The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Black Diamond Etrier Review

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Price:  $45 List | $36.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable, relatively light.
Cons:  Top stepping.
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief  ⋅  Mar 8, 2010
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 9
  • Comfort - 35% 7
  • Ease of Walking up - 35% 7
  • Ease of free Climbing - 10% 7
  • Top stepping - 10% 7
  • Durability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Etrier offers a classic etrier design with no frills. It gets the job done and is relatively light. It does not have sub-steps up high, which limits your options when top-stepping. This aider also comes in a 5 step size.

NOTE: All manufacturers count aider steps differently so when comparing size it is more important to count length than the number of steps. This Black Diamond 6 Step is about the same length as the Metolius 5 Step, the Fish 5 Step and the Petzl WallStep (7 Step).

While this is a solid aider, we would rather have the Metolius 5 Step Aider because it comes with reinforced steps and sub top steps and costs $8 less. Or, if we wanted the ultimate aider for The Nose or Half Dome and didn't have budget restraints, we would go with the Petzl Wall Step Etrier. Or, if we were on a budget, less than $5 more gets us two Fish Smart Aiders. Then again, if you already own a pair of Black Diamonds there is no immediate need to change because they will get the job done.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Durable, relatively light.Comfortable, intuitive to use, durablecomfortable, intuitive to use, durablegreat top-stepping, comfortable, good valueSurprisingly comfortable webbing width, low bulk, good value.
Cons Top stepping.Heavy, bulkyheavy, bulkynot as durableBottom step flips inside out.
Rating Categories Black Diamond Etrier Yates Big Wall Ladder Yates Speed Wall Ladder Metolius 5 Step Aider Metolius Alpine Aider
Comfort (35%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Ease Of Walking Up (35%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Ease Of Free Climbing (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
8
Top Stepping (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
Durability (10%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
Specs Black Diamond Etrier Yates Big Wall... Yates Speed Wall... Metolius 5 Step... Metolius Alpine...
Style Etrier Ladder Ladder Etrier Etrier
Weight 8.5 oz 15.6 oz 13.6 oz 11.2 oz 6.8 oz
Step Width 1" 1.75" 1" 1" 0.8"
Length 72" 67" 67" 75" 60"
Warranty 1 year 1 year 1 year 1 year 1 year

Our Analysis and Test Results

Likes


This is a durable and classic design. Chris Mac says he has never worn out a pair and has not seen any wear out. Because it doesn't have any extras, this aider is relatively light and less bulky than most other aiders when clipped to the side of your harness.

Dislikes


This aider has offset steps at the top that give you some options for top- stepping. However, with no sub steps you don't have as many top-stepping options as you do with most other aiders. Also, the shape of the steps does help keep them open and also makes them a little awkward, especially if you are used to regular step style. The step material is fine, but not as comfortable as aiders that use either urethane steps (Metolius) or larger steps (Petzl and Yates).

Value


Overall these are a good but not great value. Both the Fish and Metolius aiders cost less and are higher rated.

Best Application


These are best for big walls with a lot of free climbing such as Half Dome or The Nose. For more aid-intensive walls, the lack of top stepping options becomes a bummer.


Chris McNamara