June 5, 2015
The first thing you notice about The North Face and La Sportiva athlete Paige Claassen is her smile, a bright beam that you can’t help but copy. She has one of the most upbeat, positive personalities you’ll encounter, one that’s propelled her to innumerable first female ascents of some of the world’s most demanding sport climbing routes. With 14 years of climbing under her harness, Claassen’s conquered 5.14s around the globe, including the FA of Middle Earth (5.13d) and the FFA of Just Do It (5.14c). And now she’s tackling trad–watch out!
We’re thrilled to consider Paige an honorary GearCooper, after she spent a day with our and TNF’s motley crew at Cannibal Crag in Nevada’s Red Rock State Park. The GearCoopers in attendance ranged from experienced leaders to brand-new climbers, including a couple who hadn’t even touched so much as a gym hold. She helped set anchors, belayed Coopers of all skill levels, and traded beta and friendly banter with everyone–if anyone embodies the philosophy that climbing for fun is more important than for grades or numbers, it’s Paige.
But don’t get us wrong. There’s nothing quite as inspiring as watching a truly top-caliber climber do what she does best: crush. Routes that left our seasoned Coopers struggling were basically her warmup, including the 5.12c New Wave Hookers. Every foot placement was sure. Each draw was smoothly and confidently clipped. At the base, our necks craned upward, we watched her float up multiple difficult lines (to us mere mortals)–and it only got our fingertips itching to pull the rock once more. We all left the crag with Paige’s beaming smile reflected on all of our faces.
WOMEN’S EAT MY DUST MESH TANK
This tank is ultra light and breathable, perfect for hot days climbing, hiking, or running. The back cutout allows for tons of airflow. It actually feels like you’re not wearing anything!
WOMEN’S FUSEFORM DOT MATRIX JACKET
Fuseform combines fabrics without using seams to cut weight while providing protection where you need it. The ultimate technical rain jacket!
WOMEN’S VERTO PANTS
These are my all time favorite cold weather climbing pant. They’re a bit more on the technical side, which makes them super warm, but the fabric is super thin and lightweight, so it doesn’t restrict your movement. I hiked through brambles for an hour last week and expected so many holes in my favorite pants, but my Vertos survived unscathed! Plus they come in bright purple.
WOMEN’S TERRA 55
This is my go to pack for most days I spent outside. The sleeping bag compartment actually works great for packing my rope in the bottom of my pack. I take a lot of layers and snacks to the crag, so 55 liters is a pretty crucial size for me, and with the huge side zipper, I can access whatever I need without removing everything from my pack. A simple feature that I love is the waist belt zippers, so that I can keep my phone handy to take photos, and store chapstick!
WOMEN’S THERMOBALL HOODIE
If you’re worried about your down getting wet, or you want an ultra light and compressible alternative, Thermoball is the way to go. This full zip hoodie has a feminine fit, and I love the black and gold version – why aren’t gold zippers more common?!
WOMEN’S SURGE II CHARGED BACKPACK
Traveling often means long layovers, obscure layover locations, delayed flights…basically many hours spent in airports. Instead of worrying about converters or keeping my devices charged, I just take the Surge, which provides 3 full charges for my phone (or any USB devices). The laptop sleeve unzips to lie flat, so I don’t even have to remove my computer through security.
WOMEN’S QUINCE HOODED JACKET
800 Fill down, yes please!! This is the jacket that comes with me every single day. Hoods are a must for me with jackets, and this piece is the best option available. Ultra light, ultra warm, and the sleeves extend beyond their elastic cinch, providing a bit more coverage and protection for those of us with long arms.
WOMEN’S APHRODITE WOVEN PULL-ON CAPRI
The US climber girls are always looking for “euro style” pants, that have that boy fit without being frumpy hiker pants. This is it! A great alternative if you’re not into the tight spandex style of climbing pants.
WOMEN’S DYNAMIX HOODIE
TNF’s new Mountain Athletics collection is perfect for my needs – everything is cute, fitted, soft, and super durable – a rare combination! The Dynamix Hoody is a lightweight fleece with weather and abrasion resistant material where you need it. You can also vertically cinch the waist and neck hem, which makes for some fun style variety.
CAMP PHOTON WIRE STRAIGHT GATE
CAMP’s Photon Wire Straight Gate is the lightest full size carabiner in the world, great for hard trad and multipitch, and even cutting weight when you travel!
CAMP PHOTON EXPRESS KS
The Photon Express KS uses the world’s lightest full size carabiner, so these draws are super light, and the carabiner construction means they take up less space on your harness. Compact racking!
CAMP SUPERNOVA HARNESS
I’m a little biased because CAMP has allowed me to design my own women’s harnesses! I worked with their designers in Italy to produce the SuperNova, which is my go-to. For some reason, everyone thinks women need tons of padding in a harness, but actually I want to feel as though I’m not wearing a harness. The SuperNova accomplishes that with minimal padding and bulk, but without digging into your legs and waist.
MAXIM AIRLINER CLIMBING ROPE
The Maxim Airliner is unbeatable for sport climbing. It’s a sleek and thin 9.1, and the 2x dry coating they use makes the surface slick but not stiff, which makes for a really nice glide when you’re belaying. These ropes also last forever, which is a huge bonus when you’re traveling and projecting.
METOLIUS MAGNUM TRIPLE FOLD CRASH PAD
I use the Metolius Magnum triple fold pad, because it provides such a large area of protection while still being versatile. When you’re bouldering in Rocky Mountain National Park, you have to protect big boulders at the base, and this pad allows tons of flexibility and options. It also doubles as a great mattress for sleeping!
I don’t think anyone has yet figured out how to beat the Petzl Grigri. It’s just reliable and easy.
CAMP SPEED 2.0 HELMET
CAMP’s Speed 2.0 helmet is great for hard climbing because it’s less clunky than many helmets. The dial adjustment is super simple, the helmet is ventilated, and it doesn’t weigh your head down.
CAMP ORBIT 2LOCK
CAMP’s Orbit 2Lock is a super light, compact auto locker. Simple!
CAMP CHUNKY CHALK
I use CAMP Chunky Chalk. I’m honestly not too picky about chalk, as long as it does not have an added drying agent because my skin is already so dry that it often splits.
WOMEN’S DAHLIA TANK
It’s fun, it’s sexy, it’s fitted without being skin tight. This is a simple necessity piece with fun straps and a flattering cut – my favorite tank!
WOMEN’S MOTIVATION CROP LEGGINGS
Imagine the fit of Lululemon leggings (which we all love even though we’re not supposed to), but with outdoor durability – bingo! The wide waist band doesn’t cut into my sides, and there’s a cute ruching detail on the calves.
WOMEN’S MOTIVATION ¼ ZIP
This has to be the softest shirt in the world! Super thin and lightweight, but surprisingly warm, I just can’t get over how cozy this longsleeve is. I have multiples in my kit, and take one every single day I go out climbing.
LA SPORTIVA WOMEN’S MIURA VS
La Sportiva Women’s Miura VS is my favorite shoe in the world. It’s the only shoe that offers precision edging PLUS downturned pulling power. The first time I ever wore the Women’s Miura VS (without even breaking them in) I sent one of my hardest routes to date (Grand Ole Opry, 5.14b). They’ve been my best friend ever since!
BACK POCKET BEANIE
A beanie that doesn’t slide up your head while you climb!
WOMEN’S BASE CAMP MINI
I like to carry a pair of flip flops in my pack for bouldering days or warm cragging days. These are super light, comfy, and simple.
Because without it, you’re that dirtbag at the crag unsuccessfully using sticks as chopsticks for your lunch.
SMITH OPTICS COLETTE SUNGLASSES
A feminine shape but sporty enough for the rocks. Smith Optics Chromapop makes reds and greens more vibrant – I remember traveling to Ecuador and thinking how amazingly green the landscape looked – it was pretty green, but it was mostly my shades!
MAC’S SMACK ULTIMATE FIX
Mac’s Smack Ultimate Fix is the best salve I’ve found. They aren’t a climbing brand, but when I started using Mac’s Smack, I stopped getting painful vertical splits in my fingers. Ultimate Fix heals thin skin but also makes it grow back thicker. Every climbing shop should carry it!
crucial for traveling, to work out those knots in your back!