The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
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Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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Black Diamond LiveWire Quickdraw: The Deluxe Sport Rig
Posted on: June 11, 2008
Weight: 3.9 ounces (111 grams)
Sometimes you have to try new gear that's really good to realize that your old stuff just isn't as effective as you thought. This was my experience when trying out the new Black Diamond LiveWire Quickdraws. Though not light, BD's deluxe sport rig offers big and beefy 'biners with features that enable quick and efficient clipping. Whether pushing tricky sport clips or extending ice and mixed protection with a gloved hand, this quickdraw truly makes the job easier.
The LiveWire is a combination of BD's Dynotron and LiveWire 'biners attached with a 10mm Dynex dogbone.
The Dynotron is the largest and strongest carabiner BD makes. It features an easy cleaning keylock nose to prevent snagging on bolts or webbing when clipping or unclipping. The Dynotron also features the patented Dual-Trac gate with a railed, flat surface. This makes for easier clips by reducing finger slippage when compared to rounded gate 'biners.
The bottom LiveWire carabiner is a nice wide-gate 'biner designed for fast, smooth clips. At first I was skeptical of a wire gate in exchange for a bent gate, but after a bit of use I was convinced that this 'biner is very easy to manage. The Straitjacket System for the bottom LiveWire keeps the 'biner from flipping—so you won't get slowed down making a clip.
At a weight of 3.9 ounces per quickdraw, the LiveWire is the heaviest draw from the Black Diamond line. However, unless you are ultra concerned with saving a couple of grams, you probably won't be able to tell the difference.
I must admit that I have never put too much thought into my quickdraws, other than their functional ability and basic weight. After using the LiveWires, however, I found the difference astounding. I racked these draws while ice guiding and used them repetitively day after day because they are so easy to clip with gloved hands. I also headed down to Red Rocks and Joshua Tree and found that these draws were always the first to leave the harness. Due to the keylock nose, they were especially good for making those hard-to-reach clips, and snapping the rope in never took effort. If you are looking for a hard working, easy clipping draw, it would be hard to find another model more effective.
I would have given the LiveWire the Alpinist Mountain Standards award, but one of my Dynotrons has become very sticky—albeit after extensive use—and won't shut on its own anymore. I am not sure how common this is, but discovering this problem from an otherwise solid product was a little disappointing.
Pros: Very easy to clip, even with gloved hands; easy cleaning keylock avoids snagging.
Cons: Potentially sticky gates on the Dynotron biners.