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Gear Review: The Trango Smooth Quickdraw

The Smooth Quickdraw: ready for your clipping enjoyment

If you asked most of the folks who know me about my fashion sense, they would probably raise an eyebrow and reply, “What fashion sense?”

I’ve never been much for style or image. I wear a lot of bland, earth-toned clothes, many of which I’ve had for many years. I buzz-cut my hair  every few months. I drive a mini-van. Most of my choices for the stuff I buy are based on functionality and quality, not aesthetics. In much of my day-to-day, I’m a pragmatist, and my “style” follows accordingly.

There’s one glaring exception to this: I want my quickdraws to look cool. Wait – not just cool – sexy. And it’s not just quickdraws. There’s been a conspicuous move by many climbing companies beyond simply the most functional gear and toward equipment designed with fashion in mind. All of a sudden, harnesses have neon colors that pop against blue-streaked limestone, cams and carabiners are highlighted in the same bold anodization (sure, it’s to make them easier to rack . . . .), and ropes are so bright they reflect off the rock. It’s all so fun: Finally, rather than being the nerdy guy in an awkward helmet burdened with fat webbing loops and heavy chunks of metal that clank over conversations, I get to be clad in pleasant, complementary-colored gear that is lightweight, sleek, and – let’s face it – downright sexy.

Despite the new emergence of style over function in climbing gear, there still is no iconic fashion statement clearer than the quickdraw. If you question this, here’s my proof: What quickdraw company sponsors Chris Sharma? You know you know the answer. We notice these things, and we love it.

So, tangents aside, it should be clear that I really care about the aesthetics of the quickdraw.When I got my rack of Trango Smooth Quickdraws a bit over a month ago, they immediately proved to satisfy both my desires for aesthetics and functionality.

The Trango Smooth is as sexy as any other draw on the market. It has a beefy dog-bone runner connecting two subtly anodized carabiners. Unlike many other anodized ‘biners out there, the Smooth carabiner doesn’t seem to lose its anodization, particularly in the basket where the rope runs (and thusly blackening the rope in the process). Moreover, the carabiners are full-sized, yet their narrow profile makes a full quiver of them hang unobtrusively off a harness. The straight/bent-gate versions have the added benefit of the key-lock design, offering the “smoothness” of operation any serious bolt-clipper expects.

To be clear, I’m comparing the Smooth to other “luxury” quickdraws. These are draws designed for serious sport climbing, when ease of operation and durability (and the ability to snag the “nylon jug”) are paramount. The Smooth is comparable to established draws in the luxury category, the Petzl Spirit Express and Black Diamond’s Livewire draw, and it excels in a few aspects. First, the Smooth draws are priced about a dollar less than comparable quickdraws from other companies. Sure, you can get cheaper draws, but you’ll pay more in interest on your sex-appeal debt. The stronger selling point is weight. The Smooth draw is 5 grams lighter than other beefy sport draws, helping it crossover into the lightweight, trad/alpine draw department.

The lighter weight presents a concern about the durability of the draws, but so far they have held up to heavy abuse, being repeatedly whipped on over abrasive sandstone, coarse granite, and sharp limestone,  yet showing few signs of wear.

Overall, I love the Trango Smooth. It’s a high-functioning quickdraw with enough style for the Narcissus in all of us.

A Weekend of Projects – Part 2 (Pilot Mountain)

I mentioned in my last post that I’d be separating the weekend out into two posts, since each day was so different from the other.  I thought it would be fun to change things up a bit, so rather than the typical play-by-play trip report, I thought I’d focus on “projects.”  For those non-climbers out there, the term ”projecting” is used to describe the process that one goes through to successfully redpoint a route near or at their limit.  A route is considered “sent” (aka redpointed) when the climber is able to lead the route from bottom to top (bringing the rope up with them…Read the rest of this entry →

Slabster’s Lament 5.12a/b – The Lament is Over…

Every now and then a route deserves to be memorialized by a post all to itself. In the case of Heresy (5.11c) out at the Obed, it was because of my first impression of it when I first laid eyes on it, several years before I was strong enough to even think about sending it. With Dave the Dude (5.11d), it was because the line was just that good – not only was it a classic in every sense of the word, but it was a culminating finale to a fantastic trip in the Red River Gorge, and thinking about…Read the rest of this entry →

Tales of a Broken Talus – 7 Lessons Learned.

So it’s been 75 days since my ankle went snap, crackle, pop on an otherwise delightful winter afternoon at the crag.  Since then I have been on a rather emotional roller coaster ride of thoughts, feelings, and mental processing.  Thankfully for me however (as well as everyone who has to put up with me on a daily basis…), that roller coaster has slowed down substantially in the last few weeks as my life has slowly but surely crept back to “normal.”  Looking back throughout the recovery process, Ive realized that this whole ordeal has been quite a learning experience for me, so I…Read the rest of this entry →

A Whirlwind of Local Press

Any active moms out there wanna know the best way to get your soapbox message about healthy outdoor families out there for the world to see?  For starters, you could break your ankle…It did seem rather ironic that the minute I turned into an invalid folks couldn’t wait to talk to me about my active lifestyle!  While part of me felt somewhat hypocritical touting the benefits of family adventures while I was stuck at home on the couch, it at least gave me something to focus on besides feeling sorry for myself.  Here’s a few quick blurbs about some of the latest…Read the rest of this entry →

New River Gorge: Round 2 (aka Let’s Stop Playing Games)

Considering our history with rainy weekends and the New River Gorge, we are all too aware of how fickle spring weather can be – so another weekend of sunny ad 70′s was too tempting to pass up, even though we were just there last weekend!  It also didn’t hurt that our family has been in real rock withdrawal over the past 6 weeks due to me and that ugly black boot (which is currently perched high upon a shelf in the garage, hopefully to never be resurrected again!)  So once again, we loaded up the car (this time we weren’t as rusty!), and hit the…Read the rest of this entry →

A New Season at the New River Gorge

 As we packed up our climbing and camping gear as a family on Thursday afternoon, I realized that it had been quite a while since we’d done this.  Our last family camping trip had been at the New last October, our last day multi-day climbing trip had been at the Red just before Thanksgiving, and our last day trip at the crag as a family had been at Hidden Wall 8 weeks prior when I fractured my ankle.  To be honest, I was feeling a bit rusty.  Family Packing Hour used to work like a well-oiled machine – but this time…Read the rest of this entry →

Just a Touch of Redneck

Dear Trango, “Sorry I haven’t been able to send in any videos yet.  I’ve been too busy catching cutting edge footage of my 2 year old son being hauled by a giant radio-controlled truck.”  This post shows that our family can have fun doing more than just climbing.  Unfortunately it also proves that our family also has a bit of a redneck side, which I hadn’t really been all that aware of until I found myself agreeing that this seemed like not only a great family activity, but also a perfect video opportunity.  But what can I do?  I might…Read the rest of this entry →

Tales of a Broken Talus – Update #4

For those of you that want the quick version, here’s the skinny – I’m finally out of the boot! Yay! For those that want the nitty gritty, here’s the play by play… Day 31-32:  Feeling strong on the hangboard, as I’m back up to 7-10 seconds again, despite the added weight.  Today I also added weight to my offset hangs on the large  edge.  My plan is to stick with this for another week, then next week toss in another weighted bean bag.  The warm spring weather has me frustrated because I’m afraid by the time I’m back up to par it’ll be…Read the rest of this entry →

TRANGO Grassroots Athlete Team 2012

I’ve known for a week now and it’s been all I can do to contain my excitement, but now that it’s official I can shout it from the roof tops! Somehow I ended up being chosen as one of the 6 members of Trango’s very first team of sponsored athletes!  If I’m being completely honest I’d have to say I’m rather dumbfounded as to why they would choose me, especially when I compare myself to the rest of the team (2 of whom I know personally and have seen firsthand how awesome they are…).  But regardless, I’m gonna run with it and…Read the rest of this entry →

The vision for the Trango athlete team is to find climbers who embody our brand’s values and support them in their climbing endeavors. We focus on the character of the climber, their passion for the sport, and their desire to contribute to the community.

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