November 13, 2014 Black Diamond Carbon Convert Gear

Black Diamond Carbon Convert

If you ask me, Black Diamond has been victimized, to an extent, by the very same perfect powder that makes Utah skiing so famous. Skis tuned to perform in that incomparable Wasatch snow just don’t tend to translate as well in other, less amenable climates. For that reason, reviewing Black Diamond skis always makes me (more...)...

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August 27, 2014 Black Diamond Speed 22 Gear

Black Diamond Speed 22

The Speed is back—sort of. In its original, 2005 edition, Black Diamond’s Speed backpack was a masterpiece of light-is-right design. The original, 30-liter Speed backpack gave us a floating lid, side compression straps, a stiff single-stay frame, and not much else. For fast travel with heavy loads, the pack was and is just about perfect. (more...)...

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April 30, 2014 The Vipec Gear

The Vipec’s Viability

In the immortal words of Lee Lau, NEVER TRUST A FIRST GENERATION TOURING BINDING YOU MORONS. I found myself admiring the clarity of Lee’s admonition as I was pondering the spectrum of reviews on Fritchi’s Vipec tech binding—or should we call it a nouveau-tech binding? Either way, the Vipec is both a remarkable evolution and (more...)...

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September 10, 2012 Black Diamond Twilight Gear

Black Diamond Twilight

The water-resistant/breathable Twilight replaces Black Diamond’s Winter Bivy as the lightest bivy sack in the Black Diamond collection. The major difference, aside from a color change, is a switch to ‘NanoShield’ fabric (from Epic). We also get the addition of a mesh over-the-face panel for bug protection. What is NanoShield? I believe it is basically (more...)...

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May 26, 2012 Black Diamond Mission Gear

Black Diamond Mission

The big news with the climbing-oriented Mission 50 pack is that it employs Black Diamond’s patent-pending ‘reACTIV’ suspension system. ReACTIV suspensions, and the more aggressive ‘ErgoACTIV’, are designed to allow the pack to move naturally while you’re walking by adding a mechanical pivot to the frame-hip belt interface. In other words, the load is allowed (more...)...

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March 1, 2012 Black Diamond Justice Gear

Black Diamond Justice

Black Diamond’s revised Justice is a highly-specialized ski. The fat-waisted eight-pound Justice is built specifically for powder-bomb touring—and not much else. New as of 2012 (the green version), the Justice returns in 2013 with orange graphics but otherwise unchanged, offering tip and tail rocker and quite a lot of area—an impressive 111 millimeters underfoot. By (more...)...

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January 2, 2012 Black Diamond Warrant Gear

Black Diamond Warrant

I’m going to coin a new term to try to capture the essence of Black Diamond’s Warrant, part of the revamped 2012 Black Diamond ski lineup: let’s call it ‘de-specialized’. The Warrant replaces the highly-regarded but aging Kilowatt, a ski known for its versatility. Like the Kilowatt, the new Warrant is also a generalist, but (more...)...

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October 3, 2011 Fritschi Eagle Gear

Fritschi Eagle

Fritschi’s Eagle 10 and Eagle 12 (for maximum DIN setting) replace the Explore/Express bindings as the slightly-lighter alternative to Fritchi’s hugely popular Freeride Pro Alpine Touring Binding. In either version the Eagle is a highly-evolved step-in A/T binding, with a design and feature set almost identical to the Freeride Pro (more…) (more...)...

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August 28, 2011 The Vaporlock Gear

The Vaporlock

While I’m thinking about carabiners, let’s take a quick look at Black Diamond’s Vaporlock, which Black Diamond says is the world’s lightest full-function “pear” locker. That means the Vaporlock is an HMS-stamped carabiner, with a larger, offset shape specially designed for belay use, and of course a screwgate to lock the gate shut while in (more...)...

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August 24, 2011 Black Diamond Nitron Gear

Black Diamond Nitron

How does Black Diamond’s new Nitron screwgate compare to their Vaporlock carabiner? While they appear similar, there is at least one notable difference. But first, the similarities: on my scale the Nitron weighs 1.8 ounces. The Vaporlock weighs 1.8 ounces also. According to Black Diamond’s spec, the Nitron is actually two grams lighter than the (more...)...

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When there is snow, SierraDescents is Andy Lewicky's California backcountry skiing and mountaineering website. Without snow, sierradescents becomes an ill-tempered hiking and climbing blog.

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