Powers Powerbolts 3/8" and 1/2" bolts

Powers Powerbolts 3/8" and 1/2" bolts

from 4.25

Galvanized Steel: inexpensive, strong. Can corrode and will, especially in wet environments. I don't worry about these much in the porous Navajo Sandstone, but would definitely worry about them in hard rock where water and pool in the hole. (3/8” size are hard to find; they have been discontinued at the factory).

Stainless Steel: expensive, strong, but hey, how many of these are you using each year, anyway! Much more resistant to corrosion (except in a salt-water setting). If you want your bolts to be permanent, go stainless. (3/8" bolts will soon ONLY be available in stainless).

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Size Matters

3/8" bolts are a poor choice in soft sandstone. They are very difficult to set. (My success rate when using these was about 60%). They also flex a bit in use and destroy their hole, leading to rapid deterioration of the hole and bolt - as in, they might last 2 years. I recommend against in sandstone, though there are places in Zion where the rock is VERY hard and these will work. But, mostly, I carry these for placing bolts in hard rock such as limestone or granite. Going stainless especially in this small size seems like a small price to pay for peace of mind knowing that your bolt will most likely not rust out in a few years.

1/2" bolts are a better choice in soft sandstone. I drill first with a 3/8" bit (and hammer), then ream the hole with the 1/2" bit by hand, to get a dimensionally correct hole. The bolts themselves are roughly TWICE as strong and twice as stiff as a 3/8" bolt, so they tend to hold up well even in soft Navajo Sandstone.

Placing bolts takes training, practice and skill. Without those, what you get is either entirely unusable, or a timebomb putting yourself and others at risk. Bolts are NOT a powerful tool for emergencies. Getting a bolt kit is unlikely to make you safer out in the canyons. DON'T DO IT! Your time and money would be better spent learning how to use other tools, and becoming better at the craft of canyoneering, by taking courses, by canyoneering with more-competent people, by canyoneering more canyons.

 

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