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Black Diamond MiniWire Review

The lightest weight option for those times when light is the only way to go
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Price:  $15 List | $14.95 at Backcountry
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
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 31, 2020
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51
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 14
  • Ease of Clipping - 25% 4
  • Ease of Unclipping - 25% 3
  • Portability - 20% 10
  • Handling - 15% 5
  • Ease of Grabbing - 15% 4

Our Verdict

The new Black Diamond MiniWire is possibly the smallest quickdraw we have ever used! Mini is an apt name, as double micro wiregates pair with a super-thin 10mm wide sling to form far and away the lightest draw in this review at only 1.9 ounces. Obviously, these babies are what you want on your harness, or in your pack, if your dream climbs are deep in the wilderness. Humps into the Diamond and the Hulk won't feel quite so bad with the ounces shaved using MiniWires, but be warned, they make a poor draw for sport climbing because their tiny size makes them a challenge to clip, clean, and grab onto.

Compare to Similar Products

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.

Performance Comparison


The MiniWire  clipped to a bolt high on the multi-pitch route Sky Ridge at Smith Rock. Their incredible light weight is a huge advantage for multi-pitch routes or long routes with big approaches.
The MiniWire, clipped to a bolt high on the multi-pitch route Sky Ridge at Smith Rock. Their incredible light weight is a huge advantage for multi-pitch routes or long routes with big approaches.

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.

The gate springs on the these tiny wiregates is really quite stiff  like all of the new BD draws  and this only adds to the difficulty of trying to clip a carabiner so small.
The gate springs on the these tiny wiregates is really quite stiff, like all of the new BD draws, and this only adds to the difficulty of trying to clip a carabiner so small.

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.

Elizabeth cleaning a MiniWire off the last bolt of the pitch. On a slabby pitch like this  cleaning draws with a wiregate on top isn't too hard  but on steep pitches it becomes far more challenging as it is harder to release tension as you remove the draw. With tiny carabiners  stiff gate springs  and wiregate notches  these draws were not the easiest to remove by a longshot.
Elizabeth cleaning a MiniWire off the last bolt of the pitch. On a slabby pitch like this, cleaning draws with a wiregate on top isn't too hard, but on steep pitches it becomes far more challenging as it is harder to release tension as you remove the draw. With tiny carabiners, stiff gate springs, and wiregate notches, these draws were not the easiest to remove by a longshot.

Portability


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.

Now that is light! Half an ounce lighter than the next closest competitor to be exact.
Now that is light! Half an ounce lighter than the next closest competitor to be exact.

The MiniWires are so light its easy to throw a few on the back gear loop of the harness for extending placements without even noticing they are there. Their incredibly portability is the primary reason you would want to own them.
The MiniWires are so light its easy to throw a few on the back gear loop of the harness for extending placements without even noticing they are there. Their incredibly portability is the primary reason you would want to own them.

Handling


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.

Since these draws are so light  its of course tempting to use them for cold weather alpine climbing. That said  we found the carabiners so small that they were especially hard to clip with gloves on.
Since these draws are so light, its of course tempting to use them for cold weather alpine climbing. That said, we found the carabiners so small that they were especially hard to clip with gloves on.

Smaller carabiners are much harder to handle in general  as there is so much less room to maneuver the rope through the gate  or back out again. Showing the differences between some other superlight quickdraws in terms of biner and gate size. The MiniWire is on the left  with the Phase and Firefly II on the right.
Smaller carabiners are much harder to handle in general, as there is so much less room to maneuver the rope through the gate, or back out again. Showing the differences between some other superlight quickdraws in terms of biner and gate size. The MiniWire is on the left, with the Phase and Firefly II on the right.

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.

Grabbing a super thin 10mm sling like found on this draw is a real challenge  and holding on long enough to clip while pumped is even harder. This is one of the reasons we don't really recommend these draws for sport climbing.
Grabbing a super thin 10mm sling like found on this draw is a real challenge, and holding on long enough to clip while pumped is even harder. This is one of the reasons we don't really recommend these draws for sport climbing.

Value


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.

On this pitch we used a MiniWire to extend our cam placement that was under the roof so that it wouldn't walk so much  and also to reduce drag. This is the principle reason to use draws on trad pitches such as this crack  and having a super light draw is nice since we are already carrying a whole rack of cams  and the weight that entails.
On this pitch we used a MiniWire to extend our cam placement that was under the roof so that it wouldn't walk so much, and also to reduce drag. This is the principle reason to use draws on trad pitches such as this crack, and having a super light draw is nice since we are already carrying a whole rack of cams, and the weight that entails.

Conclusion


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.

Putting the MiniWires to the test on a cool multi-pitch arete at Smith Rock called the Sky Ridge  under a winter afternoon sun.
Putting the MiniWires to the test on a cool multi-pitch arete at Smith Rock called the Sky Ridge, under a winter afternoon sun.

Andy Wellman