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How do you rack your trad gear?

Original Post
drewdogg2112 · · halifax, MA · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 20

Getting more into trad climbing and just interested to see what ways people like to organize their gear. My friends I climb with most of the time like to put all cams and nuts on a shoulder sling but I hate how it bounces around in front of me while I am climbing and drags/ gets stuck on stuff.

I have been doing the sling with cams and nuts etc and draws on my harness loops but I feel like I might switch to cams on my harness loops and Draws and nuts on my sling because they are less bulky.

I know it obviously makes more sense to rack all the gear on a sling if you are swapping leads but does anyone else get annoyed with 10 lbs of gear dangling in front.


feel free to point me in the direction of an older post on this same subject because I am sure there is one.
And for the record... This isn't a post about the proper way to rack your draws gate in or out so lets keep that out of it.
That's a worse conversation than talking about American politics

Chris Rice · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 50

I don't think there is a "right" or "wrong" way really. More than anything the current argument is rack on the harness or rack on a sling over the shoulder. If you swing leads on multi pitch a lot I think a gear sling really makes sense as you said - you can just hand the rack over to your partner at the belay - save a lot of time and minimize the chance of dropping stuff. Personally I carry all the different cams - nuts etc on the gear loop and all the various slings, draws, cordalettes etc on the harness, Probably because that's the way I learned 30 odd years ago and it has worked for me all these years. I like being able to swing the rack around out of the way (or switch sides) in corners, chimneys etc more than on my harness. But whatever works for you is the "right way". Try different ways and see which you like best. You can make a valid case for about any method you like.

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,475

Nuts and passive gear on the very front of the front gear loops. This is because passive gear is generally more finicky to place (for me) and so I like to not waste time sifting through shit on my gear loop looking for the biner holding it.

If I know the gear beta in order that it comes, I rack cams in that order. If not, I go smallest to largest from front to back. I try to distribute weight evenly on the each side. If I'm not carrying much, draws, runners, etc go on the front loops to the rear of my pro. If I'm carrying a lot, I use the rear loops. All extraneous shit (extra cord or lockers if I'm on multi) goes in the very back on the rear loops.

I don't ever use a sling for gear. I tried it and didn't like it. Others will swear by it. People rack all sorts of different ways. Half the fun is figuring a way that works for you practically. Get out there and play with it- you'll figure out what you like and what you don't.

Gavin W · · Surrey, BC · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 183

I do the opposite of Jake for my passive gear. Front loops are for cams (smallest to largest, balanced, and doubled up by clipping the racking carabiner of the second cam to the racking carabiner of the first if they're the same size, and weight balanced). I put passive gear on the front of my back loop because it is typically more finicky to place, and so anytime I place passive gear I make sure that I'm in a good stance, and so I have more time and balance to reach back and grab the passive gear from the back.

If you have beta about a climb though, keep that in mind. If there's one placement that you know you have to make from a poor stance, put that gear on the front of your harness, on whatever side you need it, so that you don't need to mess around with holding gear in your mouth and matching hands, or sorting through cams, when you're pumped out and way above your last placement.

Firestone · · California · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 449

If you keep your whole rack on a sling or chest harness be careful about what happens if you take an inverted fall. I have seen someone drop a full rack when it slipped over their head. Some chest harnesses have a loop on back to attach to your haul loop on a harness.

I rack all my gear on my harness. Cams on front dominant hand side small to big. Nuts go in front on either loop. Doubles go on the off hand front loop with spare draws behind. Main draws go on back loop dominant hand side because you can grab them without looking. Any anchor gear/tools go on off hand back loop for the belay.

walmongr · · Gilbert AZ · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 110

Small to big front to back on the 2 front gear loops unless I can see the first 3 pieces are #3's then those would go right in front. draws and extendable slings on the rear gear loops and depending on what the pitch calls for put the nuts either in the front out or way out of the way in the back, no need for them to be tangling shit up in the front if it's 160 foot of hand crack. I put everything on my harness except for shoulder length slings.

Loganator · · blue van, on the highway to no · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 240

If you get rid of all the heavy carabiners, and replace with photons/ nanos or other lightweight biner, a full double rack with 12 alpine draws should fit on your harness loops. Misty Mountain cadillac harness has three loops per side, which leaves even more room for the extra crap people like to take when trad climbing (knife, cordellete, lockers, ATC). Petzl corax harness also has huge rear gear loops. If swapping leads, a competent leader will have the gear all clipped to an anchor via sling or something by the time the second arrives at the belay. all of this is useful, if like me, you cant climb with a rack around your shoulder (not that I can climb well anyways but oh well).

Pavel Burov · · Russia · Joined May 2013 · Points: 50

Carry tools (widely used for ice screws racking) is handy when climbing routes with thin protection. This is the best option to rack beaks/tomahawks (a hint: pre-equip beaks with small steel mallions with a 6" UL Dyneema dogbone).

To rack a hummer autopsy an old 3.5" hard drive for some strong magnets. They are strong enough to hold yer hummer. Stitch a magnet into an over the shoulder gear sling where it crosses your clavicle bone. That's it.

Loganator · · blue van, on the highway to no · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 240

^who free climbs with beaks, hammers since the 90s?? I'd heard about it at Index... we thought it was the stuff of legend. Where do you climb, sounds exciting.

Pavel Burov · · Russia · Joined May 2013 · Points: 50
Loganator wrote:^who free climbs with beaks, hammers since the 90s?? I'd heard about it at Index... we thought it was the stuff of legend. Where do you climb, sounds exciting.
In Russia trad climbing is almost impossible without beaks. Because it is the only protection option for our harder climbs.
Scott Morris · · Bountiful, Utah · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 475

I'm no hardman but my system involves both a gear sling and my gear loops. I don't like my gear loops chuck full so using this combination keeps things fairly spaced out and easy to grab.

Gear sling = nuts and small cams (0.4 C4 and smaller, including Mastercams) I don't like having anything bulky or too heavy on the gear sling so this keeps it light and easy to reposition if needed.

Front gear loops = cams 0.5 C4 to Gold C4, with a couple of quickdraws or alpine draws towards the back. Doubles are on the opposite gear loop along with a couple more draws. This keeps the weight even, and gives me the option to place either right or left handed.

Back gear loops = larger cams Blue C4 and up (if needed on the route), and more quickdraws or alpine draws on both sides. At the very back of each rear gear loop I rack my belay device, cordelette, and a double length sling or two. I also put a couple extra locking biners at the very back for anchor building, along with my nut tool.

Topher42 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 50

I use both sling and my harness depending on the climb.

Most of the time now I do rack cams on my harness.

I usually always have 8 to 10 shoulder slings with a carabiner each around my shoulder, and do alpine shorten them. for multipitch anyways. I usually carry about 6 dyneema alpine draws for nut placements, 4 shoulder and 2 doubles.

when I rack on my harness I put one of each side on each of my hips in decending order. and I'll switch it up as I climb if I see I'll place with my left and have my only number one on my right. I also have my nuts on 2 biners, one for smaller, one for bigger. I'll attack cordelette or anchor to my back most loup.

on sling what I do is rack in order smaller to larger, and I hook on my doubles to each other. Meaning that I'll hand the first size on a number 1 on the sling, and clip the second number one to the thumb loup. that way it takes up less space on my sling and I know if I'd used the other number one or not.

hope that helps

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

your nuts they are hanging low, and to the side. your shaft must face in the direction of pull.

D Graham · · Dallas · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 941

Nuts in front, cams after that smallest to largest, alpine draws after that.

Usually eye the first piece and put that in front, then get there and realize it was the wrong size, proceed to try and find the right size for next 20 minutes

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456

I rack my draws and runners on a shoulder sling on my right side. I keep a few draws on my front left gear loop in case I can't access my right side. Protection goes on the gear loops

For a single set of cams, cams on front two gear loops alternating sides, so you get every other size on each gear loop, which gives you more options if you can't access one side (I learned to trad climb in a land of dihedrals). Big gear like #3s, #4s, and hexes go at the back of my front left gear loop to balance the weight of the draws. Nuts, tiny gear (RPs, ballnuts, #1-3 stoppers, etc.), and tri-cams change sides to balance the weight. Nut tool, belay device, self rescue gear all goes on the back L or R gear loop, whichever is needed to balance the weight

I don't usually carry a double set of cams, but when I do I rack a whole set on each front gear loop. Big gear and passive pro goes on whichever side is needed to balance the weight.

Tom Sherman · · Bristol, RI · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 416

i always rack a ridiculous amount of gear, and all on my harness, so no need for a sling, you can fit it all

lf-small cams and draws/alpines
rf-large cams and draws/alpines
lr-large nuts belay device and cordellette
rr-small nuts rap gear long slings and lockers

i'm probably more right heavy, never thought too much about it

Pavel Burov · · Russia · Joined May 2013 · Points: 50
eli poss wrote:Nut tool
BTW, in my experience this little necessary bastard is a real pain in the arse. It is rarely needed but when you need it you need it. It is not a good idea to leave the ground without it. No matter where I clip it, it always goes in the way. The most idiotic option I have ever tried is to clip it to a leg loop... a big no-no. The back loop next to belay device is the most likely the best option.
Pavel Burov · · Russia · Joined May 2013 · Points: 50

BTW, the rule of thumb. That piece of protection you need the most on that push-yer-limits pitch is always clipped to the most awkward to reach gear loop. Just accept it and racking will become much easier. And wa-a-a-a-ay more effective.

Topher42 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 50
Pavel Burov wrote: BTW, in my experience this little necessary bastard is a real pain in the arse. It is rarely needed but when you need it you need it. It is not a good idea to leave the ground without it. No matter where I clip it, it always goes in the way. The most idiotic option I have ever tried is to clip it to a leg loop... a big no-no. The back loop next to belay device is the most likely the best option.
I've never had trouble with mine. I have a leeper, and I have some small cord that prolly 5k or something tied in different loops so I can clip it the rope and not lose it and also leverage a piece out. I just chain it and hang it in the back near my anchor.
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

I rack exclusively on my Misty Harness. I hate wearing a heavy sling, but I've been experimenting with shoulder slings around the shoulder. I do nuts/passives on right front, cams on left. I usually like to break up my cams into <1 (front left loop) and 1+ (middle loop), so that they are stacked a bit more 3D. This allows me to reach across my harness and grab cams with my right hand. I also clip doubles to each other (trick I learned from the forums), which I highly recommend.

Alex James · · Ballard, WA · Joined May 2016 · Points: 168

I'll throw this system out there since its slightly different than what everyone else has said. I don't like carrying gear over my shoulder as it has a tendency to slide around too much (I got narrow shoulders). If its a long climb and I have more draws than normal, I'll carry some extended over my shoulder. This is how I carry a double rack:

front right - cams .2 to .5 in small to large
front left - cams .75 to 4 in small to large
back right - tricams, nuts, draws, prussiks, atc, spare biners from front to back
back left - draws, double lengths, cord, hexes (if carrying), from front to back.

When offwidthing, cams 4-6 plus Valley or bros go on a shoulder sling.

Thats how I racked it for years on an older Ocun 4 gear loop harness, I recently switched to a Misty Cadillac that I like where all the nonessential stuff on lead (prussiks, atc, biners, cord etc) go on the middle loops that are below the other gear loops.

If you do end up carrying a large amount of gear on your harness, choose a method and stick to it. Since you can't slide it out to a better spot like a shoulder sling when in a chimney or something, you have to know where everything is. I've definitely had to find a few pieces by counting carabiners blindly in a crack.

For anyone thinking of making a snide remark about carrying too much gear, its weight training for the 12s :P

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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