Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Probably the most durable quickdraw out there, easy to clip
Cons: Expensive, not light
Best Uses: Sport climbs. Can be used in other applications but it's a little on the heavy side for multi-pitch or alpine climbs
The Petzl Spirit Express is maybe the oldest and most popular sport climbing quickdraw. It combines the popular Petzl Spirit carabiners with one of the most durable webbing slings or "dog bones" we tested. More than a decade ago Petzl's innovative keylock design of the gate was the first to eliminate the problem of the notch getting snagged on the bolt hanger when cleaning a steep sport route. At the time it was revolutionary. Today there are many keylock carabiner quickdraws but the Spirit remains one of the best.
The feel of climbing this quickdraw along with small details like the tiny gate grooves make this one of the best quickdraws out there. Only the Wild Country Helium scored higher and that is simply because it is lighter and has the strong wire gate with a hooded nose groove. If you want a less expensive keylock quickdraw, check out the Black Diamond Positron Quickdraw, which did not score as high but is much less expensive and is still great. The Positron does not come with the rubber part to keep the biner in place, which is a little annoying. For a much cheaper keylock quickdraw there is the Mad Rock Ultra-Tech Straight. There are much lighter options like the Black Diamond Oz Quickdraw, which is about half the weight but is not as easy to clip. The Black Diamond Quicksilver Quickdraw is about half the price and would be a great option if you are just starting out and don't have a lot of cash. But none of those quickdraws scored as high as the Spirit. So overall, if you sport climb a ton, it's hard to beat the Spirit.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
What this draw stands out for is durability and ease of clipping. The large rubber tip not only is awesome at keeping the carabiner you are clipping in place, it is among the most durable we tested. Many other quickdraws use rubber that looks cool and low profile, but it often breaks after a while. While we have seen the rubber at the end of the Petzl draw wear out it takes forever. The webbing is thick, which makes these draws a little bulky. At the same time it also makes them very durable. They are a great draw to leave on a project for a few weeks and not worry when you come back and start taking whippers again.
The Petzl Spirit carabiner itself is one of the most satisfying carabiners to clip. Part of this is due to the unique thumb grooves on the gate, which make it easier to open when reaching far for a bolt or piece of pro. Also, the spring has just the right tension not too soft and not too hard. The gate gives just the right amount of resistance and snaps back responsively. And, of course, the keylock design keeps it from getting caught on the bolt hanger when cleaning steep routes (no notch to get caught as is the case with almost all wiregate biners). The rope ran very smoothly through the Spirit (four-way tie for first). It also holds a number of knots well. In our figure eight holding test it took three figure eights and still had room for the gate to open. The gate is very durable and rarely gets sticky. Lastly, it is one of the the most time-tested biners around. The Petzl Spirit has proved effective on some of the hardest climbs in the world by some of the hardest climbers.
In addition to being expensive, this quickdraw is heavier than the similar biners with a wire-gate design (such as the Wild Country Helium). It is one of the heaviest quickdraws we tested.
An all-around, really good carabiner that excels at sport climbing. This is the quickdraw you see in the movies when Chris Sharma and other top climbers are sending 5.15. It is probably the most popular quickdraw ever used for hard sport climbs (and easy sport climbs, too).
This is one of the more expensive quickdraws. That said, it lasts forever so the long-term value is awesome. When most quickdraws have their rubber ends break and the gates start sticking, the Spirit Express is usually still going strong.
— Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 17, 2012
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