These are the metal “snaplinks” with spring-loaded gates that attach
the rope to protection, anchor you to belays and rappels, rack gear, and do dozens of other tasks. Carabiner, or“biner,” shapes come in many shapes,
but the asymmetrical-D is the backbone of your “rack.” Lightweight and strong, the design (which has many variations), is just about perfect. Most
climbers will purchase most of their carabiners already rigged on quickdraws, but you will need a number of loose carabiners for rigging and racking
Gates. Carabiner gates come in solid-bar, that can be either bent or straight, and “wire” designs. Bent gates form a cradle
that makes clipping the rope easier, and are used exclusively on the bottom end of quickdraws. Wire gate, because of their flat surface, are also inherently
easier to clip, open wider, and weigh less than solid-bar gates. On the safety side, a wire-gate doesn’t give up any strength, and, since the wire
has less mass than a bar, is less likely to whiplash open, a phenomenon that can occur when a carabiner vibrates or smacks against the rock in a fall.
In short, wire-gates are better mousetraps. For that reason, some quickdraws have wire-gate carabiners on both ends.
Locking carabiners. In situations where a carabiner absolutely must stay clipped, such as connecting a belay/rappel device
to your harness and the power-point to an anchor, always use a locking carabiner. There are two types: auto- lock and screw-gate. Auto-lock carabiners
have a spring-activated gate that locks itself whenever the gate snaps closed, a handy feature for the absent-minded among us. Self-locking carabiners,
however, while convenient, can jam up with grit and fail to lock. Keep them clean. Screw-gate carabiners require that you manually screw a collar over
the gate to lock it. The main advantage of this carabiner is that once you screw down the gate, you know for certain it is locked. The disadvantage
is that you can forget to lock it, or it can lock up too tightly to undo.
Be aware that carabiners may “cross load,” meaning they can turn sideways, allowing a rope or belay device, bolt hanger, or piece of gear to load on the
carabiner’s weakest point, the gate. Carabiners can break when they are loaded across their gates. For safety reasons, some locking carabiners are
designed specifically for belaying and rappelling by having either a cross bar or sleeve, often plastic, or some form of capture mechanism that traps
the rope in place and keeps it off the gate—a great idea.
SLINGS: RUNNERS AND QUICKDRAWS
There are two types of slings: runners and quickdraws. You’ll need both when climbing outside.
Runners are open-loop slings used mostly as extensions clipped to the wired nuts and cams, helping to prevent them from
being jostled out of place by the tugging action of the rope. Runners come in many lengths. Over-the-shoulder runners are the most useful; if you need
shorter ones, simply double over the longer ones. The number of runners you need depends on the climb. Six may suffice for short routes, while you
might need a dozen on a full-ropelength pitch. If you’re planning to set up natural anchors outside, invest in several longer-length runners.
Quickdraws, or “draws,” are short—four- to six-inch-long—runners stitched into a solid bar, with a carabiner
on either end. Quickdraws are mostly used to clip bolts on sport routes, but you can also use them as mini-runners on cams and nuts when a long runner
isn’t needed. In areas where the cracks run vertically, such as Indian Creek, Utah, quickdraws are more useful and easier to use than runners. For
straightforward sport climbing, it is often most economical to purchase quickdraw packages, which can have six per pack. Buy in bulk and save.
LEAD GEAR IN THE GYM
Most gyms offer lead walls, and these will almost always have fixed draws— no quickdraws necessary. You don’t need to build a rack if you’re going
to be spending most of your time under the lights—reevaluate your protection needs when you venture outside.
Check out Rock and Ice's carabiner and quickdraw reviews.