This guest post comes from John Godino, the author of the website Alpine Savvy, a website full of tips and tricks related to climbing and navigation.

Rabbit Runners

Rabbit runners are named for the small “bunny ears” loops at either end. They are a seldom seen and underappreciated bit of gear.

Black Diamond Rabbit Runner
This one is made by Black Diamond. It measures about 43 inches / 110 cm from end to end.

Why are rabbit runners cool?

  • They can do pretty much anything a double length / 120 cm sewn loop sling can do, but it has the lower weight and bulk of a single length / 60 cm sling.
  • They’re more versatile in terms of length. You can use it stretched out to its full length (about 120 cm) and clip the end pockets, basket hitch it to make it about 60 cm, or make 4 strands about 30 cm.
  • If you loop it over a shoulder and clip the ends together with one carabiner, you can unclip one loop and pull it cleanly off without strangling yourself, like is possible with a normal sewn loop. This works even while wearing a pack.
  • Because it’s a single strand and not a sewn loop, you can sling it around a large tree, icicle or chockstone that’s up to about 2 feet in diameter. Can’t do that with a single length / 60 cm runner.
  • You can clip 2 pieces of gear that are fairly far apart, and tie off the rabbit runner in an overhand knot or, shown below, a clove hitch. Bang – simple, strong, statically equalized anchor.

Rabbit Runner as an anchor

For many years, Metolius was the only manufacturer that seemed to be making these. The word was that these single strand runners could not receive a proper safety rating from the European CE climbing polizei because it was difficult to make the runner strong enough when it was fully extended. Granted that didn’t stop a lot of resourceful climbers from sewing their own, because it was such a useful bit of gear and they didn’t necessarily care about a proper strength rating.

You can compare every Rabbit Runner there is at:
WeighMyRack.com/sling

Nowadays, the engineering wizards at Black Diamond (and a few other manufacturers) make a rabbit runner sling with stout 13 mm Dyneema and 12 rows of bar tack stitching, which allows it to pass the 22kN standard for a CE certification. The Black Diamond model adds a nice touch by sewing one side of the runner with a tiny loop, meant to hold a carabiner in the correct orientation, and a large loop in the other end that makes for easy girth hitching. Editor’s note: As usual, some climbers don’t like BD’s design decision to have a tiny looped end as they find it constricting in terms of usage.

Here Black Diamond gives their pitch for why their version is top notch:

Rabbit runners go for about $17 for a Dyneema/Spectra version, so they are a little pricey and you certainly don’t need/want to replace every sling on your rack with these. But, if you find yourself doing a lot of alpine climbing, you will likely find yourself reaching for your rabbit runner on just about every pitch.

I carry one rabbit runner, although some climbers prefer 2-5, especially for meandering alpine routes. I’ve had an old funky homemade one for a long time, that was a touch on the sketchy side (the bar tacks looked good, just not sure who made the homemade looking sling). I just upgraded to the new Black Diamond one and it is totally confidence inspiring and I highly recommend it. 

Easy to rack

Over one shoulder and clip the ends with one carabiner. To deploy, unclip one loop and pull, no tangles!

Rabbit Runner as a sling

Easy Slinging

Worth mentioning again: You can also sling it around a tree, icicle, or chockstone, just under 2 feet in circumference.

The image below is a solid 2 foot tree and it is just out of usable range. In this case the carabiner would be loaded in 3 directions which is certainly not ideal. 

Rabbit Runner around a tree

Related Aside: Rabbit Runners are the cousin to the “bunny ears” cordelette, which you can learn more about in this AlpineSavvy post.

Rabbit Runner Buying Options

These are now available from many brands such as AustriAlpin, Black Diamond, Blue Water, Mammut Metolius, Sterling, and Yates. Some are made with Dyneema, others are nylon and bit less expensive.

Here are the prices going on at this exact moment:

 

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John Godino

John Godino

John Godino basecamps in the Pacific Northwest. When not exploring the Cascades or ocean surfing in a whitewater kayak, he's working on his website and blog, AlpineSavvy.com. His site has 300+ climbing related tips and navigation resources.

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