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Wild Country Pro Key Review

Wild Country Pro Key Nut tool
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $18 List | $17.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Keeper leash, plenty of surface area on the handle end for bashing
Cons:  The keeper leash isn't removable
Manufacturer:   Wild Country
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 30, 2009
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Our Verdict

The Wild Country Pro Key is a unique tool that features an extendable leash to keep ol' butterfingers from launching it down the Zodiac (a clean fall, all the way to the ground). Warmly embraced by some testers, reviled by others, the keeper cord sets this tool apart, but the WC Pro Key also shares some similar characteristics with our favorite nut too, the Metolius Torque.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Pro Key is in the rankings with BD Nut Tool and the Metolius Torque. All three of these tools feature their own clip-in biner, a blunted handle, and curved hook. The Pro Key, however, the only one with a keeper cord.

Performance Comparison


This is the only tool with a keeper leash. You'd be hard-pressed to drop this thing.
This is the only tool with a keeper leash. You'd be hard-pressed to drop this thing.

Nut Cleaning


This tool does its main job well. The blunted end makes for a (somewhat) comfortable place to hit the nuts out with your palm.


Cam Cleaning


The Pro Key's business end is hooked for snagging cam triggers if the cams have walked too far into the crack to reach with your hand. The steel won't bend or break when you're prying at cam lobes in granite, and can bash a cam out of sandstone. Be careful as popular sandstone routes are becoming damaged (crack getting podded out and even changing sizes.


Ease of Handling


The Pro Key has its own clip-in biner, plus an additional attachment point for the extendable cord. In the ideal scenario, the second, pumped silly from hanging on by a measly finger-lock while he hopelessly tries to free a stuck nut without blowing the onsight, drops the nut tool so he can switch hands. The tool is caught by the extendable cord. Awesome! In practice, we find ourselves hanging from the rope more often than not when freeing stuck gear. In the case of a stuck cam, you really need to take your time, since bashing and thrashing with reckless abandon can get a cam even more entrapped. The cord coils up tightly and doesn't hang very low off the harness, but it can become clipped to other gear on your harness. All new aid climbers have experienced the madness of tangled daisy chains, ladders and fifi hooks hooked where they were never meant to be. Do you really need another hindrance? Our testers are mainly free climbers in the sunny Sierra, and they say no.


One more item of note, the end of the Pro Key is sharp, like sharp enough to puncture your tender thighs if you took a fall in the wrong way. We haven't heard of this ever happening to anyone, but it's something to consider for sure.

Durability


This tool is constructed of steel. Bash it, thrash it, throw it off the mountain (don't actually), this little guy will just keep on kickin'.


Weight


Tipping our scale at 3.85 oz with the cord attached. Not as light and fast as the .75oz Metolius Feather, but surely more durable. If you dig the Pro Key but not the cord, you can purchase it without the cord. The cord is attached to the tool via a swage, so you can't just take off and put it back on as you like.


Best Applications


The cord is a great addition for anyone who finds themselves frequently dropping or worried about dropping gear.

Value


For $18, you get the nut tool plus the keeper cord. Maybe the keeper cord will really save you some money if you've been dropping your nut tool all the time.


Conclusion


The Pro Key has all the key features we like to see in a good nut tool; Durability, its own clip in biner, and a hefty bashing surface on the end. If you're psyched on the keeper cord, don't hesitate to go with the Pro Key.


Ian Nicholson