review of all the non-locking carabiners that I own


Original Post
rafael · · Berkeley, CA · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 30

So I've been climbing for ~9 years now, and have gone from buying the cheapo BD nonlockers, to going for the most expensive, and have used a variety on my rack at the same time. Here is the results of my years/months of using these non-locking karabiners.
This review covers
WC helium, WC astro, DMM chimera, BD hotwire, mad rock ultralight bent gate, camp photon wire straight, BD positron bent and straight, some old and prob discontinued BD non-keylock design
metolius FS mini, BD nuetrino, camp nano, BD and omega pac. oval,

First off, the tiny biners, I got a couple of them at first thinking they would be good on alpine rock runners to cut down weight, but they suck for that, they arent heavy enough to hold down the runner and it flops around and gets tangled. Then I put them as cam racking biners, one per cam, they are all fine for that purpose, I cant tell them apart, even the slightly bigger BD nuetrino doesnt seem any better. Sometimes I look at the nuetrinos and think they are bigger, must be easier to use, but I honestly never ever notice while plugging a cam at a crux move.

Which brings me to the meat of the review...

by far my favorite of all the biners I've used is the WC helium (33 grams) , which shouldn't be a surprise for anyone.
I have them rope side on my shoulder length slings. The gate opens with almost no effort, but by some amazing engineering feat snaps back perfectly after the rope. They are light, but somehow substantial, they hold the sling just enough to keep it from flopping around while racked on the harness.They sit great in the hand no matter how you grab them. I've had a few since maybe last summer, I love em, My only complaint is that they are never on sale and cost a bunch.

WC astro (29 grams)... eh, whatever, I dont like them a ton, but I dont particularly dislike them. I have em gear end on my runners. They have decent action on the gate, and they clip just fine into gear, however, when I'm at my limit, 10 feet past my last piece, trying to smash the stupid biner into a cam sling, the gate is annoyingly small. Not impossible to get in, just annoying.

DMM chimera (30 g), I like them a lot, I got one a few months ago, and I think they kick ass, they are way bigger than the astro, but are only 1 gram more, which is totally worth it, I mean 12 draws with gear side as chimera vs astro, 12 grams, its certainly worth it for me to clip that much easier. My only complaint, the nose on the chimera is wider than the astro, yeah it makes them stronger, but its not hard to keep the biners from being nose loaded unless one is somewhat of an idiot...I havent had nose width be an issue yet, but I can imagine real situations where that would suck, multiple biners on one bolt for example.

BD hotwire (43 grams) this biner kind of sucks, I got them many years ago, they were an improvement over the very bottom of the barred solid gate BD positrons, but the gate just doesnt pop open nicely compared to the fancy ones. And they are heavy, bleh. I first noticed how much I didnt like them when I had them racked as rope side with the same gear side biners as the helium, then it was so obvious how crappy these things are

mad rock ultralight bent gate, camp photon wire straight (weight unknown, I'm too lazy to look it up)... I dont like these, I bootied them, on mt Whitney last summer, they were pretty well used when I found them, and I preferentially clip the whole bootied runner into bolts, beacuse I dont care about dinging the hell out of them. The gates suck, they are sticky, stiff and annoying. No worse than the hotwires though, and if I was not going for the fancy heliums and chimeras or another top end biner these would be ok.

BD positrons, (heavy as all hell, 49 grams)... I hate these things. They are heavy. They clip ok, but at 20(!) grams more than the astro, I mean, the mass adds up fast, 12 biners = 240 grams, thats more than half a pound, it makes a difference.

Ovals... heavy, classic, annoying, and will always live on my harness in some purpose or another. They are better than the others for certain self rescue situations, and hold more gear. I keep my cordalettes on em, and my nuts, I wish there was a brand that made key lock ovals (is there?)

top row ordered by preference, helium, chimera, astro, hotwire, camp and mad rock woregates, crappy BD bent and straight gates, bottom row is not sorted, FS mini, nuetrino, not pictured, CAMP nano

chimera vs astro, gate side

chimera vs astro, side view

sherb · · Loveland, Ohio & Wheat Ridg... · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 0

Wow nice "for the heck of it" review. Off the top of my head, it seems the only keylock ovals I've found are locking ovals. I like ovals for symmetry like on a pulley, and I do feel very 1970s with them.
I have read the WC heliums are the best. I have the astros and yeah, small opening.
Oddly enough I really like solid gate BD positrons you find crappy, for myself I prefer the solid gate over wire gates. I like the hollow feel & popback sound, and fewer holes to get my finger stuck in.

Dylan Pike · · SLC, UT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 5

DMM and grandwall make keylock non locking carabiners. Also mammut, mad rock, camp, Kong, rock Exotica and others.

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 0

Are you a cyclist?

diepj · · PDX · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

Camp makes a nice key lock oval. Great for racking nuts IMO. Don't know the weight bit they seem a tad lighter than most old school ovals but a little heavier than your typical light wire gate.

JK- · · SLC · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 13

Non-locking keylock ovals: Camp, mad-rock, climb-x (please don't), kong, cypher, DMM, Mammut, Petzl, Rock Exotica, CMC, Climb Tech (Austin), Climbing Technology (Italy), just off of the top of my head... My personal favorite of the above being the DMM, although I'm not racking nuts on one... For racking I would bet that one of the others is probably more compact/lighter.

rafael · · Berkeley, CA · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 30

I like having ovals that are big enough for more than just racking nuts, so I can repurpose them if needed, DMM does make great gear, I'll prob get a couple of their ovals

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:Are you a cyclist?
no, not sure what about my post screams cyclist either
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 0

Obsession over weight.

Jason Todd · · Cody, WY · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 673

I like my "regular every day" sport clipping draws with Positrons on the hanger end and Hotwires on the rope end. They are hooked up with Vari-Widths, just to make sure max training weight is achieved.

I like the "tighter" gate action of the Hotwires. You can actually hear them snap shut which gives a minor psychological boost that they performing to spec. I've had Camp wires (both photons and nanos) that didn't properly close due to bent wires.

As for the Positrons, sure they might weigh a bit more, but they are durable. Very durable, like the Hotwires and vari-widths. Durability and longevity are more important to me than weight.

When weight is a concern, which is really only on backcountry trips. I take alpine draws with Photons/Nanos.

Fernando Cal · · Long Beach, CA · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:Are you a cyclist?
Lol!

Good review, interesting on the weight. Might be a noob question, but what are the advantages of separating biners on alpine draws to a rope biner and a gear biner? During a fall, the biner will be in contact with soft good (rope/cam sling), so why have different biners? I can see when climbing sport routes and you take a fall, the hangar can damage the biner but on cams? Maybe on nuts or wires i can see some fraying...or am i gonna die?
rafael · · Berkeley, CA · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 30
Fernando Cal wrote: Are you a cyclist? Lol! Good review, interesting on the weight. Might be a noob question, but what are the advantages of separating biners on alpine draws to a rope biner and a gear biner? During a fall, the biner will be in contact with soft good (rope/cam sling), so why have different biners? I can see when climbing sport routes and you take a fall, the hangar can damage the biner but on cams? Maybe on nuts or wires i can see some fraying...or am i gonna die?

There are often pitons on trad routes, and bolts too, depends on the area. If I expect bolts/pins on a route, I'll often rack a couple quickdraws, but yesterday I instantly regretted not clipping and extending an alpine draw on a pin when the ropedrag got bad...

The wear on rope is really secondary, I have two sizes of biners on my runners (alpine draws), and I put the smaller one on the gear side, its a common practice. When I go into the actual alpine, in order to save weight, I dont take as many alpine draws as I would on a regular trad route thats close to my limit.

rafael · · Berkeley, CA · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 30
Jason Todd wrote: When weight is a concern, which is really only on backcountry trips. I take alpine draws with Photons/Nanos.

I cant stand those things on runners, I tried it and they just dont hold the stupid slings down enough, and everything gets all cluserf*d. Nothing better than untangling a sling mess at 14,000 feet at a cruz move bleh. I'd rather lug positrons up than deal with any problems on the route, since being up and back down fast is the best way to stay safe in the alpine.

As far as the hotwires go, mine are 7 years old and the action on the gate is pretty weak now, the positrons are older, but in better shape haha

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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