Gear Review: Black Diamond’s New Magnetron Auto-Locking Carabiners

What are Magnetron carabiners?

Before you scoff at the notion of needing to innovate¬†the carabiner,¬†we think you ought to hear us out on the benefits of Black Diamond’s Magnetron Auto-Locking Carabiners. These innovative¬†‘biners use magnetic fields (yes; you heard us right) to provide safe, efficient, and instantaneous auto-locking prowess when you’re belaying, building anchors,¬†going in-direct, or conducting¬†other carabiner shenanigans. In other words, the Magnetron technology sort of makes¬†your screw-gate ‘biner look like an artifact found at the ancient history museum.

Black Diamond’s intro to Magnetron Technology:

How does this whole magnet technology thing work?

Without revisiting our 6th-grade science books, here’s the gist:

  • The magnetic attraction between¬†a steel insert in the carabiner nose keeps two independent arms securely locked
  • The locking arms must both be individually depressed before the gate will open
  • When opened, the opposing magnetic fields repel the arms, providing quick, easy, and reliable gate operation

 

Deal Alert:¬†View this week’s best on-sale climbing gear

 

Black Diamond offers 3 varieties of the Magentron Carabiner:

RockLock

899071

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VaporLock

VaporLock Magnetron

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GridLock

Gridlock Magnetron

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What’s the difference and which one is right for me?

The¬†Magnetron RockLock¬†serves as a¬†standard workhorse ‘biner ( … but only better of course). Like the others, it features the keylock nose to prevent snagging, and hot-forged construction, which gives you a large rope bearing surface in its pear-shaped, symmetrical design. This one is perfect for belaying, anchor building, and rappelling.

Similar, but a step up is the¬†Magnetron VaporLock¬†‘biner, which weighs a mere 56 grams, compared to the RockLock’s 87. With such an¬†ultra¬†lightweight construction¬†that does not¬†compromise¬†size or safety, this carabiner is perfect for those venturing on longer routes where keeping weight down matters.

The¬†Magnetron GridLock, the¬†third variety, is intended to serve as the ultimate belaying ‘biner. It features Black Diamond’s GridLock design, which isolates the belay loop to eliminate cross-loading. The¬†I-Beam spine of the ‘biner¬†transitions¬†into a rounded, ample rope-bearing surface that¬†makes belaying in any scenario a breeze.

GridLock functionality
Image: Black Diamond

 

Benefits of the Magnetron ‘biners

These carabiners more or less equal the Sprinter Van of dirtbagging vehicles.¬†Sure, it might seem gimmicky and unnecessary on the surface, but once you add this innovative carabiner to your harness, you’ll never want to climb a day without it.

The¬†symmetrical design of these bad boys enables¬†one-handed operation (no matter if you’re a¬†lefty or righty). This means that when you’re pumped out at the top of a route and need to clip in-direct, you can easily unlatch the Magnetron ‘biner with your¬†Personal Anchor System (PAS) and clip into¬†auto-locking security … in virtually an instant. There’s no need to shuffle around with twist-lock or screw-locks‚ÄĒsimply squeeze your Magnetron open and let the magnets do the locking for you.

Similarly, taking your partner on or off belay couldn’t be quicker and safer. With the Magnetrons, you don’t have¬†to think twice about whether the ‘biner is locked or not, because the arms snap into the¬†ultra-secure, locked closure position on their¬†own. It’s not voodoo, it’s innovation making your climbing ventures safer and way more efficient.

Aside from owning a device that delivers state-of-the-art safety, efficiency,¬†and sounds as badass as a Transformer, you can save precious time (like the time you’ve spent reading this) belaying and cleaning quickly when at the anchors.

 

Buy here: Carabiners at Gear Co-Op ‚Äď Free 2-Day Shipping Over $49

 

Final considerations

These certainly aren’t the cheapest auto-locking ‘biners on the market, so if you’re extremely short on cash, perhaps the Magnetron isn’t right for you. Consider going with the cheaper, but also auto-locking, Black Diamond RockLock Twistlock¬†if short on a budget. That being said, we do consider Magnetrons a worthy investment for those who aim to elevate their climbing efficiency. It’s hard to beat the rapid action and ease of this state-of-the-art piece of gear.

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  • Arthur

    Be careful with the orientation on the GridLock version of these. A friend and I were climbing in a gym where they required the figure8 stay in place and you tie-in by clipping the harness to the loop of the figure8. Not exactly the best setup by any means but at the time neither of us knew better. After a small fall (on top rope) the orientation was flipped and the full weight of the climber was momentarily on the small piece of the lower gate that keeps the rope in the small half of this carabiner. It broke the lower gate and left a razor sharp metal exposed where it would easily contact the rope and cut it. The circumstances were extremely rare, and Black Diamond replaced the unit as soon as my friend contacted them.