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Nylon Sling Lifetime

Original Post
Ryan Mac · · Australia/US · Joined Apr 2019 · Points: 1

Hi All,

Does anyone know of good resources on the lifetime of nylon slings? I recently acquired an old sling (tagged 1995) with a pile of random gear. It looks fine on inspection, I've used newer slings with more obvious wear, but I'm wondering if there are any shelf life issues I should be concerned about.

Thanks

Chris Blatchley · · Sammamish, WA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 6

This is one pretty definitive source:

BD QC Lab: Slings and Quickdraws​​​

Ryan Williams · · London (sort of) · Joined May 2009 · Points: 1,265

I’ve read 10 years in plenty of places. However some of my little used nylon slings are older than that and I’d still fall on them.

In general you always have to be skeptical of used soft goods. And most of them are cheap enough to just replace if you’re not 100%. 

Malcolm Daly · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 380

It’s probably good. Replace it anyway. 

Roots · · Wherever I am · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 20

That's a 25 yo used sling you got there...kind of old don't ya think?

Jeff Maurin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 15
This is one pretty definitive source: BD QC Lab: Slings and Quickdraws 

How & Why Slings Wear with Time
Looking at all the slings and quickdraws we've tested over the years, I'd say there are two main factors that cause a reduction in strength:
  • Abrasion
  • UV

BD QC Lab does not mention time alone ("shelf life", assuming proper storage) as a major factor in strength reduction, rather abrasion and UV exposure, both typically related to use.  To the OP's question on "Lifetime" of slings, I don't think there is a clear answer.  I'd wager most of us retire soft goods before we need to, but that is better than the alternative.
slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107

as long as you take decent care of them, they should last a long time.  i have a bunch of slings that are 25 to 30 years old that i still use frequently, and if you looked at them you wouldn't guess they are that old.

Jon Nelson · · Redmond, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 5,330
slim wrote: as long as you take decent care of them, they should last a long time.  i have a bunch of slings that are 25 to 30 years old that i still use frequently, and if you looked at them you wouldn't guess they are that old.


Agree here. I have some almost 40 years old that I don't hesitate to use.

Instead of the OP's question, I might instead ask:
 How can one tell by look and feel that the nylon is still good?

It might also be nice to know exactly what causes the nylon polymers to decay. I have a hard time believing that they are unstable and decay with time from just thermal activity. I've read that UV and ozone will break the polymers. Anything else?

If it is not too faded and still feels smooth and flexible, I consider it good enough to use and don't ask about the age.
Matt N · · Santa Barbara, CA · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 394

...as long as the previous owner didn't store it next to a car battery - sure, go ahead and use it! (or set it on the parking lot where someones battery leaked, etc - use your imagination!)

That's the thing with soft goods - they can look/feel fine, but with an unknown history...

and I agree that age isn't a sole reason for retirement. Use it for racking gear, but $3 will get you a new one for whipping on.

Bootied/dropped biners, etc - I'm fine with, also (for context).

Bill Lawry · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,696

I’ve been replacing mine between 5 and 10 years old.  Maybe that’s over conservative as most still look pretty good at that point.

Roots · · Wherever I am · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 20

"How can one tell by look and feel that the nylon is still good? "

Nylon will become less supple with age....it feels stiff.

Fading = run away from it.

EFS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 120

uv and heat ar 2 killers of nylon. way too many climbers retire their nylon way before it needs to be. if skydivers did that they would be spending a couple grand on a container every 5-10 years (skydiving gear has become ridiculously expensive over the past 15 years). and think about this......people who work in skydiving or fun jumpers who jump a lot, have opening shock on that nylon 5, 10, sometimes 20 times a day. your climbing gear only gets shock loaded on a fall.....

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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