19

There is a local shop that sells small brand name gear for pretty good prices. I am looking at their harnesses and quickdraws and would like to know:

1) Whether the equipment is safe - say compared to "big brands" like Petzl or Black Diamond?

2) Whether the gear is good quality and nice to use?

  • 2
    Seems it might be better to generalize this question: "How do you know if smaller brands of climbing equipment are safe" rather than risk being accused of shilling for a particular company. – Lost Oct 25 '12 at 3:12
  • 1
    I am all for supporting small businesses. But when it comes to safety gear, I prefer to support businesses that I know hire huge teams of mechanical engineers whose sole job is equipment testing. – theJollySin Jan 24 '13 at 0:51
13

When choosing a brand, there are two basic things I'd want to check:

  1. Has the product been certified by the UIAA? You can check that site to see if it's on the list.
  2. For a harness, will the gear shop let you try a harness on, and hang in it (in the store) before you buy it? I'd want to know how comfortable a harness is before I pay for one. Comfort isn't the biggest factor in a harness for sport climbs, but if you're going to be working a route, and hanging a lot (or belaying someone who is doing the same), it can be a consideration.
10

The problem is you can't test that something is safe with your bare eye (e.g. you can't apply 2.2kN to the carabiner in the store, organize a fall, etc..). So you have 2 things to rely on:

  1. Certificates (UIAA, CE and/or specific to your country)
  2. Other people's experience

The second option is not so useful with small, not so widespread brands (and the reviews may be biased: a couple of schoolboys can break almost any piece of equipment by using it wrong or praiseful reviews can be written by company affiliates).

At least, you can always tell if something isn't safe: the seam on the harness might look weak or expose threads sticking out all over, the gate of the carabiner might jam or the particular piece of equipment might just feel unsafe. Don't use it in case of any doubt.

P.S. Low price doesn't always imply bad quality, small companies don't charge you for the brand and they need to keep low prices to be competitive.

  • 1
    Thx, best answer in my opinion! – Wills Apr 4 '14 at 18:40
  • "you can always tell if something isn't safe:" You mean the opposite - you can sometimes tell. – Adonalsium Mar 30 '18 at 0:15
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    Yes, thank you, I used the wrong word (translated from my head's Russian locale;)). The meaning was "You can always tell it's not safe when your eyes/feelings say so". – Steed Mar 30 '18 at 7:41
5

My philosophy has always been that if I'm going to trust my life to it, I don't want any doubts in my mind. I'm sure they make decent equipment, and as DavidR pointed out their harnesses are certified by the UIAA.

That said, personally I would rather stick with a well-known company that has a proven track record than to save a few bucks.

  • 1
    I didn't mean to imply that some of Skylotec's harnesses were uncertified. I looked up the brand in the UIAA site, and saw that they had certified harnesses - I didn't take the time to cross-reference the UIAA approved harnesses with the product catalog. I would assume that everything they're bringing to market is certified, but don't really know. – DavidR Oct 24 '12 at 18:50
4

As a final addition to the other answers: Google really can be your friend. See if any reviews or blog posts about the brand's material are available, and pay particular note to anything by pros. They may be sponsored, but they're not going to use equipment that seems unsafe to them.

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