In Kouba, we understand specific needs of every climber, that’s, why we offer ten different shapes of nuts and three different types of cams.
Performance *** (Hexes ****)
We are always keen to test climbing hardwear here at Climbing Gear Reviews; we’re out a lot, climbing a lot so an extra set of wires comes in very handy.
What originally drew my attention to Kouba Climbing was the set of Abalaks; the notion of a Tri-cam on wire seemed quirky and intriguing. As a point of interest my most frequent equipment loan is my Tri-cam #2, why? This sits perfectly in Millstone shot holes!
So any mate wanting to try Masters Edge or Edge Lane will be asking to lend it. I was drawn by the winter climbing potential of the Abalaks as Tri-cam work well in iced up horizontal cracks – particularly in areas like the Northern Corries.
But winter is long way off yet, so how have the Kouba Climbing sets performed on summer rock. Firstly the Hexes. These have been great, they are very well made and the finish is excellent. The sizes come in #1-6 and the swages are colour coded to aid identification. I have a set of Black Diamond hexes on wire and the Kouba Hexes compare in quality. They were easy to place and easy to remove (although we did lose one on test which would not come out even after some-one had broken their nut key trying. This was down to the bizarre placement though).
They would be ideal on any rack and we found that these were easily the best nut on test. I would not hesitate to recommend these to students and friends alike. There’s not much more we can say about these, they are well made, well priced and are a tried and trusted nut shape. My preference is have a set of hexes on wire and not on tape – why? Well they sit easier on my harness and I find them easier to place, also the sound of hexes, dangling away like Swiss cowbells drives me crazy!
The Kouba Alu nuts didn’t perform so well. Again they are well made and a great price. They placed really well and provided a bombroof placement in many cracks. I have used them everywhere this summer, Lake District mountain crags, Gogarth and Stanage and have found them great to place. The finish is also excellent and as with all Kouba Climbing nuts they are certified with the CE/EN safety mark, the certificates can be viewed on the Kouba website in the safety section which is a nice touch of transparency.
The issue we had with the Alu nuts is that the heads annoyingly slid up the wire when racked. It didn’t happen when placed as the weight of the quickdraw and rope kept everything in place. There was some discussion on rockclimbing.com about this.
My experience was that it was an extra annoyance when you needed to place it and having to pull the head back into place before placing. Kouba offer a technical explanation but it seemed a little over complicated to a simple wire and the benefits didn’t outweigh the nuisance value. Still they are great value and I’m sure this is something Kouba will address in due course. Another great value set of nuts though.
Finally the Abalaks, these are Tri-cams on wire so I was really keen to look at them. On test I found them very ‘springy’, which was a positive point as it helped keep the Abalak in place. They worked really well in Gritsone horizontal cracks and would work as good as a normal camming device for a fraction of the price.
In vertical cracks they proved a little more tricky to place as sometimes I needed two hands to make sure it was seated correctly. In pockets the Abalaks were excellent, easy to place, there springiness kept them in place but did make them a little tricky to extract.
The groove into which the wire sits when placed also seemed to protrude slightly from the top and I have some concern about this wearing on the wire over time. It’s something you would definitely have to watch for. As I said earlier in the review I was very interested in these for winter climbing and we are looking forward to using them this winter, we will update the review through the comments section later in the year so watch out for that. The Abalaks are a great first camming rack for those who can’t afford a full rack of conventional camming devices. The smaller sizes also work well as ‘micro’ cams.
In conclusion the Kouba Climbing Nut Sets have proved a well priced set of protection devices that would suit any rack, there are some issues with the Alu but the price will tempt many. The Hexes are very good and well worth the money and the Abalak’s will be great for those seeking a good range of camming for less than the price of one normal cam.
I think Kouba will begin to give the main manufacturers a run for their money, especially at the budget end of the market and watch for their camming devices coming soon.
SRP: Hex Set £40.00; Alu Set £48.00, Abalak Set £50.00
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