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Cypher Firefly II Review

An inexpensive and lightweight quickdraw that's a good option for trad climbers or those on a budget
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $12 List
Pros:  Lightweight, inexpensive.
Cons:  Notch in wiregate can snag, thin sling is hard to grab
Manufacturer:   Cypher
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 19, 2018
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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 14
  • Ease of Clipping - 25% 7
  • Ease of Unclipping - 25% 5
  • Portability - 20% 8
  • Handling - 15% 6
  • Ease of Grabbing - 15% 4

Our Verdict

Cypher is a small climbing company based in Utah with a handful of offerings, including quickdraws, shoes, and chalk bags. They're producing some budget-friendly priced quickdraws, so we thought we take a look at their Firefly II, which retails for less than any other draw we've tested. It's less than half the price of our Editors' Choice winner! The Firefly II is lightweight and has snappy gate action, but the carabiners are on the small side and the narrow 10 mm sling makes this more suited to traditional routes rather than sport climbing. That's not a bad thing, though, if you're looking for an inexpensive trad draw. That's why we chose to award it our Best Bang for the Buck Award for lightweight draws, and if you want to be able to extend nuts and cams, or clip bolts in the alpine, without adding any extra ounces, these are our top recommendation for you.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Cypher Firefly II delivers reliable performance for the price. It is lightweight (2.6 ounces) thanks to the dual hot-forged wiregate carabiners on either end and the thin dogbone. There's nothing fancy about it, but it still gets the job done and is an excellent option for those just breaking into trad climbing who need to purchase a lot of gear at once. It's a fraction of an ounce heavier than some of the other lightweight contenders in this review, but a heck of a lot cheaper.

Don't let the overall "low" score fool you. A lot of our metrics tend to favor sport-specific draws, as they tend to be full-sized, with better handling, grabbing and unclipping. But if you're looking primarily for something lightweight, then you'll gladly sacrifice a little performance and deal with a smaller carabiner or a notch or two. Should you like the looks of this model but prefer a keylocking carabiner on the top of your quickdraws, they are available in a "mixed" setup, with a keylock carabiner on top and a wiregate on the bottom. Note that this increases the weight to 2.8 ounces though — solid gates are heavier than wire ones.

Performance Comparison


The Firefly is our Best Buy for a Lightweight quickdraw. It was one of the most affordable options that we tested  while still being light enough for long routes or alpine missions.
The Firefly is our Best Buy for a Lightweight quickdraw. It was one of the most affordable options that we tested, while still being light enough for long routes or alpine missions.

Ease of Clipping


When it comes to clipping, the Firefly II is similar to most of the other trad-focused wiregate quickdraws in this review. We liked it okay enough, but it wasn't as easy to clip as some of the snappy sport-specific models out there. Small carabiners are the main culprit, a trade-off that helps keep the weight down.


We didn't notice that the gate tension was particularly tight, which we encountered with some other wire gates we tested. The carabiners on this model are also a hair larger than the BD MiniWires, which is something to keep in mind if you have larger hands or dislike small carabiners in general.

We thought this draw clipped fairly well and thought they got the tension on the wiregate just right - not too stiff and not too loose either.
We thought this draw clipped fairly well and thought they got the tension on the wiregate just right - not too stiff and not too loose either.

Ease of Unclipping


Like the other wiregate models with exposed notches, the Firefly II isn't the easiest to unclip in certain situations. The wire latches onto a notch in the nose, and that notch can get hung up on the bolt, particularly when trying to clean steeper sport routes. Not planning on using these on a steep sport climb? Then it probably won't bother you as much.


If you do like to mix it up a bit and climb some sport and trad, then consider an option with keylocking carabiners on the bolt (or both ends). In general, however, if you want the lightest draws at the lowest price, dealing with the notch in the wiregates is something that you have to accept.

The notch is a bit of a pain when it comes to cleaning steep sport routes  but if you are mainly trad climbing with this option then it shouldn't be too much of an issue.
The notch is a bit of a pain when it comes to cleaning steep sport routes, but if you are mainly trad climbing with this option then it shouldn't be too much of an issue.

Portability


The Firefly II is one of the lightest quickdraws that we tested and only half an ounce heavier than the very lightest overall.


If you're trying to lighten up your load, particularly when trad climbing, you'll appreciate a lighter draw like this one. You'll save a whole pound if you're carrying a dozen of these on your harness as opposed to heavier ones.

While not our first choice draw for sport climbing  if you are hoping to lighten your load for a hard onsight where you are handing the draws  these are a good option.
While not our first choice draw for sport climbing, if you are hoping to lighten your load for a hard onsight where you are handing the draws, these are a good option.

Handling


Our testers thought these draws handled similarly to the other lightweight options we compared them against. The carabiners are slightly smaller than "normal," but not so little that they are too challenging to operate with tired hands.


The hot-forged construction allowed Cypher to remove some of the material from the spine in these carabiners. While not a full "I-beam" style, there are some notches and ribs that add texture and better gripping. This also makes them not as wide in the profile as the Mad Rock Concorde. The Firefly II takes up a little less space on your harness and doesn't bunch up as much, which can lead to cross-clipping. There is an interior rubber positioner that's sewn into the sling. It is also low profile and we like this style much better than the bulky rubber positioner found on many other brands.

The sewn-in rubber positioner keeps the bottom carabiner in the right orientation so that  in the case of a fall  the rope lands against the major axis (stronger) and not the gate (much weaker). The sewn-in option is not replaceable if it tears though.
The sewn-in rubber positioner keeps the bottom carabiner in the right orientation so that, in the case of a fall, the rope lands against the major axis (stronger) and not the gate (much weaker). The sewn-in option is not replaceable if it tears though.

Ease of Grabbing


The sling on this quickdraw is only 10mm wide, which is a challenging size to grab. All of the lightweight draws in this review scored poorly in this metric.


Not everyone grabs their draws, and trad climbers tend to do it less than sport climbers, so if you don't anticipate grabbing them much then this isn't much of a consideration for you. However, if you are heading up a long route that has a bolt ladder on it to overcome a hard section, take a couple of draws with you that have wider dogbones — you'll appreciate them!

The Firefly was definitely not made with grabbing in ming. The sling is thin and difficult to hold onto.
The Firefly was definitely not made with grabbing in ming. The sling is thin and difficult to hold onto.

Value


The Cypher Firefly II is a great value in our estimation. While they don't score that high overall, they are the best of the bunch when it comes to similarly designed lightweight draws. These are a perfect option for people who are just getting into traditional climbing because all of the gear that you need to buy at once really does add up. Cypher also sells these in a six-pack, but their pricing on that item doesn't seem to add up to any additional savings, but does come with a free locking carabiner, if you need one!

This is a great option for big days out when you want lighter gear on your rack. New trad climbers should also consider this draw  since it is more affordable than other lightweight quickdraws.
This is a great option for big days out when you want lighter gear on your rack. New trad climbers should also consider this draw, since it is more affordable than other lightweight quickdraws.

Conclusion


There's a lot to like about the Cypher Firefly II. It's lightweight and won't feel overly heavy on your harness, but it will keep your wallet feeling heavier. We liked it so much we gave it our Best Buy award for those looking for a great value pick, particularly for traditional climbing.

Cam McKenzie Ring