How To Place Trad Gear: Step By Step Guide


Aside from the different types of climbing holds and climbing techniques, learning how to place trad gear is an essential skill that every rock climber should know and master. Such gears are designed to catch you when you fall, hence preventing serious and fatal injuries. Placing trad gear isn’t overly complicated, but you’ll need to pay very careful attention while doing it since your life will be hanging on a line.

4 Steps in Placing Trad Gear

Below is a general step by step guide on how to place trad gear. More specific instructions on placing nuts and cams can be found in the later parts of this article.

Inspect the Rock or Crack

The first step in properly placing trad gear is finding a good spot to put it in. They should be solid and able to provide a secure hold for your trad gear. Whether you’re using nuts, cams, or rock climbing anchors, you should never place your trad gear in loose rocks and flakes.

Select the Right Trad Gear

Different types of trad gear work best with certain types of cracks. For instance, nuts work best in cracks that have a wider gap on top and tapers downwards. On the other hand, cams work best with parallel cracks and those that don’t go wide inwards.

Placing the Trad Gear

Placement generally depends on the type of trad gear you will be using. For instance, placing a cam requires pulling a trigger to retract the lobes, inserting it into the crack, and then releasing the trigger to allow the lobes to expand and make contact with the rock. So you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the different trad gear and learn how they operate so you can use them correctly and effectively.

Setting the Trad Gear

Setting the trad gear simply means securing it in place. More often than not, this involves gently tugging at the line connected to the trad gear gently to allow it to settle into the rock. Once it’s settled in, you can pull a little harder to further set the trad gear in place.



Q: How do you place trad gear on rock climbing?


How to place trad gear while rock climbing involves selecting the right rock or crack to put it in, choosing the perfect trad gear for the situation, placing it in the rock or crack correctly, and then finally setting it in until it is securely in contact with the rock or crack.

Q: How do you place a cam?


To place a cam, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Look for cracks with parallel sides or small pockets. Avoid cracks that widen above or behind the cam because these types of gear have a tendency to move or “walk” towards wider spaces. Avoid flaring cracks as well since they don’t provide enough surface contact for a secure placement.

Step 2: Choose a cam whose size fits perfectly into the crack. This can be done by visual inspection of the crack and estimating which size to use or you can use your hands to “feel” which cam size will fit best.

Step 3: Place the cam by pulling on the trigger to retract the cam lobes. Then, insert the retracted cam into the crack. Lastly, release the trigger to allow the cam to expand and make contact with the rocks. Make sure that the stem is pointed towards the direction of the pull if you were to fall.

Q: How do you place nuts?


To place nuts, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Examine the crack where you intend to place the nut. It should be solid and secure and have a wider top that tapers as it goes down. Nuts shouldn’t be placed in cracks that flare outward or downward since they don’t provide enough constriction to hold the nuts in place.

Step 2: Select the right size of nut to be used. Always start with the largest nut in your rack that you will fit into the crack, then go a few sizes down if necessary.

Step 3: Place the nut with either the wide sides or the skinny side on the crack, whichever gets the most contact with the rock. Nuts are also curved on one side and you’ll want to match the curve of the nut with the shape of the crack to maximize nut-to-rock contact.

Step 4: Pull the nut in place by tugging at it gently. You don’t want to pull to hard because if the nut comes off you will lose your balance. If the nut looks secure and solid, you can pull harder to firmly set the nut in place.

Q: How do I get into trad?


To get into trad climbing, you’ll need to:

  1. Enroll in a trad climbing course or get a mentor to teach you. Trad climbing is a pretty unique sport and no amount of articles and online videos can replace experiential learning. This is where you’ll learn the basics of trad climbing, how to place trad gear, and other important information related to the sport.
  2. Start with a single rack, a simple set of trad gear that will get you through most climbs. It may be tempting to start building a full rack with all those shiny trad gear and equipment to hang on your climbing harness, but you’ll want to control yourself for now and hold on to your money until you’re sure that trad climbing is for you.
  3. Practice mock leading or using a climbing rope to top-rope a route and placing trad gear as though you were actually leading. You should have your trad climbing instructor or mentor with you so they can check your placements and give feedback on your performance.

4. Start with an easy route first, something with a difficulty grade lower than what you think you can tackle. This being your first lead, you don’t want to feel overconfident and overestimate your skills. Being prudent and modest can go a long way in preventing common climbing injuries and ensuring a safe and successful climb.

Q: What is a cam in climbing?


A cam (spring-loaded camming devices) a type of active protection used in rock climbing. Like other pros, cams are designed to catch climbers if they slip and fall. They are available in a variety of styles, designs, and sizes, but all of them work according to the same principles. 

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Placing trad gear should be done carefully and properly to ensure the safety of the climber. When done haphazardly, it could result in serious injuries or even death. Although you can learn about how to place trad gear by reading articles and watching online videos, they should not be considered as substitutes for proper instruction and hands-on training.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!