The Most Innovative Climbing Gear of 2012

Safe Tech Patriot    Photo: Courtesy of Metolius

Metolius Safe Tech Patriot Harness

The latest addition to Metolius's Safe Tech line, the Patriot is a lightweight, minimalist harness that weighs in at just 14 ounces for a medium. Originally designed for the military, the Patriot is made entirely in the U.S., down to the thread and buckles. The unsheathed gear loops comfortably held a small rack, but stayed tucked away when we weren't using them. Despite being svelte, it's cushy enough for everything from gym climbing to single-pitch trad, though you'll want something with more padding if you're headed on a long haul or belaying a partner with a tendency to hang.

La Sportiva Futura Climbing Shoe

La Sportiva Futura   Photo: Courtesy of La Sportiva

Definitely the most striking shoe design we saw this year, the Futura marries La Sportiva's popular Solution with the wraparound, edgeless sole from the company's Speedster slipper. The result is a futuristic shoe fit for the most overhung projects. The design definitely favors strong climbers with precise footwork (intermediates had trouble keeping their feet on the wall), but testers who stayed with it reported that the extra rubber let them stick to dime-sized nubs with ease.

Metolius Bouldering Shield

Metolius Bouldering Shield   Photo: Courtesy of Metolius

The art of spotting hasn't changed much in the decades that boulderers have been clambering up rocks. Metolius aimed to change that with the Bouldering Shield, a 36- by 23-inch pad with handles that eliminates the risk of jamming or breaking fingers while checking falling climbers into the mat. It doubles as a mini pad for covering gaps and padding protruding tree limbs. For dedicated highballers, the Bouldering Shield will be a welcome addition to their pad quiver; For most other climbers, it will be too much.

The Top Climbing Gear of Summer 2012

Millet Myo Velcro   Photo: Courtesy of Millet

The downturned Myo slipper grabbed even the tiniest edges on hard boulders and sport routes both in and out of the gym. On steep climbs, the form-fitting heel cup and super-sticky 4 Points Grip rubber made heel hooking easy. Our main gripe: We had a hard time fitting the Myo's blunt toe into small pockets.

Metolius Equalizer

Metolius' Equalizer is a sewn nylon sling that packs away into a built-in carrying pouch and clips to a gear loop for easy transport. The design eliminates much of the mess of climbing with coils of cordelette or webbing, though the pouch occasionally got in our way. Trad climbers who frequently have to build their own anchors will get the most use out of it. Available in 10- and 15-foot lengths.

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