The Best Locking Carabiners

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We weighed all the locking carabiners on our scale. We found slight differences between manufacturer listed weights and our own.
Credit: Chris McNamara
What is the best locking carabiner for rock climbing? We compared 15 of the best locking carabiners in a variety of tests to find out. We judged each carabiner on the following six categories: lightness/compactness, ease of unlocking, gate hang up, amount of knots held, rope pull smoothness, and gate clearance. In the end, we found that there was no one locking carabiner that excels at everything. Instead, there are three main categories which each had their own top products: lightweight locking carabiners, medium belay and rappel carabiners, and large belay and rappel carabiners.

Read the full review below >

Review by: and Chris Summit

Top Ranked Locking Carabiner Displaying 6 - 10 of 15 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #6 #7 #8 #9 #10
Product Name
DMM Boa
DMM Boa
Read the Review
Petzl Am'D
Petzl Am'D
Read the Review
Petzl OK
Petzl OK
Read the Review
Wild Country Synergy
Wild Country Synergy
Read the Review
Metolius Element
Metolius Element
Read the Review
Video video review
Editors' Awards           
Street Price $16
Compare at 2 sellers
Varies $13 - $19
Compare at 5 sellers
$18
Compare at 5 sellers
Varies $10 - $13
Compare at 3 sellers
Varies $9.75 - $9.95
Compare at 6 sellers
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100% recommend it (3/3)
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50% recommend it (2/4)
Pros Smooth gate, holds lots of ropes, good gate clearance, light for its sizeGreat size-to-weight ratio, keylock, red warning safety feature, versatile.Great for pulleys, keylock doesn't get snagged.Smooth gate, light for its size, easy to handle.Good value, keylock gate, compact, smooth when used in auto-block mode.
Cons Bulky and heavy.Halfway between being a light compact biner and a big workhorse, not ideal for belaying a second.Expensive, narrow gate opening.Gate takes many spins, small gate clearance.Gate takes many spins, small gate clearance.
Best Uses Great belay and rappel locking carabiner.Top rope anchors, all-around use.Use with pulleys and top roping.Belaying, all around use, great first carabiner.Belaying for any type of climbing, especially off the anchor.
Date Reviewed Apr 09, 2010Apr 16, 2010Jul 22, 2010Apr 09, 2010Jan 14, 2010
Weighted Scores DMM Boa Petzl Am'D Petzl OK Wild Country Synergy Metolius Element
Compactness Lightweight - 15%
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Ease Of Unlocking And Locking - 20%
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Gate Hang Up - 10%
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How Many Ropes Fit - 15%
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Rope Pull Smoothness - 15%
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Gate Clearance - 15%
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Product Specs DMM Boa Petzl Am'D Petzl OK Wild Country Synergy Metolius Element
Weight (grams) 86 75 74 75 73
Gate Closed Strength (KN) 25 28 24 21 24
Sideway Strength (KN) 10 7 10 7 8
Gate Open Strencth (KN) 8 8 7 7 8
Red Warning Strip No Yes Yes No No
keylock or regular gate keylock keylock keylock keylock keylock
Screwgate or twistlock twistlock Screwgate or twistlock Screwgate or twistlock screwlock screwgate

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners
  • All Reviewed Products

Lightness and compactness
Our favorite lightweight locking carabiner was the Wild Country Neon which edged ahead of the other two super light carabiners: the Mad Rock Super Tech Keylock Screw and the Trango SuperFly Screwlock. Which was the lightest? It's hard to say because the manufacturer weight listings were a little different than our own measurements. They are all within a few grams of each other with the Trango and Wild Country being a little lighter than the Mad Rock. The Neon is our top pick because it had the smoothest keylock gate, was really easy to handle and just looks cool. The Mad Rock scored only a little lower and is much cheaper. If we were on a budget, we would go with the Mad Rock. The Trango is a solid biner but we prefer the keylock gate of the other biners. It was also the most expensive of the three. Another notable light biner is the Petzl Attache 3D which is not as light as these three, but is probably the lightest considering its size. With most light biners, the small size means you sacrifice a little in the range of activities the carabiner is good for. That is why the light biners in general scored so low. They just don't do a lot of functions as well as bigger locking carabiners. The Attache 3D on the other hand is very light and very functional across a wide variety of tasks.

Ease of Unlocking and Locking
The DMM Boa twistlock was the easiest carabiner to lock and unlock. The twist lock is incredibly smooth and the shape of the carabiner makes it very easy to lock and unlock. In general, all the twistlock carabiners were easier to lock and unlock than the screw gates. As far as screwgate carabiners, there were five carabiners that all tied for best (you can see them in the rating chart). The Petzl carabiners stood out for having bigger twist gates that were easy to use, especially with gloves. The Wild Country Synergy stood out for taking just one accurately placed twist to completely unlock (this probably only works with the carabiner is new and smooth).

Gate Hang Up
All the keylock carabiners did great in these tests which involved seeing how easily the gates got hung up on bolt hangers and slings with unclipping. It's hard to single out a clear winner in this category. The clear low scorers were the non-keylock carabiners. We would still use a non-keylock carabiner, but we really prefer the keylock feature.

Number of Knots Held
The DMM Boa and Black Diamond Rocklock got top scores for holding the most knots and slings. These are great locking carabiners to use as the "master point" of an anchor because you can easily clip multiple knots on a bite, slings and other items. The Petzl carabiners and the Black Diamond Mini Pearabiner also scored very high. Not surprisingly, the worst scores came from the lightest and smallest carabiners. The exception was the Petzl Attache 3D which is very light but still scored well for holding many knots and slings.

Rope Pull Smoothness
The best carabiner for pulling rope over was the Petzl Attache. It has a wide diameter and is almost perfectly round which makes the rope pass over with minimal friction. It is no surprise this is the carabiner most guides use when belaying a second in auto-block mode from the anchor. The Petzl Attache 3D scored nearly as well and is much lighter. Many other carabiners scored high and would make great belay carabiners. The super light mini carabiners scored the world.

Gate Clearance
The Black Diamond Rocklock and Omega Pacific Jake scored the best for gate clearance but there were many other carabiners close behind. The carabiners with the worst gate clearance were the small lightweight carabiners.


The Bottom Line
The Editors' Choice award goes to the Petzl Attache 3D. It was the only carabiner to score high in every category and the only light carabiner to really excel in the overall scores. This carabiner excels at just about everything. Its main drawback is the price.

The Best Buy award goes to the Black Diamond Rock Lock which scored very well is most categories except for being light and compact. It was not only a top scorer, it was also among the cheapest carabiners at $10. We also have a Best Buy award to the Mad Rock Super Tech Keylock Screw which is the carabiner we would load up on if we were on a budget. In the lightweight carabiner category it scored almost as high as the Wild Country Neon but cost much less.

We award two carabiners our Recommend award for specific applications. The Petzl Attache remains a top carabiner if you are belay a second climber on a multi-pitch climb. The Wild Country Neon was our favorite ultra light biner. Since we are obsessed on all things light, we would probably just buy these and the Petzl Attache 3D if we had an unlimited budget.

Chris McNamara and Chris Summit
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