Why This Quickdraw Should Be in Every Sport Climber’s Pack

This article originally appeared on Climbing

Let's make one thing immediately clear: Kong's Panic Draw is for everyone. It's for short climbers and for tall ones; for brave climbers and for unnecessarily fearful ones. For those who spend months working the same 40-foot sport route; and for those who will never climb the same route twice.

I am not an especially timid climber, nor a short one. I'm 5’10”, a very average height for a male North American, so I typically find bolts placed at heights where I can comfortably clip them. Because of this, I was hesitant to buy into the idea of the Panic Draw; I've simply never really felt that I needed an extra 17 inches of reach, preferring to instead just climb a few more moves and then clip. (The short climbers among me are rolling their eyes, I know.)

But I realized something while climbing at the tufa-streaked cliffs of Geyikbayiri, Turkey, recently: nearly all of the climbers--climbing 5.9 or 5.13, 5’0” or 6’3”--were carrying at least one Panic Draw on their harness, and sometimes more. The locals and frequent visitors knew something I didn't: while many of the area's routes are well-bolted in a modern style, there are quite a few routes that have terrible clipping stances, unpleasant runouts, or just plain dangerous falls. I realized that many climbers would onsight with the Panic Draw as an insurance policy, and then hang/extend quickdraws as required for future redpoints. I took note.

Sequence of the Panic Draw closing around a bolt.
The simple action of the Kong Panic Draw. (Photo: Kong Italy)

Delaney Miller is a former Lead World Cup competitor, the senior editor of Climbing, and far more tactical than me. She saw the Panic Draw's benefits right away: "I love it; I question why I didn't own one sooner," she says. "The Panic is infinitely easier to climb with than a stick clip--it's less bulky, lighter, and so much easier to use, particularly on steep, overhung terrain. Since receiving it this spring, I've used the Panic on a near-weekly basis in Rifle, CO, particularly on a line that traces the back of a steep cave."

Her project, the inimitable Fat Camp (5.14d), has a V9 dyno at the second draw with holds that were damp for most of the season. "When the holds were wet, or I simply didn't want to waste energy on that section, I'd have to lean way back with a stick clip to gain the third draw; my legs would strain, my lower back would hurt, and, because of the weird angle of the rock and the draw, I'd often miss one or two times before getting the rope in," she says. "Even when using my favorite stick clip (which certainly made it easier), it still wasn't a particularly fun endeavor." With the Panic, however, Miller could "effortlessly swoop the draw and then clip up the rope."

Studio image of Panic Draws 30cm and 45cm side by side.
The Panic Draw is also available in a 45-centimeter length (17.7”) Rope-side carabiner is not included. (Photo: Kong Italy)

Another tester, 5’4” and primarily climbing onsight at Smith Rock, a historic zone with infamously spaced bolts, was also grateful to have the Panic Draw to conserve her lock-off strength while hanging draws. But be warned! While preparing to lock open the Panic Draw's rock-side carabiner, she made a habit of putting the carabiner in her mouth, opening the gate, grabbing the quickdraw's dogbone, and then hanging it from a bolt. "One time, the carabiner snapped shut while it was still in my mouth and I chipped my front tooth!" She warns, "bite the Panic Draw by the dogbone if you have to--but never the carabiner."

Aside from this little hiccup, our testers shared rave reviews of the Panic Draw: useful in myriad situations, surprisingly light, and simple to use. For tall climbers or shorties, this quickdraw belongs in your pack.

For exclusive access to all of our fitness, gear, adventure, and travel stories, plus discounts on trips, events, and gear, sign up for Outside+ today.