Webbing is economical and serves a variety of uses. Most climbers carry an assortment of lengths to build anchors, tie-offs, and extend protection. Sewn or tied loops are called runners or slings. Tied runners have the advantage of being adjustable; they can be threaded around features and re-tied. But sewn, bartacked closures are stronger and less bulky than knots.
The large surface area of webbing means that much of the weight-bearing material is exposed to the rock. So, it tends to fray quickly in general use, the edges are especially susceptible to wear. So, thoughtful handling and placement of slings is important. Equipment made from webbing should be inspected carefully and regularly for wear and replaced when necessary. Knots should be examined before each use. All webbing fabric is susceptible to degradation, particularly from UV rays; keep this in mind if you are considering clipping a sling or anchor that you encounter somewhere on a route.
- Smaller diameter webbing is lighter and less bulky. Larger size webbing is usually stronger and more durable.
- Check the ratings of webbing carefully; some skinny webbing is designed for aid climbing only.
- The CE norm strength for sewn runners is 22kN. Knotted slings from spooled webbing will be weaker than this.
- The most popular nylon webbing used for climbing is tubular. Though it appears flat, it is a hollow tube that has been folded flat.
- Dyneema and Spectra® materials are lightweight, have low water absorption and high abrasion resistance, making them good choices for lightweight racks and snowy, icy settings.
- To keep track of the age of your webbing, buy a different colour when you're re-stocking, and record the date of purchase in a climbing logbook.
- If you plan to leave webbing anchors behind on a route, colours that blend with the rock are nice.
- Like rope and cord, webbing needs to be cut with a hot knife or have the ends singed and melted to prevent fraying and unravelling.
- While climbing, carry longer slings over your shoulder to keep them out of the way. If you are climbing with a pack, put the slings on after the pack.