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Most (if not all) the big rock climbing brands do manufacture their gear in China - carabiners, cams, slings, whatever.

Now, I stumbled on this:

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/group/Climbings/1453743_258307418.html

It looks like well made gear and the price is interesting. The brand isn't well known though. I am very curious about Chinese brands and I feel like those devices may rival the most famous ones. But, I don't know for sure. Considering that most if not all production is made there, the Chinese must have the skill and the know-how.

How can I judge whether these products are reliable?

Thanks so much.

  • 7
    I personally would not be the guinea pig to figure out if this is reliable gear. I'd like to see some reputable 3rd party testing before I'd trust my life or someone else's to such unknown hardware. My 2 cents. – manoftheson Dec 13 '14 at 4:59
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    For any security-related equipement, you need safety labels indicating testing anf quality requirements. More importantly, you need to know that the safety labels are for real, which has a better chance of happening in a product that goes through proper custom, for a brand that can be held accountable. – njzk2 Jan 21 '15 at 15:01
  • I think this is perfectly valid question (especially after the most recent edit), the only problem is that the only product information is a link. There should have been a description of the type, model, manufacturer and whatever was known and relevant at the time. As to some answers/comments it appears the product was from a company called "GM". – imsodin Aug 21 '17 at 14:23
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While I'm not too familiar with this brand, a 2013 article on BackpackingLight (largely paywalled) discussed recent developments in canister stoves, most of which are now manufactured in Asia. I think some of the comments from that article, and a preceeding 2009 article discussing Chinese manufacturing of outdoor gear, may apply here as well.

Manufacturing quality can range from very high to quite low. (Most high-quality Western brands are also coming out of Chinese factories now.) An OEM factory doing a "few extra runs" in the evening, or making cosmetic tweaks will likely produce goods that are still of decent quality. A factory that hasn't had direct contact with Western designers and is simply creating products that look similar is much more likely to have quality issues.

One problem identified in the 2009 article was that the manufacturers may not be familiar with the design history, and thus not understand why certain decisions were made. (They also may not be familiar with the actual end use of the product.) This can result in cost-cutting decisions that also impact safety or performance, particularly with manufacturers that don't have in-house engineering talent.

The 2013 article has a more optimistic view, noting some of the in-house Asian stoves makers are showing "serious design and development work". An example of this would be with the Chinese stove-manufacturer Fire Maple, which appears to have added skilled engineering talent to their company and is doing its own development.

Returning to the "GoodMakings" company and their climbing hardware, I would be curious as to whether this company is an OEM for more well-known brands, as that suggests a better chance of manufacturing quality. (Someone with access to the appropriate testing equipment could likely order some of their items and run a few tests.)

Now for the questionable bit. I see their helmet displays the UIAA Safety Label (the image on the back of the helmet), but am not able to find mention of this brand in the UIAA's database. This is worrisome, and suggests a possibility that the certificate markings may be "purely decorative".

Edit: It appears the company is now a UIAA safety label holder, and has at least received certifications for some of its hardware. Based on descriptions of GM products listed on http://storrick.cnc.net/VerticalDevicesPage/VerticalHome.shtml GM may be an OEM for smaller western companies, now expanding under its own name.

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    To me, it's a huge red flag that it's not in the UIAA database. It doesn't necessarily mean it's unsafe gear, but it doesn't mean that it is. – manoftheson Dec 13 '14 at 5:04
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    It hadn't even occurred to me that they could be faking their certification, I could see some factories trying to pull that off. Although the brand GM may also be a sister brand from the same factory of a product that is in the database. – ShemSeger Dec 14 '14 at 22:22
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They don't have certification from the UIAA. As it states on the UIAA official website:

The UIAA warns that the following brands may be using the UIAA name and/or Safety Label logo with out UIAA authorization:

GM: The UIAA has received email from climbers in USA, Brazil, Finland and Australia that GM advertising gear with the registered UIAA Safety label logo GM has never applied for a UIAA Safety Label. We consider this to be an unacceptable use of UIAA name in order to create the impression that these products have been tested and approved by the UIAA. The UIAA therefore, cannot guarantee that the products from GM meet up to the standard set by the UIAA Safety Label.

8

TL;DR: Look for manufacturer standards associations (UIAA, CE, ISO):

enter image description here

Climbing Gear Strength Rating and Testing Standards

The general rule of thumb about gear in Rock Climbing is when you have any doubt about any piece of gear, don't use it.

That being said there are a couple of things to go off of when judging safety equipment manufacturers:

STRENGTH RATINGS

Pieces of equipment that are designed to absorb the force that a fall generates (these include rope and webbing, your harness, and all gear used as anchors or protection on a route) will be rated with the maximum number of kiloNewtons they can withstand.

These Chinese manufacturers have at the very least stamped strength ratings on the side of their equipment.

MANUFACTURING STANDARDS

Most quality climbing products meet widely accepted standards of quality and safety. Although it is not explicitly required by law in some areas, such as North America. Some of the standards you will see associated with climbing products are: CE, UIAA, and ISO.

  • CE
    A product stamped with the CE mark indicates that it has passed strength testing requirements, and the manufacturing processes meet European Union laws. The CE mark is accompanied by a number (for example CE 0639) that identifies the registered testing facility the company uses. The standards that products need to be tested to are identified by “EN”; for example EN 959 covers rock anchors.

    In Europe, all climbing products in defined categories must receive CE certification before they can be sold.

  • UIAA (UNION INTERNATIONAL DES ASSOCIATIONS D’ALPINISME)
    CE standards are based on the pre-existing UIAA norms that climbing equipment manufacturers referred to before CE testing was implemented.

    Today, the UIAA norms still exist and often lay out additional (though voluntary) requirements for certain products. For instance, the UIAA helmet rating calls for even higher force absorption standards than the applicable CE norm. Products that meet the UIAA norm have been tested in UIAA approved facilities and have the UIAA stamp.

    Many non-European climbing manufacturers seek both CE and UIAA certification in order to sell in the European market and demonstrate the quality of their products to consumers in North America.

  • ISO
    ISO is an international standards organization. Manufacturers that are ISO certified have a registered facility oversee their quality assurance systems to make sure they conform to the norms.

Source:Climbing Gear Strength Rating and Testing Standards

Taking a brief look at the specs on some of those pieces of gear I noticed that some had CE certification listed in the specs, some had both UIAA and CE certification, but others did not list any manufacturing standard, though they appeared to have some sort of certification based on the four digit number stamped on the side.

You're welcome to buy gear that has been strength rated without certification, but if you want to play it safe, only buy gear that has a listed manufacturer standard certification.

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    +1 for "...when you have any doubt about any piece of gear, don't use it." – manoftheson Dec 13 '14 at 5:01
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    The problem is, a lot of Chinese cheap products are well known for being counterfeit. It would be very easy to apply a "UIAA" writing on a carabiner without having actually passed the test. Yes of course I won't use those things unless I find some independent test results . Those were what I was hoping for, but any experience to share would help. I really don't like to pay brands because they stick the "Black Diamond" label on a product that is made in China perhaps (likely?) with the same materials and quality. – Dakatine Dec 14 '14 at 21:22
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    I understand the appeal to buy cheap gear, but when my life is on the line, I find it real easy to justify spending the couple extra bucks for something I'm confident is safe to use. Like I said, if you have any reason to doubt it, don't use it. – ShemSeger Dec 14 '14 at 22:26
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    @Dakatine - If you're looking for deals on gear, Sierra Trading Post often has closeouts on new, quality gear. I've gotten a ton of stuff from them, and they send out good (and tempting) coupons in the email all the time which help a lot. I'm not affiliated with them in any way, just to clear that up. – manoftheson Dec 15 '14 at 6:33
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    @Dakatine: what BD sticks on the product is not only a pretty label, but the guarantee that they will be responsible is the product does not perform as expected. They have an image to maintain, and having climber fall because of flawed carabineers would not help. Which is why I would tend to trust their products (or products from other brands, too, if you are in europe Decathlon has decent stuff for a lot cheaper than other brands) more than likely to be counterfeit from aliexpress. – njzk2 Jan 21 '15 at 15:05
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They are now UIAA certified, as listed here: http://www.theuiaa.org/safety-label-holders.html

2

The products seem to be rip offs of Climb X gear. Here's the ice axe at a cheaper price. It would make more sense to buy the Climb X branded gear since the price difference is small.

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