Wild Country Astro Quickdraw Review
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
Manufacturer: Wild Country
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Wild Country Astro has two hot-forged carabiners made with I-beam construction for reduced weight without compromising strength.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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