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Wild Country Helium Review

   
Editors' Choice Award

Carabiner

  • Currently 4.8/5
Overall avg rating 4.8 of 5 based on 10 reviews. Most recent review: May 14, 2013
Street Price:   Varies from $10 - $14 | Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Light for it's size, easy to clean from bolts, very cool design
Cons:  Expensive
Best Uses:  Sport climbing and traditional climbing. Ideally used on quickdraws.
User Rating:     
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 (4.8 of 5) based on 9 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (8/8) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Wild Country
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ April 13, 2010  
Overview
This carabiner is one of the most innovative on the market. It has a hooded nose that brings the best of both worlds: the light design of a wire gate and the ease of removing from bolt hangers (something that previously only keylock carabiners could offer). It is big and easy to hold in your hand and easy to clip.

This is a top carabiner, with a top price to go along with it. If you are looking for more bang for you buck, go with the Wild County Nitro which is a similar sized biner but without the face gate and at about half the price. The other main competitor for "ultimate sport climbing carabiner" is the Petzl Spirit which is not nearly as cool but a more durable option and 25 percent less expensive. So should you buy it? Depends on how much having the most advanced wiregate carabiner on the market is worth to you.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
The main like of the Wild Country Helium is the hooded nose which does two things: it helps protect gate from getting inadvertently rubbed/pushed opened and keeps the nose from getting hung up when removing from bolt hangers, slings and nuts. (The nose really does look like Joe Camel's nose.) It's the only wiregate carabiner we tested that is easy to unclip from bolt hangers on steep sport routes. Due to the bent wiregate, it is one of the easiest to clip. While not one of the lightest carabiners, it is very light for its size and functionality. To put it another way, it is the lightest full size biner that is easy to unclip from stuff. Not only does the larger size make it easy to handle and clip, it has a "Beam Back" spine that is easy to grip. As with all biners with the wire-gate design the gate is less likely to get frozen shut on alpine routes.

Dislikes
Because of the wide nose it's hard to get in/out of some anchors like chain links or old school hangers with the small hole. If you get the quickdraw, the "Tadpole O Ring" that holds the biner to the draw slipped off one of the draws after only one weekend. When compared the Petzl Spirit Express, the Helium quickdraw was lighter but not nearly as durable.

Best Application
This is a great biner for sport climbing and putting on quick draws. It is a little expensive to recommend using for every biner on the rack. We would probably use it mainly on quickdraws.

Value
This is one of the more expensive carabiners out there. The Wild Country Astro, which is ligher but smaller is almost half the price. And most other biners are much cheaper. Wild County overall is a brand that gives good value in its products. The reason the Helium is so expensive is that it is a unique and tricky to make design.

Chris McNamara and Chris Summit

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: May 14, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.8)

100% of 8 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
9 Total Ratings
5 star: 89%  (8)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 11%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 9 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   May 14, 2013 - 06:43am
Couchmaster · Pacific Northwet
Short version: The Best. (You're done, go back to work)



(Work sucks? keep reading your boss won't mind) full version below.


I believe you should not look at your rack as a finished product, but rather a work in progress. Which explains why you don't see but very few climbers lead using the original Wild County ridged friends despite the fact that they were once the Bee's Knees. Climbing gear often change's for the better. When we see new techniques or equipment, we should evaluate it and if it is better, embrace and utilize it. It was from this mind set that I decided to buy a some WC Helium’s and see how they did when they first came out. Realize that I was in love with my Petzl Spirits and really didn't need new carabiners and I love the way the gates caress my hand with that silky smooth opening and positive click which defines the Spirit.

Non-climbers who saw me fondling these sexy red Helium's at work came over to see what they were and were in denial that they were anything but a toy. Unlike a toy, it outperforms most carabiners right now in most (but not all) of the criteria rockclimbers find important.


They are full sized, full strength and full spec'ed, but not full weight. At a listed 33 grams, but closer to 32 grams in reality, your disbelief will register as you can barely feel it in your hand. The gate closed and open strength at 25kn and 10kn respectively outperforms almost all of the biners out there, including my beloved Petzl Spirits (at “only” a respectable 23 and 9.5).


It is not just in the spec’s but these little beauties have solid design strengths which even a novice like "moi" can determine just by looking at them. My failing memory registered an interesting idea Royal Robbins had in conjunction with Salewa years ago. They made the center of the carabiner hollow in an innovative attempt to shave weight. The clear failing of that idea (in an age where carabiner brake rappels were a carabiner-wearing, grit-sanding common occurrence), is that as you wear through the carabiner as it ages, you don’t really know how much material is left between you and the hollow center.

The Helium's shave the weight where it is visible, on the outside. They added material to the business end radius where the rope sits, it measures a rope-gentle 8mil+, and pulled weight from the center of the bar, most of the way around the outside of the biner, where nobody really needs it. The bulbous nose cradles the tip of the wiregate so that it is nestled deep inside, out of the way of any rock which may try to pry it open as the biner sweeps the rock in a fall. The far superior clean-wire feature should immediately be adopted by all mfgs, if it didn’t violate a Wild Country trademark or patent. The wire of the gate slightly tapers inwardly to reinforce the superior design and help keep the wire from opening accidentally: it is a brilliant and well thought out configuration in that respect. Form follows function. (Of note: Wild Country had an early batch they recalled, and their performance and honesty on that was exemplary and commendable. I would definitely trust this company to make a good product, seeing how they owned up so quickly when they found a little tweak early on).

What possible weakness or flaws could anyone be seeing in these little red phenomena's you wonder? Minor points, no doubt. Just like a group of dudes checking out the supermodels on the tube and saying stuff like “Oh I don’t know if she’s that hot man, she’s got a mole on the arm" (Uhh, dude, you’ve never had a chick like that even say hi to you in your life, so don’t plan on trading in that 250 lb wife of yours any time soon), or crap like “Yeah, that’s a hot Ferrari, but I’d get different wheels if it wuz mine", (Dude, you couldn’t afford new wheels even if you traded in your 20 year old Chevy and moved out of your trailer into your moms basement again to save the rent money).

The most noticeable flaw becomes apparent almost immediately. You need a 2nd mortgage to own a rack at the current wallet emptying price. Then there’s the lacking intangible, which is that the silky smooth gate action of the Spirits was not duplicated. Oh, the gate action may be as good or better than any other wiregate, but if you are a Petzl fanboi, these aren’t quite there: but it’s not by much. The advantages of wiregate biners are clear: lightweight, snow is less likely to clog it, and the gate is more likely to stay closed in a fall if inertia slaps the biner on the rock. If you are still climbing on solid gate carabiners you have got to look hard at these babies, because except for a mole on the arm, these things are Ferraris for the vertical and still far and away the best wiregate on the market today, even a couple years after they were introduced to a lot of impressed climbers and fanfare.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   May 13, 2013 - 11:29pm
Cormes · Climber · Cape Town
Great loose biners for trad rack, Very light for it's size. Hoodless design makes clipping slings and wires/nuts easy. Large size and gate opening perfect for my large hands and general easy handling, Only downside is they are expensive.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Apr 23, 2013 - 12:58pm
Mechanicalchris · Climber · Haverhill, MA
I don't even use other biners after trying these. Sport draws, cams, alpine draws, rock, ice … I switched them all. Can't beat a light-weight, full-sized, biner that doesn't snag. Really does everything you'd want a non-locker to do.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jan 25, 2011 - 09:57pm
Guck · Climber · Santa Barbara, CA
The quick draws are simply awesome; They are light, big enough for big hands, and never catch on the hangers. After you have forgotten about the higher price, you will not want anything else.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 7, 2010 - 09:50am
Dalyte · Climber · Nevada
I got 30 of these and won't buy anything else. Full size, super light. It really does make a HUGE difference on my aid rack when i replace the old heavy ones. Goes nicely on my trad rack with skinny Mammut slings. If you can afford it, buy it.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Aug 16, 2010 - 10:58am
travelin_light · Climber · Boulder, Colorado
Been using them for a few years now and would never go back to anything else. Big, light and keyless - what else could you want.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Aug 16, 2010 - 08:47am
 
tenesmus · Climber · slc
Best light-weight biner on the market. The regular-sized bail keeps people (like me) with fat fingers from catching them in the gate.
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   Jun 10, 2010 - 03:08pm
the Fet · Climber · Tu-Tok-A-Nu-La
My favorite biner. Light and handle great. I'd use them on everything except for the cost. But even the cost is really no big deal. Biners should last as long as you do, might as well get the best. The difference between a rack of these and a rack of average biners is the cost of a few cams.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Feb 7, 2011 - 06:40pm
Fingertrouble · Climber
Doesn't work well for ice, snow, and probably mud (attention UK climbers!), because the little nose detail gets clogged and that holds the gate open. Then it is hard to clean out. The nose gets clogged even on biners that are just hanging on your harness. Hard to notice the problem, too.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Wild Country Helium Carabiner
Wild Country Helium Carabiner
Credit: wildcountry.co.uk
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