Build Your First Trad Rack

Build Your First Trad Rack

Jake // March 26, 2020

So you have done some indoor leading maybe even some outside sport and you’ve loved it. Now you’re ready to move onto the big boy stuff, trad leading great! When I started out I remembered hearing horror stories about how much money I would have to spend to start “you won’t be able to get a Trad rack for under £1000” I heard one climber say. Fortunately that’s not the case, there’s no doubt that the gear’s expensive but if looked after correctly it can last decades. This guide aims to get you ready for your first Trad climb as cost efficiently as possible without any significant sacrifices. 

Here’s a brief list of what was in my first trad rack, this covered me for routes up to 15m. Even now I have added very little to the base set up. I promise I am not sponsored by DMM although I should be, it’s simply that their products are very cost efficient and I will go into why during the breakdown.

ProtectionQuickdraws & SlingsOther
DMM Dragon Cam Set (3x Cams)Indoor Quickdraws x6Belay Plate
DMM Torque Set (4x Torques)Alpine Draws/ Extendable Draws x26mm Accessory Cord
DMM Nut Set ( 10x Nuts)Slings, 2x 60cm, 1x 120cmCarabiners: 3x HMS, 3x Small Screwgate, 10x Snaplink

DMM Dragon Cam Set– It’s definitely possible to start trad climbing without cams but I am so glad I bought this set as on the routes I have climbed they have been vital for my success. The reason you should buy these cams in particular is that they come with extendable slings, by attaching a carabiner you essentially save a quickdraw. I have heard some argue against this method but it’s literally what they were designed for.

DMM Torque Set– These are the new generation hexes that can act as both dynamic and passive protection sort of a cam/ nut hybrid. These are very useful and also come with extendable slings like the cams which saves quickdraws. 

DMM Nut Set– I have found one set of nuts to be sufficient. I have since added some different sizes etc but this set carried me through over forty varied leads. If you forgo the cams get another set instead. The brands don’t matter but if you get two sets I would get two different brands as the sizes are slightly different which will give you added flexibility.

Quickdraws and Alpine Draws– The reason I stated indoor draws in the overview is that it’s likely you will already have some from indoor climbing and sport. Absolutely they are not ideal but cheap to get hold of and with the extendable slings on the gear I have found them to be sufficient. I also converted two of the draws to alpine draws with extendable slings, this gave me all the flexibility I needed.

Slings– When I started I bought a sling set of five which allowed me to create two extendable quickdraws with three slings spare for anchor building and personal safety, to these I attach three screwgate carabiners. The thickness doesn’t really matter but I prefer the 8mm slings.

Other kit: Any belay plate will do, when I lost my original I invested in a guide plate which has been useful. I also carry accessory cord to sacrifice on abseils and to make prusiks. Nut keys are useful for seconds to remove your well placed nuts. In terms of carabiners, I have ten snap links to attach to gear, three screw gates for my slings and three HMS carabiners for belays. The carabiners attached to my gear come from quickdraws sets I have cannibalised, you may notice two distinct colours. Blue and silver, the rope only ever touches silvers, this is to stop potential rope wear on sharp gear carabiners.

If you’re ready to buy a trad set it’s likely you’re already climbing with a friend. If they already have a set try out their gear first to see what you like and purchase over time. If like in my situation you have no access to gear at all, split the cost between your partner or group. This is what I did with my girlfriend. If you already have quickdraws to use and cannibalise you can put this rack together for around £350, if you own nothing at all about £500 will suffice and this in my opinion is for a high quality rack from the best gear manufacturer on the market with no sacrifices. An alternative is you can buy a complete second hand rack, these come up regularly on ebay and gumtree. The reason I didn’t was lots of the gear was outdated and you have no idea what its been through. This gear is to protect your life so think about that before buying anything second hand.

If you have any questions please ask below.

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