What is a quickdraw?
A quickdraw (or runner) consists of 2 non-locking carabiners generally connected by a short, pre-sewn loop of webbing. The quickdraw protects the lead climber from a fall. The leader places quickdraws at each protection point as s/he ascends, clipping the rope to each quickdraw as s/he goes. It connects the rope to the rock and, in the case of a fall, ensures that the climber is held at more or less the level of the last quickdraw.
Quickdraws use non-locking carabiners. These are D-shaped and do not have locking gates. The differences between models lie at the level of the gate. They can have straight gates or bent gates.
A quickdraw will generally have a straight gate and a bent gate carabiner. The straight gate carabiner is clipped to the bolt or protection, and the bent gate is clipped to the rope. The shape of the latter allows for quick and easy clipping.
Non-locking carabiners are made of either a solid gate or a wire gate (straight or bent). Solid gates operate like locking carabiners with a spring-loaded gate. Wire gates have several advantages:
- Reduced weight of the carabiner
- Lower risk of the gate opening under a shock load
- The gate’s spring mechanism comes from the elasticity of the metal, so there are no mechanical parts and it is more durable
The length of the webbing can vary, and is typically between 11 and 20cm, to limit rope drag. It is sometimes also necessary to extend a quickdraw using a sling in order to limit the rope drag.
On average, the lifespan of the webbing of a quickdraw is about 2 to 3 years. Remember to replace them, as their strength diminishes with time.In case of heavy falls, it is advised to retire the quickdraw that held your fall.Check and replace the webbing if it shows a high amount of wear.Remember to always use quickdraws in the same way round (i.e. always use the same carabiner to clip the rope) to avoid wear and tear on the rope.