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The 10 Best Quickdraws For Climbing

Quickdraw for climbing

There’s a certain kind of magic in rock climbing that’s hard to find anywhere else. It’s just you, your gear, and the rock face—a dance of trust, skill, and a bit of daring. Every grip and foothold brings you closer to the top, where a stunning view and a sense of achievement await.

This article is your go-to guide on quickdraws for climbing, an essential piece of gear for climbers looking to start their adventure outdoors or those on the hunt for new, reliable equipment. Whether you’re new to the sport or have been scaling cliffs for years, understanding the ins and outs of quickdraws can significantly enhance your climbing experience.

But what makes a quickdraw indispensable, and how do you choose the right one for your climbing adventures? Stick around as we scale the heights of information, from the basics of quickdraws, alpine draws, carabiners, and slings to the top picks for rock climbing quickdraws. Let’s send it!

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What Makes A Quickdraw?

Climbing harness with gear on it for rock climbing.

If you’re new to the climbing world, welcome! We know that all these rock climbing terms like quickdraw, arete, crimp, cam, and gaston may initially seem confusing. The good news is that I’m here to explain everything you need to know about quickdraws for climbing!

And those other terms? Check out our guide on rock climbing lingo to learn what it means to be pumped or abseil.

For now, let’s go over what a quickdraw is.

Thank You, Firefighters!

The first carabiner was developed by Otto Herzog. He got the idea from a group of Munich firefighters, who used a similar gadget to a modern-day carabiner. 

Later, Colorado climber Jim Erickson put 5/8″ of webbing between two carabiners, and thus, the quickdraw was born.

An article from the Journal of Sports Engineering tells us that one of the reasons rock climbing has increased so much in popularity is the vast improvements to the safety of rock climbing gear since 1945. Quickdraws for climbing are just one piece of gear that is continually improved upon year after year.

The Basics Of A Quickdraw

In its most basic form, a quickdraw is two carabiners connected by a sling between them. In sport climbing, you attach one end of the quickdraw to a bolt on the wall and attach your rope to the other end of the quickdraw.

Quickdraws come in various shapes and sizes, with different sling lengths and carabiner types (more on that later!). This gives you several options and lets you choose a quickdraw that fits your climbing style. Quickdraws for climbing are meant to aid in sport and trad climbing but are not used in bouldering.

You can read more about the difference between bouldering, sport climbing, and trad climbing here!

The Difference Between Quickdraws And Other Climbing Hardware

Quickdraws, alpine draws, cams, and carabiners are all used to climb, but they’re vastly different tools in rock climbing. 

  • Quickdraws: Two carabiners with a sling between them. Used in sport and trad climbing to attach yourself safely to the wall.
  • Alpine draws: Alpine draws are similar to quickdraws but typically have a longer sling between the two carabiners. These are used in alpine climbing and mountaineering.
  • Cams: Protective gear for trad climbing that uses a spring-loaded wedge placed in cracks and nooks to secure the climber to the wall.
  • Carabiners: Typically made of steel or aluminum, with various types of gates to secure climbing gear, create anchors, attach belay devices, and make quickdraws. For more information on carabiners, check out our locking carabiner guide.

How To Use Quickdraws For Climbing

Quickdraw holding climbing rope

Quickdraws for climbing are versatile tools that can do everything from securing you to the wall to creating an anchor system at your summit. They’re also helpful for holding gear, hanging things, and just looking cool. 

Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the point…

But for a tool to be useful, you need to know how to properly use it while rock climbing. Understanding how to use quickdraws for climbing is more than just sending the route; it’s about safety.

Which Carabiner To Clip

Whether you’re sport climbing or trad climbing, quickdraws are a vital piece of gear you need to complete your climb. The first step to using a quickdraw is to clip it to the protection, whether that be a bolt hanger (sport climbing) or a cam/nut/hex (trad climbing).

However, it’s more than just clipping the quickdraw willy-nilly. You need to determine which end of the quickdraw to clip and which way to face the quickdraw. First, we’ll review which end of the quickdraw to clip into the protection.

If you look at the quickdraw, there is probably a carabiner with a straight gate and one with a bent gate. The straight gate should always be clipped to the protection. 

If the gates are the same, check out the webbing on the carabiner. There will be a big loop on one carabiner and a tight loop on the other. Connect the big loop carabiner to the bolt and the tight loop carabiner to your rope.

Direction Of The Carabiner’s Gate

Climbing involves more than just getting to the top of the route. You have to pay attention to your hand and foot placement and think about the direction of the route, your body’s position, and the distance between each bolt.

The direction of the route will dictate which way the gate of the carabiners faces as you clip them to the bolt. 

Whichever way you travel after the bolt, make sure the gates of your quickdraw’s carabiners face the opposite direction. As you climb, the rope will naturally glide across the backside of the carabiner—its strongest side. This way, if you fall, the rope will be against the strongest part of the carabiner and not the gate.

Clipping The Rope

Once the bolt-side carabiner is clipped in and facing the correct direction, it’s time to clip your rope into the other end of the quickdraw. If you were to fall, the quickdraw is what catches you.

There are several different methods for clipping the rope into the carabiner. Once you find a comfortable way to do it, practice it over and over until you feel comfortable. This can save you time and energy while up on the wall.

Two things to watch out for while clipping your rope to the quickdraw’s bottom carabiner:

  • Z-Clipping: When bolts are close together, you may accidentally grab the rope from below the last bolt, creating a Z shape with the rope. If you fall, you’ll fall past the most recent bolt and be caught by the next bolt instead. This error is usually caught quickly because of the extreme rope drag created by Z clipping. 
  • Back Clipping: When you attach the rope to the quickdraw, always make sure the rope goes from the cliff side out through the carabiner and to your harness. Back clipping is when the rope goes from your harness, through the carabiner, and toward the cliff side. When you fall, the rope can easily twist around the carabiner’s gate and open it.

Once you attach your rope, you’re ready to move to the next bolt! Our guide on the items you need to start rock climbing today can help you assemble the rest of the gear you need to get out on the rock!

The Role of Carabiners and Slings in Quickdraws For Climbing

Quickdraws for climbing

Carabiners

Picture this: you’re halfway up a gorgeous route, the sun is kissing the horizon, and you reach for your trusty quickdraw to make your next clip. At the heart of this critical moment are carabiners, but not just any carabiners—specific types tailored for the dynamic world of rock climbing.

  • Straight Gate Carabiners: These are your steadfast friends, featuring a straightforward design that makes them ideal for the bolt-end of quickdraws.
  • Bent Gate Carabiners: With a slightly curved gate, these carabiners are designed for the rope-end of quickdraws, making clipping your rope a breeze even when you’re hanging by a finger.
  • Wire Gate Carabiners: The lightweight champions of the carabiner world, wire gates reduce gate flutter and freeze-up in cold conditions.

Now, you might be wondering about Locking and Screwgate Carabiners. While incredibly secure, they don’t typically star in the quickdraws for climbing shows. Why? Though excellent for anchoring and belaying, their locking mechanisms are a bit too cumbersome for the quick, efficient clips needed while scaling a route.

The Significance of Slings in Quickdraws

Moving from metal to fabric, let’s talk slings—a crucial link in the quickdraw story. Slings in quickdraws are like the unsung melodies that harmonize the symphony of a climb. 

Here’s why they’re so important:

  • Length Matters: Slings typically come in a few standard lengths. The most common is around 12cm, perfect for most sport climbing routes. But when weaving through roofs or trying to reduce rope drag on a wandering trad line, longer slings (17cm to 25cm) can be your best friend.
  • Width Wisdom: Slings also vary in width, with thinner ones being lighter and easier to pack, while wider versions offer more durability. It’s a trade-off between weight and wear, so choose based on your climbing style and local rock type.
  • Material Magic: The main materials you’ll find are nylon and Dyneema (or Spectra). Nylon is durable and budget-friendly, making it great for new climbers or those who enjoy the occasional weekend crag. On the other hand, Dyneema is lighter and less bulky, favored by climbers looking to shave off ounces for that big project or multi-pitch adventure.

Carabiners and slings come together to form quickdraws. These essential connectors link you, through your rope, to the solid rock (or climbing wall) you’re ascending. This combination allows for smooth, efficient climbing, reducing weight and hassle so you can focus on the route ahead.

When you’re ready to hit the walls outside the gym, check out our guide on the best climbing for beginners at New River Gorge!

Top 10 Quickdraws for Rock Climbing

Woman climbing while wearing gear such as a rock clibming helmet and harness.

All too often in the climbing world, you hear the word ‘best‘ or ‘top.’ But really, climbing gear is all about working with your specific style and body type. The ‘best’ shoe may fit your climbing buddy but feel far too snug if you need a wider toe box. 

The same can be said for quickdraws. Saying there is a ‘best’ quickdraw just isn’t accurate. It all depends on how you climb, how you clip, what carabiner style you prefer, and how you clip your rope.

So, we’ve compiled a list of fan favorites. Below are our top 10 picks. 

1. Black Diamond Hot Forge Hybrid Quickpack

Black Diamond is known for its high-quality products. From chalk and quickdraws to bouldering pads and helmets, they’ve got you covered for all your climbing equipment needs.

The Black Diamond Hot Forge Hybrid Quickpack is no different, offering top-notch quality. Here are some of the best features:

  •  Snag-free HotForge keylock carabiner.
  • Different-colored top and bottom carabiners for easy identification while climbing.
  • Straight Jacket design on rope carabiner to keep it in place for optimal clipping.
  • Closed-gate strength of 24 Kn.

At 3.5 ounces per quickdraw, it’s not the lightest or heaviest. However, this is a solid-quality quickdraw. 

2. Petzl Spirit Express

The Petzl Spirit Express is a top-notch quickdraw for sport climbing. It weighs in at 3.2 ounces per quickdraw, approaching the light side of quickdraws for climbing. Here are the top features of the Petzl Spirit Express:

  • Keylock feature for snag-free clipping.
  • Ergonomic design for easier grabbing with the hand while climbing.
  • Available in three different sling lengths.
  • Closed-gate strength of 23 Kn.

Unfortunately, it’s tough (if not impossible) to find a 6-pack of these, so you must buy them individually, making them more expensive.

3. Camp USA Orbit Wire Express KS

If you’re just getting into rock climbing, then this affordable quickdraw may be a good choice! The Camp USA Orbit Wire Express KS are fantastic introductory quickdraws for climbing.

  • Lighter than most sport draws at a claimed weight of 2.9 ounces.
  • Affordable
  • Major Axis strength of 22Kn.
  • Longer sling length is available for windy or overhanging routes.

This is a good option for beginners, but it may not be the best choice for advanced climbers who want the smoothest clipping and handling.

4. DMM Alpha VW Sport

The DMM Alpha VW Sport may be one of the heaviest quickdraws on our list, but it’s also one of the most solid, ergonomically designed quickdraws on the market! It comes in three sling lengths for various routes but comes with a high price tag.

  • Lightweight carabiners with hot-forged solid gates for durability.
  • Grooved spine for easy handling.
  • Carabiners are color-coded to make it easy to identify bolt and rope ends.
  • Major Axis strength of 24Kn

The DMM Alpha is a good choice for sport climbers who aren’t concerned with the weight of their rack. It may not be the best for trad climbers or those who often do multi-pitch.

5. Petzl Djinn Axess

The Petzl Djinn Axess is another heavy but durable quickdraw, weighing 4 ounces per draw. Its wide carabiners make for smooth rope handling while climbing and prevent snags on the bolt hangers.

  • A wide carabiner facilitates less rope drag.
  • Durable construction.
  • Multiple sling lengths are available.
  • Major Axis strength of 23Kn.
  • Color-coded for easy identification.

The Petzl Djinn Axess is great for climbers with large hands or those who wear gloves. It’s not the best for those concerned with weight.

6. Wild Country Session

The Wild Country Session has a slim dogbone (sling) that helps reduce crowding on your gear rack. It weighs in at 3.5 ounces, about average. It’s pricey but worth it for a solid, durable design made for sport climbing and multi-pitch routes.

  • Slim dogbone with abrasion resistance.
  • Rounded basket on rope-side of carabiner for smooth rope management.
  • Smooth clipping.
  • Major Axis strength 23Kn

The Wild Countries are a great all-around quickdraw. They’re durable, easy to clip, and comfortable for most climbers.

7. Petzl Ange Finesse

The Petzl Ange Finesse is the lightest quickdraw on our list. It’s fantastic for alpine and trad climbing but may be pricey for a simple sport draw.

  • Lightweight.
  • Multiple size choices.
  • Keylock gates for smooth clipping.
  • Broad basket on carabiner prevents rope drag.
  • Major Axis strength 20-22Kn, depending on size.

Sport climbers concerned with weight will find the Petzl Ange Finesse a very agreeable quickdraw.

8. Edelrid Bulletproof

The Edelrid Bulletproof is one of the most durable quickdraws on our list. While most carabiners are made of aluminum, the Bulletproof has a steel strip in the bottom to prevent wear and tear from the rope – a common problem with quickdraws for climbing.

  • A bit heavy at 4.1 ounces.
  • Steel insert makes this quickdraw last.
  • Different colored carabiners for easy identification.
  • A wide sling makes for easy grabbing.

The Bulletproof is a fantastic choice for the first bolt or two if you’re working through a climb and plan to hang on it a lot. 

9. Mammut Workhorse

The name says it all. The Mammut Workhorse is a solid quickdraw that’s a little bulky and heavy but will last for a long time and get the job done.

  • Different colored carabiners for easy identification
  • Solid gate carabiners for durability
  • Rubber grip on rope-end of carabiner for stability while climbing
  • Ultra strong major axis strength at 26 Kn

The Workhorse is on the heavy side but has a reasonable price range. It’s great for sport climbing when you’re working on projects and need to hang from the biner.

10. Mad Rock Ultralight

For beginner climbers on a budget, the Mad Rock Ultralight is an excellent choice. However, it’s not very well suited for sport climbing and is better used in trad and alpine climbing.

  • Very light at 2.4 ounces.
  • Clipping action can be stiff.
  • Affordable
  • Strong major axis at 25 Kn.

Overall, the Mad Rock Ultralight is a good choice for trad and alpine climbers concerned with weight or beginner sport climbers on a budget.

QuickdrawWeightLength of SlingAverage Price (2024)
Black Diamond Hot Forge Hybrid3.5 oz12 cm$100 (6-pack) $19 (Single)
Petzl Spirit Express3.2 oz11cm, 17cm, 25cm$26 (single)
Camp USA Orbit Wire Express KS2.9 oz12cm, 18cm$10 (single) $90 (6-pack)
DMM Alpha VW Sport3.9 oz12cm, 18cm, 25cm$175 (6-pack) $30 (single)
Petzl Djinn Axess4.0 oz11cm, 17cm, 25cm$105 (6-pack) $18 (single)
Wild Country Session3.5 oz12cm, 17cm$120 (6-pack) $20 (single)
Petzl Ange Finesse2.2 oz – 2.7 oz10cm, 17cm$30 (single)
Mad Rock Ultralight2.4 oz10cm$21 (single)
Edelrid Bulletproof4.1 oz12cm, 18cm$36 (single)
Mammut Workhorse3.7 oz12cm$105 (6-pack)

Choosing the Right Quickdraws for Your Adventure

rock climbing harness with quickdraws and other gear attached

As I mentioned before, there is no ‘best’ when it comes to rock climbing gear. It’s all about finding the gear that best fits your climbing style. 

So, think about what you’re looking for in a quickdraw, how you climb, and what routes you enjoy, and select your quickdraw based on those criteria. For example, if you’re concerned about weight, opt for the Petzl Express, Camp USA, or the Petzl Ange Finesse. If you’re on a budget, check out the Camp USA.

No matter what type of climbing you do, you’ll want to check the CE or UIAA markings on the carabiners. These markings indicate that the product has passed a set of standards that deem it safe.

Care and Maintenance of Quickdraws

Various climbing gear

Like any trusty sidekick, quickdraws need a bit of TLC to keep them performing at their best. Regular inspection and maintenance of your quickdraws for climbing are not just about extending their lifespan; it’s a critical routine that ensures every climb is as safe as the first.

The Art of Quickdraw Care

  • Inspection Is Key: Before and after each climb, take a moment to inspect each quickdraw. Look for signs of wear, such as fraying on the sling or grooves in the carabiners.
  • Cleaning Made Simple: After a particularly dusty or wet climb, or periodically as needed, give your quickdraws a spa day. For carabiners, wash them in warm water with mild soap, rinse thoroughly, and dry completely before their next use. 

Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive tools that could damage the metal. Slings require a gentle hand wash in mild soap and water, then air dry away from direct heat or sunlight. This little refresh can help keep your gear functioning smoothly and prevent corrosion or material breakdown.

  • Storage Solutions: When your quickdraws aren’t out adventuring with you, store them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. UV rays can weaken the fabric of the slings over time, and moisture can lead to rust on the carabiners. A gear closet or a dedicated drawer works wonders for keeping everything organized and ready for your next outing.

Knowing When to Say Goodbye

While we grow attached to our gear, there comes a time when every quickdraw must retire. Here are a few telltale signs:

  • Visible Damage: If the sling is significantly frayed or the carabiner has deep grooves, it’s time to part ways.
  • Malfunctioning Gate: A gate that doesn’t close properly on its own is a safety risk and a clear retirement indicator.
  • Corrosion: Rust or corrosion on a carabiner can compromise its strength and functionality.
  • Historical Milestones: Survived a significant fall? It might have compromised the integrity of the quickdraw. Also, if your quickdraws have been with you for many climbs over many years, even without visible damage, consider retiring them. Materials degrade with time, even if they’re not being actively used.

Caring for your quickdraws is more than just maintenance; it’s an essential part of the climbing experience, ensuring that you and your gear can safely face many more adventures together. 

Quickdraws For Climbing: Wrap-Up Session

There are many choices when it comes to quickdraws for climbing. From heavyweight champs to nimble lightweight companions, there’s a quickdraw for every style of climbing.

If you have a friend who climbs, consider asking to try out their quickdraws on a climb. Get a feel for as many quickdraws as possible before making a purchase that fits your style of climbing.

Do you have a favorite set of draws that are your trusty go-to for rock climbing? Let us know your top pick in the comments below! Until next time, keep sending it! Check out our climbing blog for more gear reviews and tips for rock climbing.

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