Black Diamond MiniWire Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Super light, affordable
Cons: Tiny biners are hard to clip, hard to grab onto, wiregate on top a challenge to clean
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Black Diamond MiniWire is one of the five new quickdraw offerings that BD revealed at the beginning of 2020, and is the smallest and lightest of their lineup. This draw replaces the old Oz, which is no longer in production, but unfortunately does not have the hoods that protected the notches from getting hooked on bolt hangers or nut wires. Ditching the hoods has made these quickdraws a bit less versatile, but has also lowered their weight quite a bit, and also made them a fair chunk of change cheaper. These draws only come in 12cm long versions, although BD is also selling the MiniWire carabiners as part of an alpine quickdraw setup, the MiniWire Alpine Draw, that comes with a double-length runner as the sling. For those who want a lightweight quickdraw that can also be used sport climbing effectively, consider the BD LightWire Quickdraws instead.
Ease of Clipping
We would go so far as to call these the hardest quickdraws to effectively and quickly clip. The main culprit is the tiny MiniWire carabiners, which are not surprisingly also the smallest in this review, even smaller than the other lightweight options we compared them to. At times, it can be hard to get the rope through the gate without also getting one's fingers stuck. Combine the tiny size with a tight gate spring, present on all of BD's newest offerings, and a perfectly straight wire, rather than a bent wire that helps ease opening like some others have, and you are left with a difficult clip. We also notice that it's hard enough with bare hands, but alpine and ice climbers will have an even harder time with bulky gloves on.
Ease of Unclipping
The double wiregate carabiners are also especially difficult to unclip, in particular while cleaning a route. Trying to remove the rope from the bottom carabiner is a challenge due to the small size of the biner, but also the minimal 21mm of gate clearance. The top biner is hard to get off of bolt hangers, once again due to its especially small size, but also the hooked nose that serves to catch the wire gate. On overhanging terrain, carabiners of these sorts can be especially tricky to get off of bolts quickly under tension. The purchaser of these draws should be more than willing to deal with these added difficulties for the advantages in weight.
This is where these babies shine, and portability is the reason one would want to buy a set. On our independent scale they weighed in at a mere 1.9 ounces, which is half an ounce lighter than the next closest competitor, which are already very light! Normal sport climbing draws weigh double what these do. On top of that they are also the smallest you can buy, so we give them the highest accolades when it comes to portability.
The tiny size of the carabiners makes them more difficult to handle than larger carabiners. The bottom biner is held in place with a rubberized Straightjacket that is sewn into the sling. We found this keeper to be plenty durable enough, but noticed that at times the biner would slip a bit into a more awkward orientation in a way that did not happen with the BD draws with larger carabiners. We're confident that this orientation still would have resulted in a safely oriented fall, but made them slightly more awkward to clip.
Ease of Grabbing
While we don't think of these draws too highly for sport climbing, we never-the-less used them a ton for that purpose anyway to give you the best hard earned advice from actual testing. On a recent trip to the overhanging limestone of Leonidio, Greece, our head tester found himself desperately pumped near the top of a route, and looking at a fall he didn't feel like taking, so he grabbed the draw. Unfortunately for him, that draw was a MiniWire that his stronger friend had hung, and as his hand slid down the super thin 10mm dogbone, he tried to loop the fingers of his other hand through the carabiner instead before sliding off into oblivion. Only one finger would fit through in his desperate stab, and no way was a clip happening, so he fell off anyway. This anecdote perfectly sums up our experiences using these draws for sport climbing, and should warn you against buying them to do the same.
While the price point for these draws is far cheaper than the old Oz draws that they are replacing, they are a bit more expensive than some other lightweight draws also tested for this review, and don't perform as well for clipping either. If you need them for their intended purpose, they may present decent value, but for most the performance trade-offs are certainly not worth it.
The Black Diamond MiniWire are the smallest and lightest quickdraws we have ever used. They are designed for long alpine single push missions, where saving weight really matters, and make for a poor draw for sport climbing due to their miniscule size.
— Andy Wellman