Carabiner Orientation on Quickdraws: How Should they Face?

Last Updated on: 31st March 2023, 10:56 am

So you’ve got some quickdraws, the quintessential piece of sport climbing gear. Which way should the carabiners on those suckers face? Should they both be facing the same way, or should they face opposite directions? In other words, what should the carabiner gate orientation be? Good questions!

My two cents

In short, I believe that it’s mostly a matter of personal preference. Most other climbers I’ve met and climbed with have a similar opinion. The first quickdraws I bought when I was a teenager had opposing gates, and so I “grew up” climbing on and becoming used to that orientation. They’ve worked great for me. Some of the partners I’ve climbed with have quickdraws with carabiners facing the same direction, and others have offset draws. Though my quickdraws have carabiners that face opposite directions, I’ve used friends’ carabiners-face-the-same-way draws dozens of times and never had any problem clipping them. The reverse is also true (i.e., friends using my quickdraws and having no problem).

What the manufacturers do

But enough about me. What do quickdraw manufacturers recommend? To find out, I did some searching to see how the biners on quickdraws from various manufacturers are positioned. Below are the results.

[Those are all of the brands that I could think of off the top of my head. Let me know if there are any that I missed.]

So as you can see, it’s kind of a toss up. Some brands face the carabiners the same way. Others oppose them. Others do both. But it seems most companies configure their quickdraws with the carabiners facing in the same direction, and this is also the trend I’ve seen among climbers in recent years. This could be due to the real or perceived danger associated with orienting the quickdraws to face opposite directions, as discussed below.

Opposed gates—A safety hazard?

There has been some talk online about the supposed danger that opposed-gate quickdraws pose. It is described here, though the reasoning is a bit hard to follow.

Whether this is a valid concern or not, you can never be too careful.

Another reason to orient the biners in the same direction is that it can make it slightly easier to configure the draw correctly with regards to direction of travel in order to prevent accidental unclipping in the event of a fall. To prevent this accidental unclipping, you want to make sure that the gate of the bottom carabiner is facing away from the direction of travel, and it is arguably a little bit easier to figure that out in the heat of the moment when both carabiners on the quickdraw face the same direction.

For these two reasons, I recommend that you face the carabiners on your quickdraws in the same direction. 

What others have to say

Here are some links for further reading:

Have an opinion on the matter? Sound off in the comments below!

Quickdraw gate orientation

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  1. I once climbed in the Alps with a Japanese lad who announced half way up the route that he stitched his own quickdraws. Since then I haven’t fussed which way round the crabs go. Matter of personal preference and hypothetical debate in my experience.

  2. The threat I have found is that there is an unlikley but completly possible way the rope could unclip when you fall. I have seen it demonstrated quite effectively, though unfortunately I cannot put it into words.

    1. James, are you referring to back-clipping?:

      While that is definitely something that needs to be watched out for, it isn’t really a factor when we’re talking about which way the carabiners on your quickdraw should face. What you DO need to worry about to prevent back-clipping is the orientation of the carabiners once they’re clipped into the bolt.

  3. Update on this matter: It seems more manufacturers have moved to facing the gates the same way. I just checked the webshop I normally use for climbing gear and they had over 140 models for sale from varios brands and all had gates facing the same way. This included Edelrid that according to the article previously had them facing opposite ways. It also seems to be the most common view today that facing gates the same way is the safest (for sport-climbing), things have changed since I started climbing in the 90´s!

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