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Preamble

 

I’m happy to have participated to the Kailas Gear Test, which was an occasion to put to the proof by wear and tear the high-quality Vacuo Quickdraws from Kailas. During 12 days of test in in various conditions from single pitch sport climbing to multi-pitch trad climbing, these quickdraws overcame my already high expectations based on experience from climbing on similar Petzl, DMM, BD and Grivel products. Would I advise a set of Vacuo to a friend, who looks for sport climbing quickdraws? My answer is:  Definitely. Why? See below.

 

Evaluation criteria.

As an aeronautical engineer, I love objectivity and cristal clearness. What are my test criteria for a sport quickdraw?

 

l  Design/Handling Quality:

a.    Carabiners (top and rope-end carabiner)

     Both carabiners must be snag free

     The lower carabiner must have a bent gate for smoother clipping

     The carabiner metalwork must be  grooved on to increase the grip (e.g. if the hand is sweaty)

     Broad internal radius of the carabiner surface for both the durability of the carabiner and the reduced rope use

     Firm and reactive gate action

     The carabiner sits nicely in the hand

b.    Sling

     Free play on the top end to avoid potential twisting or cross-loading of the carabiner

     Sufficient stiffness to prevent the sling twisting and the subsequent lower carabiner misalignment

     Must be easy to grab

     Several lengths available to manage the rope drag

c.    Lower Carabiner Retainer

     The retainer should be robust and easily replaceable

l  Weight

 

As you see, this is an extensive list of expectations, where I primed handling quality over weight for one simple reason: the projects at the very limit are redpointed/onsighted when the quickdraws are in place. The weight becomes therefore unimportant, making the handling quality a game changer.

 

First impressions upon reception of the parcel from Kailas.

 

When Kailas confirmed me that I was joining the Gear Test Team and I was going to receive the Vacuo Quickdraws, I became excited as a child, who is looking forward to unwrap a Christmas present. The neatly packed parcel made a long way from Guanghzou, China to my home in Toulouse, France. Although it makes a lot of plastic packaging, I was quite pleased to find that every quickdraw was individually packed in a zip-locking pocket. As you see on the picture, the quickdraws were already assembled in the proper way (remember the fatal accident of Tito Traversa), so I could readily use them without any shade of a doubt. 

Illustration 2: The quickdraws straight out of the parcel


Test Locations, Test Conditions and People involved in testing.


In order to gain as broad experience of the Vacuo quickdraw use as possible, I tested the product while climbing sport single-pitch routes in Saint Antonin de Noble Val (world-class crag), La clape (mostly of local interest) and Cavallers (world-class crag) with my friends. Furthermore, I used this quickdraws extensively on multi-pitch trad routes in Spain in Montrebei while giving a trad climbing course for the future voluntary instructors of the French Alpine Club, and in Montserrat while climbing trad and sport routes with my climbing partner.

 

Testing at those various locations allowed me and my climbing partners to observe during 12 effective days how the quickdraw behaves in the protection (i.e occasional dangerous cross-loading) in various configurations (slab, vertical wall, overhang), how it feels in use (lots of normal and reachy clipping, grabbing the sling), and how it is becoming used (whippers, frequent long lover-offs from one quickdraw). 


Illustration 4: Test locations


Evaluation Results

 

Carabiners

 

Both the top and the bottom Vacuo carabiner feature a keylock-type nose, which prevents the carabiner from snagging into the bolts. This dramatically improves your comfort  as it allows for smoother clipping and unclipping, particularly appreciable in steep terrain.

 

Illustration 5: Vacuo Keylock nose eliminates snagging, thus providing 


Illustration 6: Classic notch nose of mine


In contrast to the bolt end carabiner, the rope-end carabiner has a finger-friendly bent gate with smartly positioned grooves, which ensures that the rope will slide straight into the carabiner basket. Furthermore, the top and the bottom end carabiner are shaped differently, so  it reduces the probability to damage rope-end biner by accidentally clipping it into the bolt hanger.

 

The actual carabiner geometry is quite beefy. This put me into trouble in Montserrat, where the carabiner could not fit into “burils” (old and unreliable bolts), but don’t worry the burils will soon replaced by the normal bolts where Vacuos sit perfectly.  Otherwise, the carabiners feel as they will last forever. They are not the lightest in the world, but if you pursue redpoints, the weight is not an issue. 


The gate action is reassuringly firm, but not too harsh on all five quickdraws. Because of my previous negative experience with CAMP Photon, I put particular attention to check that force of the gate spring is the same among all five carabiners. It is indeed the same as one will expect. For me this is an argument in support that Kailas masters the manufacturing process, and is able to assure constant production quality.


Sling

 

The review set is composed of two sling sizes: 350px and 500px. Such length choice  allowed for managing the rope drag/ground fall in most of the configurations of the test. The sling is stitched  the way for added stiffness, making long reachy clips easy. The sling is wide and long enough for grabbing it in extremis when the forearms completely pumped. The lower carabiner is held firm by a solid retainer, therefore eliminating a misalignment possibility due to rope motions. At the same time, the bolt end of the sling has enough space to allow for the free rotation around the

 

The bottom line

 

All in all this is a great-to-use sport quickdraw from Kailas, which provided me an unmatched clipping experience. The set composed of  2x350px+3x500px Vacuos is really versatile, and allowed me to manage the rope drag almost in every situation.   If it was present on the French market, it would have beaten all contenders in the sport quickdraw category by its ease of use.


Test Pictures

Illustration 8: Pitch 2 of Mas-Brullet in Montserrat Spain


Illustration 10: One of the best F6a in the world Cavallers, Spain


Illustration 11: Following the last Pitch of Mas-Brullet F6c Montserrat


Illustration 12: In the eye-popping crux of Mas-Brullet




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