So, I hear you are in the market for a set of quickdraws? Let’s look at three of the most popular sport climbing quickdraws out there from Black Diamond (BD): HotForge (standard), HotForge Hybrid (upgraded PosiWire), HotWire (upgraded FreeWire). A six pack of any of these would be a great choice, but here’s more details to help you make your choice:
This is the most basic, trusty quickdraw in the line-up. It has a solid gate at the top and it has a (solid) bent gate at the bottom. It’s black and silver (and, like the others, now matte). The advantage of these gates is that they are sturdy and it’s nearly impossible for them to ever snag on anything. These gates are also most common in climbing gyms, so if you’re used to clipping solid gates at the gym, these will feel very similar. On the flip side, many (including myself) prefer clipping wire gates instead of solid gates because it feels smoother/easier. While it’s a controversial topic, gate flutter would be more likely on the HotForge than the others. If you are unfamiliar with gate flutter, try this: take a solid gate carabiner, open your palm so that it’s flat and the inside faces the sky, and then quickly hit the spine of the carabiner (gate facing up) on the edge of your open palm. You may not be able to see it, but you should be able to hear the gate open and close. Most people would tell you that even if the gate fluttered on the wall, the rope would never have enough time to jump out of the gate. Hence, people buy solid gates all of the time, but it’s still worth noting, especially since wire gates really can’t flutter.
The HotWire is the wire analog of the HotForge, except it’s a matte black and scarlet (the old version, the FreeWire, was black and orange). These guys are the lightest and cheapest of the bunch. Yes, you read that right…the lightest draw is the cheapest. As you may have surmised, the HotWire has wire gates at the top and bottom. The advantages are that this draw is lighter, cheaper, unable to flutter, and easier to clip for those who prefer wire gates. Perhaps at this point you may be wondering, why isn’t everything a wire gate? Where’s the downside? I’d mostly agree with you, but there are a couple downsides. If you look at the base of a wire gate, you may notice the gate doesn’t rotate on one axis—it seems offset somehow. Indeed, this will cause uneven wear on the gate, and ultimately the gate will wear out faster than its solid gate equivalent. However, most feel this difference in wear is negligible, especially in comparison to the benefits. Additionally, some people don’t like clipping wire gates into bolt hangers. Depending on where the surrounding rock is, the angle of the force on the draw, etc., the carabiner on the bolt hanger can face a lot of abuse. A solid gate can take more of this abuse and it would be harder for a nearby rock feature to open.
Ah, finally the best of both worlds! As the name implies, the Hybrid has features of both the standard Hotforge and the HotWire. Similar to its previous colors as the PosiWire, it comes fully matte in black & blue and black & pink. It has a solid gate at the top and a wire gate at the bottom. This way, you get to clip your rope easily into the wire gate that can’t flutter, and you also get to trust the sturdy solid gate on the bolt hanger. Needless to say, you also get the middle price and weight. When it comes to bikes, I feel like an individual should just get a mountain bike or a road bike…it feels like you’re always losing on a hybrid bike. When it comes to BD quickdraws, I feel the exact opposite. This Hybrid is always a winner because it gets you the advantages of the other draws without the associated drawbacks (pun intended).
All of these draws are going to be a great addition to your sport rack. The dogbones are strong and durable without being too heavy, and all of these are matte now (yes, aesthetics count). You could choose any of these three and be perfectly happy, but you can always go to your local gear shop to feel the gates out. Much like helmets, there are some differences between each kind, but the best draw is the one that you’ll actually use. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference; choose what you enjoy clipping, what makes you feel safe, and what makes you feel like you can send…the rest will come out in the wash.
Recommendation: All levels of outdoor sport climbers
Specs (12cm): 103g (HotForge); 99g (Hybrid); 94g (HotWire); 24kN closed gate strength; 8kN minor axis strength
MSRP (6 pack): $109.95 (HotForge); $99.95 (Hybrid); $84.95 (HotWire)