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Reviews by retro (10)

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Tarantula Rock Climbing Shoe Average Rating = 4.00/5 Average Rating : 4.00/5

In: Gear: Shoes: Climbing Shoes: Velcro

Climb like a spider 4 out of 5 stars

Review by: retro, 2011-09-27

I just picked these up about 2 months ago as I was looking for a comfortable, adjustable soft all day guide shoe. I found exactly that in the Sportiva Tarantula. This shoe does not excel on edges (though it's not bad considering the slipper feel), not particularly good for boulder problems or steep overhanging routes. Where these shoes shine is on moderated trad routes, thin cracks and slab. The Frixion rubber is outstanding, sticky and sensitive. The leather uppers form to your feet after only a few hours of climbing in these puppies and they breath very well. Hook and loop closure system allows speeding on and off though I spent the entire day in my shoes two weeks ago...6 pitches and no problems or discomfort. I believe this is the first sportiva shoe to be assembled in China and that concerned me, but two-three months later, the shoes are still holding up nicely. If you are looking for a good, comfortable all arounder, the tarantula is not a bad choice for the quiver.

Smart Belay Device (Manufacturer link) Average Rating = 4.43/5 Average Rating : 4.43/5

In: Gear: Essential Equipment: Belay Devices & Descenders

Mammut is smart! 4 out of 5 stars

Review by: retro, 2009-07-08

I bought this device to basically replace my Gri Gri after a partner dropped my last season. 20+ years and it finally happened, but it was enough of a scare to make me second guess the safety of the Gri Gri. I still use and enjoy the benefits of the Gri Gri, but I wanted to find something that might be a bit safer and a bit more user friendly...and along came the smart device.
What I appreciate most about this little device is the ease of use, how quickly it pays out rope to the leader, and how quickly it locks up on a fall. They do not claim that this is an auto locking device, but anyone that has used this little gem knows that it locks as quickly and as tightly as a Gri Gri. I really didn't want to like this device and some ot the reviews that I had read were hot and cold, but once I tried it for myself, I now leave the Gri Gri at home and use this device soley for sport climbing and single pitch trad routes or top-ropping.

The advantages that this unit offers are as follows:
1. easy rope handling and pay out to lead climbers
2. very light weight and easy to rack
3. locks up immediately when arresting a fall
4. must have two hands on the rope and device when lowering (great safety feature!)
5. Great device for one pitch, sport climbing and top-roping
6. ergonimic design fits comfortably in the users hand
7. easy to learn to use after a few tries

Some of the drawbacks I found are:
1. Cannot be used on multi-pitch climbing
2. It will react differently with different shaped biners (you must experiment to get the best results..I like it with the Petzl William)
3. It is a belay device and should not be used to rap with

Overall I think Mammut hit a homerun with this device. Once you get used to how it works and performs I think you will agree that it is one of the most responsive and safe devices on the market (particularly for less experienced climbers).

I give the smart a 4 out of 5 simply because its uses are very specific. Try one out and see what you think, I am confident it will find its way in you quiver in short time!

Merlin (Manufacturer link) Average Rating = 5.00/5 Average Rating : 5.00/5

In: Gear: Shoes: Climbing Shoes: Lace Up

Acopa Merlin 5 out of 5 stars

Review by: retro, 2009-04-06

I bought these shoes when they had just come out and I am just amazed at how comfortaly they fit out of the box, how quickly they broke in (slight break-in period), and how well they seem to work on all situations. My feet are very wide, full volume with a relatively high arch. Not many shoes on the market fit these flippers, but the Merlins slid on like a sock!

I had heard some less than positive reviews about the Acopa rubber, but after three seasons, I really find no credence to their claims. The rubber has worn well, sticks to granite like glue, and smears relatively well on slabby terrain.

These shoes are a fantastic trad shoe, but I find that they really excel on the steep faces and thin cracks. They hold and edge remarkably well and the shape of the shoe is neither too stiff (that you lose sensitiveity) nor too soft (so that the toes begin to ache) allowing the climber to feel the subtleties of the stone while offering the support to actually use the edges. The design in aggressive, but not radically so, so you don't feel the need to rip them off your feet at the end of every pain filled pitch. These Acopas do live up to the company Logo, and then some.

I did experience some minor delamination in both the rands (near the big toe), and two small blisters at the very tip of the toe. I notified John of this and he said "send them back and we will get you a new pair". I asked him if there was anything I could do to remedy the problem and he sent me a step-by-step outline on how to repair them myself...with a not attached saying..."if this doesn't do the trick, I have a new pair here in your size"! other thing is the blue dye that is used in these shoes will stain your feet a lovely shade of cobalt...probably for the duration of the shoe. Mine are three years old and still dye my feet blue on those long hot days. Not a deterant by any means, but just be prepared for it before you throw on the sandals before dinner!!!

I didn't want to part with these shoes as they felt like a second skin and I had spent the better part of a season on them. Well, the barge glue has held, and I am on my third season with these shoes. I have done pretty much everything but boulder in them (and have never used them indoors). They have been stuffed in cracks, have smeared steep NH slab, been pressed on dime sized edges, and have been worn on multi-pitch routes with never a need to take them off...a quick pull of the laces is enough to reduce whatever tightness one might experience.

I like the performance that a full lace up shoe gives you not only in the fit and feel, but in the performance. These are not only a great all around shoe, but a solid performer when you are inclined to push it a little bit. To be able to take your game to the next level and do it in comfort is truly a remarkable concept...wish I had heard about this company sooner. Add the Merlin to your quiver and you won't be dissappointed.

Dartwin Crampon Average Rating = 5.00/5 Average Rating : 5.00/5

In: Gear: Alpine & Ice Climbing: Crampons

Petzl Dartwin Rocks! 5 out of 5 stars

Review by: retro, 2009-02-05

I began my career on ice with a lime yellow pair of Koflach Vario Extremes and a used pair of Messner forgive me if I date myself, but in the years since, I have seen a lot of gear come and go. I have gone to monos, back to dual...then back to monos as New England ice can keep you guessing and scratching for any method or new piece of gear that will stack the odds in your favor (or at least a little bit more)...and I hadn't found that elusive piece of gear until now that is!

I have been climbing on the Petzl Darts (mono configuration) for two seasons now and have to say that I loved the performance on steep waterfall ice and even on some of the lower angle routes that I typically will pull the old alpine "poons" for; but the place that the darts really shined was on the mixed terrain. I was convinced that I had finally found the ultimate mate for my feet...that is until I ordered a pair of the dartwin replacement points as a "back-up" for my monos.

Just for "kicks", I decided to throw the duos on after being chastized by a couple of partners claiming that I was able to climb a certain thin, steep curtain due to the fact that I was wearing monos and could gently place the points of the monos in my pick holes! Unfair Advantage??? What??? Well to prove a point, I threw the duals on and headed back up to the climb in question to try my hand at it...and to my amazement, the feedback and stability that I got from the duals was an unexpected surprise. They were remarkably precise, light on the feet, and provided a platform that I had been doing without for several seasons. I could finally drop the heels a bit and take a shake with a bit more confidence than with the monos. They displaced less ice than my older M-10's and Grivel Rambocomps...and felt more solid than any crampon I had used to date.

I did skitch a few times after dropping the knee a bit which I really liked about the monos...duals will lever themselves out, but that was pilot error and no fault of the crampons. I had stayed clear of these for a long time because I was afraid that I would burn through the points in a season and the replacements are $130 or so...but I have to tell you that after using them consistently for about two months now....they are holding up remarkably well and show typical wear and tear, but the points are still reasonably sharp and I can see getting a couple more seasons out of them at least!

If you are looking for a lightweight, precise pair of poons that will take your game to the next level the Petzl Dartwin could be the answer you are looking for.

*Note: The crampons tested were not the sidelock version as I am not a fan of that system. I used the leverlock and have had no problems with them. They adjust easily without tools and can be modified in the field in no time...another feather in the cap for this crampon model.

Reverso 3 (Manufacturer link) popular Average Rating = 4.86/5 Average Rating : 4.86/5

In: Gear: Essential Equipment: Belay Devices & Descenders

Smooth and Easy 5 out of 5 stars

Review by: retro, 2008-08-28

One of the best belay devices on the market today. It feeds out rope smoothly and easily and locks quickly to catch that unnexpected fall. When bringing up a second or two, the ropes feed easily with little to no binding allowing you to concetrate on your partners progress. on autolock mode, the rope cinches tighly and quickly. Using a carabiner, one can slip the oprn gate into the device to allow one to lower with ease (something that the BD ATC fell a bit short on). The device can be a little less smooth on rappel, but I opt to turn the Reverso 3 around so the teeth are away from my brake hand (*not something the company recommends) and I have had no problems with binding or seizing on the way down. Overall, a great device for the money. The Reverso 3's ligthweight design and solid performance has earned a permanent place on my rack!

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