1. Moutainsmith Mayhem 35 WSD – Hands down, this is the most comfortable pack I’ve ever worn. The padded waist straps and women’s specific fit make the heaviest loads float lightly on your hips, and you won’t have any more excuses to complain about a long approach with this pack. The stretchy front mesh panel is great for quickly stowing a chalk bag or jacket, and asymmetrical zipper prevents you from needing to dig through a full pack to get to something in the bottom. The pack is rigid in its size (it can double as carry-on luggage), so it can be difficult to carry a sport rack, rope, shoes, and other gear unless you very carefully coil the rope. I would go for a the 55 L option if you’re going to be carrying more to the crag.
2. Metolius Ultralight Master Cam – These are monstrously light, the lightest camming units you can buy, and you can definitely feel it. That said, they still place very nicely and solidly, perhaps due to a new fancy tooth pattern on the lobes, which is also meant to help prevent walking. I definitely appreciate the flexible and singular stem too, as I’m not a huge fan on the stiff-feel of the double-stems on the old Metolius Power Cams. Overall the unit is just better: sleeker, lighter, and easier to place, and not a bad price compared to alternatives.
3. GoMacro Bars – In the endless quest for the perfect crag snack, we were happy to find GoMacro bars. There are some unique flavors which are nice alternatives to the usual granola bar flavors, including sesame butter + date, cashew butter, and banana + almond butter. I shared the bars with a friend who is gluten-intolerant, and they have become her favorite brand of bars. Personally, I prefer the protein bars, and found the bars to be a bit on the sweet side, but with perfectly soft texture.
4. Singing Rock Penta Helmet – I’ve owned a few other helmets and this is the most comfortable so far. The polycarbonate shell and polystyrene interior foam make it very lightweight and protective. What I love most about it is that instead of a hard plastic inner headband there is just webbing and two unnoticeable plastic pieces on the back. I really think it is the simple webbing design that gives it an incredibly comfortable fit. Add to that minimal and easy to use adjustment points, and we’ve got a winner.
5. Mountainsmith K9 Dog Pack – Our husky is just about as adventurous as us, and spends her days checking out the latest 4th class scrambles while we’re on ropes. The Mountainsmith K9 pack has been just the solution – after a few awkward first days, she tires more easily and is more content to hang with us at the crag. This pack is incredibly durable (and trust us, she’s put it through quite a lot), wiggle resistant, doesn’t chafe her belly, and the padded sternum strap adds extra comfort. The pack is roomy; big enough for her to carry her own water, leash, food, and bowl–it’s about time she carried her own weight!
Emily, Mary, & Drew