In today’s global economy, one continent’s worth of climbing gear, clothing, and shoes is definitely not enough. So today we head across the pond to share a few of our favorite European climbing brands with you.
The Welsh company, DMM, designs and produces some of the most innovative and high quality climbing and mountaineering gear on the market today. To keep their products top quality they design, test, and produce all of their metal gear on site in Wales, making them the only climbing equipment manufacturer in the UK. We’ve tried out several pieces of gear from DMM and have been pleased with everything from fit, to form, to function.
Vertesse Women’s Harness – I’ve been in the market for a new sport harness for my spring and summer projects, and the Vertesse fit the bill perfectly! Everything about it screams lightweight, from the narrow waistbelt, the fixed leg loops, and even the narrow waist strap. It’s been designed and extensively tested by female athletes, and it really shows in the super comfy fit. Fun fact: this harness is currently the lightest harness designed for women on the market that fits me, since the smallest size in the Petzl Sitta is still too big. The leg loops run a bit small, however, so I would consider sizing up. The value and performance for the price can’t be beat ($75) compared to other high-end, lightweight harnesses.
Pivot Belay Device – The Pivot works great as a regular belay device, but what sets it apart is the innovative pivot, which gives you far more control when belaying in guide mode, especially if you need to lower your climber. Rather than me doing a poor job of explain it, check out this video to see the Pivot in action. In addition to this special feature it’s also suitable for a wide range of rope sizes (7.3-11mm) and allows smooth give and take when you’re belaying. If you’re ever going to be belaying in guide mode, do yourself a favor and get your hands on one of these.
Alpha Sport Quickdraws – These are like candy or jewelry or whatever else is shiny and gets you excited. But in all seriousness, DMM thought of all the details for a great sport draw without overloading it with unnecessary features. Both biners have a kinked backbone and groove pattern for better gripping, the upper biner has a snag-free keylock nose, and the lower one has a unique curve for smooth rope-clipping. The wide dogbone comes in 3 lengths: 12 cm, 18 cm, and 25 cm. The Alpha Sport is on the pricier side, retailing at $25.95-$26.95 each, but with a little bargain-hunting you can find them at about $5 off that price (try here and here). Made of super durable and high quality materials, my DMM draws have outlasted several other brands, so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.
Based in the Peak District of England, 3rd Rock Clothing, is making its mark as a truly ethical clothing brand for climbers. Using organic cotton, up-cycled and recycled fibers, locally sourced materials, and water-based eco-friendly inks they create unique clothes designed specifically for climbing. If that’s not enough for you, you can also buy from their Earth Collection, where a portion of sales is donated to eco-friendly charities. We are really loving the mission, aesthetic, and high quality of 3rd Rock’s clothing.
Eclipse Recycled Moisture Control Vest – This top is basically a sports bra and a tank in one. The criss-cross back, internal construction, and removable pads provide all the support you need, even for us “well endowed” ladies. The scoop neckline is feminine and flattering without letting it all hang out. To suit all your needs the Eclipse tank also comes in a several color and fabric options. In terms of sizing, I’d say this tank runs a bit small, so if you’re in between sizes you may want to size up.
Saturn Hunt Bra – This bra has pretty much everything you could ask for: great coverage and support, unique pattern, and flattering back design. The Saturn Hunt is made of super comfy 95% Organic GMO Free Cotton and is designed with wide straps to avoid any digging in or hot spots. 3rd Rock doesn’t discriminate either, offering SB and BB versions (yes, that’s small boobs and big boobs). The BB has a higher neckline and slightly wider sides than the SB.
Eden Trousers – The Eden trousers are the first climbing pants that are cute, flattering and fit perfectly! I’ve found that size 0 or XS pants can vary widely in outdoor brands, and most are too big. Enter the Eden trousers. They come in two leg lengths (short and regular), great colors, and the thick elastic, ribbed waist panels keep your bum from hanging out when you’re going for a high step. The diamond cut crotch is flexible without being awkwardly baggy, and the pants still retain their fit after wearing them for days in a row instead of stretching out. My only hesitation is the price tag; they come in at $99.75, though at the rate I’m wearing them I’ll have my money’s worth in no time.
The Spanish company, Tenaya, was founded in 1997 by José Luis García Gallego, who started climbing at age 8 and has stayed with the sport since. To this day all of their mountain and climbing shoes are manufactured and produced in Spain. Each of their designs are created very intentionally to meet the needs of the climber. The focus of the brand has always been on function and performance, pure and simple. Many pros have made history in Tenaya shoes, including when Josune Bereziartu became the first woman to climb 9a (5.14d). Sure, we may not be making climbing history, but we have definitely been pleased with the quality and performance of our Tenayas.
Tarifa – The Tarifas are currently my go-to all around shoe. From smeary slab to overhung routes to slick gym holds, I’ve yet to find a climb that these shoes don’t perform well on! They’ve got out of the box comfort with a padded tongue, an aggressive yet flexible sole, and comfortable toe box. The rubber is sensitive, but not too soft, and edges well without being too stiff. They work on all types of rock, from sandstone to schist. I wear a street shoe size 6, and sized down to a 5 which was a great fit. They’re not cheap ($165) and you can find them on sale for cheaper. For an all-around shoe with such versatility and great performance, I would absolutely make the investment.
Iati – Like many of Tenaya’s shoes the Iati was built for performance on hard sport climbs. They are the most downturned of their shoes, but still remain flexible and soft compared to aggressive shoes from other companies. Between the sticky Vibram XS Grip rubber and well constructed edges I feel secure on everything from sharp edges to slopers. The closure system takes a little getting used to and requires that you really pay attention when putting them on. If you don’t do it quite right you can create hot spots on your foot. Other than that I am very happy with the overall performance of the Iati on boulders and sport routes.
Do you have any favorite Euro brands? Share the love!
Mary & Emily