Carabiners come in all shapes and sizes, and every one of them has a unique purpose. So many climbing companies produce them, and it can be hard to tell the difference from one brand's pear biner to the next. On the other hand, many companies are throwing all kinds of innovative ideas at the wall. We decided to take a survey of the current state of carabiner innovations, and found the 24 you see below. Some of them are mild improvements on existing technologies. Some of them are proven designs that have stuck around. A few of them are so different that they don't even look like carabiners (see: Kong Frog). We've compiled our findings without judgement, and included the intended benefits each provides.
Note: Many of these features are available on different carabiners, with different locking mechanisms, and even by different brands. These just happen to be the random ones we decided to showcase.
Anti-Cross Loading Innovations
Innovation: Intended as a belay biner, the thick protrusion extending from the top of the spine will prevent most assisted-braking belay devices from sliding out of alignment and crossloading the carabiner. The attachment point of the belay device won't fit over the Rhino's "horn."
Link: DMM Rhino
DMM Belay Master 2
Innovation: A rotating nylon clip swivels from the spine and closes over the gate, locking it shut, and securing the carabiner in the proper orientation for belaying. As an added safety measure, the nylon clip can only be closed when the screw-gate is in the locked position, and it also covers the screw-gate mechanism to prevent anything from unscrewing it.
Link: DMM Belay Master 2
Black Diamond Gridlock
Innovation: An arm extends off the bottom of the gate to hold the carabiner in proper orientation when belaying and prevents crossloading. The gate must be opened twice to attach or detach anything in the bottom compartment, providing an extra level of security.
Link: Black Diamond Gridlock
Innovation: A two-pronged approach against cross-loading. The gatekeeper has both a second gate to secure it in the proper orientation on your harness, and a widened spine to prevent assisted-braking belay devices from sliding out of place.
Link: Metolius Gatekeeper
Innovation: The wiregate twists into nose of this carabiner, functioning like a wiregate with the snag-free benefits of a keylock nose carabiner. Link: DMM Shield
Black Diamond Hoodwire
Innovation: A stainless steel hood surrounds the gate closure of this carabiner, allowing it to function like a wiregate with the snag-free benefits of a keylock nose carabiner.
Link: Black Diamond Hoodwire
Omega Pacific Lava Infinity Wiregate
Innovation: Features a gate that’s pinched in the middle to make it less likely to open accidentally when dragging across rock, less likely to get tangled on your harness, and easy to clip.
Link: Omega Pacific Lava Infinity Wiregate
Omega Pacific Jake Keylock Quik-Lok
Innovation: The gate on this carabiner opens at an angle providing a larger opening.
Link: Omega Pacific Jake Keylock Quik-Lok
Petzl Ange L
Innovation: A unique gate design splits the difference between wire and solid gates. The single pin-style gate provides for light weight and a snag free nose. The narrow gate is somewhat shielded from rubbing against the rock.
Link: Petzl Ange L
Rock Exotica Bi-Wire
Innovation: A twin wire-gate design provides extra security (think opposite and opposed by default), while remaining easier to clip than a traditional locking biner.
Link: Rock Exotica Bi-Wire
Grivel Plume K3G
Innovation: A twin wire-gate design provides extra security (think opposite and opposed by default), while remaining easier to clip than a traditional locking biner. The wiregates cross through each other to facilitate easy clipping.
Link: Grivel Plume K3G
Grivel Mega K6G
Innovation: A twin straight-gate design provides extra security (think opposite and opposed by default), while remaining easier to clip than a traditional locking biner.
Link: Grivel Mega K6G
Grivel Sigma K8G
Innovation: The twin-gate system in this biner employs one straight-gate and one wiregate to provide extra security (think opposite and opposed by default), while remaining easier to clip than a traditional locking biner. As you can see, Grivel makes their twin-gate carabiners in any combination of straight and wiregate you desire.
Link: Grivel Sigma K8G
Black Diamond Magnetron Rocklock
Innovation: An auto-locking gate system that employs the use of magnets. When in the closed position, two magnetic pins pull themselves into a a steel plate on the nose, locking the carabiner. This creates a locker that's secure, but also easy to operate with one hand.
Link: Black Diamond Magnetron Rocklock
Edelrid Strike Slider
Innovation: An auto-locking gate system that employs a small slider on the outside of the gate to open. This creates a locking carabiner that's secure, but also easy to operate with one finger.
Link: Edelrid Strike Slider
Rock Exotica RockO Orca
Innovation: This auto-locking carabiner is interesting for it's unlocking method. Most brands produce twist-lock gates. The Orca is unique because the twist lock can be set to stay in the unlocked position, keeping it ready to go without any difficult one-handed twisting.
Link: Rock Exotica RockO Orca
Innovation: Features a pulley that's integrated into the rope-side of the carabiner. This can be used as the rope-side carabiner in a quickdraw to reduce rope drag on a wandery route, or it can be used as a standalone pulley for hauling systems.
Link: DMM Revolver
Edelrid 19 G
Innovation: While it does not feature any interesting new mechanical mechanisms, the Edelrid 19 G is notable because it's the lightest full-strength carabiner on the market at 19g. It maintains a major axis strength of 20kN, minor axis strength of 7kN, and open-gate strength of 7kN.
Link: Edelrid 19 G
Mad Rock Trigger Wire
Innovation: A spring loaded arm extends off the spine to hold it in the open position. When pressed, the gate will slide off the arm and pop closed. Used for stick-clipping or to make desperate clips a little easier.
Link: Mad Rock Trigger Wire
Innovation: An extra wiregate spur on the spine of the carabiner can be hooked with the rope, allowing for extra friction and control on rappels. Link: Petzl Freino
Stubai HMS 3D
Innovation: Unique 3D design allows the gate to open away from the spine, allowing for greater clearance. Also orients itself to keep the rope from running across the rock-face.
Link: Stubai HMS 3D
Kong Ergo Wire Double Gate
Innovation: Generally intended for via ferrata and adventure park use, this carabiner features an extra gate along the top. When loaded, the gate will lock into a position that prevents the primary gate from opening, providing an extra level of security.
Link: Kong Ergo Wire Double Gate
Innovation: This exotic looking “carabiner” is designed to be used on the bolt end of a quickdraw. When unlocked, pressing the opening against a bolt will trigger the locking mechanism, providing a secure attachment to the wall. It also facilitates long-range clips.
Link: Kong Frog
Bonus: Stubai Genius (No Longer in Production)
Innovation: The Stubai Genius provided for simple clipping, somewhat similar in idea to the Kong Frog or Mad Rock Trigger Wire. A second gate along the top of the carabiner holds the gate open until pressed, allowing the gate to spring shut. A unique shape at the bottom end secures webbing in place. This can be used on both ends of the quickdraw, as pulling the rope into place will also activate the gate. See the video for a demonstration.
Are there any truly unique carabiners we missed? Do you have an idea for a unique design that should exist? Tell us in the comments.