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Sterling Nylon Sewn Runner Review

A solidly performing Nylon sling that is more economical than Dyneema
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Price:  $5 List | $5.25 at Backcountry
Pros:  Affordable, elastic stretch helps absorb falls, silky smooth feel
Cons:  Heavy, bulky, added friction due to bulk, more expensive than Black Diamond
Manufacturer:   Sterling
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 11, 2019
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57
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 10
  • Handle - 25% 9
  • Knot Test - 25% 5
  • Alpine Quickdraw Test - 20% 5
  • Weight - 15% 4
  • Bulk - 15% 4

Our Verdict

For the budget conscious, Nylon runners provide the same amount of strength, as well as a super soft and comfortable handle, all at a significantly discounted price compared to Dyneema. The Sterling Nylon Sewn Runner is no exception, and performs pretty much exactly the same as the other Nylon sling we reviewed, the Black Diamond Nylon Sewn Runner, which won our Best Bang for the Buck Award. However, it costs $1.25 more at retail price, and so doesn't make much economical sense, unless you have an inside track to some discounts at Sterling. While the downsides inherent in choosing a Nylon sling are fairly minor, we have to admit that the lower weight and bulk of Dyneema makes it a compelling alternative.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award    
Price $5.25 at Backcountry$6.95 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Affordable, elastic stretch helps absorb falls, silky smooth feelLow weight, very thin, handles great, affordableVery light, low bulk, easy to manipulate, very small bar tackLight weight, low bulk, knots untie relatively easily, affordableLow price, light weight despite width, small bar tack
Cons Heavy, bulky, added friction due to bulk, more expensive than Black DiamondWeighted knots harder to untie than thicker slingsHigh price, harder than some to untie knotsNot as soft a handle as other top scorersAbrasive edges, wide for the weight
Bottom Line A solidly performing Nylon sling that is more economical than DyneemaThe best climbing sling due to its great handle and low weight and width.A top-notch sling at a top-shelf priceA fantastic lightweight flat sling that is also affordableA solid sling at a fantastic price
Rating Categories Sterling Nylon Sewn Runner Mammut Contact Dyneema Petzl Pur'Anneau Sling Black Diamond Dynex Runner Trango Low Bulk 11mm Sling
Handle (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
Knot Test (25%)
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
Alpine Quickdraw Test (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Weight (15%)
10
0
4
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
Bulk (15%)
10
0
4
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
Specs Sterling Nylon... Mammut Contact... Petzl Pur'Anneau... Black Diamond... Trango Low Bulk...
Type of Fiber Nylon Dyneema High-Modulus Polyethalene Dynex Dyneema
Measured weight 38g 19g 19g 20g 20g
Width Tested 17mm 8mm 10mm 10mm 11mm
Length Tested 60cm 60cm 60cm 60cm 60cm
Strength 22Kn 22Kn 22Kn 22Kn 22Kn
Widths Available 17mm 8mm 10mm 10mm 11mm
Lengths Available 12"; 24"; 30"; 48" 60cm; 120cm 60cm; 120cm; 180cm 30cm; 60cm; 120cm; 240cm 30cm; 60cm; 120cm

Our Analysis and Test Results

If you were to conduct a blind test between this sling and the Black Diamond Nylon Sewn Runner, we promise that you would not even be able to tell the difference. Oddly enough, the Sterling is advertised at 17mm wide, compared to the 18mm width listed on Black Diamond's website, but lined up side to side they are absolutely the same identical width. In every single category and every single test we felt they performed exactly the same, although one is more expensive (Sterling) than the other (Black Diamond), and so the decision on which one to choose is obvious.

Compared to Dyneema runners, Nylon slings are heavier, bulkier, and have added friction that makes it more difficult to untie weighted knots or equalize out tripled up alpine draws. However, they are also far less expensive, feel better against the skin, make for far more comfortable gear slings should you need to use one, and allow for elastic stretch of up to 30% when absorbing a fall, potentially adding safety to your systems.

Performance Comparison


Assessing the merits of Nylon Runners while racking up in the lower gorge at Smith Rock before climbing the classic hand crack of Original Sin.
Assessing the merits of Nylon Runners while racking up in the lower gorge at Smith Rock before climbing the classic hand crack of Original Sin.

Handle


Compared side-by-side, we simply feel that the Nylon fibers in this sling are smoother, softer, and more gentle against the skin than the Dyneema fibers of most of the slings we tested, with the exception of the Mammut Contact Sling, our Editors' Choice Award winner. For this reason we awarded this sling the highest score when it comes to handle, and think that its suppleness more than warrants that merit.

This sling is made with 17mm wide tubular webbing made of Nylon  which is very soft in the hand and easy to manipulate. The bar tack is relatively small  although still has the ubiquitous tabs that can hang up as they slide over biners.
This sling is made with 17mm wide tubular webbing made of Nylon, which is very soft in the hand and easy to manipulate. The bar tack is relatively small, although still has the ubiquitous tabs that can hang up as they slide over biners.

Knot Test


With such a wide (17mm) piece of webbing, we find it is hard to tie knots, whether a clove hitch or a figure-eight, without a twist or two working their way into the knot. However, twists don't detract from the knot's ability to hold. The Nylon slings, this one included, have the propensity to tighten up and weld themselves when knotted and weighted more than any of the thinner slings we tested, and were thus the hardest to quickly untie. The easiest way to untie these difficult knots is to try to force the un-weighted end through the knot until it loosens a bit, but this can be difficult if you are standing at a small stance before seconding a pitch. The sling that allows knots to be weighted and then untied the easiest is our Top Pick for Anchor Building, the Metolius Open Loop Sling.

Wide nylon slings are some of the hardest to tie knots in without twists  and also cinch down tighter than any other sling when weighted. Clove hitches  like this one  still loosen relatively easily.
Wide nylon slings are some of the hardest to tie knots in without twists, and also cinch down tighter than any other sling when weighted. Clove hitches, like this one, still loosen relatively easily.

This nicely dressed figure eight knot is quite difficult to untie once it has been weighted.
This nicely dressed figure eight knot is quite difficult to untie once it has been weighted.

Alpine Quickdraw Test


Nylon slings also perform the lowest when it comes to tripling them up into alpine quickdraws. Because the webbing is so thick, the only way it can fit through the crotch of a carabiner is if the different strands overlap. This means that when you pull the two carabiners apart to equalize all the strands, some pinch others, preventing them from sliding and easily equalizing. Similarly, when extending the sling outward into its full length, there is added friction due to the amount of material. Don't get us wrong and think these tasks become impossible with these slings, its simply that they perform these tasks with more difficulty than their Dyneema competition, such as the Petzl Pur'Anneau Sling.

Our testing shows that wide slings such as this one often overlap each other in the crotch of the carabiner when tripled up  pinning one strand beneath the other when pulling tight to equalize the various lengths.
Our testing shows that wide slings such as this one often overlap each other in the crotch of the carabiner when tripled up, pinning one strand beneath the other when pulling tight to equalize the various lengths.

Weight


We tested the 24" double-length version of this sling and weighed it on our independent scale at 38g, 1g heavier than the nearly identical BD Nylon Sewn Runner. These were the two heaviest slings in this review.

Despite the fact that it is supposedly 1mm thinner than the BD Nylon sling  this one weighed 38g  one more gram than that one  and good enough for the second heaviest sling in the review.
Despite the fact that it is supposedly 1mm thinner than the BD Nylon sling, this one weighed 38g, one more gram than that one, and good enough for the second heaviest sling in the review.

Bulk


As you would expect, at 17mm wide, these are the bulkiest in our testing. Despite their width, the sling itself, a piece of tubular webbing, is actually rather thin, and the bar tack is relatively small as well. Wear them over the shoulder and the bulk of thick Nylon slings doesn't pose much of an issue, but triple up a whole rack of them to go on the harness, and the added bulk becomes significant.

The three widest slings in this review on top: The yellow BD Nylon (18mm)  Blue Sterling Nylon (17mm)  and the red and white BlueWater Titan (13mm)  with the thinnest sling in this review for comparison on the bottom  the Mammut Contact (8mm).
The three widest slings in this review on top: The yellow BD Nylon (18mm), Blue Sterling Nylon (17mm), and the red and white BlueWater Titan (13mm), with the thinnest sling in this review for comparison on the bottom, the Mammut Contact (8mm).

Best Applications


The Sterling Nylon Sewn Sling will work just fine for nearly any climbing application, including extending pieces of protection on lead, or equalizing multiple pieces of protection at an anchor. However, there are other products in this review that will accomplish these tasks easier and are also lighter, less bulky, or less expensive.

Racked up with a couple cams  a lot of quickdraws  and even more slings in alpine quickdraw mode on the back of the harness below Levitation 29.
Racked up with a couple cams, a lot of quickdraws, and even more slings in alpine quickdraw mode on the back of the harness below Levitation 29.

Value


This sling retails for $6.25, making it $1.25 more expensive than the pretty much exact same product sold by Black Diamond. While this isn't much money, we also have to point out that you don't get great value by purchasing the more expensive product that performs exactly the same.

With a large selection of runners thrown over his shoulder  Stefan arrives at a belay high on Levitation 29  one of the finest winter classics in Red Rocks.
With a large selection of runners thrown over his shoulder, Stefan arrives at a belay high on Levitation 29, one of the finest winter classics in Red Rocks.

Conclusion


The Sterling Nylon Sewn Runner is a quality product that is a solid choice for budget conscious dirtbags who can't afford to spend an extra $30 on their rack of extendable runners and buy a product made from Dyneema. However, if money is that big of a deal, then you can also buy the Black Diamond Nylon Sewn Runner for even less, which is a no brainer. You could also consider buying strips of one-inch webbing off the spool at the climbing shop and simply tying your own slings for even less money, as the first ascensionists of that classic route you want to repeat did about 50 years ago.


Andy Wellman