For many years my rock climbing nut collection has been made up of a full set of DMM Wallnuts and a full set of Wild Country Rocks. Over time I’ve added a few bits and pieces of gear to this, to give a wider range of possible protection in odd placements. These have included such little wonders as a handful of Faces Gems, and a few HB Offsets. These old skool bits of pro have become almost like friends over the years (as in mates, rather than cams!) and have been on countless adventures with me. As we all know, bits of protection occasionally get lost over time – either dropped by some careless second, abandoned as irretrievable in a crack somewhere, or left behind as an abseil anchor, and now, as I go through my current rack, I see that I’m down to just two of the old HB offsets, and only one Faces Gem.
The Faces Gems are irreplaceable, as they are not made anymore. This is a great shame, as I thought they were superb in a wide range of cracks. However, the HB offsets can still be bought, albeit in a new guise. Hugh Banner developed the original Offset through his climbing gear company HB. He knew that there were a lot of placements where the standard nuts just didn’t seat very well due to the flared nature of the cracks, so he worked on a set of nuts that would deal with this. Enter the Offset. His originals worked amazingly well, but they became unavailble when HB the company closed down in 2005.
DMM realised that there was still a big demand for offset nuts, so stepped in to produce a new, lighter, more user-friendly version, and they are proving to be a big success.
I’ve used them on most climbs, finding their wide size-range useful on any flared crack. I like the inset wire in the nut head, which keeps it from wear and also gives it more strength. The colour-coding is also useful, though on the old HB Offsets the wire swag was colour-coded with a plastic sheath to the same effect. Rounded edges on the new Offsets give a more solid placement in slightly irregular cracks or where rock crystals can make more conventional nuts feel a bit wobbly. The other nice thing is that the two bigger sizes (10 and 11) have holes drilled in their sides to reduce the weight.
The DMM Offsets have very quickly become an important part of my standard rack, and at around £40 for the set (from sizes 7-11) they are a good buy. The sizes run alongside the same size range used in the Wallnuts, as does the colour-coding, so they’ll work well for you and will complement your existing rack.
I just wonder if we can persuade DMM to produce a new range of Gems?