Black Diamond Hotwire Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Very large basket, excellent gate clearance, easy to handle, affordable
Cons: Heavy, stiff gate springs, notch and hook on nose
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Black Diamond Hotwire
|Price||$7.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Very large basket, excellent gate clearance, easy to handle, affordable||Full-sized, easy to clip, low price, low weight||Key-locking nose design, easy gate action, large size||Keylock wiregate has no notch, easy to handle, large rope-bearing surface||Recessed notch in nose, great clipping action, easy to handle|
|Cons||Heavy, stiff gate springs, notch and hook on nose||Has a notch in the nose, gates sometimes get sticky over time||Pricey, heavy compared to competition||Heavy, expensive, single "wiregate" takes some getting used to||Not the cheapest, not the lightest, crotch is slightly narrow for accommodating wide slings|
|Bottom Line||A versatile choice for any style of climbing, and one that almost anyone can afford, but lacking the top end performance||A very affordable carabiner that is also one of the easiest to use and won’t cost you anything on the scale||Provides very simple clipping and unclipping action, and feels great in the hands||Heavy for a trad rack but nice keylocking gate||An ergonomic and smooth clipping carabiner that also has a keylocking nose design for the best overall wiregate function|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Hotwire||CAMP Photon Wire||Helium 3||Petzl Ange L||DMM Alpha Trad|
|Gate Clearance (20%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond...||CAMP Photon Wire||Helium 3||Petzl Ange L||DMM Alpha Trad|
|Manufacturer Weight (g)||40g||30g||38g||34g||36g|
|Gate Closed (kN)||24||22||24||22||24|
|Gate Open (kN)||8||9||10||10||9|
|Gate Clearance (mm)||27||26||27||26||25|
|Forging Method||Hot||Cold||Hot||Not Specified||Hot|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The BD Hotwire has been updated for 2020, along with all the rest of Black Diamond's carabiner lineup. It is the largest and most versatile of the three wiregate offerings, and is understandably easy to handle. The bend in the spine makes it so the rope runs over a wider surface, which is both better for the carabiner, and also for the rope. However, this carabiner is heavy, and doesn't have the best clipping action. It also currently only comes in a small handful of colors, sold as singles, and is not being marketed in a rack pack, eliminating it for consideration for color-coded pairing with your cam rack.
The wire gate of this carabiner is made of thicker gauge wire that weighs more than the lighter weight gates more commonly found on many of its competitors, and is molded in an absolute straight line, rather than incorporating any bend to aid with clipping. We also feel like the gate spring is noticeably stiffer than most other wiregates, which means that more effort is needed to push the rope through. Once you do, that stiff spring snaps closed with authority! The gate angles outward as it descends, coaxing the rope into the basket if it is pushed downward, but the gate itself is too tight for the rope to do all of the work, you certainly need to push it on through.
The Hotwire is by no means the easiest carabiner for unclipping. The principal downside of a traditional wiregate carabiner is that there is a notch and hook on the nose for the gate to slot into. This notch and hook can work to catch the rope when trying to unclip it while seconding, or hook on bolt hangers, slings, or stopper cables while trying to unclip the carabiner from them. The notch and hook on the Hotwire is larger and deeper than most other competitors, meaning that compared to the competition, this negative attribute is actually enhanced. Added to the mix is the fact that the nose angle actually bends back on itself, creating a vertical wall, so to speak, preventing the rope from simply sliding out on its own if the gate is open. While these issues can easily be worked around with a little extra care or fiddling, they could also be addressed with better design.
A single Hotwire carabiner weighs in at 40g, which is the heaviest in this review among standard full-sized carabiners. This amount is 10g heavier than the lightest full-sized options, and 17g heavier than the lightest mini options. If you were to multiply out the 10g difference between it and the lightest full-sized choice, times 20 for all carabiners on double length slings that you are carrying, you would be carrying an extra 7 ounces by choosing Hotwires, or close to half a pound.
This is a large carabiner with tons of clearance. The gate clearance is measured at 27mm, which is easily among the largest of any we've tested. Furthermore, in our testing, we were easily able to fit three knotted ropes into the carabiner, side-by-side without stacking, and still have plenty of clearance for the gate to open and close to add or remove items. If your potential uses include building complex anchors, or holding a lot of items, this carabiner will not let you down.
As the name suggests, the Hotwire is made using hot-forged I-beam construction, which gives a nice flat surface along the spine for gripping. Its full-size shape makes it easier to handle than tiny alternatives, but we also noticed that the colored anodizing seems a bit slipperier than some other models. The fact that the gate springs are stiff and thus take more effort to open certainly adds a little bit of a chance that you would accidentally drop this carabiner while trying to use it.
One of the best attributes about these carabiners is their relatively low cost, which is an effect of having a notched nose rather than a recessed one, like most models that are more expensive do. However, it didn't score near the top of our overall ratings, and other, full-sized carabiners that scored much higher overall have a very similar price. You also can't buy them in rack packs (why not BD?). Thus, we aren't sure we would recommend them as a top value purchase.
The Black Diamond Hotwire has been redesigned and reengineered with a different geometry in the spine meant to increase space within the basket while reducing wear on your rope and the carabiner itself. The design seems to work, but other attributes of the 'biner, such as its heavy weight and stiff gate, bump it down a bit on the list of our favorite carabiners. While it's a pretty decent product, we also feel like there are better options in the full-sized market.
— Andy Wellman