Cypher is a small climbing company based in Utah with a handful of offerings, including quickdraws, shoes, and chalk bags. They're producing some budget-friendly priced quickdraws, so we thought we take a look at their Firefly II, which retails for only $11.50. That's less than half the price of our Editors' Choice winner, the Petzl Spirit Express! The Firefly II is lightweight and has snappy gate action, but the carabiners are on the small side and the narrow 10 mm sling makes this more suited to traditional routes rather than sport climbing. That's not a bad thing, though, if you're looking for an inexpensive trad draw. The Mad Rock Concorde is even cheaper ($11), but we preferred the Firefly II a little more and gave it our Best Buy for Lightweight award. While it's not the highest-performing model, it does an excellent job for the price. If you're looking for a budget trad climbing quickdraw or even for sport routes, this is a good option.
Cypher Firefly II Review
Cons: Notch in wiregate can snag, thin sling is hard to grab
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Cypher Firefly II delivers reliable performance for the price. It is lightweight (2.6 ounces) thanks to the dual hot-forged wiregate carabiners on either end and the thin dogbone. There's nothing fancy about it, but it still gets the job done and is an excellent option for those just breaking into trad climbing who need to purchase a lot of gear at once. It's a fraction of an ounce heavier than some of the other lightweight contenders in this review, but a heck of a lot cheaper. It's about half the price of our Top Pick for Trad Climbing, the Black Diamond Oz ($22), and you'll still save a few dollars over the Mad Rock Ultra Light Wire ($14). The only draw that we tested that is cheaper is the Mad Rock Concorde, but we figure the extra 50 cents is worth the improved performance.
Don't let the overall "low" score fool you. A lot of our metrics tend to favor sport-specific draws, as they tend to be full-sized, with better handling, grabbing and unclipping. But if you're looking primarily for something lightweight, then you'll gladly sacrifice a little performance and deal with a smaller carabiner or a notch or two. Should you like the looks of this model but prefer a keylocking carabiner on the top of your quickdraws, they are available in a "mixed" setup, with a keylock carabiner on top and a wiregate on the bottom. Note that this increases the weight to 2.8 ounces though — solid gates are heavier than wire ones.
Ease of Clipping
When it comes to clipping, the Firefly II is similar to most of the other trad-focused wiregate quickdraws in this review. We liked it okay enough, but it wasn't as easy to clip as some of the snappy sport-specific models out there. Small carabiners are the main culprit, a trade-off that helps keep the weight down.
We didn't notice that the gate tension was particularly tight, which we encountered on the Mad Rock Ultra Light Wire. The carabiners on this model are also a hair larger than the Trango Phase, which is something to keep in mind if you have larger hands or dislike small carabiners in general.
Ease of Unclipping
Like the other wiregate models with exposed notches, the Firefly II isn't the easiest to unclip in certain situations. The wire latches onto a notch in the nose, and that notch can get hung up on the bolt, particularly when trying to clean steeper sport routes. Not planning on using these on a steep sport climb? Then it probably won't bother you as much.
If you do like to mix it up a bit and climb some sport and trad, then consider an option with keylocking carabiners on the bolt (or both ends). If you like wiregates but hate the notch, Black Diamond has engineered a way to get rid of the notch by placing a stainless steel "hood" over it. They use it on their Oz quickdraw and also the Black Diamond LiveWire. However, that adds a lot to the price of the draw, so if you don't want to spend a lot of money, you'll need to put up with the notch.
The Firefly II is one of the lightest quickdraws that we tested and only slightly heavier than the Black Diamond Oz.
If you're trying to lighten up your load, particularly when trad climbing, you'll appreciate a lighter draw like this one. You'll save a whole pound if you're carrying a dozen of these on your harness as opposed to a heavier draw like the Black Diamond Positron.
Ease of Handling
Our testers thought these draws handled similarly to the Black Diamond Oz and Mad Rock Ultra Light Wire. The carabiners are slightly smaller than "normal," but not so little that they are too challenging to operate with tired hands.
The hot-forged construction allowed Cypher to remove some of the material from the spine in these carabiners. While not a full "I-beam" style, there are some notches and ribs that add texture and better gripping. This also makes them not as wide in the profile as the Mad Rock Concorde. The Firefly II takes up a little less space on your harness than the Concorde and doesn't bunch up as much, which can lead to cross-clipping. There is an interior rubber positioner that's sewn into the sling. It is also low profile and we like this style much better than the bulky rubber positioner found on our other Best Buy choice, the Camp USA Orbit Wire Express KS.
Ease of Grabbing
The sling on this quickdraw is only 10mm wide, which is a challenging size to grab. All of the lightweight draws in this review scored poorly in this metric.
Not everyone grabs their draws, and trad climbers tend to do it less than sport climbers, so if you don't anticipate grabbing them much then this isn't much of a consideration for you. However, if you are heading up a long route that has a bolt ladder on it to overcome a hard section, take a couple of draws with you that have wider dogbones — you'll appreciate them!
These are a good option for traditional climbing, where weight savings is more important than most other features. If we planned to use our newly purchased quickdraws primarily for sport climbing, these are not the ones we would choose to buy.
The Cypher Firefly II is a great value in our estimation. While they don't score that high overall, there is little drop off between these and our Top Pick for Lightweight, the Black Diamond Oz. These are a perfect option for people who are just getting into traditional climbing because all of the gear that you need to buy at once really does add up. Cypher also sells these in a six-pack, but their pricing on that item doesn't seem to add up to any additional savings. That retails for $70, which, divided by six comes out to $11.67 a draw, and you can buy them individually for $11.49. The six-pack does come with a screw-gate Firefly II carabiner, which explains why it's a little more expensive.
There's a lot to like about the Cypher Firefly II. It's lightweight and won't feel overly heavy on your harness, but it will keep your wallet feeling heavier. We liked it so much we gave it our Best Buy award for those looking for a great value pick, particularly for traditional climbing.
— Cam McKenzie Ring