Climb Gear Reviews Lead Climbing

Top 10 Best Rock Climbing Carabiners

Rock climbing carabiners are an essential part of any climbers arsenal. This humble piece of metal is often the difference between life and death, so it pays to know how they work and what they are used for. There are also many different types of rock climbing carabiners; from auto locking carabiners to screw lock carabiners, each with their perks and purposes. Here is a quick rundown of our favourites.

A Word of Caution

The improper use of a carabiner while rock climbing can cause fatalities. Please take the time to familiarise yourself with the equipment, to understand its limits, and to check your own equipment for wear and tear. While metal components in your sport or trad climbing rack do not degrade as quickly as softer materials (such as slings), it is important not to sacrifice your safety through the careless application of carabiners or using compromised equipment.

What’s the Top 10 Best Rock Climbing Carabiners?

After scouring the current market place, it is safe to say that we have secured our top picks below. It is worth pointing out, that while carabiners are multi-functional, many of the following are designed for specific purposes which we will detail as we go through the list. As well as safety, we have kept our eyes open for subtle features which take the effort out of life-saving while keeping the typical climber’s diminishing budget in mind.

1. Black Diamond Gridlock Screwgate AW20

PROS

Directional protection with the screwgate sleeve to ensure usage of the strongest part of the carabiner

Easy-to-use screw to make sure carabiner doesn’t open while in use.

Streamlined and intuitive design for maximum performance.

CONS

Lightweight design of the screw can cause doubt that the carabiner is adequate for safety

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Resistant to 22KN of force across its length, the AW20 is a belayer’s dream. Equipped with an easy to use, screwgate sleeve, the budget-friendly carabiner is a strong addition to your climbing rack. The AW20 prioritises safety and efficiency over setup-speed for the best protection in all the important areas.

2. PETZL Mochettone Spirit Screw Lock

PROS

23KN of major axis strength when closed.

Has a multitude of functions which are amplified by it’s fast and easy installment in the protection chain.

Screw locking for additional protection.

CONS

Not suitable for belaying a climber as there is no protection to stop the device from twisting in your harness which exposes the climber to the weaker axis with only 8KN of protection.

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Another budget-conscious addition to the list is the PETZL Moschettone Spirit. While this carabiner lacks some of the additional safety features of the Black Diamond AW20, it is quick and easy to set-up, and not directly targeted at belaying, which makes it perfect for quickly slinging yourself into a bolt to prepare for your descent. The screw locking component ensures that the device does not open while in use.

3. Mammut Smart HMS Climbing Carabiner

PROS

A clever locking system that allows user to gauge if the device is fully closed; the lever can only shut if the screw is fully up.

Rotational protection perfect for belaying, to ensure that the maximum 24KN of resistance is being used.

Easy and intuitive design.

CONS

Not so suitable for a quick sling-in because of the safety features one has to set up to use the device.

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While a little more expensive than the previous two options, the Mammut Smart HMS has secured a place in our top three favourite carabiners due to the extreme safety measures. The unique locking system makes this a favourite amongst belayers and eliminates some stress from the pre-climb checkup.

4. Edelrid Schraubkarabiner Pure Screw

PROS

Lightweight and minimalistic design

Screw lock for additional protection.

Affordable yet fully functional.

CONS

No rotational protection for belaying a climber.

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A perfect example of German engineering, the Edelrid Pure Screw is simple, effective and safe to use. These affordable additions to your rack will not weigh you down at only 46 grams, and yet they still deliver a full 23KN of resistance across the main axis.

5. CAMP Core Belay Lock Gun Metal

PROS

A strong carabiner with a lot of resistance, even while open (although do ensure that is closed while in use).

Screw locking to prevent opening.

Rotational protection for belaying.

CONS

Carabiner is specifically designed for belaying, and so therefore is less versatile than other multi-functional carabiners.

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The CAMP Core Belay carabiner is one of our stronger choices, with a full 24KN of resistance across the main axis and 10KN while open. It comes with an internal clip to stop any rotation while belaying and a screw lock to guarantee the carabiner won’t open while in use.

6. DMM Ceros

PROS

Easy set up

Intuitive design

Fufills all expected protection of a belay carabiner

CONS

Slightly more expensive than comparable products (Eg. Black Diamond AW20).

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The DMM Ceros is very comparable to the Black Diamond AW20, with a very similar intuitive design, shape, and safety elements. What differentiates them (besides the AW20 being slightly cheaper) is the spring loaded metal gate at the bottom. While the AW20 closes both the carabiner and the rotation protection together as it is all one component, the DMM Ceros separates them making it less frustrating to set up; you do not have to close the clip once attached to your harness, then then carefully adjust the carabiner while half open to slide it into place as you can just simply open up the wire gate.

7. PETZL Screw Lock Carabiner Hook Attache

PROS

Lightweight and efficient

Intuitive design.

Screw-lock protection to ensure the carabiner stays closed when in use

Adapted shape for easy tying and untying of a clove hitch.

CONS

Unless you use the old school Munter Hitch, this is perhaps not the best carabiner for belaying as it is possible for the device to twist out of position on a harness. This is better used in other parts of the protection chain.

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The PETZL Screw Lock Hook Attache is a simple, lightweight, compact pear shaped carabiner with locking protection. It weighs a little more than the Edelrid Pure Screw at 56g, but still provides 22KN of strength across the major axis when closed. It has been designed to optimise rope glide across the metal surfaces.

8. Edelrid Bulletproof HMS Bullet Triple

PROS

Clever and intuitive triple lock system for protection.

Steel insert on the top edge to prevent early wear and tear of the device from rope friction.

A huge 25KN of resistance across the main axis.

CONS

No device to stop the carabiner from rotating in a harness onto the weaker axis while in use. Unlikely to happen, but is still possible.

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With a twist-lock lobster clasp, the Edelrid Bulletproof HMS is both fast to set up and hard to open once closed. Much like the Mammut Smart HMS carabiner, it is immediately visible to the user when it is open as the carabiner will not visibly close without all stages of the triple lock in place. To open the clasp, one has to pull the clasp down, twist it, and push it open. This fast and easy method makes it simple to set up yet still resistant against unwanted opening during operation.

9. DMM Belay Master 2 HMS Karabiner

PROS

Easy to identify if device is not properly done as the rotation protection will not fully close if the screw is not closed

A full 25KN of resistance against strong forces.

Absolutely no compromises against safety.

CONS

While some people prefer to have the clip of their carabiner on the left, this is not so effective with the DMM Belay Master due to the design of the locking device.

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As a specialised belaying carabiner with an intuitive locking device, the DMM Belay Master is comparable to the Mammut Smart HMS. It can resist up to 25KN of force and is complete with multiple safety features.

10. Black Diamond Gridlock Magnetron Carabiner with Snap Hook

PROS

Easy and quick to operate locking system.

Rotation protection, perfect for belaying.

Stylish design.

CONS

More moving parts in the locking system make it easier to damage.

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This is the modernised and updated version of our favourite carabiner, the AW20. While the locking device is quicker and easier to use, it is potentially easier to accidentally open during operation, and also comes at a much higher price.

And so, our favourite carabiner for belaying remains the budget-friendly Black Diamond AW20, perfectly set up to avoid twisting in your harness and fully locking for your own ease of mind, whereas for quick uses such as slinging into bolts, the PETZL Mochettone Spirit Screw Lock is our top choice due to its simple design and quick set up.

Questions and Answers About Rock Climbing Carabiners

What is a carabiner used for in rock climbing?

Where do we begin? There are many different elements in a climber’s protection chain, some are made of softer materials and some are made of metal. A carabiner is one of these; a metal clip which often connects the rope to the climber as part of a dynamic belaying device, allowing the rope to slide over it. It is an essential part of your safety in this extreme sport.

How do you use a climbing carabiner ?

This very much depends on what you need the carabiner for. More often than not, you will place the main loop of your harness through the carabiner and attach a belaying device, both of which the rope will flow.

You should always ensure you have a locking carabiner and that it is fully closed when doing this. You should also check that harness and the rope are on opposite ends of the major axis of the carabiner, i.e. the longer side. Always good to finetune your understanding with visual explanations and actual practise of how to set up a belay system using locking carabiners. This is only one use of a carabiner, which brings us onto the next point…

What other uses are there for carabiners in climbing ?

Aside from belaying, another common use is to attach a sling to the main loop of your harness and a carabiner to the end of the sling. This can then be placed inside bolts on sport climbing routes which is particularly effective when you have to untie the rope to set up a repelling system to descend.

Carabiners are also essential parts of a repelling system, of an anchor system, and can even be used to quickly clip things to your harness. The many uses of a climbing carabiner and the correct execution of which is an essay in itself. Learn more about different uses for carabiners and which ones should be used in each situation.

What is the strongest carabiner?

Strength in climbing protection is measured in kilonewtons, or KN for short. This is the measurement of force needed to accelerate a thousand kilograms mass at a rate of one meter per a second. Ben from the climbing YouTube channel “Hard Is Easy” has made an excellent video describing the different forces we subject ourselves to when climbing and, more importantly, when falling to further illustrate this concept.

Falling physics that Every Climber Needs to know

When you look at your carabiner you will notice some small numbers on the side. The strongest axis is lengthways, and usually can take forces between 20 and 25KN, the short axis is much weaker because of the clipping device. Simply put, the higher the number, the more resistance and the more strength. It is worth noting that every piece of climbing equipment weakens over time, and that the strength shown on your device is what it was when new.

How long do climbing carabiners last ?

If you take care of them, potentially over 15 years. If not, maybe less than 5. Look after your equipment and regularly check it for wear and tear.

How many carabiners do I need for climbing ?

This depends entirely on which climbing discipline you are partaking in. Going bouldering? You don’t need any. Sports climbing? Technically, just the one for belaying, although more can be helpful and are recommended (maybe three – one for clipping and one spare). Climbing the Dawn Wall( not free solo please), just pack a whole backpack of them.

Which is the best lightweight carabiner ?

Again, this depends on what you are using it for. When belaying, weight is not much of an issue worth thinking about. If you have to carry the carabiner up the wall, then consider what you are using it for and which features you require. A good go-to is the PETZL Mochettone Spirit Screw or the Edelrid Pure Screw. More often than not, the extra weight of a screw locking or twist locking carabiner is worth the extra protection it provides.

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