Last Updated on: 12th September 2023, 01:45 pm
Lead climbing is a thrill. Being above a bolt, pushing for the next hold, knowing if pop off a short free fall awaits. It’s a huge part of the draw to sport climbing. But that thrill becomes fear when a high first bolt or challenging first move means failure equals a ground fall. That’s where a climbing stick clip comes in handy and why it is an essential part of any climbing gear list.
- What is a stick clip?
- How to use a stick clip
- How long should a stick clip be?
- Is it a climbing clip stick or stick clip?
- When to use a stick clip climbing
- Use a stick clip with a climbing rope
- Best stick clips
- How do you make a homemade climbing stick clip?
- Wrap up: Best stick clip choices
What is a stick clip?
A stick clip is a handy tool used in rock climbing to reach and secure a high bolt or clip a draw to a hard-to-reach point, typically the first bolt of a route. It consists of a telescoping pole with a clip at the end, allowing climbers to safely and easily attach their gear while staying on the ground. Stick clips are commonly used to reduce the risk of injury in sport climbing and to make climbing more accessible for people of all heights and abilities.
How to use a stick clip
Using a stick clip can be tricky. Following these steps will help you get the bolt
- Extend the pole to the desired length and secure it in place.
- Insert the carabiner of the quickdraw that attaches to the rock into the stick clip. Make sure the gate is positioned open.
- Put the rope through the bottom carabiner (the one that won’t attach to the rock). Make sure it is set so the end the climber will tie into comes behind the carabiner and down the front away from the rock.
- Reach the stick clip up and position the open gate of the quickdraw through the bolt. Once it’s in there, pull it down.
- Check to make sure the gate is closed and the rope is hanging in the proper direction. Then enjoy your climb!
The most common challenge people have is securing the gate open. Every model is a little different, so it might be smart to practice before you get out to the crag. People will also put the rope through in the wrong direction, also known as back-clipping. If you’re still a little confused, you can check out this video to clear things up — you’ll know how to use a stick clip like a pro in no time.
How long should a stick clip be?
While there are no hard an fast rules, the answer is at least 10 feet long. The reason is that the whole point of a stick clip is to put a quickdraw through the first bolt to protect from ground falls. In order to do that, you need to be able to reach the first bolt. In most cases, 10 feet should get you there. Lucky for you all the models we have in our catalog reach at least that far, if not a couple inches more.
Is it a climbing clip stick or stick clip?
Technically in climbing clip stick is the wrong term. If you check out all the links we posted below, you’ll notice that brands refer to them as stick clips. Because of that I think it’s fair to infer clip stick isn’t right, though if you say it that way most climbers will know what you’re talking about.
When to use a stick clip climbing
There’s no hard or fast rules about when it’s a good idea to stick clip climbing. It really comes down to your comfort. The whole point of stick clipping is to avoid hurting yourself. If you’re attempting a route for the first time or climbing something that has a hard or sketchy first move, then it’s probably a good idea. While stick clipping is most popular in sport climbing it’s not impossible to do it in trad. However, I’ve never done it so I can’t speak to how well it works.
Some purists might say that if you use a stick clip while redpointing or attempting to onsight a route, it disqualifies the climb as a send. But honestly, who cares what a bunch of salty climbers think. I personally will never risk a broken ankle or worse so other people will approve of my climb.
There are certain routes I’ve climbed enough or that I can tell have an easy first move that I’ll do them without a stick clip. But again, it’s all about personal comfort. I recommend having one on you, then making the call yourself.
Use a stick clip with a climbing rope
Sometimes you’ll want to climb a route where the quickdraw is already on the bolt, but the rope isn’t through the draw. To use a stick clip a climbing rope through a draw already on the wall, follow these steps.
- Extend the pole to the desired length and secure it in place.
- Form a loop with the rope by pushing the rope together. Place the loop into the clamp on the edge of the stick. The loop be sitting above the clamp.
- Reach your clip up and position it around the gate of the quickdraw you wish to clip into.
- Pull the rope on the ground to tightened the loop. As it closes in on the carabiner, it should open the gate, let the rope in, then snap shut.
- Make sure the rope in through draw, the gate is close, and it’s not back-clipped. Then climb on!
This method is a bit more confusing. Check out the video below to watch how it’s done. Keep in mind, it might take you a few tries!
Best stick clips
The clip device market has changed a lot in the last few years. What used to be something you had to create yourself has blossomed into a collection of brands creating some high quality products. Here is around up of the best stick clips out there.
|Clip Name||Trango||Kalias Clip||Skyhook|
|Weight||21.6 oz||9.1 oz||19.5 oz|
|Length Collapsed||29 inches||22.6 inches||29.5 in|
|Length Extended||12 feet||10 ft 7 in||10 ft 5 in|
The longest • Trango
- It stretches longer than any other stick clip
- Durable build for rough days on the rock
- Only stick clip with a dedicated part for re-clipping rope through quickdraw
- A little more expensive than other models
- Is a bit heavier than other models (only a few ounces)
The Trango clip device has been on the market for a while and is one of the most reliable choices out there. The photo above is of my buddies that has had it for quite some time and put it through the ringer — it got scratched up pretty good but a little of duct-tape fixed it up fine.
For a while these were the only durable and reliable choice on the market. It’s mechanism for holding the quickdraw is different than other clips, but once you figure it out it works just as well. It also has a handy little hook that lets you put the rope through a quickdraw already on the wall — ideal for if you forget to unclip on your way down.
It’s a little pricier than other options (especially for the extended version) out there, but can you really put a price on safety?
Best for travel• Kailas Clip
- Great price for the value
- Compact for easy transportation
- Clips both rope and draws
- Less durable and a little more flimsy
- Can be more challenging to stick clip rope
A couple of my climbing partners bought these in a pinch and let me tell you, they are the option we ever want to use at the crag. If you are using it on single pitch routes to clip the first bolt, it’ll get the job done. But if you’re ever planning on hauling it up routes or getting in a situation where your safety depends on it, well I might look elsewhere.
This is a great affordable option, for climbers looking for a device that don’t want to spend a lot of cash. The Kailas clip stick is really lightweight, and packs down to a size that often can fit in most climbing bags. With that said, it’s lightweight nature makes it a little less durable.
Most durable • Skyhook
The Skyhook is the best stick clip out in my opinion. It’s sturdy, very extendable, and the most user friendly model out there. While every model is fairly simple once you know you to use it, this one is intuitive enough that first time climbers shouldn’t struggle to figure it out. I’ve had mine for two years and slowly watched all my climbing partners buy their own. Unfortunately, they are hot items that go fast, so if they are in stock, snag one.
- Durable, sturdy, and highly extendable
- Tip capable of stick clipping both quickdraws and rope with ease
- Reasonable price point for value
- Often out of stock
- Doesn’t extend as high as other models
How do you make a homemade climbing stick clip?
The good news is that you can make your own clip device, and it’s essentially free. You just need a stick of some sort and some tape. There’s a Touchstone Climbing how to article you can check out for more info.
Wrap up: Best stick clip choices
Finding the best stick clip is all about personal preference. It hinges on who you are, the kind of climbing you like to do, and the crag you finding yourself at. So, if you want to keep your dirtbag life in full swing, get yourself a stick and stay safe out there.