Anchor: quad vs equalette


Original Post
Kurt G. · · Reading, PA · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 85

Hi everyone,

so ive recently been reading up on quad anchors. this is mainly for building anchors on multi-pitch trad but also setting top ropes on gear.
my question is what are the real world advantages/disadvantages of a quad over an equalette (im leaning towards using the quad). I checked the forums before hand and couldn't find anything directly related to this but if someone knows of a previous post id be happy to read that.
the only disadvantage I can see up front is needing longer cordalette for the quad since youd need to double up to get the four strands.

thanks ahead of time for any input.

BoulderCharles · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 25

The quad is great for bolted belays as it is fast, allows for some movement of the master point, and gives you more room in the master point.

For gear anchors, the quad will be tricky as you usually have 3 pieces in your anchor (meaning you have to tie two pieces of protection together to end up with two clip-in points for your quad).

There is also a concern with the extension of the quad on trad gear. Gear is more likely to fail than a bolt so we need to be more concerned about the extension of the quad. For example, if one piece of your anchor fails with a quad attached then it will shock load the remaining pieces with greater force than is likely with a traditional, fixed masterpoint (as in an equalette).

Ultimately, there is no "right" answer here. Experiment with both and see what works best for you. I frequently use the quad for bolted anchors but use a traditional cordalette for trad anchors.

Jeff J · · Bozeman · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 70
Kurt G. wrote:Hi everyone, so ive recently been reading up on quad anchors. this is mainly for building anchors on multi-pitch trad but also setting top ropes on gear. my question is what are the real world advantages/disadvantages of a quad over an equalette (im leaning towards using the quad). I checked the forums before hand and couldn't find anything directly related to this but if someone knows of a previous post id be happy to read that. the only disadvantage I can see up front is needing longer cordalette for the quad since youd need to double up to get the four strands. thanks ahead of time for any input.
Yes you are correct in that the Quad uses much more cord.

I use a equalette mostly because its (IMHO) a more flexable system. In trad you never know how your pieces are going to be oriented for the next anchor. If you can get three to four pieces of pro in on a closely horizontal position, than use a quad. But if the pro is scattered you may not have enough cord to make an Quad anchor. In that case use an equallette. If the anchor is bolted than use a Quad.
Yes a quad uses three strands of cord and not two strands to clip in to as the anchor master point which makes it an submairne anchor. But unless you are using shoe strings for cord the anchor will be plenty strong with an equallette.
My advice is to not get locked down to just one type of anchor and know how to tie two or three kinds of anchors. So you dont get stuck on an upper pitch and only know how to use a Quad when you dont have enough cord, your going to have switch to an alternet anchor system.
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45
BoulderCharles wrote:The quad is great for bolted belays as it is fast, allows for some movement of the master point, and gives you more room in the master point. For gear anchors, the quad will be tricky as you usually have 3 pieces in your anchor (meaning you have to tie two pieces of protection together to end up with two clip-in points for your quad). There is also a concern with the extension of the quad on trad gear. Gear is more likely to fail than a bolt so we need to be more concerned about the extension of the quad. For example, if one piece of your anchor fails with a quad attached then it will shock load the remaining pieces with greater force than is likely with a traditional, fixed masterpoint (as in an equalette). Ultimately, there is no "right" answer here. Experiment with both and see what works best for you. I frequently use the quad for bolted anchors but use a traditional cordalette for trad anchors.
Eh, I'd say quads and equallettes have about the same issues with multiple pieces of gear and extension, since they both rely on limiter knots. Connecting 2 pieces is super easy: shoulder length sling, sliding X. Super fast and still self equalizing/load distributing.

That being said, I still use a master point anchor 90% of the time on trad.
Kurt G. · · Reading, PA · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 85

One thing I should've mentioned is I have a hard time getting the direction of pull right for equal weight distribution on all gear pieces. I will routinely get my master point anchor set up and forget about the up and down pull or something like that and have to redo it. I like the idea of the quad incase the direction of pull changes.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 433
Kurt G. wrote:One thing I should've mentioned is I have a hard time getting the direction of pull right for equal weight distribution on all gear pieces.
I strive to find placements solid enough that I would whip on them leading. If it's good enough to hold a high force lead fall then why bother taking time trying to equalize the load? Just tie your master point for minimal extension and you're good to go.

If you find yourself with sub par rock or you used the gear you NEED lower on the pitch than use more pieces in your anchor, spread them out further. Use the rope to get lower angles. If you want to equalize two marginal pieces next to each other use a sling in a sliding X with limiters.
Arlo F Niederer · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 260

A quad is just a cordlette doubled and tied into an equalette.

So, you actually have all three at your disposal:

If you are one of those paranoid about shock loading due to limiting knots, connect three pieces, tie as a cordlette, and end up with load distribution approximately 60-25-15% from the lowest to highest piece if they are vertically aligned.

Or connect three pieces, tie into an equalette, and perhaps have a little better distribution of load between the pieces.

Or double the cordlette, tie into a quad (equalette) with redundant strands on the legs of the equalette.

The point here is versatility - you can use what you feel most comfortable with depending on the situation.

In spite of all the hand wringing on MP, I personally know of only one anchor failure and it was due to an area with notoriously bad rock, not how the anchor was set. In another forum, the same is true - only one other known anchor failure in over 40 years.

AaronP · · colorado springs co · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 10

For a quad with 3 pieces of gear, 240cm 8mm mammut sling works great and I really like the 400cm sewn sling for versatility. Only Wild County makes them as far as I know, when stowed properly a 400 isn't as bulky as you would think.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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