What’s On Your Rack?

What’s On Your Rack?

It’s a question that I get asked alot and that I have asked in the past and I will try to answer it without saying it depends.  A climbers rack is something that evolves over time in much the same way the climber does.  Here is what I call my standard rack.


Typical climbers rack

First, for my active protection a double set of SLCD which is short for spring loaded camming device from .25 up to 3 inch, I use Black Diamond Camalots each racked on Black Diamonds color coded Nuetrino carabiners because I like the expansion range that each size has, their light and the thumb loop and trigger make for quick precise placements. I prefer to place alot of passive protection and my go to is to split a double set of nuts and small hexes between two non locking carabiners with each carabiner holding various sizes and even brands of nuts and hexes, for my rack I like the Black Diamond Stoppers and the DMM wallnuts, what I like about this set up is it gives the climber plenty of options without giving up alot of real estate on your harness, I round this off with a small set of medium size hexes, I particularly like the DMM Torque Nuts which are super light, bomber when placed correctly and are slung with an extendable sling. I also carry a Black Diamond Nut Tool whether I am leading or following, when leading a nut tool is good to have if your placements get stuck and you need to adjust them.

Next, my runners are put together with 10mm Black Diamond dynex runners with Black Diamond Oz carabiners that are packed with safety features and are super light, I like to have 12 24″ slings and two 48″ slings for clipping to each piece of protection which also gives me options to extend if the routes wander.


For the anchor, I carry a standard 7mm cord, four to six locking carabiners and an ATC Guide for belaying the leader and rappelling, I prefer the munter hitch for belaying my second, I would advise anyone using the munter for belaying be experienced with the munter and know its advantages and limitations before using this method.  I’m an advocate for gloves when belaying and rappelling and I prefer the thin leather type f/g brand from home depot, there very thin, durable and grippy and don’t feel all grimy inside when its hot cause there breathable, I was wearing a pair when I climbed the Prow in Yosemite and I just clip them to the back of my harness.  Since I am trained in self rescue I also carry a petzl tibloc and dedicated 48″ nylon sling.

I do not use a shoulder gear sling so I carry my rack on my harness and for multi-pitch traditional climbs I am currently using the Black Diamond Big Gun which is equipped with seven gear loops which allows for great distribution of gear and weight and is very comfortable and sturdy for all day routes and hanging belays

I do consider my rope part of my rack and for long multi-pitch routes I am a big fan of double ropes and the benefits that come with double ropes. I’m currently using the Mammut 8mm x 70m Phoenix Double Ropes, if I use a single line my go to is the Mammut Supersafe EVO 10.2mm x 70m. If I’m going to be 800′ off the deck with one rope I prefer a thicker beefier line that can take the abuse of long multi-pitch routes.

Mammut Phoenix 8mm x 70m Half / Twin Ropes on Dark Shadows, Red Rock NV
Mammut Phoenix 8mm x 70m Half / Twin Ropes on Dark Shadows, Red Rock NV

This is what I consider my “standard rack” it is my starting point no matter what area im going to climb in and works well at my home crag and the climbing areas that I frequent, from here I may add or take away pieces. For example if I were climbing in Red Rock I may add a set of Camp Tricams and leave the hexes, Lumpy Ridge add a few larger cams, maybe a few brassies and HB’s, in Yosemite I may add a few offset nuts or cams.

So if your looking to start putting your rack together you probably wont go wrong with these items.  Climbers will often climb using other climbers racks until they gain a little experience and figure what works for them while slowly building their own rack or may chose to purchase their rack all or most at once, there are advantages either way.  Now get out and climb something!

Christopher Gibson is an outdoor climbing mentor at the North Texas Outdoor Pursuit Center and has been climbing, guiding and mentoring for over a decade, has completed the American Mountain Guide Association Single Pitch Instructor Certification and has ascents across the country and interntionally.  




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