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QC Lab: Draws in a Gym

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
As you know, I've tested many fixed quickdraws from sport routes from all over the country. A while ago a gym owner asked me about replacing draws at a gym and how they compare to draws outside.

 Perma Draws

Some Random Thoughts

  • Draws in a gym don't see the weather that an outdoor draw does, though it could get baked in the sun if exposed through a window.
  • Draws in the gym probably typically see more action than a draw fixed on an outdoor route.
  • From what I've seen at many gyms, the draws suffer from abrasion more than anything—usually over very textured surfaces.
  • Most draws I've seen in a gym are nylon and not Spectra or Dyneema.

So when should a gym owner replace draws at a gym? That really is a question with no definitive answer, other than the fact that scheduled inspection should be a regular part of any gym's maintenance program, and if it looks suspect then switch it out.

A gym owner sent me a few draws with descriptions of their locations—and I tested them. Below are the results:

First draw on most popular route, very little exposure to sunlight, took load on every fall from both climber and belayer.
5636 lbf (25.1 kN)
Last draw on popular route, constant exposure to sunlight, took many falls since climbers often didn't clip anchor.
5735 lbf (25.5 kN)
This draw hasn't been replaced in probably ten years, maybe more. Obvious signs of wear. Similar condtions to #2.
3746 lbf (16.7 kN)

Remember the CE requirement for slings and draws is 22 kN (4946 lbf). So two of the three remained with passing values, while the third was at ~75% of its rated strength. And to put it in perspective, large-sized Stoppers are rated to 10 kN, and cams to 14 kN—so even the ten-year-old draw, though noticeably worn and weaker than it should be, is still pretty strong in the grand scheme of typical real-world loading.

Bottom Line

So, like I've said many times before, even worn and old slings and draws are pretty darn strong and in most cases don't necessarily mean imminent death, however, it is in everyone's best interest to check your gear often, and replace it if you're sketched-out about it.

Be safe out there,


Kolin Powick (KP) is a Mechanical Engineer hailing from Calgary, Canada. He has nearly 20 years of experience in the engineering field and has been Black Diamond's Director of Global Quality since 2002. Kolin oversees the testing of all of Black Diamond's gear from the prototype phase through continual final production random sample testing. If you have a technical question for KP, please email him at and he will TRY to respond.