How to Make a DIY Gear Sling for Climbing
The Gear Sling
Running out of room on your harness's gear loops while lead climbing? As many climbers know a full rack of carabiners, chocks, cams and everything else for placing protection is best carried on an over the shoulder gear sling.
I generally wear a lightweight mountaineering harness with an absence of gear loops, so I needed this sling for carrying equipment. Many manufactures like Black Diamond and Metolius produce well made padded gear slings.
However, why pay $30 or more when you can make your own gear sling easily at home? This version is based on numerous homemade gear sling designs and modified to suit my needs as a search and rescue rope team member.
I assembled this climbing sling from scrap pieces of outdoor equipment found while rummaging through the gear closet. From start to finish, this sling took about 30 minutes to complete. Your times may differ, given your skill with a needle and the number of carrying loops you add.
- Webbing 1-inch, about 3 1/2- feet
- Accessory cord 2 mm, 14-inches*
- Surgical tubing, 12-inches *
- Heavy-duty thread and needle
* Lengths will vary according to number and size of gear loops.
The surgical tubing I used was actually an intake hose for an old water filter. Again, I scrounged the "spare parts" bin in the gear closet to have zero cost to this gear rig.
Step 1: Make the Sling
Secure the two ends of your webbing by tying or sewing. Before attaching the two ends, place the loop of webbing over your shoulder to achieve a comfortable position.
If sewing, sew a series of large "x"s, surrounded by a box of small stitches. Many do-it-yourselfers recommend using a blunt needle for sewing webbing, as not to compromise the webbing's integrity. That said, you shouldn't be using your sling for weight bearing activities.
I tied my webbing in a water knot, it doesn't look too bad, and it is holding up well. By tying the sling in a knot, you can adjust for heavier layers while mountaineering. I've contemplated modifying my sling by adding adjustable buckles and may do so when I 'm feeling craftier.
Step 2: Measure tubing pieces
Cut tubing into 4-inch pieces. I felt that a 4-inch arched loop would suffice for my needs, you may want to go smaller or larger depending on the rack you are carrying.
Though, some homemade gear slings don't use a hard loop, it is difficult to easily clip and unclip hardware from your climbing sling.
It is also a good idea to make sure that the accessory cord you are using fits through the tubing.
Step 3: Attach First Loop
Find where you want to begin the loops on your gear sling. Stitch through the accessory cord and webbing in a zigzag pattern for at least a 1/2-inch. You are climbers, so you shouldn't have any problem with tying finishing knots in the thread.
After the first attachment point is complete, slide the surgical tubing in place over the accessory cord. Arch the tubing to your desired angle and begin stitching down the other side of the first loop.
Though the first and last attachments are secured with at least a 1/2-inch of stitching, the intermediate points have held firmly with only 1/4-inch of zigzag threads.
Step 4: Attach Additional Loops
Sew in additional loops as needed. This gear sling has three loops, though most slings have four or five.
Merely repeat the process from Step 3. Remember when finishing the last attachment point, to use the zigzag stitch pattern for at least 1/2-inch.
Step 5: Test your Sling
You don't want your sling coming undone when you are climbing up a ledge, hence dropping your rack on your belayer. Give a few good tugs on each loop to make sure that your stitching will hold up in the extremes of climbing. As with all climbing gear, inspect your gear sling each time you use it and make repairs if necessary.
Climbing, mountaineering, and messing about with ropes in general is a risky activity. Obtain proper training before venturing out onto rock or ice.