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Trango Chockstone Editorial Review

Submitted by vegastradguy on 2009-10-19 | Last Modified on 2009-10-20

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.   Votes: 2 | Comments: 7 | Views: 24391

by John Wilder

By Josh Higgins (Bandycoot)

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Trango's new Chockstones

Trango's new Chockstones.

“Same same, but different.” This is a very common term used in South East Asia by the locals, and it’s exactly how I felt about the Trango Chockstones. What does that mean? The Chockstones performed spectacularly, just like every other nut I’ve ever used, and while there were no major innovations (not that I’d expect one), there were a few differences that set them apart.

Let’s start with the specs. A “set” consists of #1-11, weighs 332 g, covers 1/8” – 1” and has an MSRP of $91.95. They have strength ratings that range from 2kN to 12kN. Only the #1 and #2, clocking in at 2kN and 4kN respectively, are what I would consider aid only. The #3 jumps to a rating of 8kN and the rest are a beefy and respectable 12kN.

I weighed some of the Chockstones relative to a couple large and medium Black Diamond and Smiley stoppers and they came out to be consistently 2g lighter in equivalent sizes. Since I’m always looking at weight when I buy gear, I’d definitely say this is a plus. The Trango Chockstones have fewer nuts for the same range than most brands. This means there is less overlap between each size and for a “set” you carry fewer nuts. This is purely a personal preference issue. Since I don’t place nearly as many nuts as cams, I find this to be a nice weight savings and I was carrying fewer pieces for the same range coverage. If I were climbing in an area that required more nut placements, I might change my opinion, but I typically gun for granite and sandstone splitters.

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I found these nuts to be completely functional. I thrashed them, my friends and I whipped on them, and they were used for extreme days of fast and hard climbing, like when a buddy and I did 30 5.10 routes in a day in Joshua Tree National Park. I was perfectly happy with them the entire time and couldn’t come up with a single complaint about how they placed or performed. Now I’ll touch upon some of the differences that don’t necessarily make them better or worse than other stoppers, but more “Same same, but different.”

The most noticeable difference is that one of the faces of the Chockstones has a slight curve machined out of it in sizes 4-11. This immediately reminded me of the Metolius Curve Nuts, which I think are great, due to their ability to set around knobs and other imperfections in the rock. While the Chockstones have this curve only on one face, and to a much more limited degree, I still ended up utilizing the curved notch on multiple occasions turning a “good” placement into a “great” one. However, it is a relatively minor curve, or notch, and for the huge majority of the time this feature doesn’t make a difference in how the Chockstone is placed.

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Notice the manchined notch carved into the backside of the chockstones.

Notice the machined notch carved into the backside of the chockstones.

The coloring scheme on these is definitely different than other brands. Instead of having a unique color for each nut, Trango simply alternated the colors between red and dark grey (I could be off, I’m partially color blind, but the difference is obvious). This means that you won’t be memorizing which color nut is which size/number, but if you grab a nut that is slightly too big or too small you know the next size is the opposite color which might speed up your next placement. I’ve never been one to memorize the colors of stoppers. I look at the crack, pick a nut about the right size, and try it. Being partially color blind and climbing at my limit when I lead trad, I found this to be a nice feature. I wouldn’t say that all manufacturers should do the same, but it’s different and I liked it.

A potential hidden cost is the fact that Trango Chockstones can only be bought in a package. I have yet to find a source that advertises them individually. Having just lost one recently, (no idea where the poor little guy went) I realized that there is no way to replace a single nut without buying the entire set! Yikes! Definitely a suboptimal situation, in my opinion, since nuts do get fixed, dropped, and lost occasionally. I think this should definitely be food for thought before committing to owning a set of Chockstones. I don’t know if Trango plans on selling them individually, in the future, but I would highly recommend it to them. I personally don’t plan on permanently switching over to them, primarily for this reason. Since I lost one and now have a “hole” in my set, I’ll probably fill it from my hodge-podge set of Smiley and BD Stoppers, and not replace the Chockstones as they slowly disappear off my rack over time.

Editor’s Note: We were surprised that Trango wasn’t selling the Chockstones individually, so we gave Trango a call and discovered that since the Chockstones were new, they were better off being sold as a set. Now that they’ve been available for a while and folks have managed to start losing them for one reason or another, you can expect to see Chockstones being sold individually sometime in early 2010.

So, to sum it all up, they perform spectacularly, there are a few differences that boil down to preference, they are strong and light, but with no major innovations. All that combined with the single downside of only being able to buy them as a set result in a rating of 4 of 5 stars.

Full Disclosure: The company that manufactured this item provided it free of charge to, who in turn provided it as compensation to the reviewer for his review.

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7 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

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I fail to see how the orange and gray color scheme would be beneficial. If a piece is slightly off in size, the right piece will be the opposite color. However, there are TWO similarly sized pieces of the opposite color.

I also follow the "pick the one that looks about the right size" camp, so I doubt this color scheme would hurt. I just don't understand how it would help at all.
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When I grab a stopper and try to toss it in and it doesn't fit, it's trivial to recognize which is the larger and which is the smaller off-color, next sized stopper. Where the coloring helps, is when I want a stopper that is 1 size off and I accidentally grab one 2 sizes off in the same direction. The colors prevent that. It doesn't make a big difference in the grand scheme of things though. It's just a different way of doing things that I find marginally beneficial. I don't find randomly colored stoppers beneficial at all...
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they look nearly identical to stoppers. Looks like the same price too. Trango will probably have a harder time selling these to retailers than to climbers.
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Great review and write up. I think their color coding makes good sense.
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Update: I'm still using these things regularly. I found the missing Chockstone on a friend's rack, and they're going strong. My largest complaint about them was that you couldn't buy them individually, but it appears that even if retailers aren't selling them individually Trango is off their website for $8.95 now. Go Trango!
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I just received this email from Ben Kinman about the ability to purchase the chockstones seperately:

No reason now not to go out there and grab a set!!!,%20chockstones
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5 out of 5 stars I just bought a set of these (my first stoppers!) and they worked perfectly. I plan on picking up more of the #7-9's for the local pockets. They cam securely and they can often be finagled around tiny obstructions and set without damaging the rock.

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