were doing. I didn’t even learn what a cam hook was until the first C3 pitch… I was leading. All hauling and very little climbing, it was hardly enjoyable.

Golden Desert – Golden Gate, El Cap

I was in Yosemite for a free climbing trip about two years ago, projecting Freerider and Golden Gate with my friend Bronwyn. I had been asked to give feedback for a new brand, Grade VII Climbing Equipment, and we were lucky enough to be sent some early prototypes of the new “G7 POD”. Looking at it, I had the same thought that everyone has… “Cool! But, will it pop?”

We really put the G7 POD to the test that trip. We slept more than 15 nights on the pod both on the wall and in camp and I’m stoked to report that the POD didn’t pop! It actually hardly even showed any wear or tear. It was after this first trip with the POD that I started to see what was possible for big wall climbing.

The Monster Offwidth – Freerider, El Cap

The G7 POD:

So what exactly is the G7 POD, and what difference will it actually make to the climbing world?

In layman’s terms, the G7 POD is an inflatable ledge that climbers’ use for sleeping on walls. It’s a replacement to the traditional framed portaledge. The G7 POD is the first of its kind, a lightweight inflatable sleeping solution for big wall climbing. This tool will really expand what’s possible. It allows the user to climb a remote alpine big wall and not have to worry about finding a ledge to sleep on, or head up El Cap without hauling a heavy framed portaledge. The G7 POD makes climbing big walls faster, easier, and more comfortable!

Portaledge Comparison

Description Ledge Weight Shelter Weight Total Weight Size L x W
 G7 POD  1.5 kg  0.9 kg  2.4 kg  211 x 75 cm
 2 x G7 POD (side by side)  3 kg  0.9 kg  3.9kg  211 x 150 cm
 BD Single Ledge  6.8 kg  6 lb 12 oz  9.9kg  213 x 80 cm
 BD Double Ledge  9 kg  8 lb 9 oz  12.8 kg  213 x 130 cm
 Metolius Single  5.2 kg  2.25 kg  7.4kg  220 x 76 cm
 Metolius Double  6.2 kg  2.47 kg  8.7kg  220 x 120 cm
 D4 Full Ledge  5.95 kg  2.5kg  8.5 kg  120 x 208 cm
 D4 Alpine Ledge  4.1 kg  1.4kg  5.6 kg  190 x 106 cm

Another thing to consider is the need to pack a sleeping mat of some kind with with any other ledge!

The Brand: Grade VII Climbing Equipment

Grade VII Climbing Equipment was founded and launched by Nathan Kukathas, a seasoned big wall climber with FA’s around the world. Based in Squamish BC, the team consists of climbers and design nerds who really love what they are doing. Nathan has honed his skill and passion by designing gear for many top outdoor brands with a design portfolio that is respected throughout the industry.

Also among the G7 Team is Tom Schindfessel. Tom, originally from Belgium, was the lead designer of the G7 POD. Tom is the definition of dedicated, he spends his time doing one of four things: climbing (which looks a lot like testing his newest prototype), training for climbing, working on his next prototype, and making delicious food. He is responsible for pushing gear to the limits and then making it better so it can’t be broken.

You’ll find the G7 Team in Yosemite or some other big wall location around the world at least twice a year. They are all real climbers. You can be sure that all the gear they bring to the world was tested in extreme conditions.

This brand “exists to expand what’s possible,” and they bring game-changing products to the climbing world. I’d recommend keeping an eye on them.

I personally started working with G7 last year, helping manage marketing and sales. That’s said in full transparency for this review.

Who is the G7 POD for?

The G7 POD was designed for pushing the limits on alpine big walls and making speedy free ascents.

The POD is for anyone who plans to climb a big wall, in any style. This tool will help you move fast and light, but also keep you ready to hunker down on the wall for several days. This ledge could be used to join the queue climbing The Nose, or establishing a first ascent in the remote mountains of Pakistan. It’s already been used on big walls in Patagonia, Baffin Island and more.

Probably the only time you wouldn’t want a POD is if you’re an A5 climber and spending 15+ days on the wall… You might want to bring a sky lounge up with you since weight probably isn’t a huge consideration.

Photo: Nicolas Favresse

Features

Packed full of synthetic insulation, the G7 POD doubles as a therm-a-rest, and a damn comfy one at that!

You can set up the G7 POD in several different configurations, and all you need to be able to change your setup is a few carabiners or quickdraws. Therefore, there’s no need to buy extra “parts” to make things work. Overall the setup of the G7 POD is super quick and easy compared to any other ledge on the market. The G7 POD only takes a few minutes to set up and inflate using the inflation bag.

2 x G7 PODs with STORM SHELTER ready to deploy

You can configure your G7 PODs in two different ways.

First off we have the classic side by side, which is best if you want the ability to deploy the “STORM SHELTER” because it fits around two G7 PODs in this configuration. Do note that the G7 PODs must be set up head-to-head as seen in the photo above. To improve stability, I hang my haul bag from the inside POD on the haul bag strap on the bottom.

Second, and my personal favourite, you have the “Bunk Bed”. This configuration is very quick and easy to set up. The only downside? You can’t deploy the STORM SHELTER. See the photo below.

2 x G7 PODs in Bunk Bed configuration – No STORM SHELTER for this configuration

G7 STORM SHELTER

In the event that you’re on the wall and need some extra warmth or mother nature decides to open the sky and you need something to keep dry, the G7 POD comes with the option to buy a fly. They call this the STORM SHELTER, a lightweight shelter that fits tightly around the G7 POD.

The STORM SHELTER is built from lightweight material, similar to the “BD First Light” tent, and has a reinforced fabric around the edge to protect it from the wall. This shelter will do the job for a couple-day-long rain or snowstorm, but it’s not going to hold up to a Patagonia five day blizzard. With your kit being so light, it’s probably best to just pick your weather window and move fast.

As seen in the photo below, the STORM SHELTER perfectly fits over two G7 PODs side by side. It has a door that can be removed to ensure the shelter fits over a single POD.

2 x G7 POD with STORM SHELTER deployed

The STORM SHELTER can be secured on the bottom if you are in high winds and it also has an air vent at the top for that little bit of extra ventilation if you want it. If you don’t, just close the vent!

STORM SHELTER – Bottom Straps – Top Vent

Pros

  • Super light
  • Very comfy
  • Easy to use/setup

Cons

  • No shelter for bunk bed options
  • The shelter is pretty light and thin
  • Not as stable as a framed ledge (but still pretty stable)

Overall

The G7 POD is the new age of big wall climbing. It’s a lightweight, durable ledge that thousands of climbers are going to be preordering for their next wall adventure!

 


Full disclosure: I, Nic Vissers, work for Grade VII Climbing Equipment. That being said, this review consists purely of my personal thoughts and experiences and I was not paid in any way to write this review.