Wild Country Rockcentrics: Flexible Not Stiff

Posted on: June 20, 2011


MSRP: $100 (set of seven)

I've always climbed with hexes. I use them in anchors, for easy placements when conserving cams, at rap stations while bailing and in the winter as lightweight, "the ice is too thin but I need some pro" pieces of gear. While many climbers look down on hexes as outdated, I was excited to try out Wild Country's version of this classic trad protection.

Rockcentric's six concave and convex faces are a break from the traditional flat-sided hex. These curved angles are supposed to help the hex "nest" into oddly shaped placements more securely, and provide a greater range in caming placements. To test the this "nesting" idea, I climbed some of my favorite easy routes with Rockcentrics and old-style hexes, trying them both in the same placements. The Rockcentrics "nested" into the cracks well, but with extra effort I was usually able to get an older style hex into the same placement. But in the process of climbing routes repeatedly with different types of hexes, I found one big complaint with the Rockcentric: flexible slings.

I am not a fan of the Dyneema slings on hexcentrics. With a wired hex, I can make placements well above my head because the stiffness of the wire holds the hex upright. With Dyneema or nylon slings, I have to hold onto the body of the hex while making placements. In one case this meant the difference between placing from an awkward smear instead of a nearly hands-free stance. Still this is only an issue with the small to medium sizes. Large hexes are heavier and cause even wire slinging to droop. It was also more difficult to wiggle the Dyneema slinging material into thin cracks than wires.

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There are a few advantages to using Dyneema slings. A Rockcentric slung with Dyneema is rated to 14kn. A similar sized wire hexcentric from Black Diamond is rated to 10kn and is heavier. Dyneema's flexibility also absorbs the rope's movement. Because of this, Wild Country says climbers only need one carabiner to connect a Rockcentric to the rope. But the single carabiner technique rarely worked out for me. Most of the climbs I use hexes on tend to wander, so the Dyneema slings still had to be extended to reduce rope drag. Also in the winter, if left in the back of one's vehicle for weeks on end, the Dyneema slings are likely to freeze solid. When this happens one can place the hexes while holding the sling at the very end, but it loses its flexibility. But this was only a problem when I left my gear outside for weeks at a time.

In the end the Rockcentrics performed well. If I am carrying large hexes the Rockcentrics are my first choice. And in smaller, strangely shaped cracks the Rockcentrics definitely fit more easily than angular hexes. My complaint about the stiffness of the slings still stands. The trade-off with the smaller Rockcentrics versus wired hexes is strength, flexibility and weight at the cost of a couple inches of reach. But that is a trade-off that many climbers will be willing to make, especially if you want to supplement an existing rack or simply plan on using them in anchors.

Pros: curved sides make seating for placements more effective; lightweight; strong; inexpensive.

Cons: Dyneema slings are harder to place than wired hexes.

Rating:

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Comments
Keese Lane

@Natsdad and Ander I think they work well together because the nuts go to a pretty large size, basically as big as you can get and still maintain cable rigidity. So most of my issues with the Dyneema runners were fixed just by using the largest of the nuts.

2012-04-03 00:46:25
natsdad

Hi Keese and Ander:

Good to see some discussion around this. For basic nuts, I tend to use a variety of brands - partly because I bought a few at different times, and over the years saw the value in different shapes working well in different situations. I like the new larger sized WC nuts, but like other brands too, for the standard sizes.

I have not tried the DMM torque nuts, but now I'm intrigued.

Anders - how do you like them compared to the Rockcentrics?

I'm in western Canada and I find the Rockcentrics to excel on blocky, alpine terrain and other long climbs where moving fast and keeping weight down is the top priority (as opposed to pushing technical climbing limits).

Steve

2012-04-03 00:26:26
Ander

Keese- I use either DMM wallnuts or Wild Country rocks, with some HB/DMM offsets. Not sure I'd be able to say they work better in conjunction with Rockcentrics than any other nut.

-A

2011-11-08 17:08:28
Keese Lane

Anders and Steve do you guys use the Wildcountry nuts that go with the Rockcentrics? I ended up with the nuts after the hexes and the two work really well in conjunction with the other.

2011-11-06 20:44:15
Ander

I've been a rockcentrics user for many years. Rock climbing I tend to use them if I know I'm going to use them. If it's a wide looking crack up there, I stick 'em on my rack. Otherwise, they stay in the bag.

Where they get taken along, without question, is on winter routes. For Scottish mixed climbing I appreciate having as much variety on my rack as possible- nuts, pegs, the odd screw and hexs. The only thing I leave at home are cams, and my rockcentrics fill the gap.

I've been impressed with the rockcentrics. Like Steve I've used 'hexstenders' too! Recently, however, my girlfriend has picked up a set of the DMM torque nuts... and now I'm a bit torn.

The one thing I'd like, as Steve pointed out, is a slightly wider range- maybe one bigger and one smaller.

-Ander

2011-11-06 02:27:55
natsdad

Hi Alpinist MS:

I've owned a set of Rockcentrics for a long time - practically since they were first introduced. Like your reviewer, I find them to be easy to place, light and inexpensive when compared to cams, but I don't mind the Dyneema slings. Here's why:

If you run low on slings on long pitches you can slide the hex into the middle of the Dyneema sling and use the sling as a runner to clip other gear. I've done this on several occasions. The slings allow you to rotate the hexes into different positions to obtain the best placement - in particular to get good camming action. And I usually place these hexes from a reasonably secure stance - this allows me to fiddle with them, or on easier routes: I find that they work great on less technical, blocky, alpine climbs. But if I need to place them on trickier terrain, I try to fire in a cam first, collect my wits, and then place a Rockcentric. Then, I remove and save that cam for higher placements.

As for making placements way above my head - I try to avoid this regardless of the type of gear I'm placing. I like to clearly see where and how my gear seats in its' placement.

My only complaint with the Rockcentrics is that they haven't added a bigger size. What do you say, Wild Country?

Steve

2011-08-29 02:16:57
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