Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Rope runs smoothly, good for top rope anchors, can use for carabiner break rappel
Cons: Heavy, bulky, gate gets hung up
Best Uses: Top rope anchors, just nice to have a couple around
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
The Oval Wire is the wire gate version of the classic Black Diamond Oval. It is a little lighter than the oval and stronger. It is great for racking gear because so much gear fits on it.
The oval shape reduces carabiner shift and allows the rope to run smoothly. 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 Omega Pacific Doval is the main competitor to the Oval Wire. It is lighter but also much smaller and more expensive. If you are looking for a big comfy oval, we would go with the Oval Wire because of its price. However, for most applications we would lean toward a lightweight wire gate biner like the Black Diamond Oz or Wild Country Astro.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Oval Wire scores high for smoothness; when you run a rope though it there is less friction than with almost any other non-locking carabiner. This makes it 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 break rappel (however, that type of rappel is used less and less considering there are 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 in general are heavy and bulky. While this one is lighter than a standard oval, it is still pretty heavy; 30 to 60 percent heavier than most wire gate biners. If you have a big trad rack or big wall rack, that weight adds up fast. While these 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.
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 break rappel."
This is one of the cheaper carabiners and only 50 cents more expensive than a standard oval. That said, considering their limited applications, we would rather buy a cheaper wire gate biner if we were on a tight budget.
— Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: July 9, 2011
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