Hauling Device Buying Advice

Buying Advice
By ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab - Thursday April 15, 2010
What hauling device you choose depends on how many walls you are going to climb and how you want to climb them. There are two main options out there:


Click to enlarge
The four main hauling device options.
Credit: SuperTopo.com

1)Pulley and Ascender Method
This is the cheapest option because all you need are ascenders (which you will need to buy anyway) and a pulley. Any pulley will do, but the bigger the pulley, the easier the hauling. The smaller the pulley, the lighter weight for the whole setup. The pulley and ascender method really only excels if you are a) on a tight budget or b) want to haul insanely heavy loads and need a 3" pulley or bigger.

Downsides to the pulley and ascender method:
  • heavier: you need both ascenders and a pulley clipped to your harness
  • longer setup time
  • can't haul the bag as high up on the anchor
  • can't space haul

2) Specialized Hauling Device
Most people will want a wall hauling device. They are lightweight and convenient. They also let you use the space haul method of hauling. We review three main hauling devices:

Each has its own pro and cons that you can read about by using the Overview tab (top left of this page).

Ability to haul loads
If you want haul big loads (150-plus lb.), look for a pulley with at least a 1.5" diameter sheave. If you are hauling smaller loads, pulley size is not as important.

Ease of setup
All of the modern hauling specific devices take less than a minute to set up. So differences in ratings for ease of setup are minor. They are all much easier to set up than the old pulley and ascender method.

Ease of use
Look for how easy it is to lower the bag a few feet if it gets stuck while you are hauling. Also, look for how easy it is to get the bag from hauling mode to off the device and onto the anchor. Most hauling-specific devices do this well.

Portability
If you are free climbing a lot on a big wall, it is nice to have a compact and light hauling device on your harness. Weight is the main issue here, but also important is how compact the device is.

Durability
The cam teeth on the device will eventually wear out. They all last 15-plus walls, which is the most that 95 percent of wall climbers will ever do.
Chris McNamara
About the Author
Climbing Magazine once computed that three percent of Chris McNamara's life on earth has been spent on the face of El Capitan—an accomplishment that has left friends and family pondering Chris' sanity. He's climbed El Capitan over 70 times and holds nine big wall speed climbing records. In 1998 Chris did the first Girdle Traverse of El Capitan, an epic 75-pitch route that begs the question, "Why?" Outside Magazine has called Chris one of "the world's finest aid climbers." He's the winner of the 1999 Bates Award from the American Alpine Club and founder of the American Safe Climbing Association, a nonprofit group that has replaced over 5000 dangerous anchor bolts.

Chris is a graduate of UC Berkeley and serves on the board of the ASCA, and Rowell Legacy Committee. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter or ChrisMcNamara.com. He also runs a Lake Tahoe Vacation Rental.

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