One of the necessary pieces of equipment for sport climbing outside is a personal anchor system, or PAS. Popular examples of these PAS climbing safety systems include the Metolius PAS, the Petzl Connect Adjust, and the Sterling Rope Chain Reactor.
In this article, we’ll review the need for a personal anchor system while climbing, alternative options to these products, and review each of these popular climbing PAS options.
How do I use a climbing personal anchor system (PAS)?
Rock Climbers use personal anchor systems to directly attach themselves to “anchors” atop climbing routes. Anchors can be made of bolts pre-placed in the rock, or climbers can place their own “trad gear” to construct a removable anchor.
Generally, a climbing PAS is used to clean single-pitch sport climbing routes, as shown in the video below:
Although this is the most common use, a personal anchor system is a versatile tool which can be applied in many different ways throughout your climbing career.
Do I need a PAS?
No, you don’t NEED a dedicated rock climbing PAS.
More advanced climbers will often use the climbing rope, quickdraws, or a basic dyneema sling or nylon sling to attach themselves to the anchor. These methods are safe, and have the advantage of not requiring specialsed tools. But for beginners and sport climbers, we recommend using a dedicated personal anchor system, because it is easier to adjust and harder to break.
Is a “Daisy Chain” the same thing as a PAS?
NO! Although you will often hear sport climbers calling personal anchor systems “daisy chains”, this isn’t correct.
A true “daisy chain” (like this one) is a tool for aid climbing. The big difference is aid climbing daisy chains are considerably weaker. Each link an an aid climbing daisy chain will only hold 2 KN or so, while each link in a sport climbing PAS is usually rated to 22 KN.
Call your PAS whatever you like, but it’s important to understand the difference between the two devices. The use of a daisy chain as a personal anchor system is NOT recommended for beginner climbers. The extra strength of a dedicated personal anchor system is much more forgiving.
Personal Anchor System (PAS) Reviews
Below, we compare four of the most popular climbing personal anchor systems: The Metolius PAS-22, the Petzl Connect Adjust, the Sterling Rope Chain Reactor, and the Black Diamond Link.
Price: $33.95 on Amazon
Pros: Common; Fully-rated loops; easy to adjust; available in a lighter alpine version
Cons: Can’t fall on it; a bit short; bulky
This is probably the most commonly-used personal anchor system in the USA. Take a look around your local climbing gym on a busy evening, and chances are you’ll see at least a couple of these hanging on harnesses, letting everyone know: this girl climbs outside!
For cleaning sport routes (the most common use), this is a perfect tool. The main thing to be aware of with the Metolius PAS-22 is that you can’t fall on it. This is true of many Personal anchor systems, but it bears repeating. This device is designed to hold your static body weight, only. Never climb above your anchor while using a PAS — the forces generated, even in a small fall, could potentially break the personal anchor system.
Alternative: the Metolius Alpine PAS is a very similar product, but at bit lighter and cheaper. It’s $26.95 on Amazon.
Petzl Connect Adjust
Price: $49.85 on Amazon
Pros: Made of climbing rope; dynamic material can absorb a fall; easily adjustable
Cons: More expensive, bulkier than dyneema
The Petzl Connect Adjust was designed to address the main problems with the other personal anchor systems reviewed here. Namely: the other devices are made of nylon or dyneema. Nylon and dyneema are super-strong materials, but they don’t stretch, which means they could possibly break if you happen to fall onto them.
The Petzl Connect Adjust PAS is made of stretchy dynamic material, just like your climbing rope, which means you can safely fall onto it without any risk of the device breaking.
Although you shouldn’t ever climb above your anchor while tethered in with a personal anchor system, sometimes it’s unavoidable, or at the least, very awkward. The Petzl PAS resolves this problem.
Unlike the other devices, the Petzl Connect Adjust isn’t made up of interlocking rings, but rather one strand of rope with a sliding adjuster, meaning it can be more minutely adjusted to whatever length you desire. This system means the Petzl Connect Adjust Personal Anchor System is the most precise PAS in this roundup.
Alternative: The Petzl Dual Connect Adjust offers both a fixed-length tether and an adjustable tether on the same device, for more complex manuevering at anchors. It’s a bit more expensive, at $59.95.
Sterling Rope Chain Reactor
Price: $27.95 on Amazon
Pros: Nylon stretches more than dyneema; Chain construction for easy adjustment; one of the longest dedicated personal anchor systems available
Cons: Nylon is bulky, less loops than the Metolius PAS
The Sterling Chain Reactor is very similar to the Metolius and Black Diamond personal anchoring systems, with multi, fully-rated loops sewn together. The main difference is the Sterling Chain Reactor is made of nylon, not dyneema.
Dyneema is lighter and stronger than nylon, but nylon will stretch a little bit, meaning it’s (slightly) less dangerous to fall on this device than on the Black Diamond or Metolius products.
The downside is that nylon is a bit bulkier, and takes up more space on a harness. For a sport climbing, this is no problem. Those hoping to use a Chain Reactor on trad pr multi-pitch climbs might find themselves wanting a slightly slimmer profile.
Alternative: The Chain Reactor PRO has a doubled tether, for extra peace of mind. Good for guides or the super safety-conscious. It’s $29.95 on Amazon.
Black Diamond Link Personal Anchor
Price: $34.95 on Amazon
Pros: Simple, lightweight,
Cons: Can’t fall on it; less loops than Metolius-22
There is almost no difference between the Black Diamond PAS and the Metolius PAS-22. The Metolius has a few more loops, which means it’s more adjustable. The Black Diamond, due to the lack of loops, is a bit lighter.
Both will get the job done. Both have the critical weakness where the user absolutely CANNOT fall on them.
Alternative: Grivel Daisy Chain ($50 on Amazon)
The Petzl Connect Adjust is the safest and most innovative option in this category, and it wins our Editor’s Pick.
Since it’s made out of dynamic material which can hold a severe fall, the Petzl PAS eliminates the main danger of more traditional anchor chains. It’s incredibly easy to adjust to precisely the length you need, too, which our testers also liked.