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Pros and Cons of gear slings
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By Rob Selter
From running springs Ca
Apr 25, 2012
me
I am thinking of using a gear sling vs racking on my harness on multi pitch routes and wanted some opinions.

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By JesseT
From Portland, OR
Apr 25, 2012
25' drop...wheeeeee!
Pros:
Easy to trade off the rack when swinging leads.
Rack can be shifted out of the way if chimneying.
Good for carrying a HUGE rack (e.g. aid).

Cons:
Pretty much everything else.
Almost as bad as climbing with a backpack on.
Hard to see your feet or high step on slabs.
Possibility of dropping your entire rack.

When I started out I mostly climbed with a gear sling, now I mostly use it to keep my rack organized when it's hanging in my closet.

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By John D
Apr 26, 2012
I rack on my harness. Like JessieT said, it is easier to trade off, especially if you're leading in blocks, and it is easier to swing out of the way in a chimney.

I don't like it cause it's harder to place with both hands. I rack an assortment of gear on both sides of my harness so I can hold on with whichever hand is most convienient and place gear with the other hand. This isn't as easy with a gear sling. I also find that a gear sling is frequently in the way, if I want to lie-back or high step, often, the gear sling is in the way and a PITA.

I do use a gear sling on big wall/aid routes when I have to carry a triple rack, but that's pretty much the only situation that I'll deal with a gear sling.

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By Brandon Groza
From Bend, OR
Apr 26, 2012
Chomp. Summer climbing in RMNP.
I almost always go sling (or just a 24'' runner) for multi pitch when swapping leads, but rack on my harness if I am the only leader.

Sling is convenient but it's so climb dependent eg. if you were emptying most of the gear into a pitch, your partner would need to re-rack either way (unless she had a separate sling) at the belay. In that case why not just rack onto the harness?

Then again, if you only dropped a 1/4 or 1/3 the rack on a pitch, the sling seems like the obvious choice. FWIW I find with a 70m on climbs in the "challenging to at my limit" level, I am using up most of the gear I carry. Much less on climbs well below my limit.

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By Elena Sera Jose
From colorado
Apr 26, 2012
bacon
I find it convenient to rack small to medium cams on sling largest sizes on back loops(harness), draws on side loops (harness) nuts on front of right side loop (harness) lockers belay device and cordilette on very back loop(harness). So its a combination.

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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Apr 26, 2012
try both with and without a gear sling and go with what you like. in the end, if you hate it, its not worth bothering with.

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By Derek W
Apr 26, 2012
First summit of First Flatiron
I climbed for a while using a 1" runner gear sling. I hated it. I don't climb hard really so on easier (lower angle) stuff it is always hanging down in front of you. This makes it hard at times to see your feet and it swings around loosely. My preference is rack on your harness. I tend to lead most every pitch, but even swapping is easy because the second usually already has half of of the gear or more when they get to the belay. They just have to try to stay semi organized as they clean. Maybe if I climbed steeper, harder, faster I'd feel different.

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By matt davies
Apr 26, 2012
I stopped using my gearsling when it got tangled with my PAS.

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By Ethan Henderson
From Silverdale, WA
Apr 26, 2012
aliens
Gear Slings are nice because you can throw the rack behind you when you are climbing, keeping all of the gear out of the way. They also give you an easy way to transfer gear back and fourth.

I would not reccomend multi-loop slings at all. The loops keep the gear spread out. So when you go to throw it behind you it creeps in front of you which is annoying. And the gear is just as hard/easy to grab as with an open loop as opposed to a multi-loop IMO. Oh also keep the sling adjusted so its as small/tight as possible that way it will not droop down.

Personally i don't mind carrying a 2x rack on my harness, but i frequently climb with a sling.

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By Derek W
Apr 26, 2012
First summit of First Flatiron
Ethan Henderson wrote:
Oh also keep the sling adjusted so its as small/tight as possible that way it will not droop down.

If you end up going with a sling, +1 to this point.

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By Darren in Vegas
From Las Vegas, NV
Apr 26, 2012
Skiing around.
I've never understood how it is that people think that using a gear sling is somehow faster or easier for belay changeovers than straight off the harness. Please see if my logic makes sense or if I am missing something.

Scenario 1: no gear sling. Follower arrives at belay with gear on harness, and has to rack leftover gear from the leader's harness one or so at a time. (This is what sling advocates say is eliminated by using the sling.)

Scenario 2: gear sling. Follower arrives at belay with gear on harness, and gets the sling in one smooth motion from the leader. But the follower still then has to transfer gear one or so pieces at a time from harness to sling.

The only way I see this as faster is if the follower, who is now leading the next pitch, doesn't mind some of the gear on the sling, and some of the gear on the harness. This seems to me would foul up organization of gear.

So my thoughts on this are that neither is more efficient for belay changeovers, it is merely preference while climbing that should determine your choice of sling or no. Anyone have any opposition to this conclusion?

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By Michael Dupont
Apr 26, 2012
Ethan Henderson wrote:
Gear Slings are nice because you can throw the rack behind you when you are climbing,


You can do this again, again, again and again. That's exactly why I hate gear slings. It is always in the way.

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By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Apr 26, 2012
On Everleigh Club Crack.  Photo by Burt Lindquist.
They both have their place. I would edit JesseT's list this way:

JesseT (edited) wrote:
Pros: Rack can be shifted out of the way if chimneying, in offwidths or in corners. Good for carrying a HUGE rack (e.g. long intense pitches, or aid). Cons: Hard to see your feet or high step on slabs. Swings around more when you make big moves.


Plus, an over the shoulder slings make you look like an old man. The women that it looks cute on probably find it uncomfortable.

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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Apr 26, 2012
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.
I have climbed with gear on the harness and with a gear sling that is one continuous loop. Still prefer the gear sling myself since it is easier to organize cams by size. Eh, whatever floats your boat. Pros and cons both ways.

What you need is a little bag of holding with a Hobbit inside that simply hands you the right piece. And if he makes a mistake, you can bellow "Goddamnit. Everything but what I need!" like Don Peterson.

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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Apr 26, 2012
Bocan
Without reading all the other posts...

Pros:

Better for chimney's...like 100% better.
Quick swaps at the belay

That's about it.

Cons:

Catches on everything.
Gets in the way
Really sucks on slabs since your leaning over. See above 2 cons

I sometimes might use a gear sling for just my runners. That's not to bad.

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By 303scott
Apr 26, 2012
I learned on a sling, which is likely why I'm more comfortable with it. Also, it lets you rack your draws on your harness instead of around your neck, which has always looked uncomfortable when clipping. I almost always climb with doubles to 3, so putting all that on your harness + draws kinda sucks. I also think getting to the gear with either hand is easier, but again, it's probably just because I am used to it.

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By Bill M
From Fort Collins, CO
Apr 26, 2012
I keep most of the gear I need on my harness, but will move what I think are the next few pcs I will need onto a small sling and put it on the side of my body that I think will be easiest to get the gear from, e.g. if it is left facing dihedral the sling would go on my left side.

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By Mike McKinnon
From Golden, CO
Apr 26, 2012
Bunny pancake
303scott wrote:
I learned on a sling, which is likely why I'm more comfortable with it. Also, it lets you rack your draws on your harness instead of around your neck, which has always looked uncomfortable when clipping. I almost always climb with doubles to 3, so putting all that on your harness + draws kinda sucks. I also think getting to the gear with either hand is easier, but again, it's probably just because I am used to it.


I clinmb with double .5,.75,1,2,3. One on each side. One set of nuts on each side, tcus split to each side. Draws on back two loops.

I have never had any problems carrying this much gear on my harness.

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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Apr 26, 2012
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.
Scott McMahon wrote:
Really sucks on slabs since your leaning over.


Got that right. Definitely do gear on the harness for Flatiron slab routes.

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By JCM
From Seattle, WA
Apr 26, 2012
Darren in Vegas wrote:
I've never understood how it is that people think that using a gear sling is somehow faster or easier for belay changeovers than straight off the harness. Please see if my logic makes sense or if I am missing something. Scenario 1: no gear sling. Follower arrives at belay with gear on harness, and has to rack leftover gear from the leader's harness one or so at a time. (This is what sling advocates say is eliminated by using the sling.) Scenario 2: gear sling. Follower arrives at belay with gear on harness, and gets the sling in one smooth motion from the leader. But the follower still then has to transfer gear one or so pieces at a time from harness to sling. The only way I see this as faster is if the follower, who is now leading the next pitch, doesn't mind some of the gear on the sling, and some of the gear on the harness. This seems to me would foul up organization of gear. So my thoughts on this are that neither is more efficient for belay changeovers, it is merely preference while climbing that should determine your choice of sling or no. Anyone have any opposition to this conclusion?


I agree 100%.

When swinging leads, I rack the gear onto my harness in an organized fashion when following/cleaning; I put each piece in the place i will want it to be racked for the next lead. I find that this is much more efficient that racking in a quick & sloppy manner that needs to be resorted at the belay.

Like Darren said, the gear sling really doesn't save any time at the belay changeover, since you would then need to rerack the gear cleaned from the prior pitch onto the sling. Not reracking leads to disorganization, which slows you down in the long run.

I also don't like climbing with a gear sling on; i find it awkward and tedious. On slabs, the gear swings forward and gets in the way; on steeps, the gear sling swings back and feels like it is pulling you off. I almost never climb with a gear sling, for this reason.

The one HUGE exception to my gear sling hatred is for some squeezes and OWs, where it is advantages to have the gear on a sling on the outside-side of your body. This seems especially true for granite OWs in corners, where gear on the harness tends to really get in the way. A sling lets you swing the gear outside the crack and out of the way.

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By Ethan Henderson
From Silverdale, WA
Apr 26, 2012
aliens
it is merely preference while climbing that should determine your choice of sling or no. Anyone have any opposition to this conclusion?


Totally agreed.

Borrow a buddies/REI's (jk) and try it out.

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By Rob Selter
From running springs Ca
Apr 26, 2012
me
Ethan, I borrowed one from REI yesterday and am going to try it out Mon. out at Tahuitz. Thanks every one for your imput, keep them coming

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By ROC
From Englewood, CO
Apr 26, 2012
Climbing with the gear sling definitely takes some getting used to. I think the effort to figure it out could be worthwhile depending on your climbing goals. I climb with one full time pretty much. Figure it is just training weight. It has really paid off on longer routes though. My friends that routinely rack on their harnesses have done nothing but fight the gear sling the entire time. I'm used to it, so it doesn't bother me. As a result I have tended to have a better time on those long routes when we are swapping leads with the sling.

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By doligo
Apr 26, 2012
Jose Cuervo Fruitcups dirtbag style
I prefer the gear sling on multi-pitch when I'm carrying a lot of alpine draws and off-widths. On wandering routes that need lots of draws, I rack my draws and stoppers on my harness and cams on the sling. On OWs I rack everything (extra biners, belay device, slings, water bottle etc) on the sling.

For people who said gear slings get on the way on slabs - how much gear are you carrying to make it a nuisance? Slabs are by definition runout, so at most I'm carrying few draws, a set of stoppers and few finger-size cams. I agree with whoever said that looped gear slings are pretty much useless - I usually only use first two loops. I like the padded shoulders though when carrying a double/triple rack or big cams.

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By Brian Scoggins
From Eugene, OR
Apr 26, 2012
I consistently rack any doubles, #1 c4 and up on a gear sling, and my #4 and #5 c4 as well, if I expect to need them. If I'm climbing sustained slab, I leave the doubles with my second. If its a short section of slab, I suck it up and deal with it. If its a long, low angle route, that isn't slab climbing, why the hell am I placing so much pro as to need doubles, let alone triples? Low enough angle that the sling keeps shifing gear in front of me, takes lots of pro, sounds like 5.5!

Just like the previous trad harness thread, if your argument is that you need a triple set all the time, and you're consistently climbing low angle routes, maybe the problem isn't how you're racking, but how you're climbing.

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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Apr 26, 2012
Unless it's a chimney or I have more gear than will fit, I'm all harness. Climbed with a gear sling for about 10 years, once I switched I was much happier without it.

Yes, you can "throw the gear behind you" when wearing one, and you will...several times per pitch because everytime you lean, it falls back in front of you.

Balance/center of gravity is better with the extra weight on my hips (harness) vs hanging from one shoulder/neck (sling).

It's not really much (if any) faster, and if you're climbing hard or fast, and swinging leads, then the person who is about to lead probably needs a minute to recover from following the prior pitch.

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