Hands-on Gear Review

Wild Country Astro Quickdraw Review

Price:  $21 List | $15.96 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Lightweight, longer sling length options
Cons:  Gets hung up when cleaning on steep routes, doesn't hold a lot of knots and slings, longer slings tend to twist around a lot
Bottom line:  A good lightweight option for alpine and trad climbing.
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight (ounces):  2.3
Gate opening bottom carabiner (mm):  22 mm
Width of sling (mm):  10 mm
Manufacturer:   Wild Country

Our Verdict

The Wild Country Astro is one of the lightest quickdraws on the market. Each carabiner weighs only 29 grams / 1.02 ounces, and once you add the sling, the whole unit comes in at 2.3 ounces. That's a significant weight savings compared to some of the 4-ounce sport specific draws out there, particularly when you're carrying a dozen of them. While we appreciate the lighter weight, the carabiners end up on the small side and not as easy to handle and clip. The exposed notch in the wiregate tends to get hung up on things, as all wiregates do. This model retails for around $20, but didn't impress us as much as the $22 Black Diamond Oz Quickdraw, our Top Pick for Lightweight. The Oz is a hair lighter (2.2 ounces) and has a "hood" around the notch. If you're looking for a less expensive option, the Mad Rock Ultra Light Wire (2.4 ounces), performed similarly in our tests but is quite a bit cheaper ($14).


RELATED REVIEW: The 13 Best Quickdraws for Climbing


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Cam McKenzie Ring

Last Updated:
Thursday
April 19, 2018

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The Wild Country Astro has two hot-forged carabiners made with I-beam construction for reduced weight without compromising strength.

Performance Comparison


Going for the clip with the Astro. These lightweight draws are great for big missions in remote places where every ounce counts. We also liked them for harder trad or mixed routes.
Going for the clip with the Astro. These lightweight draws are great for big missions in remote places where every ounce counts. We also liked them for harder trad or mixed routes.

Ease of Clipping


This quickdraw worked pretty similarly to most of the other lightweight models that we tested. The gate action was stiff, but not quite as stiff as the Mad Rock Ultra Light, which proved to be a little too tight for our liking. The small size makes them a little more challenging to use for people with large hands.

"Thumb-clippers" and anyone with larger hands tend to dwarf the smaller-than-full-size carabiners. This makes clipping and handling slightly more challenging.
"Thumb-clippers" and anyone with larger hands tend to dwarf the smaller-than-full-size carabiners. This makes clipping and handling slightly more challenging.

Ease of Unclipping


When it came to unclipping this draw, either from the rope or a bolt, we had some issues with the smaller gate opening and the notch snagging. These were not designed with steep sport climbing in mind.

That pesky notch! All of the notched models that we tested were more challenging to unclip  either from the rope  bolt  or other gear.
That pesky notch! All of the notched models that we tested were more challenging to unclip, either from the rope, bolt, or other gear.

Portability


This metric is where the Astros shine! Comparable in weight to the Black Diamond Oz, this featherweight draws feel "astronomically" lighter than a full set of Black Diamond Positrons or LiveWires. If you're heading out on a 6-mile approach to a Grade V, you'll be much happier with these in your pack than just about anything else. We also liked them for hard trad onsights as well.

These quickdraws won't add a lot of extra weight to your trad setup  which is key if you want to stay light on a long route.
These quickdraws won't add a lot of extra weight to your trad setup, which is key if you want to stay light on a long route.

Ease of Handling


When we went to purchase this quickdraw, all of the shorter 10 cm sling options were out of stock, so we went with the 15 cm sling instead. This was not ideal, both in our attempts to compare similar products and because no one liked the longer sling. It's so loose around the top that it would wind around itself, making it difficult to determine which way to clip and potentially creating a hazardous back-clipped situation. We tried not to knock it too much for this issue, as we wouldn't have had that problem in the shorter version, but if all you can buy is the longer one, then we'd advise against this model. Better to use a long runner for times when you need to extend a piece.

We weren't really a fan of this longer sling length. It does help reduce rope drag in on wandering routes but was prone to twisting around on us. This is where a tripled up sling does offer some more advantages over a quickdraw  as it can be used in short or long configurations.
We weren't really a fan of this longer sling length. It does help reduce rope drag in on wandering routes but was prone to twisting around on us. This is where a tripled up sling does offer some more advantages over a quickdraw, as it can be used in short or long configurations.

The carabiners on this draw are on the small side as well, with a 22 mm gate opening. They were a little harder to handle than a full-size carabiner, and not something we'd want to use with gloves on. However, we did like the external rubber positioner. All of the other thin draws in this review have a sewn-in internal rubber gasket that keeps the bottom carabiner in place well but is impossible to replace if it breaks, which they sometimes do. You can replace the external keeper on the Astro if it rips, and it also protects the sling from wear in a critical spot. Make sure it's attached correctly though!

We liked the external rubber keeper - it holds the bottom carabiner in its proper orientation  and if it breaks you can replace it  unlike the internal keeper models.
We liked the external rubber keeper - it holds the bottom carabiner in its proper orientation, and if it breaks you can replace it, unlike the internal keeper models.

Ease of Grabbing


The sling on this draw is only 10 cm wide, which is an awkward size for anyone but a child to grab. If you rarely grab your draws, this may not be a concern for you, but we include it in our scoring as it's often necessary, though not necessarily ideal!

The Astro in an average-sized men's hand. Good luck grabbing this one easily!
The Astro in an average-sized men's hand. Good luck grabbing this one easily!

Best Applications


The Wild Country Astro was made for the mountains, not the crag. As with most of the other lightweight draws in our review, they didn't perform particularly well in sport climbing applications, and handling is often sacrificed for weight. But for situations where every gram counts, these quickdraws shine.

Brendan O'Neill going for the onsight on a "full-value" mixed 12a in Red Rocks. Having lightweight draws in these situations  like the Astro  is key.
Brendan O'Neill going for the onsight on a "full-value" mixed 12a in Red Rocks. Having lightweight draws in these situations, like the Astro, is key.

Value


This quickdraw retails for $20 or $21 (depending on sling length). This is quite a bit more expensive than other lightweight options, like the Mad Rock Ultra Light ($14) and about the same as the Black Diamond Oz ($22) but without the hood on the notch.

Conclusion


Don't let its lower score fool you - the Wild Country Astro is one of the best lightweight quickdraw designs out there. However, when compared with all-around or sport-specific draws, its overall performance fell short. But if you'd rather be plugging cams on a desert tower than clipping bolts at the crag, give this draw a look.
Cam McKenzie Ring

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Most recent review: April 19, 2018
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