Monday, February 20, 2012

Alpine Climbing Kit for under 10 lbs total?

Most climbers have been following Ueli Steck ever since his speed ascent of the Grand Jorasses, the Ginat on Les Droites, and especially the North Face of the Eiger.  Last year he took his speed climbing in to the Himalaya, with ascents of Cho Oyu, Cholatse, an attempt at Everest, and a speed ascent of Shishapangma in 10.5 hours.

With the help of Ueli, Mountain Hardwear has designed an alpine climbing kit that's warm enough for the Himalaya (purportedly) but weighs under 10 pounds total.  This kit includes the clothing, sleeping bag, tent, and backpack for the Himalaya.  I'm not sure if every piece of the kit is being made available to the public (like his no-zipper sleeping bag), but most of it is.

See the video here:

Sorry, I tried to embed the video,but I can't seem to get it to work.

These pieces include:

Desna Hoody-12.3oz, powerstretch hardface, 1/2 zip, scuba-style hood, slightly water- and wind-resistant.  Note- I'm not sure they continued this for Fall/Winter 2012-13.  It's is no longer in their catalog.  The Desna in their catalog is full-zip, 3-pocket jacket version (17oz).

Warlow Pant- 14oz Minimal Softshell Pant, 2 hand pockets.

Quasar Pullover-9oz, Deep half zip, 1 internal stash pocket, Dry Q Elite.  This thing is sweet!, but pricy. $375  This piece made me giggle when I saw the weight and design.  I have been waiting for a good, lightweight, waterproof pullover.

Nilas Jacket-22oz, fully baffled jacket, 850 fill-power down, 15 denier AirShield Elite fabric (windproof, water-resistant), 2 handwarmer pockets, 2 internal stash pockets for waterbottles/gloves.  Also super sweet!  Overpriced? $500.

Nilas Bib-25oz, fully baffled, 850 fp down, AirShield Elite, etc. Powerstretch bib above waist, thermic micro synthetic insulation around calves for less bulk under/around boot, 2-way watertight front zip, 6-slider watertight rainbow zip in rear, reinforced instep. $475.  Ouch!  Nice though.

Mountain Speed 32 sleeping bag-15.5oz, 32 degree EN rating, 850 fp down, 7-denier fabric, 1/3 length zipper.  (not the bag in the video, but still super lightweight). $400 (reg), $440 (long)

Direkt 2 Tent-40oz (2lb 8oz), 2-person (close friends, family, or not shy), 25 ft^2, DAC featherlight nsl poles, etc.  $500.

Summitrocket 30 backpack-16oz, 30L (1830 in^3), removable compression and framesheet make pack 14oz, fabric is 100 denier ripstop nylon and HardWEar X-ply Dyneema. $150.

All of these pieces put together make for a total weight of 153.8oz or 9lb 9.8oz or 9lb 7.8oz with pack stripped down.  Either way, pretty impressive and expensive.  For this whole kit at retail you will be paying $2715, unless you need a long sleeping bag like I do, then $2755.

I checked this gear out pretty meticulously at the OR Show a month ago and the quality is top-notch.  I am particularly curious to try out the Quasar pullover and the Nilas Jacket.  I ordered a Nilas Jacket last week, but the Quasar was out of stock in my size.  Be watching for a review on the Nilas in a few month.

I have the Rab Neutrino down jacket which is about the same weight and length as the Nilas.  It, however, is sewn-through construction making it less warm than a baffled jacket.  I am curious to see if the Nilas in significantly warmer than the neutrino, or just significantly more expensive. 

Other Alternatives

There are less expensive options to almost all of these pieces, but they will add a little weight.
Instead of the Warlow pant ($150), the NWAlpine Fast/Light pant ($110). 
Instead of the Desna ($160), the NWA Black Spider Light Hoody ($90).  Not as warm as the Desna, but similar design.
Instead of Quasar Pullover, not sure.  Most other waterproof/breathable jackets are similarly priced but not as light as this jacket.  From what I or Phil have tested of Dry Q vs. Neoshell, Dry Q is lighter, Neoshell breathes better. 
Instead of the Nilas, the Rab Neutrino $325(or Neutrino plus for a baffled construction $400).  Probably not as warm as Nilas, but my guess is they're pretty close.  We'll see. . .
Instead of the Nilas Bib. . . beats me.  I'm not aware of a down pant that is less expensive, as light, or as well designed for high-altitude climbing as this one. Maybe the Arc'teryx Kappa Pant ($300, coreloft instead of down), but that will not be as warm as this bib.  Other 8000meter pants usually cost more than these bibs.
Instead of Direkt 2 ($500, 2lb 8oz), Black Diamond Hilight ($370, 2lb 10oz min. wt.) or Firstlight ($300, 2lb 13oz min wt.)  Similarly sized, not priced.  Direkt 2 has more stake/guy points.
Instead of Summitrocket 30 ($150, 16oz), Cilogear 30L Worksac ($150, 16oz stripped, 32oz with extras).  It may not be as light as the summitrocket, but it may be more versatile.

The Verdict

I'm psyched on what Mountain Hardwear is doing with their gear.  All of their new, Ueli-inspired products look top-notch and are as light or lighter than anything else out there.  The only issue I have is that they are expensive.  The pieces that I think are a little too expensive compared to what else is on the market is the Nilas Jacket and Direkt 2 tent.  I haven't tried either piece out yet, however, so when I do try them I could find that they are worth every cent.  If you have the money, I don't think you can go wrong with any of these pieces.  If your funds a limited, maybe look at some of the other less-expensive options. 

1 comment:

  1. A great replacement for the Quazar is the Rab Demand pullover:

    It's basically the same jacket for ~$100.00 less (or more if you search around a bit). It's eVent and weighs 9.4 oz. (size medium as measured on my scale). I've had it a couple of years and LOVE it.