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Black Diamond Oval Review

Black Diamond Oval
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Price:  $9 List | $6.71 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Rope runs smoothly, good for top rope anchors, can use for carabiner brake rappel
Cons:  Heavy, bulky, gate gets hung up
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Chris McNamara and Chris Summit  ⋅  May 16, 2010
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  • Ease of unclipping - 15% 3
  • Ease of clipping - 20% 5
  • Ease of handling - 15% 5
  • How many ropes fit - 15% 8
  • Rope pull smoothness - 15% 10
  • Portability - 20% 1

Our Verdict

This is the classic carabiner design and Black Diamond has been making them for as long as anyone. The oval design is tried and true and it's just kinda cool to have a few of these old school carabiners lying around. But they are mainly better as decoration. They rarely perform better than a more modern design. Their design is from the 50's and so much is now better, lighter and lower bulk. The Black Diamond Oval Wire is a lighter alternative. Overall, we like to keep a few ovals around, but generally use lighter biners for most applications. If on the other hand, you like the beefy solid gate design, consider the Petzl Djinn Straight Gate, which is lighter than the Oval, but stronger and still very easy to handle.

Product Recall: February 2016
BD recalled this and some other carabiners. Please read over this safety recall notice to determine your next step.

Our Analysis and Test Results


The Black Diamond Oval carabiner scored highly in rope pull smoothness; when you run a rope though them there is less friction than with almost any other non-locking carabiner. This makes them excel for top rope anchors where two of them are used "opposite and opposed."

The one area ovals excel: racking pitons. Like a key chain, they allow pitons to slide around easily. That said, you could use two light carabiners for less weight and rack more pitons.


The solid gate Black Diamond Oval is incredibly heavy and bulky; over twice the weight of many wiregate biners. Got a big rack? You will notice a GIANT weight difference if you use a light wiregate instead of an oval. While they are good for racking pitons and slings, nuts get hung up easily on the unexposed notch, especially if there are a lot of nuts. The Black Diamond Oval is the heaviest we tested at 64g, yet the weakest at only 18kn closed gate strength.

Best Application

Ovals are great for top roping or any situation where smooth rope pull is needed. It's not a bad idea to buy four to six of them when you first start climbing because they are cheap and you can learn the old school "carabiner brake rappel."


This is one of the cheaper biners out there. But not cheap enough to warrant replacing much lighter biners that might only cost a fraction more.

Chris McNamara and Chris Summit