If you have always been a sport climber and are now considering moving into trad climbing and purchasing that first set of trad gear, this guide is exactly what you are looking for. Welcome to an entirely new world of non-bolted crack lines!
A quick understanding before we begin. Trad climbing involves the climber having to place in gear within the rock cracks/ slabs as a temporary anchor for their safety as they climb up. With every safe placement, the climber passes a rope that is held by the belayer. In the case of a fall of the climber, the trad gear will catch the rope and secure the climber from hitting the ground.
Trad climbing is developed with the concept of not causing any harm to the natural rock faces and traversing through rock using human technical skill ability. It can be considered a pure climbing or free climbing form.
Putting together your first set of trad gear is the beginning of your trad climbing adventures as you progressively move into harder multi-pitch traverses. Building a trad rack is not a small investment, so one must consider the right factors before investing in the crag wealth.
What is the Best Trad Rack?
Below you’ll find the list of the top 5 Best Trad Rack. We compiled this list from trad racks we have used, asked others about, and researched further to give you the best possible roundup. With many years of experience with trad racks for trad climbing you can be assured that this article will give you what you’re looking for.
We also wrote a buying guide and answered some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) at the end of this article.
|Price: 💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 0.25 pounds (0.11 kg)
If weight is your concern for hard routes, Black Diamond introduced its lightweight set of cams. The cams are durable with double-axle design and come at a high price range. If you are alpine climber, they are smart alternatives for normal ones.
- Extremely light
- Dyneema slings are durable
- Strong and varied sizes
- Standard C4s are preferable than ultralight ones
- High-end pricing
|Price: 💲💲💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 1.06 pounds (0.48 kg)
Wild Country friends is an ultimate set of trad gear for you with new updates like the double hollow axle, thumb loop, skimmed lobes and extended cord. Their choice of varied sizes will suit any of your loved climbing destinations. They have bright colours and are easy to use.
- Lighter and cheaper than BD camolets
- Thumb loop
- Extended sling
- Fully-extended sling may not take more weight
- No size ranges
- Extended-sling may be difficult to rack
|Price: 💲💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 0.19 pounds (0.09 kg)
Have you been scared on the pitch as the cam keeps moving? DMM Dragon is an excellent solution to your fear. They come with triple grip for reduced walking and tight placement. The dual axle style and single stem offer high flexibility for horizontal cracks. To save your energy on powerful moves the forged thumb hold helps a lot. It comes in various colours for easy identification
- Tight placement
- Flexible single stem
- Extended sling
- Heavier than others
- No thumb loop
- Slightly heavier than Ultralight
|Price: 💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 0.1 pounds (0.05 kg)
Revolutionary Metolius Power cam is named as the lightest in the world. They have thumb loop for efficient usage of the gear. They come with a range finder to let you know if the placement is right or not.
- Lightest in the world
- Thumb loop
- Range-finder and colour identification
- Walking of cams as lobes are closer offering less space for expansion
- No varied range of sizes
- Stem is less flexible
|Price: 💲 (fewer 💲 = cheaper)
Weight: 0.16 pounds (0.07 kg)
Have you ever struggled with tiny fissures on your favourite line? Perfect placement in these negligible cracks would make your climb safe. Ball Nuts is an innovation only for thin cracks. It has a sliding brass ball that is spring-loaded and controlled by a trigger. They are cheaper than micro-cams.
- Good for thin placements
- Cheap than micro-cams
- Good strength rating up to 8KN
- Not practical
- Difficult to adapt to the new technology of Ball Nuts
- Hard to remove after a fall
Based on all of our experience with trad racks for trad climbing, we found that Black Diamond Ultralight Camolet is the best trad rack available today.
Our Premium Option is Wild Country Friends Set with all the best features and high-quality materials, but that’s only if you have more money to spend.
However, if you are on a slightly tighter budget, you can also consider the Metolius Ultralight Power Cam as an affordable alternative.
Our other reviews you may find useful in your research:
What You Should Know Before Buying trad racks
What is a Trad Rack
A rack is a set of all the necessary rock climbing equipment that secures you from falling to the ground. It includes the crack specials cams and nuts (which we shall discuss in detail) and other essentials like nut tools, quickdraws, slings, carabiners, etc. As you forge-ahead in more advance trad climbing, tricams, hexes, micro-nuts, micro-wires and nut tools can add-on the list.
How to pick the best trad rack
Shopping for climbing is always fun! We always covet every piece of gear for the perfect climbing escapade. Before putting in $500-$2000 take a step back and consider your spending desire.
Know what you need: Think before you act. Make a list of items you actually need.
Don’t buy everything at once: Once you know what you need, try to narrow down the list even more. All you need to ask yourself is, do I really need this now? It is a wise step to purchase an array of nuts and quick-draws first, then cams and other tools as you explore more areas.
Where are you going: If you are planning an outstanding climbing tour to your most-sought trad-line, then you can choose buying only gear specific to it.
Borrow: A great idea for beginners is to try and learn using the trad equipment of various brands before bringing them into possession. Mix match, every brand has a different size denotation, looks and mechanisms. Once you know how to use and what suits you, you can pick your favorite. Ask an experienced climber for suggestions on the local routes they must have climbed.
Learn how to use: Looking at the fissure you must be able to tell what fits in, so get comfortable by practising. Climb tonnes of cracks and practice!
How to build your 1st trad rack starter package
As you embark into trad climbing, look at the basics you need to build your first trad rack. For starters, get a set of cams of common sizes (from finger to fist-sized), followed by another set of nuts up to 3-4 inches. From there, move on to carabiners for clipping of each cam and nut, some locking carabiners for anchoring and then 8-12 draws.
Lastly, get some hardy slings to arrange your gear over your shoulders. You may add your rack to your harness as well). Don’t forget the cordelette needed to build anchors.
There was no mention of the minimum gear required to even start climbing, like a harness, belay device and helmet. Do pick high quality and safe ones if you are getting them all together as well.
Things to Look Out For That Differentiate
For dirtbags, the primary factor is always finances. Before stacking up anything it is important to figure the real need so that every penny spent is worth it. You may invest in second-hand gear but it is always risky unless you know the owner and how much the gear had worn out.
The first step is to get gear for the generic sizes of cracks. Based on the area, the size of cracks are typical like Indian Creek are of 0.5 to 1.
Before buying read the specifications carefully. I would recommend for a beginner to stick to one brand to start with else the various colour coding and width variations will be a bigger puzzle than the beta. Once you are comfortable, proceed to try other brands.
Practice. Buy gear only if you are confident of using it.
Proper and Safe Usage
Correctly placed cam or nut means a safe fall. However, placing the safety net needs persistence on varied heights, lengths and difficulty.
Cams have a automate system that extends the lobes when the trigger is pulled. Always look for parallel cracks to fit the cams securely. Make sure never pull the trigger until end, that may jam the cam. To remove the cam retract the trigger.
Nuts are relatively easy, no shrinking. They have wedged metal pieces and best for uneven fissures. From a tiny stick to palm-size, nuts are efficient and cheap. Tri-cams, hexes, stoppers are of various sizes and curved edges for better locking.
A trad-rack is a wealthy possession of a climber. As I mentioned, Wild Country Friends Set will be my pick for the best trad rack for beginners given it is lightweight and inexpensive compared to the other options.
On an ending note, as a beginner, make the trad rack worth your spend by getting used to the gear and knowing how to maintain it, clean it and pack it well. Whatever gear you ultimately buy, make sure to be safe climbing!