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Chris Van Leuven

Chris Van Leuven testing the new Petzl Nomic ice tools in Rocky Mountain National Park. [Photo] Colby Rickard

The new Petzl Nomic: Same swing with new picks, a mini hammer, functional spike and improved handle

Chris Van Leuven tested the latest version of the Petzl Nomic ice tools. He reports that the upgraded Nomics have that same familiar look and feel–same swing–as with previous generations, but are now more functional and come with additional features. His main criticism is that the tools come standard with the Pur’Ice pick, which is too narrow for hard mixed/dry tooling, and other picks must be ordered separately. Four stars.

The author hiking into Bear's Den in Rocky Mountain National Park for dry tooling. Note the (fruit) boots fastened to the side clips. [Photo] Colby Rickard

Spacious and multi-use: the Patagonia Cragsmith 45

The Cragsmith 45 is Patagonia’s largest backpack, which the company refers to as the “gear dumpster.” Chris Van Leuven has been lugging it around for several months and enjoys the pack’s durability, convenient loading options and how well it encapsulates just about anything he wants, from clothes and a sleeping bag to ice tools, in addition to the standard rock climbing kit. Four stars.

Chris Van Leuven leads FM (5.11c) in Boulder Canyon, Colorado, while wearing the Ortovox Merino Fleece Light Hoody. [Photo] Paul Gagner

One Flashy Hoody: Ortovox Merino Fleece Light

Chris Van Leuven wears hoodies often and has tested his share of them. His latest review awards the Ortovox Merino Fleece Light Hoody four stars. Van Leuven reports that the Ortovox is lighter than many other tops, but in terms of loft and warmth it’s similar to heavier ones.