Petzl Spirit Express $20.95 (12 cm draw), $21.95 (17 cm draw)
After using draws that are hard to clip and tend to nosehook on the rope, I was overjoyed by the Spirit Express. This is one of the best draws I’ve used and maybe THE best. I initially thought that the bar-stock bent gate instead of a hipper wire-gate biner for the rope-clip end was quaint and maybe a mistake, but the outside of the gate has been flattened to give a wire-gate effect, and the arm of the carabiner under the gate drops steeply so the rope lands deep in the basket first try. This gate, like the one on the top (bolt-clip) carabiner is a keylock and one of the better designs. The nose is narrow and almost pointed so it slips through just about anything you’d want to slip it through without snagging or wrestling.
Gate action is snappy. I’ve gotten these carabiners really dirty and the dust hasn’t caused the gates to hang open, a common problem with soft-gate carabiners, and wire-gates especially. The gate isn’t so stiff it is hard to clip, though, and it makes a reassuring SNAP sound that verifies that it is indeed closed.
The sewn part of the draw comes in 12- or 17-cm lengths. I prefer the 12s when the bolts are in a straight line, but for clipping gear or bolts on meandering sport routes I lean toward the 17-cm draws. If I could just get one length, I’d make it the 17.
A rubber basket holds the bottom carabiner firmly in place and the loop on the top carabiner is loose enough to let the draw move around, but isn’t so loose the carabiner is always getting flipped when it is racked or you are handling it.
The draw has an fumble-resistant stiffness that I like, and the sling is wider at the bottom than the top, making a nice gripping handle for pulling through bolt-to-bolt.
Weight is middling. At about 100 grams for the 17-cm and 93 grams for the 12-cm version, these draws aren’t featherlight. They are solid, beefy draws that can take a lot of wear and tear. They are especially durable for temporarily fixing on projects: Their thick H-frame construction lets them tolerate bolt hangers and they are kind to your rope. The Spirit Express does cost about $6 more than other draws in the same class, such as the Black Diamond Positron. Think of them as lifetime investments.
23kN major axis
8kN minor axis
9 kN gate open