Gear Review: Firefly
“I’m not sure I should get on this route. I have to go soon and this may be a little tricky for me.”
Above are real excuses I give myself to not try as hard as I can.
Like a lot of new leaders I have experienced the fear of falling. Because of this fear I especially love excuses such as the one mentioned above! Besides fighting yourself mentally there are many reasons to bail midclimb such as prior commitments, grips breaking off, not prepared for night climbing, etc.
What is it?
The Firefly is a new product designed, “for climbers that want to be better.” The Firefly now makes it possible to retrieve quickdraws after they are left behind on a wall, out of hand/stick clip’s reach!! Pretty cool right? I thought so too!
I purchased a Firefly at the end of November/early December when it was still on a kickstarter. As of Wednesday March 14th, I now have that shiny, new, 0.6oz device sitting in my climbing bag. Like any gear, how good is it doing in a bag? I took it out for a spin!
Take a look at it in action on my instagram feed here.
Does it work? Yes!
Test 1: I started simple, by going indoors to my local climbing gym. They had a spot on the wall where I can stand and test my Firefly. With no rope, I put my quickdraw up and tried to get it off the wall. At first I had some difficulties getting the Firefly to engage. **SPOILER** I figured it out!
Turns out the firefly needs some adjustments in weight to get it to engage. To get the gate to open there has to be a downward force. Here is a video of it working on my instagram feed! You can see me pulling down on the bottom carabiner to get it to engage. In normal life this would be done by pulling down on the rope.
Test 2: I went to a local area where a top rope could easily be set up. I set it up so the Firefly is on the wall as designed: not at the chains, but not easily in reach. In the field I learned that it is a two step (maybe 3 step) process for it to work. It did work when used correctly!
- Pull on the rope and the cord of the Firefly AT THE SAME TIME. This opens the gate of the carabiner.
- Once the gate is open, LET GO OF THE ROPE and just pull on the Firefly cord. This turns the quickdraw so it can unhook.
- Sometimes the rock rubs on the quickdraw funny, or there is a ledge. If that is the case, try steps 1 and 2 at a different angle (step back, go to the left, right, move forward, etc). Give the rope a lot of slack (5+ feet) and give it a few whips if needed.
I found no problems that were not solvable.
The first step is to unscrew one of the screws and then put the Firefly on to the quickdraw. The screw is the hardest step in the whole process. The screw is pretty tiny and easily drop-able.The manufacturer’s instructions say to take the screw completely out. If it the gate was opened and the Firefly slid on and off, the screw would not need to come out all the way. For safety I can see why not opening the gate of the quickdraw is the recommended way.
I made a work around by using some string I had lying around the house to tie it to the main device. Problem solved! Additionally, it would be possible to preinstall the Firefly to a dedicated quickdraw that could just stay on your gear loop unless needed. People have bail biners, why not a bail quickdraw? Times are changing!!
I had a hard time with the instructions of the Firefly. I reached out to the company to find the two step method mentioned above to open the gate and then rotate the carabiner. After I knew that, I never had a problem getting the Firefly to engage.
This con may not even last long enough for the article to post! The company is very easy to get a hold of. Additionally, they informed me that the instructional videos would be updated to make this more clear. Currently, it is briefly mentioned. I just didn’t realize how important it is to follow the two step process. Also, if you are reading this you are learning from my mistake!
At first I was really nervous I would engage the Firefly while I was being belayed down. I took great care to make sure that I was not touching the pull cord, and that my belay partner was not touching it too. Let’s just say I was super stressed. After experimenting, it was quite comforting to realize that while weight is needed to open the gate the quickdraw would not rotate while weight is on the rope.
As mentioned above, taking the screw all the way out is kind of a pain. The instructions say to take the screw out, but I liked opening the gate of the quickdraw and slipping it on. For safety with opening the gate, I used a sling to attach myself to the bolt if I opened the gate of my quickdraw. If the screw was never removed and just loosened to slide through the gate, some solder at the end of the screw would keep it from falling in action.
Is this a good piece of gear?
Overall, I am very excited for this device! While I plan on flashing all of my climbs this season (hehe) it is very comforting to have this in my arsenal. If you are interested in the device use the following link to get free shipping! May you climb hard and improve your skills this season.
*While my link does give free shipping to my followers, I do NOT earn any money on purchases.*
Update: Thoughts and feelings from 2019
I have had the Firefly for a full season now. While I have not climbed outside as much as I hoped too, I still was able to to go out at least once a month. Typically I stayed at my climbing level, and I didn’t try pushing myself. I have never used the Firefly even though I did almost use it once because I was running late for work.
So far the best value I have gotten from it is peace of mind. This is especially true when I went to Thailand and found myself as the strongest climber in the group. I was very nervous we wouldn’t be able to finish our routes. With the Firefly in my gear bag I felt confident enough to give it a try anyways.
I now debate to myself if it is worth the cost. To me I find the peace of mind to be worth it. Others may find the the $4-$8 carabiner to worth leaving behind instead.
Would I get it again in the same situation? Definitely!