In between covering rounds of the UBC Pro Tour at the Nor'easter last weekend, I managed to sneak out and have a look at some of the gear on display in the sponsor village. The exhibitors at the Nor'easter had loads of new equipment to show off, some of it not yet on the market. Below are my picks for the best of the best.
Best New Product: Gridlock and Hoodwire Carabiners
I don't often get excited about new clips, but after checking out these new hot-forged designs at Black Diamond's Innovation Alley, I'll make an exception. The Gridlock and Hoodwire solve a couple of annoying and potentially dangerous problems with conventional carabiners
The Gridlock is a locking model designed to prevent cross-loading during belays. Normal locking carabiners are prone to rotating sideways and loading their minor axis, which significantly decreases the breaking strength of the carabiner in the case of a fall. The Gridlock solves this problem with its figure-eight-shaped body and a unique gate that, when closed, traps the belay loop in one end of the carabiner. It's light too, weighing in at just 2.7 oz.
I was even more impressed by the Hoodwire, Black Diamond's new clean-nosed wiregate carabiner. The Hoodwire's shrouded nose allows it to function like a keylock biner, eliminating the danger of snagging the rope during desperate clips. Unlike most notchless carabiners, the Hoodwire has a wire gate, so it's lighter (12 grams less than BD's Positron keylock) and less likely to open during a fall. The Hoodwire would also be a great model for racking wired stoppers, which have a tendency to get caught on normal carabiners' notches.
Both the Gridlock ($19.95) and Hoodwire ($8.95) will be available in Spring of 2011.
Best Shoe: La Sportiva TC Pro
Hi-top climbing shoes are making a comeback, which is great news for crack-loving climbers like me. Out of the different hi-top shoes I tried out at the Nor'easter, La Sportiva's TC Pro was my favorite by far. This sucker is made for crack climbing, with a stiff midsole and enough comfy padding to protect your ankles from the abuse they take on long pitches of jamming. At the same time, it's low-cut and thin enough to pull off the occasional face move. The only downside is the price: at $170, the TC Pros are the most expensive climbing shoes on the market.
Most Fun: Gibbon Slacklines
I'm a pretty poor slackliner, but after playing around for a while on the lines set up around Gibbon's booth, I could see the appeal. Gibbon makes a variety of slacklines for all different levels, from first-timer to daredevil highliner. If you're as green as I am, your best bet is probably the Funline ($79.99), a wide, stable line that's great for beginners, kids, and anyone who wants a solid line to practice the basics. If you're looking to get into tricks and flips, check out the Jibline ($99.99), a slightly narrower and stretchier line that has a bit more bounce to it.
Gibbon gets extra points for the crazy skilled people running their booth. Check out this photo of Gibbon's Michael Payton bouncing, repping, and eating lunch at the same time.
Photo Credits: Gridlock and Hoodwire, Black Diamond Equipment; TC Pro, La Sportiva; Michael Payton and Gibbon Jibline, Adam Roy