What’s On My Climbing Rack And Why?


All photos on this post were taken by John, Max & Sam Martin

My climbing rack is one of my basic tools of the trade. Every piece of gear on it has been used many times and is very familiar to me. What I actually select for my rack on a day out depends on the rock type and grades of the routes I am expecting to climb. When on granite or gritstone I carry more cams, and sometimes doubles of common sizes like 1 and 2. When on slate or harder Lake District routes on rhyolite I take more small wires. Here’s a summary of anything I might carry, and why.

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For cams I use Camalots by Black Diamond, but I also like Dragon cams by DMM. Both are great to use and feel so secure when placed. Both have double axles so have a good range of movement and of course both are built with very high manufacture standards.

Nuts and wires

When climbing in the Lakes I carry DMM Wallnuts 1-11 with doubles of 1-7, and a set of DMM Offset wires. On harder climbs I take a set of DMM Peenuts and a set of DMM brass offset wires. I rack my wires on old solid-gate krabs rather than on newer-style wire-gate krabs - here’s why:


I carry two Edelrid Aramid 120cm slings with DMM Phantom screwgate karabiners. These slings are strong, thin, easy to thread, and easy to untie after loading. I also carry a 240cm 11mm Dyneema sling, useful for big blocks and equalising anchors, which I use with a DMM Ultra O screwgate karabiner. I have two or three 60cm slings as quick draws which can be used as short slings or long quick draws. 

Quick draws

As well as the longer draws I carry eight-ten DMM Spectre quick draws. These are light so I don’t mind carrying extra. 

Belay plate

I have accumulated many belay plates, but my current favourite is the DMM Pivot with a  DMM Ultra O screwgate karabiner – great all round on larger and small diameter ropes, works well in guide mode and releases easier than any other guide plate. 

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Nut key

I carry a DMM Nut Buster, an important piece of kit but easily forgotten until you are struggling to get a stubborn runner out.


Two prusik loops

 A small knife

Carrying your rack – gear sling vs harness

When sport climbing I carry all my quick draws on my harness. On easier trad routes, I like to carry my rack on a gear sling and the quick draws on my harness. On steeper trad routes it can be better to have everything on your harness because this lowers your centre of gravity. However, if you’re like me and have no bum, you’ll find that your harness slips down if it has lots of heavy gear clipped to it, and it is even worse in winter when you’re wearing waterproofs.

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Travelling fast and light

I carry a minimalist rack for when I’m working and climbing easier routes up to HS:

  • Camalot 0.75, 1.0 and 2.0.

  • a half rack of walnuts, I like odd sizes so carry 1, 3, 5, 7, 9

  • three or four short quick draws, two long quick draws

  • two 120cm slings and two 240cm slings

Other gear in the photos

Harness: Arc’teryx B-360a (current version is FL365)

Helmet: Petzl Meteor

Gear sling: Black Diamond padded gear sling

Related blog posts

How To Build Good Belays Part 1: Selecting Your Anchors
How To Build Good Belays Part 2: Tying In To Your Anchors