Slings and Cordage: Versatility in Rock Climbing

Getting ready for a rock climbing escapade involves choosing the right slings and cordage, which might feel like navigating through a complex maze. From what I’ve gathered through my own experiences, this equipment is not just for fastening ropes or creating anchors. Rather, their versatility is essential and can greatly influence the outcome of your climbing adventure.

This comprehensive post will guide you through how to choose and use slings in rock climbing effectively while maximizing safety. Ready for your climb to become more efficient? Let’s roll!

Key Takeaways

  • Slings are versatile tools in rock climbing that serve multiple purposes, such as linking protection points and serving as safety lanyards.
  • Nylon slings are a popular choice due to their strength, durability, and affordability, while Dyneema/Spectra/Dynex slings offer a lightweight yet strong option.
  • It is important to consider factors like length, strength ratings, water resistance, and mode of carry when choosing the right climbing sling.
  • Proper usage and care of climbing slings include correctly placing them on trad gear, extending protection using appropriate knots or connectors, and properly racking and storing them.

Importance of Climbing Slings in Rock Climbing

Climbing slings are crucial in rock climbing due to their versatility and multiple uses, such as linking protection points and serving as safety lanyards.

Versatility and multiple uses

In the challenging world of rock climbing, slings shine through as a beacon of versatility. Like a Swiss Army knife in your climbing arsenal, these pieces of gear shift roles with impressive ease.

They serve as key connectors between you and your protection points – threading around tree trunks or rocky protrusions to create secure anchors. Doubling up as extensions when needed, they reduce dreaded rope drag that can impede fluid movement and waste precious energy on longer climbs like those found in multi-pitch routes.

They accompany traditional climbers closely on their ascents, silently assuming the role of lifelines when used as personal anchor systems for belaying tasks. In essence, the true value of slings lies in their adaptability – ready to cater to varied needs without adding significant weight or bulk to your rack.

Linking protection

As a rock climber, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of using slings for linking protection points. Slings are incredibly versatile tools that allow climbers to extend their reach and create secure anchors in trad climbing.

With a rated breaking strength of at least 22 kilonewtons (4,900 lbf), sewn slings provide reliable support when connecting gear placements. By placing a sling around multiple pieces of protection, climbers can distribute the load evenly and reduce the risk of failure.

This technique not only enhances safety but also helps minimize rope drag, allowing for smoother movement up the route. Plus, with their lightweight design and cost-effectiveness, slings are an essential addition to any climber’s gear kit.

Safety lanyard

In rock climbing, safety is paramount, and a vital piece of equipment that ensures your protection is the safety lanyard. With a strong rated breaking strength of at least 22 kilonewtons (4,900 lbf), the safety lanyard provides climbers with added security during their ascent.

Made from durable nylon or Dyneema webbing, these versatile slings are sewn into a circular loop to create an easy-to-use and reliable attachment point. Whether you’re setting up anchors or extending your reach on trad routes, the safety lanyard proves its worth time and time again.

It’s lightweight, cost-effective, and an essential component of any climber’s gear arsenal. Remember to always check your safety gear before every climb and trust in the reliability of your safety lanyard to keep you secure as you conquer new heights.

Types of Climbing Slings and Cordage Materials

There are several types of climbing slings and cordage materials commonly used in rock climbing, including nylon slings, Dyneema/Spectra/Dynex slings, and cord slings.

Nylon slings

Nylon slings are a popular choice among rock climbers due to their strength, durability, and affordability. These slings are made from nylon webbing that is sewn into a strong circular loop.

With a rated breaking strength of at least 22 kilonewtons (4,900 lbf), nylon slings provide reliable support for climbers. They come in different lengths, widths, and weights, allowing climbers to choose the most suitable option for their needs.

Nylon slings are exceptionally versatile and can be used for various purposes such as extending gear placements or creating anchors in trad climbing. They are lightweight yet strong enough to withstand the demands of rock climbing while remaining cost-effective for climbers of all levels.

Dyneema/Spectra/Dynex slings

Dyneema, Spectra, and Dynex slings are lightweight yet incredibly strong options for rock climbers. These materials, which are often used interchangeably in climbing gear, offer excellent resistance to abrasion and UV exposure.

Dyneema is a high-performance polyethylene fiber that provides exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, making it perfect for slings.

These slings are popular among climbers due to their low weight and compact size. They are also highly durable and resistant to moisture absorption, making them ideal for long climbs or wet conditions.

Dyneema/Spectra/Dynex slings have a rated breaking strength of at least 22 kilonewtons (4,900 lbf), ensuring reliable protection when you need it most.

When choosing climbing slings made from these materials, keep in mind the length and width options available. Longer slings can be useful for extending gear placements or creating anchors on trad routes.

Also consider weight and bulk as these factors affect how much gear you can carry comfortably while climbing.

Cord slings

Cord slings are another option when it comes to climbing gear. Made from strong and durable cordellette, these slings offer a lightweight and flexible choice for rock climbers. Cord slings have a wide variety of uses on the wall, including extending protection points, creating anchors in trad climbing, and even as improvised anchor systems in emergency situations.

They can be easily tied into different configurations depending on the needs of the climber and are known for their versatility in various scenarios. With their strength, weight savings, and cost-effectiveness, cord slings are a valuable addition to any climber’s gear collection.

How to Choose the Right Climbing Sling

When choosing a climbing sling, consider the length, strength ratings, water resistance, and mode of carry. Find out more about selecting the perfect sling for your rock climbing adventures.

Length and strength ratings

When choosing the right climbing sling, length and strength ratings are important factors to consider. Climbing slings come in various lengths, typically ranging from 30cm to 240cm, allowing climbers to use them for different purposes such as extending gear placements or creating anchors.

Additionally, each sling has a rated breaking strength which indicates how much force it can withstand before breaking. Sewn slings used in rock climbing usually have a minimum rated breaking strength of 22 kilonewtons (4,900 lbf), ensuring their durability and reliability during climbs.

These length and strength ratings are crucial for selecting the appropriate sling that suits your climbing needs while ensuring safety on the wall.

Water resistance

Water resistance is an important factor to consider when choosing climbing slings. Nylon slings, for example, are known to absorb water, which can make them heavier and less effective in wet conditions.

On the other hand, Dyneema slings are hydrophobic and do not absorb water, making them a better choice for climbing in damp or rainy environments. Wet nylon slings can also freeze during cold weather, compromising their strength and safety.

Choosing water-resistant slings ensures that they remain lightweight and reliable even in challenging weather conditions. So when selecting your climbing slings, be sure to opt for materials that offer excellent water resistance properties like Dyneema to enhance your overall climbing experience.

Modes of carry

When it comes to rock climbing, the mode of carry for your climbing slings can make a big difference in your overall experience. There are a few options to consider, each with its own advantages.

One popular mode of carry is over the shoulder, where you simply drape the sling over your shoulder and let it hang down. This allows for easy access and quick deployment when needed. Another option is wearing the sling like a bandolier across your chest, which keeps it secure and prevents any tangling or snagging on rocks or gear.

Finally, some climbers prefer to attach their slings directly to their harness using carabiners, keeping them easily within reach at all times. The mode of carry that you choose will ultimately depend on personal preference and the specific demands of your climb.

Gear sling options

When it comes to gear sling options, climbers have a range of choices to accommodate their specific needs. Gear slings are designed to hold climbing equipment during a climb, providing easy access and organization.

They can be worn over the shoulder or around the waist, depending on personal preference. Some climbers opt for lightweight, minimalist gear slings that prioritize mobility and weight reduction.

Others prefer larger slings with multiple loops, allowing for greater storage capacity and organization of gear. It’s important to choose a gear sling that suits your climbing style and preferences, ensuring comfort and functionality while navigating the rock face.

Proper Usage and Care of Climbing Slings

When placing slings on trad gear, ensure that they are properly aligned and securely fastened for maximum safety. Extending protection with slings is essential in reducing drag and maintaining a smooth climbing experience.

Joining slings together should be done using appropriate knots or connectors to maintain strength and reliability. Racking and storing slings correctly not only prolongs their lifespan but also ensures quick access during climbs.

Placing slings on trad gear

Placing slings on trad gear is an essential skill for any rock climber. Trad gear refers to removable protection devices, such as cams and nuts, that are placed in cracks or pockets in the rock to create anchors.

Slings are used to extend the reach of these protection points, allowing climbers to place them in more secure positions. By attaching a sling to the gear, climbers can effectively reduce rope drag and ensure optimal safety during their ascent.

When placing slings on trad gear, it’s important to choose the right length and material based on your specific climbing needs. Nylon or Dyneema webbing is commonly used for slings due to its strength and durability.

Sewn into strong circular loops, these slings provide a reliable attachment point for your trad gear.

I always ensure I have a variety of different length slings with me when climbing so I can adapt to different crack sizes and placements. Having longer slings allows me to extend my protection points further from each other, reducing rope drag and minimizing any potential fall forces.

Extending protection

Extending protection is a crucial technique in rock climbing that involves using slings to increase the distance between your gear placements. This allows for greater flexibility in finding secure and solid anchors on long trad routes or multi-pitch climbs.

By extending your gear placements, you can reduce rope drag and ensure a smoother ascent. Climbing slings are lightweight, strong, and cost-effective tools for extending protection points, enabling climbers to create more strategic anchor systems.

With their versatility and durability, slings play a vital role in maintaining safety while pushing the boundaries of rock climbing.

Joining slings together

Joining slings together is a crucial skill for rock climbers, as it allows them to adjust their gear and create longer lengths when needed. Whether extending a placement or creating an anchor system, knowing how to connect slings effectively ensures safety and versatility on the climb.

By using common climbing knots such as the double fisherman’s knot or the alpine butterfly knot, climbers can securely combine multiple slings into one continuous length. This technique also comes in handy during rescue situations when extra length may be required.

It’s important to practice these joining techniques regularly to ensure proficiency and confidence while out on the rocks. Remember, having the ability to join slings together adds another valuable tool to your climbing toolkit!

Racking and storage considerations

When it comes to rock climbing gear, proper racking and storage considerations for climbing slings are essential. Keeping your slings organized and easily accessible can save you time and hassle during climbs.

I always make sure to neatly coil my slings when not in use and attach them securely to my gear loops or harness using carabiners. It’s important to avoid tangling or twisting the slings, as this can lead to rope drag or even potential accidents on the wall.

Additionally, storing your slings away from abrasive materials like metal edges or sharp objects helps maintain their integrity over time. By taking these simple steps, you can ensure that your climbing slings remain in top condition for years of safe and enjoyable climbing adventures.


In conclusion, slings and cordage are essential tools in the world of rock climbing due to their versatility and multiple uses. From linking protection to ensuring safety with a lanyard, climbers rely on these durable nylon or Dyneema webbing loops for a range of purposes.

By understanding the different types of slings available and selecting the right length and strength ratings, climbers can enhance their gear selection and overall climbing experience. Remember to properly care for your slings to ensure they remain reliable in the face of challenging climbs.

Embrace the flexibility that slings offer, allowing you to reach new heights with confidence.


1. What are the different types of slings and cordage used in rock climbing?

There are various types of slings and cordage used in rock climbing, including dynamic ropes, static ropes, nylon webbing, and accessory cords. Each has its own strengths and specific uses depending on the situation.

2. How do I choose the right sling or cord for a particular climb?

Choosing the right sling or cord depends on several factors such as the type of climb, intended use (anchor building, rappelling), load capacity needed, and personal preference. It is important to consider these factors to ensure safety and optimal performance during your climb.

3. Can slings and cordage be reused after a climb?

It is generally recommended to retire slings or cordage that have been subjected to significant stress or wear during a climb. Regular inspection is crucial to identify any signs of damage or weakness that may compromise their integrity. When in doubt, it’s best to replace them with new ones for maximum safety.

4. How should I care for my slings and cordage?

To prolong the lifespan of your slings and cordage, it’s essential to store them properly in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight when not in use. Avoid exposure to chemicals that could weaken the materials over time. Additionally, regular inspection is necessary before each use for fraying fibers or other signs of damage that may require immediate replacement.

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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