ABOUT DOWNBEAT CLIMB GEAR

DOWNBEAT is a small specialised climbing gear producer offering home grown technical products, initially Hotnuts and Shellnuts, as presented in this Website.

Though newly established, DOWNBEAT’s product history is older, going back 40 years to a time when a young engineer/technologist with a taste for the wild outdoors was introduced to the (then) infant world of climbing nuts, arousing a technical interest which became an enduring hobby – a complete change from the day job. The interest led to the crafting and testing of various ideas for wedging and camming nut designs, some of which fell by the wayside with others finding use on the engineer’s climbing gear rack, becoming well used, tested and trusted. Now retired from the corporate career, the mature engineer is able to complete work started in the 1970’s, and present his uniquely innovative products to the climbing world via the Internet. We hope you like what you see.

HOTNUT HISTORY

The Hotnut is a tripodal (3 point contact) camming device, the origin of which saw light as the ‘Shield’ in the 1970’s, roughly coincident with, but unrelated to, developments in Russia by Abalakov and in the USA by Lowe, who commercialised the ‘Tricam’ in the early 1980’s.

The original Shield (photo Shield 1) was reviewed by the late Pete Livesey in 1979 in a UK climbing magazine, and aptly described as “sticking once placed, but fiddly of placement”. Taking this and other similar comment on board Shield ‘II’ (photo Shield 2) was made, and in 1982 again reviewed by Livesey in the same magazine. This time the verdict was “less fiddly than the original, but still too fiddly for placement in hard climbing.” In response, further work yielded some minor improvements, but no real solution of the fiddlyness problem. Several Shield II’s were made, becoming well used and trusted items of the inventor’s gear rack over the years.

Livesey’s comments of 1982 were/are increasingly relevant as climbing standards rise and the imperative of quick, easy gear placement equals in importance the protection afforded once placed. It largely explains why present-day commercially available tripodal cam nuts, though acknowledged as the only viable protection in some cases, are generally less favoured than spring loaded camming devices, even though the latter are more complicated, heavier, and considerably more expensive. A principal objective of the Hotnut is to put an end to the fiddlyness aspect long associated with the tripodal nut, thereby releasing its full potential as an incredibly effective, uncomplicated, camming device.

A return to design fundamentals has provided the Hotnut with two significant advances in tripodal cam technology; Firstly, the notorious fiddlyness factor has been overcome by introducing a simple, soft feel, non-sprung remote control feature, which enables single-handed placement and removal of the Hotnut with speed and precision comparable to that of an SLCD. Secondly, the Hotnut body shape delivers optimised camming performance in both ideal and non-ideal placements, within a strong, lightweight design concept common across the size range.

SHELLNUT HISTORY

The Shellnut is a wedging device invented in the mid 1980’s at a period when earlier simple wedge shapes were becoming superseded by more sophisticated designs incorporating curved contact surfaces capable of accommodating differing constriction crack tapers.The Shellnut took these developments a stage further with a hollow, rounded, wedge shape resembling a sea shell, which proved eminently suitable for exploiting natural features of rock crack constrictions whilst being inherently strong and lightweight. Furthermore the design concept lends to wrapping and securing the attached textile sling around the outside of the nut, providing a strong low-stress connection.

The inset photo shows one of several Shellnuts made in 1986 and still in regular use after 25 years service. Recent developments have been to replace the original wire-attached rope sling with resiliently-attached high strength rope, and also to optionally offer the Shellnut slung with resiliently-attached narrow Dyneema tape, which provides a significantly reduced enveloping ‘footprint’. More detailed information on the Shellnut range is given in the Shellnut ‘Products’ Webpages.

SHELLNUT
HISTORY

The Shellnut is a wedging device invented in the mid 1980’s at a period when earlier simple wedge shapes were becoming superseded by more sophisticated designs incorporating curved contact surfaces capable of accommodating differing constriction crack tapers.The Shellnut took these developments a stage further with a hollow, rounded, wedge shape resembling a sea shell, which proved eminently suitable for exploiting natural features of rock crack constrictions whilst being inherently strong and lightweight. Furthermore the design concept lends to wrapping and securing the attached textile sling around the outside of the nut, providing a strong low-stress connection.

The inset photo shows one of several Shellnuts made in 1986 and still in regular use after 25 years service. Recent developments have been to replace the original wire-attached rope sling with resiliently-attached high strength rope, and also to optionally offer the Shellnut slung with resiliently-attached narrow Dyneema tape, which provides a significantly reduced enveloping ‘footprint’. More detailed information on the Shellnut range is given in the Shellnut ‘Products’ Webpages.

Our Commercial Operation

Downbeat is a small U.K. based business founded on providing specialised ‘home grown’ products to rock climbers. Though our market presence will likely be, and remain, narrowly focussed, our aspiration is to serve what is a world-wide climbing sport. With the growing popularity and importance of Internet commerce, we see this aspiration best realised by initially linking our Downbeat company website to a well-established, internationally recognised, I-marketplace. Accordingly, you will find our products initially marketed for sale only on Amazon.com (in accordance with and subject to U.S.A. legislation), for all buyer locations in North America (only).