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Hands-on Gear Review
Black Diamond HotWire Quickdraw Review
Cons: Unprotected wiregate can snag on the rope
Black Diamond makes so many different quickdraws it can be hard to keep them all straight, but climbers should take note of the Black Diamond HotWire. This versatile piece of gear performs well on sport or traditional routes, and is a good choice for someone looking for an all-around performer. That said, the rope can get snagged on the unprotected wiregate and the sling is not designed for grabbing, so if you are a dedicated steep sport climber you'll want the Petzl Spirit Express instead. Likewise, if you mostly climb long and traditional routes, the Wild Country Helium Quickdraw is much lighter and better suited for that. But if you do a little bit of everything and only want one set of draws on your rack then the Black Diamond HotWire is an excellent choice.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Black Diamond HotWire is made up of a hot-forged Nitron keylock carabiner on top and the light-weight version of the HotWire carabiner on the bottom. The Dynex sling is 12cm long and 14mm wide.
Ease of Unclipping
Like the Black Diamond PosiWire Quickdraw and the Black Diamond FreeWire Quickdraw, the lower carabiner on the Black Diamond HotWire has a notch that can snag on the rope, particularly when seconding steep sport routes. Since the upper carabiner has a keylock gate, it does not get caught on your harness or the bolt, and won't snag on your wires when traditional climbing.
If you like this model but want to avoid the rope snagging issue, consider the Black Diamond Positron Quickdraw, or the Black Diamond LiveWire Quickdraw, the newest versions of the LiveWire have a solid gate on the top carabiner and a wiregate on the bottom, but have a wire hood that prevents rope snag.
Ease of Clipping
The bottom full-size wiregate carabiner is easy to clip and the Black Diamond HotWire earned high scores in this metric. Wiregate carabiners have certain advantages over solid gates: they are less prone to fluttering open and compromising the strength of the carabiner in a fall, and they also are less likely to get gummed up over time. Check out our Buying Advice article for more information on wiregates.
The hot-forged HotWire carabiner is 20 percent lighter than the cold-forged version found on the Black Diamond PosiWire. This is not an ultra-lightweight piece like the Black Diamond Oz Quickdraw, but not the heaviest on the market either. That makes the HotWire a good cross-over choice is you sport and traditional climb but only want to buy one set of draws.
Ease of Handling
The HotWire comes with a Straightjacket, Black Diamond's sewn-in rubber positioner for the bottom carabiner. This adds a little stiffness to the sling to make clipping easier and keeps the carabiner from spinning around. Unfortunately they can wear out and break off over time. If you prefer a replaceable, exterior positioner, the Wild Country Helium and the Petzl Djinn Axess have those instead.
Ease of Grabbing
As with the PosiWire, Black Diamond claims that the 14mm sling is "easy to grab," but that just wasn't the case for our testers. The sling is just a little too narrow to grab easily when pumped, and slotting a couple of fingers into the top carabiner to get more purchase is a surefire way to get injured. If you're likely to be grabbing your draws often, then the Petzl Spirit Express or the Black Diamond Freewire are better options.
The Black Diamond HotWire is a great all-around performance draw that works well for multiple types of climbing. This draw works well on vertical sport climbs, and the upper keylock carabiner won't snag on your nuts and slings when gear climbing.
The HotWire is the least expensive hot-forged draw that we tested. Hot forging produces a lighter weight carabiner without sacrificing strength. Because there is less overall mass to this model, they may wear out faster than a cold-forged carabiner; however, this was not something that we were able to observe in only two months' time. Overall, if you buy one set of these draws instead of two different types (one for sport and one for trad) you will definitely be saving yourself some money.
If you are looking for a one-size fits all draw then look no further. The Black Diamond HotWire is great for both sport and traditional climbing, and won't set you back as much as some of the more expensive hot-forged draws out there. If you are confused by the many permutations on a quickdraw that Black Diamond makes, know that you can settle on the HotWire and you won't be disappointed.
— Cam McKenzie Ring
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