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Edelrid Bulletproof quickdraw: The burliness of steel with the lightness of aluminum
Posted on: December 6, 2019
MSRP: $28.95 (for 12cm length)
The Edelrid Bulletproof quickdraw—Wait! This review is for Alpinist, what the hell is this sport climbing equipment doing here?
Well, you'd be hard-pressed to find a top-notch alpinist who doesn't put in training time on bolted routes. Besides, there is also the consideration that Edelrid's Bulletproof carabiners have a wider application than the quickdraw I'm reviewing here; the company also makes large, locking versions of the Bulletproof carabiners that can be used for belaying, rappelling or any other situations in which the carabiner will be subjected to heavy wear and tear.
Derek Franz on Magnetar (5.13d), Rifle Mountain Park, Colorado. The Edelrid Bulletproof quickdraw is the first one clipped to the rope above the ground, near the lower right corner of the frame. The carabiner that the Bulletproof 'draw replaced was severely grooved. [Photo] Karissa Frye
Aluminum—from which most carabiners are made—is light and strong, but it is also soft. Carabiners that are in frequent contact with a rope (often a dirty rope) running through them will eventually have a groove worn into the basket where the rope slides through it (two grooves if it's used for a tube-style belay/rappel device). Steel carabiners have been used for these purposes in the past. But steel is much, much heavier than aluminum. Edelrid's solution with the Bulletproof design was to add a small steel sleeve over the main contact points of an aluminum carabiner. The result is a snap-link that is reasonably light, since it is mostly aluminum, and also very durable.
I tested the Bulletproof quickdraw at Rifle Mountain Park, a world-famous sport crag near my home in Colorado. I figured it would provide a good indicator of how the other versions of the Bulletproof carabiners might hold up because there are few krabs that see more abuse than those which dangle perpetually on Rifle's overhanging limestone routes.
These carabiners were gouged by ropes. The top locking carabiner was used for a tube-style belay/rappel device, resulting in the double grooves. [Photo] Derek Franz
Everyday from May through September, scads of Prana-clad sportsters swarm the canyon to dog their way up these challenging lines. It is common for climbers to hang and hoist themselves up on every bolt to dial in the moves of a particular route and then spend the remainder of the season attempting to redpoint it*. More than once, I have hung regular aluminum quickdraws on a climb and returned a week or two later to find sharp-edged grooves worn into some of the carabiners, especially at the first bolt, where the angle of the rope from the belay to the cliff tends to create a lot of friction.
(*Apologies to any Alpinist readers who may be ruffled by this disgraceful image. Anyone partaking in the hedonism of sport climbing should be obligated to lead above ice screws, tiny brass nuts and birdbeaks at least once. Let us pray for the multitude of lost souls who may never see the light...the hot, white light that sears the pupils like a lamp over the operating table.)
So here was the test: I hung a Bulletproof 'draw at the first bolt of Magnetar—one of the most popular (read: softest) 5.13ds in the canyon—in early May. It replaced an aluminum quickdraw that was already becoming significantly grooved. The Bulletproof quickdraw hung there four months, until the end of August. There is almost zero wear on the steel sleeve where countless ropes ran over it, see-sawing back and forth against the metal, climber after climber, day after day. The rubber holding the rope-side carabiner in place is now dried and cracked, but otherwise it's almost impossible to discern the quickdraw from a brand new one. Thus my five-star rating. I will definitely be adding more Bulletproof carabiners to my rack.
This photo shows how the angle of the rope from the belay to the first quickdraw results in more friction than if the rope were able to run straight up. Over time, this added friction causes the rope to wear a groove through aluminum (and sometimes even steel) carabiners. The Edelrid Bulletproof carabiners have a sleeve of steel to protect the softer, lighter aluminum from this kind of wear. The result is a workhorse carabiner that is much lighter than a carabiner made entirely of steel. [Photo] Derek Franz
This Edelrid Bulletproof quickdraw hung from the first bolt—a high-wear zone for carabiners—on one of the most popular routes in Rifle for several months and it hardly showed any sign of wear afterward. The regular aluminum carabiner that previously occupied this spot was severely grooved within a matter of weeks. [Photo] Derek Franz
Alpinist Digital Editor Derek Franz was a dedicated tradster for 10 years before he embraced sport climbing, which he credits for saving his life from a free-soloing addiction that he developed during college while living near Eldorado Canyon. He is now entering his 26th year of climbing and still enjoys getting scared on adventure routes.
Franz tops out his first 5.10 lead at age 15 in 1998: Directissima [sic] (III 5.10b, 4 pitches), Chasm View Wall, Longs Peak, Colorado. [Photo] Warren Franz
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