3. Quickdraw Considerations

In this video we review quickdraw considerations for the leader while sport climbing.

– Carry enough draws for the route plus two extra “oh crap” draws AND extras for the anchor if needed. Typically ten to twelve draws are plenty, plus any gear needed to rappel, lower, clean, or top rope the route.

– Usually the smaller quick draw dog bones in the 10 to 15cm range are fine as sport routes don’t tend to wander too much.

– If needed, bring longer draws or shoulder length slings — trick tripled to extend bolts. For more info on how to trick trippel your slings, please see our video on “Traditional Climbing – Racking for Lead

– If possible, use “key lock” carabiners on both the bolt ends and the rope ends of the quickdraw, to avoid snagging and getting hung up. Key lock carabiners feature a notchless nose that is less likely to snag on bolt hangers and gear loops.

– A straight gate carabiner is ideal for the bolt side of the draw, while a bent gate carabiner aids in cleanly clipping the rope end of the draw.

– Align the carabiners on the draw’s “dog bone” – or nylon center – so both gates are facing the same direction. This can help minimize the draw twisting and unclipping from the bolt.

– Using a rubber or plastic carabiner “keeper” on the rope side of the draw makes clipping easier and more efficient. Most modern draws and dogbones come with these rubber keepers.  

– Clip your draws to the front gear loops on your harness and try to have them evenly distributed on both sides.

– As mentioned in our “Clipping Considerations” video, when clipping a quickdraw to the bolt, clip so the rope runs over the spine of the carabiner—not the gate—as you climb above it (this means the spines should be on the same side as the direction you will be climbing above the bolt). This helps ensure the rope runs over the spine in the event of a fall, thus minimizing the chances of the rope unclipping from the draw.

– Also mentioned in our “Clipping Considerations” video, be sure you don’t “back clip.” Back clipping happens when the climber clips the rope in “upside-down.” In the event of a fall, the rope can unclip from the quickdraw. Instead, the rope should run in this order: Belayer to rock, through quickdraw, to climber.

To avoid back clipping, remember the rule “The rope runs from the rock to the climber.” You know you are clipping correctly if the rope runs up and out into space — versus in, towards the rock.

We hope you found this video helpful. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts!


Please remember, climbing is inherently dangerous. Climb at your own risk.