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Reviews by rockprodigy (5)

Tenshi (Manufacturer link) Average Rating = 3.00/5 Average Rating : 3.00/5

In: Gear: Archive

Review 3 out of 5 stars

Review by: rockprodigy, 2006-02-07

[size=12][b]Full Disclosure: The company that manufactured this equipment provided it free of charge to and then provided it as compensation to the reviewer for his or her review. This company does not currently advertise on -- 2/9/06.[/b]

The Tenshi is NEMO Equipment's contribution to the high-end Alpinism market. It's a two-person, four season tent, with all the trimmings for your latest extreme climb, from winter peak-bagging in the Lower 48 to high altitude Alaskan giants. In case you've never heard of them, NEMO Equipment is a startup company so-far devoted to innovating the outdoor shelter industry. Since their inception in 2002, they have re-examined many traditional concepts in tent design, and the result has been a much-needed infusion of fresh ideas in a traditionally boring industry. Although they originally made their splash in the market in the 3-season tent category, their newest contribution to the high-end, four-season group is a force to be reckoned with.

Upon first opening the Tenshi, I knew this tent was different. The designers at NEMO don't take anything for granted, and as such, they even re-invented the Tenshi's carrying case. You don't get the same 'ole stuff sack with this tent. Instead it comes wrapped in a clever pouch that has compartments for the poles, stakes and tent, which all roll up in a tight package. The Tenshi's most obvious innovations are the Condensation Curtain and Removable Insulated Floor.

NEMO seems to understand the issues of condensation better than any other tent manufacturer. It's as if their designers are the only ones in the industry who actually go climbing. As a result, their tents are designed with a deliberate goal of reducing condensation. The Condensation Curtain is one of those "why didn't I think of that" ideas that seems so simple, and yet so elusive. It is a thin piece of fabric that hangs from the walls on the inside of the tent, thereby separating the tent into two compartments for sleeping. The smaller, front compartment is for the occupant's heads, designed to trap the moisture emitted from respiration, while the majority of the tent's inner volume is isolated from the moisture, keeping most of your sleeping bag and clothes dry.


[i]Eliminating condensation appears to be the order of the day for NEMO’s Tenshi. Top row, left to right: Tenshi’s front vent, a side vent showing the small bar that keeps it open, the view of the vents from inside. Bottom, left to right: Tenshi with its condensation curtain installed, looking up at the condensation curtain – note that the head compartment has its own vent near the top. [/i]

In addition to the Condensation Curtain, the Tenshi employs several other features to limit condensation. The Tenshi utilizes "eVENT" fabric for its single-wall construction. The Tenshi has two vents, one on each side near the top of the tent. These are designed to be operated fully from inside the tent with access ports that allow the occupants to open the vent and deploy a small pole which keeps the vent wide-open, even in bad weather. The Tenshi also has a second opening that doubles as a vent or door. If you've never spent much time tent-bound on a glacier, condensation can actually cause it to rain inside a tent. Believe it or not, experienced expedition climbers actually carry a chamois with them to dry off the inside walls of other "unbreathable" tents, but with the Tenshi's innovations, this could become a thing of the past.

Tenshi's Removable Insulated Floor (RIF) is simply a piece of foam padding tailored to fit perfectly in the Tenshi. This is something I actually had thought of before, but have never found on the market. With the RIF installed, there's no more sliding off your sleeping pad in the wee hours of the night only to wake up with your face frozen to a glacier.

Just like their AirSupported tents, the Tenshi actually sets up from inside. If it's raining or windy, just roll it out, stake out the corners, then dive inside with the tent poles (In fact, I found that you can even skip the staking out the corners step if you're really in a hurry). Once inside, you can assemble the poles and erect the tent. The Velcro guides on the inside corners of the Tenshi keep the poles in place.

All these features are nice in theory, but how do they work? Well, since NEMO puts so much effort into controlling moisture, I decided to test that feature directly. The Tenshi is designed for two people, so to really put it through the ringer, why not cram three grown men in there for a February night out at 11,000 feet in Colorado? First off, we actually fit pretty comfortably... so all you "hard cores" out there can spoon with two of your best buddies for those really "sick" climbs. The Tenshi made it through the night with flying colors. With only the upper side vents open, the moisture inside the tent was minimal. With other tents I have used in those conditions I would wake up to a thick sheet of ice coating the inside of the tent. The Tenshi merely had a slight layer of frost... completely unheard of for three men crammed into that tent.

The Tenshi impressed in other categories, as well. Its multiple tie-down points made it very stable in the wind. The single wall "eVENT" fabric insulates well and kept us quite warm at elevation in the Rocky Mountains in winter. The door was easy to get in and out of, and the Tenshi breaks down quickly and easily.


[i]The second-generation Tenshi, complete with a full vestibule for the same price.[/i]

Since I received my Tenshi, NEMO has made some additional improvements that I was unable to test. The Tenshi will now come with a larger removable vestibule for no additional cost which will make it more competitive with other tents in this category. Another feature is the "Sleep Tight Anchor Transfer" or STAT, which will enable climbers to securely anchor themselves to something outside the tent. The STAT feature will offer the security of a portaledge, if perched in a precarious position.

In all honesty, I couldn't find much wrong with the Tenshi, however, I did manage to break one of the included stakes while trying to pound it in with a rock... I suppose that could be attributed to "operator error". Frankly, stakes are a bit useless in environs for which this tent is designed. It would be nice if NEMO could come up with another brilliant idea for anchoring a tent in snow that is lighter than carrying snow pickets or dead men.

At $675, the Tenshi's cost is high, but I believe it will be worth it. It has a 28-square foot interior, and weighs 4.9 lbs without the RIF (the RIF weighs slightly more than two sleeping pads). Those stats are near the best on the market for two-person, four season tents.

The Tenshi is a great choice for providing shelter in the most inhospitable parts of the world. For some climbs, keeping your gear dry is a matter of life and death, and in those cases the Tenshi could be a real life saver. If nothing else, it will make your trip that much more enjoyable; its condensation controlling features keep the interior of the Tenshi warm and dry where many of its peers fail miserably.

The Mountaineers' Handbook (Manufacturer link) Average Rating = 0.00/5 Average Rating : 0.00/5

In: Gear: Archive

Review 0 out of 5 stars

Review by: rockprodigy, 2005-12-03

Review coming soon!

Hypno AR (Manufacturer link) Average Rating = 4.00/5 Average Rating : 4.00/5

In: Gear: Hiking and Camping: Tents: 3 Season Tents

Review 4 out of 5 stars

Review by: rockprodigy, 2005-09-09

[b]Full Disclosure: The company that manufactured this equipment provided it free of charge to and then provided it as compensation to the reviewer for his or her review. This company does not currently advertise on[/b]

Weight: 3.25 lbs
Interior Area: 30 sqft.

People laughed at the idea of building an airplane entirely out of wood, but the “Spruce Goose” was built. People said the Titanic was “unsinkable”, but they proved the critics wrong! When j_ung first told me about the "air supported" tent, he told me not to laugh…but I did anyway! A few seconds later, I regained my composure and started to investigate.

<img src=""
alt="Hypno AR" align="right" />
My initial thoughts of an inflatable tent conjured images of those portable hypobaric chambers that used to be advertised in old climbing rags. However, I soon learned that the concept developed by Nemo Equipment Inc. is much more practical. The only inflatable portion is the crossbeams which take the place of tent poles in traditional tent designs. This is the only fundamental difference between Nemo’s designs and a standard single wall tent.

I tested the “Hypno AR,” a model designed for lightweight applications, specifically adventure racing. Since it is designed for a sport where speed and weight are critical, I wanted to evaluate its applicability for lightweight mountaineering and alpine climbing. On paper, the Hypno is a logical candidate for alpine applications. It weighs in at a scant 3.25 lbs, and allegedly sets up in 1-2 minutes. The major concern I had was its ability to stand up to the rigors of the alpine environment.

In addition to the most obvious “pneumatic” innovation, the Hypno AR also incorporates several other innovative features, making the tent more user-friendly. Most notable for climbers, is the ability to erect the tent from inside, a handy feature when you’re caught unexpectedly in a thunderstorm. In addition, the “Dry Door” incorporates overlapping flaps of tent fabric which enable you to enter and exit the tent during wet weather without letting water into the tent. The storm flaps covering the side wall windows/vents can be opened or closed from inside the tent via a fully weather proof access port...all useful features for climbers.

<img src=""
alt="Hypno AR 2" align="right" /> My first experience with the Hypno was delightful. I was impressed by the sleek design and the clever technology. Inflating the tent with the “integrated pump” was frustrating at first, but with a little practice, it was pretty straightforward, though tiring. The “integrated pump” is a hybrid hand pump that you inflate with your lungs, then squeeze in your fist to create more air pressure than you can generate with your lungs alone. I was unable to attain anywhere near the advertised 1-2 minute setup time. It was more like 3-4 minutes if you include the time required to stake it out, which is highly recommended by the manufacturer.

Once inflated, the Hypno is surprisingly roomy for its weight. We were able to sleep two very comfortably, and three wouldn’t be unreasonable when expedience is more important than comfort…like when you’re alpine climbing. It’s designed for four adventure racers, but I wouldn’t want to be one of them! The side vents allow superb ventilation which significantly reduces condensation compared to other competing models. This is the first “waterproof” tent I’ve slept in where I actually didn’t have to soak up the condensation on the walls with a sponge. If you’ve never spent a lot of time sitting in a tent in a whiteout…let me tell you, this is a big deal! What’s more, because the storm flaps shield the vents from above, the vents can be cracked open during a rainstorm – a significant advantage.

After the first night, I was quite impressed with the little inflatable tent…here comes the “but”. The first [i]day[/i] was not so great. When we returned from a day of climbing, we found our tent in a sad little pile. It turned out the “Valve Interface” (a small nylon bladder where the pump connects) had popped. Presumably, the air in the bladders had heated during the day, and the “Valve Interface” couldn’t handle the added pressure. To be fair, the instructions (which don’t come with the tent, you have to go online and download them) warn against this. To quote:

“Nemo AirSupported tents are designed to be very strong between 5 and 7 psi. You have achieved adequate pressure when it becomes difficult to pinch the airbeam together with your fingers. Do not over-inflate! The airbeams are designed to tolerate pressures up to 25 psi in case an increase in air temperature causes the air inside the beam to expand.”

Dejected, I notified NEMO about the problem, only to discover they were aware of it and had already developed a fix. I mailed them my tent, and 6-8 weeks later, it was back. They had inserted a “check valve” in the vicinity of the “Valve Interface” which releases air when a certain pressure is reached. I tested it again throughout the heat of the day, and this time, when I returned after a day of climbing, the Hypno was still standing. Granted, it had lost some pressure through the valve, so I gave it a few quick pumps, and I was back in business.

Besides the exploding problem, I found the tent to be a little flimsy in strong winds. The tent is intended as a “3-Season” tent, so this was not too surprising. For this reason I wouldn’t recommend it for extreme alpine climbing or winter mountaineering, but other applications would be OK. It is beefier, and with better waterproofing than your typical 3-season, so as long as you don’t expect high winds, it should be suitable. Keep in mind that the Hypno is not intended or designed for technical climbing, however, if you are crazy about saving weight, this is a strong contender, as long as you understand its limitations.

All-in-all, I think the Hypno is a very creative design, and it is well suited for certain niche applications. For example, the Hypno is an excellent choice for summer mountaineering or alpine rock climbing. It is perfect for climbing Fourteeners in Colorado where low weight is paramount, and the ability to erect the tent quickly, and from inside would be invaluable when those afternoon thunderstorms roll in. It would be a great choice for summer alpine routes like Liberty Ridge on Mount Rainier, where you have to lug all your bivy gear over the summit and it’s watertight design would be a big advantage in the Pacific Northwest. The Hypno would also be great for those remote alpine rock climbs like Charlotte Dome or Pingora that require long approaches with a mandatory overnight, but you want to keep the pack weight down to leave room for an extra cam or two.

Revelation 9.2 mm Rope (Manufacturer link) Average Rating = 4.38/5 Average Rating : 4.38/5

In: Gear: Essential Equipment: Climbing Ropes: Dynamic Single Ropes

Review 5 out of 5 stars

Review by: rockprodigy, 2005-07-13

[b]Full Disclosure: The company that manufactured this equipment provided it free of charge to and then provided it as compensation to the reviewer for his or her review. This company does not currently advertise on[/b]

So you find yourself hanging at the end of your rope, once again. After falling from the last move for the 47th time, you’re close to sending your “proj”, but just can’t get over the hump. You’ve tried the latest fad diet, you’ve had your sweat glands surgically removed, and you even tried plucking the fillings out of your teeth, but you just can’t seem to find the edge you need. Well don’t despair, I have just the thing; the new Mammut Revelation.

[i]Mammut's 9.2mm Revelation, showing the middle design transition.[/i]

The Revelation is the newest offering in Mammut’s long line of excellent, high performance ropes. The Revelation is intended for extreme situations, where every gram counts, and the climber is willing to sacrifice durability to maximize performance. This rope is ideal for sport climbers seeking to test themselves on long routes where rope weight can be a significant factor. On the other end of the spectrum, the Revelation is also well suited for alpine climbing. In the past, where alpinists commonly led on only one “double” rope, as a means to save weight, now you have the option of using a certified single rope for about the same weight.

If you’re a shrewd consumer, you know that you don’t get “something for nothing”. Sure, the rope is light, but it must be much weaker, right? Not necessarily. Mammut’s exclusive “Coating Finish” process allows their ropes to produce much higher strength for their given diameter than the ropes of other manufacturers. Each individual strand of every Mammut rope is coated with Teflon. This reduces friction between individual fibers when the rope is loaded. Therefore, during a fall, more of the fibers of the rope are able to contribute to resisting the falling climber. In non-coated ropes, friction between rope strands will allow some fibers to carry more load than others during a fall. This leads to premature wear and tear and generally a weaker rope for the same diameter.

The advantage of the Coating Finish is apparent when comparing it to similar ropes such as Beal’s 9.1mm “Joker”. The Revelation is about 4% heavier than the Joker, yet it’s “first fall elongation” is 22% less, and it has a slight edge in the UIAA falls category with a rating of 5-6 versus, the Joker’s 5 rated falls. The reduced elongation could be a significant factor. For example, if you are 35 feet up and 10 feet above your last bolt, a fall on the “Joker” (37% elongation) will have your toes kissing the ground! Greater elongation also increases wear on your protection as the rope slides further through your quickdraws during a fall. Impact Force is another area of concern for climbers, however, Mammut claims that given a dynamic belay, impact force is barely discernable between two different ropes, so as long as you are using a dynamic belay, this should not be a discriminating factor.

Like all Mammut ropes, the Revelation handled like a dream. The “Duoddess” or “bi-color” weave makes it easy to identify the middle, and the “Triosafe” marking, which identifies the last 5 meters of the rope, added a bit of confidence. By far the biggest drawback, which goes for any skinny rope is that it is less likely to lock up in a mechanical belay device such as a “gri-gri”. Considering all the stories I’ve been hearing lately about decking sport climbers and their skinny ropes, this is a major concern. Mammut sells a special belay device specifically designed for skinny ropes (Matrix, $22.95), which you may want to consider. I found the Trango “Cinch” worked well with the Revelation. Its design is much better suited to smaller ropes, it was very reliable in locking down on the Revelation, and it was easy to lower and dish out slack. If you are at all nervous about skinny ropes slipping through your gri-gri, then this rope is not for you!

The model I tested (60m, duoddess superdry) retails for $239, which is comparable to similar models. In addition to the UIAA test standards, Mammut is an ISO 9001 company. This means that the company has a system in place to ensure that products are manufactured uniformly, decreasing the chance of a manufacturing glitch making it into the rope you buy at your local shop.

Mammut continues to lead the way in rope technology with their latest breakthrough; the Revelation. This rope is perfect for the sport climber pursuing their absolute limit, or the alpinist looking to trim a few grams here or there. If you decide to go with the Revelation (or any other rope under 9.7mm) special care should be taken in selecting a belay device. As always, make sure you and your belayer are well practiced in the necessary belay techniques. This rope is destined to become the first choice of elite climbers on their hardest sends, and I’m sure we’ll yet again see how improved technology can enable better climbing.

Alpinist (Manufacturer link) Average Rating = 4.07/5 Average Rating : 4.07/5

In: Gear: Archive

Review 2 out of 5 stars

Review by: rockprodigy, 2004-04-16

This publication looks really good. I like the layout and the photos are generally good.

What I can't stand is the writing. The editorials in particular and many of the stories reach a level of pretentious self righteousness that have not been seen since Steve Roper last put pen to paper. The editor(s) apparently have quite a chip on their shoulders, and feel the need to take subtle jabs at other aspects of the sport at every turn of the page. If you do any climbing besides alpinism, or climb below the highest standards your behavior will be criticised constantly, I personally, got tired of it.

I would also add that this publication leans toward international climbing, which many people probably like. I read the first 4 issues cover to cover, and I came away with very little information that is applicable to someone with a 40 hour/week job.

If you're a sponsored, full time climber, and you can spend 3 months in patagonia, or the himalaya you'll love this rag...if you're a regular person, realize that these guys will take your money, but they don't respect you.