Additionally, they paid close attention to how carabiner design affected their ability to clean the draws from a route, and found that carabiners with notches were much more difficult to unclip. Different manufacturers have developed different approaches solving this problem. With a solid gate carabiner, manufacturers can use keylock technology, but with wiregate carabiners, avoiding the “nose notch” is more difficult. Black Diamond has introduced a small wire hood that surrounds the notch to keep it from snagging. Similarly, Wild Country has engineered a very expensive wiregate carabiner whose notch is inset into the nose.
Aside from the ease of unclipping, the testers also noted that sling stiffness can make some draws easier to clip, while sling width greatly affects how easy a product is to grab. Although climbers don’t typically set out to grab their gear, sometimes it happens, and sometimes it’s a matter of safety. Ring found that models with wider slings were easier to grab; however, the wider slings also added weight and bulk, which lowered portability scores. In addition to assessing the usage qualities of each quickdraw, the review also discusses critical safety considerations and reminds readers that they must learn to use their gear properly and learn to identify when it’s time to retire a product. After finishing the review, OutdoorGearLab honored three products with awards: the Editors’ Choice went to the Petzl Spirit Express, the Top Pick for Lightweight Quickdraw went to the Wild Country Helium, and the Best Buy award went to the Black Diamond FreeWire. Read on for descriptions of each product.
The Wild Country Helium earned the website’s Top Pick for Lightweight Quickdraw. Although the Helium was not the absolute lightest product in the review, it effectively combines low weight with high ease of use. Rather than the seemingly miniature carabiners found on some other lightweight models, the Helium comes fitted with two full-sized carabiners that are easy to handle and clip. One of the most unique things about this product is its highly innovative keylock-like wiregate design. While many wiregate carabiners have notches that snag on gear and bolts, the Helium has an inset notch that is buried in the nose. This makes for flawlessly smooth unclipping whether you are climbing a steep sport climb or trying to clean a nut on a long multi-pitch. The only downside to this innovation is its high cost; each draw costs $27. The Helium has a skinny Dyneema sling that saves on weight, but did not earn the product any points in “ease of grabbing.” Overall, Ring recommends this product for applications where weight and handling matter, like multi-pitch traditional climbing or ice climbing.
Finally, the Black Diamond FreeWire took home the Best Buy award. This inexpensive product also earned the Best Buy in OutdoorGearLab’
Headquartered in Cheyenne, Wyoming, OutdoorGearLab LLC compares products head-to-head to create world’s best outdoor gear reviews. A free resource for outdoor enthusiasts, the company’s website includes reviews of products for activities such as hiking, climbing, backpacking, and camping. OutdoorGearLab’