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Marking Carabiners

Original Post
Eric K · · Washington · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 45

I work for a camp guiding climbing days. We have a policy to replace our carabiners after 7 years regardless of condition. The problem is I have no way of know the age of our current stock. For the future I am looking for a way to mark the new carabiners so that we can quickly identify the age. My best idea so far is to use a different colored nail polish each year to mark that years new stock. What have you done to mark your biners that lasts 7 years?


cragmantoo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 175

I have 20 year old biners that I marked with tape and it is still there

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

I would imagine very few climbers worry about the age of a carabiner.  They don't degrade over time, to the best of my knowledge.

amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 20

Did you consider a metal engraver?

CornCob · · Sandy, UT · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 20

Could you just go off the manufacturer's batch stamp on the carabiner? I guess I'm not sure if all manufacturers have a year code in their stamps, but maybe?

Phil Hofmeyer · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

Cross Chess Torque Seal stays on forever. It works very well. Just change the dot color for each year you get new gear.

coldfinger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 55

One way to do this is to buy in lots of identical: so for example I buy all the niners and 60cm slings for trad draws at once, they are all the same brand and model and I buy all my quick draws at once.  Just note when you bought what.  Makes keeping my slings and anchor gear current super easy.

You can also go by the batch dates marked on many carabiners by the manufacturer.  As mentioned above.  DMM is going with RFID marking which might be the future for industrial PPE type gear.  The big advantage here is whatever marking you do will be consistent as it is for ownership only.

Go by color/year if you are mixing and matching manufacturers and/or types.

As for tape.....  I have noticed that with bolts and sometimes belay biners the tape can make it a lot easier for the biner to get caught up in a cross loading position.  Plus they tend to need to be replaced more often.  And then there is the ever present litter of marking tape found at many popular crags.

I have switched to paint marking pens for carabiners for the reasons above.  Protection still gets tape.

Ryan Hill · · Oakland, CA · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 30

Nail polish is good for at least 5 years based on what my rack currently looks like.  It does get worn off though, so if these are high use it might be hard to make it a full seven years with just one coat of nail polish.  

I've stepped away from marking with tape as it seems wasteful and there is the possibility of littering. It also tends to get ragged after a few years if not done well.  

AndrewArroz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

Send all your old biners to me and then mark current ones with locktite. It'll last 7 years.

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,348

A metal engraver would probably be the best option. However, blanketly replacing carabiners after seven years regardless of condition and use is one of those extremely pointless policies that appear to serve some hyper-safe practice but in reality only serves to waste money. I recall a gym I visited once that told me they replace all lead ropes after 50 falls or "takes" regardless of condition and they required the climbers to annotate how many falls they took that session. Unsurprisingly, the gym was located in a state that had no outdoor climbing.

I’d recommend sending an email to the manufacturers of said carabiners, who in turn will tell you that replacing biners automatically after seven years is not their official policy, and giving that e-mail to your director of whatever. Otherwise, metal engraver should do the trick. Also, a fun fact, most carabiners are made out of the exact same 7075 grade of aluminum as airplane frames which are kept in service for decades. 

James Sweeney · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 30
Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,745

I agree with 20kN that the 7 year rule is a waste of money and material. But the rational alternative requires a level of experience and judgement that is probably lacking.

Eric K · · Washington · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 45
20 kN wrote:

 blanketly replacing carabiners after seven years regardless of condition and use is one of those extremely pointless policies that appear to serve some hyper-safe practice but in reality only serves to waste money. 

This is VERY TRUE and I think this whole policy is a stupid idea. I just started working here so I can't just "change" a policy like this without going through the proper organizational channels which will take a bit of time. Hence my need to figure out how to work "within" common practice until I can move changes through. Most retired carabiners currently end up being used in the rafting program and I have plans for the current stock of retired gear so it will not be ending up in the waste bin.

Thanks for all the suggestions


Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5

Metal engraver will work best. That sounds like a policy intended for soft goods and inappropriately extended to carabiners. Probably worth looking into the origins of the policy and updating it, through proper channels of course. 

Politically Correct Ball · · From WA to AZ · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 5
Eric K wrote:

We have a policy to replace our carabiners after 7 years regardless of condition. 


NRobl · · Hyrum, UT · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 0

I would recommend carbon dating of all carabiners in question.

Politically Correct Ball · · From WA to AZ · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 5

They're making carabiners out of carbon now? Damn, maybe they should be retired after 7 years

Eric K · · Washington · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 45
Politically Correct Ball wrote:


My guess...the organization started climbing with Youth 30 years ago, with no policies or procedures or an official training protocol in place. It always worked because those running the show were very experienced. Luckly there has never been an incident, and about 15 years the entire organization began to get serious about risk management and putting practices in place that would protect the program for the future. In the past 10 years most of the old guard has moved on and although there has been a few people who have stuck around for many years with lots of climbing experience, most of the staff are here to work with students more than because they LOVE climbing. The staff has also been more transitory with most staff not lasting more than three years. Im new so again this is just my best guess, but I think the idea behind the 7 year rule was to insure that even if gear was NEVER inspected it would always last long enough before any kind of system failure and someone with very little climbing experience could ensure that all the gear was safe.

Like I said above I think the policy is a bit shortsighted, but like in most businesses, organizations, and politics, you need to show that you understand and can work within the "old" ways before anyone will let you introduce anything new.


Connor McCarthy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 85

DMM has a cool scanning system for keeping track of gear used in an institutional setting. worth checking out!

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470

You assess when to retire carabiners based on wear and tear, not on age. So...

Just examine them regularly and keep records of that.

Attempting to engrave them could damage them and defeat the whole purpose.

Politically Correct Ball · · From WA to AZ · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 5

Yeah, I'd just have a policy of inspecting gear before it goes out in the field. The only thing that can really go wrong with a biner is if it sticks open, and I've seen that happen with brand new biners (I'm looking at you, HB helium). 

Once in a while I check my cams for stickiness, too. Age has nothing to do with it.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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