We love quickdraws. Few pieces of climbing protection can transform feelings of uncertainty and discomfort into peace and happiness as quickly and authoritatively. And yet, trying to shop for quickdraws can be as challenging as any other piece of climbing equipment (perhaps even more so, given the sheer abundance of options to choose from). This article will help you navigate the large field of choices and come up with the ideal draw for your climbing needs. For more background information, see our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.
 

1. Petzl Spirit Express ($24)

Petzl Spirit Express climbing quickdrawBest use: Sport climbing
Weight: 93-100 g
Length(s): 12 cm, 17 cm
Gate opening: 21 mm (straight), 25 mm (bent)
What we like: Great handling, comfortable clipping.
What we don’t: A bit pricey and not versatile.

It should come as no surprise that Petzl’s tried-and-true Spirit Express is at the top of this list. What’s not to like about this Cadillac of quickdraws? The carabiners are super smooth, the dogbones feel stable, and the Spirit Express is, quite simply, really fun to clip. All of the materials are strong and durable, including the rubber grommet that keeps the rope-side carabiner from flipping over. Further, this quickdraw is equally easy to stick clip or grab when the good holds run out, and the whole unit is so rigid that you can hold onto the bottom end of the draw and still clip an out-of-reach bolt.

What are the downsides of the Petzl Spirit Express? It’s ideal for sport climbing, but its weight and bulk mean that it’s not a super versatile draw. In fact, we’d be surprised if a Spirit Express has ever made it into the alpine, and we certainly wouldn’t want to clip it to a direction-dependent nut. But for a sport climbing quickdraw, either for redpointing or leaving on a project for an extended period, this is the best model money can buy.
See the Petzl Spirit Express

 

2. Wild Country Helium 2 ($27)

Wild Country Helium 2 QuickdrawBest uses: Ultralight, trad, sport climbing
Weight: 73-75 g
Length(s): 10 cm, 15 cm
Gate opening: 27 mm
What we like: Super light, wide gate opening, and easy to clean.
What we don’t: Expensive.

The Wild Country Helium is one of the lighter quickdraws on the market, but it’s still versatile enough to be a phenomenal sport draw. Although it is a few grams heavier than the Petzl Ange below, the Helium makes up the difference in carabiner size. When you’re clipping high off the deck with your Elvis leg going strong, a big, easy-to-clip carabiner can make all the difference in the world. Additionally, the clean-wire carabiners on the Helium 2 offer keylocking functionality for easy cleaning.

At $27, the Helium 2 is a rather expensive quickdraw, especially when so many more affordable options are available. Additionally, the nose is quite large, which could pose a problem when clipping old bolt hangers or pins. But so many features add up to make this one of the highest quality, most versatile quickdraws we know of, including the low weight-to-size ratio and rubber positioner that we don’t often see on ultralight models. If you’re looking for one quickdraw to rule them all, from the crag to the mountains, this is our top pick.
See the Wild Country Helium 2

 

3. Black Diamond FreeWire ($14)

Black Diamond FreeWire climbing quickdrawBest uses: Sport, trad climbing
Weight: 100-103 g
Length(s): 12 cm, 18 cm
Gate opening: 25 mm
What we like: Good uality at a very affordable price.
What we don’t: Heavy and not easy to clean.

You can get a lot of things for $10: a decent lunch, a fancy cocktail, or a t-shirt in a cheap gift shop. Quickdraws generally are not on that list. But the Black Diamond FreeWire manages to hover right around the $10 price range, even dipping below the double-digit mark on some online retailers. And before you say, “well, that’s not very confidence-inspiring for something that may save my life,” take a look at the specs. 24 kN biners and a strong polyester dogbone means that the FreeWire will catch your fall just like any other quickdraw on this list.

Is the Black Diamond FreeWire fancy? No. Is it lightweight? No. Is it as easy to clean as one of its keylock brethren? No. But does it cost roughly half as much as many of the other quickdraws on this list, and will still get the job done? Yes. The low price tag, plus versatility from sport to trad rack, is enough to rank the BD FreeWire here.
See the Black Diamond FreeWire

 

4. DMM Alpha VW Sport ($26)

DMM Alpha VW Sport QuickdrawBest use: Sport climbing
Weight: 102-108 g
Length(s): 12, 18, 25 cm
Gate opening: 25 mm (straight), 22 mm (bent)
What we like: Great-feeling dogbone, perfect clipping carabiners.
What we don’t: Rubber carabiner keeper is not as bombproof as the Petzl Spirit Express.

On one end of the price spectrum we have the $14 BD FreeWire above, and on the other lies the luxury DMM Alpha VW. Consider it the polar opposite of cheap and ordinary. The DMM Alpha VW features noticeably easy-clipping, keylock carabiners, and a dogbone reminiscent of the original Petzl Spirits. The handling is superb (like all DMM products), and you can expect the materials to last.

So what gives? At well over 100 grams, the Alpha is among the heavier draws on our list, making it less versatile than others. In the category of sport climbing-specific draws, the Petzl Spirit is the undisputed classic and comes with a little bit of a cost savings too. That said, you might really like the unique shape of the carabiners on the Alpha, not to mention it’s available in three different lengths (most other models only are available in two). All in all, this is one of the top sport draws in the game, and if the price was lower, it would be in the running for our top spot.
See the DMM Alpha VW Sport

 

5. Petzl Ange Finesse ($26)

Petzl Ange Finesse climbing quickdrawBest uses: Ultralight, trad, sport climbing
Weight: 63-78 g
Length(s): 10 cm, 17 cm
Gate opening: 23 mm (Ange S), 26 mm (Ange L)
What we like: Excellent new gate design is a revolutionary way to cut weight.
What we don’t: Best used as an alpine draw, yet does not shed snow well.

Petzl’s Ange carabiners represent one of the biggest revolutions in carabiner technology to date. The single bar, keylocking gate not only is lighter than more conventional designs, but also makes for incredibly smooth clipping, both on the bolt and the rope side. Between this and the Wild Country Helium 2, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another quickdraw that maintains the ease of use of a sport-climbing draw at such a low weight.

One hang-up we have with the Ange Finesse is that the gate latch easily can become packed with snow, making the carabiner hard to close completely. For a draw that’s light enough to take to the alpine, this seems like an oversight. More, we do know of some climbers that don’t like clipping a rope into the Ange—the gate is so different that it may require some practice. But overall, the Ange Finesse has a premium, confidence-inspiring feel, and we’ve got to applaud Petzl for the innovation.
See the Petzl Ange Finesse

 

6. Mad Rock Super Light ($15)

Mad Rock Super Light QuickdrawBest uses: Ultralight, trad, alpine climbing
Weight: 80 g
Length(s): 9.5 cm
Gate opening: 21 mm (straight), 23 mm (bent)
What we like: Almost as cheap as the BD FreeWire, but with a keylock biner.
What we don’t: Only available in one length.

Coming in at #6, the Mad Rock Superlight is another solid budget option that is similar in style and quality to the Black Diamond FreeWire above. This quickdraw is for climbers of the mindset that all you really need is something simple, effective, and affordable. In addition, the Super Light offers a bump in function from the BD FreeWire for just $1 more: a keylock biner on the bolt side makes for snag-free cleaning.

This no-frills quickdraw isn’t particularly pretty, and it probably won’t be your favorite piece of gear. There’s no rubber positioner to keep the lower carabiner in place, it’s only available in one length, and the quality feels lower than the draws above. But the Super Light will get you safely to the top of any climb—trad, sport, or alpine—for less than most options. If the price tags on the similarly versatile Petzl Ange Finesse and Wild Country Helium 2 have you cringing, this is a fine option for just over half the cost.
See the Mad Rock Super Light

 

7. Black Diamond Positron ($18)

Black Diamond Positron QuickdrawBest uses: Sport, trad climbing
Weight: 107-110 g
Length(s): 12 cm, 16 cm
Gate opening: 22 mm (straight), 26 mm (bent)
What we like: Affordable, keylock on both biners.
What we don’t: A good looking quickdraw, but run-of-the-mill in actual use.

Black Diamond is synonymous with quality climbing equipment, and their line-up of quickdraws is no exception. When balancing performance and price, the Positron may be the best model they make. It features keylock carabiners on both sides of the dogbone, making for easy unclipping all the way around. Essentially, it’s everything we look for in a sport climbing draw, and not too heavy to tote up the onsight burn either.

There’s nothing terribly special about the Positron, however. It’s middle-of-the-road in terms of feel, weight, and features. That said, there’s nothing really bad to say about it either. For less than $20, it’s all the draw most climbers need. We even like it for trad climbing—it’s not too bulky on your harness, and supple enough to clip to a nut with confidence.
See the Black Diamond Positron

 

8. Petzl Djinn Axess ($17)

Petzl Djinn Axess climbing quickdrawBest use: Sport climbing
Weight: 107-113 g
Length(s): 12 cm, 17 cm
Gate opening: 24 mm
What we like: Rather affordable for a quality Petzl quickdraw.
What we don’t: Not as nice as our top pick, the Spirit Express.

Another Petzl quickdraw! Go figure. The company really does dominate when it comes to making high quality bolt clipping machines, and the Djinn Axess follows suit. In fact, one could argue that this affordable little number should challenge the Spirit and Ange quickdraws above. If price is your top concern, it certainly is a good choice.

In terms of considerations, the carabiners on the Djinn Axess are a little bit bigger than those on the Spirit, which you’ll either like or dislike depending on the application and size of your hands. Further, the bent gate on the rope side isn’t quite as aggressive, making it slightly harder to clip. Finally, the Djinn Axess is heavy and a dozen of these on your harness will add up. But these are relatively minor gripes, and the Djinn is a great mid-range sport draw for budget-minded shoppers.
See the Petzl Djinn Axess

 

9. Edelrid Bulletproof Quickdraw ($29)

Edelrid Bulletproof quickdrawBest use: Sport climbing
Weight: 118-124 g
Length(s): 12 cm, 18 cm
Gate opening: 20 mm
What we like: The most durable, high quality draw on the market.
What we don’t: Overkill for most uses.

If the Petzl Spirit Express is the Cadillac of quickdraws, the Edelrid Bulletproof might be the Hummer. It has all of the features we look for in a top-of-the-line sport draw, plus extra durability and strength in the form of a small steel insert on the rope-end carabiner. Steel is heavier than aluminum but much more durable, so Edelrid got smart when adding it only where it counts. If you use quickdraws for top-roping anchors or want one burly draw for the first clip (this one sees the most wear from the rope), the Bulletproof is the most, well, bulletproof draw there is.

Even if it weren’t for the steel insert, this is an incredible draw. The nose is narrow for easy clipping, the biners are large, the dogbone is nice and thick, and the whole thing screams quality. But $29-$30? Really?! Multiply that by 12 draws, and for half that price, you can get a rack that surely will hold your fall and have enough money left over for a rope or harness. Besides, the dogbones on your quickdraws are likely to need retirement far before the biners. That said, we can see the value in buying a couple of these draws for toproping or other heavy-wear uses (though you could achieve the same function with a cheap steel biner on a sling).
See the Edelrid Bulletproof Quickdraw

 

10. Metolius Bravo Keylock ($20)

Metolius Bravo QuickdrawBest uses: Ultralight, trad, sport climbing
Weight: 88 g
Length(s): 15.24 cm
Gate opening: 17 mm (keylock), 20 mm (wiregate)
What we like: Lightweight but still ideal for sport climbing.
What we don’t: Rigidity makes it less than ideal for clipping nuts and marginal cams.

Based right outside of the sport climbing mecca of Smith Rock, Oregon, Metolius is a small company that specializes in climbing gear for all disciplines. We’d be remiss not to include their Bravo Keylock quickdraw on our list. Comparable to our second pick, the Helium 2, the Bravo is a highly versatile piece that will clip bolts up a sport route or pins in the alpine without sacrificing much on either. The Bravo is rigid and easy to clip, features we love in a sport draw, but still lightweight for packing into the mountains.

Many trad climbers, however, won’t love clipping these stiff draws to nuts or marginally-placed cams. The Bravo might be streamlined and lightweight, but it’s almost like a miniature Petzl Spirit in its rigidity. For these applications, you’ll want a draw with a lot more play in it. That said, the Bravo’s low weight makes it perfect for long routes in remote areas, and the keylocking biners and rigid design will keep it on your rack at the sport crag as well. Quality and versatility for $20? Yes please.
See the Metolius Bravo Keylock

 

11. Mammut Crag Express ($18)

Mammut Crag Express Set QuickdrawBest use: Sport climbing
Weight: 101 g
Length(s): 10 cm
Gate opening: 21 mm
What we like: Affordable, great dogbone.
What we don’t: Only available in one length. Neither cheap nor amazing.

Don’t let the ranking fool you—the Mammut Crag Express is a solid quickdraw. It handles like one of the old Petzl Spirits, and manages to do so at a relatively affordable price. And with a keylocking carabiner on the bolt side and the option for a wiregate or solid gate on the rope side, the Crag Express can be tailored to suit your preferences.

That said, for $18, we can think of a lot of quickdraws we’d rather buy. Both the Black Diamond Positron and Petzl Djinn, for example, are higher quality sport draws. And if you want to go light, the Mad Rock Super Light has more features that set it apart. Plus, with only one available dogbone length, the Crag Express does not make for a great alpine draw, and the carabiners are small and unimaginative to boot. All that said, for day-to-day sport climbing on lines that don’t tend to wander, this draw will do the trick.
See the Mammut Crag Express

 

12. Edelrid Nineteen G ($25)

Best uses: Ultralight, trad climbing
Weight: 45 g
Length(s): 10 cm
Gate opening: 17 mm
What we like: Significantly lighter than any other quickdraw on this list.
What we don’t: Short, bland, and expensive. Not useful for much other than ultralight alpine use.

Edelrid conspicuously went for one thing with the Nineteen G quickdraw: low weight. To that end, they did remarkably well. At a feathery 45 grams, this quickdraw is over 25% lighter than the second-lightest model on this list, the Petzl Ange Finesse, and that’s saying something. If fast and light is the name of the game, look no further than the Nineteen G.

For all the savings in weight, you lose just about every frill there is. With a gate opening of 17 mm (compare that to the 27 mm of the Wild Country Helium 2), the carabiners are so small that many will find them very tough to use. And the lower strength rating (20kN x 7kN x 7kN as opposed to the more usual 24kN x 7 kN x 9kN) means this draw will have a shorter lifespan than most. If you’re looking for something for everyday sport climbing, look elsewhere. But if the job is to pack light and small and clip a few random old pins or pieces of gear on the way to the top of a remote alpine line, the Nineteen G is an intriguing ultralight option.  
See the Edelrid Nineteen G

 

13. CAMP USA Dyon Express KS ($34)

CAMP USA Dyon Express KS quickdrawBest uses: Sport, trad climbing
Weight: 82-88 g
Length(s): 11 cm, 18 cm
Gate opening: 26 mm
What we like: Premium quality with two keylocking wiregate biners.
What we don’t: Do you really need a $34 quickdraw?

If you read the entirety of this article, you’ll pick up on a few things. Wiregate carabiners are lighter than solid gate carabiners. Wiregate carabiners are slightly safer than solid gate carabiners (no gate flutter). And third, wiregate carabiners are much less likely to have a keylock closure. With all that in mind, consider the new CAMP Dyon Express quickdraw, with not one, but two wiregate keylocking carabiners. If you think this sounds like the best of both worlds, you’re right.

This quickdraw is lightweight, safe, functions well, and has an exceptionally high quality feel. What’s not to love about the Dyon Express? The most obvious answer is price: at $34, this is by far the most expensive quickdraw on our list. In the majority of settings, using these draws will be akin to owning a Porsche and driving it 30mph in town. Further, some people think that the Dyon Express carabiner is too thin to be confidence inspiring. We’re certainly curious about these draws, but you won’t see us ordering a dozen for our rack anytime soon.
See the CAMP USA Dyon Express KS

 

14. CAMP USA Photon Wire Express KS Dyneema ($19)

CAMP USA Photon Wire Express KS Dyneema quickdrawBest uses: Ultralight, trad, sport climbing
Weight: 69-72 g
Length(s): 12 cm, 20 cm
Gate opening: 26 mm
What we like: Lightweight and versatile.
What we don’t: There are a number of issues with the carabiners.

On paper, the CAMP USA Photon Wire Express is everything we could ask for. This draw is lightweight, has large carabiners, a streamlined Dyneema dogbone, and a rubber carabiner keeper, all for under $20. Heck, if it’s the real deal, it should usurp our #2 Wild Country Helium for our favorite versatile, lightweight draw. So what gives?

A lot of things, actually. For one, we’ve found that CAMP carabiners often are amazing in theory but underwhelming in practice. The gate tension tends to be soft, and we’ve had numerous CAMP biners where the gate flat-out stopped closing after a few months of use. This fact alone is enough to have us shaking our heads. More, many of CAMP’s non-keylocking biners have huge hooks that catch gear and bolts more than most. We’ve personally experienced both of these issues with the Photon Wire Express. CAMP is a good company and we expect quality from them, but these quickdraws in particular are still lagging behind the game.
See the CAMP USA Photon Wire Express KS Dyneema

 

15. Edelrid Ohm Assisted Braking Device ($130)

Edelrid Ohm Assisted Braking DeviceBest use: Sport climbing
Weight: 360 g
What we like: An ingenious solution to the issue of weight difference in climbing partners.
What we don’t: An expensive choice when other affordable solutions are available.

Have you ever caught a fall, only to get ripped off the ground and sucked into the draw on the first bolt? Or perhaps you’ve been the climber in this scenario, and fallen further and closer to the ground than you’d prefer. If you often climb with a partner that is markedly lighter or heavier than you, you know what we’re talking about—and the Edelrid Ohm may be your new favorite piece of gear.

First things first: this is not a quickdraw, per se (a quick look at the price should tell you that). The Edelrid Ohm, rather, is a device that is clipped to the first bolt, adding an extra dose of friction to the rope for the entirety of the climb. It is made to be used when there is a large weight difference between belayer and lead climber (i.e. when the latter is 25 to 85 pounds heavier). You might have used a sandbag in a gym before, or devised some sort of anchor outside, but the Ohm eliminates the need for such tomfoolery. It’s pricey, but if you consistently climb with a much smaller or larger partner, it’s a great option.
See the Edelrid Ohm Assisted Braking Device

 

Quickdraw Comparison Table

Quickdraw Price Weight Lengths Opening Best Uses
Petzl Spirit Express $24 93-100 g 12, 17 cm 21 (straight), 25 mm (bent) Sport climbing
Wild Country Helium 2 $27 73-75 g 10, 15 cm 27 mm Ultralight, trad, sport
Black Diamond FreeWire $14 100-103 g 12, 18 cm 25 mm Sport, trad
DMM Alpha VW Sport $26 102-108 g 12, 18, 25 cm 25 (straight), 22 mm (bent) Sport climbing
Petzl Ange Finesse $26 63-72 g 10, 17 cm 23 (S), 26 mm (L) Ultralight, trad, sport
Mad Rock Super Light $15 80 g 9.5 cm 21 (straight), 23 mm (bent) Ultralight, trad, alpine
Black Diamond Positron $18 107-110 g 12, 18 cm 22 (straight), 26 mm (bent) Sport, trad
Petzl Djinn Axess $17 107-113 g 12, 17 cm 24 mm Sport climbing
Edelrid Bulletproof $29 118-124 g 12, 18 cm 20 mm Sport climbing
Metolius Bravo Keylock $20 88 g 15.24 cm 17 (keylock), 20 mm (wire) Ultralight, trad, sport
Mammut Crag Express $18 101 g 10 cm 21 mm Sport climbing
Edelrid Nineteen G $25 45 g 10 cm 17 mm Ultralight, trad
CAMP USA Dyon Express $34 82-88 g 11, 18 cm 26 mm Sport, trad
CAMP USA Photon Wire $19 69-72 g 12, 20 cm 26 mm Ultralight, trad, sport
Edelrid Ohm $130 360 g N/A N/A Sport climbing

 

Quickdraw Buying Advice

Best Uses: Sport, Trad, and Ultralight

You’ll notice that all of the picks above include a “best use” category. This may seem like a bit of a stretch for this particular product. Quickdraws are for sport climbing, right? What gives?

Climbing (quickdraws)Truth be told, you don’t need quickdraws for any kind of climbing (including sport climbing, for that matter). You can always get away with two carabiners attached to a doubled over shoulder-length sling instead. For trad climbers, these “alpine draws” largely remain the tool of choice. But quickdraws are a great item to have on your rack in all circumstances, even if it’s just a few. Simply put, they’re just a lot easier to clip. Most people we know of have quickdraws on their trad or alpine racks, and my guess is that you will too.

It’s worth noting that the kind of draw you use for each discipline likely will be different from one another. On sport routes, most climbers rarely worry about weight (and you might be pre-hanging the draws anyway). Instead, the main concern is ease of clipping and handling, which typically means a fatter dogbone and heavier, more durable carabiners. For trad or alpine climbing, most people seek out the lightest quickdraw they can find, which helps in keeping weight to a minimum on those long days. Additionally, climbers affixing draws to nuts or marginal placements will want them to be supple and have some play to avoid the scenario of a rigid draw ripping out gear.

Some quickdraws are versatile enough for every scenario (like one of our top picks, the Wild Country Helium 2), while most remain specific to one discipline. If you’re after an all-rounder, know that you’ll likely be sacrificing at least a bit of functionality on either end. We have good examples of both in the write-up above—just keep in mind how you plan to use these quickdraws before you make a purchase.
 

The Value of the Keylock

Any carabiner will have some sort of mechanism for “latching” the gate closed, and we’re not talking about the lock on a locking carabiner. Take a good look at a non-locking carabiner—any old one will do. A spring mechanism holds the gate closed, but there’s always a little bar or tooth, an inset groove, or a keylock feature on the nose of the carabiner that allows the gate to settle nicely and smoothly into place. When force is applied across the major axis of the carabiner, it is this feature that holds the gate close to the nose. And this is important: a closed carabiner typically retains about 3 times the strength of an open one.
Quickdraw (keylock)

There are two ways manufacturers create this catch, and they result in either a keylock or non-keylock closure. We won’t go into the technicalities too much, but a keylock design has a smooth nose, and a non-keylock design has a notch, or hook, in the nose. The keylock design is considered superior, particularly in sport climbing, because it is far easier to unclip from bolt hangers, pitons, or your harness. If you’ve ever attempted to clean an overhanging sport route, you know exactly what we’re talking about. You pull in hard to the wall, generate a touch of slack, open the carabiner, and try to pull it off the bolt—only to have that pesky tooth snag on the hanger! It’s super annoying, and can make for some interesting rope shenanigans if you’re not practiced in this delicate art.

Instead of playing the “please give me my quickdraw back” game, just invest in a set of quickdraws where, at the very least, the bolt-side carabiner has a toothless latch system. It can be a solid inset keylock like the BD Positron, a unique wiregate application like the Petzl Ange Finesse, or even a recessed latch like the Wild Country Helium—just so long as there’s no hard edged tooth when you open the carabiner. Keylock carabiners tend to be a little more expensive, but trust us: for sport climbing, it’s completely worth the investment.
 

All About That Gate

The gates of the carabiners on your quickdraws come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They can be “wire” gates or solid, bent gates or straight. They can range in size from miniature to jumbo (not the technical terms, but we’ll get to that). Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so let’s just run through them all quickly.

Straight Gate vs. Bent Gate
Carabiners with straight gates are less expensive because they require one less step of production. They are not as easy to clip as bent gates, which isn’t a big deal on the bolt-side carabiner, but can be annoying on the rope-side one. Often, a quickdraw will have one carabiner with a straight gate and one with a bent gate.

A bent gate carabiner uses the bend to act almost as a guide for the climbing rope, the bolt hanger, or your harness—whatever it is you are clipping the quickdraw to. It is a nice feature, especially on the rope-side carabiner. On most sport-climbing-specific quickdraws, at least one of the two carabiners will have a bent gate.
Quickdraw (bent vs. straight gate)

Wiregate vs. Solid Gate
A wiregate is composed of a thin metal, doubled over and bent in a paper clip-like shape. Some wiregates, like that on the unique Petzl Ange Finesse, are just one single piece. Wiregate carabiners tend to be slightly more expensive than solid gate equivalents, but also are significantly lighter. Because they tend to shed snow and ice better than solid gated carabiners, they are a better choice for winter climbing.

Solid gate carabiners are a bit heavier, and tend to be less expensive than wiregates. For this reason, for sport climbing use, solid gates are what we prefer in most instances. That said, wiregates do have one more notable advantage over solid gates: they’re just a touch safer. The reduced weight of the wiregate minimizes what is known as “gate flutter” during a fall. Gate flutter is a phenomenon in which the gate of a carabiner actually opens and closes slightly if it gets whipped around forcefully. The more massive the gate, the more likely this is to occur. When it does occur, the carabiner’s strength along the major axis is reduced, so this is something to consider.
 

A Word about Carabiner Size

Carabiners on quickdraws come in a variety of sizes, from miniature to massive. The spec that we reference when looking for the size of a carabiner is the “gate opening.” While this measurement refers to the distance between a carabiner’s nose and the fully open gate—not simply the width or length of the carabiner—it correlates with the carabiner size (the smaller a carabiner, the smaller the gate opening). Thus we use the measurement of the gate opening on our comparison chart to delineate the size of each carabiner.

Generally, the smaller the carabiner, the lighter it will be. But it’s worth noting that small carabiners dramatically compromise convenience. We know many climbers, and especially large-handed ones, who refuse to use some of the smallest quickdraws (the Edelrid Nineteen G, for example) because they are so difficult to clip.
 

Dogbones

The dogbone is the sewn soft good that connects the two carabiners in a quickdraw. Most dogbones tend to be made of Dyneema (light and skinny) or sewn nylon or polyester webbing (fat and heavy). Again, there is a pretty clear demarcation between different types of climbing here. Fatter, more rigid sewn webbing dogbones are preferable for sport climbing, with lighter and skinnier Dyneema dogbones being the choice for alpine and trad climbing.

The major advantage of fat and heavy dogbones is that they are easier to handle, maintain, and grab onto when you’re about to whip on a sport route. For alpine and trad climbing, most of us are thinking less about grabbing a draw on a bolt, and more about simply maintaining a light rack for a full day’s climb. That’s not to say there can’t be crossover. We’ve used fat sport draws for trad and skinny trad draws for sport. In the end, it’s not that big a deal. That said, most will agree that it’s still nice to have the most effective tool for the job.
 

Quickdraw Length

The quickdraws on this list come in lengths from 10 to 25 centimeters, often with different options for each product. There is no hard-and-fast rule on quickdraw length. Some climbers like them shorter, others like them longer. The benefit of a longer quickdraw is that it reduces rope drag—even just a difference of a few centimeters will add up over 12 bolts. That said, a 25-centimeter quickdraw may feel awfully long and cumbersome on your harness, and is probably better used for projecting severely overhanging sport routes. On steep overhangs, your body hangs further out from the wall, so it’s nice to have a longer draw that hangs out as well so less energy is wasted pulling in to clip it.
Quickdraw (length)

If you tend to climb vertical or slabby sport routes on rock that is so featured that the line goes straight up with little deviations, shorter draws will be a better choice. In the end though, it’s nice to have a handful of each. Sometimes a longer draw can make a tough clip a little bit easier, while a shorter draw can help keep you off the deck on low cruxes.
 

Strength and Safety

On virtually all quickdraws sold by major gear companies, both the carabiners and the dogbone must pass UIAA and CE standards for strength. While the dogbone’s strength is simple to grasp, the strength of a carabiner is rated in three separate ways: over the major axis (lengthwise), over the minor access (sideways), and with an open gate (with the force coming over the major axis). When used correctly, the force will be applied over the major axis of a carabiner with a closed gate, but in the event of user error, carabiners provide a safety net by having respectable open gate or minor axis strengths. Most carabiners will list all three of these strengths on their spine. While all quickdraws are rated to hold multiple falls, in general, the larger a carabiner or thicker a dogbone, the longer its life.
 

Quickdraw Weight

For the most part, sport climbers could care less about the weight of their quickdraws.  And as a rule, alpine climbers will consider the number of ounces above most other specs. Thus, a quickdraw like the Petzl Spirit Express—one of the heavier and bulkier on our list—is an all-time favorite of sport climbers, but rarely gets carried into the alpine. The one scenario in which sport climbers might be concerned with weight is on an onsight burn in which they’re hanging the draws. There’s a massive difference between having 10 rigid and heavy Petzl Spirits hanging from your harness and 10 lightweight and streamlined Wild Country Heliums. In general, size is a predictor of weight, as is aluminum vs. steel carabiners and Dyneema vs. nylon dogbones. And like most categories of outdoor gear, the lighter the weight, the less durable the quickdraw will be over time.
 

Carabiner Metal: Aluminum vs. Steel

The vast majority of climbing carabiners are made with aluminum, including almost all of those sold on quickdraws. Although less durable, aluminum is lighter and still plenty strong. And the reality is that most quickdraws will need to be retired because of wear on the dogbone long before the carabiners reach the end of their life. That said, a few gear manufacturers make quickdraws with one steel (or partially steel) carabiner, such as the Edelrid Bulletproof. In general, we think these are overkill and unnecessary, but if you’re toproping a lot on quickdraws or just using your steel draw on the first clip (where the most rope wear takes place), the steel sure doesn’t hurt your cause.
 

Locking Carabiners on Quickdraws

Locking carabiners simply are unnecessary. You won’t see them very often, and if you are that guy or gal at the crag that has them on your rack, you can expect to be heckled. That said, we all like to have locking carabiners on our toprope anchors. A lot of people carry around a cordelette, double length sling, or other system for the anchors at the end of sport climbs. One nice option is to have two longer quickdraws with locking carabiners on both sides. This makes for a super bombproof toprope anchor, will keep the wear and tear off your quickdraws, and it is a lot easier to set up than a cordelette.
Quickdraws (climbing)

When to Retire a Quickdraw

There are two main weight-bearing components to a quickdraw that should be consistently monitored for safety: the carabiners and the dogbone. On the carabiner, look for cracks, chips, deep grooves where the rope runs (that often form sharp points), and make sure that the gate closes completely (a carabiner with an open gate is drastically weaker). As for the dogbone, detecting wear can be slightly more ambiguous. Some wear is obvious—nicks, runs, large frays, or extreme sun bleaching—while some is completely undetectable. For example, soft goods that are exposed to solvent, bleach, harmful vapors, or even urine can be significantly weakened. And though they’re certainly erring on the side of caution, manufactures generally recommend replacing Dyneema products every three years and nylon products every five.
 

Price

Different prices will get you different quality of products. Here’s a rundown of what you can expect.

$0-10: The cheapest of the cheap. No frills. Toothed gate latches. Often lightweight, and minimalist. Think alpine climbing, or beginners.

$10-20: Most quickdraws will fall into this range. These can be your low end to middle shelf sport climbing draws, your average alpine draws, or even some very nice quickdraws on sale.

$20-30: These are really the best of the best, like the class-leading Petzl Spirit Express. If money is no issue to you, you obviously want to shop in this category. Quickdraws at this end are usually made by the world’s best manufacturers, and feature the utmost in quality craftsmanship and materials.

$30+: Get out of town. Okay, in truth, there actually are some quickdraws that will run you more than $30. But we would suggest taking the extra money you would spend, and buying a lesson from a skilled trainer or mentor instead. That will make a bigger difference in your climbing than having the most expensive quickdraw money can buy.
Back to Our Top Quickdraw Picks  Back to Our Quickdraw Comparison Table

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