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Have you ever forgotten to lock a carabiner? For many climbers, myself included, the answer is unfortunately yes. Of course, I could have continued along using traditional locking carabiners with a bit of extra caution, but life has a tendency to teach us the same lessons over and over until we learn them. Rather than sticking around for the next lesson, I resolved to make the switch to auto-locking carabiners.
Once unwieldy and heavy pieces of gear found only attached to GriGris in your neighborhood gym, auto-lockers have undergone a revolution. I began my search with a few requirements in mind: I needed a carabiner that was easy to use, as light or lighter than my original locking carabiners (56 gram Black Diamond Positrons), and cheap enough to make the switch without cutting into the sacred beer budget.
Black Diamond Magnetrons
I absolutely love the Black Diamond Magnetrons. They open with the pinch of your fingers, and the lightweight model, the Vaporlock, weighs the same as the Positron. However, at $25-$30 each, my future would be both a safe and undeniably sober one.
Edelrid Pure Slider
I looked at the Edelrid Pure Slider, which features a sliding lock on the gate of the carabiner. A slide of the finger opens the gate, and at 42g, the Pure Slider is one of the lightest locking carabiners on the market. Unfortunately, I have reservations about using the Pure Slider as a belay carabiner. With a sliding lock on the gate, it seems all too easy for a belay device to push the slider and open the gate, rather than a finger. While not a candidate for replacing my current lockers, I am considering picking up one or two of these for use on must-not-fail pieces. Whenever a single piece of gear is keeping you from serious injury, adding a locker can inspire confidence and, most importantly, add an extra margin of safety.
Grivel Twin Gates
Finally, we have the line of Grivel Twin Gate carabiners. These carabiners are so easy to use that I can manipulate them while wearing my dirtbag belay gloves (gardening gloves with holes cut into the cuffs). Unlike the Magnetrons, these are wallet-friendly with all but one model retailing for less than $20. Oh, and they’re positively airy, too! At 39g, the Plume, a double wiregate model, is the second lightest locking carabiner on the market. Time to rack up, these might just be the best locking carabiners on the market!
Twin gates explained
The carabiners themselves are elegantly simple; Grivel has brilliantly rethought the approach used to lock carabiners. Instead of adding extra moving parts, a second gate prevents the primary gate from being opened by accident. At first, I was skeptical, but unlike the Edelrid Pure Slider, I could find no way in which a belay carabiner might open by accident. The locking mechanism is automatic by design, but requires almost no more effort to manipulate than a traditional carabiner. Grivel has released the twin gate design for a multitude of models, giving climbers a wide variety of options for implanting the twin gate system.
To put it simply, these twin gates bring considerable progress to the evolution locking carabiners. They are safer, easier to use, and lighter than competing carabiners, and they are available at an affordable price. Take a look through the list of available models to find the right carabiner for you.
This dual wiregate model is the epitome of light and fast. It is the second lightest locking carabiner on the market, losing that title by a mere 2g. The dual wiregates will not seize up from ice, grit, or snow. If you plan on heading into harsh alpine conditions, this is the only locking carabiner you should take with you.
The Mega is the belay carabiner of choice. While the die-hard weight fanatics may choose the lightest option for all of their locking carabiner needs, a purpose-built belay carabiner offers advantages. The rounded surface of the carabiner is kind to your rope, reducing wear and tear. The size of the carabiner makes handling a breeze and can hold many strands of rope. Finally, the double solid gate turns a normal carabiner into a seemingly bombproof loop of metal.
The Lambda offers the same advantages of the Mega as a dedicated belay carabiner, but by combining one wiregate with one solid gate, it offers a 15g weight advantage.
The Sigma features an offset D shape, making it perfect for ensuring the security of must-not-fail pieces of protection. Whether the crux comes after the first bolt or after a long runout, you can use the Sigma to eliminate the risk of the rope coming unclipped.
While oval carabiners tend to be the least useful shape, Grivel offers them up for your old-school climbing pleasure.
Anti-crossloading carabiners are becoming popular choices for belayers. Unfortunately, they are about as useful as chalking up before belaying. A good deal of Google-fu revealed a grand total of zero accidents in which a belay carabiner broke due to crossloading. I’m not saying it can’t happen, just that it hasn’t happened yet. An argument can be made that belaying is more comfortable on an anti-crossloading carabiner, but be warned: the Clepsydra won’t fit a GriGri.
In the writing of this article, I tried to make sense of the carabiner model numbers. My theory is as follows: K denotes that the product is an Italian karabiner, fancier than a regular English carabiner. Each karabiner then receives an identifying number. Finally, all Twin Gate carabiners are labeled with a G, which obviously stands for “f***ing awesome” in Italian.
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