Monday, June 6, 2011

Moon Gear Review

Since joining the Moon Climbing team this year, I have had the opportunity to try a number of items made by this small grassroots climbing company based in Sheffield. Though many climbers of a certain age will automatically recognize Ben Moon’s huge contributions to sport climbing and bouldering in the 1980s and 1990s, these days a younger generation may know him primarily through his company. I ordered a number of items that I felt that I could use and that might find favor with American climbers and boulderers. Since roughly March, I have been consistently putting this gear to the test in a number of settings, both at the gym and outside bouldering and roped climbing. While it is true that this review is going to be somewhat partial, I believe it will prove helpful to anyone thinking of trying out this brand. There is no question that Moon is very popular in the UK and Europe but it is less well known in the US, except among a relatively small circle of climbers. I would like to help change that so read on.

The Cypher Pant, Moon T-Shirts, and Logo Hat
As some readers of this blog may know, I have long been looking for good pants for bouldering for some time. These pants need to be lightweight, able to withstand abuse, have a natural feeling fabric, fit well, and look good both at the boulders and on the street. I have been wearing the Moon Cypher pant pretty much nonstop for the past three months and can say that they meet the above criteria with flying colors. I have taken them on brush-choked gully approaches in Clear Creek, waded with them through thigh-deep snow at Mount Evans, and climbed all sorts of terrain in them from low-angle trad to steep gym bouldering. They are reasonably loose without being too baggy and come with a very lightweight closure at the ankle or can be rolled up. They fit well under a harness or during bouldering. They are very windproof and felt warm even while belaying near the sea in a brisk damp breeze in North Wales. The poly/cotton fabric dries very quickly and breathes well during warm strenuous hikes.

I wore nothing but Cypher pants during my 10 day trip to the UK where they performed very well in all conditions from a breezy and cool session at Stanage Edge to navigating the crowds in the National Gallery in London. Easy to wash and quick to dry, they could be the perfect traveling climber’s pants, especially as they resist the “grimy” look common with other fabric types. They also pass easily style-wise from cragwear to streetwear with understated colors and a moderately loose fit. While some may wonder about the reversed pocket “elephant ear” flaps, they become unobtrusive quite quickly and provide a distinctive look. I would absolutely recommend trying these out. The Cypher also comes in a ¾ length and shorts style suitable for warmer conditions. Recently these pants have been made available in organic cotton as well. For my alpine bouldering trips, the poly/cotton blend will be perfect.

Other items I have tried include several t-shirts and a very nice light-weight and warm beanie. In particular, I liked the hemp t-shirt with the Bus Stop 8b design. All the t-shirts have clean striking graphics with an urban feel and fit well.

The Warrior Pad and Bouldering Shoulder Bag
The Warrior Pad is an excellent pad, very lightweight but durable, which has a unique design that keeps the shoulder straps on the landing side so that the pad stays relatively clean. When folded, the side that rests on the ground stays on the inside keeping backs, car interiors, etc, free of dirt and mud. A velcroed carpeted flap goes over the straps while climbing and then folds across the bottom when it’s being carried, keeping gear and shoes securely in the pad. As an alpine boulderer, I find the lack of a waist-strap a bit of a problem but the word is that this may change, especially with their upper-end pad, the Saturn. For me, especially because of its light weight, the Warrior is the perfect second pad as a recent snowy carry into Mt Evans proved.

Moon’s Bouldering Shoulder Bag is a great deal. It is a compact and very versatile design allowing a lot of storage in a small space. You can carry it as a shoulder bag or as a backpack, the adjustment between the two taking just a few minutes. I have used it extensively both in the gym and on recent travels and found it a hassle-free way of carrying everything from chalkbag and shoes to a netbook and passport. The zippers and Velcro all work very well and it carries fairly heavy weights easily. At only $46, this bag is a real bargain given its versatility and quality.

Bouldering Chalk Bag and Moon Dust
The Bouldering Chalk Bag is a superb simple chalk bag with a secure roll-top and Velcro closure. It sets up well at the base of a boulder problem and closes easily on its own if it tips over, a very convenient feature. I really like the Moon brand of chalk and have found it works well across all sorts of conditions and rock types. I also appreciate the message of respect towards the environment that is printed on each bag.

In sum, I have been very happy with the performance of the gear that I have had the opportunity to use and am very enthusiastic about spreading the word to other climbers. I believe that you will find it money well spent. The quality is excellent and the prices are very reasonable. In the US, Moon is a very small company with a personal touch, being run primarily by well-known boulderer, photographer and author Wills Young. Please visit the website to find out more. I will be testing more gear and writing about it over the rest of the year and hope to continue to promote here in the US and abroad.


Matt said...

I know you're sponsored, but what a weak review of the crach pad. I recently moved to Germany from the states. At home I had an Organic for the past four years and loved them. When I got to europe I immediately bought a moon pad because I trusted the name and had luck with their products in the past (hangboard, and pants). The Saturn crashpad is total crap. The foam bottoms out almost immediately. The suspension system is poorly designed and obviously not at all well thought out. I am completely disappointed with Moon here. The only feature it has, the flap for the shoulder pads, is a useless gimmick.

Peter Beal said...

Thanks Matt. I think the Moon pads need some work as well and have been talking with Ben and Wills about it. For American users, used to long approaches and bad landings, I think the Moon pads are underbuilt, especially compared to Organic which I remain a big fan of. That's why I recommend the Warrior as a second pad since that's the only one I am familiar with at this point.

Ken T. said...

Any insight as to why Ben dropped off from blogging and, for that matter, having a high visible on his web site? Up to a couple years ago, I really enjoyed reading his entries and watching the videos. The din of climbing blogs and online news could benefit from his authority and voice.

Peter Beal said...

Part of the reason is possibly his daughter Sylvie who happens to be about 2 years old :)

Talking with him on the drive out to Stanage, it seems he wants to take Moon to the next level and no doubt that is another draw on his time and energy

Dave McAllister said...

I'm not gonna lie to you Peter, the Cypher Pants are the greatest climbing pants in the history of the world...all I own!