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Climbing Mountaineering Reviews

Review of The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Choosing the right climbing gear is all about safety, comfort, and functionality. This is especially true with climbing harnesses, which are the main equipment that will keep you from getting into serious trouble during one of your climbs, regardless of what discipline you’re into. This list will give you an idea of what climbing harnesses to consider, depending on your inclination. Remember that these harnesses all passed safety regulations and are all safe to use. It is also good to know that the price of these brands varies from one store to another, so it’s best to leave it out and focus instead on their respective features and purposes. Here are fifteen of the best climbing harnesses in 2020m we reviewed them for you in this article! We also give you some quick specifications and cool features, as well as a recommendation which area of rock sports the harness is most suitable for.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Arc’teryx FL-365

Specs:
Weight: 12.9 oz
Leg loops: Fixed, elastic
Gear loops: 4 with 1 extra loop (extra gear loop or haul loop)
Ice clipper slots: 4
Safe locking buckle: Yes
Waste Belt/Leg Loops Construction: Warp Strength Technology

Features:
• All-rounder
• Very comfortable
• Good storage
• Compact, lightweight and durable

Best for:
• Overall use
• Trad, alpine or sport climbing

More than just being fast and light, the Arc’teryx FL-365 has unparalleled versatility. Thanks to its unique webbing called Warp Strength Technology, which simultaneously disperses body weight throughout the waist and leg loops and gives a high degree of support, sans the bulky padding. Moves with the body while walking.

It comes with a waist auto-locking buckle, a rear hook to allow drop-seat functionality, and stretchable legs loops to fit any body type. Four gear loops and another four ice clipper slots are making sure that this harness could take on any type of route, whether you’re into trad, alpine, or sport climbing. This compact and lightweight harness is one of the more expensive brands in the market, but its durability and all-around high performance are worth your money. When it comes to overall usability, Arc’teryx FL-365 leads the pack.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Petzl Sitta

Specs:
Weight: 9.5 oz
Leg loops: Fixed, elastic
Gear loops: 4
Haul loops: Yes
Ice clipper slots: 2
Safe locking buckle: Yes
Waste Belt/Leg Loops Construction: WireFrame Technology

Features:
• Versatile
• Very lightweight and very compact
• High strength and durability despite its weight

Best for:
• Intensive lightweight climbs
• Sport, alpine

Originally designed for very light climbing and mountaineering, Petzl Sitta is not that versatile compared to Arc’teryx FL-365, but there is no doubt, this harness sits at the top of its class. What makes a Petzl Sitta special is its WireFrame Technology that uses strong flat-lying Spectra strands instead of foam padding to make it a near-weightless harness but still, highly durable and comfortable. Surprisingly, the Petzl Sitta it gives a good deal of hanging comfort. No restriction on movement whatsoever, regardless of how much a climber is wearing.

It has separated gear loops, leg loop height adjuster, and a rear haul loop to make it perfect for alpine and sport climbing. The Sitta has two ice clipper slots on both sides. Despite its low profile, this harness has a lot of space to accommodate all the gear you need to rack, and the gear loops are big and come with a space giving the device to help sort and organize your gear.

The Sitta is extremely lightweight and compact, and if every ounce is accounted for in your climbing adventures, this harness is one of the best there is that gives you those qualities if you’re willing to spend a little bit more.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Black Diamond Big Gun

Specs:
Weight: 23 oz
Leg loops: Adjustable and removable
Gear loops: 7
Haul loops: Yes, 2 rated

Features:
• Comfortable with excellent padding
• Very Durable
• Extra gear loops for tools

Best for:
• Big wall climbing

When it comes to big wall action, the Black Diamond Big Gun is a comfortable climbing harness for climbers to own and use. It has a wide waistbelt and leg loops to help you spread weight comfortably, especially during long periods of hanging. A material called thermoformed foam shapes the waistbelt and added comfort to the user. Its trad buckles make movements easier and a lot faster.

The Black Diamond Big Gun provides seven color-coded gear loops to give you plenty of room for gear racks and tools and is very durable. Its padding system is designed for hours or days of comfortable sitting during your big wall climbing adventures. Even with its bulk, the Big Gun offers freedom of movement and is a great climbing harness for those projecting on big walls, but not if you’re planning to go fast and light.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Black Diamond Solution

Specs:
Weight: 12.3 oz
Leg loops: Fixed, elastic
Gear loops: 4
Haul loops: Yes
Safe locking buckle: Yes
Waste Belt/Leg Loops Construction: Fusion Comfort Construction

Features:
• Excellent comfort with breathable and quick-drying mesh
• Lightweight and slender
• Budget-friendly

Best for:
• Sport climbing and basic gym and needs

One of the more comfortable and affordable climbing harnesses around, the Black Diamond Solution gives a comfortable climbing experience, due to its use of Fusion Comfort Technology that avoids excessive padding and employs the use of unique webbing instead. As a result, its waist belt and leg loops efficiently spread the pressure during belaying or hanging in the harness.

The Solution’s has four gear loops that are somewhat small to accommodate gear for long free routes but are ideal for basic gym and sport climbing needs. If you’re wearing this harness while standing around, you’ll notice how comfortable and snugly it fits. If you’re looking for simple set-up and an all-around harness or  gym climbing equipment, the Solution is perfect for you.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Camp USA Air CR EVO

Specs:
Weight: 12.3 oz
Leg loops: Adjustable
Gear loops: 4
Ice clipper slots: Yes
Safe locking buckle: Yes

Features:
• Ultralight
• Very compact
• Upgraded padding
• Breathable mesh

Best for:
• Lightweight rock or snow mountaineering

The Camp USA Air CR EVO is ideal for traveling light in the mountains, is one of the lightest and most compact specialty harnesses available on the market. Although simple and minimalistic, the Camp Air boasts of upgraded padding for comfort and durability.

Important features like four gear loops, self-locking buckle, haul loop, attachment for ice clipper slots, adjustable leg loops were not left out. This harness may not be suited for every day climbing, but if you’re planning to make long mountaineering adventures without the bulky gear, the Camp Air could present itself a good option.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Black Diamond Technician

Specs:
Weight: 13.8 oz
Leg loops: Adjustable
Gear loops: 5
Haul loops: Yes
Ice clipper slots: 4
Safe locking buckle: Yes
Waste Belt/Leg Loops Construction: Fusion Comfort Construction

Features:
• Versatile
• Plenty of gear storage
• Affordable

Best for:
• Winter or summer climbing

The Black Diamond Technician is a versatile harness that performs admirably well at all climbing styles. Although, Black Diamond’s use of its Fusion Comfort Construction didn’t exactly hit the spot with the Technician due to some rigidness issues with its waist belt and leg loops. Hanging comfort in the Technician seems a bit less compared to the Black Diamond Solution, as well as when walking around with it.
With a large fifth gear loop on the back along with four rigid gear loops on its side, the Technician could carry more load considering its reasonable price, and this is its saving grace. Overall, this harness can be considered a bargain if you look at other versatile all-season harnesses’ steep price.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Beal Rebel Soft

Specs:
Weight: 12.1 oz
Leg loops: Adjustable
Gear loops: 4
Safe locking buckle: Yes
Waste Belt/Leg Loops Construction: Web Core Technology

Features:
• Lightweight
• Compact
• Affordable

Best for:
• Sport climbing

The Beal Rebel Soft was designed to be lightweight and compact. It uses Web Core technology to distribute the weight along the arms and legs; that result is a relaxed fit to make moving the hands and feet easy. This harness has limited versatility since it can’t hold a lot of gear.

This harness features two waist belt buckles that have the purpose of adjusting the fit and centering the waist belt on the wearer’s back. The Rebel Soft has no haul loop, rear gear loops, large gear loops, or ice clipper attachment points that are essential if you’re going to do trad climbing. However, these gear loops are contoured and are effective to carry only so much load. This reasonably affordable harness is worthwhile to consider when you’re going to do some sport climbing. The other worthwhile feature of this harness is its weight and compactness.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Edeldrid Orion

Specs:
Weight: 14.6 oz
Leg loops: Adjustable
Gear loops: 4
Haul loop: Yes
Ice clipper slots: Yes
Waste Belt/Leg Loops Construction: 3D-Vent Technology

Features:
• Very comfortable
• Breathable
• Lightweight and durable
• Wide gear loops

Best for:
• Warm weather climbing

With 3D-Vent Technology, the Edeldrid Orion leveled up in terms of comfort and breathability, and together with this harness’ lightness and durability, the Orion is ideal for long climbing sessions. However, the exposed webbing is prone to abrasion and could compromise this harness’ durability over time.

The Orion’s features include adjustable buckles on the waist belt and the leg loops. Its four gear loops are asymmetric in design and protruding and are easy to use. This harness also has attachment points for ice clippers and a small haul loop. Considering all these factors, the Orion is one of the more expensive harnesses around. You have to weigh the benefits against its price before investing in this harness.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Mammut Ophir 3 Slide

Specs:
Weight: 13 oz
Leg loops: Adjustable
Gear loops: 4
Haul loop: Yes
Waste Belt/Leg Loops Construction: Two-Part Webbing Technology

Features:
• Breathable Mesh
• Comfortable Padding
• Affordable

Best for:
• Light and fast climbs

The Mammut Ophir 3 Slide is affordable with decent features that could be ideal for a trad and sport climbing harness. It uses semi-breathable double webbing technology and makes this harness comfortable and less sticky; this gives a relative comfort while hanging. Climbers could move freely using this harness.

This harness is a great option if you’re buying a harness for your first few climbs, as it works great at the gym or for a single pitch cragging. The Ophir is a good all-around harness with a drop-seat buckle, haul loop, and adjustable leg-loops. However, the Ophir lacks ice clipper slots, thus limiting its use and versatility. It also includes abrasion indicators to let you know when it’s time to buy a new one, which is a great feature since Mammut used thin foam in making this harness. Overall, the Ophir performs on a high level for a budget harness.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Black Diamond Solution Guide

Specs:
Weight: 14.1 oz
Leg loops: Unadjustable, elastic
Gear loops: 5
Haul loop: Yes
Safe locking buckle: Yes
Waste Belt/Leg Loops Construction: Super Fabric

Features:
• Versatile
• Very comfortable
• Durable

Best for:
• Multi-pitch rock climbs

The Solution Guide is regarded as the top harness for trad and multi-pitch climbing because it excels in gear carrying capacity, hanging comfort and durability and is versatile enough for sport or gym climbing. Black Diamond used ultra-durable super fabric and made this harness capable of taking a lot of wear and tear. The Solution Guide employs Fusion Comfort Technology in its waist belt and leg loops and has almost no thick padding. The comfort is almost unmatched by any harness in the market. Weight is evenly dispersed, and a climber remains comfortable even when hanging in this harness.
Its very low-profile design includes five easy to use gear loops. Two are found on its side, while the fifth gear loop is located at the back of the Solution Guide. There are a couple of things that prevent this harness from being perfect. First is its adjustable leg loops, which somewhat hinder belaying comfort. Secondly is its unrated haul loop. It lessens overall confidence in the Solution Guide to hold a fall. Other than these, the Solution Guide works beautifully.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Metolius Safe Tech Deluxe

Specs:
Weight: 20 oz
Leg loops: Adjustable
Gear loops: 4
Haul loop: Yes
Safe locking buckle: Yes
Waste Belt/Leg Loops Construction: Foam

Features:
• Very comfortable
• Very safe
• Very durable
• Fully strength-rated

Best for:
• Trad and all-day, multi-pitch climbs

The Metolius Safe Tech Deluxe has been available to trad climbers for years, and they know what this harness stands for – safety. Even the most experienced and careful climbers can make a mistake, that is why the big and heavy Metolius Safe Tech Deluxe focused on its safety features, which includes dual belay loops for double security and reinforced long-wearing tie-in point. This harness is part of Metolius’ Safe Tech line, making the materials fully strength-rated and provides superior comfort even when worn all-day, its shaped foam offers maximum support to the lower back. The Safe Tech Deluxe provides a level of safety. No other harness could match. If there ever is a bombproof harness, this is it.

With all these being said, the Safe Tech Deluxe has limited use, despite its makers claim that it is an all-around harness. In reality, the Safe Tech Deluxe is best used in long multi-pitch climbs, where climbers do a lot of hanging in their harnesses.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Black Diamond Momentum

Specs:
Weight: 11.9 oz
Leg loops: Adjustable
Gear loops: 4
Haul loop: Yes
Safe locking buckle: Yes
Waste Belt/Leg Loops Construction: Dual Core

Features:
• Very affordable
• Easily adjustable leg loops
• Good level of comfort despite its price

Best for:
• Gym and all-day routes

Despite being affordable, the Momentum competes with more expensive climbing harness in terms of comfort and durability. Black Diamond employs Dual Core Construction in making its waist belt, which essentially, two strips of webbing that were placed to distribute weight and padded with heavy foam.

The Momentum’s best feature would be its Trak Fit adjustable leg loops, which are the fastest and easiest ones to adjust in the market. This harness uses sliding plastic adjusters instead of buckles that only take a second per leg to adjust. The Momentum has a haul loop and laminated plastic gear loops that are rigid and are relatively small, which makes the Momentum not that versatile. However, due to its affordability, the Momentum is well-liked by new climbers cragging at local cliffs or training in gyms.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Petzl Sama

Specs:
Weight: 13.7 oz
Leg loops: Unadjustable, elastic
Gear loops: 4
Haul loop: Yes
Safe locking buckle: Yes
Waste Belt/Leg Loops Construction: EndoFrame Technology

Features:
• Very comfortable
• High-quality construction
• Affordable

Best for:
• Rock climbing

Many regards the Petzl Sama, as the best all-around climbing harness that a climber could own, and it seems, that they are not wrong. Petzl utilized a mix of split webbing and foam that resulted in a well-padded and durable harness. Despite being heavier than some of its competitors, the Sama is, at the same time, more durable and comfortable.

Its features include large gear loops, and a rated haul loop is ideal for long free routes and trad climbing. You could do some gym climbing as well, thanks to its fixed leg loop harness, that is elasticized but with a larger and looser fit. Both the Sama and the Petzl Adjama used Endoframe Technology in the waist belt and leg loops, to provide comfort.

The Sama has a great carrying capacity for added versatility. Hanging on a Sama is comparable to the best harnesses around, due to its restructured leg loops, weight is well distributed across the legs. The waist belt provides reasonable support to the lower back. This harness is one of the most versatile harnesses for rock climbing and is definitely worth its price.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Misty Mountain Cadillac

Specs:
Weight: 18.7 oz
Leg loops: Adjustable
Gear loops: 6
Haul loop: Yes
Safe locking buckle: Yes
Waste Belt/Leg Loops Construction: Foam

Features:
• Comfortable
• Hand-made
• Very durable

Best for:
• Big wall climbing

Make no mistake about it. The Misty Mountain Cadillac is a specialty climbing harness. If you’re into trad, multi-pitch, and aid climbing, then this harness is worthy of your consideration. Made by a small company with a long history of handcrafting harnesses and sewing climbing gear, the Cadillac is extremely well built.

Featuring a total of six gear loops, this harness has all the space you need for multi-pitch climbing, still with extra space to spare. Its full-strength haul loop is an essential security measure, just in case you need it two ropes for descending. The Cadillac’s padding gives its user a significant amount of comfort and allows great freedom of movement. If you’re getting the urge to own a fantastic multi-functional harness, the Cadillac is the harness you’re looking for.

The Best Climbing Harness of 2020

Petzl Adjama

Specs:
Weight: 15.8 oz
Leg loops: Adjustable
Gear loops: 5
Haul loop: Yes
Safe locking buckle: Yes
Waste Belt/Leg Loops Construction: EndoFrame Technology

Features:
• Comfortable
• Affordable
• Functional features allowing versatility

Best for:
• Multi-pitch climbing

You will find the Petzl Adjama, as one of the more comfortable harnesses to use for hanging, thanks to its EndoFrame Technology used by Petzl harnesses, which is basically the use of thin breathable foam paddings. This harness combines comfort and gear carrying capacity, the two most essential parts of any harness intended for trad or multi-pitch climbing.

It is featuring adjustable leg loops that buckle into place and a waist belt that doesn’t loosen, five gear loops, and an additional haul loop for a tag line. Petzl also released its specialized ice clippers to be used with the Adjama without the need for ice clipper slots. With these features, Adjama fills a lot of needs when you’re doing a variety of climbing. This harness offers great value for its price.

Conclusion

Climbing as an outdoor or indoor activity has real risks. That is why looking at some of these harnesses could help experienced and future climbers, make the right choice. It is a very challenging task, and everyone should evaluate their strengths, as well as their weaknesses. It helps to do some research to check and re-check information about climbing harnesses to make sure you are getting the facts straight. Safety is the key to enjoy climbing and mountaineering, and a good harness helps a lot!

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Categories
Mountaineering Reviews

Best Light Mountaineering Boots – The Top Models of 2020

Suitable for climbing and conditionally crampon proof, comfortable, robust, and as light as possible: The expectations of all-round light mountaineering boots are high. We have tested 5 light mountaineering boots.

Qualities of a good  light mountaineering boot

When it comes to combining comfort with climbing performance in high alpine terrain, on snow, ice, and in combined climbing with crampons, the demands on mountaineering boots are high. Especially since the ascent to these regions of rock and ice also needs to be done with pleasure and without blisters.

A completely stiff sole designed for fully automatic crampons greatly impairs walking comfort on meadows and paths, which is why we have only tested “conditionally crampon-resistant” boots with a stiff but not rigid sole for crampon fastening with basket and rocker. This is not the right choice for a WI6 icefall, for glacier tours, classic ice walls, pimple-hard, steep snowfields – and with rigid crampons also for moderate combined climbing, all the more so.

This is how we have tested: Criteria and terrain

Weight and freedom of movement were taken into account, both when climbing and walking. We tested the walking comfort on paths, meadows, rugged terrain, and scree, on steep ascents and descents as well as crossings. Then we also took a close look at the details, whether it was a practical tightening loop on the shaft or a functional fixing eyelet to be able to lace up the boot in a measured way. And we have tested the climbing suitability on high alpine climbs in rock, ice and snow: on the Monviso East Ridge, in the Maritime Alps, in the Basodino Group and on other high alpine peaks – from spring until the editorial deadline at the end of September.

The five mountaineering boot models in detail (with technical data & individual evaluation)

 

Best Light Mountaineering Boots - The Top Models of 2020

Asolo Freney Mid GV light mountaineering boots

The Freney Mid GV offers the best forefoot fixation in the test field. A slim, flat toe box and the effective cross lacing on the simple but fine fixation hook make it possible. The climbing performance on rock gets very precise, and thanks to the relatively soft sole in the front, also sensitive. The support for the calves is still good, as is the use of crampons. Thanks to the sensible loop, it is easy to get in.

Rating Asolo Freney Mid GV:

Climbing: 5/5

Comfort: 4/5

Details: 5/5

Construction: Schoeller K-Tech & Microfibre, Gore-Tex Performance Comfort Footwear, Sole: Vibram Mulaz

Fit: flat, slim forefoot, strong contouring; turns out very small

Sizes/Colours: Men: UK 6.5-12.5, black/red/silver; no women’s model

Weight: 1255 grams (pair, UK 8.5)

Price: 280$

Conclusion

The climbing professional: robust, precise, with plenty of room to move in the joint and, on top of that, decent walking comfort.

Best Light Mountaineering Boots - The Top Models of 2020

La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX light mountaineering boots

A soft, well rolling sole provides a lot of walking comfort on any surface, cushioning and padding are excellent. Unfortunately, the advantages of the flat toe box do not come into their own when climbing, because the forefoot cannot be firmly fixed in place due to the poorly metered lacing. In combination with the rather soft sole, the start is, therefore, relatively power-intensive and spongy.

Rating La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX mountaineering boots
Climbing: 3/5

Comfort: 5/5

Details: 3/5

Construction: ThermoTech Injection fabric, Gore-Tex Performance Comfort, Sole: La Sportiva Cube by Vibram

Fit: very flat forefoot, little contouring; falls out normally

Sizes/Colours: Men: 38-48, pumpkin, black/yellow; Women: 36-43, aqua/opal

Weight: 1224 grams (pair, men 42)

Price: 270$

Conclusion

Solid, comfortable hiking and light mountaineering boots, but more for meadows, scree, and glaciers than for climbing.

Best Light Mountaineering Boots - The Top Models of 2020

Lowa Alpine SL GTX light mountaineering boots

The lightest model in the test field has the highest toe box. In addition, there is a lacing with fixation function. The laces may rub against the deep draw hook above. The sole is the second stiffest. The calf support is good when climbing. However, you have to fight against foot rotation. In general, the fit is a bit spongy, also because of the slight contouring of the shaft. Climbing with crampons is great for this.

Lowa Alpine SL GTX Rating
Climbing: 4/5

Comfort: 3/5

Details: 4/5

Construction: Synthetic with injected PU scree protection, Gore-Tex lining, Sole: Vibram Alp Trac SL

Fit: relatively high toe box and relatively wide, hardly any contouring; turns out big

Sizes/Colours: Men: UK 6-13, orange/black; not for women

Weight: 1198 grams (pair, UK 8)

Price: 400$

Conclusion

Quite expensive lightweight, which must fit the foot. Then it is a solid companion for rough, rock, and ice.

Best Light Mountaineering Boots - The Top Models of 2020

Mammoth Kento High GTXlight mountaineering boots

Once inside (no loop on the shaft), the Kento High GTX receives the forefoot with a slim, flat toe box. Even without a fixation eyelet, the lacing can be dosed properly, but it can rub the ankle. The stiffest sole in the field and the good grip provide the best support when climbing and the best crampon performance compared to the five models, but also the lowest sensitivity.

Mammoth Kento High GTX Rating:
Climbing: 4/5

Comfort: 3/5

Details: 4/5

Construction: Nubuck leather & softshell, Gore-Tex Performance Comfort, Sole: Michelin Alpine Lite 3970

Fit: slim, flat forefoot, little contouring; turns out small

Sizes/Colours: Men: 40 – 48 2/3, 3 colours; Women: 36 2/3 – 42 2/3, 2 colours

Weight: 1364 grams (pair, men 42)

Price: 230$

Conclusion

A stiff boot that can save weak calves from bursting. But it is not the most sensitive and comfortable.

Best Light Mountaineering Boots - The Top Models of 2020

Scarpa Ribelle Lite OD light mountaineering boots

Thanks to the well-positioned loop, the entry is smooth and supple, and a pleasantly padded and contoured lining awaits you inside. The walking comfort is accordingly praiseworthy. The shoe can also be laced to suit requirements without a fixing eyelet, but despite good fixation, slight foot rotation cannot be completely avoided. The transmission of force to small steps is still neat but good with crampons.

Scarpa Ribelle Lite OD Rating:
Climbing: 4/5

Comfort: 5/5

Details: 4/5

Construction: Scarpa Sock-Fit-XT with Tech Fabric, Microtech and Outdry membrane, Sole: Vibram Mont

Fit: normal, medium toe box, clear contouring; turns out normal

Sizes/Colours: Men: 40-48, tonic/black; Women: 37-42, ceramic/black

Weight: 1279 grams (pair, men 42)

Price: 320$

Conclusion

Robust mountaineering boot that offers a successful compromise between climbing and comfort.

Review conclusion

None of the light boots disappointed us. None of them has been able to gain its low weight by significantly reducing its robustness, and despite isolated points of criticism, all of them combine comfort and climbing at a decent level.

Nevertheless, two models have convinced us in particular: the Ribelle Lite OD by Scarpa and the Asolo Freney Mid GV.

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Categories
Climbing Mountaineering Reviews

The Best Climbing Backpacks of 2020

Looking for the best and most reliable backpack for climbing is not a simple task. It doesn’t matter if you are out with colleagues for a few days of cragging or settling in for a bouldering session, you will require the best backpack to efficiently and snugly carry your important accessories or gear. However, how will you know if the backpack in front of you is the best option?

Gone are the days of climbing consisted of swami pants, a hobnailed boot, and weeks spent nailing pitons in granite swaths. Today’s preferences in climbing gear have changed to durability, simplicity as well as careful style, and bags have followed suit.

Juts the most excellent climbing bags, like the ones listed below, can provide that combination of simplicity, lightweight, as well as comfort needed while climbing. A climbing backpack like the harness is an extension of your body and provides the freedom of movement needed while holding precious tools closer to you. Please join us as we review the best backpacks for climbing available on the market. This gives you an assurance that you are buying only the best and most reliable one.

Best Climbing Backpack 2020
Best Climbing Backpack 2020

1. PETZL – Bug Climbing Pack, 18L / 1098 Cubic Inches, Gray: Best Follower Backpack

Key Features

  • Lots of essential features
  • Durable
  • Climbing oriented

If you are searching for a superbly well-featured, well-made climbing backpack, look no further than PETZL bag. It does exceptionally well on the approach as well as the climb and will hold all your gears easily for a long day on the ice or rock. This is the most reliable follow backpack and shines once it used along with another minimalist, light pack.

Best Climbing Backpack 2020

2. Black Diamond Unisex Creek 20-Pack: Ideal for Cragging

Key Features:

  • The front flap is zippered with internal organizer pockets 
  • Top loading style with drawcord closure 
  • Tuck-away rope belt and stowable rain hood which serves as a storage of rope and a helmet 
  • 1200d polyester coated with TPU
  • The flat base keeps this bag standing for fast loading 

If you are into cragging and looking for a backpack to maximize the experience, Black Diamond Unisex Creek 20-Pack is the best option. This is a straightforward crag backpack with the hardiness or haul bags, as well as the versatility of groundbreaking packs to secure the requirements of on-route essentials. This crag bag is made of lightweight and durable nylon. It has a standing shape as well as a top drawstring with comfortable dual purposes shoulder belts as well as waist belt, which include a thermoformed back panel for additional comfort on long climbing. 

Best Climbing Backpack 2020

3. Mammut Trion Pro 50+7: Easy Access Backpack 

Key Features 

  • Detachable 7 L lid to lessen and ease the backpack or just bring a small daypack
  • The external water bottle container 
  • Belt under the lid to keep the rope secure and safe 

This climbing backpack is made by a Swiss Company, so you assured of durability and toughness. This is a perfect backpack for people who enjoy climbing on ice with easy access pockets in many points. It has a zipper on the base of the bag that enables you fast access to bigger gears packed away first, without the need of taking the whole thing out. It is also integrated with side zipper pockets that can accommodate smaller items such as snacks. Thermos and water bottles can be accessed fast once they are kept in the exterior bottle pockets. The Mammut bag comes with a tiny pocket located on the waist belt to store small stuff like keys and cellphones to avoid misplacing. 

It also comes with a zipper pocket at the front, which opens wide enough to hold crampons. For carrying tools, this bag has ice pick tool panels located at the lower portion of the bag, which picks easily to suit into with tabs on its side to keep the handles secure and safe. To lighten or reduce the volume and the load, this climbing bag comes with a detachable lid. And underneath the cover, you will find a cinch belt that can be utilized to secure a cord on top, so you don’t need to store it in the backpack. This is considered the lightest backpack. However, it will keep things organized. 

Best Climbing Backpack 2020

4. Black Diamond Mission 55: Ideal for Ice Climbing 

Key Features 

  • Ice tool attachment 
  • Detachable hip belt 
  • Front crampon pouch 

Black Diamond is a leading provider of tools for climbing, and their latest offering is the Black Diamond Mission 55. This climbing backpack offers climber with the state of the art features needed for a successful and memorable ice climbing. This backpack is made for holding ice tools with the tabs located on the front intended to secure handles. It also equipped with ice pick tip panels located at the bottom to avoid falling off. 

Best Climbing Backpack 2020

5. Arc’teryx Alpha FL 30 Backpack: Best Alpine Backpack

Key Features

  • The tough made back panel offers support and structure at the same time keeping comfortable against your back.
  • Seam-sealed for water resistance
  • The collar is extendable with drawcord for extra capacity
  • Removable, adjustable sternum belt
  • Thermoformed shoulder belt

If you are looking for an alpine backpack, look no further than Arc teryx Alpha FL 30 Backpack. This is fast and ultralight, weather-resistant, alpine strong as well as a sterling example of sophisticated, use specific design. This is made for climbers. There is an intense focus on the realities of moving quickly in alpine settings led to this streamlined, versatile backpack that combines leading edge.

This backpack is made of weather impermeable, extremely tough N400-AC fabric, RollTop closure, and taped seamed combine to keep out elements as well as secure the contents inside. Without extraneous aspects or materials, this bag sheds gram, however, doesn’t sacrifice vital features. It has external bungee attachment secures tools, belay parka, sleeping pad, helmet as well as crampons. A simple belt located at the top ensures a wire, and the exceptional laminated shoulder belt construction provides a comfortable carry without needless weight. There is an external safety pocket where you can store some of your small essentials like keys and hand sanitizers.

Best Climbing Backpack 2020

6. Black Diamond Stone 42: Best Bag for Long Approaches

Key Features

  • Super lightweight framesheet that has back panel for extra comfort
  • Tuck away cushioned shoulder belts as well as a webbing waist belt
  • Full-length zipper access
  • It has a detachable rope tarp with a dimension of 1.2 by 1.5m
  • Dual internal zippered organizer pockets

If you are searching for a backpack ideal for long days climbing or long approaches, look no further than Black Diamond Stone 42 Duffer Backpack. This amazing climbing pack blends all of the conveniences in a climbing backpack with easy access as well as durability of the duffel bag. As a result, Black Diamond Stone 22 is an ideal backpack for long days climbing and long approach many single pitches.

This type of climbing backpack was made keeping in mind the comfort and lightweight. This is integrated with a back cushion panel as well as a super lightweight framesheet to fit your comfortably and snugly. It is also combined with tuck-away cushioned shoulder belts as well as a basic webbing waist belt for better flexibility if you are on the crag.

It has full-length zip and carrying handles that provide stress-free and simple carrying options, and the fastest access to your gears while sorting out is ideal and easy with the integrated dual internal zip pockets. What makes this backpack for climbing exceptionally is the detachable 1.2m by 1.5m rope tarp for extra versatility.

Best Climbing Backpack 2020

7. Black Diamond Bullet 16 Backpack: Offers Lots of Storage Space

Key Features

  • Couture fit for excellent comfort
  • Hydration nose port
  • Durable and tough due to the superior ballistic nylon build.

Aside from being thin and sleek, this backpack for climbing offers lots of storage space as well as toughness. This is a superb all-rounder, which will surely please professional and first-timers’ climbers. Sporting a respectable sixteen-liter capacity, this backpack has external zippered pocket what is more to the main, cushioned one and detachable foam back panel.

It also comes with a 20mm webbing waist belt that can be detached with ease if required. It has a hydration hose port that allows you to drink water regardless of your position, without getting rid of the bag on your shoulders. The integrated straps are made to fit in your without affecting the movement comfortably. The shell is made of high-quality ballistic nylon materials offering sufficient toughness.

Best Climbing Backpack 2020

8. Patagonia Linked 18L: Reliable Backpack for Climbing

Key Features

  • Comfortable
  • Fast access
  • Durable

From climbing to hiking, the company is synonymous with reliability as well as toughness. This backpack for climbing is sturdy, well-made, a climbing-specific backpack that does just as well on your shoulder and back as linked to the end of a haul line. It comes with a tapered build that sits high and close to your contour and is secured with soft but comfortable shoulder belts, while the tough nylon fabric, as well as reinforced haul, handles, make it sufficiently strong to drag up the coarse rock. This pack hangs with ease from the anchor by two loops, which allows it to open extensively and offer fast access without dropping the gears inside. This backpack weighs 3.7 ounces, which is more substantial compared to other models of the same capacities.

Best Climbing Backpack 2020

9. Metolius Crag Station: Cheap Crag Backpack

Key Features

  • 41L capacity
  • Weight 10oz
  • Very durable
  • Cheap

Combining the convenience of duffel bags and carrying comfort of backpacks, this backpack for climbing from Metolius boasts exceptional styles and designs. It zips open wide, so you can easily access the gear inside. It also comes with a reinforced side with Duathane, a similar component utilized on haul bags- to improve durability. However, it just comes with one size suspension system, meaning it will not fit people with small or large builds. What is more, the style does not give access to a u-shaped zipper. There is no padding to give a wall between the sharp gear and your back.

Best Climbing Backpack 2020

10. G4Free 50L Climbing Backpack: Toughest Backpack for Climbing 

Key Features 

  • Los of storage space
  • Waterproof material
  • A rain cover is included.
  • Numerous available small pockets for small gears

If you are one of the many climbers out there searching for a backpack with lots of storage spaces, then G4Free might be the best option. This pack is made of hard and water-resistant nylon materials. This stays its shape no matter what gear you place inside and has lots of additional wallets to store small belongings. Inside the bag is a shoe compartment and sufficient space to keep garments as well as tools for many days. 

There is also a hydration bladder, a rain cover, in order to complement the superb water-resisting features. You will also find waist belt pockets for keys and phones, dual side pockets for tissues and umbrellas, as well as a big zipper pocket for fast access to gears. 

How to Find the Right Climbing Backpack – Your Buying Guide

If you don’t know how to pick the right climbing backpack, or if it is the first time you purchase a backpack, there are many factors you must think of. Picking the right backpack is essential. You carry your backpack during the whole duration of hikes, bet it many days or few hours; it holds all your needs; hence you want to be of the right size, not too small or not excessively big.

Finding a good climbing backpack for your needs requires thorough research, spend some time and spot deals. Here are the essential factors to consider when buying a backpack.

Fit/Comfort

Comfort and fit may be the most vital features to consider when buying a backpack. A lot of backpacks available are integrated with chest straps, waist belts as well as adjustable straps, and this allows you to modify the feel and deal out the weight as best as you can. When choosing a backpack for climbing, make sure to move it around in a loaded backpack prior to heading anywhere near a rock wall, and bring the backpack bag when anything does not feel good.

Stability

This goes along with comfort. How you put the accessories inside your bag will affect the feel of the backpack. However, having bands or belts to loosen or tighten is a feature which expert suggests having if you have a plan of going on a long trip. Your objective will be to have a backpack that not just fits comfortably on your back but does not sway around while you are moving. Therefore, you need to check for the design and well-placed belts when making a choice.

Size and Storage

Different backpacks have different capacities. A crag pack is likely to be bigger as it needs to accommodate more things, while a follower pack is smaller. Pick cautiously prior to setting out, since a bag which is just half-full is annoying and risky to carry on the rock walls. It is advisable to stuff a smaller backpack to its limit, instead of leaving it empty. The dimension has to be balanced to your body, enabling you to move without stress and hindrances and without causing distort.

Durability

A lot of backpacks for climbing are made of nylon materials; however, you have to pay attention to the number next to it to get an idea of its durability. A durable backpack is required for climbing as it often comes in contact with unforgiving thorns as well as sharp rocks. What you must do is to look for ballistic nylon, as it offers superb toughness while keeping the weight low.

Weight

Ounce matter when climbing, and this is the reason why alpine backpacks look simple and plain from the exterior, without outside pockets. As they are made for a particular task, this is made to suit the needs of such a task. However, a crag pack comes with many pockets as well as storage compartments given that it is able to afford to be heavier.

Material

Nylon is an extensively utilized material in backpacks for climbing. It keeps the weight low at the same time offering a good toughness and durability, features which are absolutely required in a piece of climbing accessory. When the nylon is thick, the backpack will be stronger and tougher, so this is what you need to aware of if you need reliability and strength. However, if you opt to agility and speed, you can give to shave off some nylon layers, keeping in mind that extra care is needed.

Support

It is highly advised to pick a bag for climbing, which has sternum belts as well as waist belts. These additional belts initially might seem to get in the way; however, once you know how important in distributing the weight, you will not want to be without these traps. Your back and joints will be saved from pressure, thanks to these sternum belts and waist straps. 

Closing Systems

When purchasing a crag backpack, then you will take pleasure in a bit more freedom in your option of closure systems. The fact that it does not endure alpine bags you can bring one shaped and get pleasure from your time. However, when climbing, you have to stick to backpacks, which have one top opening as it will keep away your gear from falling out when you opt to open your bag while you are hanging.

Exterior Gear

Fastening your accessory to the exterior of your bag can prove dangerous since an excess of tools will begin swinging around and perhaps change your balance. Once you take with a backpack, you must find lots of space, but ensure to fasten only items that you’ll be wearing.

Organization and Pockets

A crag pack features the most choices for organization and sorting out. This bag also comes with an array of side pockets as well as internal pockets that allow you to sort out your belongings neatly. A follower backpack does typically away with lots of pockets since their objective is to be user-friendly and fast to access. You have to keep this difference in your mind so you will not be astounded when perusing in climbing bag reviews.

Hydration Compatibility

A hydration bladder is a matter of choice. Some climbers do not want to hinder with surplus weight or fear that the bladder may get broke. Some take pleasure in having water close all the time, so many backpacks for climbing will have space to accommodate one, and anyone you pick perhaps you will get one.

FAQ

What exactly is a crag backpack?

This is a kind of backpack intended to carry all the required accessories to the base of the wall. Then the pack stays next to one who is holding the belay and normally will be tougher and bigger than other forms of bags or packs.

What is the importance of a backpack for climbing?

A backpack for climbing is an essential fear for those who love going to the mountain to carry the accessories required when climbing, such as water, food, and clothing. If you are a serious climber, you must have this one.

How many types of backpacks for climbing are there?

There are many types of backpacks for climbing available on the market today. You can choose from a follower, alpine as well as crag backpacks. A crag backpack keeps all the needed accessories for your hiking, serves as your portable home for the tools, and is more prominent as well as more cushioned. A follower backpack, on the other hand, is made to be utilized on multi-pitch routes and can accommodate many supplies. An alpine pack withstand both climbing as well as hiking and is a bit bigger compared to the two mentioned and ideal to use when climbing for a few days.

Conclusion

An ideal and reliable backpack for climbing is one of the best and essential pieces of equipment that climbers both skilled and newbie must-have. In this review, we have shown the top ten best choices, the ones which combine lightweight with durability as well as user-friendliness. Follow this guide to make an informed choice and find one that meets your needs and, of course, your budget. Good luck in your search!

Follow our guide to make the best decision and find yourself an excellent ally for those but rewarding days on the rocks.

For more reviews:

Best Crashpad in 2020 for Bouldering

Best Climbing Pants 2020

Best Climbing Helmets 2020

Categories
Bouldering Climbing Mountaineering

Can You Bring Climbing Rope as Carry-On Luggage in an Airplane?

Is it allowed to bring a climbing rope bag on a plane, maybe even as a carry-on item? Since I want to go on a trip overseas and want to bring my climbing gear, I was thinking of carrying my rope inside a backpack. Along with a laptop and other stuff. With all the weird regulations regarding carry-on items, I was not sure if this is actually allowed. And I did some research on Reddit and some climbing forums.

Can You Bring Climbing Rope as Carry-On Luggage in an Airplane? Yes, you can. According to current TSA regulations in 2019, climbing rope and carabiners as well as quickdraw slings and chalk can be carried along on a plane.

Climbing Rope Is Allowed as Carry-On Gear in Airplanes

There is no TSA regulation against climbing rope! You can bring as many feet of rope as you want. Some other climbing gears. TSA regulations usually only forbid items that can be used as weapons. Or somehow can be used to damage the airplane or passengers. A rope is just not dangerous, and there is not much else you can do with it. Except trying to tie someone down – which is unlikely and won’t put the airplane’s safety in jeopardy. It doesn’t matter that the climbing rope is a bit unusual as a carry-on. Sure it will earn you some weird looks from the TSA personnel and maybe even the cabin crew, but that’s not a dealbreaker, right? If you want, go ahead and check the TSAs exact rules, you can find them here.

I once traveled with an oversized hiking backpack and a skateboard as carry-on, and while the cabin crew had a good laugh, there are no regulations or restrictions against this. So go ahead, pack your rope into your cabin bag, it’s allowed, and you’re good to go!

What other gear can you bring on a plane as cabin luggage or carry on?

When we talk about allowed gear as carry on, let’s have a look at some other climbing gear. Climbing rope is okay, as I explained above. But what about other things like crampons, carabiners, chalk and maybe even crash pads? Well, let’s go through the list:

Chalk

Chalk is one of these funny items: It’s perfectly allowed to bring on a plane, but it’s dusty, and usually, I have it in a Ziploc bag. There is no law against it, but make sure to bring the time when you go security: A Ziploc bag full of white powder WILL draw attention to your backpack that you might not want ;-).

Be prepared to do some explaining, but know that you are not doing anything wrong. TSA will be suspicious, but ultimately, they will let you pass as there is no rule against chalk.

Crash Pad / Bouldering Mat as Carry-On or Baggage

Like I said before, if you carry oversized or heavy stuff with you on a plane, costs quickly pile up higher than you can count. A bouldering mat can easily cost you 300$ to carry it two ways, and for that money, it’s usually smarter to buy a bouldering mat or crash pad at your destination, and then sell it when you’re going home.

Example: Buy a decent pad in the shop for 300$, use it for two weeks, sell it for 240$, which is a very fair price for an almost new bouldering pad. That way, two weeks of bouldering with a brand new pad cost you $60, vs. $300 when you bring your own pad from home. That’s a 5x difference, and well worth the hassle to buy a pad and then sell it again if you ask me. You can easily sell a used pad in most climbing stores that sell used gear!

Quickdraws and Carabiners, Nuts, Belay Devices as Carry-On

Hardware that is not sharp, like belaying devices or nuts and cams, but also quickdraws, are allowed as a carry-on and also in your checked baggage. However, keep in mind, most TSA personnel doesn’t know anything about rock climbing or mountaineering and expect them to be suspicious and give you an extra pad down.

As soon as they don’t know an item, they will single you out and give you some extra “love,” after all it’s their job to be suspicious!

Soft Goods – Slings, Ropes, Harness, Shoes, Clothes

All these items are fine to carry inside your cabin luggage or checked baggage. Most airlines will even allow you to stow these items in the overhead compartments. You’re free to bring as many shoes and harnesses etc. as you want, but keep in mind that you have a maximum capacity for cabin luggage.  Weight and size are limited to most around 10 kg (22 pounds) and the size of a small suitcase or backpack.

Personal Protection like Helmets

Helmets are no problem. You can even wear them when you board the plane, that way you save weight in your luggage – sure it looks funny, but there is no rule against it!

What climbing or mountaineering gear is not allowed as carry-on in an airplane?

So, all the stuff above is unproblematic, if not a bit heavy to bring as carry on or baggage in a plane. But some items for rock climbers and mountaineers can be a problem. Sharp tools usually are a bad idea to bring as carry on.

White Gas, Stoves, Propane Gas and Fuel Canisters

If you want to bring a stove, you need to bring one that separates the fuel from the stove. You can bring a cleaned and non-smelling stove with you, but you are not allowed to pack propane gas or white gas canisters. Neither in your checked baggage and not in your cabin luggage. So make sure to check that your destination has stores that sell fuel for your stove if you bring it! 

Ice-Climbing Hardware

Be careful with ice climbing gear. Things like screws, crampons, and other tools often have very sharp edges and are made from steel or metal, which means they need to be checked as luggage. You cannot bring these things with you as carry-on gear! But they are allowed in checked baggage, which means you might need to pay extra for this bag. The extra amount varies from airline to airline, but you can usually assume to pay somewhere between $25 and $50 per checked bag. Bags that are heavier than 50 pounds (or ca 25 kg) will usually cost even more, expect to pay around $100 each way

Cooking Knives, Knives, Axes, Saws

If you plan to spend time outdoors, and you bring knives and an ax with you, you need to check these items. It’s not allowed to carry them inside your cabin luggage, and when you go through security, you will either need to throw them in the trash or have them confiscated!

Pro Tip: If you forgot about your knife and security wants to confiscate it, tell them you need to store it somewhere. Most airports have lockers for these situations. You can rent them, pay a little fee of around $10 to $20 and retrieve the item when you come home. Better than throwing your beloved Kershaw Knife into the bin!

5 Tips to Make Life Easier When Traveling With Climbing Gear on an Airplane

Here are some handy tips to make your life easier when you travel with rock climbing gear.

Find out Rules of the Airport

Airports have their own rules, and while there might not be TSA regulations against an item, some airports may have extra strict rules. Especially when you fly overseas, it might be smart to inform before you go! A security officer in India might not be really keen to hear why you think you should be allowed to carry gear. Even if it’s according to TSA regulations in the U.S:!

Be Polite and Calm

Always be polite and calm. Don’t get angry with nosy TSA officers; they’re just doing their jobs. Sure they might seem annoying and sometimes even harsh. But if they give you a hard time, try to be the better person, defuse the situation and ask to talk to their supervisor! TSA rules are standardized, so there is not much room for scrutiny and arbitrariness!

Explain the TSA That You Are a Climber and Show Them Your Gear Upfront

If you want to save some time, just put all the climbing stuff in an extra tray when you go through the scanner. Then tell the TSA officers upfront about it: You’re a climber and on your way to a climbing destination, and this is your gear. It might save you some time!

Wear Your Jacket, Helmets and Even the Rope to Save Weight in Your Bag

If you have a lot of baggage, wear your rope around your shoulder, and maybe the helmet while you go through security. You might look funny, but it can save you from paying extra money for overweight luggage! And there is no rule against carrying a rope around your shoulder.

Buy Some Gear at Your Destination

If you have very heavy gear that you need to bring or fuel, consider buying it at the destination. It might be cheaper than bringing it. Especially consumable products like fuel, you cannot bring them anyways due to regulations!. You can also buy things like a crash pad, use it for two weeks and then sell it for a high fraction of the original price!

Conclusion

I hope this post was informative and helps you when you fly to your next climbing or bouldering destination. Know what you can or cannot bring on a plane!

If you want some more gear recommendations for your next trip, check out some of our gear recommendations and reviews:

 

Categories
Camp & Hike Mountaineering Reviews

Primus Firestick 2020: Wind-blocking, Ultra Light Stove That Fits Your in Your Pocket

Primus introduced the Firestick canister stove for 2020. While we haven’t had a chance to do a full review yet, we did our best to get our hands on samples and collect all kinds of valuable information for this hot new gadget for 2020.

Read on for our detailed 2020 pre review of the Primus Firestick – it comes with a cylindrical design, and that blocks both winds and serves as a handle for large pots.

A different approach to lightweight canister stoves for 2020

Primus went with a cylindrical design for 2020. This design enables the Primus Firestick stove to block wind easily when expanded, and also handle large pots. When you close the Firestick, it clicks together in the center, hiding the nozzle and avoiding snags and bulk when storing it. The valve is regulated, so you can achieve high fuel efficiency and control your consumption of fuel.

The Primus Firestick comes in two options: Steel and Titanium

You can buy the Firestick in two material options: Either steel or titanium. The steel options weights 3.7 ounces and costs around $90. If you want to be ultra weight saving, go with the titanium option: It costs $120 and only weighs 3.1 ounces!

Preview: It packs away easily, fits your hands like a package of mints and has enough power

From what we’ve seen and heard, the Primus Firestick is very portable. Thanks to the clicking design, you can store it away as easy as a package of mints or gum, and it fits your hands too. And it’s still powerful enough to handle cooking and making hot water for tea when backpacking. As it comes with a regulation valve, precise adjusting of the flame is possible, and you can simmer your broil if you need to.

It comes by default with a beautiful wool pouch and a piezo trigger.

Who is the Primus Firestick made for?

The Firestick is clearly aimed towards the ultra-portable market of hardcore hikers and mountaineers. If you need to save the weight and storage room, the Firestick is for you. It’s powerful enough to handle cooking and water heating, but if you need a full-on camping kitchen, you need a bigger stove.

Facts

Its 4 inches long and weighs around 3-4 ounces. It’s the slimmest canister stove we have seen so far. It looks like a flashlight when retracted, and has air intake holes for fuel-efficiency. And it supports wide pots and gives good wind protection. It can heat with 8530 BTUs, which is quite a lot; an average home stove has only around 7000 BTU per burner!

Detailed Specifications of the Primus Firestick

  • Streamlined cylinder-shape that slides into the pockets
  • Windscreen with an integrated burner with 8530 BTUs
  • Fast and easy setup
  • Safe for outdoor use
  • Wind protection supposed to work great
  • Holds wide pots
  • The flame is recessed in the shelter to give even more wind protection when cooking in stormy conditions
  • Holds small pots too
  • Narrow, strong flame
  • Regulation valve for precise control of power
  • Wool storage pouch doubles as a potholder – NICE!
  • Piezo igniter included too
  • Weight: 3.7 oy (steel) or 3.1 oy (titanium)
  • Dimensions: 1.4 inches x 4.1 inches
  • BTUs: 8350 (Average home stove burner only has 7000 BTUs!)

Read more about some of our camping and hiking topics like how to pack your backpack right and if cargo pants are good for hiking.

Categories
Camp & Hike Mountaineering

Are cargo pants good for hiking?

When I started hiking, I usually just wore jeans or old army cargo pants. But after I went on my first multi-day hike and experienced a bad case of thigh rash, I decided to investigate and find out more. It turned out, cargo pants are not necessarily your first option when you go hiking. Are cargo pants good for hiking? Yes, they are. A cargo pant is good for hiking, as it has a lot of pockets, where you store maps, compass, and gear. But the pant shouldn’t be made from cotton, as this causes problems when hiking. Cotton stores water, and this means cotton clothes stay wet and cold longer and can cause rashes as wet cotton is abrasive. 

Cotton is a mediocre material for hiking pants!

In general, you can use cotton for shorter hikes perfectly well. If you go on a 3-hour summertime hike in your local area, there is no way a cotton pant will not work well. Later down here, I recommend BDU pants for hiking these short trips, and they also use mainly cotton. But if you are serious about hiking, cotton can be a problem.

Cotton retains water

The main problem: Cotton is a hydrophilic material, which means it stores water. Water is retained, and this means your cotton pants will stay wet for a long time when you hike with it. No problem in summer, but in spring or autumn, anytime you sweat, this sweat will keep your pants wet for a long time. And if you hike in the rain, the paints will never really dry once they get initially wet. Wet cotton is also very abrasive, which can lead to rashes and chafing. Chafing sucks, if you have had it, you know what I’m talking about. And the worst-case scenario, chafing can also cause infections. This is especially a problem if you go hiking during the rainy season in tropical climates.

Cotton makes your body lose heat when wet

The worst problem with wet cotton is the loss of heat. Heat loss from the body is a serious problem when you hike in colder climates. The wet fabric next to your skin will transport heat away really fast, it’s the same principle as swimming in the water. This will lead to hypothermia, and that will slow you down and eventually kill you. Hypothermia is one of the things that will likely not be a problem on your typical 2-hour afternoon hike where everything goes well, and you can warm up in your car afterward. But add time, like a 3 to 5 days hike, constant rain, and a cold and wet tent, and exhaustion, and you have a recipe for disaster! In contrast, most hiking paints are made from synthetic wicking materials, which repel water and dry faster. Wicking materials are thus a good choice if you need fast drying pants that repel water – like when you go hiking in wet conditions or sweat a lot.

Wicking fabrics guard against preventable problems in a way that is more reliable than luck. They are a reusable insurance policy that helps protect the safety and enjoyment of your treks.

What type of pants is best for hiking?

So, if we’re talking about it already, mabye you are now wondering how your perfect hiking pant should look like. What type of pants is best for hiking? The best pair of hiking pants should have these features: Lightweight, quick-drying, enough storage pockets with zip closing if possible, and not bulky. In hot climates, you want zip-off legs too. By the way, climbing and hiking pants are not the same, climbing pants have their very benefits, if you need some good climbing pants, check out our review of the 2020 best climbing pants here!

Lightweight

This is a no-brainer. Heavy pants mean you carry around dead weight with you. You already most likely have a heavy backpack, so adding heavy pants doesn’t make sense at all

Quick-drying

In order to avoid the aforementioned problems with hypothermia, good hiking pants should dry fairly quick. This can usually be achieved by using a blend of nylon or other synthetic materials.

Plenty of Pockets

Pockets are great for hikers. Storing often used items like compass, map, GPS, or smartphone in your pants can save you time and hassle. Closable pockets are a must if you have steep climbing sections or down and uphill sections in your hike.

Zip-off legs

The ability to zip off the pant’s legs is great in summer and hot conditions. If you have the option, definitely buy pants with zip-offs if you want an allround hiking pant for the whole year!

Are BDU pants good for hiking?

BDU pants are good for short hikes and walks. They are fairly heavy and made from mostly cotton, which is not ideal for hiking. On the other hand, they have a comfortable cut and a plethora of pockets, so that’s nice. But if you go on longer hikes or in wet conditions, they are not a good choice thanks to the cotton fabric. So keep them in your drawer if you need nice working pants, or pants for a quick afternoon hike. But for serious hiking, get a decent pair of hiking pants.

Can you wear jeans to a hike?

Jeans are nice to wear for work and relaxed walks. But if you go hiking, jeans have none of the options and features you want to see: They are heave, have not a lot of pockets, and the fabric is 100% cotton, which soaks wet and sucks in cold and wet conditions. They are also not very comfortable, nor do they have a lot of legroom or flexibility. If you want to go hiking, generally avoid jeans.

What are some good options for hiking pants?

So, hiking pants are important and should be selected well. You want something that breathes and has quick-drying material, but also a good amount of pockets. They should be warm when temperatures go down and have some zip-off legs at best. Some of the better hiking pants also have built-in sun protection or even keep insects away! The list below is a good overview of high-quality hiking pants.

Brand / Model Legs Style Gender Availability ListPrice
Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Hiking Pants Convertible M | F $60
prAna Stretch Zion Pants Roll-up M $85
REI Sahara Convertible Hiking Pants Convertible M | F $70
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible Pants Convertible M | F $90
Kuhl Renegade Cargo Convertible Pants Convertible M $99
REI Screeline Hiking Pants Full Length M | F $80
Mountain Hardware AP Pants Roll-up M | F $90
Arc’teryx Palisade Pants Full-length M | F $159
Marmot Arch Rock Pants Full Length M $75
Fjallraven Vidda Pro Pants Full Length M | F $150

Related Questions

What are hiking pants made of?

Hiking pants and shorts are made of durable and quick-drying synthetic fabrics like spandex and nylon. The material is usually lightweight without a lot of bulk. They also give a good amount of insulation.

Are military boots good for hiking?

Most military boots are suitable for hiking. They might not be the most comfortable hiking boots, but they give good support for your ankle and are durable and water-resistant while not too expensive. Keep in mind: Some military boots that are made for desert combat might not work well in cold and wet conditions!

Can I wear leggings for hiking?

Hiking leggings and tights are the most comfortable pants to wear when hiking. But if you go hiking in cold or mixed weather, leggings are not good options to wear as an outer layer, as insulation is usually not good nor do they repel water very effectively. They are perfect to wear as base layers, though!

Categories
Climbing Mountaineering

Can climbing rope be recycled?

Old ropes are cool. Remember the neon-bright colored ones from the 90s? Some of that old rope served me very good as a top rope, coiled away in a drawer, ready to be picked up whenever I needed a backup. But after the 3rd new rope, you will end up with LOTS of leftovers. Time to find other ways to get rid of it and recycling is the eco-friendly way I would prefer.

Can climbing rope be recycled? Yes, it can be recycled, but not in a normal recycling facility. To recycle old climbing rope, there are multiple rope manufacturers that offer to recycle for free: Sterling, Millet, and PMI. Some even pay you for your old rope if you buy a new one!

Everyone loves getting new climbing ropes. A new rope is a wonderful thing, and especially if your old rope is worn out, it’s probably safer to replace it. There are tons of good climbing rope manufacturers, but what I was wondering the other day as if it’s possible to recycle their ropes. Not everyone wants to keep old rope, and after cutting parts of it for some obligatory uses, I was still left with 100 feet of leftovers. I am by no means an expert in climbing rope manufacturing or recycling, so I did some research, and this is what I found out.

Can climbing rope be recycled in your normal garbage bin?

But what if you don’t want to send the rope into a manufacturer. I was wondering if you could maybe just use the normal recycling methods to recycle it? For most states in the US, the answer is NO; curbside programs will likely not accept nylon rope. But if you live in Europe, Germany, for example, chances are high there are some local recycling plants or programs you can give your old climbing rope to.

Climbing rope is nothing but old nylon fabric. So you can donate your worn-out rope to an organization that uses old fabric to supplies it to artists and schools. Examples are organizations like Materials for the Arts in New York and the Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC. These organizations are always happy to accept old nylon fabric, and the chances are high that you have a local organization close by if you live in a metropolitan area.

What else can I do with my old climbing rope?

If you cannot find an organization that accepts old nylon rope, you can just think about some other ways to use it. Recycling is great, but the general idea is to find good use of old materials. Recycling is one way to find a good use for old climbing rope, but you could also just re-use or upcycle it.

Make your climbing rope last longer

If you want to avoid having to recycle your new climbing rope, then the easiest way is not to buy a new rope. This means you need to find a way to keep your old climbing rope in good working condition longer. An easy way is always to store your rope inside a rope bag, and if you go climbing, but the climbing rope bag beneath it. Nothing destroys a rope faster than a full day at the crag with the rope lying in the dirt, rubbing sand and stones all over it, and stepping on it with your shoes.

You should also be gentle with it when you wash it, preferably washing it with lukewarm water only, and letting it dry in the air. NEVER throw your rope in the dryer – that’s the fast lane to killing the durability of the rope, as nylon does not take the heat of a dryer well. Keep your light outside of the sunlight, too, as this damages it! And read my other article about things to keep away from climbing rope, you can find it here.

Upcycle your old climbing rope instead of recycling

What is upcycling, you might ask. This definition is spot on, and it basically states that you find a new use for something old in a creative way. Upcycling is basically the opposite of cycling down. Cycling down means to convert material and products into raw materials of lesser quality. This is usually done when you recycle something, as you break the nylon apart into small particles and reuse these particles. But upcycling means you create a new product from the old materials that are of higher quality.

Upcycle your old climbing rope: Make a rope rug

What are some good ideas to upcycle old climbing rope? You can weave a rope rug. This video here is a great tutorial:

Can you use an old climbing rope as a tow rope?

It turns out you can. There are multiple reports of people using an old climbing rope as a towing rope. It’s another great idea, you can just take multiple strains, and it will be very strong, strong enough to tow a car. Just run it backward and forwards 4 to 6 times, which will reduce the load on individual strains and minimize stretch. Minimizing stretch is important if you use your old climbing rope as a towing rope, as you don’t want the towed car dangling behind your tow car on 50 feet of elastic cord!

Use the old climbing rope as a super strong dog leash

This might be overkill, but I found that using the old rope like a dog leash works super good. Thanks to the material of the climbing rope, the dog leash has some nice stretch if needed, but is still strong enough even if you have a big and powerful dog. And it’s a great money-saver if you need a long leash for dog training!

Related Questions

What to do with old climbing ropes?

    Old climbing rope DIY projects

  • Rope rug
  • Dog leash.
  • Furniture
  • Beer koozies
  • Ladder from rope
  • Chalk Bag
  • Scratch post for your cat

IF you need some more ideas about what to build with your old climbing rope, check out this other post about 24 great ideas for DIY projects with old climbing rope. Find it here.

How long are climbing ropes good for?

Polyamide (Nylon) fibers, which ropes are made from, break down over time. Replace old climbing rope after 10 years, no matter how rarely you used it. Replace it after 5 years if you used it often!

Can you rappel with a dynamic climbing rope?

Yes, you can. A static rope is easier for rappeling, as it gives you more control, but a dynamic rope works fine too. They have more stretch, and it might take some time to get used too, but they are safe to rappel with. Never try climbing with static rope though, a static rope is not made for situations with high-impact forces like a fall!

Categories
Camp & Hike Mountaineering

How to Avoid Hiking Backpack Back Pain – the Battle Proven Guide

No matter if you go hiking or mountaineering, if you’re on a multi-day hike, there is no way around a heavy backpack. All the things you need to set up camp like a sleeping bag, cooking gear, your tent plus freshwater and food are heavy. And in most cases, your lower back is the crucial part carrying the weight. You don’t need to be especially prone to back issues to profit from these tips on how to avoid hiking backpack back pain. This guide is battle proven and backed by science, so read on for the details!

An ergonomic backpack and some simple rules will lay the base to avoid hiking backpack back pain. This post will be split into multiple parts:

Bio Mechanical Basics: Your Back in Easy Words Explained

Your back consists of the sacrum, and the sacroiliac joint (SIJ), which connects to the spine. The SIJ connects the Sacrum and spine to each other, and as thus it connects back and leg muscles and transfers loads to your legs. This joint is particularly important if you carry a heavy backpack on a hike. In fact, it constantly moves when you walk around with your backpack, and that’s why a blockage in the SIJ causes back pain. Source article found here.

How Back Pain Is Caused When You Hike With a Heavy Backpack on Your Back

On a hike there are some situation that lead to blockage and then back pain: If you step into air because you miss a step or rock, or if you stumble, these things frequently lead to misplaced loads and then blockage of the SIJ. But chronic distress during your normal workday lead to back pain as well. Long static sitting at work, wrong movement when you carry loads, etc. can lead to blockage. Even if you don’t feel any pain in normal life, under load of a back pack these issue pop up.

A heavy backpack causes back pain when weight is placed on your joints in the wrong way. The basics are simple: You want a heavy weight to be evenly distributed on upper and lower body. A backpack has shoulder straps and a waist band. The shoulder straps transfer to the shoulder, the waistband to the legs, via the back. The weight which is transferred to the legs can be transferred through the sacrum or the pelvic bone. Any weight transferred to shoulders will go directly down the line to your SIJ and then the leg muscles.

The SIJ connects your back with the the legs via the sacrum, and any load placed on it directly will be transferred via the sacrum to the leg muscles. But the SIJ is particularly sensitive to displacement of the moment of inertia of loads, as are most joints. In some ways, the SIJ is similar to the conical grinder of a coffee machine: If you place a load on top of it and move it, it cannot move freely, as the gap for free movement reduces.reduced. The consequence is back pain.

Reduce Back Pain by Reducing Weight Placed on the SIJ and Sacrum

Your goal should be to reduce the load to the SIJ. If you want to do this, you have only one option: Put more load on the pelvic bones or waist. Don’t let the shoulder straps fool you: The weight that you place on your shoulders transfer down to your sacrum and SIJ more ore less directly, bio mechanically speaking. It follows the shortest route, and that’s a straight line directly down to your Sacrum. If you ever wondered why your lower back hurts when you wear a backpack without waist band / hip belt, this is the reason. But how to reduce the load on the SIJ? You have two ways that complement each other nicely.

A) Use a Waist Band / Hip Belt to Transfer Load Directly to Your Pelvic Bones and Then Legs

A carrying system that’s useful from a biomechanical viewpoint is reducing load on the shoulders and instead places it on the pelvic bones. This makes sure the weight is directly transferred to the leg muscles, without stressing the SIJ and Sacrum. As a consequence, the Sacrum is not displaced, and the gap between SIJ and Sacrum is nice and wide. This ensures free movement and no grinding (remember the coffee grinder!). To put the weight on the pelvic bone, carrying systems have a waist band / hip belt. This band ideally sits tight on your body, and if you adjust it correctly, the transmission of weight on the pelvical bone relieves the SIJ a lot. You can even have more than half of weight going directly to your legs this way!

B) Pack Your Backpack Right, I.E. With the Centroid Placed Correctly

Another way to reduce load on the SIJ is to pack the backpack right. A backpack that is packed correctly needs to have the centroid as close to your body as possible. If it does, then as much as 70% of the weight can be transferred to your legs directly via the pelvic bone, and only 30% are transferred via the shoulders and SIJ. Obviously, you cannot reduce the amount of weight transferred via shoulders to 0% as you always need them for stability and balance. Follow these tips to ensure the centroid of the backpack sits nice and tight to your body:

  1. Put light items to the ground, heavy items as close to the body as possible, less heavy stuff further away from your body
  2. Light terrain hiking: Centroid of weight close to body and at height of the shoulders
  3. Difficult terrain hiking: Centroid a little below the shoulders, to give more stability when going steep downhill and climbing
  4. Use side pockets to evenly distribute the weight on left and right side

How to Adjust Your Backpack to Reduce Hiking Backpack Back Pain

If you want to adjust your backpack, you first need a good carrying system. So my first advice is to buy a quality backpack. There are many good brands including Vaude, Lowa and Osprey to name a few. If you buy a backpack, pay some attention that the backpack fits your anatomy. What this means: Width of shoulder straps, shape of the waist band / hip belt, length of back piece and length adjustment of the carrying system. You should also pack the backpack with realistic weight, aka if you try it on in the store, bring some gear to stuff, and make sure to loosen all the straps BEFORE trying.

For adjusting the hiking backpack correctly to avoid back pain when hiking, follow this easy to remember sequence:

A) Adjust the waist band / hip belt first, place it on the middle of the pelvic bone on an area known as the iliac crest.
B) Adjust shoulder straps: Carrier inserts should be at height of your blade bone. Don’t make the classic mistake of pulling the straps too tight, as this moves the weight too much over the shoulders and away from your pelvic bone where you want it.
C) Adjust chest strap: Its used to keep the shoulder straps in position.
D) Adjust the angle and stability of the load via the load adjuster straps.

Hiking Backpack Back Pain

Once you have all these adjusted, you are ready to go.

Use Sticks to Avoid Back Pain Both Ascending and Descending

No matter how good your carrying system is and how much care you pay while packing the backpack, if you have a heavy backpack your centroid is shifted backwards. Your bodys natural reaction is to lean forward while walking, which puts you in a bio mechanically problematic posture due to reduced freedom of movement in your SIJ and will lead to back pain in the long run. Ascending only makes this worse.

If you know how to use them, sticks are a great way to reduce the forward leaning while ascending and walking on a plain surface, and also help while descending. Sticks also help you to transfer weight force directly via your arms to the ground, relieving your SIJ. For most hikers they will also be really comfortable as they reduce load on the leg muscles and help utilizing arms while ascending. This leads to more even distribution of stress, and lets you hike longer and with less fatigue on individual muscle groups.

Sticks are also a great way to reduce load on knee and leg joints while descending. They also help you maintain upright posture when descending. Without sticks, many hikers tend to lean backwards while descending, which leads to an unnatural foot position where the heel is absorbing most of the load. This load is then transferred into the SIJ which in turn leads to even more back pain. Sticks reduce this, as they help you maintain an upright ad stable position, where you can naturally roll your feet while descending.

Conclusion

If you want to avoid back pain from your backpack while hiking, make sure to adjust your backpack correctly. Most back pain from heavy backpacks is caused by incorrect load transfer to the SIJ and Sacrum. A properly adjusted backpack transfers as much as 70% of the weight directly to the leg muscles via the pelvic bones, reducing load on the SIJ and Sacrum, and if you follow the steps above you can adjust it yourself easily. If you liked this post, feel free to leave a comment and read on some of your other gear related posts!

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Climbing Mountaineering

Climbing Helmet vs Bike Helmet – Can I Wear my Bike Helmet for Climbing?

Most of you including me have bike helmets, and when I started climbing I was wondering if I can wear my Bike Helmet for Climbing? I figured any helmet was better than no helmet at all. Later an experienced rock climber told me that bike and climbing helmets are actually very different and if you interchange them you give up some protection. Makes sense kind of right? But what if you have no climbing helmets? Can you still wear a bike helmet – it’s climbing helmets vs bike helmet, we’re going to do a little comparison.
The short answer: No, you should not use a bike helmet for climbing, as you will give up some protection. But if you have nothing else, a bike helmet is better than nothing. There are some differences between climbing and bike helmets, read on for the details.
Bicycle helmets have a softer shell, where the climbing helmets usually have a very hard shell. Bicycle helmets are also better protected against impacts from the sides, and they usually have ventilation holes. In this post I’m going to answer these questions:
  1. How are safety standards for climbing and cycling helmets compared to each other? Are they comparable?
  2. Is there a tradeoff in protection when you wear a bike helmet for climbing?
  3. Are there situations where a bike helmet can even provide better protection than a climbing helmet?

Bike Helmets are one-time-use. They are designed for a single ground impact, and they are designed to absorb energy from the impact by crumpling and deformation. This design is needed due to the high amount of energy involved in bike crashes. As a consequence bike helmets are probably the helmets that offer the most protection, aside from actual motorcycle helmets. But after the first crash, they are basically useless.

That’s why a bike helmet will not work perfectly for climbing: Imagine an ascent and you take a fall, bang your head against the wall and the bike helmet is broken and deformed. From now on it will lack protection, but your ascent is not done yet, and even if you descent, there might still be more rocks, etc. falling on your head. At this point, a bike helmet will not give you good protection anymore.

Bike Helmets vs Climbing Helmets – Different Standards of Safety for Different Activities

The different scenarios of protection needed are also visible in the standards used to measure the helmets. The standards are very different in which these helmets are tested and rated. Climbing helmets use the EN 12492:2000 standard, where multiple impacts on a helmet are tested. Small weights 5kg are dropped at different angles on the top of the helmet from a falling height of 2 meters. Another 5 kg striker object with flat shape is then hit on the front, side, and rear, and they do penetration tests. In all these tests there is a maximum of 10 kN of force transferred to the helmet, so climbing helmets are not designed to absorb a large impact.

If you fall with a bike, there are typically larger forces involved (think of more than 10 kN), and the amount of force which is actually transferred to the head must be smaller, which is done by using a crumpling design with physical deformation. Let’s have a more detailed look at the standards involved and how they compare.

There are four main standards: Two for biking, one American which is the CPSC standard, and the EN 1078 from Europe, and two for climbing. For climbing, there is the European standard EN 12492, and the UIAA 106 which is international.

Bike Helmets – CPSC and EN 1078

CPSC in Detail

The American standard CPSC, CPSC stands for Consumer Product Safety Commission, tests bike helmets with a 5 kg headform that is dropped from 2 meters onto a flat-shaped anvil. There is another test on a hemispheric anvil and an anvil, that is shaped like a curbstone from 1.2 meters. These tests are all performed on helmets that have been sitting around in ambient temperate, freezing temperatures and hot temperatures. They are also performed when the helmet was underwater for 4 hours. All in all the helmets have to pass 5 impacts: 2 from the flat anvil and the hemispheric and one from the curbstone.

EN 1078 in Detail

The EN standard, EN means European, has impacts tested from only 1.5 meters, one from a flat anvil, one from a curbstone, and the helmets are also conditioned with UV light, temperature, and aging. This test is thus a little less strict than the American standard.

Climbing helmets – EN 12492 and UIAA 106

For climbing helmets, there are two main safety standards: The EN 12492:2000 and the UIAA 106. By the way, all these standards are not really testing a helmets ability to reduce traumatic brain injury. They only test for protection against direct physical impact. But traumatic brain injury due to acceleration forces is a huge problem in bike accidents, and there are helmet systems to protect against these injuries (called MIPS). This article here goes a bit more in detail about these injuries..

EN 12492 in Detail

For this standard, thez place the helmet on a form shaped like a head and hit with a striking mass of 5 kg. There are 3 different impacts tested, side, front and back, with an angle of 60 degrees. After this test, another strike mass drops onto the helmet which sits on the headform from 2 meters, this mass is hemispherically shaped. Then there is a further test where a flat striker hits the helmet from 50cm on the front, back and sides. In contrast to bike helmets, climbing helmets test for penetration too, with a canonical strike mass of 3 kg that drops from 1 meter. And there is a retention system test. In order to pass the tests, no impact is allowed to transmit a force of greater than 10 kN to the headform.

UIAA 106 in Detail

For the UIAA 106 safety standards, all the tests are identical, but the transmitted forces are lower: Only 8 kN of force is allowed to be transferred. Remember, the lower the transferred force to the head, the less injured you are in reality. Low forces mean no damage to your head!

Short Comparison of the Two Standards

When we compare the different standards, we can see that cycling and bike helmets have higher acceleration forces and thus forces of impact. This might not be apparent, as the safety standard tests for bike helmets call for only fixed mass and distances, while the climbing helmet tests are also talking about transmitted force. But we can calculate the forces of the test for the bike helmets: Assuming a 5kg headform that experiences 250g’s in a  bike helmet test, the F=ma equation yields: 5.0 kg x 250 g x 9.8 m/s-2/g =~ 12 kN.

And what is also visible is that the American standards are a little stricter than the European standards. Why this is, I don’t know. I suspect that there is a reason behind it, but I don’t know. If you want to be extra safe, go with the American standards.

References to read further

Some readworthy references:

Conclusion

Hope you liked this post if you want to know more about other mountaineering stuff have a look at my article about how to start mountaineering, how to find a good climbing mentor, and why you should always wear a helmet climbing.

 

Categories
Climbing Mountaineering

What does it mean to cross load a carabiner? The guide to using a carabiner safely!

Not many other pieces of hardware are so crucial for climbing like the carabiner. No matter if you tie into your harness, build an anchor or connect safety devices for belaying or rappelling – carabiners are use everywhere. They are the one piece of metal in climbing, used to connect ropes and slings, ropes with other ropes – basically everywhere where you want a quick method of connection or moving rope is involved. But what does it mean to cross load a carabiner? Short answer: Every carabiner has a main load direction. To cross load a carabiner means to put a force on it that is rotated 90 degree from the main loading direction. The carabiner is usually much weaker in this other direction. It breaks easier in this direction. I’ll also show you what to avoid, and give some more tips regarding hardware safety.
Most modern carabiners are so easy to use that it’s almost impossible to mess it up if you have basic training. But keep in mind, margins for error are little if you screw up. A  failing carabiner means a potentially fatal problem. One thing you must avoid at all costs is cross loading.

How a rock climbing carabiner works

Engineers design rock climbing carabiner to take loads along one certain axis. This axis is very near to the Arrow pointing up and down in the figure below. We call this line “spine” of the carabiner. This is the direction where the carabiner can withstand the strongest force. If you load it in any other direction, it will be weaker.
You will find how strong it is in this main direction as a marking on the carabiner. The marking includes an arrow that points in the direction of this spinal loading direction. The unit used for these markings is kilo-Newton which equals thousands of Newtons, abbreviated kN. 1 kN equals roughly 225 pounds of force.
To give you an example: 1 Newton equals the force you need to accelerate a block of steel of 1 kg at a rate of 1 meter per second squared. If you accelerate a person of 100 kg at a rate of 10 meter per second squared, it gives 1 kN. 10 meter per second squared is roughly the acceleration on earth when you hang something to the carabiner dangling in the air.
Theoretically, you could use a carabiner that is rated to 22 kN to hold a weight of around 2000 kg – or 2 metric tons. Sounds a lot right? But, keep in mind, if this weight falls free for some time, the forces are much higher, so this is just a theoretical value.

What it means to cross load a carabiner – detailed explanation

Now lets discuss a cross load. The middle picture shows a cross load. Any force in this direction is marked on the carabiner with a left right arrow. A carabiner can usually  take a considerably smaller load in this rotated direction than in the main loading direction. It comes down to the   design of the carabiner: In this direction, there is less material to support the load.

The gate of the carabiner takes some load too, even if you load the carabiner in the main direction. And that’s why you will find another symbol on the carabiner for this. It indicates the possible load when the gate is open. It’s usually much less than with a closed gate, as an open gate cannot load force.

The gate is also part of the reason why the maximum loading force for a a crossload is so low. For the case that the force pulls inwards, the gate is only held in place by the locking sleeve and nothing else. And as a carabiner is only as strong as it’s weakest part, it means you have a low strength when load goes in this direction. It’s higher when you load outwards, as the locking sleeve and the gate itself pushes against the rest of the carabiner in this case.

What does it mean to cross load a carabiner
Three types of carabiner loading: Correct, Crossloading and Tri-Axis loading

Other bad loading scenarios: Tri-Axial loading and nose-hooked carabiners

Another weak point of a carabiner is when you load in directions completely away from the spine. You can find this scenario in the right picture. It’s described in more depth here. The load a carabiner takes in this direction can be even weaker than a cross load. The same applies to the so called nose-hooked carabiner.

What’s a nose-hoked carabiner?

What does it mean to cross load a carabiner
Nose-hooked carabiner – Source: Black Diamond

A nose-hooked carabiner happens when your contact point squeezes open the gate at the nose of the carabiner. It’s a really bad situation, which can result inf carabiners failing at less then 10% of their rated closed gate strength. For our example this is around 227 kg of a load hanging in free air. Source here. This amount of force can happen if you have even just a small fall or bounce test

Why is a nose-hooked carabiner so bad?

Why is the carabiner’s breaking strength all of a sudden so low when nose-hooking it? It’s because this scenario combines an open gate with the design of the carabiner and a weird position for the force to attack. By putting load on it now, you basically create a cantilever that pulls the carabiner basket off of the bolt hanger.

As the load is not in line with the spine axis, which is the main direction to load the carabiner, the carabiner becomes excessively twisted and torque builds up in the material. It then breaks at the weakest point, which is the upper part like shown in the picture.

What does it mean to cross load a carabiner
Broken carabiner due to nose-hooking. Source: Black Diamond.

 

Tips to use a carabiner safely to avoid cross-loading and other dangerous loads

If you want to be safe, you must avoid the scenarios from above. Focus on two things:

1 . Always ensure that the carabiner has a closed gate when it is loaded

If you have a screwing lock sleeve, make sure to screw it closed when you place the carabiner. Make also sure that you have no rope etc. wound up around the screw – it could accidentally open the carabiner. If you use a screw-lock carabiner on your belaying device, make sure to turn the screw lock side away from moving parts – aka your hands handing in or out the rope. For non-screw carabiners, place the carabiner in a way that loads are not opening the gate.

2. Place the carabiner correctly in the direction of the load

This makes sure to avoid loading it from more than one direction. Never load the carabiner in opposite directions, try to avoid tri axis loading as much as possible. If you build equalized anchors, try to move the anchors as close together as possible to minimize off-axis loading

3. Never place a loaded carabiner on an edge or ledge

Placing a carabiner on  a ledge will basically break the carabiner with the force of the ledge pushing against it, creating lots of torque and twist.

4. Avoid bulky knots around the carabiner

Bulky knots can lead to off-axis loading too, if you want to know more about it read here.

Conclusion

If you liked this article, make sure to read my other articles about top rope anchors, how to built perfect anchors, the best climbing shoes of 2020, and why should always wear a helmet when rock climbing. Feel free to leave me a comment too, if you have suggestions and ideas.