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Hands-on Gear Review
Price: Varies from $12 - $14 | Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros: Great value, easy to handle, light
Cons: Gate hang up, rubber piece breaks, skinny runner hard to grab when sport climbing
Best Uses: Sport climbing, alpine climbing and traditional climbing.
The Mad Rock UltraLight Quickdraw might just be the best value on a bent gate wiregate draw and, at only $14, one of the best deals on draws period. That said, the Mad Rock UltraLight narrowly missed our Best Buy award, which went to the $12 Black Diamond FreeWire Quickdraw. It is $1 less than the Wild Country Astro Quickdraw and $6 less than the Black Diamond Oz Quickdraw. The Oz scored a littler higher for rope pull smoothness and how many knots it could hold, but they are very close. We lean more toward the Astro because it is a little lighter, but both biners are very similar so we say: get what is the better deal among those three. If you want the absolute lightest carabiner, get the CAMP Nano 23 Quickdraw which is 20 percent lighter but also not as versatile or as high scoring.
RELATED: Our complete review of quickdraws
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Mad Rock UltraLight does a great job of balancing price, weight, and functionality. It is not the lightest model out there, but it is pretty darn light. It is not the most functional, but it gets the job done. In our tests, it scored well but not in a stand out way. The carabiners on this draw are a nice size; not too small - not too big. Plus, they are usable with gloves, unlike smaller biners.
What did stand out about the Mad Rock UltraLight is that the bottom biner comes with a bent gate for easier clipping. Few other light draws have a bent gate version. That said, how much a bent gate helps you clip is just one factor in ease of clipping (gate spring tension and easy of gripping the biner are just as important).
As with most Mad Rock UltraLight with wiregate carabiners, the notch gets caught up on the bolt hanger when cleaning steep routes. Other than that, the only dislikes are very minor and comparison to the competition. For example the spine not quite as easy to grip as Astro but at the same time it is barely noticeable.
The rubber gasket used on this draw is not very durable. This is the little piece of black rubber for the bottom (bent) carabiner to keep it in place for clipping. We found they broke after a few months of heavy use. Not a big deal because it still works without the rubber part. But by comparison, the Petzl Spirit Express uses a much beefier rubber piece that takes much longer to break. Also, the sling or "dogbone" used to connect the carabiner is pretty skinny. This shaves weight but makes it hard to comfortably grab the draw.
If you are using the Mad Rock UltraLights mainly for trad climbing or alpine climbing, keep the sling that the draw comes with. If you are using these mainly for sport climbing, I would swap out the dogbone on these for the Petzl Express Sling (the 17mm size is the best). They cost $4-6 but if you get the biners themselves on sale separately, you can still compose the draw for a good value.
— Chris McNamara
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 5, 2014
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