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Hands-on Gear Review
Black Diamond Etrier Review
Cons: Top stepping.
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 $4 less. Or, if we wanted the ultimate aider for The Nose or Half Dome and didn't have budget restaints, we would go with the Petzl Wall Step Etrier. Or, if we were on a budget, another $8 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.
See how this compared to the other aiders and etriers that we tested in our complete Aider Review.
RELATED REVIEW: Finding the Perfect Big Wall Aider
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
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.
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).
Overall these are a good but not great value. Both the Fish and Metolius aiders cost less and are higher rated.
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
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