The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

DMM Alpha Sport Quickdraw Review

A fantastic option for sport climbing.
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Price:  $28 List | $26.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Great clipping, wide sling for easy grabbing, keylocking gates don't snag
Cons:  Heavy, expensive
Manufacturer:   DMM Climbing
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 10, 2019
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 15
  • Ease of Clipping - 25% 10
  • Ease of Unclipping - 25% 8
  • Portability - 20% 4
  • Ease of Handling - 15% 9
  • Ease of Grabbing - 15% 9

Our Verdict

The Alpha Sport is a high-end sport-climbing quickdraw made by DMM. We love its clipping action, and the notch in the bent gate seems to eat our rope up every time with no misfires. The solid gates are keylocking and easy to unclip, the sling is wide and easy to grab, and the full-sized carabiners have great handling. They are on the heavy end and also expensive, likely because they are made in the UK and then imported here. The Petzl Spirit Express are lighter, scored even higher overall, and have a slightly smaller price tag. But, if you can get your hands on these for a good price, or just like the look and feel of them, they are an excellent option for most sport climbers.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Great clipping, wide sling for easy grabbing, keylocking gates don't snagSnappy clipping action, wide sling is easy to grab, light for a sport quickdrawEasy to clip, deep basket, cool "hood wire" around the notch for snag-free unclippingEasy to clip, durable construction, large size works well with glovesLightweight, customizable to four versions, MonoFil Keylock nose and gate very easy to unclip
Cons Heavy, expensiveExpensive, still a little heavy for trad climbingHeavy, expensiveHeavy, dogbone is on the thin side and not easy to grabSmall biners not as functional as larger ones, sling not the comfiest for grabbing, pricey
Bottom Line A fantastic option for sport climbing.The best overall draw for sport specific climbers.A great quickdraw for sport climbers who prefer wiregates on the clipping end but don't want it to snag on anything.A great all-around draw for those with large hands or who wear gloves.A versatile quickdraw that uses an innovative gate and nose design for easy unclipping
Rating Categories DMM Alpha Sport Quickdraw Petzl Spirit Express LiveWire Petzl Djinn Axess Petzl Ange Finesse
Ease Of Clipping (25%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
Ease Of Unclipping (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Portability (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
4
10
0
4
10
0
7
Ease Of Handling (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Ease Of Grabbing (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
5
Awards (%)
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
MSRP (%)
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
10
0
0
Specs DMM Alpha Sport... Petzl Spirit Express LiveWire Petzl Djinn Axess Petzl Ange Finesse
Weight (ounces) 3.9 oz 3.2 oz 4 oz 4 oz 2.6 oz
Gate opening bottom carabiner (mm) 25 mm 25 mm 24 mm 27 mm 26 mm
Width of sling (mm) 25 mm 25 mm 27 mm 16 mm 25mm
Sling Material Nylon Nylon Polyester Polyester Nylon
Manufacturer Warranty 1 year 3 year 1 year 3 year 3 year
Non-snagging Top Biner yes yes yes yes yes
Non-snagging Bottom Biner yes yes yes yes yes
Forging method hot cold hot cold unknown
Unique features Dual keylock carabiners, wide sling Sling is wider at the bottom to facilitate grabbing, stiff sling Large and ergonomic carabiners good for larger hands, hood over bottom wiregate to prevent snags Large carabiners good for big hands or gloves, easy to clip MonoFil Keylock gate, comes in four options with different length slings and carabiner sizes.
Available sling lengths 12 cm, 18 cm, 25 cm 12 cm, 17 cm 12 cm 12 cm, 17 cm 10 cm, 17 cm

Our Analysis and Test Results

The DMM Alpha Sport comes with dual key locking hot-forged carabiners. The bottom carabiner has an ultra-bent gate with a distinct notch for easy clipping. The smaller sized sling that we tested (12cm) weighs 3.8 ounces, and it also comes in 18 and 25cm sling lengths. This draw retails for $28, making it one of the more expensive options in our review.

Performance Comparison


Attempting a project at the Fins where we specifically hung the DMM Alpha sport at the crux where it was easiest to clip  and grab  should we not be able to do the move.
Attempting a project at the Fins where we specifically hung the DMM Alpha sport at the crux where it was easiest to clip, and grab, should we not be able to do the move.

Ease of Clipping


The gate on the bottom carabiner has a unique shape to it. It's "extra" bent, with almost a notch for the rope to fit onto. When you put the rope against this bent gate, the weight allows it to simply fall right through into the basket, making it one of the easiest carabiners to clip that we tested. This helps you find the sweet spot for clipping every time, and it pops into the carabiner with ease. The top carabiner also features a keylocking that makes it easy to clip to bolts.

Quick clipping of the rope  no matter which way the draw is facing  is one of the best attributes of the Alpha Sport  and one that any dedicated sport climber will appreciate.
Quick clipping of the rope, no matter which way the draw is facing, is one of the best attributes of the Alpha Sport, and one that any dedicated sport climber will appreciate.

The bend in the bottom carabiner on the Alpha Sport is shaped like a rope  and allows the gate to snap open almost by itself when the rope is dropped against it  making these one of the nicest and easiest carabiners to quickly clip.
The bend in the bottom carabiner on the Alpha Sport is shaped like a rope, and allows the gate to snap open almost by itself when the rope is dropped against it, making these one of the nicest and easiest carabiners to quickly clip.

Ease of Unclipping


The Alpha Sport is also a cinch to unclip. The keylocking solid gate and the shape of the carabiner help it pop off the bolt without catching when stripping a route. The large carabiners are a cinch to grab due to hot-forged ridges on the outside of the spine that provide extra grip, and the wide gate opening easily allows for removing the rope.

The combination of keylocking nose  very large carabiner with a large gate opening  and these contoured texture ridges for easier gripping of the biner make the Alpha one of the easiest to unclip from bolts.
The combination of keylocking nose, very large carabiner with a large gate opening, and these contoured texture ridges for easier gripping of the biner make the Alpha one of the easiest to unclip from bolts.

Portability


This quickdraw weighs 3.9 ounces in the shorter 12 cm sling that we tested. That makes it about on par with the Petzl Djinn Axess and BD LiveWire, but noticeably heavier than the Spirits (3.3 ounces), particularly when climbing with a full set of each. That makes these better suited for redpoint burns where the draws are already hanging, rather than onsight attempts.

3.9 ounces is by no means the lightest draw that we reviewed  and the oversized biners are not exactly compact either. Use these draws at the sport crag  and carry something smaller and lighter for bigger missions.
3.9 ounces is by no means the lightest draw that we reviewed, and the oversized biners are not exactly compact either. Use these draws at the sport crag, and carry something smaller and lighter for bigger missions.

A Tale of Two Sets of QDs
Our lead tester has been using a full set of Petzl Spirit Express for the last four years, while her main climbing partner has a set of DMM Alpha Sports. While they each like the two rather similarly, she's noticed that her friend typically grabs the Spirits over her own draws when it's time for a hard onsight. Every ounce counts!

Ease of Handling


In addition to everything else we like about these draws, they also handle well. They're full-sized, have external rubber keepers, and never seem to do anything weird on our harness, like bunch up or cross clip. We've used the 12 cm and 18 cm lengths and like them both equally. They are also available in a 25 cm sling, though that is a less useful length — better to double up two for the occasional times that you might want a longer draw.

These hot-forged Alpha carabiners are extra large  and some of the easiest to handle. On the outside of the spine are little ridges that provide extra texture for gripping when clipping the rope  and the black rubberized keeper effectively keeps the carabiner properly oriented all of the time.
These hot-forged Alpha carabiners are extra large, and some of the easiest to handle. On the outside of the spine are little ridges that provide extra texture for gripping when clipping the rope, and the black rubberized keeper effectively keeps the carabiner properly oriented all of the time.

Ease of Grabbing


Since they are easy to grab, the DMM earned high scores in this metric. The 25mm wide sling fits perfectly in the palm of most adult-sized hands. This was similar to the Petzl Spirit and the BD LiveWire. If you're a perpetual draw-grabber (no judgment here!), you'll want to take a look at the Alpha Sport.

The super fat 25mm wide sling on the Alpha Sport is comfortable and a cinch to grab and hold onto  again making this draw a top choice for sport climbing projects near your limit.
The super fat 25mm wide sling on the Alpha Sport is comfortable and a cinch to grab and hold onto, again making this draw a top choice for sport climbing projects near your limit.

Best Applications


This is one of the best draws for hanging on your project in our estimation. Not only are they easy to use, but we love how easy they are to clip and unclip. While they aren't commonly seen on harnesses in North America, DMM makes some great climbing gear, and the Alpha Sport doesn't disappoint. Due to their considerable weight and bulk, this is not a draw that we would choose to alpine climb with, or even take on long trad climbs.

There's nothing wrong with hanging! We especially love hanging on the DMM Alpha Sport because the large carabiners are gentle on our rope  and its really easy to grab the draw to pull back to the highpoint again. These are some of the best sport climbing quickdraws you can buy  but wouldn't be a top choice for trad climbing.
There's nothing wrong with hanging! We especially love hanging on the DMM Alpha Sport because the large carabiners are gentle on our rope, and its really easy to grab the draw to pull back to the highpoint again. These are some of the best sport climbing quickdraws you can buy, but wouldn't be a top choice for trad climbing.

Value


The Alpha retails for $28, making it the second most expensive model that we tested after the Edelrid Bulletproof Quickdraw ($29). We appreciate that it is a quality product and high-performing, but the price tag can be hard to handle, particularly if you're buying a dozen or so. The Spirits are a few dollars less per draw, and there are other options out there for as low as $11.50! However, those draws won't work as well on harder sport routes, which is where the Alpha Sport excels.

Conclusion


We really like the DMM Alpha Sport and can't say enough good things about this quickdraw. They clip and unclip exceptionally well, and are an excellent option for harder sport climbs. Now if only they didn't cost so much…

The Karate Wall at Smith Rock is one of the longest and most classic vertical face routes you will find  with plenty of bolts but also long run-outs  it was the perfect venue for testing sport climbing draws.
The Karate Wall at Smith Rock is one of the longest and most classic vertical face routes you will find, with plenty of bolts but also long run-outs, it was the perfect venue for testing sport climbing draws.


Cam McKenzie Ring