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Reviewed by Gear Geeks:

The Best Carabiners Reviewed in 2021

Z

Our experts at work

We gave our Gear lovers one job:
Test 36 different Carabiners and write reviews of the best.

The result is 18 of the best carabiners on the market today.

Anastasia Hamurari

Travel and Gear Writer
An ambitious writer with a thirst for content creation through storytelling.

torben lonne

Torben Lonne

Editor at DIVEIN.com
Torben is a dive nut, with a passion for traveling and gear.

 

A Carabiner clip comes in different shapes and sizes, with some serving great for climbing and others handy in securing a water bottle to a hiking backpack. They are further differentiated by those that have a locking mechanism and those that don’t.

You will find carabiners made from aluminum and those made from stainless steel. There are carabiners that are oval-shaped and those that have an asymmetric D-shape.

To make the right decision and purchase the carabiner clip that will meet your particular needs and last a long time, we compiled an extensive guide. These picks have passed rigorous testing in icy and warm weather conditions all while remaining robust and ready for more challenges.

Depending on what type of climbing you are planning on doing, how much weight you need to carry and what your budget is, this guide has the right carabiner clip for you. Alternatively, if you are searching for an everyday tool that will act as a sturdy storage expander, you will find one of those too.

Top 10 Best Carabiners In 2021

See our quick top 10 clips, or go further down and read our in-depth reviews.

Still unsure as to what carabiners to choose? We have answered the most popular questions about the towel in the last section of the guide.

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Everyone’s favorite PETZL ATTACHE screw-lock carabiner is a universal tool that can be used for anchoring, belaying and tying in alike. Its compact shape makes it easy to handle when up high in the mountains without too much hassle.

In addition, the 3D pear shape of the carabiner contributes to the low weight of the instrument and the increased strength of the gate opening. The manual screw-lock setup has a red band indicator that helps in finding out whether your carabiner is locked or unlocked.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the PETZL ATTACHE :
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Locking
  • Gate Opening: Screw-lock
  • Major Axis Strength: 22 kN
  • Dimensions: 4.1 x 2.7 inches
  • Weight: 0.12 pounds
What we like:
  • The lock indicator is a big help when confused whether your carabiner is locked or not
  • The compact size along with the 3D shape of the carabiner makes it lightweight yet sturdy
What we don’t like:
  • Not the cheapest carabiner on the market

You won’t experience any snagging with this carabiner in use – its construction doesn’t allow the accidental snagging of your gear. This is particularly helpful when you have got many essentials attached to your carabiners and the tool’s malfunctions are the last thing you need.

The primary choice of climbers in the past decade has been the Wild Country Helium carabiner. It has received a lot of praise over the years for a good reason – its hot forged structure makes it durable yet feather-like that won’t occupy too much space.

It has got a slim ‘I beam’ spine that gives it strength to withstand heavy load and a small wire gate that enables you to easily snap it back and forth. The nose of the carabiner is clean and hook-free, which means that the tool is quick to use and easy to rely on.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Wild Country Helium:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Non-Locking
  • Gate Opening: Wire
  • Major Axis Strength: 24 kN
  • Dimensions: 5 x 2 inches
  • Weight: 0.07 pounds
What we like:
  • The 2mm wire gate is spacious enough to attach multiple things to the carabiner
  • Its construction allows you to complete 2 iterations of pass-through-and-clip technique for racking draws
What we don’t like:
  • You might want to stock up on it as it goes out of stock fast

If you are in search of a long-lasting carabiner that will do its job well while remaining looking new after years of rigorous use, look no further.

The HEROCLIP carabiner is Amazon’s bestseller that looks nothing like your typical carabiner. It’s recognized as the first-ever designed hybrid everyday tool that keeps your stuff free from the ground dirt by neatly organizing it in accordance with your preferences.

The medium size is perfect for load weighing up to 60 pounds, whereas the 360-swivel equipped with 2 folding joints allows you to hang stuff in the seemingly uncomfortable places. The mix of a clip and a hook differentiates it from other carabiners and makes it stand out from the crowd. It is built from the high-grade aluminum that is almost impossible to ruin and has a rubber tip that increases the security of your items.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the HEROCLIP Carabiner:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Non-Locking
  • Gate Opening: Wire
  • Dimensions: 7.75 x 3 inches
  • Weight: 0.13 pounds
What we like:
  • The size of the carabiner makes it easy to attach hefty things that won’t budge
  • One of the few carabiners that have a clip and a hook
What we don’t like:
  • Not suitable for climbing

The hook of the carabiner can twist, nest and fold around the clip into a closed state, which results in a compact tool that is handy to have in your pocket at all times.

This multipurpose carabiner from Favofit is a game-changer for every backpacker and camper out there. Attach your water bottle, shoes and a jacket to your backpack and you are good to explore the surroundings for days.

It has no sharp edges that would be detrimental for your stuff but rather a smooth design with a flat wire gate that fosters the quick and easy adjunction. The compactness of the carabiner is not questionable – it is the definition of short and sweet. Made from high-grade aluminum, it will last you at least a few consecutive years of consistent use.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Favofit Heavy Duty :
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Non-Locking
  • Gate Opening: Wire
  • Major Axis Strength: 12 kN
  • Dimensions: 3.2 x 1.9 inches
  • Weight: 0.04 pounds
What we like:
  • One of the most lightweight non-locking carabiners on the market
  • Comes in a pack of 4, which is a steal
What we don’t like:
  • Not suitable for climbing

Although it is rated at 12 kN, it is not enough to be used for climbing as it is not designed to withstand huge loads of weight. Instead, use it for running errands and for hiking weekend adventures and you will quickly reap its benefits.

Black Diamond is known for producing high-quality equipment for outdoor sports, and the Positron Screwgate locking carabiner is not an exception. It is a small-scale tool that has a D-shape everyone seems to prefer over any other shape. This is mainly due to the biner’s ability to maintain a good ratio of strength to weight, which, in turn, contributes to the carabiner’s outstanding performance.

The carabiner has got a keylock nose that prevents snagging and a deep basket that eliminates the muddling around when clipping.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Black Diamond Positron:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Locking
  • Gate Opening: Screw-lock
  • Major Axis Strength: 25 kN
  • Dimensions: 3.7 x 2.4 inches
  • Weight: 0.12 pounds
What we like:
  • The D-shape makes the carabiner easy to hold and to use in all circumstances
  • Works well if you want to shift some of the weight away from your harness
What we don’t like:
  • Rain can cause rust to develop inside the screw gate

The gate can easily be locked and unlocked without any accidental openings in the midst of a climb. This means that no matter how high you climb, you will be safe at every point.

This asymmetrical-shaped carabiner by Metolius is a mini tool that uses a wire gate to help you clip on your small-scale climbing essentials. Despite being small, it holds a substantial amount of load while disposing of 22 kN of strength. That’s impressive for a carabiner of 0.05 pounds.

It features a large gate opening and a flared nose that helps secure the gate in the closed position. Regardless of what you stumble upon during your climb, your carabiner won’t accidentally open up. Many prefer using it as a key holder, which is to be expected – its cost is low while the performance is high.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Metolius FS Mini:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Non-Locking
  • Gate Opening: Wire
  • Major Axis Strength: 22 kN
  • Dimensions: 4 x 3 x 1 inches
  • Weight: 0.05 pounds
What we like:
  • The flared nose design makes the carabiner safe to use
  • Comes in a wide variety of colors
What we don’t like:
  • The compact size makes it difficult to use with gloves on

You can choose from 8 different colors the manufacturer provides and match it with your other accessories.

DMM Rhino locking carabiner offers the solution to maintaining the correct orientation of braking-assist belay devices. Its small spine horn along with the wide gate opening prevents cross-loading caused by the sideways flipping prior to catching the fall.

The shape of this carabiner’s model enables it to withstand huge loads and distribute them along the strongest axis. The full section top bars make it easy to control the rope and reduce the wear and tear that inevitably occurs with consistent use.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the DMM Rhino:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Locking
  • Gate Opening: Screw-lock
  • Major Axis Strength: 27 kN
  • Dimensions: 4 x 3 inches
  • Weight: 0.16 pounds
What we like:
  • Suitable for any climbing application, which makes it an appealing contestant among other locking carabiners
  • The gate and lock mechanism is super smooth and secure
What we don’t like:
  • Cannot prevent tube-like belay devices from the cross-loading

Whether you choose to attach a slim or a thick rope, the carabiner will perform well in both scenarios. Bring it with you to your next hiking expedition and see the Rhino’s many benefits for yourself.

This budget-friendly number is the killer in the lightweight category – it is light enough to not weigh you down yet robust enough to last you a long time. The Mad Rock ultralight carabiner is great for building a rack, in particular when you are just starting out with climbing.

Its asymmetric D-shape enables it to limit the load shifting when you have to rely on it the most. You won’t be let down by it, that we can confirm. Surely, there are a couple of trade-offs you will have to come to terms with as the carabiner is on a low-end side, but its performance is not one of them. The 22mm gate opening is bent, which allows you to easily clip it when needed.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Mad Rock Ultralight:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Non-Locking
  • Gate Opening: Wire
  • Major Axis Strength: 25 kN
  • Dimensions: 4 x 3 inches
  • Weight: 0.07 pounds
What we like:
  • Comes at an attractive price point that allows you to purchase a few of them and thus create a rack
  • The major axis strength is high for a non-locking carabiner of these dimensions
What we don’t like:
  • Can cause snagging at times if not careful with it

Although color-coded racking is not the option since this model comes in two colors only, you get a high-quality tool that will come in handy more often than you would assume.

It’s true, you shouldn’t be using ASP Polymer carabiner for climbing – its strength is not high enough to withstand big loads of weight. That being said, this carabiner does provide you with enough capacity to move the gear along the rope and store your essentials close to you.

Having the ability to withstand up to 275 pounds of weight, the carabiner can be used as a tool for drying your wet laundry. The rugged design of the carabiner ensures the ultimate safety that is backed by the stainless spring construction and a robust interlocking clip.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the ASP Polymer :
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Non-Locking
  • Gate Opening: Interlocking Clip
  • Dimensions: 7 x 4 inches
  • Weight: 0.05 pounds
What we like:
  • The Polymer construction ensures the non-snagging performance and the low weight of the tool
  • Perfectly suitable for hiking enthusiasts who need to securely clip their stuff
What we don’t like:
  • Not suitable for climbing

The manufacturer designed the carabiner to have purpose-driven ribs and angles that work together to create a secure instrument for you to use in a wide variety of scenarios.

In case you are in search of a tool that would help you organize your keys or hiking essentials like a water bottle and shoes, Gold Lion Gear aluminum carabiner is the way to go. The set includes 12 carabiners that can be used by you and your family for many arrangement scenarios.

Regardless of whether you keep them all to yourself or gift some to your friends and family, the value you are getting from them is high. Not only do they have a light finish that still enables them to hold heavy stuff, but they can also be handled easily by one hand only.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Gold Lion Gear :
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Non-Locking
  • Gate Opening: Large Latch
  • Dimensions: 3 x 1 inches
What we like:
  • The finish of the aluminum is smooth enough to easily accommodate your keychain and hiking needs
  • Some of the most affordable carabiners on the market
What we don’t like:
  • Not suitable for climbing

The aluminum material makes them strong and long-lasting, which means that you won’t have to purchase a new set anytime soon. Bring them with you to your next kayaking or backpacking trip and you will greatly benefit from them.

When looking for a heavy-duty carabiner with the highest strength ratio, PETZL OXAN oval model is your best bet. Its oval shape is the classic go-to option that is able to limit the load shifting and thus provide you with the most secure arrangement possible.

Set up an anchor to connect metal structures or attach your belay rope to the carabiner – the high-quality performance of the carabiner won’t change. The 38 kN strength is one of the highest on this list, which means that this item is able to withstand every load that comes its way.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the PETZL OXAN :
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Locking
  • Gate Opening: Automatic/Manual
  • Major Axis Strength: 38 kN
  • Dimensions: 4.37 x 2.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.15 pounds
What we like:
  • The design of the carabiner is unique, while its steel construction is of an excellent quality
  • The two locking gate options allow you to choose the most preferred variant
What we don’t like:
  • One of the more expensive carabiners on the market

PETZL allows you to choose from two different locking systems – an automatic TRIACT-LOCK mechanism with a triple-action gate or a manual SCREW-LOCK system with a visual lock indicator. Either one will have your best interests ‘in mind’ when in use.

Alpine climbing has never been easier with the EDELRID HMS Strike carabiner in use. The superb performer in its category takes pride in meeting the needs of every customer who makes an order and goes on to conquer the biggest heights.

The easy-to-handle slide gate mechanism allows the climber to clip his stuff in a fast manner, while the lock minimizes the risk of accidental opening of the gate. Whether it be belay or anchor, the carabiner is able to freely move with no restrictions due to the convenient keylock closure.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the EDELRID HMS Strike :
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Locking
  • Gate Opening: Slide
  • Major Axis Strength: 23 kN
  • Dimensionsv: 5.5 x 2 inches
  • Weight: 0.9 pounds
What we like:
  • Suitable for extreme outdoor sports like alpine climbing and mountaineering
  • Stays in place no matter what
What we don’t like:
  • On the more expensive side

The manufacturer ensures the design of the carabiner allows you to clip and unclip the carabiner without any limitations. Ultimately, you cannot expect anything less from a tool with the strength of the 23 kN and the smooth slider slate construction.

The Black Diamond Gridlock Magnetron locking carabiner might be the most expensive tool in this guide (and on the market in general), but it’s worth every penny. It is high tech from top to the bottom – its hot-forged construction along with the unique shape no other carabiner has are to thank.

Unlike other carabiners, the Magnetron has got two magnetic arms you have to manually depress to open the carabiner. This eliminates the risk of the gates accidentally opening by themselves in the midst of a risky climb. The locking gate is thus able to equip you with the highest level of security you can possibly receive from a belay device.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Black Diamond Gridlock:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Locking
  • Gate Opening: Auto-lock
  • Major Axis Strength: 22 kN
  • Dimensions: 4.3 x 2.6 inches
  • Weight: 0.17 pounds
What we like:
  • The keylock nose doesn’t allow for snagging and makes it easy to clip
  • The symmetric design of the carabiner allows you to open the gate with one hand only
What we don’t like:
  • The price tag is high

You can freely operate the tool with one hand without worrying about cross-loading and not having enough rope-bearing surface.

Camping, fishing, hiking and cross-country traveling can be stressful at times, which is why a set of tools that would get rid of the tension is a must. Gilmars D-Ring carabiners do just that – they allow you to attach anything from as small as a pair of keys to as big as ski equipment and thus keep your hands free.

The spring-loaded gate provides you with the option of quickly attaching the fixing points with one hand while also remaining lightweight and durable. Even if your load is as heavy as 100 pounds, Gilmars carabiners won’t have an issue with managing it for many hours at a time.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Gimars D-Ring Carabiners:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Non-Locking
  • Gate Opening: Spring
  • Dimensions: 3 x 1.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.45 pounds
What we like:
  • The spring-loaded gate helps the carabiners to withstand up to 150 pounds of weight without breaking apart
  • The service life of the carabiners equals over 5000 uses
What we don’t like:
  • The built is cheap

What’s more appealing about these carabiners – they come in a set of 10. Ranging from purple to pink and to yellow, you will have a set of tools that will shine brightly on your backpack/suitcase or a tent while doing their primary job well.

When looking for a set of locking carabiners that don’t cost a fortune, Fding climbing carabiners come to mind. Not only are they made from a high-grade aluminum that lasts a long time, but they also have a silky smooth locking gate mechanism that lets you hand up to 5511 pounds of weight.

That’s impressive considering the relatively low price of the set of 4 this lot offers. The asymmetric D-shape along with the anti-skid design makes it easy to connect the belt and the protector and fix them in a way that fosters the lengthy holding time of the load.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Fding 25KN Climbing:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Locking
  • Gate Opening: Screw-lock
  • Major Axis Strength: 25 kN
  • Dimensions: 4 x 2.2 inches
  • Weight: 0.52 pounds
What we like:
  • The quality of the carabiners is high, meaning that they will last you up to 5 years of constant use
  • The carabiners have a European Union’s CE safety certification, which makes them a safe choice
What we don’t like:
  • The carabiners are not suitable for use with sand and chemical substances

Whether you are engaging in an ice climbing or a two-day hiking trails adventure, the 25 kN of the carabiners will continuously back you up.

The sweet spot between a tool meant for keychain use and an instrument required for high-risk mountaineering is occupied by the XINDA carabiner used for rappelling, mixed terrace climbing and caving. It is rich with features like a wide gate opening, high-quality aluminum construction and a hefty major axis strength reaching 22 kN.

The anodized surface layer of the carabiner makes the tool water-resistant, non-slippery and free of harmful chemicals. You have the choice of either a screw-lock or an auto-lock gate that both perform well in the harshest weather conditions.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the XINDA Climbing :
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Locking
  • Gate Opening: Screw-lock/Auto-lock
  • Major Axis Strength: 22 kN
  • Dimensions: 3.97 x 2.24 inches
  • Weight: 0.13 pounds
What we like:
  • The two gate options give you the opportunity to pick the carabiner that will entirely meet your needs
  • The material of the carabiner is sturdy enough to withstand up to 4800 pounds of weight
What we don’t like:
  • On the pricy side

This bright-colored piece of metal is an eye-catching device that will serve you in a wide variety of scenarios. It comes in a pack of 2, which makes the deal appealing and hard to pass by.

The Nite Ize S-Biner dual carabiner is a new player on the market as it has 2 opening gates and a smaller frame than other carabiners. What does this mean? It means that while one of the gates is holding some load, the other one is capable of holding on to the anchor.

The twist-lock mechanism of the carabiner allows you to easily connect hang paint cans and luggage zippers without risking either one of the sides starting to malfunction. The carabiner is built from qualitative stainless steel that features a wire lock from the same material on each end of the S-curve.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Nite Ize S-Biner:
Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Carabiner Type: Non-Locking
  • Gate Opening: Twist-lock
  • Dimensions: 2.67 x 1.18 inches
  • Weight: 0.03 pounds
What we like:
  • One of the most lightweight carabiners on the market
  • The twist-lock mechanism make sit easy to open and close the gate with one hand
What we don’t like:
  • Not suitable for climbing

This allows it to be used for hanging heavy-duty stuff and expect it to stay put no matter what. Combing in a pack of two and for a fraction of the price of a regular carabiner, there is simply no way you could go wrong with the Ize S-Biner.

Carabiner Buyer’s Guide

The word carabiner is etymologically rooted in the German phrase for “spring-hook” and was originally a means for riflemen to keep their “carbine” slung over their shoulder and at the ready. The design was adopted by firefighters and eventually made its way into the mountaineering world through one Otto “Rambo” Herzog in 1911. 

The modern carabiner gave climbers a dependable way to fix their rope to the wall without having to tie in or run a rope through the piton they had just hammered into the wall. Carabiners have the added advantage of speed and single-hand operation, a definite boon regardless of their application. 

Technically any metal loop with a spring locking metal gate could be considered a carabiner, but in the climbing world, the denomination is reserved solely for gear that’s rated to the appropriate standard (i.e. burlier making sure your water bottle stays attached to your backpack). In the same way, products rated for climbing are designed to be loaded in very specific ways, and regardless of their strength, they shouldn’t be used for commercial or industrial applications like say, transporting a piano to the third story of your apartment building. 

In the following guide, we’ll outline the major types of carabiners by shape, gate, strength and other qualifying factors. In addition, we’ll try to recommend the best type of carabiner per activity and hopefully decrypt some of the industry jargon that comes along with any outdoor activity.

 

Shapes

For carabiners, form is very much related to function, and the shape of your carabiner can impact everything from the clipping action, to load distribution, and even the baseline structural strength. The first carabiners were pear and oval shaped, and while these designs are still often employed by contemporary climbers, there are a few newer shapes that you’ll see a lot of in your time at the local crag.

 

D Shape

D shaped carabiners were another one of the major early contributions made to carabiners as climbing protection, making its first appearance sometime in the ’40s.  They’re designed to shift the load towards the strong spine of the carabiner, and also help to mitigate any accidental loading of the gate that might happen from shifting.

The simple and supported design makes them the strongest of all of the different carabiner shapes, provided the spine is carrying the brunt of the burden. They’re a straightforward and utilitarian option that can find suitable applications in many different styles of climbing. 

Benefits

  • Strongest carabiner shape
  • Lighter and more accommodating than oval-shaped

Drawbacks

  • Heaviest of all contemporary carabiner shapes
  • Don’t have as much clipping volume as the asymmetrical D-shape

 

Asymmetrical D-Shape

Any recreational climber within most disciplines will use offset D shaped carabiners far more than any other style out there. It’s basically the same as a basic D shape, but tapered in such a way as to save weight and maximize the ease of clipping. You can never really have enough of them. 

Offset D carabiners fall short only in that they aren’t as strong as the regular D shape, and they have a little less total internal volume. They’re still pretty resilient, they wouldn’t be so ubiquitously used if they constantly failed. Because the shape is so efficient you can expect to see them in nearly every gate type, and see them used in everything from clipping bolts to racking gear, to anchor building. 

Benefits

  • Lighter than the true D-shape without compromising strength too much
  • Widely applicable in different purposes within climbing
  • Have a wider range of opening than oval or D-shaped carabiners

Drawbacks

  • Doesn’t direct load towards the spine as well as a regular D-shape

 

Pear Shape

Pear shaped carabiners (or pearabiners) are notable for their high capacity and easy clipping. They’re also widely applicable to a number of climbing purposes, but this style is most typically seen between your harness and your belay device. You’ll also see them used as a masterpoint occasionally, and their tapered shape allows the gate to open wider than even offset Ds to rack up a lot of gear. 

Occasionally you’ll hear this shape referred to as an HMS carabiner, in reference to their compatibility with a Munter hitch belay. The wide, flat head of the carabiner makes it a great masterpoint option.

Benefits

  • Can be opened much wider than comparable carabiner designs
  • Symmetrical shape is good for specific applications

Drawbacks

  • It’s bigger and heavier than most other shapes

 

Oval

Oval carabiners used to be the go-to for all-purpose mountaineering gear. They have very much dropped out of vogue being on average weaker and heavier than pretty much every other type of carabiner out there. But, their symmetrical shape is still great for racking gear, particularly wire nuts, and they have a couple of other specialty uses such as a carabiner brake rap.

Benefits

  • Cheaper than any other carabiner design 
  • Has some specific applications

Drawbacks

  • Heavier and weaker than all other shapes

 

Other/Specialty Carabiners

You’ll occasionally see other specialty carabiners in your climbing life. Prime examples are the wide opening carabiners you’ll see on ziplines and via ferratas or multidirectional carabiners that are built to specifically withstand loading in a few directions

 

Gate Types

Even though the vast majority of your carabiners will be D shaped, you should expect to at least have variation between locking and non-locking gates. As a whole these two styles have very different purposes, locking carabiners being used to super essential loads like your belay device or anchor points. Non-lockers are generally used as quickdraws for sport and trad protection, or as a means of gear storage.

In the following section, we’ll cover the major differences between non-locking and locking carabiners, and the types of mechanisms used to lock them. Later we’ll talk about different types of gate shapes and styles you might see between the two. 

 

Non-locking

Having the option to lock your gate closed is great for many different applications within and outside of climbing, but locking gate carabiners aren’t the best tool for every job.

Your draws and the ‘biners on the rope side of your trad gear won’t typically be locking carabiners.  Non-locking carabiners have the benefit of being much lighter, and can easily use any kind of non-locking carabiner for things like racking gear, clipping your chalk bag to your harness, or attached to your backpack as a way to tell the world you climb.

 

Locking Carabiners

Locking carabiners have some kind of built-in mechanical safety measure to keep your gate from accidentally opening. They’re best applied in situations where you really don’t want your carabiner to fail and are a must for belay devices and with rare exception anchor points. 

Take a look at these different kinds of locking carabiners. In the video you can see what the different kinds of locking carabiners are good for.

Screw lock

Screw lock carabiners have a manual locking mechanism that works similarly to any threaded fastener. A textured sleeve on the gate can be screwed down for opening, and then tightened over the nose of the carabiner to prevent accidental opening. All you need to do after that is give it a couple of safety squeezes to make sure it’s locked and you’re good to go.

Benefits

  • Easy to operate mechanism
  • Cheaper than auto lockers

Drawbacks

  • They can seize up if you over tighten them
  • Takes more time to open than alternatives

 

Twistlock

Twistlock, or triple locking carabiners are an easy choice for your belay device because of how easy they are to operate on the fly. These devices work via a tensioned mechanism that you need to twist and pull down in two simple but separate motions in order to get the gate open. Theoretically, all you need to do is let go and they’ll be latched again, but as always it’s a good idea to give your gate a squeeze just to make sure it’s locked up before you trust it.

Benefits

  • The triple-action is super safe and not likely to come unlocked
  • Faster clipping than screw lock carabiners
  • Makes a great option for belay devices

Drawbacks

  • More moving parts means there’s more that could possibly break
  • Tend to be more expensive than screw gates

 

Magnetron

This style of carabiner is fast and easy to operate, Black Diamond released their Magnetron magnetic assist model a few years ago, improving on the basic slide gate design. The only caveat with this style is their tendency to get jammed up by dirt, dust, or ice. As a whole this style maximizes speed, but they’re also easier to accidentally open than other styles of locking gate.

Benefits

  • Fastest clipping action of all the locking mechanisms

Drawbacks

  • Most prone to jamming and freezing out of all the locking options

 

Straight Gate

These are the most basic shape of the gate itself. They’re characterized as running in a clean line from the pivot point to the nose. They have the typical spring lock mechanism to latch the gate, and as such is easy to operate under any conditions. Straight gate carabiners are used on quickdraws but are also great for racking gear and other applications where you’re frequently clipping and unclipping nonessential things.

Benefits

  • Usually the cheapest out of all the options
  • Stronger than bent gates

Drawbacks

  • Harder to clip than bent gate or wire gate options

 

Bent Gate

Bent gate carabiners have a bowlike curve that increases the ease of clipping ropes, slings, and webbing.  They’re almost exclusively used for quickdraws. It might not seem like much, but if you enjoy climbing sandbagged sport routes, an easy clip can make a serious difference. 

Benefits

  • Easier clipping than straight gate carabiners

Drawbacks

  • More expensive than straight gate alternatives
  • Have limited applications in your climbing

 

Wiregate

Wiregate carabiners are the lightest option for your non-lockers, which makes them among the lightest carabiners in general. Contrary to intuition this lack of weight doesn’t necessarily make them weaker or less capable of catching you during a fall if they’re used properly. The reduced volume of the gate also allows them to open a little wider. You can use wiregate carabiners anywhere you would use another non-locking option. 

Benefits

  • Lightest weight of all the gate types
  • Don’t suffer a loss of strength despite saving weight
  • Can dampen vibrations from falls

Drawbacks

  • The gate is much more prone to failure if they’re used improperly
  • Cannot lock

 

Keylock Gates

A keylock carabiner doesn’t refer to the gate itself, but rather to the interface between the gate and the body of the carabiner sometimes called the nose. Also known as hookless or snagless, keylock gates do away with the notched gate traditionally used to keep gates closed. Without the notch,  your ‘biners are less likely to snag on rope or gear while clipping.

Benefits

  • Help mitigate snagging when taking gear off of your rack

Drawbacks

  • Keylock carabiners are more expensive

 

Size, Weight, and Strength

The size, weight, and strength of your carabiner are all intimately tied up, but relationships might not be as straightforward as you assume. There are many different philosophies that you use to approach your gear selection, and your own personal climbing style is going to have the biggest impact on the gear you select. 

As mentioned, the shape of a carabiner clip has a massive influence on its strength. If they’re rated for climbing use and used properly, the specific brand of the climbing carabiner isn’t going to matter as much. But there are still some considerations you should make.

As a general rule, heavier carabiners are going to have a longer lifespan than their smaller, lighter counterparts. They also might be a little easier to handle when your arms and hands are shot from hauling yourself up a wall.

Smaller carabiners are going to be lighter, but have a shorter working life than big, heavy alternatives before they’re retired to the water bottle. Lightweight is a great way to go for your draws, but may be ill-advised for use as a belay ‘biner.

 

Applications 

Whether you buy a whole sport rack and anchor kit in one go or are the type to slowly amalgamate your set-up over time, you’re going to end up with at least a couple of different types of carabiners. To help build the full picture, here’s a breakdown of common climbing scenarios and the carabiners that are applicable to them.

Belaying and Rappelling– When you’re belaying or rappelling, all of your weight or your partner’s weight is hanging off of the carabiner attached to your belay device. You’ll almost exclusively see large, pear-shaped locking carabiners used for these critical techniques.

See this video about belaying:

Check out this instruction video for making a rappelling device from carabiners:

Trad Quickdraws– Trad protection weighs more than sport quickdraws by nature of design, so you’ll typically have wiregate asymmetrical D shaped carabiners on the rope end of your cams and nuts. Wiregates have the additional benefit of reducing vibration in the event of a fall.

Sport Quickdraws– Chances are you’ll have more sport draws than any other piece of gear, and among these you’ll see mostly non-locking asymmetrical D shapes of all gate types. There’s a lot of room for preference here, wire gates will be the lightest, bent gates will be easier to clip, and straight gates are cheap.

Anchor Building– There are many ways to go about building an anchor, but for our purposes we’ll assume we’re dealing with a standard self-equalizing sport anchor.  Locking D-shaped carabiners are largely considered best practices, with a pearabiner masterpoint.

Racking Gear– When you’re racking nuts and gear, you want to avoid shapes with sudden curves and bends to prevent snagging at a critical moment. Non-locking D-shaped, ovals and asymmetrical D-shaped carabiners are your best bet. Ideally, these will have keylock gates to further prevent getting caught up when you need to.

If you already have a carabiner or you just bought one, leave a comment in the comment section below and share your experience with it.

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