Climbing Tactical

A Complete Guide to Buying Carabiners

Our Beginners Guide to Buying Carabiners

Carabiners are metal loops used by climbers in various ways. Some examples include connecting people to ropes or tools to a harness, but there are many different uses for carabiners. The word “carabiner” actually comes from a German phrase meaning “spring hook”.

If you ever want to go climbing, you’ll need some carabiners of your own, but it’s important to select the right ones. In this article, we’ll go over everything you could possibly need to know about these metal links, showing you all of the different varieties and features to help you make informed decisions when buying your own.

how to buy the right set of carabiners

Variety of Carabiner Shapes and Their Different Uses

The first thing you’ll probably notice about the range of carabiners in a shop or online is the different range of shapes available. These shapes are each specified for different tasks, and it’s important to know what these tasks are in order to choose the right equipment each time.

Oval carabiners are the most traditional variety. They’re usually the cheapest and can be used for many things, but they don’t quite have the same strong as other shapes. The biggest advantage of this type of carabiner is that it can usually hold more gear than the others, due to the relatively large amount of space inside them.

You might also be wondering D-shaped carabiners. These work well for almost any kind of climbing and tend to be stronger than the oval variety. Due to the D-shape, any loads are held in the bottom-left corner of the D, which provides a stronger hold than the ovals. These carabiners are also to snap onto things. Asymmetrical D-shaped carabiners also exist. They’re similar to the regular variety, but the bottom end is tightened up slightly, creating the titular asymmetric shape.

This makes these carabiners lighter and stronger than all of the others, but gives them less inside room to hold onto things. Overall, asymmetrical carabiners tend to be the most popular with experienced climbers due to their high-strength, low-weight design.

carabiner gates and shapes

Carabiner Gate Varieties

Now let’s talk about the different gate varieties. First of all, the straight gate. As the name suggests, these spring-loaded gates are completely straight. With a bit of force, they will open up quite easily and then snap into place as soon as you let go. They are very common and have countless uses. Another option is the bent-gate. This gate design is concave in nature, which means that it is larger when open than a straight gate.

This makes it easier for you to slide things into the carabiner, so bent gates are usually used for larger items like rope. Finally, there are the wire-gate carabiners. These gates are made from a loop of bent wire. They may look weaker on the outside, but they can be exceptionally strong. They also provide large openings and are very lightweight.

Another aspect to consider for your carabiners is whether they should be locking or non-locking. Locking carabiners have locked gates that usually require several actions to open, while non-locking carabiners will open when a certain amount of pressure is applied.

Naturally, the locking variety is much safer in general as it is nearly impossible for them to open up accidentally, while non-locking carabiners could possibly open up without you wanting them to. Locking varieties will have either an auto or a manual lock. Neither variety is stronger than the other, but the added safety of locking carabiners means that every climber should be using them for rappels and other important placements.

finding the right carbiner

Buy the Right Size Carabiner for the Task at Hand

When buying carabiners, it’s important to consider the size and weight of the items you’ll be carrying around. The bigger carabiners are easier to use and will carry more gear, but they will also weigh more than the lighter variety. No climber wants to be carrying more weight than they need to, as this will hold you back and limit your performance levels, as well as adding unnecessary pressure to your body.

At the same time, it’s important to take the right equipment for every job. You shouldn’t cut down on the number of carabiners you take just to save on weight. The lighter varieties are often weaker and won’t last as long as the heavier ones. They may also cause more wear and tear to the rest of your equipment, including your ropes.

Perhaps the most essential thing to think about when shopping for your own carabiners is your own needs and requirements. We’ve seen that there are many different styles and varieties of carabiner available on the market today, but you don’t necessarily need all of them. It all depends on what sort of climbing you’ll be doing and what other equipment you’re using.

Invest in High Quality Carabiners

carabiners buying guideIf you’re a novice, go ahead and ask an instructor or expert climber for some advice. If you’re a bit of an expert yourself, don’t waste cash on carabiners you don’t really need. Invest in good quality, relevant equipment, and always be sure to test and handle different carabiners in person before making a decision.
We’ll finish with a few bonus tips to consider the next time you’re in the market for some new carabiners.

First of all, remember that every carabiner has a strength rating, but that this rating only applies to proper use of the item. If you use a carabiner in an improper way, its rating will be lowered. Similarly, if you decide to use locking carabiners, you shouldn’t just assume that they are always locked. Be sure to check repeatedly to prevent any possible accidents.

If you’ve chosen to work with non-locking carabiners, be careful with your ropes as they can sometimes inadvertently apply pressure and open up the gates. Above all else, pay attention when using new equipment and don’t take any risks. Test out your carabiners and get familiar with the way they work before commencing any tough climbs.

About the author

Mike Paris

Mike is the editor of NWT Outfitters and as you may expect, an avid outdoorsman... When Mike isn't logged into the NWT backend, he's camping, climbing, hunting, fishing, or doing some combination of the four.

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