I am a 4th year Industrial Design student in New Zealand and I am just about to start my major research project for the year. I have come here to talk to some climbers that have real world experience and can possibly offer me a better insight on the gear you use. My project aims to identify the possible design opportunities that lie within alpine climbing. With the intention of designing an innovative product for the mountaineering community.
Your recommendations would be much appreciated if possible. I want to know what you hate about your gear, what you love you gear, the frustrating design and the one you couldn't live without and everything in between.
You might want to take a look at a couple of recent projects over at the supertopo.com forum. Real simple technology - a hammer and a drill - but a nice example of community demand/design/production/distribution.
Search for "The Deuce5 Open Source Hammer Project" or "D5 Hammer" and "Hurricane Drill"
For me the biggest issue right now is to slim down my climbing rack. Such things as screws, quickdraws, mountaneering boots and ropes have plenty of opportunity there, as does multi use devices.
One clear problem I've found are the ice clippers. Most of them do not take load very well, do not stay in place or are heavy and impractical (and there's always this nose that where stuff may get stucked) - there's another need too, a easy way to attach an ice axe to my harness for rappels (a right kind of clipper would do). Another thing needed would be light chest harness that would be still strong enough for attaching spring leashes and for real harness use, combined with gear loops and an optional integrated backpack that could be accessed without removing the harness (see my comment about Grivel Manu below). I'd also like to have some kind of climbing (preferably ice climbing) focused camera bag for a small camera (such as Lumix LX5).
To spark your inspiraiton here's few products I like:
1) E-climb has couple of intersting producs, an ice axe that can be used as a belay devide and a ice screw that's made of aluminium and has replaceable tip. 2) Grivels Candela is extremely usefull tool, it's great at doing abalakovs, works as a rope cutter, cleans your ropes, can be stored inside a screw and the attachment hook is just right in order to clip in and out easily... I also like Grivel's speedy ice screw, it's surprising how big the difference of one less move can be on steep ice + Grivel's Manu has an excellent gear loop system. 3) Petzl's Tibloc is a great versatible piece of equipment. I also like their Ange carabiners (clear clip nose in carabiners is really important).
Hopefully these help. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have + discuss in more detail these / other ideas I have. As I'm heavily interested of gear, I'd also like to know if there's new products comming up.