Nice Rack! Lets talk about Gear
Building your rack
Building your rack can be an expensive process. Keep in mind that you can have this rack for a considerable amount of time (10-15 years) depending on how you treat it. Aquire gear that matches your skill level and desired style of climbing. If you're going to be alpine climbing with minimal falls on gear, an ultra light rack might be useful for those long approaches. If you're going to be pushing the limits, you're still learning, and taking multiple falls, a stronger, heavier, and cheaper rack might be more suitable. It pays to know people, combining your rack with friends is a good way to keep the cost down.
Single rack (0.2 - #4).
Doubles in (0.4 - #2).
Wire gate biners. Total = #cams + #slings + 5
Single nut set (10 piece).
(10-15) 60cm 8mm slings.
(2) 120cm 8mm slings.
Large locking D-biner.
(3) small screw gate biners.
(1) belay device w/ top anchor loop & repel option.
30ft static 7mm polyester cordelette.
60m or 70m rope (bi-pattern preferred).
First AID kit.
Bell curve distribution (0.1-#4):
Triples: 0.75 to #2.
Doubles: 0.4 to #3.
Single: in 0.1 to #4.
Oz hood wires (rack pack). Total = #cams + #slings + ~10
(2) Single nut sets (10 pieces each).
(15) 8mm 60cm dyneema mammut sling.
(2) 8mm 120cm dyneema mammut sling.
(1) 8mm 240cm dyneema mammut sling.
(4-6) Large screw gate D-biners.
(6+) Small positron screw gate biners.
Mammut Smart Alpine (highly recommended).
Black Diamond ATC Guide (typical).
Petzl Mega Jul (not recommended).
(2) 30ft static 7mm polyester cordelette.
(1) 60m 10.2mm Bluewater Eliminator (workhorse/sport climbing).
(2) 70m 9.1mm Bluewater Icon bi-pattern double dry (trad/multi-pitch).
Single rack (0.3 -#3) with a doubles in mid range (0.5-#2) will get you started on most <80-100 ft climbs at ~1 piece every 5 to 10 ft.
3 liter reservoir
Finger nail clippers
Puffy jacket (seasonal)
Ibuprophine (for altitude head aches)
First AID kit
More Coming Soon!
Tips and tricks:
-Never pay full price! for cams and other equipment. Wait for a 25% or 30% off sale at anyone of the sites that I have listed or brick and mortar stores. Black diamond and REI have multiple 25% off sales throughout the year. But don't worry about 5% differences, it only saves you $5 ish dollars per piece of gear, get what you want vs what is cheap and you will not regret it later.
-While you are building your rack, resist the urge to just go buy gear because you need it for a trip, you end up paying a lot more than you need to, and it seems like they never have what you actually wanted. Plan ahead once you start buying, if you have a sale or up coming trip, paying more now can save more in the near future.
-Buy in bulk to save on shipping. Ask friends if they need anything.
-If you know anyone that has pro-deals, they can get 30-40%+ off gear every once in a while.
-It pays to know people, combining racks with friends is a good way to keep the cost down.
-Dont buy gear before trying it out, belay devices and biners are a prime example. Find someone in the gym that has it and ask if you can try it out.
-For reference, hand crack sizes range from 0.5 to #3. Off-width climbing begins around #4 and up.
-Sizes #4 and up are a burden to carry on your harness, they are heavy and bulky and are rarely used unless a climb specifically calls for it. If they are needed, you will be thankful you brought it.
-Be aware of strength ratings, ask yourself...
What is going to be the weakest link in your protection?
From wall to harness:
Cams = 5 to 14kn (1800lb)
Slings = 22kn (~5000lbs)
Biners =20-24kn (5000lb)
Rope = 8kn (1800lbs) with 4 to 8 UIAA rated falls
Harness = 22kn (5000lb)
-Color code your cams/biners, Black Diamond developed a color code for cam sizes with matching "rack pack" biners. Makes for quick identification when your in a pinch, saves energy, decreases stress of finding what you need, and decreases climbing times for each pitch.
-Always carry extra equipment such as a prusik cord, 30ft cordelette, extra lockers, extra biners, extra belay device, first aid kit. These will come in handy when things go wrong.
-"Hood wires" or equivalents are worth the extra cost. Trying to unclip a sling, rope, cam loop, etc. and it gets hung up can be very frustrating when you are tired or about to fall.
-For the number of misc. wire gate style biners you need, consider how you will be racking your slings (alpine draw, over the shoulder, twisted on single biner), and how often you place nuts.
Racking your Rack
Placing gear on your harness seems pretty straight forward. But if its done in a manner similar to my room after a long weekend trip (messy), then it can cost you time, energy, and or taking a nice whipper.
Body positions can be very delicate sometimes while you are holding on with one hand, both feet are smearing on the rock face and you are so close to the wall that you can barely look down at your waist to see what cams you have.
Having a consistent intuitive method for racking your gear is a good habit that you should start...right now. So as you progress in your trad climbing it will become second nature to rack your gear the same way you have for the last 10,000 climbs and be able to nearly feel your way to what you need, without looking down.
Two methods for clipping to your harness:
-Gate towards you
-Gate away from you
Do what ever feels comfortable to you. That said, my recommendation would be to put the gates away from you, and here are four (and a bonus) reasons why:
1. Gear is less likely to fall off your harness. Due, quite simply, to physics. You need an upward motion, a rotation of the gear towards your head, and pressure pushing into your waist to open the gate all at the same time. Very unlikely.
2. If you have a full harness you don't need to jam your thumb between the pieces to open the gate.
3. The rolling action on your wrist is more natural and smooth as opposed to straining your already pumped forearms to rotate the biner enough to get it off the gear loop.
4. Less likely to catch a shirt or jacket in the biner as you are clipping the gear to your harness, for those pale skinned climbers that require a shirt while climbing.
Bonus. The Pro's do it. Enough said.
If I didn't already have a jacket obsession, I would probably (and kind of already do) have a back pack obsession. Having the right backpack for any situation will make a world of a difference when it comes to functionality and comfort.
i am still working on finding the ideal backpack setup for any situation. So far I have narrowed it down to features that I like:
-Compartments to seperate types of gear, and for quick access.
-Top hood draw string and upper pouch.
-Waist band to get weight off your shoulders.
-Padded shoulder straps.
-Rigid/stiffer back support (climbing gear is pointy)
-Exterior gear loops
-Built in reservoir area with easy access
-Chest strap to hold down reservoir hose
-low profile and sits low behind the head. Test: put a helmet on and look up
-Side cinch straps to hold down jackets and gear
-Robust top haul loop/handle.
Features to avoid:
-Mesh or netting. This includes the airflow backs, side water bottle holders, and stretch pouches on the face. Do a dihedral or chimney route and you will understand.
-Heavy back packs (when empty).
-Top access only for gear. If something is at the bottom, good luck.
-Too many pockets and features. Most of our gear is too big to fit in accessory pockets and having one big compartment is useful.
-Really expensive. These packs are going to be thrashed and thrown around on rocks.
Pack Size Recommendations:
Day use, car to car: 15L-25L
Day use, craggin: 25L-40L
Multi day, bivy/tent: 40L-65L
For any bag I would suggest pairing it with a 3L reservoir, that will cover you for any day use/overnights with daily water sources. I regularly carry 1.5 or 2.5L of water for any of the activities I am doing and almost always run out.
The first back pack you are going to run into when you go to REI that looks like it will fit the descriptions above would the be REI Flash Pack shown below.
I have given this pack a good test run over the last two years. It has a very singular purpose that it does well on, compressible day back that you can pack in for an alpine/multi pitch climb. Overall I would not recommend this pack. Visit my Gear Talk Blog (Coming Soon) page for more my full review.
Find a robust waterproof bag with cushioned shoulder straps and waist strap to start. As a typical climbing day load will be 8-15 lb depending on how long you are planning to be out. Look for a pack that you can drape your rack or rope over the top and cinch down so they don't swing. The inside should be big enough for a jacket, food, and shoes (optional) which would put you in the range of 15-25L for a common day pack that you can climb in. The more low profile the better. Here is my current pack that I am starting to love and has changed my perspective on climbable packs.
Nothing says you are not out on an adventure like a wall full of gear. Note: fun is not guaranteed when your wall is empty, it will be hit or miss until after the adventure amnesia has set in.
The best storage/organization/piece of wall art that you can do would be a peg board setup. If you catch yourself wanting to go to REI (again) to get more gear, you can now get your fix at home by taking things on and off the pegs and playing with them. Cool advantages that I have found to this system would include:
- Having a sense of what gear you have and don't have, after a long weekend of mixing your rack with your friends rack and mysteriously misplacing some gear.
-Quick access to backpacks and harnesses for random adventures and going to the gym during the week.
-Keeps things off the floor and out of the corner of your apartment.
-If you have wet gear, this is fantastic for drying a lot of stuff.
-While prepping for your next climb, everything is already laid out and organized and you can see all of your gear at the same time. Making it less likely to leave something behind and you can pack quickly for those last minute trips.
-It looks cool, and is an efficient use of space.
The name of the game is Totes. Totes. Totes. Totes make car camping 100x easier to empty the back of your car for your extra wide/thick car camping blow up mattress, and you can pick a size that will fit in your front seat. They make for great tables/chairs while you are in camp. Helps to manage all of the loose items in the car, and keep the majority of you and your partners stuff separate. Totes, an essential piece of every rack.
I would say probably the number one tote I have seen and I would totes recommend, would be: Rubbermaid, Action Packers. They are hard to find in stores, and are a semi pricy, but this is a tote that will last a climbers life time. Click Here, for a link to Amazon 24 gal Action packers @ $59.96. To put that price into perspective, I paid $30-$35 for a flimsy, hard to open, non-water resistant, non locking basic tote.
On another note, always take your climbing gear out of your car! and or store any left behind gear (specifically cams) in a manner that someone breaking into your car at the trailhead won't be able to find them. Nothing is worse than loosing your entire rack that you packed into your car the night before you leave for a big trip. This recently happened to a buddy of mine, proving to an insurance company what you had stolen is very difficult and time consuming.
Not sure how much more I can talk about totes.
Alternative Gear Management:
There are a bunch of alternative methods for strapping gear to yourself while you are climbing as an alternative to your harness gear loops. Couple solutions:
-One/two slings opposed over your shoulders (Click Here)
-Multi loop gear sling (one shoulder) (Click Here)
-Bigwall gear slings (both shoulders) (Click Here)
Sometimes it can be easier for gear management as you are following and cleaning a route to put a sling over your shoulder and put the gear on it. Then pass all the gear in one motion at the next belay station.
For the leaders, depending on how much gear you have and personal preference, you can get additional clipping space with the shoulder gear slings for when you really want to sew up that route nice and tight. Assuming you are placing a piece every 5 ish feet, a common (60m rope) single pitch route should not require more than 20 pieces which equates to a fatty double rack. It will be tight, but all of these pieces should fit on a standard 4 loop harness plus the rest of the stuff you should have.
When I first started and my eyes got really big at all the cool equipment you can buy, I purchased the Metolius Multi Loop Gear Sling. They are very functional for carrying a lot of gear and keeping it organized. You can also easily pass it between leaders (caution: make sure someone is holding onto it, you will not be the first one to drop an entire rack). Another cool feature is they are reversible, for climbs that favor clipping from one side or the other.
I found that they tend to get in the way while you are climbing. The cam lobes are at just in the right spot for catching on your pants and harness every time you bend over (almost like they were designed that way). Also you can't see below you for foot placements because the cams are like a fat mans belly and don't allow to see anything below your waist line without effort.
Overall unless you have a specific reason for getting one I would not suggest it for typical climbing, just use your gear loops on your harness. If you do get one, make sure you practice with it as it takes some getting use to, and some flexible arms to reach all the gear.
It can be quite entertaining sometimes to watch people try and coil ropes or cord with a various assortment of knots to keep it from dragging on the ground. Usually it looks like rats nets hanging off the back of their harness.
Trust me there is a better way to manage rope. These methods don't only just apply to climbing ropes but also, garden hoses, power cords, yarn, and any other rope like object that makes you happy.
Daisy Chain Coil (My personal favorite):
-5ft-50ft rope lengths ideal
-Lap: quick, knotless, back pack option, single hand option while belaying.
-Mountaineer: modify working rope length, single loop, drapes over shoulder.
-Backpack: secure rope pre coiled for long approaches.
-Hangs off harness
Video coming soon (I think Ill have to make one)
More Coming Soon! Leave a comment if you have something specific you would like to know more about.