Shopping for Economy Carabiners

Gear Guy sounds off on budget quickdraws, wire and bar gates, and everything else relevant to making a smart carabiner purchase.

By Rock and Ice | December 19th, 2012

I have slowly been buying gear, and now need quickdraws. I am a penny pincher, but when it comes to something that can save my life, I’m fine with paying a little more. Which carabiners are amazing, good quality, totally worth every penny? And should I get wire gates or regular? Straight or bent gate? I have used bent gates indoors, but not sure if there are pros to using them outside.—Ams32 via

Carabiners don’t care if you are a beginner climber or have been at it since the wine-sotted days of Harding, nor do they give a whit whether they are in a gym or on the Diamond. And an advantageous design is always advantageous. Take wire gates. Wire gates are lighter, easier to clip, and reduce the chance of accidental “whiplash” opening caused when a rope zips through, vibrating the carabiner like a tuning fork. Wire gates can also open wider. What more do you need to know? In the bent-versus-straight department, dropping a rope into a bent gate is like nestling a baby into Momma’s copious bosom, while dropping a rope into a straight gate is like plunking a baby into Papa’s awkward arms. Straight gates, however, because they are less apt to unclip themselves, should still be used to clip bolts, gear, anchors and any other critical juncture. Some wire gates are also bent and very likely can make clipping a rope even easier, but I’ve yet to notice the subtlety. It is good that you are willing to spend a few extra dollars when the alternative is death, but no quickdraw is going to stay the hand of the Reaper any more than another—they are all CE-certified and backed by each companies’ reputation. If any of them were dangerously flawed, Spencer’s “survival of the fittest” notion would come into play and weed out the sickly.

Short story: Just buy what you like. Practically every brand has a budget quickdraw, and wire gates and anodized to boot. These will run from $11 to $15 per draw, and you can usually buy them in six or 10 packs and get one for free. Next!

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