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DMM Alpha Light Carabiner Review

We liked this carabiner for making alpine draws but it's on the expensive side.
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Price:  $15 List | $10.46 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Notch is in the nose of the carabiner, which reduces snags and protects the gate
Cons:  Expensive, heavier than other carabiners that are the same size
Manufacturer:   DMM Climbing
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 29, 2018
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 10
  • Ease of clipping - 20% 7
  • Rope pull smoothness - 15% 7
  • Ease of unclipping - 15% 7
  • Ease of handling - 15% 7
  • How many ropes fit - 15% 6
  • Portability - 20% 7

The Skinny

The DMM Alpha Light is a compact wiregate carabiner. It's a little lighter than some full-size carabiners but also a little harder to handle. The notch is buried in the nose of the carabiner, which helps prevent snags, but the smaller gate opening and carabiner geometry still make it a little more challenging to unclip than the Black Diamond Oz. However, it does have higher strength ratings than the Oz, so if the Oz's bare minimum 20 kN rating bothers you a little, the Alpha light could fit the bill for you instead. We did like the shape of this model when racked on an alpine sling, but they are on the expensive side ($15), which is something to consider if you need to buy a lot of them. The Trango Phase retails for only $6, is 4 gram lighter, and seems like a better choice all things considered.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Climbing in Wales  the birthplace of the Alpha Light. This carabiner is a good choice for those looking for a compact but snag-free option for their rack.
Climbing in Wales, the birthplace of the Alpha Light. This carabiner is a good choice for those looking for a compact but snag-free option for their rack.

Ease of Clipping and Unclipping


The clipping action on this carabiner is nice and snappy, but depending on how you like to clip it might feel a little narrow. The notch is buried in the nose of the carabiner, which makes unclipping it faster than others.

The Alpha is on the narrow side  but still clips easily compared to some smaller options. The notch is not exposed which makes unclipping it easier.
The Alpha is on the narrow side, but still clips easily compared to some smaller options. The notch is not exposed which makes unclipping it easier.

Ease of Handling


The Alpha Light is smaller than a full-size carabiner but not quite as tiny as the Metolius FS Mini II and the CAMP Nano 22. It's probably a hair too small to use comfortably with gloves on but is about what we are looking for on a camming device or for slings. We like how slings work on this carabiner, particularly thin 10 mm Spectra ones. Those who use wider slings or who have cams with 18mm slings might be better off with a wider carabiner.

The Alpha (right) is a bit smaller than the Wild Country Helium (left). Take this into consideration if you have larger hands or plan on climbing with gloves on.
The Alpha (right) is a bit smaller than the Wild Country Helium (left). Take this into consideration if you have larger hands or plan on climbing with gloves on.

How Many Ropes Fit


Because of the dimension of the basket, even with only two loops of rope in there (say with a clove hitch), it can be difficult to open the gate all the way. This makes it a poorer choice to use at an anchor where you may want to use one anchoring carabiner for multiple points.

It can be a challenge to open this carabiner with three lines in it.
It can be a challenge to open this carabiner with three lines in it.

Rope Pull Smoothness


The Alpha Light doesn't have the widest nor the narrowest rope bearing surface. As such, it scored in the middle of the pack for this category. While not as big a consideration when mostly leading routes, if you are looking for something to use as a top rope anchor, then a locking carabiner or doubled up Petzl Ange Ls are better choices.

Like other carabiners that bury the notch in the nose  it also protects the wiregate from accidental opening.
Like other carabiners that bury the notch in the nose, it also protects the wiregate from accidental opening.

Portability


This carabiner weighs 32 grams, which is a bit heavier than most of the other carabiners in its size class. The Wild Country Helium is 33 grams but considerably bigger, and the Black Diamond Oz is 28 grams and about the same size. Four grams might not seem like much here or there, but over your entire rack it could add up to several ounces or even a pound!

Best Applications


We liked this carabiner primarily for use on an alpine quickdraw setup.

You can buy this carabiner in various colors to match up with your cams  and it worked really well on tripled up slings.
You can buy this carabiner in various colors to match up with your cams, and it worked really well on tripled up slings.

Value


The DMM Alpha Light retails for $15, which makes it the most expensive model in this review. While we'd happily pay $14 for our full-size Editors' Choice winner, the Wild Country Helium, we hesitate a bit about the price for this model. It's not that light nor as easy to use, and there are other similar options out there that cost less, like the $10 Black Diamond Oz and the $6 Trango Phase.

Conclusion


The DMM Alpha Light didn't stand out from the pack in any significant way. It's a great "smaller" carabiner if that's what you're looking for, but it didn't have too many advantages over other options that cost a third of the price. Unfortunately, due to the exchange rate between the UK and the US, and the fact that manufacturing your gear in the UK no doubt costs more than in other countries, this carabiner ends up costing a little too much for us compared to the competition.


Cam McKenzie Ring