Best Quickdraws: The Top 5 of 2018
|Top Pick: Petzl Spirit Express||$$$|
|Best Value: Black Diamond FreeWire||$$|
|Budget Buy: Mad Rock Concorde Express||$|
|Best for Beginners: Petzl Djinn Axess||$$|
|Best for Trad Climbing: Wild Country Helium 2||$$$|
There are so many options. They all have different lengths, sizes, weights. Different types of gates. Different uses.
Well, I’m here to help you out. I spent hours (literally) researching quickdraws, and then I separated the wheat from the chaff. I’ve narrowed all the options down to the five best quickdraws available today.
Now, let me be clear, these quickdraws aren’t all the “best” in terms of one set of criteria.
As you’ll see, I have chosen the best draws for a variety of situations and climbing styles. Whether you’re a beginner, trad climber, or single-pitch monster, you’ll find your perfect draw.
Let’s dive right in!
Table of Contents
Top Pick: Petzl Spirit Express
Most of you will probably be using your draws in situations where you don’t have to worry too much about weight. In situations like those, there is no better quickdraw than the Petzl Spirit Express.
The Spirit Express is a workhorse draw. It’s solid, well-made, and handles wear and dirt well. It uses a keylock gate, but is still easy to clip. It won’t snag on your climbing rope that often, either.
The main downside of the Spirit Express is its price. It is one of the more expensive draws on the list. However, this draw last a long time and — in the long run — is worth the higher price.
The extra durability makes the Spirit Express a heavier draw. At 93 grams (3.2 oz) for the 12 cm version, the Spirit Express is over three times heavier than ultra-lightweight draws such as the Black Diamond Oz. But, like I said, if rack weight isn’t a major concern for you, there is no better option.
Sport climbers will love this draw, especially those who do shorter routes. Trad climbers and multi-pitch fanatics should look towards lighter draws that keep rack weight low.
The Spirit Express comes in two lengths: 12 cm and 17 cm.
Best Value: Black Diamond FreeWire
A climber looking for the best quickdraw for the money should look no further.
The Black Diamond FreeWire is a solid and well-rounded draw that retails for an affordable price for both the 12 cm and 18 cm versions. It’s an impressive mixture of quality and affordability.
The FreeWire isn’t the lightest quickdraw on the market (12 cm version = 100 grams; 18 cm version = 103 grams), but — like our Top Pick — it will work for any climbing discipline except those that demand extreme rack weight management.
If rack weight isn’t your top purchasing criterion, you couldn’t go wrong with the FreeWire.
As for product specs, the FreeWire comes with two wiregate carabiners that are easy to clip. Since the hooks aren’t covered, the draws are capable of snagging on your rope or gear. The dogbone is made of a durable polyester.
Budget Buy: Mad Rock Concorde Express
The Mad Rock Concorde Express — besides actually being a well-made quickdraw — is one hell of a good deal.
Go for the six-pack deal and you’ll get an incredible per-draw price.
Other six-packs of draws sell for two to three times as much. You could buy 12 draws for the price you’d normally spend for six! For that reason, they’re ideal for the dirtbag or budget-conscious climber.
What’s more, the Concorde Express is a surprisingly high-quality quickdraw. It comes with two lightweight, wiregate carabiners that can withstand lots of use.
It weighs 87 grams (about 3 ounces) so, like the other two draws already mentioned, it’s ideal for single-pitch sport climbers or any climbers who aren’t worrying about rack weight.
The wiregate carabiners share the could-snag-on-your-rope problem that is shared amongst most wiregate carabiners. They are also a little on the small side, so folks with big hands might have a little trouble clipping and unclipping.
The dogbones are a little short, too (about 10.5 cm), so these draws aren’t perfect for wandering routes or when you need a long draw.
Best for Beginners: Petzl Djinn Axess
If you’re looking for a good ‘beginner’ quickdraw, I’m going to make some assumptions about you.
- You want a draw which is a mixture of quality and affordability
- You want a draw which is easy to clip and unclip
- You want something that just works
- You will mostly be using your draws for single-pitch sport climbing
If you fit most of these assumptions, get excited, ’cause the Petzl Djinn Axess is for you.
Despite being designed for beginners, the Djinn Axess is such a quality draw that it has wooed some climbers away from our Top Pick, the Spirit Express. It comes with a beginner-friendly price tag, too.
That might be the only ‘beginner’ aspect about it, though.
Clipping and unclipping the Djinn Axess is a breeze. The carabiners are nice and large so even people with big hands will have little trouble. The carabiners also have keylock gates, meaning they won’t snag on your rope.
These draws are sturdy and will last you a long time. Their sturdiness makes them the heaviest draws on this list (3.2 for the 12 cm version, 3.7 oz for the 17 cm version), but — if you’re doing mostly single-pitch sport climbing — the extra weight will be unnoticeable.
Best for Trad Climbing: Wild Country Helium 2
Dedicated trad climbers tend to be focused on minimizing rack weight. Because of that, the best trad quickdraws are all lightweight.
The Helium 2 is no exception. It is the lightest quickdraw on the list. The 10 cm version weighs just 73 grams (2.6 oz). The 15 cm version is a single gram heavier, and the 20 cm version a single gram heavier than that (74 and 75 grams, respectively).
The weight alone makes the Helium 2 a top option for trad or multi-pitch (or big wall) climbers.
The Helium 2 comes with two wiregate carabiners to help keep overall weight to a minimum. However, unlike the other wiregate ‘biners on the list, the carabiners have small hoods that cover the hook. Unclipping with the Helium 2 is a cinch as a result. No rope snag here.
The main downside to the Helium 2 is its price. It is the most expensive draw on the list
At the time of writing, it’s almost three times the price of our Budget Buy option. But hey, if you want a great lightweight quickdraw, you probably already knew you were going to have to dish out some dough.
How to Choose the Best Quickdraws for Your Needs
None of the above options strike your fancy?
The five quickdraws listed in this article are all great picks. All will work well for the styles of climbing for which they were designed. Heck, they’ll work well for any style of climbing.
If you’d like to instead do your own research into quickdraws, though, understand that you need to keep in mind some important criteria before purchasing.
Below are some of the things to pay attention to when buying your own draws.
Nowadays, there are two main types of gates on the carabiners of quickdraws:
- Keylock gates
Keylock gates are the gates you think of when you think of a normal carabiner. They are made of a solid piece of metal. Wiregates, on the other hand, are made of a thin piece of looped wire.
Gate style could be a matter of personal preference or practicality. Let’s investigate the differences.
Wiregate quickdraws tend to have exposed hooks that can snag on your climbing rope. However, wiregate draws are lighter and thus better in situations where you are trying to minimize rack weight, such as trad or multi-pitch climbing.
Keylock gates tend to be stronger than wiregates. They make better ‘workhorse’ draws. What’s more, the accompanying carabiners don’t snag as easily (or at all, really) on your rope or gear since they have no exposed hook.
Some good news: new quickdraw models are coming out with wiregate carabiners whose hook is covered, essentially eliminating the chance of snags (e.g. the Helium 2). Those looking for lightweight, easy-to-clip draws now have some options.
Length, Size, & Weight
When considering which quickdraws to buy, it pays to first consider what type of climbing you’ll be using them for. Thinking backwards like this can help you decide on draws of a good length, size, and weight.
For sport climbing fanatics, think about how long the routes you climb are. If they’re shorter, single-pitch routes, you likely don’t need to worry about your rack weight. You can get away with using larger, heavier draws that are easier to clip.
Trad and multi-pitch climbers are different. These groups tend to need to minimize rack weight. If this is you, look at smaller, lighter draws. They will be harder to clip, but they’ll shave pounds off of your pack weight.
Safety first, right? Well, this criterion isn’t first because many of the quickdraws available for sale in the US are already CE certified or built to comparable strength standards.
However, you should double check that the draws you’re interested in buying are strong enough. CE certification is a good start, but it isn’t always foolproof or necessary. Going with reputable brands or consulting the helps of store associates (if buying in person) can also help you ensure you’re getting a good product.
Discussing specific strength requirements for quickdraws is beyond the scope of this article. However, understand that — if you’re looking into buying your own draws — it is always worthwhile to consider strength before purchasing.
Photo Credit: Amazon