HELMET: Mammut Wall Rider
All-foam helmets are light and safe, but they don’t last over years of hard climbing. The Wall Rider combines the low weight of a foam interior with the durability of a polycarbonate cap on top, which warded off falling ice chunks on one tester’s climb of Mt. Rainier. Ample vents kept him cool on sunny slogs.
$100; 7.8 oz. (M/L); S/M, M/L; Buy Mammut Wall Rider Now
GLACIER GLASSES : Julbo Cham
Get old-school style with new-school performance.The Cham’s fully adjustable rubber temples fit everyone that tried them, and didn’t slip. “They stayed snug without pressing, even when under a hat and helmet,” said one tester after an all-day bid up Mt. Shasta. The Chams are available in a number of lenses, but we preferred the polycarbonate Spectron 4, which filters 95 percent of light and accentuates relief with a brownish tint.
$170; 1.3 oz; Buy Julbo Cham Now
HARNESS : Black Diamond Couloir
Ditch the extra padding of a rock climbing harness for something less bulky. The Couloir offers the best blend of weight, features, and price: It packs down to the size of a fist for approaches, but still boasts two gear loops and four slots for ice screw clips.
$65; 7.5 oz. (M/L); unisex sizes XS-XXL; Buy Black Diamond Couloir Now
GLOVES : Mountain Hardwear Cyclone Gore-Tex
With 160 grams of synthetic fill, the Cyclone kept our tester’s hands warm during a summer Rainier climb when temps dipped into the teens. Low-profile, articulated fingers and four-way-stretch nylon—which grants mobility without adding extra material—aid dexterity and made clipping pickets for crevasse crossings a cinch. Goat leather palms and fingers held up well through a full climbing season.
$150; 10.6 oz. (L); unisex XS-XL; Buy Mountain Hardwear Cyclone Gore-Tex Now
ICE AXE : Grivel G1/G1 Plus
Most objectives won’t require overhead axe swings, but it’s nice to have the option on steeper snow. The G1 Plus has a long shaft with a slight bend, which our tester appreciated when placing overhead picks on Mt. Shasta. A rubber grip adds extra security. The regular G1 (pictured, $75) forgoes the grip and bend for a lower price. Both axes are aluminum and can take a beating.
$100; 1 lb. (58 cm.); 58 cm., 66 cm., 74 cm.; Buy Grivel G1 Plus Now
BOOTS : La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX
Guides love this boot for a reason. A layer of Gore-Tex hollow-fiber insulation provides warmth with less bulk; it kept our tester’s feet warm but nimble during 0°F ascents in the Adirondacks. The leather upper flexes like a lighter boot on approaches, but the Nepal Evo’s stiff TPU midsole and toe and heel welts work with automatic crampons.
$510; 4 lbs., 7 oz. (m’s 9); m’s 6-14; Buy La Sportiva Nepal Evo GTX Now
CRAMPONS : Petzl Leopard LLF
We gave the Leopard an Editors’ Choice Award in 2016 for its reliable 10-point traction and minimal weight. This version has bales for mountaineering boots. A nylon/Dyneema cord underfoot connects the front and back, cutting bulk without compromising hold. The Leopard gave us ironclad confidence while sidehilling up hard, windblown névé on Colorado’s Torreys Peak, and the cord didn’t fray over a season of use.
$170; 11.6 oz.; Buy Petzl Leopard LLF Now