Here’s a few ideas on safe and efficient ways for marking climbing equipment. We really hope you find it useful.
It’s the end of a long gritstone session and you’ve climbed so much its getting dark. You’re desperate for a pint to celebrate a brilliant day. First, though, you need to sort out the gear you’ve mixed up with your climbing partners. Is that your rock 6 or hers? You’ve both got one of those lovely 10mm super dupey slings in magenta and lime colour. Whose is whose? Before you know it you’ve missed last orders and the day didn’t have the perfect ending you’d planned. Lesson learnt. Marking climbing equipment increases drinking time!
We are frequently asked for tips on how to mark climbing hardware so here’s a few ideas you might find useful.
The first thing you need to think about is safety. Climbing equipment is built to exacting standards, but it’s essential you don’t mark it is any way that could cause damage. Manufacturers are understandably reluctant to say whether particular chemicals will weaken fibres in tape or rope products. After all, there is no way they could test everything on the market. So the only totally reliable option is to not let anything with solvents or adhesives in contact with those hi-tech fibres. Fortunately, metal is more reliable so you can use a slightly wider selection of products on your shiny items.
The age old method for marking equipment was always electrician’s insulation tape. Simply choose a different colour to your climbing partners and you’re sorted. Trouble is, with single colour tape there are only a limited number of options. So, using 2 colours is a better way to stand out from the crowd. Tape does wear off but keep a supply handy and you can redo it easily. Tape does have its drawbacks. I heard a story of a piece that slid down a carabiner’s spine and wedged open the gate. Also remember that all adhesive tapes are not created equally. It’s worth spending slightly more for better quality.
On slings there remains that unknown risk that the adhesive might affect the fibres. One trick to avoid this is to use a small blob of nail varnish to carefully mark the information label that swings free from the tape. This is only possible because this is not load bearing. You must take special care to ensure no varnish gets on the sling fibres by masking it off carefully. Varnish is quite hard wearing and because it’s available in loads of colours. Also, don’t cover the manufacturer’s information on the label. You may need to refer to this at some time in the future.
An alternative innovative method is to buy some of the little tags available from Tough Tags. The tags can be personalised with details such as a phone number or email address. If you leave something behind hopefully a kind hearted climber will contact you to organise its return. It also means that in the event of an accident every bit of equipment has your contact details on. Tough tags also offer the option to have individual numbers on each tag. This is useful for anyone that needs to be able to track individual items of gear. We have found the tags last a reasonable length of time before you need to replace them. They are good value too.
On our wires we add an extra marker with coloured insulation tape. This is to help us sort our gear rather than identify it. We still mark it with a tag too. We use different colours of tape to mark our small size and larger wires and mark the racking crab in the corresponding colour. This makes it really quick to re-sort gear at each belay. It’s particularly useful on multi-pitch climbs.
An alternative to insulation tape are purpose made Trango Rack Tags. Rack Tags are made from durable tape coated with a strong adhesive said to withstand temperatures from -40°C to 80°C. They are available in 10 bright colours with a UV protective finish and you can find them at Needle Sports here.
So, that’s some tried and tested ideas for marking climbing equipment. We hope you find it useful. Please just remember that it is essential to not compromise the safety of your gear. Any marking could arguably add an element of danger, so please use your judgement carefully.
If this article is of use, you will also find it useful to read our advice on choosing a climbing rack.