Employee Gear Closet: Luke Cudney
Employee Gear Closet: Luke Cudneyby Luke Cudney
Luke Cudney, Backcountry.comís Content Manager, has 16 years of rock climbing notched in his belt. From early beginnings barefoot bouldering, to attempting first ascents of lightning-rod routes in the Bugaboos, Luke has explored every avenue of climbing on multiple continents. Currently eschewing the rope for the less fettered pursuits of bouldering, high-ball bouldering, and soloing, Lukeís Gear Closet is reduced to a few streamlined core essentials, and one or two luxury items.
If I could only have one crash pad in my quiver, the Black Diamond Mondo is the easy choice. The Mondo was the first highball-specific crash pad to incorporate a hinged design. The hinge lets the pad fold easily and compactly. Some people are concerned that the hinge might make an uneven landing surface, but the additional thickness of this crash pad prevents that from happening. Iíve bombed from 25 feet onto this thing and walked away fine every time. With 5inches of foam, 20sq ft of landing zone, and weighing in at 17lbs, the Mondo is also one of the lightest crash pads per inch on the market. When a crash pad is the only thing between you and a visit to the ER, BDís Mondo is the only way to fly.
Black Diamond Mondo Crash Pad
If itís not broke, donít fix it. The Five Ten Anasazi VCS slipper has been the go-to shoe for top climbers for over a decade. While other shoe companies cycle through new last and rubber combos every other season, the Five Ten Anasaziís time-tested skills never fade. Size this shoe tight, but you donít need to bust the seams to get a high-performance fit. For those unaccustomed to the Anasaziís last, it may feel a little uncomfortable at first, but once it breaks in, this shoe molds to your foot. If you do size this shoe too small, try putting a piece of plastic bread bag over your heels before pulling the Anasazi on. Youíll only need to do this a few times before the shoe fits like a comfy slipper.
Five Ten Anasazi VCS C4 Sole Climbing Shoe
When Iím out for a day soloing easy pitches or bush wacking for new boulders, CamelBakís Hydrobak Hydration Pack system always rides shotgun. Compact, intelligently designed, and lacking unnecessary features, the CamelBak Hydrobak carries just enough water and food bars for a few hours out. Whether Iím cruising a long granite shield or crouching through underbrush on a quest for the next dream boulder, I donít want a big bag on my back. With hands-free hydration and just enough pockets for a few necessities, this Camelbak Hydration bag is the ideal choice for my adventures in the mountains.
CamelBak Hydrobak Hydration Pack
The Pacific Outdoor Equipment Mega Mat Deluxe Sleeping Pad is a true luxury item. If I’m in the backcountry, I’ll bring a small inflatable pad like the Therm-a-rest Prolite 3, and sleep outside. Typically, I don’t ever use a tent unless the weather or bugs are really bad, and then I’ll use Black Diamond’s Beta Bug and Beta Light in combination. But, when I’m just hanging in a base camp or sleeping out of my car, I’m stoked to have this monster Pacific Outdoor Equipment double-wide sleeping pad. It’s super plush. I’m guaranteed a great night’s sleep, which often makes the difference between climbing well or not the next day. The Pacific Outdoor Equipment Mega Mat also serves double duty as a guest bed when my dirtbag, road-weary friends come crashing through town.
Pacific Outdoor Equipment Mega Mat Sleeping Pad
Some might think picking headphones for one of my Gear Closet items is wack, but for the sweet price, these Skullcandy Smokiní Bud Headphones are a nice addition to anyoneís kit. It seems like every other outdoor product these days has an MP3 pocket and headphone port on it somewhere. Letís be realistic. Sometimes itís all about communing with nature, and sometimes itís nice to tune everything out and turn your attention inward. Music helps me do that. I have some really nice studio monitor headphones at home, but for the times when Iím hauling around outside, rocking out, I want some reliable but affordable, low-profile headphones to keep me in the mix.
Skullcandy Smokin' Bud Headphones
No self-respecting climberís Gear Closet is complete without this staple jacket. The North Face Nuptse Down Jacket is ubiquitous at bouldering destinations across the globe. Durable, lightweight, compact, and super warm, the Nuptse keeps my core warm and ready when the bouldering temps are prime for friction (read freezing). Even if you arenít a climber, The North Face Nuptse Down Jacket will serve up years of dependable comfort, allowing you to play outside without giving a second thought to cold weather. The North Face makes incredibly durable gear, and with a lifetime guarantee to back it up, you will likely pass this jacket along to the next generation.
The North Face Nuptse Jacket - Men's