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

How We Tested Quickdraws

By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Wednesday July 10, 2019

Our testers used these draws on a variety of different climbs in the Las Vegas area, as well as at Smith Rock, Oregon. We also used them on many road trips to different sport and traditional areas on the continent. We climbed with them on single and multi-pitch sport and traditional routes, from 5.5 to 5.13, and on sandstone, granite, volcanic tuff, basalt, and limestone. These draws helped give us the confidence to send hard projects, and they caught us when we took the big whippers. Throughout our testing period, at least ten different climbers provided feedback on these draws, for a collective experience of over 150 years of climbing. Our testers were male and female, with both large and small hands.

A wide selection of different quickdraws ready to be hung on the bolts at Skaha  BC  on a testing mission.
A wide selection of different quickdraws ready to be hung on the bolts at Skaha, BC, on a testing mission.

Ease of Clipping


To evaluate ease of clipping, we clipped these draws a lot! We also watched each other while clipping to see if we could pick up any trends — sometimes an observer could notice something the climber didn't in the moment because they were too focussed on the climb itself. That's how we noticed that the Mad Rock Ultra Light Wire was particularly stiff - multiple people had issues when clipping it. Then we lined them all up and spent ages clipping and unclipping the rope to them one after another, to really notice and judge the nuances between each draw.

Going to clip the Mad Rock Ultra Light Wire. While observing multiple climbers with these draws we noticed that several of them misfired their clips or had to push extra hard to get this one to clip.
Going to clip the Mad Rock Ultra Light Wire. While observing multiple climbers with these draws we noticed that several of them misfired their clips or had to push extra hard to get this one to clip.

Ease of Unclipping


To gauge the ease of unclipping, we compared the design of the carabiners (notch vs. no notch) and the opening width of the bottom carabiner. We unclipped them on steep sport routes, both from the rope and the bolt, and noted if they were challenging to unclip.

A different kind of draw for every bolt! While many testers initially felt put off by the lack of continuity of a single type of draws  they soon got into the game of testing all they different types and varieties.
A different kind of draw for every bolt! While many testers initially felt put off by the lack of continuity of a single type of draws, they soon got into the game of testing all they different types and varieties.

Portability


We weighed each quickdraw on our scale to give them a starting point for portability rating, and modified this a bit based on whether they pack down easily, or are larger vs. smaller. We used them on a variety of routes to determine which were better for trad climbing or onsighting at your limit.

Testing out our Best Buy for Lightweight  the Cypher Firefly II  on a long route. We weighed each model and then tried them on a variety of climbs to give them their portability rating.
Testing out our Best Buy for Lightweight, the Cypher Firefly II, on a long route. We weighed each model and then tried them on a variety of climbs to give them their portability rating.

Ease of Handling


We considered multiple features for ease of handling. We looked at the carabiner size, and how well they fit in various sized hands. We also examined the positioners, whether the carabiners rotated in the upper sling too much or cross-clipped on our harnesses (annoying!) and the overall feel of the draw.

Multi-pitch sport climbs gave us a lot of opportunities for testing out different features of different draws  such as how easy they are to unclip while seconding. Here on Golden Road  Upper Town Walls  Index.
Multi-pitch sport climbs gave us a lot of opportunities for testing out different features of different draws, such as how easy they are to unclip while seconding. Here on Golden Road, Upper Town Walls, Index.

Ease of Grabbing


For this metric we compared the width of the various slings, and then went out and grabbed onto them all to clip. This made us realize that the wider and thicker the dogbone, the easier it is to grab and friendlier it is on our skin. Very thin and very narrow dogbones were far harder to hold onto for long times, and forget it if our feet also cut!

The best way to tell which draws you like the best and which ones you don't is to stack a whole set of 13 different choices in your harness and then go sport climbing.
The best way to tell which draws you like the best and which ones you don't is to stack a whole set of 13 different choices in your harness and then go sport climbing.