Best Quickdraw Awards Presented by OutdoorGearLab

Comparing 15 top quickdraws side-by-side, this review assesses each product in five major categories.
Cam McKenzie Ring clips the rope into the Editors' Choice, Petzl Spirit Express.
Cam McKenzie Ring clips the rope into the Editors' Choice, Petzl Spirit Express.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. - June 9, 2014 - PRLog -- OutdoorGearLab has released the award winners for its new review, The Best Quickdraws for Climbing. Its review of the industry’s top models included brands like Black Diamond, Wild Country, Petzl, Metolius, and CAMP. First published in 2010, the best quickdraw review has now been updated to include the latest innovations. Gear editor Cam McKenzie Ring spent three months comparing the products in head-to-head tests across metrics like ease of clipping and unclipping, portability, ease of grabbing, and ease of handling. She and a team of 10 testers used the climbing gear in a variety of disciplines including single and multi-pitch sport and traditional climbing. Altogether, these testers have more than 150 years of rock climbing experience and used this expertise to shed light on the successes and flaws of each product. Over the course of the testing period, these climbers clipped bolts, nuts, cams, slings, and pitons. They climbed on steep limestone and sandstone dihedrals.

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.

In OutdoorGearLab’s old review, the Petzl Spirit Express received the Top Pick for Sport Climbing, but in the new review, the Spirit took home top honors with the Editors’ Choice award. In the last four years, Petzl has updated the Spirit, shaving off some ounces without sacrificing on ease of clipping or ease of grabbing. This product has a beefy nylon sling bookended by two cold-forged keylock carabiners (without nose notches). The testers especially liked the Spirit’s snappy clipping action and its wide, stiff sling. This product was one of the easiest to grab, according to the website’s metrics, and it handled remarkably well. Ring points out that Petzl already had an amazing product in its old Spirit Express, but the new model takes the classic design a step farther.

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’s old review. Like the Petzl Spirit, the FreeWire features a wide, easy-to-grab nylon sling; however, unlike either of the other award winners, the FreeWire has two notched nose wiregate carabiners. Although it did not earn top marks in ease of unclipping or handling, this draw is high performing enough to meet your basic needs in a variety of disciplines and only costs $12 per draw. If you are a beginning rock climber and aren’t looking for a top-of-the-line, discipline-specific product, then Ring highly recommends the Black Diamond FreeWire.

About 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’s team of dedicated Gear Editors live and play across the country. They test the outdoor equipment side-by-side and then score the products across a range of weighted categories and publish the results in comparative reviews. Once the competitors are ranked, awards are given to top-performing products. See more at

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Page Updated Last on: Jun 09, 2014

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