For a day of sport climbing, quickdraws are among the essentials you’ll need to have in your pack when heading to the crag. But just how many to take is a question that often gets asked, especially by new climbers.
The number of quickdraws you need varies based on the climb, but since most sport climbing routes can be led with a dozen quickdraws or fewer, 12 is a good number to start with. With that said, you’ll want to consider these things, too:
- Longer sport routes (more than 30m long) often require 16–18 quickdraws, or even more.
- If you plan to use quickdraws as part of your anchor, be sure to account for them in the number you carry.
- It never hurts to carry an extra quickdraw or two.
To find out exactly how many quickdraws you need for a climb, it’s helpful to have a guidebook for the area. There you can find the number of bolts on the route, which equates to the number of quickdraws you’ll need (not including any you use at the anchor). You can also get info about the type of anchor on the climb, what length rope is required, the number of pitches and how to find the climb.
More About Quickdraws
In addition to quantity, you may want to consider these points, too:
Gate type: The three main types of gates are straight, bent or wire. Because each quickdraw has two carabiners on it, a quickdraw can have a combination of straight, bent or wiregate carabiners. Straight-gate carabiners are common on quickdraws and they’re very easy to clip. Bent-gate carabiners have a concave shape that makes clipping the rope quick and easy, and for this reason they are reserved only for the rope-end of the quickdraw. Wiregate carabiners are typically the lightest option.
Sling length: Quickdraws come with different length slings (aka dogbones). Those with medium-length slings (about 18cm long) can help reduce rope drag on a route that zigzags up the rock face, but they’re also a tad heavier than those with short-length slings (about 10–12cm long). Anything longer than about 18cm is usually considered an alpine quickdraw and is used for trad climbing. Most sport climbers will carry a mix of short- and medium-length quickdraws on their harness so they’re ready for whatever the route has in store.
Carabiner size: Small carabiners are lighter than bigger ones, but really small ones can be tougher to clip.
To learn more about gate type, sling length, carabiner size and other quickdraw considerations, read our quickdraw buying guide.