The Love Handle Gear Organizer is a straightforward climbing accessory that offers a convenient way to rack cams and quickdraws.
If you’re seeking evidence of the law of entropy, look no further than a rock climber’s backpack. By the end of most climbing sessions, the interior of most crag packs resembles the aftermath of a small tornado.
Slings and ropes are tangled into an indivisible mass; cams and quickdraws are covered in chalk and tape fragments. A lone almond from 2017 rattles around on the bottom.
Climbing is a gear-intensive activity, and keeping track of all of the requisite knickknacks is a perpetual chore. Enter The Love Handle ($30), a product designed specifically for organizing climbing gear and improving efficiency at the cliff.
The Love Handle is simple: It’s a curved wooden handle fixed to a small loop of thin rope. Using it is even simpler.
Clip your quickdraws or cams to the Love Handle and load it into your pack. When it’s time to climb a pitch, reach into your pack, grab the Love Handle, and pull out the whole rack in one fell swoop. Less time rummaging for that buried Black Totem means more time climbing.
In short: I’ve been cragging with the Love Handle for a few months now, and it has quickly become a part of my standard kit. It’s lightweight, durable, and comfortable to hold. I used to carry retired nylon slings to rack my quickdraws and cams. As long as the Love Handle holds up, I’ll never go back.
The Love Handle Reviewed
At first glance, the compact size of the Love Handle seems impractical, but after lots of regular use, I think it’s just about perfect. I easily fit 20 quickdraws on a single Love Handle, which is far more than most climbers typically bring to the crag. Even fully loaded, the handle was still easy to lift in and out of my pack.
The Love Handle can also accommodate a standard double rack of cams. For the non-trad climbers, that’s 14 cams ranging from sizes 0.3 to 3 — with room to spare for some nuts and a nut tool. While racking up for trad pitches, it’s easy to hold the Love Handle in one hand and transfer gear to and from your harness with the other.
In addition to the classic single-loop model, the Love Handle is also available in the two-loop “Double Rainbow.” This nifty design has three semi-separate sections — perfect for those meticulous climbers who rack the Totems separate from the C4s, separate from the Master Cams.
Essential Gear, or Marginal Benefit?
Like any newfangled climbing gear, the Love Handle invites lots of commentary from fellow crag-goers. The most common remarks include, “What’s the point of that?” and “How is that different from a gear sling?”
These comments are fair enough, but it must be said that none of the critics that I encountered actually used the Love Handle before scoffing at it. No, the Love Handle is not a strictly necessary piece of equipment. Instead, it’s a bit like a throw pillow or a flower garden. You could live without it, but it sure is nice to have.
Recently, a collaboration with plastic recycler Level 7 Plastics led to the Love Handle 7 ($35), which features a handle made from old detergent and shampoo bottles instead of wood. It was a finalist for the Outdoor Retailer Innovation awards in 2022.
All Love Handle models are made and distributed by Freestone Equipment in Squamish, B.C. Freestone is the brainchild of Pete Hill, a long-time rock climber and product designer by trade. As of 2022, Hill assembles Love Handles to order in his own garage.