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Best Quickdraws for Climbing

Patrick Pharo climbing a classic limestone sport route at the Elona crag in Leonidio  Greece  doing his best to test the quickdraws for how well they clip  rather than how easy they are to grab or fall on.
By Cam McKenzie Ring, Andy Welman
Wednesday October 7, 2020
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Searching for the best quickdraws for climbing? Our expert climbers have put over 35 different quickdraws to the test over the past six years, and this review features 14 of the best and most popular options you can purchase today. Quickdraws are an essential piece of climbing gear for clipping bolts on sport climbs, and also serve many purposes for traditional or multi-pitch climbing, such as clipping stoppers or extending cams. Whether you want the easiest to clip for your sport project, an affordable set that won't break the bank, or the lightest weight options for alpine climbs, we have some great recommendations.

Top 14 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 14
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Best Overall Quickdraw for Climbing


Petzl Spirit Express


84
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Clipping - 25% 10
  • Ease of Unclipping - 25% 8
  • Portability - 20% 6
  • Handling - 15% 9
  • Ease of Grabbing - 15% 9
Weight: 3.2 ounces | Gate clearance of bottom carabiner: 25 mm
Great clipping action
Easy to grab
Lightweight for a sport draw
Not super cheap
Heavier than some lightweight models
So popular that you might not want to leave them hanging overnight

The Petzl Spirit Express is a classic among sport climbers. It comes with a keylock carabiner on each end and does everything a sport climber could ask for — clips are fast and snappy, and the rope never snags on the keylock gate. The wide dogbone is made to be grabbed, and we love the way it feels when we do so. It's one of the lightest sport-climbing specific models that we tested, shaving ounces off your harness in a sport where every gram counts.

However, even with its latest weight loss it is still not suited for long or alpine routes, so if that's your primary climbing style, check out the Petzl Ange Finesse, or another lightweight model like the Cypher Firefly II instead. For everything else, the Spirit Express is at the top of its class. Just don't loan them out or you may not get them back!

Read review: Petzl Spirit Express

Best Bang for the Buck


Black Diamond HotForge Hybrid


68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Clipping - 25% 7
  • Ease of Unclipping - 25% 7
  • Portability - 20% 5
  • Handling - 15% 8
  • Ease of Grabbing - 15% 7
Weight: 3.5 ounces | Gate clearance of bottom carabiner: 27 mm
Affordable and durable
Simple, no frills, yet very effective
Easy to clip wiregate lower biner
Cool color schemes
Gate springs a hair tight compared to competition
Not super light

In early 2020, Black Diamond scrapped their entire quickdraw lineup and released five new models to fill the void. We tested the three most compelling versions, and of these, the HotForge Hybrid was our clear favorite. These affordable quickdraws pair a new HotForge solid gate biner on the top with a wiregate carabiner on the bottom, combining easy clipping of the rope through the wiregate, with the easy to clean keylocking design for the top. While the design is simple, effective, and affordable, we received by far the most comments on their looks. Climbers all over the crags we climbed at noticed the hot pink versions that we tested, repeatedly asking what kind they were.

It's hard to ask for much more than an effective sport draw at an affordable price. However, comparing them to the highest performers in our review, such as the Petzl Spirit Express or the DMM Alpha Sport reveals that their gate springs are a bit tight, requiring slightly more effort to complete a clip. They are also relatively heavy overall, and their simple polyester dogbone is not engineered to be a fat handle to grasp when you are too pumped to clip. In our experience, however, these attributes only come with the highest priced choices, and we think budget-minded climbers will be more than happy with the performance they get from the HotForge Hybrid.

Read review: Black Diamond HotForge Hybrid

A Great Buy for Lightweight


Cypher Firefly II


Top Pick Award

$8.62
(25% off)
at Backcountry
See It

61
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Clipping - 25% 7
  • Ease of Unclipping - 25% 5
  • Portability - 20% 8
  • Handling - 15% 6
  • Ease of Grabbing - 15% 4
Weight: 2.6 ounces | Gate clearance of bottom carabiner: 25 mm
One of the least expensive QDs on the market
Lightweight
Unprotected wiregates can snag
Narrow sling is hard to grab

If you're new to climbing and trying to build up your gear stash, you'll appreciate the Cypher Firefly II. They retail for only half the price of the Petzl Spirit Express. That's a significant difference, particularly if you're also purchasing a rope, harness, and double set of cams! The Firefly II is light enough for trad climbing (only 2.6 ounces a draw), and you can still use them while sport climbing if you're not sure which discipline you want to specialize in more.

That said, these draws are much better for long missions, where light weight is of critical importance than they are for everyday sport use. The narrow 10 mm sling makes them less than ideal for working your sport project, where you may want to grab the occasional draw. And like most other wiregates in this review, the unprotected notch in the nose can get hung up on bolt hangers, making them more difficult to clean. But, considering the price, you may be willing to put up with all of that! If you are looking for some quickdraws that shave the weight for long clip-ups in Black Velvet Canyon of Red Rocks, or for alpine climbs, then consider the FireFly IIs.

Read review: Cypher Firefly II

Best Quiver of One Quickdraws


Petzl Ange Finesse


72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Clipping - 25% 7
  • Ease of Unclipping - 25% 9
  • Portability - 20% 7
  • Handling - 15% 7
  • Ease of Grabbing - 15% 5
Weight: 2.6 ounces (S/L version) | Gate clearance of bottom carabiner: 26 mm (L)
Customizable with small or large carabiners on either end of the draw
Very light and still burly enough for regular sport climbing
MonoFil Keylock gate doesn't get hung up on anything
Pricey
Small gate opening

Most dedicated climbers that we know have a rack of 12 or more burly quickdraws devoted entirely to sport climbing, as well as an extra handful or more lightweight draws for use while trad climbing or on multi-pitch or alpine missions a long way from the car. This makes sense, since sport draws are too heavy and bulky for long missions, and lightweight draws have small carabiners that are harder to clip and also hard to grab while projecting sport routes. But what if there was one ultimate quickdraw that was both durable, easy to grab, and light? There is — the Petzl Ange Finesse! Made with the unique MonoFil Keylock design that has only a single wire on the gate that keylocks into the nose, these are some of the lightest quickdraws we tested, while also providing a large, easy to grab dogbone, and customization for either easier clipping or even less weight.

The downside with these draws is their price, which depends on which of the four carabiner and dogbone options you choose to purchase. Some of our testers also complained about the size of the gate opening itself. While the gate clearance is a hefty 26mm when all the way open, the actual gate opening is certainly less than that, sometimes making for a more difficult clip. But no quickdraw we tested provided as much crossover as the Ange Finesse, with the perfect attributes for long alpine routes as well as roadside sport climbs. If you're searching for the perfect "Quiver of One" draws that can go with you on any climb, these are your best bet.

Read review: Petzl Ange Finesse

Best for Durability


Edelrid Bulletproof Quickdraw


Top Pick Award

$28.95
at Amazon
See It

63
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Clipping - 25% 6
  • Ease of Unclipping - 25% 7
  • Portability - 20% 3
  • Handling - 15% 8
  • Ease of Grabbing - 15% 8
Weight: 4.2 ounces | Gate clearance of bottom carabiner: 20 mm
Stainless steel insert adds durability
Keylock gate for snag-free unclipping
Wide sling for easy grabbing
Heavy
Narrow gate opening
Expensive

While industrial carabiners are always made of steel, climbing carabiners have been primarily made of aluminum for decades. Aluminum is considerably lighter than steel, with a standard aluminum carabiner weighing about half what a steel one does. However, aluminum wears quicker than steel, and the rope end of a draw can end up with deep grooves and dangerous sharp edges after a while due to the wear of the rope running over it repeatedly. Enter the Edelrid Bulletproof, which has a stainless steel insert on the rope edge of the bottom carabiner. While Edelrid is not making any hard promises about the lifespan of the Bulletproof, we estimate that it'll have a 5 times longer lifespan than regular carabiners (based on our experience with in-situ steel draws at crags and gyms).

Could this be the last set of QDs you ever buy? Potentially, though using these as your sole set of draws is probably overkill. They are heavy (4.1 ounces each) and expensive. While the keylock gate is nice for snag-free unclipping, the gate opening is on the smaller side, and the gate doesn't have the best clipping action. Instead, pick up two or three for particular situations, such as your first draw on a sport route that you are working (that draw will see more friction due to the belayer standing away from the wall), or for your top rope anchors.

Read review: Edelrid Bulletproof


Quickdraws are an essential piece of gear for tackling some of the coolest pitches in the world. Here clawing up a mega pitch in Leonidio just as the sun hits the wall.
Quickdraws are an essential piece of gear for tackling some of the coolest pitches in the world. Here clawing up a mega pitch in Leonidio just as the sun hits the wall.

Why You Should Trust Us


The lead tester for this review is Andy Wellman, a senior gear reviewer for GearLab since 2013. Andy is a lifelong climber with 23 years of experience across all climbing disciplines. While he spent his formative years trad climbing in Eldorado Canyon near Boulder, ever since he has loved the simplicity and focus on movement that comes while clipping bolts on sport climbs. Honing his sport game during years spent living and climbing at Rifle, Colorado, he has recently been chasing onsights and redpoints on the limestone walls of Spain and Greece, as well as the classic volcanic tuff of Smith Rock, Oregon. Decades spent projecting sport routes has certainly helped him understand the nuances of well-crafted and high performing quickdraws, which he is happy to share with you here. Joining him on the team is Cam McKenzie Ring, who began climbing over 20 years ago, accumulating experiences over all climbing disciplines during that time. She is a former member of Yosemite Search and Rescue, and now lives in Las Vegas, where she can be found clipping bolts in the Calico Hills or blasting up long routes in the Canyons of Red Rocks.

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.
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.
Multi-pitch sport climbing is one of the joys of Index  Washington. Kevin following pitch 1 of Golden Road on the upper town walls  puzzling out the moves to the anchor.

In order to test quickdraws, we use them the same way that you will. We take our racks out to our local crags and spend day after day trying to work our way up a project, or by simply experiencing the joy of climbing many new pitches in a day. We fiddle these draws into the stick clip for pre-hanging the first bolt, rack a whole set of them on our harness, and sometimes work desperately to get the rope clipped from a precarious stance. We fall on them over and over again, pull back up, hang, grab onto them, and then often top rope through a couple of them rigged at the anchors. While this often takes place at our local crags of Smith Rock and the Calico Hills of Red Rocks, we also drag these draws with us to crags around the world such as Leonidio, Siurana, Chulilla, and Margalef in Europe, or to Ten Sleep, the Fins, Index, and Squamish in North America. What we aren't able to learn simply by climbing (or failing to climb), we usually manage to figure out by intensively comparing these draws side-by-side for such things as their spring tightness, gate clearance, weight, bulk, and clippability.

Related: How We Tested Quickdraws

Analysis and Test Results


A quickdraw is a specialized piece of climbing equipment made up of two carabiners joined by a short length of bartacked webbing called the "dogbone." The carabiners are typically either wiregate or solid gate, in some combination, with the upper carabiner being free to move about while the lower carabiner is held tightly in place by a rubberized keeper for easier clipping. Quickdraws are most commonly used while sport climbing to attach the rope to bolts in the rock. They can also be used while traditional climbing, ice climbing, or multi-pitch climbing for clipping the rope to protection or extending protection pieces, although shoulder length climbing slings, also known as "alpine quickdraws," are more common for this purpose.

Andrew testing the popular and easy to use Petzl Djinn on the very pleasant vertical limestone of the Headstone  the Fins.
Andrew testing the popular and easy to use Petzl Djinn on the very pleasant vertical limestone of the Headstone, the Fins.

To be able to offer the best recommendations, we've assess each quickdraw compared to each other, and based upon five separate grading metrics, described in greater detail below. Worth noting is that lightweight quickdraws are great for long routes or alpine climbing, but generally don't perform very well for sport climbing. Similarly, sport specific quickdraws are heavier and bulkier than you may wish for lugging up a long approach. Therefore, be sure to identify which type of climbing you do most, or what style of draw you need, and focus on the attributes that best serve your purposes.

The author climbing steep tufas on the amazing limestone rock of the Mars sector  Leonidio  Greece. One of the most fun aspects of sport climbing is sampling the different rock types  and cultures  found in climbing areas around the world.
The author climbing steep tufas on the amazing limestone rock of the Mars sector, Leonidio, Greece. One of the most fun aspects of sport climbing is sampling the different rock types, and cultures, found in climbing areas around the world.

Related: Buying Advice for Quickdraws

Value


Rock climbing can be an expensive sport to get started in. Once you add up your shoes, harness, rope, quickdraws and potentially traditional gear, you're looking at hundreds of dollars, and easily more. And then your shoes and rope wear out, and you need to buy them all over again! Climbing gear manufacturers are putting a lot of research and engineering into new and improved products, but those often come with a bigger price tag. When it comes to this category, you can spend over three hundred bones on a set of QDs, or as little as half that! What's the difference?

While we certainly tested some best products at the higher end of the price spectrum, there are plenty of others that still performed well without breaking the bank. If you are on a budget, pay close attention to which models offer decent performance at a lower price. These include the Black Diamond HotForge Hybrid and Cypher Firefly II, as well as other choices such as the Petzl Djinn Axess and CAMP Orbit Wire Express KS.


Ease of Clipping


Clipping a quickdraw to a bolt is usually a pretty simple task, but clipping the rope into the bottom carabiner of a draw can prove more difficult, especially when you are a beginner and haven't learned the most efficient techniques. Learning how to quickly and easily clip, regardless of whether the draw is facing toward or away from you, is one of the very first skills a prospective leader should acquire. There are a few attributes that also contribute to how easy a carabiner is to clip, including the type of gate, its size, its shape, and the "action" of the spring keeping it closed. Most of the models we tested scored well in this category. If anything, it's easier to notice when a draw is difficult to clip as opposed to when it's easy. We assessed both the ease of clipping the top carabiner into a bolt and clipping the rope into the bottom carabiner, although weighted the ease of clipping the bottom carabiner much higher.


One of the first things we noticed when testing this metric is that it doesn't seem to make too much of a difference whether the gates on the carabiners are wiregate or keylock (when assessing for clipping, this attribute matters a lot when assessing for unclipping, discussed below). What does influence this metric is the size of the carabiner and the stiffness of the sling. Larger carabiners are uniformly easier to clip, and even our testers with smaller hands preferred the larger options, such as the Petzl Djinn Axess. One of our favorite carabiners to clip is the DMM Alpha Sport. Not only is it large, but the bent gate has a distinct spot for the rope to sit on before it gets pushed through, making the clipping action that much smoother.

We found the Djinn to be one of the very easiest quickdraws to clip due to its large carabiners on both the top and bottom  combined with its dual keylocking gates and smooth action.
We found the Djinn to be one of the very easiest quickdraws to clip due to its large carabiners on both the top and bottom, combined with its dual keylocking gates and smooth action.

When clipping into a bolt, the main difference noted by our testers is that a wider and stiffer sling, like on the Petzl Spirit Express, makes it easier to clip, particularly when the climber is stretched out. A floppy, thin 10 mm dogbone, like the ones found on all of the lighter weight "alpine" style draws in this review, are much more challenging to clip when reaching at your limit. Of the lighter weight draws, the Cypher Firefly II is the easiest to clip, and we preferred it over the Black Diamond MiniWire or the Mad Rock Ultra Light Wire.

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.

Ease of Unclipping


Clipping the draw to the bolt, or the rope to the draw, is only half the battle. Eventually you or your second are going to have to also unclip the rope and the draws, and we have found that carabiner design has a large role in how easy or difficult this ends up being. These days, virtually all solid gate carabiners have a keylock design, meaning the nose fits into the gate like a key. This design allows for a smooth nose, which is easy to unclip from bolts, even when under tension. On the other hand, wire gate carabiners (with the notable exception of those found on the Petzl Ange Finesse) have a nose design with a hook and notch that the wire portion of the gate sits against. This hook, or notch, can easily get hung up on bolt hangers as you try to remove the draw, especially on steep pitches.


Cleaning the draws off of a steep sport climb while lowering is one of the most annoying and physically demanding tasks a climber undertakes, so much so that experienced sport climbers will often go to great lengths to con, trick, bribe, or cajole others into doing it for them! The steeper a pitch, the more important it is that the top carabiner of a draw has a keylock design, as this makes removing the draws while under tension much easier. Almost all dedicated sport climbing draws are designed this way, but beware that many lightweight and super affordable quickdraws have wiregate carabiners on top, which is not an ideal choice at all for steep climbing.

Elizabeth cleaning a MiniWire off the last bolt of the pitch. On a slabby pitch like this  cleaning draws with a wiregate on top isn't too hard  but on steep pitches it becomes far more challenging as it is harder to release tension as you remove the draw. With tiny carabiners  stiff gate springs  and wiregate notches  these draws were not the easiest to remove by a longshot.
Elizabeth cleaning a MiniWire off the last bolt of the pitch. On a slabby pitch like this, cleaning draws with a wiregate on top isn't too hard, but on steep pitches it becomes far more challenging as it is harder to release tension as you remove the draw. With tiny carabiners, stiff gate springs, and wiregate notches, these draws were not the easiest to remove by a longshot.

Beginner climbers rarely climb super steep pitches, as they haven't had the time to build up the strength to do so. Cleaning quickdraws off the bolts on vertical rock or slabs is rarely a challenge, regardless of what kind of carabiner is affixed to the bolt. For them, removing the rope from the draw while top-roping is often the primary concern, so the bottom carabiner is the most important. A wire-gate here rarely proves more difficult to remove the rope from, despite the hooked nose, because of the diameter of the rope that can easily slide over it. Instead, the size of the gate opening is of critical importance, with a larger opening making it easier to slide the rope out with one hand, and a smaller opening obviously making this more challenging.

The Petzl Djinn Axess has a wide 27mm opening and a notch-free opening  making it one of the easiest to unclip.
The Petzl Djinn Axess has a wide 27mm opening and a notch-free opening, making it one of the easiest to unclip.

Quickdraws with large gate openings and keylock nose designs are the easiest to unclip. The Petzl Djinn Axess, according to all of our testing, best combines these attributes, as it is made of very large carabiners on both ends, and features double keylock noses. The Petzl Ange Finesse, despite being a wiregate design, also has keylock noses, a unique feature for this draw. While it is customizable with large or small carabiners on either end, the larger carabiners are easier to unclip by a long shot, and more appropriate for sport climbing. Draws with wiregates on both ends and tiny carabiners and openings prove the most difficult to repeatedly unclip, so if this is a primary concern you should avoid the Black Diamond MiniWire or Trango Phase.

Lowering off and trying to clean the draws on a steep route. This is where having a smooth  notchless  keylocking nose is key. Removing a draw here requires pulling in for a second to release tension  and then quickly snapping the draw off the bolt.
Lowering off and trying to clean the draws on a steep route. This is where having a smooth, notchless, keylocking nose is key. Removing a draw here requires pulling in for a second to release tension, and then quickly snapping the draw off the bolt.

Portability


Most draws can be divided into two categories: standard sport climbing draws, or lightweight for alpine and multi-pitch adventures. There is no law saying you can't take the heavy 4.1 ounce Edelrid Bulletproof up a long route, but they weigh more than twice as much as the 1.9 ounce Black Diamond MiniWire, and those ounces add up to pounds if you are carrying a lot of them.


Lightweight enthusiasts know that when you go light on everything, from your carabiners to your harness and pack, the difference is noticeable. If you are only climbing long routes occasionally and don't want to purchase two different sets of quickdraws, then consider the Petzl Ange Finesse, which are both light and burly, or take your rack of sport draws and deal with the added ounces. However, if you are heading into the alpine or canyons regularly and you're already weighing your harness down with a double rack of cams, then a lighter set of draws is the way to go, and you should pay close attention to the weight of your gear.

The Petzl Ange Finesse are perhaps the most versatile quickdraws in our review  making them a prime candidate for purchase if you only want to buy one set of draws  but like to sport climb and trad climb equally as often. Alon making the clip in Smith Rock.
The Petzl Ange Finesse are perhaps the most versatile quickdraws in our review, making them a prime candidate for purchase if you only want to buy one set of draws, but like to sport climb and trad climb equally as often. Alon making the clip in Smith Rock.

The Black Diamond MiniWire is far and away the lightest quickdraw that we tested in our review. However, while these are a solid choice when needing to carry draws far from the car, quickdraws are one of the few pieces of climbing gear where light is not always right. Black Diamond themselves warn that ultra-lightweight carabiners serve a specific purpose for when ounces matter, but are more prone to bending over an edge, damaging your rope in a fall, and distorting after a high impact .

These are some of the lightest  and in some instances  most affordable quickdraws you can buy. Despite their low cost  we recommend using them for trad and alpine climbing  and paying slightly more for better sport draws if you just want to sport climb. Tiny dogbones and tiny wiregate carabiners are the norm for this group. From left to right: Petzl Ange Finesse  Cypher Firefly II  Trango Phase  BD MiniWire.
These are some of the lightest, and in some instances, most affordable quickdraws you can buy. Despite their low cost, we recommend using them for trad and alpine climbing, and paying slightly more for better sport draws if you just want to sport climb. Tiny dogbones and tiny wiregate carabiners are the norm for this group. From left to right: Petzl Ange Finesse, Cypher Firefly II, Trango Phase, BD MiniWire.

The MiniWire's may actually be too small. Luckily, we also tested a solid handful of other lightweight alpine style quickdraws, which have the notable side-effect of greater affordability, a win-win if this is what you need. Check out the Cypher Firefly II, our Best Bang for the Buck Winner for Lightweight, if you want the best value and performance in a lightweight draw.

While it's hard to beat the 1.9 ounces of the MiniWire, we are also pleased with the weight of the Petzl Spirit Express. At 3.2 ounces, it is noticeably lighter than many of the other high-end sport climbing models that we tested, making it an excellent choice for people who are trying to shave ounces for onsight attempts but still want a highly usable quickdraw. Not surprisingly, the Edelrid Bulletproof was the heaviest model that we tested (4.2 ounces), thanks to the stainless steel insert.

The MiniWire  clipped to a bolt high on the multi-pitch route Sky Ridge at Smith Rock. Their incredible light weight is a huge advantage for multi-pitch routes or long routes with big approaches.
The MiniWire, clipped to a bolt high on the multi-pitch route Sky Ridge at Smith Rock. Their incredible light weight is a huge advantage for multi-pitch routes or long routes with big approaches.

Handling


This more general category encompasses everything from how each product felt in our testers' hands and on their harnesses, to how well the bottom carabiner is held in its proper position by the rubberized or sewn keeper. While feel in hand is more a matter of preference, the proper positioning of the carabiners can have serious safety implications.


Carabiners are strongest when the force exerted on them is along the axis of their spine (i.e., they haven't flipped sideways and cross-loaded). The top carabiner, which is clipped to a bolt or piece of gear, needs to be able to move freely in the draw's sling so as not to come unclipped from its protection point. That's why the top end of the quickdraw sling will be sewn loose, and one needs to be sure to clip the correct end of the draw to the bolt. The bottom carabiner needs to remain in one orientation so that the rope loads on the bottom scoop, and doesn't accidentally cross load the biner across the spine or the gate. To keep that bottom carabiner in one position, most slings have rubber keepers, either sewn into the sling or placed outside it. There are benefits to both.

Each QD comes with a positioner. They range from external  like on the Petzl Spirits (left)  to an internal option  like on the Black Diamond FreeWire (right). They each have their plusses and minuses. Then there's the hybrid internal/external positioner on the CAMP USA Orbit Wire  which was our least favorite due to the bulkiness.
Each QD comes with a positioner. They range from external, like on the Petzl Spirits (left), to an internal option, like on the Black Diamond FreeWire (right). They each have their plusses and minuses. Then there's the hybrid internal/external positioner on the CAMP USA Orbit Wire, which was our least favorite due to the bulkiness.

The sewn-in versions, like those found on all Black Diamond models, eliminate the potential for user error, but once they break you have to buy a new sling or find an exterior positioner that fits. Although none of the Black Diamond sewn-in rubber Straightjackets tore during our testing period, some of our reviewers have had personal experience with them breaking in the past. The benefit of an exterior positioner is that it protects the section of the sling that houses the lower carabiner from fraying against the rock. However, they can be installed incorrectly, so you should always inspect your new draws to make sure they were correctly assembled with the carabiner passing through both the sling and the positioner. Finally, it's not wise to add one to the top carabiner. (We've seen this done to create more of a "stiff" draw for reachy clips.) If the top carabiner is stiffly attached to the sling, the action of the rope moving through it could cause the carabiner to become only partially hooked to the bolt or even cause it to become unhooked completely — both terrible situations.

The positioner keeps the bottom carabiner in the proper orientation both for clipping and when catching a fall so that the rope lands against the spine and not the gate.
The positioner keeps the bottom carabiner in the proper orientation both for clipping and when catching a fall so that the rope lands against the spine and not the gate.

Another consideration for handling is the size of the carabiners. Smaller carabiners are harder to handle, particularly at the end of a long climb when your hands are fatigued, and even more so if you ever climb with gloves on in the winter. If you plan on ice climbing or doing a big wall, one of your most important criteria will be the size of the carabiners, as you want something that you can still operate easily with gloves on. A good choice for these applications would be the Petzl Djinn Axess. Its full-size carabiners were the preferred option for many of our larger-handed testers.

Ease of Grabbing


You might not set off up your climb intending to grab a draw (or two), but sometimes it happens, and rightly so. If you are pumped getting to your third clip, the clipping hold is sub-par, and you fall off mid-clip with a bunch of slack out, you could hit the deck. Better to grab the draw and make the clip safely rather than take a trip to the ER. Similarly, if you are moving fast on a Grade V in Yosemite and don't want to be benighted on the route or descent, the "French Free" technique (grabbing draws and gear to move fast through difficult sections) is a common practice. Grabbing draws is also pretty standard in sport climbing when working a route at your limit.


The dogbones found on the models we tested varied in width from 10mm to 27mm. The narrowest slings, which are on the lightweight products, are very difficult to grab. Those in the middle of the pack (14mm) are easier to grab, but our testers found that the sling had to be at least 16mm wide to do well in this category, and the wider the better, no matter their hand size. The Petzl Spirit Express and DMM Alpha Sport took the top marks in this metric not just because of their wide 25mm dogbones, but also because of their ergonomic cutout design that allows you to slot your hand on the draw and go for the clip.

The Spirit Express has a tapered dogbone that is thinner at the top than at the bottom  making it more ergonomic and comfortable to grab when needed.
The Spirit Express has a tapered dogbone that is thinner at the top than at the bottom, making it more ergonomic and comfortable to grab when needed.

While the Petzl Ange Finesse has a wide, tapered sling that should be a pleasure to grab, we actually found that its stiff, rough nylon hurt our skin more than other slings, slightly lowering its score.

While it doesn't have the super fat slings of the high end sport draws  we found the Djinn relatively easy to grab in order to make a clip  aided by the large biner that rests below your hands and serves as a stopper.
While it doesn't have the super fat slings of the high end sport draws, we found the Djinn relatively easy to grab in order to make a clip, aided by the large biner that rests below your hands and serves as a stopper.

Conclusion


There's no one perfect quickdraw for everyone. Depending on your preferred style of climbing, hand-size, budget, or even propensity for draw-grabbing, you might be considering one type of quickdraw over another. Hopefully, we've helped you narrow down your options so you can get set up with the right draw, or blend of draws, for you.

Sport climbers the world over prefer Petzl Spirits  and there's a good reason! Testing draws on the fine stone of the Fins.
Sport climbers the world over prefer Petzl Spirits, and there's a good reason! Testing draws on the fine stone of the Fins.

Cam McKenzie Ring, Andy Welman