Why should my gear look like light-bugs?
How many times did you got yourself climbing at dusk/ dawn or at night an trying to look down/up to a cue where is the next quickdraw or carabiner?
How many times did you mixed your gear with your partner and you have the same set of BD quickdraws? And you need to swear that the less scratched is yours!?
How many times lifting camp you left some gear to drop and it was like a rescue mission trying to find it?
So, this easy trick may help you to solve those problems in one. And make you look hi-tech at the local crag. Not to say it make it easier to rescue you in case of some night incident.
Here you can find a way to use reflective tape to make your own marking in your climbing gear. Making it shine when illuminated by some flashlight or any light source.
Step 1: What You Will Need...
- Transparent heat shrink tube: You can find this at electronics shops, like Radio Shack (or Rua Republica do Libano [RJ-BR], Santa Efigenia [SP-BR], Rep. de Guatemala [DF-MX], Beijing-Lu [SH-CN]). it should be 3 to 5mm bigger diameter then your target carabiner. With 1.5m you can mark a lot of them.
- Reflective tape (self-adhesive): This kind of tape can be easily found on hardware shops. 3M is the biggest producer of this kind of material. It's very easy to find in silver and red colors, but also available in yellow, green and blue. Try to find the thinnest ones. It will make the job of sliding the shrink tube into the carabiner easier.
- Heat Source: It can be a lighter, or a oven or the best and more pro solution is a heating gun. DANGER: Exposing your carabiner to heat source can damage it or change properties of the material turning it USELESS for any safety purpose!!! Meaning: YOU CAN DIE!
WARNING: After this processes none carabiner was tested to check if it still meets any safety standards! Do it at your own risk!
- Soap and Water: Sometimes the heat shrink tube can be a little sticky, so, some water and a very small amount of neutral soap can make the job less painful. WARNING: Be careful with the chemicals you use in your climbing gear.
- Patience: Most of the time the process is smooth, but sometimes it can be a sort of psychological test to measure stress levels...
Step 2: How to Do It?
1. Choose a good spot in the gear where it is less likely it will touch the rock or any other metal. That way the lifespan of your markings will be much higher. (the best place for most of the carabiners is where they have the vendor markings X KN...)
2. Clean it with water. Removing any kind of dirt and particles which can make the adhesion of the tape worse.
3. Cut some pieces of the desired tape and apply to the carabiner
4. Cut a piece of heat-shrink tube which can cover the hole area of the reflective tape + 1 cm (0.5cm for each side). When you apply the heat to the tube it will shrink, and we don't want any part of the tape exposed. (ref. see the image below)
5. Gently apply the tube into the carabiner, sliding it until it covers the reflective tape. If it's too difficult to slide it, use some water and soap to help you. If that is the case, clean the soap and dry the water from the carabiner before applying any heat. Otherwise, the tube can stay loose in the carabiner and therefore, useless.
6. Apply the heat source to the tube. The distance shouldn't be close enough and not too far. If it is too close, it will damage the tube and possibly the carabiner structure. If it's too far the heat will not be strong enough to shrink the tube. A 200 oC source should be enough to this. Do some trials with some pencils before doing with your gear.
PLEASE: Don't let any textile be near your working area. Slings... Do I need to explain why?
TIP: To have more color combination you can mix the reflective tape with some electrical tape.
Step 3: Conclusion
In climbing it will be always safer to not know than doing wrong!
Have a safe climb!