If you hear the name Beal you'll probably first think ropes, but the brand has a range of hardwear too. I'd never used their hardware until we were sent the new Be Free Rubber quickdraws. These are solid gate sport climbing draws with a rubber cover over the sling, designed to make grabbing them much easier. I've had them out through autumn at a number of different sport venues, and I've been favourably impressed.
The Be Free Rubbers use Beal's "Be Top" and "Be One" carabiners, both of which are solid gate crabs with a keylock gate design. The Be Top is the carabiner that is designed to be attached to the bolt, and is characterised by its smaller size. It is a straight gate design and has a clean nose so clipping and removal from bolts is simple, and the krab will not get caught at the nose. The opening range on the Be Top is 14mm, which combined with its small size can feel a bit fiddly; but it does mean that it's quite light (although when it comes to redpointing sport that's not the first asset I tend to look for in a draw).
The lower gate is Beal's Be One carabiner. Its larger size and curved gate are designed to make clipping as easy as possible, which in my experience works well. The gate feels firm and reassuring and the rope is easily directed into the clip thanks to the curved gate. At the bottom of the Be One, where the rope would typically run, the carabiner is noticeably rounded, which Beal claim reduces wear on the rope and crab. Looking at how the rope runs through this I can believe this would make a significant difference as the friction between the rope and the crab is more evenly distributed over the entire contact surface, unlike carabiners with a more boxy design.
On first acquaintance I was sceptical about the Be Free Rubber's sling. I've always thought a well designed sport draw only really needed big gates and a big a wide sling of fabric so grabbing them is easy when you're pumped or putting in draws. I've used a few draws in the past with moulded plastic handles that cover the sling, and never really been a fan of them. With these draws though I think I'm becoming a bit of a convert. The webbing of the sling ranges from 12mm at the bolt end to 18mm at the rope end. But it's not just the width of a sling that makes it grab-able - it's also about its depth, and the Be Frees' fat rubber attachment really helps with that. The cover provides some abrasion protection for the sling, too. Couple that with the fact that rubber is obviously a much better material to grip than nylon webbing, given there is more friction, and really it's a no brainer.
The one downside with the rubber attachment is if you want to take the rope end krab off it's slightly more faffy, but I'm not really sure why you'd need to do that, as if you wanted to create an extension by joining multiple draws together you can simply remove the bolt end krab. The rubber does however hold the lower draw in the correct position for clipping, stopping it rotating to a funny angle - not something you want to deal with while pumped on the crux of your sport project!
My general impression of these quickdraws has been good. They handle well for clipping and their biggest asset is the rubber grip which works very well indeed. The gate on the bolt end krab is maybe a little on the small side for my liking - I always just want big gates on sport draws - however the rope end gate is brilliant, and I'm sure will keep ropes lasting longer than many other draws out there. Length wise it would be nice if there was a 25cm offering too, a few other manufactuers these days are making these longer dogbones and on certain routes they really do work well. The Be Free Rubbers sell at £19 or £21 for the 12cm and 17cm respectively, which puts them at a midrange kind of budget - a fair price for a good piece of kit, I'd say.
Quickdraw for sport climbing and big walls. It's made of 2 Keylock carabiners: the BE TOP at the top, and the BE ONE at the bottom. The BE ONE has got a 'receiving zone' enlarged (12 mm diameter) to minimize wear caused by repeated falls. The quickdraw is equipped with a RUBBER to hold the carabiner in position and to ensure effective protection against abrasion.
- Lengths: 12cm or 17cm
- Price: £19 (12cm) £21 (17cm)
- 12mm & 18mm variable tubular sling for an optimal grip when working a route
- Weight: 102g (12cm) 107g (17cm)
Be Top carabiner
- Major axis strength: 22 kN
- Minor axis strength: 7 kN
- Open gate strength: 7 kN
- Weight: 34.3 g
- Height: 89 mm
For more info see beal-planet.com
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