How many quickdraws do you need for climbing?

When preparing for a climbing trip, one of the most common questions is “How many quickdraws do I need?”. The short answer is: it depends. The number of quickdraws needed can vary greatly depending on the type of climbing, number of pitches, difficulty level, personal preference, and other factors.

What are Quickdraws?

For those unfamiliar, a quickdraw (also called a draw) is a piece of climbing gear used to connect the rope to bolt anchors, allowing the climber to safely ascend the route. Quickdraws consist of two carabiners connected by a short webbing strap, typically 5-7 inches in length.

The two carabiners serve different purposes – one attaches to the bolt hanger while the other clips the rope. This creates a link between the climber’s harness and the anchors, limiting the length of a potential fall.

How Many Quickdraws for Sport Climbing?

For single pitch sport climbing routes, where the climb is typically 60-100 feet tall, a good starting point is 12-15 quickdraws. Here’s a quick guideline:

  • 5.7 – 5.9 climbs: 12 quickdraws
  • 5.10 climbs: 15 quickdraws
  • 5.11+ climbs: 18 quickdraws

Lower grade routes will require less draws, while harder climbs often have bolts placed closer together necessitating more. These numbers allow you to clip most or all the bolts with a few extras just in case.

Considerations for Sport Climbing

When deciding how many quickdraws to bring sport climbing, consider:

  • Difficulty level – more draws for harder climbs
  • Route length – longer climbs need more draws
  • Bolt frequency – space between bolts determines clips
  • Personal preference – some like to clip all bolts, others less
  • Rope drag – more draws keep the rope straighter

It’s always better to have a few extra than not enough. If climbing at a new crag, talk to locals to get beta on bolt frequency and difficulty before deciding on quickdraws.

How Many Quickdraws for Multi-Pitch Climbing?

For multi-pitch routes with 60m or longer pitches, bring more quickdraws than you think you’ll need. Aim for:

  • 10-15 quickdraws per 60m pitch
  • An extra 5-10 draws for anchors, descending, etc.

So for a typical 3 pitch sport climb with 60m pitches, bring around 45-50 quickdraws. You want enough draws to reduce rope drag on wandering pitches, equip belay and rappel stations, and have several spares.

Considerations for Multi-Pitch

Factors to consider for multi-pitch sport climbs:

  • Length of each pitch
  • Difficulty and wander of the route
  • Number of pitches
  • Type of anchors (bolts vs. gear)
  • Desirability of clipping all bolts
  • Rappelling route or individual pitches

Again, more is better when starting out and gives flexibility. Talk to others who have climbed the route for recommendations on the specific number needed.

How Many Quickdraws for Traditional Climbing?

For traditional lead climbing routes where you place your own removable gear, the quickdraw count will be lower. For a typical single pitch trad route aim for:

  • 5.7 – 5.8 climbs: 6-8 quickdraws
  • 5.9 – 5.10a climbs: 8-10 quickdraws
  • 5.10+ climbs: 10-12 quickdraws

Having 6-12 versatile extendable draws should be sufficient for most single pitch trad leads. Focus first on positioning cams, nuts and building solid anchors.

Considerations for Traditional Climbing

When climbing trad, factors affecting quickdraw numbers include:

  • Availability of gear placements
  • Frequency of bolted anchors
  • Ability to self-place protection
  • Length of climb
  • Retreat considerations

Look for cracks, holes and other spots to fit your own pro. Quickdraws are helpful for bolted stations, clipping fixed gear, and reducing rope drag.

How Many Quickdraws for Big Wall Climbing?

For big wall multi-day climbs, you’ll need a ton of quickdraws. Aim for:

  • 15-20 draws per 60-80m pitch
  • 10+ draws per anchor station
  • 5-10+ spare draws

So for a typical big wall route with 12 x 60m pitches, you would want 240-360 quickdraws. This provides enough for clipping bolts, setting up anchors, haul lines, and fixed lines.

Considerations for Big Walls

When planning big wall logistics, consider:

  • Number and length of pitches
  • Bolt frequency
  • Haul bag setup
  • Fixed line strategy
  • Bail options
  • Wall wandering

Big walls require an exhaustive inventory of gear. Dialing in quickdraw numbers takes practice over multiple wall climbs. Focus on having way more than you think you need when starting out.

How Many Quickdraws for the Gym?

When sport climbing in the gym, you can get away with a very minimal quickdraw rack. Most gym routes are 25-40 feet tall and contain just 3-6 bolts. Aim for:

  • Beginner climbs: 4-6 quickdraws
  • Intermediate climbs: 6-8 quickdraws
  • Advanced climbs: 8-10 quickdraws

Most gym climbers will be fine with one 6-12 quickdraw starter pack. Having extras allows you to climb while a partner is on the wall and saves time re-racking. Leave extras on the wall at crux sections for convenience.

Considerations for Indoor Climbing

When sport climbing indoors, consider:

  • Difficulty level
  • Length of route
  • Bolt intervals
  • Climbing with a partner
  • Re-climbing overhangs
  • Being ready to project

Gym climbs are much shorter than outdoor routes, requiring less gear. But extras allow attempting hard sections without re-racking each attempt.

Quickdraw Height Considerations

One additional factor when choosing quickdraws is their length. For most single pitch climbing, standard quickdraws with 4-6 inch dogbones work well. But for wandering routes or taller climbers, longer draws may be preferable.

Quickdraw Height Best Use Case
4-6 inches Most single pitch climbs
8-10 inches Good for reducing rope drag
12+ inches Extremely overhanging climbs

Having a few longer quickdraws in your rack can provide flexibility on climbs with bad rope drag. Don’t want to buy multiple sizes? Get adjustable quickdraws.

Quickdraw Construction

Quickdraws come in a range of different construction styles suited for various types of climbing.

Sport Climbing Quickdraws

Best options for sport climbing:

  • Standard wiregate non-locking carabiners
  • Smooth action spring for fast clipping
  • Narrow dogbone reduces clutter at bolts
  • Reducing carabiner overlap reduces snagging

Easy clipping and clean nose wires are priorities when sport climbing. Pick a durable thin dogbone style.

Trad Climbing Quickdraws

Best choices for traditional lead climbing:

  • A keylock carabiner prevents snagging rope
  • Smooth round dogbone doesn’t catch on gear
  • Larger carabiners are easier to handle with gloves
  • Locking carabiners provide security on wandering leads

When placing natural gear, focus on carabiners that handle easily with gloves and smooth rounded dogbones. Avoid keylock sport draws.

Alpine Quickdraws

Key factors for alpine and ice climbing quickdraws:

  • Lightweight aluminum or titanium
  • Wiregates provide security in cold conditions
  • Locking carabiners on alpine draws
  • Dogbone covers prevents freezing

Lightweight and security are priorities when choosing quickdraws for mountain environments. Seek out cold-rated specialty draws.

Quickdraw Recommendations by Brand

There are a ton of great quickdraws on the market. Here are some top picks from leading climbing brands:

Black Diamond Quickdraws

  • Freewire: Affordable sport climbing wiregates
  • Hotforge: Dual keylock sport draws
  • Positron: Smooth-clipping big wall draws
  • Spirit: Lightweight clean nose wires

Petzl Quickdraws

  • Spirit Express: Ultra-light sport climbing
  • Djinn Axess: Keylock bolted anchors
  • Oz Twin: Color-coded adjustable
  • Spirit: Solid all-around design

DMM Quickdraws

  • Alpha Trad: Smooth traditional climbing
  • Belay Master: Locking versatile belay draws
  • Phantom: Low-profile sport climbing
  • Highball: Mid-size dogbone sport draws

This covers some of the top options from leading brands. Try out different styles to see what you like best.

Other Quickdraw Tips

Here are a few final tips for using quickdraws:

  • Buy in bulk packs to save money
  • Use on every bolt when learning to place properly
  • Add identifiers to avoid mixing up with other climbers
  • Regularly inspect and retire worn dogbones
  • Equalize draws at anchors for safety
  • Always have a few extra draws as back-ups

Don’t skimp on safety – retire any quickdraws with worn or damaged dogbones. And finally, think about packing extras rather than risking running it out!


Determining how many quickdraws to bring climbing depends on many variables – route length, difficulty, style of climbing, personal preference, and more. Aim to have enough draws for the hardest pitches, with several extras for versatility. Consider the style of draw needed based on climbing type as well. Quickdraws are an essential part of every climber’s rack so take the time to curate just the right set for your climbing objectives.

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