Just like with most types of rock climbing gear, the range of rock climbing carabiners available out there can be overwhelming. When considering which carabiner to buy you have to pay attention to what type of rock climbing you’ll be doing, what type of carabiner opening you’re most comfortable with, how much you’re willing to spend, how much weight you want to carry up the rock, and more. This guide will walk you through all of those specifications — and show you some of the best carabiners available for different types of climbing and climbers.
If you don't have time for the details, here are our picks for the best rated carabiners:
- 1Petzl Attache 3D - Best Pear
- 2Black Diamond Rocklock
- 3Black Diamond Magnetron Gridlock - Most High Tech
- 4Camp Nano 22 - Most Lightweight
- 5Petzl Djinn - Best for Rope Clipping
- 6Petzl Oxan Oval - Best Oval
- 7Wild Country Helium - Best Wiregate
- 8Mad Rock Ultra Light - Budget Wiregate
- 9Mad Rock Ultra Tech Screw Gate - Budget Screw-Locking
- 10Camp Photon Wiregate - Best for Ice Climbing
Table of Contents
- Things to Consider When Buying Carabiners
- 10 Best Carabiner on the Market Review
- 1. Petzl Attache 3D - Best Pear
- 2. Black Diamond Rocklock
- 3. Black Diamond Magnetron Gridlock - Most High Tech
- 4. Camp Nano 22 - Most Lightweight
- 5. Petzl Djinn - Best for Rope Clipping
- 6. Petzl Oxan Oval - Best Oval
- 7. Wild Country Helium - Best Wiregate
- 8. Mad Rock Ultra Light - Budget Wiregate
- 9. Mad Rock Ultra Tech Screw Gate - Budget Screw-Locking
- 10. Camp Photon Wiregate - Best for Ice Climbing
Things to Consider When Buying Carabiners
There are two major defining categories for carabiners — shape and gate type. The different shapes will hold and shift weight in different ways and impact how secure you feel on your climb. And different gate types will feel different when you’re clipping which — any climber will tell you — can be a pretty crucial moment up on the wall. Paying attention to the different types of shape and gate is important while picking which carabiner to purchase.
Asymmetric D Shape
The asymmetric D carabiner shape is now the most popular shape for rock climbing carabiners. Most of the carabiners on the market will be asymmetric D shaped and most of the carabiners you see out at the crag will also be this shape. Asymmetric D carabiners are slightly smaller at one end which reduces the weight of your rack — but also reduces the amount of space you have inside your carabiner and how much gear you can clip onto it. However, asymmetric D carabiners also tend to have larger gate openings than regular D shaped carabiners. At the end of the day, asymmetric D shaped carabiners are more expensive than some other styles — but they’re strong and light.
The pear carabiner shape has a wide, symmetrical top and the largest gate opening of the different carabiner shapes. These carabiners were specifically designed for belaying and rappelling — but they can be used for just about anything else you might need a carabiner for as well. The much wider top and narrower bottom mean that gear will tend to shift from one side to the other rather abruptly. Pear shape carabiners are also not quite as strong as carabiners with an asymmetric D shape or a D shape — but they tend to be more expensive and heavier.
The D shape carabiner is great for holding gear weight exactly where you want it. The shape of the carabiner means that all gear is shifted to the side of the carabiner without the gate — the stronger side. Most climbers also argue that D shape carabiners are the strongest shaped carabiner, but they do have smaller gate openings than asymmetric D shape carabiners. They’re also heavier than the asymmetric D shape carabiner and more expensive than some of the other designs.
As the original carabiner shape, the oval carabiner shape is still effective and has some pros — but it’s just not as strong as some of the designs that came after it. The uniform shape of the carabiner means you won’t have any abrupt gear shifting exactly when you don’t need it. Oval shape carabiners also have more internal room for gear, even though they have a smaller gate opening. They are also heavier than some of the other carabiner shape designs as well.
Carabiner Gate Type
Gate opening is the other important factor to consider when picking out rock climbing carabiners. You don’t need all of your carabiners to have the same type of gate opening — and some gate openings are good for certain things so it’s good to have a variety for different purposes. Almost all gate types are spring loaded meaning they’ll open easily with a little pressure and then automatically snap closed again on their own.
Straight Gate Carabiners
Straight gate carabiners are exactly what they sound like — the gate is straight from where it pivots on the carabiner to where it closes. Straight gate carabiners are arguably the most common type of gate opening — and for good reason. They’re durable, strong, and easy to use. This is the type of gate opening you’ll find on most quickdraws. They’re also great for clipping gear — a lot of climbers use straight gate carabiners to rack gear. The only main downside to straight gate carabiners is that they’re heavier than wiregate carabiners.
Bent Gate Carabiners
Bent gate carabiners are similar to straight gate carabiners with a slight bend in the gate. The curve in the gate makes it a little easier to clip onto climbing rope — sit your finger snugly in the middle of the curve of the gate to make sure your finger doesn’t slip and rope slides along the curve. You’ll often see quickdraws with a straight gate carabiner on one end and a bent gate carabiner on the other — the bent gate carabiner is meant to be used as the rope side of the quick draw. Again, the only main downside of a bent gate carabiner is that a whole rack of them can be significantly heavier than a wiregate carabiner would be.
Wiregate carabiners close with a stainless steel loop rather than a solid gate. This makes them significantly lighter and — contrary to popular belief — they haven’t proven to be significantly less strong than carabiners with solid gates. Wiregate carabiners tend to have larger gate openings. They also are far less likely to freeze shut — if you’re considering ice climbing or winter climbing you should definitely consider wiregate carabiners.
Locking Gate Carabiners
Locking gate carabiners are typically straight gate carabiners that include a locking mechanism — either auto-locking or screw-locking. While locking gate carabiners won’t work for quickdraws or any other situation where you need to clip quickly, locking gate carabiners are a must for belaying and rappelling. They’re also preferable at key anchor points. They simply provide that much more protection than a carabiner that doesn’t lock. However, the locking mechanism adds a significant amount of weight to each locking gate carabiner — keep this in mind when considering how much weight you want to be carrying up the wall.
10 Best Carabiner on the Market Review
The differences between rock climbing carabiners go beyond just gate style and carabiner shape — you also have to consider brand, weight, purpose, and preferences. And the options are abundant. Here’s a guide on the pros and cons of the top rock climbing carabiners.
1. Petzl Attache 3D - Best Pear
The Petzl Attache 3D is a pear shape carabiner with a screw-locking gate. It’s best used for belaying but it’s just as effective for setting anchors and hauling gear. The straight gate carabiner has a 24 mm gate opening and weighs in at 56 grams. According to the REI website, “Thanks to its compact shape and screw-lock locking system, the Petzl Attache 3D Screw-Lock Carabiner offers the versatility needed for anchoring, tying in and belaying on multipitch climbs.”
This carabiner was designed specifically with climbing in mind — the surfaces that bear rope were designed to enhance rope positioning and movement without adding excess weight. There’s also a red dot feature on the gate lock that will make it easy to determine whether the carabiner is locked or unlocked. Overall, this carabiner is lightweight and has a large gate opening. Some climbers have reported that the locking mechanism has a tendency to freeze closed — this is simply prevented by ensuring you don’t overtighten the carabiner when temperatures get chilly.
2. Black Diamond Rocklock
The Black Diamond Rocklock with a screw-locking gate closure is best for belaying, setting anchors, and securing gear. According to Amazon, the Black Diamond Rocklock is one-hand operable — but climbers have found that this certainly depends on the size of the climber hand. At 89 grams, this is one of the heavier carabiner options — so if you and your hand are on the smaller side of the spectrum you might have a harder time making this ‘biner one-hand operable than other climbers.
The screw-locking gate design makes this carabiner that much more secure — but also means you won’t find these carabiners on the ends of quick draws, they are significantly heavier than other types of carabiners, and they’re not ideal for any situation where you need a quick clip. However, the Black Diamond Rocklock is significantly less expensive than the Petzl Attache 3D — with almost all of the same features and a slightly smaller gate opening. However, again, the Black Diamond Rocklock is significantly heavier than some of the other options — if you know you’re going somewhere that lightweight gear is key, this might not be the best carabiner for your needs.
3. Black Diamond Magnetron Gridlock - Most High Tech
One look at the Black Diamond Magnetron Gridlock will tell you it’s a special type of carabiner. This ‘biner was designed by Black Diamond to be the most secure belay carabiner on the market. The dual magnet locking gate is unlike anything else out there. Both magnetic arms have to be individually depressed before you can open the carabiner so there’s no possibility for accidental openings — and you can still open it with one hand. The Gridlock aspect of the ‘biner will keep the device properly oriented so there’s no chance of cross loading.
Naturally, these high tech carabiners do come with a higher price tag than most any other carabiner — but you really only need one or two of these seeing as you can’t exactly build a pricey rack out of carabiners that are only good for belaying and rappelling. That’s the other main con to these carabiners — no double duty with these ‘biners. The last thing you want when you’re up on the wall working to clip in is a complicated dual magnet locking system getting in your way. That being said, if you’re looking for the absolute safest carabiner to belay off of, the Magnetron should certainly be in the running.
4. Camp Nano 22 - Most Lightweight
If you’re all about carrying as little weight up the wall with you as possible, the Camp Nano 22 is definitely the carabiner for you. Weighing in at just 22 grams, this ‘biner is as light as it gets without compromising any safety — it still has a weight rating comparable to much heavier carabiner models. The asymmetric D shape of this carabiner takes some weight off from what would usually be a wider lower half and the wiregate closure has the same effect — every lightweight feature possible all in one carabiner. And the Camp Nano 22 comes in 8 different colors — color coded rack, anyone?
Some climbers have also found that the Camp Nano 22 isn’t quite as easy to use as some other more standard weight carabiners — the nose of this design has been known to snag on ropes, harnesses, and gear. It’s also slightly smaller than some other carabiner models — climbers with larger hands might have a problem with handling.
5. Petzl Djinn - Best for Rope Clipping
You’ll likely often find Petzl Djinn Bent Gate carabiners on the rope end of quickdraws — because they’re one of the best carabiners you can find for clipping into rope. The asymmetric D shape is easy to handle and the 27 mm gate opening is one of the largest openings you’ll find on rock climbing carabiners. This makes the Petzl Djinn great for lead climbing — especially beginner lead climbers as the large gate opening and easy handling make clipping into the rope a breeze.
Since the Petzl Djinn doesn’t have a locking mechanism, they are also super lightweight at only 45 grams compared to the Petzl Attache’s 56 and the Black Diamond Rocklock’s 89. If the bent gate opening isn’t your preference, the Petzl Djinn is also available with a straight gate opening. Of course, one of the major perks of these carabiners is also one of its downsides — this carabiner doesn’t lock. That makes it more lightweight and easier to clip when you need to do so quickly, but they’re also that much less secure than carabiners that have locking capabilities.
6. Petzl Oxan Oval - Best Oval
The oval shape carabiner was the original design for rock climbing ‘biners — and it’s as strong today as it was then. If oval shape carabiners are your preference, the Petzl Oxan Oval is the best one available on the market today. It maintains the strength of the original oval shape — and bolster it with high strength steel. The symmetrical oval shape of this ‘biner will limit load shifting helping you and your belayer feel as secure as possible on your way up the wall. The Petzl Oxan Oval also comes with two different locking style. If you prefer to screw the lock of your carabiner closed yourself for peace of mind, there’s a screw locking gate available. More interested in the automatic, easy to use triact locking gate? The Petzl Oxan Oval comes with that too.
These aren’t the lightest carabiners out there — depending on which locking mechanism you prefer you’re looking at roughly 68 grams of weight per carabiner. They’re also relatively pricey — so maybe don’t stack your rack with these. Additionally, the 23 mm gate opening is on the smaller side. If you know you’re a rather frantic clipper and you prefer a larger gate opening for a target maybe opt for the Petzl Djinn.
7. Wild Country Helium - Best Wiregate
Wiregate carabiners are far more lightweight than any straight gate or bent gate carabiner you can find. But that’s not the only great thing about the Wild Country Helium. With a 27 mm gate opening it’s super easy to clip and — at only 33 grams — you can drag a whole rack of these with you up the side of the wall. The wide gate opening also means it’s great for a range of other purposes like gear storage and anchoring. The asymmetric D shape keeps the rope where you want it to while taking that much more weight off of your ascend.
Looking to color code your rack? The Wild Country Helium comes in five different colors so it’s perfect for just that. So what’s the downside? The price tag is certainly a major drawback, it is excessively expensive when it comes to rack-building carabiners. The Wild Country Helium also isn’t quite as light as a lot of other wiregate ‘biners.
8. Mad Rock Ultra Light - Budget Wiregate
If the price tag on the Wild Country Helium shocked you, the Mad Rock Ultra Light is the carabiner for you. With a lot of the same features as the Wild Country Helium, you’d probably be surprised to find that their price per carabiner — perfect for building a rack. Of course, there are a few trade-offs if you’re going for the budget option.
The Mad Rock Ultra Light is still designed with an asymmetric D shape to limit load shifting and take off extra weight. In fact, the Ultra Light is even a little lighter than the Wild Country Helium. However, you are sacrificing the large gate opening by going with the budget option — the Mad Rock Ultra Light only as a 22 mm gate opening. Additionally, it only comes in two colors as opposed to the Wild Country Helium’s five — if color-coded racks are your thing, you might want to opt for the Helium.
9. Mad Rock Ultra Tech Screw Gate - Budget Screw-Locking
Not really sure about all these options? Don’t really have a strong preference? Looking to build a beginner rack without breaking the bank? The Mad Rock Ultra Tech Screw Gate is the most versatile, high-quality carabiner out there under $10.
This carabiner can really be used for all sorts of things. Leave the gate unlocked for quick clips or lock it in for belaying or rappelling. While it’s not one of the more lightweight options, it won’t drag you down the wall either at an average, middle-of-the-road weight of 58 grams. One significant downside to this ‘biner is the gate opening. At only 18 mm it’s the smallest gate opening of all the carabiners on this list — and it’s one of the smaller gate openings on the market at all. It’s also only available in this one color — gray with a black gate. If you’re interested in color coding or even just distinguishing your gear from your neighbor climber with flashier colors, this ‘biner is not the best option for you.
10. Camp Photon Wiregate - Best for Ice Climbing
The Camp Photon Wiregate carabiner is the ‘biner for you if you’re considering getting into ice climbing or just cold weather climbing in general for one good reason — it’s easy to use with gloves. The Camp Photon Wiregate is an asymmetric D shape carabiner with an exposed nose wiregate closure that measures out at 26 mm. All of these features mean this ‘biner is easy to use if you’re wearing gloves to protect against the elements — or if you just happen to have larger hands.
At 26 mm, the Camp Photon Wiregate has one of the larger gate openings out of all the carabiners on this list. It also is far from tipping the scales at only 30 mm. On top of that, it’s relatively inexpensive perfect for building an ice climbing rack. The one major downside of this ‘biner is the exposed nose. Of all the carabiners on this list, this is the only one with an exposed nose — because they’re known to snag. If snagging is a major pet peeve for you, keep that in mind before purchasing a whole rack of these ‘biners.
As with most rock climbing gear, there is an abundance of rock climbing carabiners on the market — which can get overwhelming. Depending on your specific preferences and climbing needs, any one of the ‘biners on this list is guaranteed to get you up the wall as quickly, securely, and smoothly as possible. Keep the different options in mind when purchasing in order to ensure you get the best rock climbing carabiner for your needs.