Passive protection devices—nuts / stoppers, hexes, and tricams— form the basis of any trad climber’s gear rack. These pieces are relatively inexpensive because they feature no moving parts. But “relatively inexpensive” in climbing is still “pretty expensive.”
What Climbing Nuts Should You Buy?
Black Diamond Stoppers 4-13
Pretty ubiquitous, widespread, and cheaper than the DMM Wallnuts. The BD stoppers are well made and colorful enough to be easy to identify while you’re learning. And they’re cheap enough that it won’t break the bank to replace a few when you bury some while learning to use them. (Everyone does that).
If you’re wondering about sizes 1-3, those are for aid-climbing only. They are not necessary in a standard trad rack.
A slightly nicer set of nuts than the BD stoppers. Many dedicated climbers carry the DMM Wallnuts as their second set of stoppers. DMM nuts come in slightly different shapes than the Black Diamond nuts, meaning the two sets complement each other well. Another nice feature on the DMM stoppers: they have a groove down the middle, which allows them to fit around crystals or other small protrusions in the rock.
Offset protection is more specialized, asymmetrical pieces. These are recommended usually as a second set of climbing nuts, in order to supplement a more basic set. Offset nuts thrive in flaring cracks. A deep groove helps them set firmly in cracks with crystals, nubbins, and other irregularities.
Offsets are usually sold in smaller sets; some climbers swear by them, others think they are gimmicky and too specialized to be worth carrying. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
After sinking all that money into a set of climbing nuts, you’ll definitely want to be able to remove them!
A nut tool is a lightweight pick climbers carry to be able to remove nuts which have become too-tightly wedged into their placements. These are all basically the same—climber’s preference as to what features matter most. Some feature wrenches to tighten bolts, while others focus on being as light as possible. We’re fans of the Metolius, but any of the below are good choices.
Find someone qualified to show you how to place, evaluate, and remove your new climbing nuts! Remember: pro is only as good as the climber who places it. Your life is in your hands with this gear, and it serves you well to learn how to use it properly.
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