Do I need the most expensive quickdraws?

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Do I need the most expensive quickdraws?

Do I need the most expensive quickdraws?

Anytime I shop for anything I have to compare the top end gear and the bottom end to try and figure out what I’m paying for at the top, and if it’s worth it. Quickdraws can cost almost double from the bottom end to the top, so is the top end quick draw twice as good?

I’m going to offer a spoiler alert to start off here—this article won’t end in an answer, but it will help you decide for yourself.

Are the more expensive carabiners safer?

The short answer here is no. All carabiners properly rated for climbing (don’t shop at Canadian Tire for carabiners!) are safe enough to lead on. The cheap ones and expensive ones will generally be equally strong, in fact some of the expensive ones will be a bit weaker if their primary goal is to save weight, but we’ll get into that. The bottom line here is your safety and wallet are not related when it comes to your quickdraws. If cost is your primary concern, find the cheapest UIAA and CE rated quickdraws and get after it! All properly rated quickdraw carabiners will be at least 20kn when the gate is closed, 7kn with the gate open, and 7kn across the minor axis. You can find the carabiner’s rating on the spine.


So what am I paying for?

That depends on what you want your quickdraws to do.

If you’re looking for a sport quickdraw, you’re mainly paying for ergonomics. The cheaper carabiners will have straight gates and a simple but time tested design. As you move up in price you’ll find a more bent gate, thicker dog bones, and a space in the bottom of the carabiner for the rope to run. These features all make clipping easier and although the difference is minimal, it could ultimately be the difference between sending and falling.

Helium 3.0 Carabiner


If you’re getting a trad or ice quickdraw, which is usually a wiregate, generally the added cost comes from two things: Weight savings (expensive carabiners will be much lighter), and a covered nose on the wire gate. The covered nose on the Helium 3.0 carabiner keeps your rope, cams, and nuts from snagging. It may seem like a small gain, but those snags always seem to happen when you most need things to go smoothly.




The lightest quickdraws we currently offer are 73g compared to 85g for the less expensive wire gates. The 12g may not seem like much but if you’re carrying 12 of them into the backcountry you’ll notice the difference at the end of the day. The key lock or covering on the nose is a great quality of life feature that adds a lot of cost. The covered nose helps clipping and unclipping your gear, wires, and ice screws but falls squarely in the ‘nice-to-have’ category. If you love the smooth nose but don’t care about the weight, keylock sport draws are still fine for trad climbing.

Here are some examples of pure sport draws:





The real cost of a set of ‘draws

Quickdraws don’t have the same sort of shelf life as a rope, but like all things, they don’t last forever. The first part to go will be the dogbones. Let’s conservatively imagine you replace these every three years. The carabiners themselves will last much longer, but again for arguments sake lets say you start to see some grooving after 6 years and want to play it safe and replace them.






Cost up Front






Sling Replacement






Cost per Year






So… my conclusion? Climbing is a lot cheaper than golf. 

If you think the features are worth it, an extra $35 a year isn’t a huge expense, but that $35 could be an extra trip up to Lion’s head every year if you really want to stretch it. Let this all act as permission to make the choice you already wanted to make.

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