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Pros and Cons of gear slings
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By bearbreeder
Apr 26, 2012

pro on harness ... draws on the sling ...

allows me to reach the draws with either hand ...

if yr doing long multi without a pack youll already have yr approach shoes, water, etc on yr harness ...

ill simply ise a doubled/trippled cord or webbing as a gear sling ... which also works as bail/anchor tat

each to his/her own ... whatever works for you and yr partner


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By SlowTrad
From St Paul, MN
Apr 27, 2012

Like some of the other posters, I learned with a sling, swapping leads with a truly old-timer(who used a harness without gear loops). At the belays, hanging the entire rack on the anchor took weight off your body and made it easier to organize for the next lead when the second arrives at the belay.

I now use a hybrid system, with all of the soft gear on my harness, like alpine draws and ACR, and hard goods like cams/nuts and 'biners on my BD Zodiac, which has two big gear loops, one on each side. I realize that most people hate this, but it allows me really easy access to all of my gear, and I can carry a pretty big rack without it dragging the harness off my body. I have, in recent years, traded in my hexes(boohoo)for more cams, which makes my rack even heavier.

On an adventure route I might carry a full set of Camalots, with some doubles, a rack of nuts with a few offsets, maybe the pink/red tricam, 12 alpine draws, some extra cord for prussic/bail and a rap ring. Some light-weight biners rounds it out.


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By Jeff Chrisler
From Boulder, CO
Apr 27, 2012

I found that using a gear sling to be annoying. I kept on having to readjust it to my back or side depending on what kind of moves I was doing.

I'm now pretty much an all gear on harness kinda guy now. The only thing slightly annoying with that is that because the harness is much heavier, it has to be very tight not to sag down. Just a small complaint really, but much less annoying.


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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Apr 27, 2012
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly" (5.10, X) on the Lost and Found Flatiron. Belayer is Mark Ruocco. Photo by Bill Wright, 10/06.

Scott McMahon wrote:
Gets in the way Really sucks on slabs since your leaning over.

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

If you think it sucks on a slab, try it in a roof sometime.
I could never figure out how a woman can latch/unlatch a bra one-handed behind her back, and I sure as hell can't figure out how to reach that area myself.
Imagine trying to get stoppers and cams off the slings over my shoulder here:
Tony Bubb cleaning loose rock off of the route for the first attempt of 'Boogered (5.11c)' at Red River Gorge, circa 1994.
Tony Bubb cleaning loose rock off of the route for the first attempt of 'Boogered (5.11c)' at Red River Gorge, circa 1994.

That was the last time I ever put critical gear for a roof around a gear sling.
I imagine it would have been much worse, here:
Tony leads the OW roof of 'Orangahang, (5.11c)' in Springfield Gorge, OH. Mike Heffner Belays. Photo by Mindy Huddleston, ~1994.
Tony leads the OW roof of 'Orangahang, (5.11c)' in Springfield Gorge, OH. Mike Heffner Belays. Photo by Mindy Huddleston, ~1994.

But I'd learned better already on that one.


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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Apr 27, 2012
Bocan

haha good one Tony!! Yeah upside down with a sling = no bueno!


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By Nick Zmyewski
From Newark, Delaware
Apr 27, 2012
the frozen topout during a winter ascent

I've always used a sling to hold my draws and then racked the gear on the harness. Doing it this way makes it a little easier to keep everything organized. Occasionally if I'm bringing some really small gear (RPs or ballnuts) I might rack those on the sling too.


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By Tombo
From Boulder
Apr 27, 2012
1/3 of the way up Spire, just above where my piece blew.

Gear sling, if your desperately hanging from a finger lock trying to plug the first piece in 20 feet and that piece is on back side of the off hand side of your harness, it's no bueno. Do agree with harness locaton for roofs however.


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By DexterRutecki
From Cincinnati, Ohio
Apr 27, 2012

Pros: 1) They are cheap so its not to big of a deal to waste your money on them. 2)they make it easy to identify gumbies

Cons: 1) They suck. 2) gear is always in your way. 3) you look like a gumbie.


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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Apr 27, 2012
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly" (5.10, X) on the Lost and Found Flatiron. Belayer is Mark Ruocco. Photo by Bill Wright, 10/06.

PS- when I rack on my harness I rack passive pro, a chain of biners, and a nut tool on my left FRONT gear loop, active pro on my right FRONT gear loop. I can always see all of my gear.
On the rear two gear loops I rack all of my slings, short in front, long in back. I can grab those blind.
If I run into a squeeze chimney or slot that I can't fit through that way (IE: The Slot in Steck-Slathe), I get out a few slings and dangle stuff from below me for that section or pitch.


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By Evan S
From Erie, CO
Apr 27, 2012
Me, of course

DexterRutecki wrote:
Pros: Cons: 1) They suck. 2) gear is always in your way. 3) you look like a gumbie.


Are you sure you're not referring to your private areas?


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By Tyrel Fuller
From Denver, CO
Apr 27, 2012
Big Bend

matt davies wrote:
I stopped using my gearsling when it got tangled with my PAS.



I hate when stuff gets all up in my PAS' biz


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By "H"
From Manitou Springs
Apr 27, 2012
Axes glistening in the sun

I started out racking on a gear sling. On overhanging stuff it shifts to much even if you put a biner from a gear loop to the sling. That kind of annoyed me. Plus it can make it difficult to get to a piece you may need.2 years ago I switched to racking on my harness and haven't looked back. It's easier with a pack on and I can switch gear over pretty quick with my partner. I bought the wildcountry syncro harness which has like 7 gear loops on it, plus 4 spots to put ice clippers. Try it both ways. I wasn't sure I'd like racking on the harness as I'd been doing it for 18 yrs. but once I got my system dialed in it was fine. Just a matter of personal preference.


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By jack s.
From Kamloops, BC
Apr 27, 2012
Mean Green P2

Wow. Glad to see I am not the only one that hates gear slings. I guess I don't mind if people use them just so long as they don't expect me to climb with it when its my lead. I have had occasions where people bring a gear sling in addition to whatever I bring on my harness and then expect me to carry it every time we are on lead. I hate it every time (with the exception of some chimneys), especially when they try to convince me that it is somehow better than carrying my cams on my harness where everything is organized and out of the way.


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By Dane
Apr 28, 2012
Cham '11

I like a gear sling in the mtns and on rock. Harness and sling for ice.

coldthistle.blogspot.com/2011/05/lowly-gear-sling.html


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By 20 kN
From Hawaii
Apr 29, 2012

Rob Selter wrote:
I am thinking of using a gear sling vs racking on my harness on multi pitch routes and wanted some opinions.

Slings make the changeover process easier when you are swapping leads. To have to take every single piece off your harness and hand it to your partner at every belay is rather annoying, and sooner or later you are going to drop a piece in the changeover, I guarantee it. Just walk the base of any popular multi-pitch route in Yosemite, you will find tons of gear. I think in one month alone I must have found 15 biners laying around from people dropping them. Yosemite has booty gear all over the place.

If you only follow multi-pitch, than I would certainly recommend a sling. There is really no reason to rack gear on your harness if you are just going to hand it over at the belay anyway. By racking it on a sling you can just give it to your leader, and while he sorts through it you can drink some water or something else. But you do not need some fancy gear sling to do that, a standard 2' runner works great.


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By DexterRutecki
From Cincinnati, Ohio
Apr 29, 2012

Am I the only one who likes them for sport climbs?


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By NorCalNomad
From San Francisco
Apr 29, 2012

DexterRutecki wrote:
y. 3) you look like a gumbie.



lol I love how all the comment along these lines. Most of the dudes up in Shasta area of NorCal that I've met and put up most of the FA there (30+ years of climbing) rock the slings. Actually most of the older school guys I've met rock the sling.


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By Alan Ream
From Lafayette CO
Apr 29, 2012
Breakfast of Champion slacker climbers.

With a gear sling it is also much easier to dump all that extra weight off at the belay and take a break in between pitches. Just clip it in and relax - Ahhhhh! - Then - when it's your lead you sort through and grab only the stuff you think you need and are willing to carry - Ahhhhh - But then again I am an old guy - Ahhhh!


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By agd
Apr 29, 2012
alaska

Another con: it has been known to kill people. A couple years back a young woman was leading, fell and somehow a piece of gear on the sling caught, and she was hung. I believe it took rescuers to remove her body from the wall.


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By DexterRutecki
From Cincinnati, Ohio
Apr 29, 2012

C Blank wrote:
lol I love how all the comment along these lines. Most of the dudes up in Shasta area of NorCal that I've met and put up most of the FA there (30+ years of climbing) rock the slings. Actually most of the older school guys I've met rock the sling.


yeah and they are probably still using hexes and shoes that are 15 years old... doesn't mean it makes any sense. All those old guys are also probably climbing 5.6 so its not like it matters anyway on that stuff.


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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Apr 29, 2012
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard

Harness racking works for sport climbs and many types of short trad routes. It is preferable for overhanging routes where the sling hangs way behind the climber (although the backward-hanging sling is easily corrected by clipping it to a harness loop), but on the other hand is terrible for any kind of crack climbing requiring the body or some part of it to be in the crack. Harness racking also impedes hip scums in corners, and even if the scum works, it can be very hard to get at gear that is pinned against a wall.

If you are carrying a large free-climbing rack, say a full set of nuts and trinkets and doubles in cams, I find it too hard to get at everything when it is on the harness, the load-in-the pants feeling is unpleasant, and large cams hanging low from harness loops can tangle in pants cuffs when performing high-steps, and loosening the harness for clothing changes produces a major struggle to hold up all the weight.

At belay changeovers when leads are swapped, it is a wash if the leader has placed most of the gear. If the leader hasn't placed a lot of gear, then handing over a properly racked sling saves quite a bit time compared to handing over all the racked pieces one at a time, and makes it less likely that gear will be dropped. (Of course, there is the potential to drop an entire gear sling, but almost all climbers are careful enough not to let that happen.) Moreover, if the party is going for speed and is racking each cam on a dedicated biner, then gear can be accumulated on slings, passed to the leader, and used as-is without any re-racking (or only re-racking some of the nuts) for several pitches at a time before order has to be imposed.

At belay changeovers for block leading, the second should be cleaning onto a sling which is passed to the leader, regardless of the racking method the leader is using.

Although rather unpopular, I find the looped gear slings to be an excellent compromise. They keep large racks organized, and the gear doesn't fly around to your back and hang out of reach on overhangs. The leader can spin the sling around to the front or around to the back and the gear stays there. I leave the frontmost loop empty and use it for desperate situations when you need to re-rack a wrong-sized piece, as well as an easily accessible location for pre-selected pieces for hard placements. With such slings, I put the quickdraws on my harness (along with personal gear) and carry some long slings over the opposite shoulder.

It should be clear that there is no right way and, on short climbs without wide cracks or scumming corners, very little real to prefer one method over the other. As the climbs get longer and include a wider variety of features, racking on a sling seems to have an increasing number of advantages.


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By jeffblankman
From San Diego, Ca
Apr 29, 2012
.

Racking nuts on a sling often allows you to test and place nuts without having to remove the entire biner of nuts from your sling. IMO, very convenient and less apt to accidentally drop nuts.


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By kBobby
From Spokane, WA
Apr 29, 2012

jeffblankman wrote:
Racking nuts on a sling often allows you to test and place nuts without having to remove the entire biner of nuts from your sling. IMO, very convenient and less apt to accidentally drop nuts.

Also very dangerous.


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By JCM
From Henderson, NV
Apr 29, 2012

20 kN wrote:
To have to take every single piece off your harness and hand it to your partner at every belay is rather annoying, and sooner or later you are going to drop a piece in the changeover, I guarantee it.


Never have dropped a piece this way, in 10 years of trad climbing.


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By Dane
Apr 29, 2012
Cham '11

Agreed, it is very dangerious. And a very bad habit.

10 years of trad and never dropped a piece of gear? Really?

I use both a sling and a harness. Serious climbs get a sling. Less serious climbs I don't care one way or the other. But "never" dropped a piece of gear? I haven't dropped many but I have dropped enough to notice.

Down side to climbing on a rack? If you do drop the rack you are generally screwed. When I do climb with a rack we exchange pieces one at a time (as with a harness) or the entire sling which ever is faster and more secure. Never...never.. more than one piece at a time in any serious setting. But that means there are TWO slings and each will still have at least part of the rack on still on both gear slings.

On hard trad lines and in the alpine if you have judged it right you'll run out of gear at the end of the leads so it can be faster to just swap the gear slings over. But as I said, drop it and you are screwed.



the alpine rock rack after a cold miserable retreat
the alpine rock rack after a cold miserable retreat


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