Osprey – A Company You Can Feel Great About – Gear We Use

Approaching Camp on Mount Baker with loaded up Osprey Packs, Chicks Mount Baker Program 2019. ©Kitty Calhoun

Approaching Camp on Mount Baker with loaded up Osprey Packs, Chicks Mount Baker Program 2019. ©Kitty Calhoun


Osprey Packs has been a long-time supporter of Chicks and if you’ve ever attended one of our programs, you’ve no doubt had the opportunity to use one of their packs for a day out on the rock, ice or snow.

Not only do they make great day packs, crag packs, travel luggage and hydration packs to fuel your adventures, they are also a company you can feel great about supporting.

Osprey is based in Cortez, CO in the four corners area of Colorado.

Up until 2000, a team of women sewers from the Navajo Nation did all of the production. Today that team is the workforce behind Osprey’s “All Mighty Guarantee”, a lifetime warranty on all of their packs. Osprey is committed to repairing any damage to their packs free of charge, no matter the age of the pack. 

At the onset of the covid pandemic, Osprey was one of the first outdoor brands to shift their in-house production to making face coverings. It’s this dedication to community and health that makes us love Osprey all the more.

Osprey partners with many non-profit organizations who are aligned with their five core values:

  1. Environmental Stewardship. Our planet is important to protect.
  2. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Everyone has a right to enjoy the outdoors without fear.
  3. Health and Recreation. Increasing opportunities for folks to lead healthier lifestyles.
  4. Building Communities. Engaging the communities they work and play in.
  5. Outdoor Education. Teaching our future generations the importance of stewardship.

They support organizations like Chicks because we also stand by behind these values and we stand up for companies like Osprey who are doing their part to make the world a better place, one pack at a time.

If you’re in the market for a new pack, you should consider an Osprey, and feel good about knowing you’re also helping them give back in so many ways.

Grivel Trend Harness – Gear We Use

Grivel Athlete Angelika Rainer sporting the Abstract model of the Trend Harness.

Grivel Athlete, Angelika Rainer, sporting the Abstract model of the Trend Harness. ©Grivel.

Grivel Trend Harness – Comfort, Fun and Fashion

We love our Italian friends at Grivel who’ve been in the climbing-equipment game longer than anyone. 

After two centuries of building high-performance gear, Grivel adds some flare to their line with this uber-fashionable harness. 

This little number comes in four flashy styles: Leopard (my favorite), Abstract, Python and Black (with a subtle leopard print).

The Trend is not only adorable, it’s light and thoughtfully designed. For example, for sport climbing, the Trend has extra padding, making popping and hanging more comfortable. 

All the while, the Trend makes a fashion statement in whatever flavor suits your style. 

Kudos, Grivel, for making climbing more fun and fashionable!

Grivel Trend Harness colors

Grivel’s Trend Harness 2020 (L to R) Abstract, Black, Leopard and Python. ©Grivel.

Patagonia Caliza Rock Pants | Gear We Use

Patagonia Caliza Rock Pants in action.

Patagonia Caliza Rock Pants in action.

I am lovin’ the Patagonia Caliza Rock Pants!

If you know me, you know that I am loyal to a fault, and can be slow to change. 

But I have to admit I am, slowly, changing. 

My new, favorite rock pants are no longer the RPS pants but the Caliza.  

The Caliza are my latest, greatest for several reasons, but the main reasons is that they move with me. In fact, the Caliza move so much that I don’t really realize I have pants on! With so much stretch, they are a slim fit but not restrictive. An organic cotton/spandex blend with 4-way stretch and articulated joints make the Caliza feel like nothing. 

The Caliza Rock Pants waistband is knit and contoured so it doesn’t rub under your harness or pack. 

Additionally, they are light, yet durable.

The biggest problem I’ve had with my Caliza Pants so far is deciding which color to get!

Sterling Quest 9.6mm Rope | Gear We Use


Stock image of Sterling Quest rock climbing rope

Sterling Quest 9.6mm Rope

Have you heard about the Sterling Quest 9.6 millimeter rope?

The Quest is perfect if you’ve been hemming and hawing about what kind of rope to get. It might just be the one-quiver, single, dynamic rope that you’ve been looking for. 

When purchasing a rope it’s always been hard to decide between a rope that is well-suited for lots of toproping like the Sterling Velocity or a lightweight, lead rope like the Sterling Nano.

Well, the good news is that you don’t have to make that choice anymore. Now, there is the Sterling Quest: a one-quiver rope that’s both durable and fairly lightweight. 

The Quest is a great rope whether you’re going sport-climbing, trad-climbing, heading out in your backyard or looking for new adventures.

At a diameter of 9.6 mm and a weight of 61 g/m, the Quest has a really nice balance between weight and durability. You can still carry it to the crag without breaking your back, and it’ll feel fine hanging off your waist for that send you’re working on. 

The Quest’s new core construction gives it some serious mileage potential so it won’t be shredded after one season.

The Quest also has a good handle. It’s made with a smooth sheath, which reduces drag against gear and helps let it slide smoothly through your belay device.

With an impact force of 9.1 kN*, which is only very slightly higher than the Velocity, and with 29% dynamic elongation, the Quest provides a soft catch with good belaying skills.

Sterling makes this rope in a variety of choices. You can choose from bare-bones 60m, single-color ropes (which still come with a middle mark) to top-notch, bi-color, dry-treated versions. Sterling’s Quest 9.6mm comes in several different lengths between 40m and 80m.

The Quest has lots of important attributes united into one rope. So, go ahead and fret no more… Sterling’s Quest 9.6mm rope will make a good companion no matter what your climbing goals are!

*This is an international testing standard, not the actual force on a falling climber!

YETI Daytrip Lunch Box | Gear We Use

YETI Daytrip Lunch Box packed with food for the day. ©Elaina Arenz.

YETI Daytrip Lunch Box packed with food for the day. ©Elaina Arenz.

The YETI Daytrip Lunch Box is the answer to all of my high-angle lunch needs.

Since COVID-19 shut down climbing, I’ve been fortunate enough to use my skills for rope access work.

Rope access is a way to get to a high, work location and then do whatever job needs to be done. I’ve been working 10–12 hour shifts, dangling from the high, steel rafters of what will be the new Las Vegas Raiders stadium.

Years ago I picked up an insulated lunch bag from TJ Maxx. I used this lunch bag for years. Even though it wasn’t quite big enough and my food didn’t stay cold long enough, the price was right.

Temperatures in Vegas are already hitting the mid-90’s and working  long days up high, myTJ Maxx lunch bag wasn’t cutting it anymore. 

I must admit I had sticker shock when I saw the $79 price tag but after using it for the last few weeks, I’m sold. 

Here are the highlights of my YETI Daytrip Lunch Box:

  1. The Daytrip Lunch Box is easy to clean. Its waterproof exterior wipes down easily with  a damp sponge.
  2. The semi-rigid construction holds its shape, protecting my food. My apricots don’t get squished.
  3. With a small ice pack (sold separately) the insulation keeps my food cold.
  4. Even with a small ice pack, the Lunch Box is large enough to fit a well-rounded meal.
  5. A zipper closure and magnetic-lid system flips open to create a good-size eating surface, easily balanced on my lap for an improvised table.
  6. Durable construction will last me for years and years to come.

Thanks YETI!

YETI Daytrip Lunch Box

SCARPA Maestro Mid ECO Women’s Rock Climbing Shoes

SCARPA Maestro Mid ECO Women's Rock Climbing Shoes

SCARPA Maestro Mid ECO Women’s rock climbing shoe ©SCARPA.

SCARPA’s Maestro Mid ECO Women’s rock climbing shoes are my go-to, all-day-long trad (traditional) climbing shoes. They are burly and last many seasons and resoles, only getting better with time.

I got my first pair of rock shoes in 1983––hand-me-down EB Super Grattons, which after a couple of seasons became threadbare. So I invested in the new Boreal Firé (pronounced “Fee-Ray”). The Firés had sticker rubber, more flexible soles and they looked super fly. The increased technical performance inspired my confidence and my rock climbing ability soared.

I don’t know how many rock climbing shoes I’ve owned over the past three decades, but one thing is certain: shoes are the most important tool for my rock climbing game. 

Advice for Choosing Rock Climbing Shoes 

Chose carefully. 

Go into retail stores and try on many different models and brands to find the perfect fit.  

I’ve found that SCARPA fits my foot the best. So SCARPA has been my brand since the Firés.  

Choose a model. 

Think, “What’s the job this shoe needs to do for me? What type of rock climbs will we adventure on together? Do I need to be in these shoes all day for longer routes? Or, will I be pulling them on and off at the base of sport climbs? Do I want a lace up, velcro closure or a slip-on shoe? Will I be edging on small holds, smearing on slabs or jamming my feet into cracks? Does an asymmetrical last suit my foot, or is more of a symmetrical toe box ideal?

Chose the size. 

Unlike many, I prioritize comfort in my climbing shoes.

Instead, many of my climbing partners prefer super tight shoes for the performance. I find I need to focus on my footwork more than I need to focus on how much my feet hurt. So, I size all my rock climbing shoes (except for my high-performance, sport climbing shoes!) up a full size from my approach shoes. 

Sizing a full size up from my approach shoes works great for me. This also allows me to wear a thin pair of socks if it’s cold. And, if my feet swell due to heat, the additional space is a savior.

When it comes to size, find the formula that fits for you.

Maestro Mid ECOs come in both women’s and men’s versions which can also help get the best fit.


SCARPA is one of the few if not the only company that employs sustainable tanning and dying for their leather uppers. They use a more enviro-friendly method, whereas most shoe companies use toxic chemicals on their leathers.


Yes, SCARPA Maestro Mid Eco Women’s rock shoe is a mouthful. It is also one of the most expensive rock shoes on the market. But with that comes durability, attention to detail and Italian craftsmanship that can’t be beat.


Out of the box, the Maestro Mid Eco shoe is extremely comfortable, helped by a well-padded tongue that stays in place. The lace system also helps add durability and insure less lace wasting after seasons of jamming into cracks. The entire shoe feels like a safe haven. With it’s burly leather and generous rubber rand, the SCARPA Maestro Mid ECO is less like a high performance Ferrari, especially on thin cracks and dime edges, and more like a Land Rover for all-day adventures. 

And they look great to boot!

Check em’ out at https://www.scarpa.com/maestro-mid-eco-wmn

Mammut Athlete Caro North

Mammut Athlete and Mountain Guide, Caro North, in front of the Eiger. ©Karen Bockel.

Mammut Athlete and Mountain Guide, Caro North, in front of the Eiger. ©Karen Bockel.

“Do what you can’t. Be what you can.”

Mammut’s motto is no small order, but Mammut takes it to heart.

So does my good friend Caro North. Caro, who is from Switizerland, is a Mammut Athlete and Mountain Guide.

Having been on expeditions to all the corners of the world: from the North Faces of her homeland, to Alaska, India, South America and beyond . . . Caro puts her gear and clothing to the test more than anyone I know. She is the toughest! Her expeditions are often in remote, wild, mountain ranges where the team is completely self-reliant. They do everything from hauling gear, building basecamp, bivouacking en-route and climbing snow, rock and ice all at once.

Anything Caro takes along on her adventures near and far has to do what it can’t. And, what Caro brings back from her expeditions are a test to the durability and quality of Mammut’s clothing and equipment.

You can see that Caro’s kit is still going strong in the photo above.

One detail Caro particularly loves is the drop seat in her Gore-Tex pants. She helped develop Mammut’s drop-seat design with product managers and designers by testing different options. But most importantly, she fought for it. “To be able to go pee in the mountains while wearing a harness is a super important detail. This is something girls definitely need!” says Caro.

Learn more about Caro in this interview about how she manages fear: https://www.mammut.com/us/en/stories/caro-north-fear-is-my-life-insurance/

GU Roctane Electrolyte Capsules – Little caps of gold

.GU Rocktane Electrolyte Capsules

Despite the fact that being confined has changed my outdoor life and my energy output and intake, I’ve found I still need GU Roctane Electrolyte Capsules.

Normally, this time of year, I spend long days in the mountains. As I traverse from ski hut to ski hut, I’m out for hours and hours at high altitude. Instead, this year, I’m limited to an hour of hiking or running near my house.

Needless to say, the energy I’m spending is very different—balancing on my slackline doesn’t quite burn the same calories as climbing a 14,000-foot peak … In order to balance reduced activity levels, I’ve also had to change my eating habits.

What I’ve found is that when things are so out of the ordinary, it’s hard to keep track of all the changes. For example, I started to notice some leg and foot cramps in the evenings and at night. What was I missing? Thinking about it, I realized that despite lower activity levels, I was short on minerals.

Enter GU Roctane Electrolyte Capsules packed with sodium, magnesium and chloride, as well as vitamin D. These little caps of gold are easily absorbed with a glass of water. Confined or unconfined I find they really help maintain electrolyte balance in my body. I find them especially practical in hot conditions, when I might become dehydrated more quickly. Also, over the years I’ve found the Rocktane Electrolyte caps are a good addition to other GU hydration and nutrition products, like for example, the recovery drink that I use frequently.

Thank you Gu! Rocktane Electrolytes have cleared up my leg and foot cramps. Now it’s time for a run. And then back to the stack of books I finally have the opportunity to read!

Black Diamond Z Poles Changed my World

Jay Smith crossing a steam in Indian using Black Diamond Z poles for balance

Kitty’s husband, Jay, using Kitty’s Black Diamond Z poles to cross a stream in India” ©Kitty Calhoun.

Back in the day,

as a young, pure minimalist climber, I scoffed at mountaineers using trekking poles.

“Why buy poles, much less carry them into the mountains, if I have strong legs?” I thought.

Then, during one particularly shameful trip to the mountains, my attitude towards poles changed quickly.

It all started on the approach

when a swollen stream barred our way to base camp. Rapidly melting snow almost completely submerged all the boulders with raging water. In high alpine terrain above tree-line, there were no tree branches to make into makeshift poles.  Sheepishly, I accepted my partner’s pole when she handed it back to me after crossing.

Later, high on the mountain while breaking trail through unconsolidated snow, I swallowed my pride again and used her pole to push up through each collapsing step.

But, the way down was what tipped me. Loaded with a full pack, my partner used her pole for support and balance to make light work of the tedious, quad-burning descent.

This made me so jealous, I got my own: Black Diamond Z Trekking poles.

Now I take my Z poles with me all the time. I take them on backcountry ice climbs, mountaineering trips, rock climbs with long approaches, long hikes and mountain runs.

My favorite Black Diamond Z poles are the Distance Z Trekking/Running Poles. I love these poles because they break down to fit in my duffle bag. They are light, durable and easily adjustable. They are also the most affordable of the Black Diamond Z poles. Even better, they’ve been upgraded with Slide Lock technology. Slide Lock Technology makes them easy to adjust and increases the strength of the joint support by 30%.

Now I smile at the young minimalists on the trail without poles. And, I wonder what they’ll experience before I see them back on the trail equipped with a new pair of Black Diamond trekking poles.

And, now, although I can’t support my local retail shop, I can still support Black Diamond.  Right now, they are offering free shipping on any order over $50.

Osprey Sylva 12 Women’s Hydration Pack

sylva 12 front pockets

Osprey’s Sylva 12 Women’s Mountain Biking Hydration Pack. ©Elaina Arenz.

As the world hunkers down in the wake of the pandemic and we practice “social distancing”, including no climbing at popular crags, I’m finding new ways to enjoy the great outdoors. To breathe a little fresh air, my go-to form of socially distanced recreation has been to hop on my bike and hit the trails.

On my rides, my Osprey Sylva 12 Women’s Mountain Biking Hydration pack has been a trusty companion.

The Hydrapak water bladder holds 2.5 liters of liquid refreshment which keeps me hydrated while I rest at the top of the uphill slogs. 

But what I love most about the Osprey Sylva 12 is its super ventilated back panel. Osprey’s Airspeed technology keeps air flowing down my back so I don’t get swamped in my own sweat. 

Winged shoulder straps made of breathable mesh distribute the weight evenly so the Slylva doesn’t shift around as I navigate through obstacles.

Sometimes I forget where I stashed my GU, or my extra set of gloves, because there are so many storage pockets. Or, maybe I’m disorganized? 

The women’s specific Sylva 12 has 3 large zipper compartments. One compartment for the hydration bladder. One compartment large enough for my Houdini, buff and gloves. And a third compartment with organizational, mesh pockets for tools, trail snacks and a bike pump. 

The Sylva 12 is loaded with all kinds of other features too:Osprey sylva 12 inner pockets

  • An integrated rain cover tucks away into its own compartment 
  • Mesh outer pockets allow for quick and easy access 
  • A stretchable, mesh sleeve adds an ability to stow an extra layer, 
  • There’s a clip-in point for a Blinkie light 
  • Compression straps keep everything in place.

Lastly, I love the color of my Sylva 12. It’s not black for starters. Black cooks the contents on a hot, sunny day. Rather, my Sylva 12 is a nice, light gray shade with subtle aqua accents. 

Thanks Osprey for all your attention to detail on this women’s specific hydration pack, a perfect companion for my solo, mountain biking adventures.