As always, I’m not going to give you some big numbered list of all the “best” stick clips out there. That’s not what you’re here for.
You want some meaningful advice on which one to get.
So, I’m going to show you which is the best stick clip for each kind of person, that way, you can be sure that you’ve made the right choice.
Now, let me say first, that there’s two parts of a stick clip: the “stick,” and the “clip.”
Most of the time, you’ll find that they’re sold separately. That’s because the “stick” is actually just your everyday, extendable painter pole.
However, a lot of painter poles out there just suck for stick clipping. The biggest offender is that they’re too bendy, but they can also be too short.
I’ll be going over the actual stick clip devices in this post, and then I’ll show you the best poles to use with them in a separate one. Here is the link to the guide to the best extension poles for stick clipping.
Alright, so let’s start with the best overall stick clip device:
The Best Overall Stick Clip: The Superclip
That’s right. The humble Superclip outclasses all of the fancier designs out there.
Naturally, people assume that a more complicated design is going to do a better job, but you have to remember that there is such a thing as “over-designing” something.
You’ll often see people buy these other stick clips when they’re starting out.
They look like they have more features, so they seem like a good initial investment. However, you’ll always see that they gravitate towards the Superclip in the end… because it’s just that much better.
Superclips have two prongs: One holds holds the carabiner in place, while the other holds its the gate open.
It doesn’t matter which way you put the carabiner in, because the prongs are symmetrical. That means you can clip a quickdraw in facing the direction you want.
Of course, you probably already know this, but it does matter which way you clip a quickdraw in. It has to be facing away from the direction you’re climbing in, so the rope doesn’t land on the gate and unclip itself when you fall.
So, let’s look at how the Superclip works.
How to Use the Superclip
So, you’re at the bottom of the climb, and you want to clip that bolt you see up there that looks like it’s a safe distance from the ground.
Grab a quickdraw, and roughly judge which direction you’ll be climbing in after you’ve reached that bolt.
If you’ll be climbing to the right side of that bolt, then face the gates left. If you’ll be climbing to the left side of that bolt, then face the gates right.
With that figured out, you can clip the rope into the bottom quickdraw – the one with the bent gate – so that it’s coming out towards you.
With the top carabiner, hold it upright and push it firmly downwards into the Superclip to slot it in.
You’ll notice that one prong automatically holds the gate open, while the other presses against the spine, steadying it in place.
All that’s left to do, is attach the Superclip to your painter pole if you haven’t already, and extend the pole out.
Now your stick clip is ready.
Lift it up, and hook the quickdraw onto the bolt hanger. Pull down to release. It’s really that simple.
Now, let’s look at what you’d do instead if there was already a quickdraw up there, and you only needed to clip your rope in.
Stick Clipping a Rope
The way you do this is you take a bight of rope and wedge it right into the Superclip. The two strands of rope will be side by side horizontally, sandwiched together at the bottom of the clip.
Once you’ve done this, your rope will be held in place with an open loop sticking out.
You’ll want to pass that loop around the bottom quickdraw, and then pull to the side so that one side of the loop passes through the gate.
There you go! Now just pull down to release the rope.
You can use the Superclip to unclip draws too.
It’s exactly the same as when you push a draw down into the Superclip by hand, except you’re doing it something like 16-foot away.
It’s actually not as hard as it sounds.
The trick is to steady the quickdraw by pulling down on both sides of the rope running through it.
This will hold it in place tightly, so you can push your Superclip up from underneath until it clips on.
The Superclip will hold the gate open for you, so you can freely unhook the quickdraw and bring it down to you. That’s all there is to it.
Of course, if you don’t have a rope through the quickdraw already, then you can just clip one in and continue as normal.
Although it might seem to be a disadvantage of the Superclip to need this extra step, it still turns out to be far less tricky to use than other stick clips such as the Trango Squid, which can unclip a quickdraw without a rope through it.
I’ll be talking about the Trango Squid more later, and why I don’t recommend it.
Speaking of which, let’s take a look at build quality of the Superclip, and why it’s pretty much unbreakable.
“How Tough is the Super clip?”
It’s strong. Very, very strong.
Because the design is so simple, they’ve been able to engineer the Superclip to have superhuman strength.
It’s essentially a seamless coil of stainless spring steel. The two prongs are the ends of the coil.
There’s no separate parts that can break, unless you count the protective plastic housing around it. Even that seems pretty unbreakable.
As you might have guessed, the spring steel is the key component in the Superclip’s design. The coil of spring steel is technically called a “torsion spring.”
Torsion springs are a little different to what we normally expect when we think of a spring. They store energy by twisting, rather than being squished flat.
What this means is that they distribute force along the entire length of the spring, rather than sideways across the coils.
Naturally, this makes them really stiff. You’ll notice this when using the Superclip. It requires a bit of force to get the carabiner in.
However, over time, the Superclip will loosen up a bit and make it easier and quicker to use. There’s still no chance of the quickdraw falling out from any sudden movements, so I’d say that it improves over time rather than degrades.
I wouldn’t say that the Superclip has a “breaking in” period though, either. It’s fine to use straight out the pack, and I’ve never heard of anyone having problems with slotting a carabiner in it due to stiffness or whatnot.
So, it’s safe to say that the Superclip is a “lifetime product.” You’re probably never going to replace it. You’ll never be able to break it, and it won’t rust either because it’s made of stainless spring steel.
Colors and Sizes
The Superclip comes in two sizes. There’s the one I’ve been talking about, and a larger one for full-sized carabiners. Don’t get the larger one. You don’t need it. It’s for rescue personnel. Firefighters and all that.
The standard sized one is for climbers like you. It comes in three colors, red, green, and blue, but they’re assorted, so I hope you’re not too picky.
You can click here to check the latest price for the Superclip from Amazon.
Remember, the Superclip attaches to a painter pole. If you don’t have one of these lying around, then here is the link to the guide I wrote to the best extension poles for stick clipping.
Now, let’s look at something similar for the impatient folk out there who want a complete stick clip set RIGHT NOW.
Just kidding. This set is really good for those who want to sacrifice a bit of extra reach for insane portability. Let’s take a look:
The Most Compact Stick Clip and Pole Set: The Kalias Clip-Up
This one has really similar design for the clip to the Superclip, as you can see in this photo:
Notice how the base of the clip looks different.
That’s because it doesn’t have the torsion spring that the Superclip has. It still works the same way, but it doesn’t quite stretch as far because it’s only the prongs which bend outwards, rather than a whole coil of spring steel.
As a result, it doesn’t quite hold a carabiner’s gate all the way open when it grips it. You can see that in the photo below:
As you can see, it operates just like the Superclip. You slot the carabiner downwards into the clip, hook it on the bolt hanger, and pull down to release.
Unclipping a Quickdraw
Unclipping works the same way too:
To grab the quickdraw, pull down on the rope while pushing the clip up the top carabiner. Then you can just unhook it and bring it down.
So, I’ve talked enough about the clip’s similarities with the Superclip. Let’s look at how you clip a rope with the Kalias Clip-Up.
Clipping a Rope
Take a look at this. Do you see the difference?
That’s right – you push a bight of rope actually through the prongs, rather than between them.
The base of the clip is too wide and too open for wedging a bight of rope in there. This clip isn’t as springy as the Superclip’s one, remember? That’s why it’s like this.
Even though it’s a clever workaround, it doesn’t get around the fact that the bight of rope is suspended with nothing to support it from underneath. And… you know… gravity is a thing.
The other disadvantage is that you can’t just pull down to release. You just have to kinda yank it to the side. There’s no way around this.
To be honest, these things don’t really impact the function too much. The Kalias Clip-Up can do everything the Superclip can, even if it’s not quite as smooth to operate.
Oh, and there’s also the main point I wanted to talk about: it’s not just a clip, it’s a full stick clip – and a compact one at that.
The Compact Stick
When you’ve retracted it all the way down, it comes to just under two feet in length.
That makes it pretty easy to fit in a rucksack… but that’s not the main point here. That’s only a matter of convenience.
What’s really special about an ultra compact stick clip is that it gives you the ability to carry it with you up the climb. It trades off a whole lot of reach for this, so it’s worth making use of that potential if you’re going to choose this over the Superclip.
“What’s the point of that, when they’re just for clipping the first bolt?” you say, eyebrow raised, spoken in a rather unimpressed tone.
Think about it. What’s the purpose of stick clipping the first bolt?
Safety. That’s right.
It’s a guarantee that you’ll make it to that bolt.
But what about another situation, higher up in a climb, in which you can’t guarantee making it to the next bolt?
That won’t happen if you’re climbing within your grade, of course, but what about if you want to push yourself? What if you’re trying to take your climbing to the next level?
Abandoning a climb is tricky, and you’re usually going to be leaving a “bail biner” behind.
At this moment, your eyes light up.
“Ahh, I get it now. You can stick clip your way up a climb that’s a higher grade than what you’re used to, and you’ll never have to leave any gear behind because you’ll always be able to unclip it from a distance. That’s so useful!”
Yep, stick clipping up a climb is an example of the kind of strategy might be seen as “cheating” in the eyes of climbing purists, but it’s all about the learning experience it gives you.
In bouldering, for example, you can attempt any route no matter how “way above your grade” it is, without any consequence other than a good laugh and a newfound respect for those who can actually do it.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with lead climbing, because you can never quite push yourself as much. You have to gently increase the challenge rather than go all-out like a boulderer can.
That is, unless you have something like the Kalias Clip-Up with you.
That’s the true benefit of its portability.
Other than that, there’s nothing too special about a compact stick, since you could always just use an eight-foot pole as a walking stick.
Yeah, sure, you can still get this one if you’re really just looking for a stick clip that’ll fit in your backpack. Some people just don’t like using hiking sticks, and even they do, one of their hands are left occupied with holding something.
It’s like carrying around an umbrella in case it rains. You don’t really know what to do with it, and it’s awkward to use one hand for everything.
Having both hands free is… well.. freeing. It’s just nice. That’s all I can say.
But, like I mentioned before, it does come at a cost. It’s a trade-off of reduced range, for that extra portability.
The Kalias Clip-Up is just under two foot at its shortest, but it’s only a little more than 8 foot at its maximum length.
Compare this to the 8′ when compacted and 16′ when extended poles that I’d say are the best overall, and you can see why this is a huge trade-off. You simply can’t guarantee that you’ll always be able to reach the first or second bolt with an 8′ max-length pole.
And then, of course, there’s the rigidity.
Rigidity… or Lack Thereof
It’s not Kalias’ fault. It’s a common downside to having a telescoping pole with that many collapsible sections.
You see, there needs to be a slight gap for the tubes to be able to slide down. This adds up for each section, and with the five that the Kalias Clip-Up has, you end with a pole that’s not as rigid as you might like.
The older model of this stick clip used to be foldable, which is simply awful because it makes the stick clip stupidly bendy. This new model is a great improvement over the old one, but it’s never going to be as stable as one with less sections.
Also, the sections collapse a bit too easily. They tend to come loose and fall down because the Clip-Up uses a twist mechanism to lock the extension rather than the flip tabs or push buttons you see on professional painter poles.
The DIY Super Low Budget Option
Okay, this one’s pretty dumb, but it works.
There’s nothing fancy going on here. You’ll literally be using a spring clamp to pinch a quickdraw with its top gate open.
You know how when you fully open the gate of a carabiner as far as it’ll go, it touches the spine? That’s the exact spot you’ll be pinching with the spring clamp.
That way, the spring clamp is across both the quickdraw’s spine and the opened gate, holding them together.
You know what to do next. Hook it on the bolt, and pull outwards hard to release, hoping that your hose clamps were on tight enough.
Why pull outwards and not just straight down? Because the clamp will slip off the gate, but not off the spine. Your entire DIY stick clip will be clipped in, and it’s going to require a fair bit of tugging to get it free.
To minimize the chance of this happening, pinch the quickdraw with your spring clamp so that it’s at an angle, with the spine facing downwards so that the point that you’re pinching as low as possible.
Even so, you’ll still have to pull it outwards. It’s a super cheap option, but it isn’t super easy like the Superclip is.
The Zero Budget Survivalist’s Option
This one’s pretty clever, but it requires a bit of rooting around for the right materials.
Essentially, you’re going to be using a stick – an actual stick – as a stick clip.
You know how the dogbone of your quickdraws are looser around the rope-clipping carabiner?
What you’re going to do is wedge the end of a stick in there.
For this to work, the stick is going to have to have a reasonably pointy end, and, of course, it’s going to have to be long enough to give you the reach you need. That’s why I said you’re going to have to do a bit of rooting around.
Now, you’re probably wondering how this will keep the gate held open.
For that, there’s a simple trick.
Just wedge a small stone or piece of wood in there. That’s all there is to it.
When you clip the quickdraw onto the bolt – *SNAP* – the little “doorstop” you wedged in there comes flying out. Just watch it doesn’t land on your head, or you’ll look really silly and ruin the whole “clever and resourceful” thing we’ve got going on here.
Popular Product That I Wouldn’t Recommend: The Trango Squid
The thing is, there’s nothing that the Trango Squid can do that the Superclip can’t do better.
The Squid is a classic case of overdesign. It’s needlessly complicated for no reason at all.
Its moving parts are strange, confusing, and a real detriment to its durability, especially since they’re made of cheap plastic.
I mean, people have had the Squid’s plastic arms break off after a single use. Others have had them break after only a few weeks.
We’re talking that level of “sacrificing durability for fancy design.” And what’s the result of all this? You get a product that actually requires learning how to use it. It’s simply not intuitive at all. It ignores the basic principles of strategy.
Even when you know what you’re doing, it requires a lot more precision to use than other stick clip designs, and the kind of motions that you need to make aren’t just simple pulls and pushes; there are back-and-forth hooking motions and twisting motions too.
All in all, stick with something that has a simple, intuitive, and reliable design like the Superclip. Don’t be distracted by fancy “features.” They just get in the way of a solid user experience.