Like most climbing equipment, a carabiner is also a safety equipment that is used to connect other gear, like harnesses and ropes to each other. They also help carry other gear in situations where backpacks prove to be too bulky. Made from aluminium alloy, carabiners are designed to hold more than 2000 kilograms of weight, so you don’t ever have to worry if they will be able to hold you or not!
In this article, we simplify the technicalities of carabiners, all the different types they come in, their usage and weight capacities. If you are looking to buy carabiners, the following information could be useful in deciding the kind of carabiners you want to invest in!
Different Types of Carabiners and Their Usage
There are various carabiners available in the market primarily depending on their shape and gate type.
Based on Shape
Oval Shape: These are the original style carabiners and are versatile and affordable. However, they are not as strong as the other variants and are also heavier. In order to limit load shifting, they have smooth and uniform top/bottom curves. This type is ideal and commonly used for aid climbing as they centre the loads at their curve. They also have higher gear holding capacity and offer increased symmetry which allows them to be used for carabiner-brake rappels.
D Shape: These carabiners are best suited for most kinds of climbing. They hold loads towards the stronger, non-gated side and off the centre. They are the strongest amongst all shape variants and also have a larger gate opening compared to the oval carabiner. They are primarily used for connecting devices and as an attachment to the anchor.
Pear Shape: These are designed to suit belaying and rappelling. They have a large gate opening and are also more heavy and expensive compared to other shapes. However, they are not the strongest variant available. The large opening allows easy clipping of gear, knots and ropes. They are suitable for connecting multiple items.
Asymmetric D: Also known as offset D carabiners, these are the most popular carabiners out in the climbing industry. They are similar to D shaped carabiner but are slightly smaller on one end to further decrease the weight. Their gate openings are bigger than regular D carabiners which makes clipping easier but do not have as much inside space as the others. These are more expensive than the other shaped variants.
Based on Gate Opening
Straight Gate Carabiners: This variety is easy to use, more durable and also quite strong. The opening is straight from end to end and opens with a push and auto locks when released. They are extremely common and can be used for a range of purposes. These can be seen on quickdraws and are often used for racking gear.
Bent Gate: These carabiners have concave gates which makes it easy to clip on ropes. Bent gate carabiners are usually reserved for the rope end of quickdraws. They are typically asymmetric, durable and strong.
Wiregate: These carabiners have a gate made from a loop of stainless steel. This reduces the overall weight, thus making them lighter than bent and straight gate carabiners. Wiregate carabiners have large openings and are also less likely to freeze as compared to the other variants. While they may not appear as strong as the others, most of them are.
Locking Gate Carabiners: These carabiners have gates that can be locked for added security against accidental openings of the gate. They have a manual or auto lock system. The manual ones require the user to screw the sleeve onto the gate whereas the auto lock variant locks automatically when the gate is shut. Although heavier than other variants, the locking gate carabiners are the only choice available to use with a belay or rappel device.
Parts of a Carabiner
There are four basic parts to a carabiner.
Gate: This is the component of the carabiner that opens and closes.
Spine: This is the longer end of the carabiner that is opposite to the gate.
Nose: This is the part of the carabiner where the gate shuts close.
Basket: This is the shorted end of the carabiner that has a prominent bend and the part where rope or gear will sit when clipped to the carabiner.
Carabiner Strengths and Weight Capacities
Carabiner strengths are rated in three different orientations.
Major Axis: This is the strongest orientation on the carabiner and is also the manner in which they are designed to be loaded.
All carabiners except for ovals have a strength capacity of 2000 kgf (kilogram-force) on the major axis. Oval shaped carabiners have a strength capacity of 1800 kgf.
Open Gate: There are multiple reasons for why a carabiner gate could open slightly. It could happen during a fall due to the vibration or when lying against a rock due to movement across an uneven surface. An open gate could also occur from a weak gate closure as a result of worn out spring or wire.
D and Asymmetric D carabiners have a strength capacity of 700 kgf with an open gate. Pear shaped carabiners and oval carabiners have a strength capacity of 600 kgf and 500 kgf respectively.
Minor Axis: Carabiners are not designed to be cross-loaded or loaded on the minor axis. However, a carabiner could unintentionally rotate, especially during belay.
All carabiner shapes have a strength capacity of 700 kgf on the minor axis.
How to Clean, Maintain and Store your Carabiners
- Soak and scrub the carabiner with a toothbrush in warm water with mild soap. Ensure that you scrub at the gate, nose and springs.
- Blow dry the carabiner with a hair dryer (with heat off) to remove any particles or dust. You can also dry the carabiner in open air after ensuring it’s clean.
- Once the carabiner is dry, lubricate the gate, lock and springs with a mild room temperature lube. Wipe off any excess lube after application.
- DO NOT use oil based degreasers or graphite based lubes.
- Store the carabiner away from corrosive materials in a dry, airy space which is away from direct sunlight.
- Inspect your carabiners regularly to ensure they are in good shape and replace them if required.
That’s all about climbing carabiners and we hope the above information helps you choose your carabiners for your next expedition! Should you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to our team.