Climbing rack essentials: How to rack your gear better

Climbing rack essentials

As the old adage goes ‘prior preparation prevents poor lead climbing’. Well it doesn’t entirely but it can help…and the most important bit of planning is your rack organisation. Robin Jeffery gets his rack on, and poses some questions about climbing rack essentials: How to rack your gear better. 

Climbing Gear racking is an interesting mix of science and art – when on the sharp end, doing your utmost not to fall out of an off-width crack, do you instinctively go for the first gear loop on your left hand side, where that tried and trusted number three cam is dangling? Sounds easy enough, and it is if you’ve planned it that way – but it’s also very easy to have a different, slightly more panicked experience.

The way around this is simple – have a short word with yourself on the ground and get organised.

Good climbing is about being efficient, and having everything to hand means you can focus on arranging your protection as well as you can, not finding it on your harness. Here are a few helpful questions to ask yourself about your climbing rack:

Climbing rack essentials – Do you rack all your cams on the left and nuts on the right? Or mix them all up like a pick and mix stand? Which is easier to work with?

– Do you separate your nuts into two carabiners, 1 to 5 and 1 to 10? Or bunch them all together so that when you lose your nerve mid-way through the crux and stop to place a piece of gear, you can fiddle and curse so more?

– Do you order your quickdraws so that they are in size order, on a separate gear loop and evenly distributed on both left and right? Do you even have different sized quickdraws?

– Are your screwgate karabiners tucked away at the back of your harness, ready for that belay construction effort? Or are they positioned so that when you reach for your chocks, swept along by a rising tide of panic, you find yourself pushing a HMS into the crack that you are wedged in?

– Where are your chocks? Do they always live there?

– Do you need eight slings? Or four? In fact, do you need more than two for this route? How many cams are you carrying?

Climbing rack essentials - bd camalots


– Have you got so much gear on you that you could, if your arms allowed, place three pieces of gear on every meter of the ten meter climb in front of you?

– Have you actually looked at the climb in front of you?

– You’ll be getting the idea by this point – there’s no right or wrong way, but there will be an organised way that works for you. Play around at home to work out what it is, left handed, right handed, we all have a bias (or two!), but try not to do it on a climb – it’s much harder that way!

After your successful climb, you’ll be knackered, and probably miles from civilisation, but you’ll soon be needing these top recovery tips:

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