Hands-on Gear Review

Mad Rock UltraLight Bent Gate Review

Best Buy Award
Price:  $6 List | $4.46 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, Inexpensive
Cons:  Small, Exposed notch for the gate
Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
Manufacturer Weight:  32g
Gate Closed:  25Kn
Sideways:  8Kn
Manufacturer:   Mad Rock

Our Verdict

The Mad Rock UltraLight bent gate carabiner is our Best Buy award winner. The price on this product just can't be beat. You'll save several dollars per unit over most other carabiners, and it's less than half the cost of our Editors' Choice Wild Country Helium Carabiner. The Mad Rock UltraLight bent gate is a smaller sized carabiner, but unlike some other lightweight gear that only meet the minimum strength standards, this model is rated to an impressive 25 kN for its main axis. Despite its name, the UltraLight is not quite as light as the Black Diamond Oz Carabiner or Metolius FS Mini, but at 32 grams, it is well within the lightweight zone. If you are looking to pad your rack with lots of lightweight carabiners at a reasonable price, this model is the best option out there.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Cam McKenzie Ring

Last Updated:
Saturday
June 14, 2014

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The Mad Rock UltraLight bent gate is a hot forged wiregate carabiner. It weighs 32 grams (1.1 ounces) and has a 22 mm wide gate opening.

Performance Comparison



This Mad Rock model is one of the least expensive carabiners out there. Our Best Buy award winner will leave you smiling from the bank to the crag.
This Mad Rock model is one of the least expensive carabiners out there. Our Best Buy award winner will leave you smiling from the bank to the crag.

Ease of Unclipping


This product has an unprotected notch on its nose that the wiregate latches onto. This notch can get hung up on the rope, particularly when climbing steeper terrain. It can also snag on your nuts, slings, harness, and bolts, etc. Due to this, and the smaller size of the biner, our testers found the Mad Rock UltraLight bent gate a little difficult to unclip. Some manufacturers are creating notch-less wiregates to avoid this issue. For example, the Black Diamond Oz has a wire hood over the notch to prevent snags, and the Wild Country Helium buries its notch in the nose. This extra engineering increases the cost of these products, however, and this is the main trade-off you are getting with a less expensive model like our Best Buy award winner.

The exposed notch on the UltraLight's (left) wiregate can get snagged on your rope or gear. In comparison  the Black Diamond Oz (right) has a stainless steel wire hood over the notch to prevent this.
The exposed notch on the UltraLight's (left) wiregate can get snagged on your rope or gear. In comparison, the Black Diamond Oz (right) has a stainless steel wire hood over the notch to prevent this.

Ease of Clipping



This piece was relatively easy to clip. The bent gate version of this carabiner has a nice scoop which seems to swallow the rope for you. The tension on the gate is softer than the Black Diamond Oz, which makes clipping that much easier. But, like any smaller biner, our testers found it a little trickier to clip than a full-sized one, even if they had smaller hands.

The bent wiregate on this biner is easy to clip.
The bent wiregate on this biner is easy to clip.

Ease of Handling



The Mad Rock UltraLight bent gate carabiner is the same size as the Black Diamond Oz, somewhere between a full-size model and a "keychain" size one like the CAMP Nano 22 Carabiner. While they are much easier to handle than the smallest of the small, they are still not as user friendly as a full-size one. Once you have gloves on, our testers found that it became even trickier to use these smaller sized biners. If you plan on using your gear on a big-wall or in cold conditions, consider a larger model such as the CAMP Photon Wire Straight Gate.

The UltraLight (left) is a smaller sized carabiner  which means it is harder to handle  with or without gloves on  compared to the CAMP Photon Wire Express (right).
The UltraLight (left) is a smaller sized carabiner, which means it is harder to handle, with or without gloves on, compared to the CAMP Photon Wire Express (right).

How Many Ropes Fit



The smaller gate opening (22 mm) combined with the smaller size of this carabiner make it a poor choice for anchoring or carrying lots of webbing.
The smaller gate opening (22 mm) combined with the smaller size of this carabiner make it a poor choice for anchoring or carrying lots of webbing.

When we put 3 figure-eight loops of 10 mm rope in the Mad Rock UltraLight bent gate, we could barely open the gate, and it was pretty crowded. At 22 mm, this product's gate opening is on the smaller side, and combined with the smaller size of the carabiner there just isn't a lot of room in the basket. You probably wouldn't want to use this piece of gear to carry a bunch of slings or a cordalette, or to use as an anchor point. The Wild Country Helium and CAMP Photon Wire models have much wider gate openings and would be a better choice for that. When we tested it with twin 7.8 mm ropes, this biner did work well and didn't seem overly crowded.

The UltraLight is on the smaller size  but it's still large enough to use twin ropes with. Here Tracy Martin clips her 7.8 mm set with ease.
The UltraLight is on the smaller size, but it's still large enough to use twin ropes with. Here Tracy Martin clips her 7.8 mm set with ease.

Rope Pull Smoothness


The rope bearing surface on this product is narrower than the CAMP Photon Wire or Petzl Djinn, and our testers found that the rope didn't pull quite as smoothly as those carabiners. A narrower rope bearing surface also means that the UltraLight will be harder on your rope in the case of a fall or for yarding back up.

Portability


This model weighs 32 grams, which is slightly heavier than the other smaller lightweight biners out there, like the Black Diamond Oz (28 grams). The CAMP Nano 22 (22 grams) and Metolius FS Mini (24 grams) are even lighter, though that weight deduction comes in a much smaller package. Even amongst the lightweight gear category, these small differences add up. Twenty UltraLights are almost a half pound heavier than 20 Nano 22s. However, you might decide that those extra ounces are worth the convenience of having a slightly more useable carabiner.

Best Applications


The Mad Rock UltraLight bent gate is best used for traditional and multi-pitch climbing. This carabiner currently comes in only two colors, silver for the straight gate and red for the bent. There's no reason why you can't rack your cams on them, but once you've switched to a cam/carabiner color coded system it is hard to go back. The Black Diamond Neutrino and Oz, the Wild Country Helium, and the CAMP Nano 22 and Photon Wire all come in 6 to 8 different colors to match your camming devices. This helps you pick out the right cam first go, particularly if you rack on your harness.

The UltraLight bent gate on one of the few camming devices it matches. Color coding your carabiners and camming devices makes choosing the right protection that much quicker. Unfortunately  this carabiner only comes in red.
The UltraLight bent gate on one of the few camming devices it matches. Color coding your carabiners and camming devices makes choosing the right protection that much quicker. Unfortunately, this carabiner only comes in red.

These carabiners would be great to put on tripled-up shoulder length slings for a set of "alpine" draws, though you might want to go with a narrow 10 mm sling since these carabiners aren't very big.

These carabiners are great for making alpine draws. Lightweight and inexpensive  you can build up a rack of them for a reasonable price.
These carabiners are great for making alpine draws. Lightweight and inexpensive, you can build up a rack of them for a reasonable price.

Value


The Mad Rock UltraLight bent gate carabiners are half the price of our Editors' Choice winning Wild Country Heliums. If you're on a budget, or you're looking to buy your first trad rack and not even sure if you are going to like placing gear, better to start off with a less expensive model before going all in on the spendy stuff.

Conclusion


Mad Rock has done a great job with the UltraLight. Small but not too small, light and strong, and all at a reasonable price. Our Best Buy award winner is a great choice for someone new to climbing and facing the hundreds of dollars it takes to build their rack, or for anyone who would rather spend their money on gas to get to the crag rather than their gear.
Cam McKenzie Ring

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Most recent review: June 14, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
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3 star: 100%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
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