Carabiners & Quickdraws

How to Choose Quickdraws

When you are out shopping for quickdraws there are several things to look out for. The three basic questions you need to ask yourself are first of all, how many quickdraws do I need? Second, ask yourself what gate opening you need/prefer. And finally you need to decide on the length of the sling. More advanced climbers k...

How to Choose Quickdraws

When you are out shopping for quickdraws there are several things to look out for. The three basic questions you need to ask yourself are first of all, how many quickdraws do I need? Second, ask yourself what gate opening you need/prefer. And finally you need to decide on the length of the sling. More advanced climbers know that there is a bit more to it, like carabiner size&shape or sling material&width and of course weight strength ratio. 

How many quickdraws do I need?

That depends entirely on the length of the route you are climbing and wether it is quiet straight or not. Furthermore, when a guidebook lists the number of bolts on a route, that’s also your quickdraw total but you always want 1 or 2 extra just in case. And consider that if you use quickdraws to build your anchor you'll need those extra to the bolts.

average sport route (15m) 12 quickdraws
longer sport routes (30m) 16-18 quickdraws
sport routes 35m+ 24+ quickdraws
Routes requiring a 70m rope or longer 12+ quickdraws

What gate opening do I need?

The 3 main gate openings on quickdraws are:

Straight Gate - straight gate: solid straight gates that are easy to operate

Bent Gate - bent gate concave gate that makes clipping a rope quick and easy

wire gate - wire gate: loop of stainless-steel wire for a gate decreasing overall weight 

Also watch out for the keylock system, a system which keeps the carabiner from hooking and catching on your harness gear loop and other annoying places, by giving it a smooth notch at the point where gate and carabiner interact. 

keylock it can be found on some straight&bent gate openings. You will most likely pay a little extra for this but it's worth it.

non keylock Wire gate are always non keylock quickdraws.

What sling length do I need?

Another thing climbers consider when buying quickdraws is the length of the sling. Sport climbers tend to buy pre-made slings whereas alpinists tend to compose them themselves. Short slings are light but long slings are good at reducing drag.

When the route is pretty straight it is best to use shorter slings for reduced weight, between 10-12 cm. 

When the route is not traveling in a straight path and/or more than 12 quickdraws are required, climbers tend to choose a sling between 17 and 18 cm long. 

In general for sports climbing it is beneficial to have a variety of lengths with you because the route might develop differently than planned.

Trad climbers usually build their own quickdraws by taking a 60cm or longer sewn sling and clipping two carabiners of choice to the sling.

What else do experienced climbers look for in quickdraws?

  • carabiner size - the smaller, the lighter but also more difficult to clip
  • carabiner shape - affects the ease of use depending on hand size
  • carabiner gate open clearance - affects the ease of use, too small can cause fingers to get stuck while too big can complicate clipping
  • overall weight - saving weight can give you an advantage on long climbs
  • sling material - depending on material, different weight
  • sling width - Skinnier slings are lighter, but they also tend to be a bit harder to handle than a wider sling. Also affects overall weight
  • carabiner strength - the stronger, the better. Consider everything else first and then choose the strongest carabiner that fits.

How to Choose Carabiners

Just like with quickdraws, there are certain things to consider when shopping for carbiners. Different tasks require different tools and the three main categories to consider would be the shape, gate opening and weight/strength.

Shape Pro Con
D shape carabiner

Strongest shape

Larger gate opening than Oval Shape

Smaller gate opening than Asymmetric D

Heavier than Asymmetric D

More expensive than Oval Shape

Asymmetric D Carabiner

Large gate opening

Strong and light

More expensive 

Not as strong as D Shape

Pear Shape

Large gate opening

Designed for belaying and rappelling 

Heavier and more expensive than most other carabiners

Not as strong as D & Asymmetric D shape

Oval Shape

Limits load shifting

Can hold more gear than D Shape

Not as strong as other shapes

Smaller gate opening than other shapes

Heavier than other shapes

The Gate openings are the same here as they were with the quickdraws. Main categories to look out for are straight, bend or wiregate carabiners. 

gate opening pro con
straight

durable and easy to use

available with keylock system

heavier than wiregate
bent

clipping rope is easier

durable

available with keylock system

heavier than wiregate
wire 

lightweight

reduce gate lash

less likely to freeze shut

less durable than straight&bent gate

Carabiner Size, Weight and Strength

SIZE: Carabiners exist in lots of different sizes, the bigger they are the easier it is to clip because the opening is generally bigger. Smaller carabiners have the advantage of being lighter.

Weight: Generally the lighter the carabiner the better because you want to minimise the load you have to carry up the route/mountain. But as previously mentioned, light carabiners are usually smaller and harder to handle.

Strength: Carabiners are rated for strength in three directions: lengthwise (major axis), sideways (minor axis) and while open (major axis open or "gate open").

Which Carabiner To Use

First think about what you will be using the carabiner for. Now that you know about the technical aspects of the carabiner it is time to choose one that fits your needs. This might help:

Belaying and rappelling

pear-shape locking carabiner

Sport-climbing quickdraws

Asymmetric D carabiners with straight gates, bent gates and/or wiregates

Trad-climbing quickdraws

Asymmetric D carabiners with wiregates

 

The choices are endless and difficult today so ideally come down to Casper's Climbing shop to get a feel for this gear and get some more advice. Also, you can contact our Customer Service or send us a mail to help you choose the right product for your needs. 

Shop online.........more time to climb.

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