We find that customers are often overwhelmed by choice when trying to select their first set of quickdraws. Why get a $60 quickdraw instead of a $30 quickdraw? When a climber might be buying up to 15 quickdraws, that $30 per quickdraw really adds up. In this guide, we hope to give you a few pointers for evaluating the wide range of quickdraw options available.
Quickdraws are made up of two carabiners (usually non-locking) connected by a nylon or dyneema sling called the ‘dogbone’. The ‘bottom’ end of the dogbone has a keeper which stops the carabiner on the rope-end of the quickdraw from rotating, whilst the ‘top’ end of the dogbone has the carabiner connected to it without a keeper (the bolt end)
An ‘alpine’ quickdraw is a draw made up of a runner/sling in place of a dogbone as it allows the draw to be doubled-over or extended. These are usually used whilst trad climbing to ‘extend’ gear placements or on long wandering multipitch routes, in order to reduce rope drag. The ‘floppier’ nature of the sling over a stiff dogbone means that it is less likely the gear is pulled out of the wall as the climber climbs past and the rope pulls the gear upwards. Alpine draws can be bought pre-made or you can buy the components to make them yourself . Usually this would be two wire-gate carabiners and a 60cm or 120cm sling.
Check out how to make these draws up in our handy how to video.
When selecting a sport climbing quickdraw, have a look at the following elements to make your decision:
It’s a lot to think about, but there’s really no ‘wrong’ answer if you are going for your first set. Make your best educated guess and don’t get too strung up on the minute details; just go out and climb.
There are pros and cons to each. Most sport climbing quickdraws are solid gate - this is due to ergonomics and improvement in ‘feel’. Solid gates usually feel better to clip. Wire gates are preferred by some, however, as they are lighter than solid gates and do not get stuck with dirt build up like solid gates do. In alpine conditions, wire gates would be preferred as they are less likely to freeze shut!
Straight gates are used on the bolt-side of the quickdraw and bent gates are used on the rope side to help with clipping. Both solid and wire gates can be bent or straight, but it’s common for the rope side of wire draws to be straight as well.
Carabiner Size And Shape
Carabiners come in different shapes and sizes. As a general rule, larger biners are easier to grab and manipulate than smaller. The trade off here is weight and potentially price. See the example that shows different carabiners to make up variations of quickdraws.
If you are climbing routes on carrot bolts (which are more or less only in Australia) you will need to clip your quickdraws into a removeable bolt plate. Bolt plates are held in place on the carrot bolt by the girth of the carabiner itself. However, the narrowness of a wire gate can cause the bolt plate to be pulled off the bolt. For this reason it is recommended that only straight solid gate carabiners are clipped to bolt plates. Some narrower nosed solid gate carabinbers can also be pulled off the bolt so ensure you are well aware about how your quick draw peforms in different scenarios.
Dogbones come in variable lengths. The go-to sweet spot for many seems to be 17cm, however, that is a matter of opinion. Longer quickdraws are used to reduce rope drag on wandering routes and for clipping under bulges or around corners, when the next bolt will likely suck the rope up against the rock if a long draw isn’t used. This understanding is something that comes with experience and you’ll find your favourite lengths in time. Shorter draws ie 10 cm, 11cm or 12cm draws (length is dependent on brand) will do if you are price conscious, however, 10cm, 11cm or 12cm is fairly short and the extra 5cm ish can make a big difference. Some brandsd like Petzl make a 25cm quickdraw. They also have 25cm individual dogbones available of you do want to swap out a dogbone for a longer length.
The thicker the dogbone, the heavier it is, but the easier it is to hold and grab if needed. Grabbing quickdraws may not be in your ethics, but to some it’s a part of projecting routes. A thick dogbone makes dogging much easier.
The easiest way to gauge the difference between two quickdraws you’re eyeing off is to go in-store and to hold each in your hands and feel the action of the gates. What pictures can’t show you is how it feels to open and close the gate. Some gate actions will feel smooth and offer constant resistance whilst others will feel effortless to hold open once it passes a certain point. You may or may not like this. Also, some carabiners offer more or less resistance when squeezing them open.
How many draws you buy depends on the area you’re climbing in. Around South-East Queensland, 10-12 draws will get you up the majority of routes, but if you venture further afield you may run into longer routes. Ideally have a selection of different lengths to your quickdraws for maximum versatility. The best thing to do is check with local climbers and guidebooks as to how many draws are recommended for the area you want to climb in.
There you have it! These are the primary factors to consider when buying new quickdraws - hopefully you'll be able to pick the ones that are right for you! If you have further questions, come see us in store or send us an email to chat with one of our team members to get some advice.
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