How to Use Carabiners and Quickdraws in Rock Climbing

Understanding how to properly use carabiners and quickdraws can appear to be a daunting task for beginners in rock climbing. I can relate to feeling puzzled when I first started, staring at my newly purchased gear and trying to figure out the specific role of every item.

Through rigorous training and meticulous research, this guide was designed to help demystify this essential climbing equipment for you. Get ready, your next climb just became ten times easier!

Key Takeaways

  • Carabiners and quickdraws are essential components of rock climbing gear. Carabiners come in various types, including locking and non-locking, while quickdraws consist of a carabiner and a sling.
  • Proper usage of quickdraws involves correctly clipping the rope into the carabiner, choosing the right orientation of the carabiner based on climbing direction, and ensuring a smooth rope path to minimize friction and tangles.
  • Tips for using quickdraws include setting them up properly by attaching one carabiner to your harness or gear sling and the other to bolts or protection on the wall, adjusting extendable quickdraws as needed for lengthening or shortening, and differentiating their colors for easy identification during climbs.
  • Understanding how to use carabiners and quickdraws safely will enhance your rock climbing experience by providing secure connections between yourself and anchor points while navigating challenging routes.

Components of Quickdraws

Quickdraws consist of two main components: the carabiner and the sling, also known as the “dogbone.”


A carabiner, pivotal to rock climbing gear, is a metal loop with a hinged gate. They come in various shapes and sizes, each designed for specific uses in climbing. The standard types include locking and non-locking carabiners.

Locking variants offer an additional safety feature: a mechanism that secures the gate to prevent accidental opening during climbs. Non-locking ones are commonly used as connectors on quickdraws due their fast clip-and-go capability.

Their lightweight structure doesn’t bog climbers down, allowing you to scale heights swiftly without added burden from your equipment. Deciding on the right carabiner type depends largely on your unique climbing style and intended use.

Sling or “Dogbone”

The “dogbone” or sling is a crucial component of the quickdraw in rock climbing. It’s the part that connects the two carabiners together and allows for easy clipping and unclipping of the rope.

Typically made from durable nylon material, the dogbone is designed to be lightweight yet strong enough to withstand the forces of climbing.

When using a quickdraw, it’s important to pay attention to the length and flexibility of the dogbone. A shorter dogbone provides less extension between the two carabiners, which can be useful in reducing rope drag on steep routes.

On the other hand, a longer dogbone offers more extension, allowing for easier clipping when reaching far-away bolts or gear placements.

To ensure proper usage, make sure that both carabiners are correctly oriented on each end of the dogbone. The straight-gate carabiner should always be clipped to solid anchors or protection while the bent-gate carabiner is used for clipping and unclipping ropes quickly.

Proper Use of Quickdraws

To properly use quickdraws, start by clipping the rope into the carabiner, making sure it is securely fastened. Then, choose the correct orientation of the carabiner based on your climbing direction.

Finally, ensure that the rope follows a smooth and efficient path to prevent any unnecessary friction or tangles.

Clipping the rope

When clipping the rope onto a quickdraw while rock climbing, it’s crucial to maintain focus and precision. Begin by holding the rope above the carabiner with your non-dominant hand and open the gate of the carabiner using your dominant hand.

Slide the rope through the gate, ensuring that it is properly seated in the basket of the carabiner. Once securely clipped, check that there are no twists or tangles in the rope and continue climbing with confidence knowing your gear is properly secured for your next move!

Choosing the orientation of the carabiner

When choosing the orientation of the carabiner on a quickdraw in rock climbing, it’s important to consider the direction of pull and potential gear movement. The most common practice is to have the gate facing away from the climber, towards the rope.

This allows for easier clipping and reduces the risk of accidental gate opening. However, some climbers prefer to have the gate facing towards them for faster and smoother clipping. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what feels more comfortable for each individual climber.

Rope path

As a rock climber, understanding the proper rope path when using quickdraws is crucial for your safety and efficiency. The rope path refers to how the climbing rope runs through the carabiners and quickdraws as you ascend.

To ensure smooth movement and minimize rope drag, it’s important to pay attention to the direction of the rope.

When clipping a quickdraw onto your harness or bolts, make sure that the climbing rope is running in a straight line through both carabiners. This means that there should be no twists or coils in the rope between each point of connection.

By keeping everything aligned correctly, you’ll prevent unnecessary friction on the rope and reduce any potential hazards during your climb.

Remember to always keep an eye on your orientation as you clip into each quickdraw. Properly aligning the carabiner gates with each other will create a more secure connection and minimize chances of accidental unclipping.

Tips for Using Quickdraws in Rock Climbing

In rock climbing, it’s important to set up your quickdraws properly for efficient and safe climbing. Make sure to choose the right length of extendable quickdraw, and adjust as needed while you climb.

Differentiate the colors of your quickdraws to easily identify them when clipping in.

Quickdraw setup

Setting up a quickdraw for rock climbing is an essential skill every climber should master. To begin, select two carabiners, one with a straight gate and one with a bent gate. Attach the straight-gate carabiner to your harness loop or gear sling, making sure it’s facing away from your body.

Next, take the rope end and clip it into the straight-gate carabiner. Then, attach the bent-gate carabiner to the bolt hanger or piece of protection on the wall. Make sure both gates are fully closed and locked before proceeding.

This simple yet crucial quickdraw setup allows for smooth clipping while providing secure protection during your climb.

Lengthening and shortening extendable quickdraws

When using extendable quickdraws in rock climbing, it’s important to know how to effectively lengthen and shorten them. Extendable quickdraws are designed with two carabiners connected by a sling that can be adjusted in length.

To lengthen the quickdraw, simply pull the sling through the carabiner until it reaches your desired length. This is particularly useful when you need extra reach or to reduce rope drag on longer climbs.

On the other hand, if you need a shorter distance between the carabiners, hold onto one end of the sling and push up on the other end until it cinches tightly against the carabiner. This allows for a more secure connection between yourself and the wall during challenging moves or when clipping into closer bolts.

Color differentiation

Choosing quickdraws with different colored carabiners can be a helpful strategy in rock climbing. The color differentiation allows climbers to easily identify and select the appropriate quickdraw during their ascent.

By assigning specific colors to certain lengths or types of quickdraws, climbers can quickly grab the one they need without confusion or delay. This helps maintain a smooth climbing flow, especially when tackling complex routes that may require specific gear placements.

Being able to differentiate between various quickdraws by color is an effective technique that aids in efficiency and safety on the wall.


In conclusion, understanding how to properly use carabiners and quickdraws is essential for safe and efficient rock climbing. By familiarizing yourself with the components, such as the carabiner and sling, and practicing proper techniques like clipping the rope and choosing the correct orientation, you can enhance your climbing experience.

Remember to always prioritize safety by following best practices and utilizing quality equipment. Now go out there, tackle those routes with confidence, and enjoy the thrill of rock climbing!


1. What is the purpose of a carabiner in rock climbing?

A carabiner is an essential piece of equipment used in rock climbing to connect various components of the climbing system together, such as ropes, harnesses, and anchors. It provides a secure link that allows for easy connection and disconnection during climbs.

2. How do I properly choose and inspect a carabiner for climbing?

When selecting a carabiner for rock climbing, it’s important to consider factors such as strength rating, gate type (straight or bent), weight, and size. Additionally, you should regularly inspect your carabiners for any signs of wear or damage before each climb to ensure they are safe to use.

3. What is a quickdraw and how is it used in rock climbing?

A quickdraw is a specialized piece of equipment consisting of two carabiners connected by a sturdy nylon or Dyneema sling. It is used to facilitate clipping the rope into protection points (such as bolts or gear placements) while reducing rope drag during climbs.

4. Are there specific techniques for clipping and unclipping with carabiners during rock climbing?

Yes, proper technique when using carabineers involves securely holding the gate open with your fingers while guiding the rope into it smoothly but without excessive force. When unclipping, be sure to use controlled movements and avoid accidentally opening the gate in unsafe situations. Practice these techniques under professional guidance before attempting them independently on actual climbs.

Calvin Rivers

Hey, I’m Calvin Rivers, a climbing veteran with 10+ years on crags and walls around the world. I can’t wait for you to explore our site and fall in love with the outdoors just like I have.

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