/ Building my first trad rack

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StevenF - on 22 May 2013
Hello,

I'm a new climber who has ventured outdoors and discovered I absolutely love it! It's 10x more satisfying than climbing indoors and there was even some sun today!

I have been searching online trying to price my first trad rack, but I'm not really in any position to say what's good and what's bad, so I thought I would ask you guys. I was thinking:

Black Diamond Stoppers: 4-13 65 or 1-13 85
5 x DMM Phantom quickdraws (using the carabiners to make trad quickdraws) 52
5 x DMM - 11mm x 60cm slings 20
+ a few larger slings and a couple of screw gates (have three atm)
+ a few lengths of chord

How does that look as an absolute basic trad rack? I will continue to top rope/second up the routes whilst practicing placing gear, until I become confident in my gear placements. I would also add a set of hexes in a month or so.

As for rope - I would ideally like a rope I could use inside and outdoors. The rope would be used for winter, so needs to be dry treated. A few options:

Mammut Galaxy 10 x 50M Superdry - http://www.v12outdoor.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=69_43_161&products_id=697&oscsid=l0...

Edelrid Eagle 9.8mm PS DS TS - http://www.bananafingers.co.uk/edelrid-eagle-98mm-ps-ds-ts-p-563.html

Any help of advice is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

Camm on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF:
DMM Wallnuts are cheaper and imo better
Also, dmm hexes, you get can them cheap on ebay a lot of the time. Though I have WC ones, mainly because that's what was in the shop when I was rebuying a rack again.
Any quickdraws will do but phantoms are nice, for trad draws 11mm slings are too thick, get thinnest possible. But depending on what you're planning on doing you only need 3/4 then about 3/4 normal draws,
Also joe brown do good deals on DMM cams
rope wise I liked my Mammut Galaxy but I've got beal icelines for winter and cobras for trad, my Galaxy is now in 2 pieces after a incident in a slate quarry.
csw on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF:

I'd use the 60cm slings to make slingdraws and get yourself say 4 120 cm slings and a couple of 240's. You've probably got enough screwgates, but one of them should be an HMS. I personally don't think it's possible to have too many snaplinks. Apart from that you need something for larger cracks, hexes or torque nuts, although I've never used the latter. I wouldn't bother with a dry treated rope - it won't stay that way.....
needvert on 22 May 2013
Really wish my galaxy had the pattern change halfway through. (duoess?)

Aiding on TR would be another way to practice placements.

Seems fine to me.

spenser - on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF:
If you're planning on getting hexes as well then I'd suggest waiting until you have enough cash and getting this bundle:
http://www.rockandrapid.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=678
You get a set of offsets for ~25 so you can either sell them on or use them for climbing, I've only led a couple of routes with these so far but it seems like a fairly versatile set up.
Quickdraws:
http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Rock-Climbing-Equipment/Quickdraws-2/Quickdraws/Spectre2-Quick...
I quite like these and I think they're about as cheap as you're going to get.
This is also a good offer:
http://www.v12outdoor.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=6032&oscsid=5ol479piq1pcc4jkbn300...
Slings:
http://www.v12outdoor.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=69_40&products_id=4816&oscsid=5ol47...
Cams:
http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Rock-Climbing-Equipment/Camming-Devices/Standard-Cams/New-4-CU...
A good deal on 4CUs if you are buying 3, quite useful but there's plenty of stuff which you can climb without cams.
Jamie B - on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF:

If you've got more experienced folk to climb with, don't feel you need to rush out and buy a whole rack right now. Climb with different folk and see what works for them, build it by degrees and don't break the bank on the wrong stuff.

It is a constant process of trial and error though - 17 years down the line I'm still tweeking and adapting.

One set of nuts with no duplicates is not enough, although lots of people seem to think it is.
dr_botnik - on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF: For me, a very basic rack would be:

1x Full set of nuts - I'd go with either Wallnuts or Rocks
http://needlesports.com/Catalogue/Rock-Climbing-Equipment/Wires-Nuts/Standard-Wires/Classic-Rock-Set...

5x Quickdraw mixed lengths (longer for trad) http://needlesports.com/Catalogue/Rock-Climbing-Equipment/Quickdraws-2/Quickdraws/Spectre2-Quickdraw...

Cams size 1, 2, 3 http://needlesports.com/Catalogue/Rock-Climbing-Equipment/Camming-Devices/Standard-Cams/New-4-CU-wit...

Couple of 8' slings, couple of screwgates and a HMS crab. You'd probably also need a nut key between you and your second, and a belay plate. I'd also recommend helmets.

When I started out I got a lot of gear second hand from the forums, I also started with hexes as opposed to cams but I now favour cams and would have gone with them if I had the money, buuuut hexes do provide a level of security for beginners as they are easier to tell when in a bomber placement. There's a good deal on here http://needlesports.com/Catalogue/Rock-Climbing-Equipment/Wires-Nuts/Nuts/Rockcentrics-567-and-8-Wil...

As for the rope, I have the Mammut superdry and whilst it is hard wearing its an absolute bitch to climb with after a bit of use. I much prefer the 30m DMM rope I got at a trade fair for 35, think its called the concept or something. Havent tried edelrid ropes, but I know sterlings are really good if a bit pricey.

As others have said above its much more worthwhile if you can climb with more experienced partners to work out what gear suits the rock type you climb, and what gear you prefer. You'd then have the luxury of buying good quality kit when its on offer, or comes up second hand.

Just for the record I'm not employed by needlesports, they just happen to have the best deals atm. And have a really good website to boot, if you scout around on it I think they have some good articles, possibly even one on buying your first rack.
alooker - on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF: what's your local crag/what're you going to be climbing most of the time?
alooker - on 22 May 2013
StevenF - on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF:

Hi guys, thanks for all your replies, unfortunately I can't multi-quote my reply so here goes.

Just to confirm I already have basic gear; harness, belay equipment, helmet, shoes, chalk etc.

Spenser - That mutlibuy beginner rack looks like quite a good offer. I could however buy the items separately.

DMM Nuts size 1-11 65 - http://www.v12outdoor.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=867
DMM Torque Nuts size 1-4 47.99 - http://www.sportsdirect.com/dmm-torque-nuts-1-to-4-set-788115?src=google

Total: 112.99 (I'm not sure how important offset nuts are)

Jamie B - I have been climbing with someone who has a basic rack for leading the small crag which we use. I have been seconding up the routes removing the gear, but haven't had a chance to place much yet. I wasn't looking at buying the whole rack at once, I rally just want a set of nuts and hexes to learn placement and progress from there.

Dr_botnik - A quick question - are quickdraws widely acceptable to use on trad routes? My original plan was to buy a set of quickdraws (cheaper than buying the carabiners separately) and attach them to some 60cm slings. If however quickdraws are 'accepted' it would save money just to buy a longer set of quickdraws.

alooker - My local crag is Neilston Crag (Ayrshire, Scotland) and The Quadrocks, but I've not been to the Quadrocks yet. Thanks for that link, very helpful.

Another question: What's the "standard" (if there is one) width of sling used for trad drwas - 8,10 or 11?

So far I'm now looking at:

DMM Nuts size 1-11 65 - http://www.v12outdoor.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=867
DMM Torque Nuts size 1-4 47.99 - http://www.sportsdirect.com/dmm-torque-nuts-1-to-4-set-788115?src=google
Spectre2 Quickdraws x 5: ~50

And the cams can be added at a later date.

The Ex-Engineer - on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF: As Jamie B says, a climbing rack is something that changes and develops, grows and occasionally shrinks over the years.

Wires:
I've used wires from all of Metolius, Wild Country, DMM, Black Diamond, HB, Kong, Camp and probably some others. I have to agree with one of the other posters. The best starting point for most UK climbers would be a set of DMM Wallnuts 1-11. 65 is a decent price - http://www.joe-brown.com/outdoor-equipment/dmm_wallnuts_set_111?gclid=CIn_45nGqbcCFWXJtAodux4ATA

Extenders:
As far as krabs are concerned, the obvious recommendation for most novices would be DMM Spectres. There are just superb 'do everything' carabiners and even better, DMM have recently reduced their price! 8.99 for Needlesports is just STUNNING value - http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Rock-Climbing-Equipment/Quickdraws-2/Quickdraws/Spectre2-Quick...

In terms of 'full size' krabs, WC Heliums are marginally 'better' but vastly more expensive and even their fans will admit they are not good value for money.
The smaller DMM Phantoms excel for classic UK multi-pitch were weight is an issue but many still feel they are too small and fiddle for Winter or Alpine use where gloves will be worn.
DMM Alpha (in two size variants) are the latest shiny incarnations of 'bent back' designs which didn't really succeed two decades ago when used by the likes of HB. The most unbiased assessment is that they are likely to prove a 'marmite' product. Some climbers will swear they are the best carabiners ever made, a small minority will hate them and most will be non plussed and buy something far cheaper.

If you think you might climb in Winter, or even if you won't, I can't honestly think of a good reason not to initially go for some of the cheaper DMM Spectres instead of anything else.

In terms of extender length, long (25cm/30cm) draws and extendable 'slingdraws' can be useful but they are often over-rated. A decade or more ago I carried a mix including 25cm draws and 4x 'slingdraws'. I now only carry 18cm draws plus no more than two extendable draws made up from Mammut 60cm x 8mm slings. Along with the other slings I normally carry and a few spare wiregates that is more than sufficient for any route I've climbed.

Whatever krabs you do decide to go with, if you are buying 5 quickdraws which is a fairly sensible starting point, I'd just stick with the standard length. I might be worth converting one to a 'slingdraw' so you can see how you get on with it, but I can't see much point in have multiple ones.

DMM Phantoms with 11mm slings is a crap combination. The slings are too wide and the krabs too small. I'd probably never use Phantoms for 'slingdraws' in the first place and I would certainly not use anything other than 8mm slings.

Screwgates:
3 screwgates is likely enough. Not including your belay krab(s), two (accessible) screwgates per person is sufficient to climb any UK trad route very efficiently.

Slings:
A moderate number of slings is essential. There has been a fashion for carrying multiple very long 240cm slings but that is really overkill. Carry one at most.

Having used numerous slings I would heartily recommend Wild Country 10mm dyneema or Mammut 8mm dyneema slings. Both are excellent. I am not a fan of the DMM 8mm slings, Mammut's patented design is noticeably better.

Do not fall into the habit of automatically wanting to rack all your 60cm/120cm slings on screwgates. I see climbers do it all the time and it is just pointless. It makes sense to rack your longest sling on a screwgate for use at belays but you are better pairing the rest of your slings with wiregates.

For pretty much all my climbing I carry five (8mm-10mm) dyneema slings:
1x 180cm sling racked with a screwgate
2x 120cm slings racked with a wiregate
2x 60cm slings racked with a wiregate
PLUS 3x spare wiregates

As a starting point you can't really go wrong with 2 short, 2 long and one very long sling plus a decent number of wiregates. Having the wiregates is crucial as that gives you flexibility both when building belays or for extending runner placements.
StevenF - on 22 May 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

Thank you for taking the time to write your reply, you've answered so many of my questions.

As per my previous post, as a result of all the advice here I will be going for DMM wires and 5 x DMM Spectres 2 quick draws (18cm). From what you've said and I've read, the phantoms are too small.

Would you recommend going for a set of Hex's or Torque Nuts for a beginner set, or would it be best to add them at a later date?

You mentioned it is pointless to keep slings on a screwgate and they should be kept on a wiregate; is that so they can also be used as extendable sling draws if required?
Skip - on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF:
> (In reply to The Ex-Engineer)

> Would you recommend going for a set of Hex's or Torque Nuts for a beginner set, or would it be best to add them at a later date?
>

Personally i prefer Torque Nuts, find them easier to place and they feel more secure (IMO).
GridNorth - on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF: Don't dismiss the Phantoms. I thought that they may have been a little awkward to handle but after trying my mates in Morocco earlier this year I was convinced that they were OK so I replaced all my WC ones. They weight significantly less and don't take up as much space when racked. Having said that I have kept a few WC ones for winter climbing as they could be a little awkward with gloves on. I also purchased Torque nuts which I also now prefer to hexes. Hexes and Torque nuts were also very useful in Morocco and come in handy at places like Pembroke if only for setting up anchors at the top. Generally speaking I find cams more versatile.
BnB - on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF:

Torque Nuts?

Another vote for Torque Nuts. It's usually very easy to tell if they've been solidly placed and they transfer highly effectively into winter. Far more reliably than any Cams will. They cover a wide range of placements and you'll find TN numbers 1-3 will cover most opportunities.

Slings on screw/wiregate?

I keep 4 x 60cm slings on two wiregates each (Phantoms and Nanos if I remember correctly) to act as extending quickdraws. I top those up with 4 sport qds for a total of 8. Then for a multipitch day out, particularly in moderate grades (up to Severe), I take 4 x 120 slings and 2 x 240 slings all on screwgate for bomber anchors and runners. Amazing how quickly these get used up.
TRip - on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF:

There is some good advice on this thread. Especially from Jamie B and the Ex-Engineer.

I would echo that Spectre 2 krabs are really good value all round krabs. In fact I would recommend getting them for all your krabs, save for the couple extra screwgate you have for building belays.

DMM Wallnuts are a great start point. I would recommend splitting them between two karabiners (different coloured Spectre2s) as 11 wires on two krabs is too many. I'd also echo what Jamie B said and get a few doubles unless you are going to be doing purely outcrop climbing.

Wild Country Rocks 4, 7 and 8 would be a good complimentary choice.

A couple of big nuts are worth getting but I wouldn't bother with a full set. DMM Torque Nut 2 and 3 would be my choice, but WC Rockcentrics 6 and 7 would be equally good. Get a colour coded krab for each.

Make sure you get a nut key too. It will save you load of money and your rack will soon start to balloon in size once you've learned the knack! A nut key should be seen as part of the rack however. Both climbers should have one. Top tip: Rack your nut key on full strength biner and use it to build belays. Saving quickdraws for the pitch.

I would avoid getting slings long than 120cm as they encourage laziness. Most of the time it it much safer to build the belay out of rope. A really good knot to learn is the figure of 8 on the bit hitch, which is useful for tiring out of reach anchors back to ones harness, rather than using screw gates.

With regard to rope. I would get a sub 10mm 50m rope with basic dry treatment. If you shop around online you should find a good deal. Without looking particularly hard I've found a plethora of dry treated 50m ropes for around 120. If you can forgo the dry treatment (realistically how often are you going to go winter climbing?) this is very good value: http://needlesports.com/Catalogue/Rock-Climbing-Equipment/Ropes/Single-Ropes/97-Classic-Special-Edit...

In short I would start off with.

DMM Ultra O screwgate and BD ATC-XP Belay Plate
2 DMM Phantom Biners for building belays.
5 DMM Spectre 2 18cm Quickdraws
2 Mammut Contact 60cm 8mm slings made up as slingdraws with 2 BLT Spectre2 and 2 silver spectre 2s.
2 Additional Mammut Contact 60cm 8mm slings. Plus 2 DMM Spectre2
2 120cm DMM 11mm Dyneema Slings + 2 DMM Spectre 2 Krabs
DMM Torque Nut 2 + Red Spectre 2
DMM Torque Nut 3 + Gold Specre 2
DMM Wallnuts 1-11, Additional Wild Country Rocks 4, 7 and 8, + a Green and a blue spectre 2 for racking.
BD Nutkey racked on a Spectre2 Krab.

All of that can be brought from Needle Sport for a very competitive price. http://needlesports.com/default.aspx

HTH

mattrm - on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF:

I wrote a short post on my blog a while back, which you might find handy:

http://matthewmoore.org.uk/?p=239

Lots of good advice here:

http://andy-kirkpatrick.com/articles/view/rock_rack

http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=840

and finally here:

http://www.needlesports.com/catalogue/content.aspx?con_id=285f8f26-74d0-4578-9893-9c9e00a587e6

The DMM Phantom screwgates are excellent I find. Never used them in the wiregate form, so can't comment. If you're just using the screwgates in the belay to connect gear to sling/rope, they're excellent.

The DMM Spectres are a great call for sensibly priced quickdraws. Take a look at the DMM Alphas tho, as I've got the previous model (DMM Shield) and they're excellent in quickdraws. Lovely shape and great action.

Ropewise, I'd get a 10mm rope for indoors. Check the height of the local wall and buy according to that.

For outdoors I'd get a more standard 8.5mm rope (I have an 8.0mm rope and while it's great for winter, it's very tangle prone) in either 50m or 60m. 60 is probably overkill on most routes, but occasionally it's great.
The Ex-Engineer - on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF:
> Would you recommend going for a set of Hex's or Torque Nuts for a beginner set, or would it be best to add them at a later date?

I would definitely look to get hold of some larger gear now. Unfortunately no single option stands out as the best.

Bear with my slight digression...

I had a very stripped down rack away with me for the last few days just in case I got the chance to go climbing. Out of an almost free choice of any gear, I took:
6 wires up to Wallnut 8
Torque Nut 1
Torque Nut 2
DMM Demon cam 3.5

'In theory' that would an ideal first trad rack. However in practice things are more complicated due to .

The most useful of wires are in the range WC/DMM sizes 3-9. As mentioned, for a light rack these would be the sizes I'd carry. However it makes no real sense to buy just the middle sizes because:
a) you can buy the full set 1-11 for much less per wire
b) the extra wires WILL be needed in future if you progress to longer/harder routes.

The issue with hexes is trickier. {I may talk specifically about Torque Nuts but the same applies to WC Rockcentrics etc.} Again it is cheaper to buy a full set of hexes BUT this time there is a good chance you may find some or all of the hexes later become redundant.

A TNut size 1 is roughly the same size as a Wallnut 11, so if you've bought the full set of Wallnuts then it is likely to prove less useful than other gear. Initially having a big hex such as a TNut size 4 is great, however large hexes compare the most poorly with cams in terms of weight vs performance so climbers will tend to rapidly replace very large hexes with a cam when they can afford it.

Mid-sizes hexes are most useful but on harder routes when a full range of cams is available many climbers will ditch the hexes in favour of the cams. Only occasionally in the higher grades on particularly long pitches (e.g. E1-E3 crack climbs at Fairhead) will you commonly see climbers carry both a full set of cams and hexes.

You have various options and can now hopefully understand some of the pros and cons:
- buy a full set of TNuts (or Rockcentrics 6-9)
- save money to help buy cams through:
. A) buying just 1 or 2 sizes - TNut 2, TNuts 2&3 or in Rockcentrics sizes 6 & 8 work well.
. B) buying a couple of cheap old fashioned hexes on rope 2nd hand as a stop gap.
- go straight to buying 2-3 cams.

Most people tend to buy the full set of TNuts (or larger Rockcentrics) straight away and are content.

> You mentioned it is pointless to keep slings on a screwgate and they should be kept on a wiregate; is that so they can also be used as extendable sling draws if required?

Yes, that's one of the reasons.

Also, if you want to further extend cams/hexes which are racked on their own wiregate, it makes slightly more sense to reach for a short sling and a single wiregate rather than to reach for an extendable quickdraw with two wiregates.

On easier routes you will very often want to use 120cm slings as runners (over a spike, round a tree etc.) and in that case a wiregate, as opposed to a heavier, costly screwgate, is more than sufficient.

You generally only use screwgates at belays, and the main point of belays is they will be at the best 'stance' on the route. As such swapping from a wiregate to a screwgate at a belay if needed will pose no real hassle.

Equally if people do want to carry 6-8 screwgates that's their choice...
The Ex-Engineer - on 22 May 2013
In reply to TRip: I almost can't fault your recommended rack ;-)

I'd want to have 2 wiregates completely spare for flexibility. I'd be happy to ditch the second sling draw to achieve that.

Other than that, I'd be off climbing VS at Tremadog in a flash...
TRip - on 22 May 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
> (In reply to TRip) I almost can't fault your recommended rack ;-)
>
Ha ha... cheers mate we should open a shop. Except the market is saturated.

Why are you no longer a fan of sling draws? These days I rarely find myself carrying more than 4 and more often than not 2. In the past I have carried 10.

I was interested by your suggested slimmed down rack. Occasionally I have done similar. However a friend 3.5/blue camalot would be just about the last cam I would choose to take. A green camalot would be my choice.

BTW are you still into Evolv Defys? I remember you used to rave about them a few years ago. Their new Valour shoe is a stiffer, better version. http://info.rockrun.com/reviews/evolv-valor-review.html

HTH



ads.ukclimbing.com
The Ex-Engineer - on 22 May 2013
In reply to TRip:
> Why are you no longer a fan of sling draws? These days I rarely find myself carrying more than 4 and more often than not 2.

Given that I rack hexes & cams individually, slingdraws only make sense for extending wires (or fixed gear). On crack climbs with loads of wire placements extension is normally not an issue. On really long pitches I will have double ropes. Add in the fact I'll have 5 slings on my rack, it all means I am confident that 2 slingdraws are enough for almost all routes.

> I was interested by your suggested slimmed down rack. Occasionally I have done similar. However a friend 3.5/blue camalot would be just about the last cam I would choose to take. A green camalot would be my choice.

It was mainly based on reducing weight whilst covering as large a size range as possible. A TNut 2 goes up to 48.7mm and a 3.5 cam down to 51mm providing a decent match. Also in the larger sizes cams compare not too badly with hexes in terms of weight vs range.
- TNut 4 - weight 146g - range 54mm-72mm
- Demon 3.5 - weight 181g - range 51mm-82mm
That is only 24% heavier but 70% more range.

A Metolius Ultralight Powercam size 8 would be even better in terms of weight at only 150g but it lacks a doubled sling and I'd struggle to justify one just for use on a scrambling rack :-(

> BTW are you still into Evolv Defys? I remember you used to rave about them a few years ago. Their new Valour shoe is a stiffer, better version. http://info.rockrun.com/reviews/evolv-valor-review.html

I think it was more a case of raving against the marketing spin that you needed the latest super technical down-turned shoes to climb moderately hard :-)

Anyway, I'm not climbing enough to justify new shoes so I'm currently trying to wear out 3 pairs of Defy in various states of repair. The Valour look good though...
andyco13 - on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF:

My current rack, for single and multi pitch:

Wild country classic rocks 1-10 (I'd say they're the simplest nuts for placing and cleaning).

Friends 1.5, 2.5, 3.5 (I sometimes take some smaller ones if I know I'm getting on something harder than HVS). Each on thier own Wild Wire karabiner.

5 x 10cm draws (WC Oxygens) for single pitch, or 5 x 60cm extenders (DMM Prowires) for multi pitch ( I never need more than 5, I do tend to run my gear out though).

1 x 120 with a single wiregate (I don't carry this on single pitch).

1 x 240 with 2 wiregates, for equalizing the belay anchors.

1 x large DMM twistgate HMS for attaching to the belay.

1 x DMM round bar stock HMS with a Black Diamond ATC.

WC pro (the one with the built in wire gate) nut remover.
StevenF - on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF:

There is so much useful information in this topic that I don't know where to start. Thank you to everyone who has replied, especially The Ex-Engineer and TRip.

TRip - The sample rack you posted looks excellent. Hopefully within several months I can build up on gear and have an almost identical rack, starting this month with DMM 1-11 nuts, 5x DMM Spectre2 quickdraws and a few Prusik loops.

The only questions I have to ask is why go for the additional Wild Country rocks instead of getting a duplicate size of DMM?
cuppatea on 22 May 2013
In reply to StevenF:

Confucious say.
Slightly different sizes and shape fit in greater variety of placements.
Jamie B - on 23 May 2013
In reply to TRip:

> Wild Country Rocks 4, 7 and 8 would be a good complimentary choice.

You obviously don't climb in Scotland, where 5 and 6 are GOD!

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