I’ve always figured that making do with less meant hardship. Less money meant less fun. Less time off meant more work.
I’ve always figured that making do with less meant hardship. Less money meant less fun. Less time off meant more work. But a new crop of hyperlight carabiners and draws has changed my tune. These wonders of modern engineering strip pounds off your rack and work as well as their chubby counterparts for the business of clipping the rope to pro.
The six types of carabiners and draws reviewed here have shed weight primarily by being about 25 percent smaller than regular carabiners. Surprisingly, they aren’t hard to clip. What they won’t do is rack a bunch of gear or hold multiple loops of rope like regular carabiners.
Note that all draw lengths are approximately 10 cm, and all are Dyneema. Prices are for non-andonized when available.
BLACK DIAMOND OZ: Price | $7.95/$18.95 for draw | Carabiner weight: 1 oz. | Quickdraw weight: 2.2 oz. | Major, minor, gate-open strength: 20 kN, 7 kN, 8 kN | www.bdel.com
The Oz feels almost like a standard carabiner. Its frame is among the easiest to grab, it holds the most gear and its wire gate has the best action. It also has the widest rope-bearing surface, making it the most rope-friendly of the carabiners, though just barely. I also liked the gently curved lower arm, which will take wide webbing and pins better than the other biners. A few outings with the Oz made me wonder if I’ll ever go back to larger, heavier quickdraws for anything other than big-wall racking.
DMM PHANTOM: Price | $12.25/$24.50 for draw | Carabiner weight: .9 oz. | Quickdraw weight: 2.1 oz. | Major, minor, gate-open strength: 23 kN, 7 kN, 9 kN | www.dmmclimbing.com
The Phantom is touted as the world’s lightest full-strength carabiner, and this beauty is a pleasure to use. Its refined finish says “trust me,” which is always a good thing with climbing gear. It does suffer from sticker shock—it’s the most expensive biner of the ultralight lot.
MAMMUT MOSES: Price | $7.95/$19.95 for draw | Carabiner weight: .9 oz | Quickdraw weight: 2.1 oz | Major, minor, gate-open strength: 23 kN, 8kN, 8 kN | www.mammutusa.com
Another great addition to the superlight category. A smooth gate action and a deep basket make the Moses one of the easier biners to clip. Its mid-range size is a good call for maximum utility and minimal weight.
CYPHER FIREFLY: Price | $8.45/$17.95 for draw | Carabiner weight: .9 oz. | Quickdraw weight: 2.2 oz. | Major, minor, gate-open strength: 24 kN, 7 kN, 9 kN | www.libertymountainclimbing.com
The Firefly has the largest gate clearance, making it the least likely to trap your fingers—a good pick for folks with meaty digits. It’s also the easiest draw to grab; I could just squeeze four fingers around its spine. A good pick for those hoping to shed weight but not wanting to skimp on function. The non-anodized Firefly biner, however, would not open under bodyweight, yet the anodized version would.
CAMP NANO 23: Price | $7.95/ $19.95 for draw | Carabiner weight: .8 oz. | Quickdraw weight: 1.8 oz. | Major, minor, gate-open strength: 20 kN, 7 kN, 7 kN | www.campusa.com
A complete Nano 23 draw weighs under two ounces— about half the weight of a standard quickdraw, and makes me wonder if carabiners and draws could get any lighter or smaller. If you are looking for the very lightest rig for onsighting and alpine climbing, this is it. Of the six ultralights reviewed here, the Nano 23 is the most diminutive: its smallish gate opening can trap a finger if you use the finger-follow-through clip method. This was the biner I was most likely to mis-clip, but after a few outings I got the hang of it just fine.
WILD COUNTRY XENON: Price | $6.95/ $13.90 for draw | Carabiner weight: 1 oz. | Quickdraw weight: 2.2 oz. | Major, minor, gate-open strength: 24 kN, 7 kN, 9 kN | www.wildcountry.co.uk
The Xenon looks sharp, works great and the draw price is a bargain. For size, weight and strength, it is close to the DMM Phantom, but costs a couple of bucks less. The tapered, bullet-like nose design can wiggle through tight spots better than the other biners, a nice touch for clipping tat messes, bashed-over pins and old-school bolt hangers with tiny clip holes.