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Breaking Gear Fear

The sports we love are challenging enough without wondering how our gear works, even in the weirdest situations. Manufacturers can't answer most of your questions for liability reasons, guides teach the basics which don't cover many situations, and your friends don't know because it's nowhere to be found online. The goal of breaking gear fear is to answer every question asked about the gear you trust your life to.

This Blog format keeps it easy to work on while keeping it free and searchable for google. It will always be free for everyone but hopefully, we can print this someday!

Section 1 - The Foundation

Chapter 1 - What is gear fear

Assuming you read this book in 10 years and you forget the days when people feared their gear, let me explain. As a new climber, I was screamed at by a climbing partner for accidentally dropping a carabiner 4 feet because of “microfractures”. I was shaking out of fear ascending on a “tiny” 8mm rope. Climbers got violent with us for using their bolts to highline with because it was "weakening" their bolts. I climbed with an engineer who tallied how many times he ascended, weighted or fell on a rope and retired it after it was basically new because ropes are only rated for “7 UIAA falls”. There was a day when people were afraid of whipping even though they had nylon ropes!

When I publish a HowNOT2 episode trying to break gear fear, 10 more questions come back. It’s amazing how many questions people have about their gear! If you had to risk your life doing something with your gear that you were unsure about, it sticks with you. That is why this mission resonates with people. Here is a small sample of what comes in:

*Can you girth hitch a sling directly to a cam thumb loop?

*What happens if you tie a rope directly into a hanger

*Can I get full strength out of a rope using a tensionless hitch? - Proceeds to put the other end in a belay device!

*Are wet ropes dangerous to climb/rappel on

*I’ve kept an unused rope in a closet for 10 years, is it still safe?

*Does dyneema break lower when it's a drop test vs a slow pull

*What happens if I use a smaller diameter in a termination bar?

...And a million knot questions

Let's talk about how reliable backyard science is. We show our entire process in videos for a reason, it is so you understand how it is tested and how reliable the information is. Sometimes we break 30 things to try to answer 1 question, that information is more reliable but not infallible. Please don't confuse those thorough tests with 1-3 break test which is not statistically significant enough to take that information to the grave. We have tested hundreds of old dog bones (climbing quickdraws) and only 2 would have been deadly in a fall. Old gear tests especially need to be taken with a grain of salt. We explore the what-if. It is up to you ultimately to decide if it is safe or not.

Chapter x - How NOT to Die

Before we get into what gear does and say super good enough after every test, let's have a reality check on where the risk lies. It's not your gear! It's you. Don't rappel off the end of your rope and die. Don't override the camming unit on a grigri while belaying and kill your partner. Don't go up el capitan when the weather specifically says.... don't go up el capitan! Learn some first aid, backcountry medicine, and some self-rescue tricks before doing dangerous stuff. Don't swing too far the other way from gear fear to being careless.

***Stats on accident reports or something that instills gear fe

Chapter x - How soft stuff works

It's important to understand the properties of what your gear is made out of. These are the materials used to make your soft goods from ropes to slings, to even your harness.

Nylon - Nylon is a synthetic polymer, actually a family of polymers called polyamides, which are made up of repeating units linked by amide bonds. Nylon is known for its incredible strength, elasticity, and durability, making it a versatile material for various applications. It's also resistant to abrasion and has low moisture absorption, which is a big plus in many industries.

It was invented by a chemist named Wallace H. Carothers back in 1935 while he was working at DuPont. Nylon was first introduced as a synthetic replacement for silk, and it quickly gained popularity because it was more affordable and had better properties than silk. During World War II, nylon was even used for parachutes and other military supplies.

When it comes to the molecular structure of nylon, it's quite fascinating. Nylon polymers have a long, chain-like structure with amide bonds linking the repeating units. These chains can be of varying lengths, which influences the material's properties. The most common types of nylon are nylon 6 and nylon 6,6. The numbers denote the number of carbon atoms in the monomers that make up the polymer chain.

You'll find nylon in various climbing equipment, including ropes, harnesses, slings, and webbing. The material's high strength, low weight, and resistance to abrasion make it ideal for these applications. Climbing ropes, in particular, benefit from nylon's elasticity, which helps to absorb the shock from a falling climber and reduces the risk of injury. In addition, nylon's low moisture absorption means that climbing gear can maintain its performance even in wet conditions, which is a big advantage when you're out in the great outdoors.

That was chat gpt4 but i doubt the water claims it makes. This is a great article on it





Chapter x - How hard stuff works

Aluminum - Climbing carabiners are typically made from a type of aluminum alloy called 7075 aluminum, which is also sometimes referred to as "aircraft-grade" aluminum. This particular alloy is a favorite for climbing gear manufacturers because it offers an excellent balance of strength, lightweight, and corrosion resistance – all crucial factors for dependable and safe climbing equipment.

7075 aluminum is composed primarily of aluminum, with added elements such as zinc, magnesium, and copper. These elements contribute to the alloy's impressive strength and other desirable properties. Specifically, the presence of zinc strengthens the aluminum, while magnesium and copper improve the material's hardness and resistance to stress-corrosion cracking.

One of the key benefits of using 7075 aluminum for carabiners and other climbing gear is its high strength-to-weight ratio. This means that carabiners made from this material can be both lightweight and strong, which is essential for climbers who need to carry their gear up the rock face. Additionally, 7075 aluminum has good fatigue resistance, which allows carabiners to withstand repeated loadings and deformations without failing.

It's worth noting that aluminum carabiners, including those made from 7075 aluminum, need to be anodized to provide better corrosion resistance and a smoother surface. Anodizing is an electrochemical process that forms a protective oxide layer on the surface of the aluminum, improving the material's durability and lifespan.

7075 aluminum is significantly stronger than 6061 aluminum. The tensile strength of 7075 aluminum can range from 74,000 to 84,000 psi (510 to 579 MPa), while 6061 aluminum has a tensile strength of around 40,000 to 45,000 psi (276 to 310 MPa). This means that 7075 aluminum can be almost twice as strong as 6061 aluminum, depending on the specific temper and treatment.

The difference in strength mainly comes from the alloying elements and heat treatment processes used for each alloy. As I mentioned earlier, 7075 aluminum contains zinc, magnesium, and copper, which contribute to its high strength. On the other hand, 6061 aluminum contains magnesium and silicon, which give it good formability and weldability, but not as much strength as 7075 aluminum.

While 7075 aluminum is a better choice when high strength is required, 6061 aluminum is more versatile and easier to work with, making it suitable for a wider range of applications. It's essential to choose the right aluminum alloy based on the specific requirements and demands of a particular project or application.

Steel -


Chapter x - Trust gear, not rocks

The more gear we test, the less I trust rocks. In most of our outdoor gear tests, it's the rock that fails. Let's just talk about those for a minute since your gear is only as bomber as what you attach to it.

Chapter x - Standards and Ratings

CE certified means it met the EN (European Norms). UIAA certified means it met climbing standards which can be higher than EN standards. NFPA and ANSI is a rope access rating which also have high standards but are different than for climbers. Don't mix up CE with CE as China Export is intentionally logoed similar to CE ("Conformité Européenne,").

Section 2 - The Gear

How it works - exhaustive not exhausting

Tests we've done - long form episodes

FAQs - questions i can use "tests we've done" to answer with maybe a supplemental short test

Chapter x - Bolts

We have an entire book on bolts and you should look over it even if you never plan on installing bolts. A quick summary is that they are super good enough if they are installed correctly. The bolt is often times stronger than the hanger making it difficult to even test bolts and the hangers are stronger than the carabiners you clip to them. If you have some weird chemistry in the air and rock called SCC - stress crack corrosion- which is most often near the ocean, then it can make bolts dangerous. You should be able to easily find out if an area has this issue but if it doesn't they are super good enough. Good news is that steel bends before it breaks (if it isn't corroded) so you can see if hanger is bent out of shape which can happen around 8kN. Also, glue in Ps bend before breaking blah blah blah how bolts work.

Breaking Bolt Fear

*What happens if I clip multiple carabiners in one hanger? The top carabiner gets pulled weirdly and it seems like it could side-load it.

It orientates enough to not break lower but it can chew up the carabiner. Put the jesus draw under everything or clip it to the spin of a biner.

*What if I put a rope directly into a hanger, to rappel on or fix