October 29, 2021

How to Choose Climbing Slings, Cord and Webbing

Are you a rock climber, or do you do sport climbing as part of your co-curricular activities and have trouble choosing your best gears for the task? You’ve just landed on the best site. This article will help you learn how to choose climbing slings, cords, webbing, and how best you can use them.

For a starter or any climber, safety is always the primary factor. It’s evident especially for trad climbers; you will always need some protective gear to carry along with you for safety. 

We will only review some of these gears, such as; slings, cord, and webbing, to mention a few. These kits exist in different forms, and below are some quick tips on how to choose them.

How to Choose Climbing Slings

How to Choose Climbing Slings

A sling, also known as a runner, is one of the simplest pieces of equipment that links a climber, the rock, and the anchor. It is a loop typically made from a sewing webbing section. Being one of the simple pieces, some climbers may wonder if a sling is necessary for climbing activities. It is a vital gear as it is useful not in one area, but it has several roles. 

It helps to ensure that a rope runs straight since it is added to the string as a quick extended draw, thus reducing friction on wandering paths. It also helps in setting up an anchor. Slings exist in different forms such as; lengths, weights, and widths.

Sling Length

Slings that are longer are much more effective in reducing rope drag than a quick draw. The longer the sling, the heavier and bulkier it tends to be. 

Single-length slings of about (60cm/24 in) 

The sling comes with a length of 2 or 3 times the size of quick-draws. The length provides comfort to wear over the shoulders.

Double-length slings of (120cm/48 in) 

When one wants to reduce rope drag, double-length is the best ideal choice. It provides the best positioning pro because it has fixed anchors, is also perfect for building two bolts, and is easy to wear over the shoulders.

Extra-long slings of (180-240cm/72-96 in) 

It is best to connect more than two points, thus making an anchor and climbing large rocks.

Shorter slings (30cm/12 in. and more concise) 

It is usually not very useful due to its short length, which does not favor most climbers. Some climbers use them for off pitons since they can carry less weight. 

Quickdraw Slings 

Quickdraw slings are pre-sewn slings that let you make your own quickdraws by adding the carabiners you choose.

Quickdraw sling

Sling Materials

Nylon has been the primary material used on slings. Another material used and not very common is polyester. Recently, brand names such as Dyneema, Dynex, and Spectra have gained popularity. Despite their popularity, these materials get combined with nylon due to their low melting point for quality slings. 

Materials determine the length, weight, quality, and price of the sling. It’s also essential to get some tips on how to make a sling for your climbing activities. A good sling helps you to have a very protective and promising experience.

The following are some easy steps of making a good sling:

Step 1: Making a Sling

  • The first step of ensuring comfort is placing the sling on the shoulder to achieve a comfortable position before tying the sling at the two ends. 
  • A knot is advisable since it is adjustable, hence providing a more comfortable position. 
  • Adding buckles ease the adjustment process.

Step 2: Measure tubing pieces

  • Depending on the weight and size of the rack you are carrying, cut the tubes into four equal lengths.
  • Ensure that the accessory cord you are using fits the tubing perfectly.

Step 3: Attach First Loop

  • Depending on where you want to attach your loop, make a zigzag pattern for at least an inch.
  • After the first attachment, slide the surgical tubing over the cord.
  • Arc the cord to the desired angle and stitch down to the other side of the loop.

Step 4: Attach Additional Loops

  • Sew all the needed additional loops to about 4-5 loops.
  • Repeat the process from the 3rd step and ensure that you use the zigzag pattern on the loops for at least an inch.

Step 5: Test your Sling

  • It is the most crucial step as you do not want your sling to fail you while climbing. 
  • Ensure that you give each loop an excellent tug to ensure that the curls can hold the extremes of climbing. 
  • Just like all other climbing gears, inspect the sling and make repairs and adjustments if need be.

Advantages of nylon:

  • It is readily available and relatively cheap.
  • It has high quality and firm knots loops due to its ability to stretch.
  • It has a higher melting point, thus making it favorable for extreme temperatures.

Advantages of branded UHMW polyethylene (Dyneema, Dynex, and Spectra):

  • It has a high strength-to-weight ratio, thus good quality for slings.
  • More light-resistant.
  • They are durable hence can be used over a long time.

Slings are an essential aspect of the climbing activity; thus, ensure you follow the steps above to ensure safety and avoid accidents. 

How to Choose Climbing Webbings

How to Choose Climbing Webbing

Is there any difference between the use of a climbing webbing and a climbing rope? Yes, webbing stands out to be the most preferred gear by most trad climbers. 

It is a kit made from a solid woven fabric. Climbing webbings exist in different forms such as material and width, and most trad climbers use them to create a strong anchor.

Webbing Types

There are different types of webbing:

Tubular webbing

It is the most preferred and robust type of webbing used by climbers. It is a webbing made with three-dimensional circular nylon that helps ease knot-making and usage.

It is preferably flat, and the wrap structure within it helps to increase strong loop points. Tubular webbing is also flexible, soft, and pliable, making it have a wide range of usage.

Flat webbing

It is a type of webbing made from solid weaved nylon fibers. The strong fiber within it helps to provide easily constructed anchor straps. Flat webbing has minimal uses since it does not give firm holds on the knots created.

Webbing Widths

Webbings come in different varieties of width. For the tubular webbing, the most commonly found width size is 1″ (standard for making an anchor) and 5/8″ (widely used for making home-based slings). 

Webbing Specifications

There are two different types of webbings; climbing and military webbings. For a climbing spec, the webbings tend to be a bit thicker, heavier, and slicker. It is far much different from the military spec that tends to be light, thin, and has a rough surface within its structure. 

The most preferred spec is the climbing one which tends to be very durable and slightly firm. This ability helps it hold the knots more firm and secure. 

Webbing Materials

For a firm grip of knots, modern webbing gets customized with compelling materials such; Nylon, Kevlar, Polyester, and Polypropylene. These materials are preferred since they have this unique nature of allowing ease while sewing and also provides good outdoor usage. 

You can be sure that these materials co-exist around us on a belt, a strap, or any carriage material. They are somehow unappreciated materials that offer beneficial purposes. Below are four commonly used materials used for outdoor services.

Nylon

Climbers prefer nylon webbing since it comes with a wide range of styles in its creation, such a backpack straps. For safety purposes, it also offers a compelling ability to hold knots and easily resist UV degradation if not left exposed to the sun for a long time. 

Polyester

Polyesters offer a powerful knot other than nylon, don’t easily stretch, and it’s hard to absorb water. The material is relatively resistant to UV light. Its nature makes it an ideal choice for hammock suspension and backpack straps. 

Polypropylene

Polypropylene is a soft material with a low melting point on exposure to intense UV light and a good stretchability impact. Best used to make different straps such as; backpack and tarp tie-out straps.

Kevlar

It has a relatively great weight and strength ratio and high heat resistance, making it suitable for webbing materials. Due to this unique nature, it is also preferably used on a bulletproof vest. 

How to Choose Climbing Cord

How to Choose Climbing Cord

Climbing cords are beneficial in creating long slings, such as a cordelette. This cord is handy, especially when it comes to making firm anchors and making friction hitches.

For a climber who has some difficulties choosing the correct size for the cord, it’s always advisable to start with the most commonly used measurements, such as the 1 mm up to 9mm size. 

Cord Materials

Sling cords come with different materials such as Perlon and UHMW Polyethylene. In this article, we shall review some of the advantages of using these materials in making cords.

Perlon

It is a Nylon 6 type of material that reproduces almost all the properties of a nylon 6,6 without excluding any patent. 

Advantages of Perlon:

  • It is relatively cheap.
  • Have a strong ability to hold the knots due to the stretching ability.
  • It has a high stretch and melting point, which helps it to handle dynamic forces.

UHMW polyethylenes

It is also known as the high-modulus polyethylene. It is a cord material that has extremely long chains and very high molecular weight.

Advantages of branded UHMW polyethylenes (Dyneema and Spectra):

  • Has a relative ultra-light light strength and weight ratio.
  • Has high resistant power to UV light.

Gear Quantities

Gear quantities depend immensely on the route that you take. A basic rack includes 12 length slings, two triples for the anchors, and 4 to 6 double-length slings.

Climbing Slings, Cords, Webbing’ Lifespan 

Climbing slings, cords, webbing do not last forever because they weaken with each climbing session. Most of the makers give it a maximum use of ten years.

A sling’s maximum time with full service is two to five years when it is in good shape with no accidents. In case you get some of the following conditions in a sling, replace them immediately.

  • A rip or hole in the webbing.
  • Melted areas.
  • Fraying of the stitches.
  • Fading due to sunlight.
  • Discoloration of the slings due to contact with damaging fluids.
  • Slings that cause an accident.

Additional Types of Sewn Slings

Gear slings are a loop of webbing used to organize the items that are carried. Gear slings are put on the shoulder while trad climbing.

Entries (Aiders): are essential to aid climbing. They are flat nylon webbing that has ladders with 4 to 8 steps. The ladders help in moving upwards once you have clipped a piece of gear.

Daisy chains are slings with multiple loops made through bar-tack stitching. They are essential to aid climbing setup and work together with the entries by connecting the Etrie to the harness.

Safety is a crucial aspect considered to ensure that we get the best experience from the climbing activity. After going through all the above tips and steps on making a sling, it’s essential to note them since safety starts with you.

If you want to dive further into the words for climbing equipment, read our complete guide on how to choose passive climbing protection devices.

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About the author 

Bernice

Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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