Rock Climbing Gear Guide: Carabiners

Carabiners are the most widely used piece of gear in roped climbing. Most climbers could carry 20, 30, or more carabiners on their harness for a single pitch! To narrow down the options, we’ve selected what we feel to be the best locking, auto-locking, and non-locking carabiners on the market. Recommendations are unbiased and the buying links are affiliate links—purchases made from them support our free content.

This guide was last updated on July 5, 2016

 

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Uses of a carabiner

There are far too many uses for carabiners than can be easily presented here, but at the most basic level they are used to attach things: attaching the rope to an anchor point on the wall, attaching your belay device to your harness, attaching yourself directly to an anchor, etc.

 

Finding the right carabiner for your needs

Carabiners are either locking or non-locking. Locking carabiners often have a twisting component (called a screwgate) to secure itself shut. Locking carabiners are necessary for belay devices and/or setting up a top rope due to their added component of safety. Some locking carabiners are auto-locking, providing an added level of safety in the case that you forget to screw the gate shut. Non-locking carabiners are useful for quickdraws where you need to quickly clip the rope to an anchor point on the wall for security.

Carabiners also come in a variety of shapes:

carabiner shapes

Use the chart below to see our carabiner recommendations:

Best rock climbing carabiners

 

Top carabiners for rock climbing

Black Diamond Positron (best for versatility and general use)

As a climber you’ll use a carabiner in more scenarios than you might imagine, which necessitates having an ample supply of versatile and reliable carabiners. Whether you need it for cleaning at the top of a route, building anchors, or just to clip gear onto from your harness, the functionality of Black Diamond’s Positron Screwgate Carabiner make it a solid choice. The screwgate function makes it great for easy locking and ultra secure protection, while the keylock nose keeps the carabiner from snagging on the rope, slings, or bolts. Also, the Positron’s deep basket shape makes it easy to glide the rope in.

Black Diamond Magnetron (best auto-locking)

The Magnetron carabiners from Black Diamond make safety when you’re climbing that much easier. The symmetrical design enables one-handed operation (lefty or righty)—making clipping anchors with one attached to your Personal Anchor System (PAS) a quick and safe transition. There’s no need to shuffle around with a twist or screwlocker—just squeeze your Magnetron open and let the magnets do the locking for you. Similarly, taking your partner on or off belay is just as simple. With the Magnetrons, you don’t have to think twice about whether the ‘biner is locked or not: the arms snap into an ultra-secure, locked position all on their own.

Their RockLock version of the Magnetron serves as a standard workhorse ‘biner, featuring a keylock nose to prevent snagging and hot-forged construction, which provides a large rope bearing surface in its pear-shaped design. This one is perfect for belaying, anchor building, and rappelling.

Similar, but lighter is the Magnetron VaporLock ‘biner, weighing a mere 56 grams, compared to the RockLock’s 87. This carabiner is perfect for those venturing on longer routes where keeping weight down matters.

The Magnetron GridLock, the third variety, serves as the ultimate belaying ‘biner due to its GridLock design, which isolates the belay loop to eliminate cross-loading. All three are great, but for all-around use and performance, we’re most thrilled about the RockLock.

Black Diamond Neutrino (best non-locking)

Black Diamond Neutrino Carabiner

High-performing, versatile, strong, and lightweight —the Neutrino Carabiners from Black Diamond are ideal for pairing with your trad protection, including lightweight alpine draws. These bright wiregate ‘biners color-match with the classic BD Camalots, which helps to keep your gear sorted and simple to find. And at just 36g a piece, these 24kN wiregate carabiners don’t sacrifice any strength for their ultra lightweight feel.

These compact non-locking ‘biners are also freeze-proof, enabling for alpine pursuits in which you might encounter ice. They also offer a generous rope-bearing surface area for desperate moments when you’re in a rush to clip in. And, as one of the most cost-effective ‘biner options of this calibur around, the Neutrinos are definitely among our favorites.

 

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Further reading