Tuesday, June 4, 2013

On the Rack: Keylock Carabiners

I was recently in the process of creating a new set of alpine draws to accompany my new trad rack.  I had already decided on 8mm Mammut contact slings because of their light weight and non-snagging profile.  But I was still searching for a lightweight, keylock style carabiner. I know that there are a lot of light weight wire gates that would have worked, but very few of them (with maybe the exception of the Heilum and the Hoodwire/OZ) were keylock-style. This was an important feature to me for a quick, smooth release while leading.

Carabiner choice is really based on style, weight, price and personal preference.  I had already decided on the style. I wanted to go light, I wanted to save money, and ultimately I wanted something that just felt good to use. My research lead me towards Wild Country Heliums, but I didn't like the nose design. I considered the OZ and the Hoodwire but the gate action was not as comfortable for me. (*While the Helium, Oz, and Hoodwire are not true keylock biners, their design achieves the same goal) I wasn't sure about the Ange L with the new mono-wire design, and again, the weight to price ratio just wasn't quite right.

On several occasions I almost jumped in and bought a full set of biners just because they were on sale.  I am glad I waited.  At the last minute, I found an option which I had not previously researched. I settled on the Ange S (On sale for $8.50 each). At 28g each they were lighter than the Heliums, with a great nose shape and excellent action. They only thing I wasn't sure about was the size.  They are slightly smaller than a full size biner and I thought they might be awkward to use.

After several large, multi-pitch climbs, I am glad to say that they have performed really well on the wall and the weight savings on the approach have been a godsend. The smaller size took a little getting used to, but I was able to clip and extend my alpine draws without any incident. Even with a smaller gate opening, they took my twin ropes with ease.   It actually has made other biners feel too big! Go figure!

Here is a chart from my research with a price to weight comparison for your enjoyment. The prices used are all MSRP. Of course, the prices you find will hopefully be less.  Happy shopping!

Climb Smart MN is a grassroots approach to climbing education based on community and charitable giving. For information on donation based climbing lessons visit ClimbSmartMN and follow us on Facebook. With over ten years of climbing instruction, coaching, and guiding experience,  Chris Hesselbein strives to better the climbing community through personalized technique and safety education.

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