Climbing carabiners

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Choosing your climbing carabiners

With so many different types, shapes and locking systems, choosing the right climbing carabiners can be a complex task. To help you make an informed decision, here's a guide to finding your faithful climbing companions.

Safety or progression carabiners

There are two distinct categories of carabiner. First, there are progression carabiners, which are used during ascent. They are found on quickdraws and belayers, and play a crucial role in restraining you in the event of a fall. Then there are safety carabiners, which feature a locking system at the finger to ensure secure closure. These models are used in situations such as via ferrata, belays, belaying and abseiling.

When it comes to progression carabiners, you can choose between two types of closure. The first is the classic closure, also known as the tube or solid-finger closure. This type of closure is often combined with a Keylock system, which makes it easier to detach the carabiner from belay points, for example. The second type is the wire closure, which is renowned for its increased strength while offering lightness to climbers keen on long routes and mountaineering.

Which carabiner shape?

To make it easier for you to choose from the wide variety of options available, it's essential to determine the form of carabiner you're looking for before making your selection.

Progression carabiners:
  • Straight-finger carabiner: This one is designed for easy use when hooking onto progression points along your route.

  • Angled finger carabiner: This model is recommended for easy clipping of your rope.

Safety carabiners:
  • D-shaped carabiner: Provides a good finger opening and optimum strength. This type of carabiner is often chosen for belay devices.

  • HMS carabiner (pear-shaped): "HMS" stands for "Half Middle Snap". This carabiner is wider at the top and slightly flattened, giving it a large opening that can accommodate capstan or half-capstan knots, or even two strands of rope.

  • Symmetrical carabiner: The oval shape of this model is almost perfect, with the finger parallel to the opposite side of the body. It's a strong carabiner that, unlike an HMS carabiner, can easily be turned around in the anchor point if necessary.

  • K-type carabiner: This model is specifically designed for via ferrata climbing. It can be fitted with a release system activated by the palm of the hand, while the index finger releases it from the anchor point, or it can feature a sliding ring. For your via ferrata safety, it's essential to use specific carabiners.

Each safety carabiner is also equipped with a locking system, which varies from model to model.

Which locking system?

To ensure a perfect fit between the finger and the body of the carabiner, safety models are equipped with different locking systems adapted to different situations. Here are your options when choosing your climbing carabiners:
  • Screw system: This is the most common and versatile locking system. It's easy to operate, even with gloves, and can be fitted with a colored indicator to help you check that your carabiner is properly closed.

  • Safety ring system: This system uses a ring with one notch for opening and one for closing, although it has become less common.

  • Automatic locking system: Requires 2 or 3 movements to open the locking mechanism. Sometimes you even need to press a button to trigger opening. This model may be more difficult to handle, but it offers automatic ring closure and maximum safety, especially when used with children, who will not be able to open it by accident, even when playing with the carabiner.

All locking systems offer maximum safety, provided you remember to activate them. It's also good to know that some brands offer other finger-locking technologies. To make your choice, simply opt for the one that seems easiest to use, and don't forget to test the one-handed operation!

When choosing your climbing carabiners, make sure that the models you are considering comply with standard 12275. This standard specifies that carabiners must be able to withstand a load of 2 tons (20 kN) in the long axis when the finger is closed, and 7 kN in the short axis (between the finger and the opposite part of the body). For carabiners used in via ferrata, resistance is increased to 25 kN. Checking compliance with safety standards is essential to guarantee the strength and reliability of your carabiners when climbing.
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