Forums: Climbing Information: Gear Heads: Re: [qwert] Carabiner and quickdraw FAQ *draft*: Edit Log


Mar 13, 2008, 9:43 AM

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Re: [qwert] Carabiner and quickdraw FAQ *draft*
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  • What types of quickdraws are there and what are they used for?

You can use about any type of carabiner described above and connect it to a short sling and another carabiner and call it a quickdraw. If you know what you are doing some seemingly "weird" combinations can make sense (eg. locker quickdraw or DMM revolver quickdraw), but in most cases a prebuilt quickdraw as sold by many different manufacturers will be the best solution. As far as i know all quickdraws sold today use carabiners of various forms of the asymmetric D-shape described above. As mentioned there, there are different sizes, shapes, weights, ... you get the idea. If you just came to this FAQ to read about quickdraws, please also read the part about carabiners. Since carabiners are a fundamental part of a quickdraw, it is important to have some understanding about them!

The three most common forms of quickdraws are solid gate quickdraws (with two solid gate carabiners, pictured at the top), solid/wire gate quickdraws (with one solid gate and one wiregate, pictured in the middle)and wire gate quickdraws (with two wiregate carabiners, pictured at the bottom)

So which side of the quickdraw is the bolt side and which one is the rope side?
With solid gate quickdraws, the rope end is the one with the bent gate, since this is supposed to make clipping easier. With solid/ wire mixed quickdraws the wiregate carabiner is the rope carabiner. Again it is because of wiregates being a bit easier to clip. Wiregate quickdraws often have the same carabiner at both ends (although some wiregate carabiners with bent gates do exist). But there is another way to find out which side is the rope end. In almost all quickdraws the carabiner on the rope end is fixed in a way.

The probably oldest version is to just make one end of the sling tighter.

The next version is to use a rubber band to fix the carabiner (often in combination with a tight sling). Some manufacturers sell rubbers especially for this purpose, but every little rubber should do it.

The "evolution" of this would be the Petzl string, and something that is sold for example as straightjacket by Black Diamond.

As far as i know the string is petzl exclusive. According to Petzl it also does add some protection against abrasion, since the rubber ist on the outside, but it seems like quickdraws without this added abrasion resistance or working just fine.

Next we have the Black Diamond Straightjacket, a little rubber ring sewn inside the sling. This system is also available under different names from different manufacturers.

But these fixations aren't meant to help you find out which side does what (thats only a side effect), they are there to keep the rope end carabiner oriented properly, in order to make it easy to clip (i.e. you don't have to fumble around to get your carabiner in a proper orientation when clipping) and to prevent it from being cross loaded. As you might have noticed, the top carabiners of a quickdraw aren't fixed, so they could still get crossloaded. Some people (for example the "safety pope" Pit Schubert of the german alpine clubs safety circle) suggest to also fix the top carabiner to prevent this, but it seems like this risk is quite small (otherwise manufacturers would sell such quickdraws). Also most modern carabiners are formed in such a way that they aren't very stable if placed in a cross loaded position. However this can become a problem, for example if big, bulky slings are used.

Another thing where the various quickdraws are differing is the length and thickness of the slings used.

Contrary to what one might think, the thinner slings offer often a small safety plus over the thicker ones. With the forms of the carabiners getting more and more asymmetric, their baskets often become quite small, so that the thick slings wouldn't sit very good. Furthermore the closer a carabiner gets loaded to its strongest point, the spine, the less levering does occur, which reduces the chance of it failing, should it get loaded with an open gate (see Can carabiners still break?). However the small slings can be hard to grab, when "french freeing", or working in a project. The Petzl slings are something of a mix, being very wide in their middle, but smaller where you attach the carabiners. Most manufacturers produce three lengths of quickdraws, with one around 10cm, one 20cm and one 30cm. The "standard" sport quickdraw is the shortest variant. the longer ones get used for meandering routes to reduce rope drag, or for, in some occasions, trad.

One Petzl 17cm quickdraw at the top, and slightly different standard length quickdraws by Wild Country, Black Diamond and Kong. Also seen are the aforementioned differences in thickness, with the petzl getting narrower at the carabiners, and the Kong one being a "oldschool" thick quickdraw.

For trad longer quickdraws get used to avoid the protection wiggled out of its spot by rope movement, since a long draw does absorb this movement better than a short (and stiff) quickdraw, but more often "trad draws" or long O-slings are used.

30cm Mammut O-sling "quickdraw" and 120cm tripled "trad draw"

One thing to keep in mind when using longer quickdraws is that every centimeter your quickdraw gets longer means 2 centimeters you fall further, should you fall on the quickdraw. When using a 30cm quickdraw instead of an 8cm one, this makes 2*22cm = 44cm of difference. This are nearly 20". This doesn't sound like much, but when falling into the first bolt, or above a ledge, these 44cm can be the difference between a normal harmless sport fall and a broken ankle! As mentioned, long quickdraws have their benefits, but use them with care.

So which quickdraws and how many should i get?
Answer is the same as with carabiners: Get what you like best, preferably something big, light, strong, with keylock and reasonably price.

Again you cant have everything, and its a matter of taste. Size wise the standard for sportclimbing are the short quickdraws. One or two longer ones can be a nice addition, but as mentioned before, use long quickdraws carefully. The number of quickdraws you need depends on your area. If you only have small rocks in your area, you most likely also only have short routes, and therefore wont need to much quickdraws, and the other way round. From my observation the "standard numbers" are somewhere between 8 and 15.

(This post was edited by qwert on Jun 3, 2009, 7:54 AM)
Attachments: quickdraw types.jpg (102 KB)
  thight sleeve.jpg (58.0 KB)
  generic rubber.jpg (60.0 KB)
  petzl string.jpg (55.9 KB)
  BD straightjacket.jpg (56.2 KB)
  Short draws.jpg (111 KB)
  Long draws.jpg (60.3 KB)

Edit Log:
Post edited by qwert () on Mar 13, 2008, 9:49 AM
Post edited by qwert () on Jun 3, 2009, 7:54 AM

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