Black Diamond Oz Quickdraw Review
Cons: Small carabiners make unclipping difficult, not made for heavy use like sport climbing
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Black Diamond Oz is the smallest and lightest quickdraw that BD produces. It comes with two hot-forged Oz wiregate carabiners (Oz as in "ounce" — they each weigh one ounce). The sling is 12cm long and 10mm wide and made of Dynex. BD sometimes sells the Oz Runner Set, which has a two-foot Dynex runner instead of a dogbone sling for $26 (see pics below).
Is this a quickdraw that you will want to sport-climb with? Probably not! See our Editors' Choice winner, the Petzl Spirit Express, instead. Are there even lighter quickdraws on the market? Sure, but they have "keychain" sized carabiners on them that are not very functional. If tall granite walls and Grade Vs (or VIs!) in a day are what get your juices flowing, these quickdraws are hard to beat.
Ease of Clipping
Our reviewers found the gates on the Oz carabiners a little stiff compared to the competition. They open easily to halfway, but to open it completely you have to push down hard on the wiregate. This combined with the smaller carabiner made it more challenging to clip these draws compared to some of the full-sized carabiners in our review.
While not as easy to clip as the sport-specific draws that we tested, we did like the clipping action better than some of the other lightweight models in this review. The Mad Rock Ultra Light Wire had a very stiff gate, and it was our least favorite of all the draws to clip.
Ease of Unclipping
The Oz carabiners got a redesign several years ago. They now all come with a stainless steel wire hood around the gate opening to keep the wiregate notch from snagging on your rope, harness, gear or bolt hanger. For the most part, this new hood works well and eliminates snagging on our gear. That said, our testers still had difficulty unclipping this model from the rope due to the small size of the carabiner.
The gate opening is only 22mm, which is on the smaller end. The hooded notch made unclipping this draw easier in some scenarios than the Black Diamond FreeWire or the CAMP USA Orbit Wire Express KS, which both have wiregates with no hoods. However, in other scenarios, we found those draws easier to unclip just because they were full-sized.
The Black Diamond Oz quickdraw weighs only 2.3 ounces on our independent scale. This is the lightest draw we tested in our review, and it earned the highest mark for portability. Lightweight enthusiasts take note! A rack of 12 of these weighs 1.65 pounds, a full pound less than most of the other models we tested.
While a one-pound difference might not seem like a big deal at first glance (that's less than one percent of our body weight for most of us), you really can feel a difference between six of these on one side of your harness and six Black Diamond Positrons on the other. Small weight savings add up when you are hiking loads on long approaches or trying to climb a long multi-pitch route quickly.
Ease of Handling
The main downside to this model is its size. The gate opening is only 22mm, and the carabiners felt small to all our testers, both male and female. The small size also makes them challenging to handle with gloves on or when your hands are fatigued at the end of a long climb. If you're looking for a full-sized wiregate draw that's not too heavy, the CAMP USA Orbit Wire Express KS is worth considering (3.1 ounces).
This quickdraw comes with a "Straightjacket," Black Diamond's built-in bottom gate positioner. This is a rubber piece that is sewn into the sling to keep the bottom carabiner from moving. While this eliminates the potential for user error, once the rubber breaks, it no longer works. While this did not occur during a two-month testing period, our main tester had a set of them in the past where three-quarters of the Straightjackets tore. This has also occurred with other tester's personal sets of other Black Diamond quickdraws, though not with the same frequency. This could be due to the size of the sling. The Oz sling is only 10mm wide, resulting in a narrower piece of rubber that might be more prone to tearing than the wider Positron or FreeWire slings. It also could be an issue that BD has solved in the last couple of years with stronger rubber — we'll keep using the latest versions and update this review if we notice this issue again.
Ease of Grabbing
The sling on this quickdraw is only 10mm wide, making it difficult to grab. This draw is not for working harder sport routes. All of the lightweight, trad-style draws in this review have 10mm wide slings though, so ignore this category if you are not considering something for sport climbing.
If you are looking for a more dedicated sport draw check out our Editors' Choice winner, the Petzl Spirit Express, whose sling is ergonomically designed for grabbing, or the DMM Alpha Sport. Their slings are over twice as wide as the Oz's and are much easier to grab.
The best use for the Oz is traditional, alpine, and long multi-pitch routes where lightweight gear is paramount to success. BD specifically recommends NOT sport climbing on these draws, or using them in situations where you are likely to fall repeatedly on them. They have a lot less material in them, and the lowest possible strength rating (20kN major axis, 7kN minor axis, 7 kN open gate). This will make them more prone to bending over an edge or warping in a major fall than a heavier carabiner with more material in it and higher ratings. If you're loving the look of the Oz but want something slightly more versatile, their HoodWire draw (not reviewed here) is a good alternative. It also has the hood over the wiregates, the carabiners are full-sized, and the whole thing weighs 2.9 ounces. This is a good alternative for someone who likes to do a little bit of everything.
This lightweight draw comes with a heavy price tag ($22). Considering that the Oz isn't entirely versatile, you'll be buying multiple sets of different draws if you enjoy trad and sport climbing. These are available in a six-pack for $130, which will save you a whole $2! For a more-budget friendly but still lightweight draw, check out the Cypher Firefly II ($11.50 each).
Overall, the Black Diamond Oz is great if you are looking for something ultra-lightweight. It received the highest rating for portability, but it comes at the expense of handling and clipping. If you have hands the size of a ten-year-old or you're willing to deal with smaller carabiners in exchange for weight savings, then you'll want to have a set of these on your rack.
— Cam McKenzie Ring