Drew Thayer tested the Osprey Mutant 52 backpack on ski tours, cragging days and even a three-week packraft trip in the Amazon rainforest. While the pack isn’t the most ideal option for serious alpine climbing, he found that it works well for a variety of missions. Four stars.
Drew Thayer did some winter camping in the Hilleberg Allak 3 and awarded it five stars. He writes, “My overall impression of the Allak 3 is that it’s the best combination of storm-proofness, comfort, and weight among three-person, four-season expedition tents. Its ease of setup, durability, and livability in harsh conditions are all superb. The question is, is it worth the weight for your needs?”
The Arc’teryx Alpha SV Jacket is a specialized piece of clothing built for the harshest climbing situations. Drew Thayer put it to the test on a month-long expedition in Alaska and awarded it five stars.
Drew Thayer describes the Valandre Shocking Blue Neo Sleeping Bag as “the Cadillac” of cold-weather sleeping bags. But all the added features increase the weight and the price compared to other cold-weather bags. Four stars.
“Smaller rocks inevitably rained down. Just as the barrage ceased, a small rock whacked me in the head…. On the hard shell of the helmet, where the rock had hit, was a small ding. No cracks, no mess, just one clean dimple.” Drew Thayer reviews the Mammut Wall Rider Helmet.
Reviewer Drew Thayer notes, “The Ultamid 4 is currently the lightest option for a spacious, four-person shelter that can adapt to just about any conditions…. It’s a great shelter for backcountry pursuits where versatility and light weight are necessary. And it’s made right here in the USA.”
The insulation in the Brooks Range Drift 15 sleeping bag is treated with DownTek, a down coating that prevents the feathers from absorbing water. Since water rolls off the down, the feathers stay light and fluffy–keeping you warm. Unlike synthetic sleeping bags, which are typically bulkier and heavier than down, treated down sleeping bags offer the lightweight, low bulk warmth found in down bags without sacrificing packability.
Ice climbing is about high-energy output in cold, wet conditions. Adapting to changing weather can be as much of a struggle as the climbing itself in the winter season. I try to find layers that are versatile across a range of conditions.