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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: A little harder to handle than a full size carabiner
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
The Black Diamond Oz won our Top Pick for Lightweight Carabiner. It's not the absolute lightest model on the market - that distinction goes to the CAMP Nano 23 Carabiner and the Metolius FS Mini - but the Oz hits the sweet spot between lightweight and usability. The recently redesigned Black Diamond Oz now has a wire hood that covers the notch for the wiregate, resulting in snag-free climbing. The best part about this carabiner? You'll barely notice them on your rack.
RELATED: Our complete review of carabiner
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Black Diamond Oz carabiner is a hot-forged wiregate with a 22 mm gate opening. It weighs 28 grams, or 1 ounce, hence the name.
Ease of Unclipping
In our original carabiner review four years ago, the Black Diamond Oz did not score well in this category. The combination of small size and exposed notch in the gate made unclipping this product a chore. Since then, Black Diamond has added a stainless steel wire hood over its nose, and the notch is no longer exposed. This has made a big difference in its usability. It's still smaller somewhere between full size like the Wild Country Helium Carabiner and "keychain" size like the CAMP Nano 23. Our testers found that unclipping the Black Diamond Oz was a little more challenging than unclipping some of the full size competitors in our review, but it was significantly easier than unclipping the "keychain" size.
Ease of Clipping
The gate tension on this biner feels a little stiffer than some of the other products we tested. You have to push really hard on the gate to get it to fully open. While our testers found that this made clipping it a little bit harder than the similar sized Mad Rock UltraLight Bent Gate, there are advantages to a stiffer gate. When the gates are jammed up against each other on a rack or harness, they can cross-clip each other, particularly if the gate tension is weaker. This happened to several of our testers with the CAMP Photon Wire Straight Gate, which was also the easiest product to clip.
Ease of Handling
This product handles reasonably well, though when we tried it with gloves, on our testers did find it more challenging to operate than a full size model like CAMP Photon Wire or Petzl Djinn Straight Gate. If you plan to use your gear in cold conditions on a regular basis, you might want to consider a larger carabiner. On the other hand, it does have a very narrow profile, which is nice if you like to rack on your harness but don't want your gear loops to be overstuffed.
How Many Ropes Fit
This model did reasonably well on our three-rope test. We could still open the gate after clipping three loops of 10 mm rope in it. However, it was pretty crowded due to the smaller size of the carabiner. It has a 22 mm gate opening, and the CAMP Nano has a 21 mm. You wouldn't think that a single millimeter would make that much difference, but apparently it does. Both the Nano and the Petzl Spirit Straight Gate were difficult if not impossible to open with the three loops clipped, but the Black Diamond Oz and Mad Rock UltraLight (also 22 mm) could still open. This product also worked well with our 7.8 mm twin ropes.
Rope Pull Smoothness
The rope bearing surface on this biner is a little narrower than the Petzl Djinn, and our testers could tell the difference in the smoothness of pull between them. This metric is something to consider when building a top-rope anchor. If you have mainly smaller models on your rack, bring along a few beefier ones like the Djinn to use up top. It will be easier on the belayer, and easier on the rope.
At 28 grams, this piece of gear is well within the ultra-lightweight zone. It's 40% lighter than the Petzl Djinn or CAMP Orbit, and less than half the weight of the Black Diamond Oval. Still using ovals on your big wall rack? This might make you reconsider - if you took 40 Ozs up a wall instead of 40 Ovals, you'd shave three pounds off your rack!
As mentioned earlier, there are lighter carabiners out there. The CAMP Nano 23 is only 23 grams and the Metolius FS Mini weighs 24 grams. So you could go lighter and save even more weight. If you were carrying 20 Oz models, say on double set of gear, you'd be adding four ounces over the Nano 23s, but our reviewers felt that the extra ease of use of the Oz was well worth those 4 ounces, and that's why this product received our Top Pick for Lightweight.
This product would make a great racking biner for your camming devices. Black Diamond now makes this model in a set of six different colors to match with your gear, which makes selecting the right piece and re-racking at the end of a pitch significantly easier. It would also be a good choice for racking your nuts, because there is no notch for the wires to snag on. While wiregates are preferred for ice climbing, this carabiner is a little on the small side for using with gloves on. When it comes to big walls, if you climb with fingerless gloves these would probably still work just fine, and you'll be motivated to figure it out quick once you realize how much weight you are saving with these biners.
The Mad Rock UltraLight is similarly sized for several dollars less a unit, but still has an exposed notch and does not come in racking colors. The Black Diamond Neutrino is a good second choice if you are looking for something cheaper in assorted colors, but it too is heavier and has a notch in the gate.
Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the goal for lighter and lighter gear, and forget that the gear does not just sit on a scale looking smug but will actually get out onto a climb and need to be functional. The "keychain" carabiners seem like a good party trick ("Yes these really are full-strength ") but when it comes to something you'd actually want to climb with, weight isn't the sole consideration. Black Diamond seems to have found the right mix of weight and usability with the Oz. They made it as light as they could while still keeping this product something you'd actually want to use on your cams and not just your nut tool. If you are looking for a biner that's lightweight and high-performance, our Top Pick award winner is the way to go.
Black Diamond Hotwire
Black Diamond Positron
— Cam McKenzie Ring
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 14, 2014
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