Petzl Ange Finesse Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Lightweight, customizable to four versions, MonoFil Keylock nose and gate very easy to unclip
Cons: Small biners not as functional as larger ones, sling not the comfiest for grabbing, pricey
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Besides the obvious benefits of being lightweight, while also featuring large, easy to clip carabiners, the Petzl Ange Finesse has a couple of other unique design features that set it apart from any other draw in this review. The most noticeable is the MonoFil Keylock gate, which is a wire gate with only a single strand of wire, rather than the looped double wire found on all other wiregates. The single wire has a small ball on the end of it that slots into a key locking recess in the nose of the carabiner, ensuring that there is no notch that can catch on bolt hangers, slings, or ropes, a common problem with nearly all wiregate carabiners. This design inverts the standard key-locking carabiner gate design but also enables it to be used with a wiregate, affording the benefits of lighter weight and less gate flutter.
The second unique design feature is that this quickdraw is available in four different versions, featuring different length dogbones and carabiner size combinations. We tested the "S/L" version, which means a long dogbone with a small carabiner on the top and a large carabiner for clipping the rope on the bottom. Other versions are the ultra-light, with two small carabiners and a short dogbone, the super-compact, with two small carabiners but a longer (17cm) dogbone, and the ergonomic, with a long dogbone but two large carabiners for ideal clip-ability. Regardless of which version you choose, these quickdraws remain lightweight, although we found the large carabiners to be far easier to clip and use in general than the smaller ones, and so would probably recommend the "S/L" or "L/L" combination draw above the others.
Ease of Clipping
When it comes to ease of clipping, we noticed a stark difference between the two different sized carabiners found on this draw. The large biners are easy to clip, with a deep basket that simply begs the rope to fall into it. The wiregate action is smooth, although not quite as snappy as the clipping action on the Petzl solid gate draws. A small black plastic piece found on the top of each gate even helps direct the rope toward the bottom opening of the gate, where it can easily be clipped.
However, for as much as we liked the clip-ability of the large carabiners, we found the small ones to be problematic, as most super small carabiners are. Not only are these carabiners tiny, but they also have a narrow gate opening. We found them very difficult to clip the rope to, especially using the shovel method, and even find them a bit small for the bolt end of the draw. For increased performance, we would recommend buying the "L/L" version of this draw, and taking a slight weight penalty, which is worth it in our minds.
Ease of Unclipping
When it comes to unclipping these draws from a bolt, they are among the very best. While the basket is deep, the nose is designed to be one of the least pointy, with very little upward curve toward the gate. This means that it is easy to slide them off of a bolt hanger as you clean a route, even when the draw remains under tension, as it does when the route is severely overhanging. The nose itself is entirely smooth, offering no obstacles for a rope or hanger to snag.
Few other options provided for such easy unclipping. However, if we can make a small complaint, it would be that the small top biners on our "S/L" version are a bit harder to manipulate than the larger ones. For the most optimal performance in this regard, and for primarily sport use, buy the double "L/L" version.
We love the portability of this quickdraw. Our "S/L" version, with a 17cm sling, weighed only 2.6 ounces, comparable to the lightweight, double wiregate competition, which tend to be far smaller and have much slimmer, shorter dogbone slings. It is over 1.5 ounces lighter than the heaviest sport draws that we've tested, a difference that adds up when you multiply it by 12 or more.
The weight of this draw, despite its size, is one of the main reasons why it is such a good quiver of one. For multi-pitch sport routes, like those found in the canyons of Red Rocks, this is an optimal choice.
These draws use Petzl's String carabiner keeper, a piece of rubber that lives on the outside of the sling loop, and is replaceable if it should wear out or break. This piece is replaceable and adds great value, and potentially life, to the quickdraw as a whole. Although we found that on the Ange Finesse this keeper was less effective than on the other two Petzl quickdraws we tested — likely due to the smaller and thinner profile of the lightweight Ange carabiners.
While the lower carabiner comes with two small tabs that prevent the sling and the string keeper from sliding toward the gate, we found that it could still easily slide down along the long axis, allowing for a potential cross-loading situation at worst, or a simple annoying clip at best. This didn't happen with the other Petzl quickdraws. While it's been mentioned elsewhere, we also found that the small carabiners were hard to use, especially to clip the rope.
Ease of Grabbing
Like the dogbone found on the Petzl Spirit Express, these quickdraws have a tapered dogbone that gets fatter lower down, supposedly making it easier to grab when you need to. In general, we find that the fatter the sling, the easier it is to grab when needed, and there is a reason why most specialty sport draws feature very fat slings. In comparison to most of the other fat slinged draws, grabbing this one wasn't quite as nice.
The main issue is that while this sling is reasonably wide, it is also skinny the other way. The edges of the sling are rough and even mildly abrasive, something we didn't find with other slings. While it isn't super hard to grab this sling, we must say that it also isn't very pleasant, and so we gave it a lower than average rating.
Depending on the carabiner combo that you choose, these draws retail for a fair chunk of change, making them one of the most expensive in this review. With the innovative technology they feature, this shouldn't come as a surprise. That said, for sport climbing we find the Petzl Spirit Express to be better overall, at a savings of around four bucks per draw. While you are getting a top-quality product for your money, they only represent the best value if you are purchasing them for their versatility and intend to use them on routes both long and short, thereby saving the money you would spend on a second set of draws.
The Petzl Ange Finesse are the most versatile quickdraw in our review, earning them our Top Pick for best Quiver of One. Check them out if you like sport climbing and multi-pitch or alpine climbing, and don't want to spend the money on multiple racks of draws. They are also the easiest wiregate carabiners to unclip from a bolt due to their unique gate and nose design.
— Andy Wellman