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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: Small carabiners make unclipping difficult
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
The Black Diamond Oz is an ultra-lightweight quickdraw best suited for traditional and multi-pitch climbing. The carabiners on this product are noticeably smaller than a full-size carabiner, and even our testers with small hands found that this made unclipping and overall handling a challenge. If weight is your sole consideration then these are the draws for you. If you are looking for a lightweight model that can be used for multiple disciplines then you would be better off with one with full-sized carabiners like the Wild Country Helium Quickdraw or the CAMP Photon Wire Express Dyneema.
RELATED: Our complete review of quickdraws
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Black Diamond Oz is the smallest and lightest draw that Black Diamond produces. It comes with a hot-forged Oz wiregate carabiner on each end of a 12cm long and 10mm wide Dynex sling. In our review, the only products that were lighter were the CAMP Nano 23 Quickdraw and the Metolius FS Mini Quickdraw.
Ease of Unclipping
The Black Diamond Oz carabiners have recently been redesigned and now have a stainless steel wire hood around the gate opening to keep it from snagging on your rope, harness, gear or bolt. For the most part this new hood worked well and didn't snag on our gear, however our testers still had difficulty unclipping this model from the rope due to the small size of the carabiner. It was even more difficult to do so with gloves on, such as when ice or big wall climbing. A better option if you have large hands or will be wearing gloves is the Camp Photon Wire Express.
Ease of Clipping
Our reviewers found the gate on the Black Diamond Oz carabiners a little stiff. It opens easily halfway but to open it completely you really have to push down hard on the wiregate. This combined with the smaller carabiner made it a challenge to clip these draws and it earned the lowest score of our competitors for ease of clipping.
With a total weight of 2.2 ounces, the Black Diamond Oz quickdraw was the lightest one tested for this updated review and for this it earned the highest mark for portability. Lightweight enthusiasts take note! A rack of 12 of these weighs 1.65 pounds, a full pound less than most of the other models we tested. While a one pound difference might not seem like a big deal at first glance (that's less than one percent bodyweight for most of us) you really can feel a difference between 6 of these on one side of your harness and 6 Black Diamond PosiWire Quickdraws on the other. Small weight savings add up when you are hiking loads on long approaches or even going for a hard onsight attempt.
Ease of Handling
The main downside to this model is its size. The gate opening is only 22mm and the carabiners felt small to all our testers, both male and female. The small size also makes them challenging to handle with gloves on and/or when your hands are fatigued at the end of a long climb. The CAMP Photon Wire Express .2 ounces heavier and it has the largest gate opening (29mm) of all of them. So, for an extra .2 ounces you get full sized carabiners that are more useful if you are building anchors or using double ropes.
This piece also comes with a "Straightjacket," Black Diamond's built-in bottom gate positioner. This is a rubber piece sewn into the sling to keep the bottom carabiner from moving. While this eliminates the potential for user error, once the rubber breaks, it no longer works. While this did not occur during the two-month testing period, our main tester personally owns a set of Oz draws, and has had three-quarters of the Straightjackets tear off. This has also occurred with other tester's personal sets of Black Diamond Posiwires, though not with the same frequency. This could be due to the size of the sling. The Oz sling is only 10mm wide, resulting in a narrower piece of rubber that might be more prone to tearing that the wider Posiwire slings. Not a fan of the sewn in rubber Straighjacket design? Then check out the Wild Country Helium which has an exterior rubber positioner.
Ease of Grabbing
Another downside to the 10mm wide draw is that it is really difficult to grab. Clearly this draw is not made for working harder sport routes. If you are looking for a more dedicated sport draw check out the Petzl Spirit Express whose sling is ergonomically designed for grabbing, or the Black Diamond FreeWire Quickdraw. Its sling is almost twice as wide as the Oz, and our testers found it much easier to grab.
The best use for this product would be traditional, alpine, and long-multi pitch routes where lightweight gear is the most useful, as long as you are not wearing gloves like you might be big-wall or ice climbing/mountaineering.
This lightweight draw comes with a heavy price tag. Considering that this model isn't entirely versatile, if you'll be buying multiple sets of different draws you might want to look at the Camp Nano 23 for a less expensive alternative.
Overall the Black Diamond Oz is great if you are looking for something ultra-lightweight. It received the highest rating for portability, but it comes at the expense of handling and clipping. If you have hands the size of a ten year old or you're willing to deal with smaller carabiners in exchange for weight savings then you'll want to have a set of these on your rack.
Black Diamond FreeWire Quickdraw
Black Diamond LiveWire Quickdraw
Black Diamond HotWire Quickdraw
— Cam McKenzie Ring
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Most recent review: May 11, 2014
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