This is a review of the www.Gear4Rocks.com set of 8 plastic nuts. This set of nuts retails for $61.73 with free shipping which is $7.71 per nut. In the interest of full disclosure I was given this set of Plastic Nuts to write this review. The only condition placed on me was that I write and publish the review. I have total freedom when it comes to the content of this review. On the whole I am very happy with these Plastic Nuts thus the mostly positive review. In reviewing these nuts it is useful to compare them to a more commonly used nut, for the purpose of this review I have chosen the Black Diamond Stoppers to compare these against.
Gear4Rock does not currently have a US distributor they ship all the way from Ukraine this it takes a while for them to arrive. Mine shipped out on 10/19/2011 and arrived on 11/5/2011, 17 days later.
The Plastic Nuts have a complex curved shape, when viewed from above they have a trapezoid shape similar to a BD Stopper but more aggressive such that the difference in width between the front and back of the Plastic Nuts is greater than that of the BD Stoppers. Viewing the Plastic Nuts from the side both the front and back of the nut are curved in the same direction, this curve is almost identical to the curve found on a BD stopper. However, unlike the square topped BD Stopper the front of the nut is taller than the back causing the top of the nut to be slanted and giving the nuts a more aggressive look. The Plastic Nuts also have a groove running vertically up the front face of the nut. This feature is found on some other brands of nuts but not the BD Stoppers. It allows that face of the nut to make contact with the rock at a minimum of 2 points, whereas a flat-faced nut can easily get hung up on a crystal or bump in the rock and be limited to a single point of contact per face.
These Plastic Nuts are made of an opaque white plastic resin. It is much harder than I expected and feels totally solid to the touch no matter how hard you try you cannot scratch them by hand. On the Plastic Nuts size #1-4 there is a metal half circle set into the top of the nut under the cable, this keeps the cable bent along a smooth curve thereby increasing the maximum strength of the cable and thus the nut. The cables are swaged in two places, the main structural swaging is in the normal place 2” from the bottom of the cable, the second swage is just below the body of the nut keeping the nut from sliding down the cable. Both swages are covered with a plastic covering of the same color that identifies the nut.
The Plastic Nuts come in 8 sizes ranging from the #1 that is 13.2mm thick by 22.6mm wide to the #8 that is 34.4mm thick and 44.6mm wide. If you compare the sizes of the Plastic Nuts to BD Stoppers you find that the #1 Plastic Nut is the same thickness as the #8 BD Stopper. Each of the first 6 Plastic Nuts match the thickness of a BD Stopper with the #1PN=#8BD, #2PN=#9BD…#6PN=#13BD, however both the #7 and #8 Plastic nuts are bigger than the #13 BD Stopper, the largest nut Black Diamond makes. In fact they are bigger than any nut I have seen and open up nut placements in spots that would previously only take a hex or cam. While the plastic nuts only go as small as the #8 BD Stopper, a medium size nut, on the small end of the set they make up for it by going much larger than traditional nuts on the large end without becoming excessively heavy. The plastic nuts are consistently wider than the corresponding BD Stopper with the Plastic Nut’s narrower side being the same size as the BD Stopper’s wider side. Because of this and the different and more aggressive shape of the Plastic Nuts you can carry a set of Plastic Nuts and a set of metal nuts and each will provide slightly different placement options.
The set of Plastic Nuts weighs 460g or about a pound, this is just about the same as a set of BD Stoppers at 456g which is remarkable given the size of the larger Plastic Nuts. On a piece by piece the Plastic Nuts are usually lighter than or the same weight as the corresponding BD Stopper. This is true despite the Plastic Nuts being significantly taller and having more material than the BD Stopper of corresponding thickness. Given that the Plastic Nuts are lighter than their metal counterparts at a given size this benefit is maximized in the larger sizes thus the Plastic Nuts covering a range of sizes from the middle of the BD Stopper range and continuing well past the end of the BD Stopper’s range is a significant positive as this is the area where the weight difference yields the biggest benefit.
Recent Design Updates:
Gear4Rocks has recently made a change to their nut design that is not yet reflected in the technical specifications listed on their website. The cable thickness is listed as 2.8mm with a strength of 9.6 kn for size #1 and 3.2mm and 13.5 kn for sizes 2-8. This has changed to 3.2mm cable for sizes 1-4 with a strength of 13.5 kn and 4.0mm and 14.5 kn for sizes 4-8. This also changes the weight of the nuts from what is listed on the website to the new weights listed in this review.
I have taken the Plastic Nuts out with me on my past few climbing days, admittedly I have only had them for a few weeks but given the time I have had with them I have thoroughly put them through their paces both on deliberate-backed up test falls and normal trad climbing. I began my testing by placing them in cracks standing on the ground and bounce testing them. While doing this I observed the phenomenon that I call “slick but grippy”. The “slick” part of this refers to marginal or flaring placements where a standard metal nut will hold an initial tug or yank but will probably pull during a fall or bounce test. In this case the Plastic Nuts are much slicker than metal nuts and are hard to get to stick in these untrustworthy placements. This slickness also helps when wiggling these nuts into tight placements where a metal nut might get hung up. The “grippy” describes how these nuts feel when put in good placements. Although I don’t think the plastic these nuts are made from is any softer than aluminum it does grab the rock and contour to the placement better than metal nuts do. Once you have a good placement a good tug and the nut is set much better than a metal nut, to the point that I would sometimes clip a sport draw to the nut as opposed to an extended trad draw because I was confident that the nut was not going anywhere. The bottom line is that while it may be a little harder to get these to stay put in a marginal placement once they do you can feel better about the nut holding.
After messing around with the Plastic Nuts on the ground I used them for several mixed routes during which I took deliberate falls on them with a bolt backing-up the nut placements. The first such fall was about 4’ onto the #2 Plastic Nut. The nut held without incident and was fairly easy to clean, which would turn out to be a recurring theme with these nuts. The next fall was closer to 12’ onto the #5 Plastic Nut, again this was a bomber placement and it held without incident and was easy to clean with some tapping with a nut tool. Finally, I set a #4 Plastic Nut in a flaring crack in which the entire curved side was touching the rock but only the back edge and bottom back corner of the other side were engaging the rock. I expected this placement to pull, however, after taking an 8’ fall (not a whipper but still a good fall onto a marginal placement) I was surprised to have it hold my fall. I think this may be attributed to the “slickness” because I had to try several times to get the nut placed so it would not slip out under a light tug, so when it finally did stick it was because it was in a solid placement. After cleaning this nut I was surprised by how little the corner had been deformed by the fall. I had expected more deformation from the Plastic Nut than I would expect to see with a metal nut but found that, other than a little bit of surface scuffing, the nut was still in its original condition.
The biggest drawback I found while using these nuts is that the swadging just below the nut prevents you from sliding the cable up to sling hanger-less bolts or to hook with a nut tool during cleaning. Because of this you may end up in a situation where you can’t get to the Plastic Nut from below with a nut tool and since you can’t hook the cable from above and yank on it you are forced to try and push it out using only the cable. Because of this you should be careful when you place them in spots that can’t be accessed from below during cleaning.
-They slip from poor placements during placing but grip good ones.
-They are light.
-They cover larger sizes than BD Stoppers.
-They are easy for the second to clean.
-They are durable and hold up to hard use and falls.
-They are cheap.
-Shipping takes a long time.
-The swaging below the nut makes sliding the nut down on its wire impossible which can make them hard to clean is some situations because you can’t hook the cable from above with a nut tool and they can’t be used to sling hanger-less bolts.
-Only cover sizes bigger than the #8 BD Stopper
-Anyone on a budget as they are $0.80 cheaper than BD Stoppers per nut.
-A light set of nuts to take with you on a “sport climbing day” to cover that unexpected placement or runout.
-Situations such as alpine climbs and mountaineering where weight is a factor.
-Situations where you expect to leave gear behind at anchors.
-Aid racks where you want to have many different sizes and shapes of nuts.
-Gear heads who like having every piece of gear under the sun.
-People climbing on soft rock that can be damaged by metal nuts.
Review by Nick Martel - Original review location at mountainproject.com