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First Trad Rack

First Trad Rack

In our last article, Mountaineering & Climbing Instructor Esther Foster shared her experience to help make decisions about getting started with gear. Today, she’s talking us through a trad rack and what you might buy at the start of your climbing journey:

What exactly should I buy?

1. Trad climbing rack – the bare bone essentials, if climbing with someone else’s rack

  • Belay device with HMS carabiner
  • Nut Key – to remove gear when you second a climb
  • 2 x screwgate carabiners 
  • Prussick loop – 5mm-7mm diameter cord using for abseiling, which an outdoor shop will cut to size for you
  • 1 x 8ft/120cm sling

2. Trad climbing rack – next steps towards a basic rack

  • Set of nuts/wires sizes 1 – 10  
    • Buy the coloured nuts as it’s easier to remember colours than numbers!
  • Set of ‘trad specific’ quickdraws of various lengths
    • Short single pitch venues might only require 8 of these, whereas on longer pitches and mountain crags I often carry 14
    • Lightweight is best 
  • Several extendable quickdraws 
    • 2 snapgates with a shortened 4ft/60cm sling for extending gear
  • DMM Torque nuts, set of 4 
    • these are great for setting up belays and top ropes, and can be really solid placements, however as you progress you’ll learn to use cams more frequently
  • Cams
    • As many as you can afford! The bare minimum for starting out would be  Gold, Red and Green (DMM or Black Diamond)
  • 2 or 3 x ‘D-shaped’ screwgate carabiners
  •  1 x large HMS carabiner 
  • Coloured snapgates 
    • Choose ‘clean nosed’ snapgates for nuts to lower chances of the wires snagging and being dropped 
    • Colour code your cams to their snapgates for easier identification 
  • 2 x 8ft/120cm slings 
    • Dyneema slings are great, but I also like having an Edilrid Aramid sling as they are durable, good for threading and easy to undo knots

Full trad rack additions

  • Nuts 
    • I have 2 or 3 of every size
    • A set of offset nuts
    • I also have some DMM half nuts and small brass offsets for harder routes!
  • Add to your cam collection – I’ll often carry around 10 cams with me on longer trad routes. 
  • 1 x 16ft/240cm sling

As with all climbing, we must each make our own independent decisions, so this is an indicative, not definitive list. Thanks to Esther for sharing her expertise and knowledge in this series.

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