Reviews You Can Rely On

Black Diamond MiniWire Review

A tiny and lightweight carabiner that will help you shave ounces from your rack, but may also be a bit harder to use
Black Diamond MiniWire
Top Pick Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $7.00 List | $5.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Very light, inexpensive, small shape
Cons:  Not the easiest to clip, exposed notch on nose, can be hard to handle with gloves on
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 26, 2020
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 10
  • Clipping - 25% 5
  • Unclipping - 20% 5
  • Weight - 20% 10
  • Gate Clearance - 20% 6
  • Handling - 15% 7

Our Verdict

We think the Black Diamond MiniWire is the best lightweight option out there. When we say light, we mean really light, as a single carabiner weighs in at a mere 23g, which is 7g lighter than its next closest competitor. The weight savings when compounded by about 20-40, for the amount of carabiners paired with cams and slings and quickdraws on an average rack, can certainly add up to a significant amount, and the space savings on the harness and in the pack is nothing to scoff at either. If you are a light and fast junky who simply must have the lightest gear, you are certainly going to want to add some of the MiniWire's to your rack.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $5.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$7.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$9.00 List$6.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$8.95 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
65
86
71
66
66
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Very light, inexpensive, small shapeFull-sized, easy to clip, low price, low weightLightweight, good handlingGreat price, slim profile, comes in eight different colorsVery large basket, excellent gate clearance, easy to handle, affordable
Cons Not the easiest to clip, exposed notch on nose, can be hard to handle with gloves onHas a notch in the nose, gates sometimes get sticky over timeDifficult for large hands, smallOther options are lighter, a little on the small side, exposed notch in the gateHeavy, stiff gate springs, notch and hook on nose
Bottom Line A tiny and lightweight carabiner that will help you shave ounces from your rack, but may also be a bit harder to useWhile not perfect, still the most impressive combination of the winning attributes – full size, low weight, low priceA lightweight decently easy to handle biner that finds a nice middle ground between ultralight and heavier offeringsThis inexpensive carabiner provides a great value and matches up well with your camsAn updated version of an OG classic, but one that is heavier than similar sized competition and doesn’t offer the smoothest clips
Rating Categories Black Diamond MiniWire CAMP Photon Wire Wild Country Astro Trango Phase Carabiner Black Diamond Hotwire
Clipping (25%)
5.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Unclipping (20%)
5.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
Weight (20%)
10.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
Gate Clearance (20%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
Handling (15%)
7.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
Specs Black Diamond MiniWire CAMP Photon Wire Wild Country Astro Trango Phase Carabiner Black Diamond Hotwire
Manufacturer Weight (g) 23g 30g 30g 30g 40g
Gate Closed (kN) 20 22 24 24 24
Sideways (kN) 7 8 7 8 8
Gate Open (kN) 7 9 7 7 8
Gate Clearance (mm) 21 26 24 23 27
Forging Method Hot Cold Hot Not Specified Hot

Our Analysis and Test Results

The BD MiniWire has a lot of advantages and also disadvantages due to its unique characteristics. Which way you see them is likely due to what you intend to use these carabiners for, so be discerning about your personal goals before going out and buying a whole set. If you need to save weight and want less bulky gear, no matter how difficult that might make other tasks, such as clipping the rope above your head on pitch 7 of Mt. Hooker with numb fingers, then retrofitting your entire cam and sling rack with these things is probably a great choice. After all, they are quite cheap, and also come in rack packs, as well as a huge variety of colors for properly pairing with any type of cam.

On the other hand, if the functionality that comes with a full-sized carabiner is worth a little bit of extra weight (great options to be had for a mere 7g more per 'biner), then you may think twice about the super tiny MiniWires. There is no doubt that their small size makes them harder to clip, harder to unclip, and easier to fumble and drop. While they sort of replaced the Oz (which is no longer being made) in BD's carabiner lineup, they don't include the hoods over the nose, so the notch is left exposed to potentially hook on bolt hangers, slings, and stopper loops. Long story short, these carabiners have significant pros, but also cons, and so whether they are the right for you depends on your personal needs and willingness to trade-off function for weight.

Performance Comparison


The MiniWire is a tiny little carabiner that weighs a low low 23g...
The MiniWire is a tiny little carabiner that weighs a low low 23g and is highly affordable. While there are certainly trade-offs to using such a small carabiner, such as more difficult clipping and unclipping, as well as general handling, the weight savings sure is nice and the price can't be beat.

Clipping


The tiny dimensions of this carabiner certainly do not make it the easiest to clip the rope into. Not only does it have small gate clearance and gate opening compared to the competition, but the gate springs are fairly tight, meaning that extra effort is needed to force the rope through the gate; it isn't simply going to drop in there on its own. While the gate does angle out slightly as it descends from the hinge to where it meets the nose, this angle is nowhere near as pronounced as many of the easiest carabiners to clip, and the geometry is not quite to the point where one could simply "drop" the rope straight into the basket. The rope must be forced through with the fingers.


Our biggest problem when clipping is that our fingers get stuck as the gate tries to snap closed once the rope is in the basket. Simply put, there is not enough room for both the rope and our fingers inside the carabiner. This issue is exacerbated when one is wearing gloves. The difficulty in clipping a small carabiner is one of the major trade-offs one must accept when opting for a super light, and thus small, option.

Armed with a host of MiniWire carabiners on the ends of his cams...
Armed with a host of MiniWire carabiners on the ends of his cams, Derek makes the clip on a cam in a traversing crack. We found that the small size of these super lightweight carabiners certainly effects how easy they are to clip, especially when in a pinch.

Unclipping


This carabiner does not have a keylocking nose design like many of the full-sized options, and gone are the added on hoods found on the old Oz carabiners that made it easier for the rope to slide over the exposed hook and notch on the nose. But, since this is such a mini carabiner, the notch and hook are also proportionally mini, meaning that a rope can slide over the hook easier than with some bigger exposed notches.


However, there is still that issue of the tight gate springs, which can make it slightly more challenging to hold the small gate open while sliding the rope out. Also, even if they are small, exposed notches can get hung up on bolt hangers, stopper wires, and slings, so the act of unclipping with this carabiner is not as simple as with a full-sized carabiner, and especially one with a keylocking nose design.

These carabiners are among the most difficult to unclip, due to...
These carabiners are among the most difficult to unclip, due to their small size, exposed notch and hook in the nose, as well as the heavy wire that makes up the gate which also has a fairly tight spring.

Weight


Obviously, this is where the MiniWire shines, and it's incredibly low weight is the reason that you will want to buy one (or many). They weigh in at 23g per, which is 7g per carabiner lighter than any other option we have reviewed. If you were to rack all of your cams and slings with these carabiners, that would be about 40 carabiners in total, which could net you a weight savings of almost 10 ounces compared to the second heaviest carabiners, or a far more significant 24 ounces compared to a standard carabiner like the Black Diamond Hotwire.


Worth noting is that these carabiners are also a little more than half the size of a standard full-sized carabiner, so the amount of space saved inside the pack is also significant when multiplied by 40 or so. If you are doing a long approach, like into the Wind Rivers or the Sierra or the North Cascades, you can free up space in the pack for the camping gear and rope, or just carry a smaller pack if you are blasting in a day. Oh, think of the possibilities!

Less than an ounce and super tiny makes this one of the most...
Less than an ounce and super tiny makes this one of the most portable carabiners you could buy. The low weight not only lightens your load while climbing a tough pitch, but also eases the backpack weight on the long approach and descent.

Gate Clearance


The gate clearance on the MiniWire is a mere 21mm, which is the smallest amount of any in this review. Compared to the competition, the basket of this carabiner is neither wide, nor deep, which also affects the width of the gate opening.


We also performed our three ropes test on it, to see how this number translated into a real-world scenario. This test involves putting the loops of three figure eight on a bight knots into the basket of the carabiner at the same time. With the MiniWire, we were only able to fit two knots into the basket before the gate became blocked. What this means is that you shouldn't expect these small 'biners to handle more than one rope, and if you need to build complex multi-pitch anchors, you may also carry along a few lightweight full-sized carabiners to keep your options open.

Clearly, the tiny size means less gate clearance (21mm) and also...
Clearly, the tiny size means less gate clearance (21mm) and also less ability to hold multiple items inside the basket at the same time. It can be nice to have a few full-sized options on your harness for building anchors for this very reason.

Handling


We found it harder to handle this small carabiner than most larger ones, although we also concede that people with very small hands may actually feel like a carabiner of this size fits in their hands easier, and is therefore easier to use than larger ones.


The anodized coating is not particularly slippery, so grip isn't really a problem when squeezing it tight. We also like how the crotch of the carabiner is fairly wide, so that it can accommodate larger width slings, like those found on some cams, without blocking the function of the gate.

There's no doubt that there is a trade-off in handling ability when...
There's no doubt that there is a trade-off in handling ability when you choose to go with such a small carabiner, and this manifests both on the harness as well as when clipping. Simply put, tiny carabiners do not handle as well as their full-sized counterparts, but for many, the trade-off is worth it.

Value


One of the best things about these carabiners is how inexpensive they are. You can lighten your load significantly and not spend a fortune while doing so. Normally we would choose to recognize such an affordable option simply for the great value, but in this case, we must again warn against buying a ton of these simply because they are cheap. For most people, we think full-sized carabiners will be a much better option, and want to point out that these are indeed a specialty piece that will likely serve experienced climbers better than relative newbies. If you know you want them, however, it sure is nice that they don't cost much.

If you paired these very affordable carabiners with your entire cam...
If you paired these very affordable carabiners with your entire cam rack, you could save well over a pound of rack weight, although may end up sacrificing a little bit in terms of easy handling and clipping.

Conclusion


The Black Diamond MiniWire is a fresh new face on the carabiner scene, and is sure to become a classic for those who want only the lightest climbing gear they can buy. With a very small size and an exceptionally light weight, they can be a game changer for alpine missions and large climbs that are a long ways from the car. That said, they come with some notable downsides, include lower functionality, especially with gloves on, due to their tiny size.

We wanted to see how using MiniWire's affected our entire...
We wanted to see how using MiniWire's affected our entire experience, so linked them up with cams, used them to build anchors, as shown here, and even brought along MiniWire quickdraws to help lighten the load. While we still prefer full-sized choices for climbing near our limit, the lighter weight that is compounded by using only these tiny carabiners sure is addictive.

Andy Wellman