Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Rope runs smoothly, good for top rope anchors, can use for carabiner brake rappel.
Cons: Heavy, bulky, gate gets hung up.
Best Uses: Top rope anchors, just nice to have a couple around.
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
The Black Diamond Oval is the classic carabiner design and Black Diamond has been making them for as long as anyone. The oval design is tried and true and it's just kinda cool to have a few of these old school carabiners lying around. However, there are only a few applications where they excel over other biners. There are many new, small, and lightweight biners that get the job done and greatly lower the weight and bulk of the rack. The oval shape reduces carabiner shift and allows the rope to run smoothly. The Omega Pacific Oval is stronger and a bit heavier but we don't see a huge difference. For the most part, an oval is an oval except for the wiregate Omega Pacific Doval, which is much lighter but also not as smooth for top rope anchors and not as appropriate for carabiner brake rappels. The Black Diamond Wiregate Oval is also a lighter alternative. Overall, we like to keep a few ovals around, but generally use lighter biners for most applications.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Black Diamond Oval carabiners score high for smoothness; when you run a rope though them there is less friction than with almost any other non-locking carabiner. This makes them excel for top rope anchors where two of them are used "opposite and opposed." They are also great if you are setting up a carabiner brake rappel (however, that type of rappel is used less and less considering there are other ways to get yourself down if you drop your belay device). Ovals are good for racking slings and pitons because the gear can slide around easily. Some aid climbers like them for their aiders and daisy chains because they don't cause "biner shift." That said, we have never found biner shift to be a big issue.
Ovals are incredibly heavy and bulky; over twice the weight of many wiregate biners. If you have a big trad rack or big wall rack, that weight adds up fast. While they are good for racking pitons and slings, with no key lock or recessed notch, nuts get hung up, especially if there are a lot of nuts. The BD oval is the second heaviest we tested at 64g, yet the weakest at only 18kn closed gate strength. (Omega Pacific oval is stronger at 22kn and just a tad heavier at 65g).
Ovals are great for top roping or any situation where smooth rope pull is needed. It's not a bad idea to buy four to six of them when you first start climbing because they are cheap and you can learn the old school "carabiner brake rappel."
This is one of the cheaper biners out there. That said, considering their limited applications, we would rather buy a cheaper wiregate biner if we were on a tight budget.
Black Diamond Oval wire - Wiregate version
— Chris McNamara and Chris Summit
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: September 1, 2010
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