My Favorite Alpine Draw Slings

Speaking of cool climbing gear, if you’re getting any traditional slings for alpine draws, general extensions, or building anchors, it’s hard to beat Mammut’s Contact Slings. They’re made of dyneema, so they’re super strong and slippery, but that’s not why I like them so much. They’re the sling that does the best job of mitigating how the bar tack (where the two ends overlaps and are stitched together) tends to catch on things.

An orange climbing sling with a black label that reads “GM CLIMBING” rests coiled against a white background.
A typical bulky bar tack.

Typical bar tacks are bulky and unconsidered, and their ends often get stuck on carabiners when you’re trying to adjust the sling or extend an alpine draw. The stitching on the Contact slings is small and svelte to begin with, and Mammut covers the bar tack with a little sleeve of fabric which smooths everything out. You’ll still want to avoid getting the bar tack in the middle of any knots you tie, but at least it doesn’t get hung up on carabiners, rocks, or anything.

A red and white braided sling with a black logo tag featuring a red mammoth.
Mammut’s low-profile bar tack.

A byproduct of the Contact Slings being made of dyneema is that they can be much smaller and lighter than a traditional nylon sling, and that’s why I picked up another 120cm one for my rack. The double-length sling from Metolius I’ve been using is nice, but its extra width means takes up more space on my harness and isn’t as good for long extensions. The Contact Sling wraps up extremely small and I hardly notice it on my harness.

A plea to climbing brands worldwide: standardize on a color scheme to distinguish between sling length. When you’re in the middle of a hard climb, it pays dividends to not spend any extra time or brain cycles on determining if you’re grabbing the right tool you need in that moment. It’s a little thing, but it really helps — especially if you’re using someone else’s rack that you’re less familiar with — to not second guess or have to try again. I wish every brand would standard on a single color scheme. Mammut’s would be fine with me:

  • Red = 60cm (single shoulder length)
  • Blue = 120cm (double-length)
  • Yellow = 180cm (triple-length)
  • Grayish purple = 240cm (quad-length)

Climbing Gear

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