The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Petzl Spirit Straight Gate Review

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $11 List | $10.95 at REI
Pros:  Keylock design eliminates snags, Great clipping action
Cons:  Heavy for a trad rack
Manufacturer:   Petzl
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 14, 2014
  • Share this article:
80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of unclipping - 15% 10
  • Ease of clipping - 20% 10
  • Ease of handling - 15% 8
  • How many ropes fit - 15% 5
  • Rope pull smoothness - 15% 9
  • Portability - 20% 6

Our Verdict

The Petzl Spirit is the original keylocking carabiner - often copied but never duplicated. Thanks to its notch-free design it is a dream to unclip on steep terrain, and it's one of the best carabiners out there for quick and easy clips. The straight gate Petzl Spirit's updated design is six grams lighter than before, which is great for hard sport climbing onsights, but still doesn't make it light enough to be a contender in the traditional climbing realm. This biner is best suited for clipping bolts, and you might as well buy it in its pre-assembled quickdraw package, the Petzl Spirit Express.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Petzl Spirit straight gate is a cold forged solid gate carabiner with a keylock design. It weighs 39 grams (1.4 ounces) and has a 22 mm wide gate opening.

Performance Comparison



Scott Ring going to clip the Petzl Spirit Express quickdraw. It has a straight gate on top  and a bent gate on the bottom.
Scott Ring going to clip the Petzl Spirit Express quickdraw. It has a straight gate on top, and a bent gate on the bottom.

Ease of Unclipping


Thanks to its notch-less nose, the Petzl Spirit straight gate is a breeze to unclip from the rope or your gear, particularly on steeper terrain. The keylock design has become very popular for sport climbing quickdraws, where snag-free unclipping is a climber's priority. This concern crosses over to traditional climbing as well, as no one likes having their carabiners snag on their nuts or slings. If you plan on climbing a lot of steep gear routes, you can always rack these on a sling to clip into your gear, or go with the Wild Country Helium Carabiner which has keylock functionality and is also lightweight.

Thanks to its keylock design  this carabiner is easy to unclip from the rope on steep terrain. The notch-free nose won't snag on your nuts or slings either.
Thanks to its keylock design, this carabiner is easy to unclip from the rope on steep terrain. The notch-free nose won't snag on your nuts or slings either.

Some climbers prefer to rack all their nuts on one or two keylock biners to avoid snags when you go to unclip them after making a placement. Our testers didn't think that this biner would be a good choice for this application due to the relatively small gate opening (21 mm). The Petzl Djinn Straight Gate has a slightly wider gate opening (24 mm), which would make it a better choice if you are looking for a keylock biner to rack your nuts on.

Ease of Clipping


Our testers found the gate action on the Petzl Spirit straight gate (and the bent gate, for that matter) to be snappy and quick. The straight gate version has a slight indentation in the middle of gate, which seems to direct your thumb to push on that exact spot. It didn't seem to affect the ease of clipping either way compared to the older version, which doesn't have that indent.

This model is easy to clip and the gate has a fast springing action.
This model is easy to clip and the gate has a fast springing action.

Ease of Handling


Our testers found the full-size biner easy to handle, particularly when compared to some of the smaller lightweight products like the Metolius FS Mini and the Mad Rock Ultra Light Wire.

How Many Ropes Fit



Due to the small size of the gate opening (21 mm)  the Spirit didn't score well on our three-rope test.
Due to the small size of the gate opening (21 mm), the Spirit didn't score well on our three-rope test.

The Petzl Spirit straight gate's opening is only 21 mm, which is relatively narrow compared to its size. The Camp Nano 22 has the same size opening (due to being a wiregate), even though it is much smaller overall. So, while the basket of the Spirit is deep enough to hold several knots or slings, it can be difficult to open the gate once you have a cordallete bundle in there, or several rope anchor points. This is another reason why the Spirit is more suited to sport climbing than traditional climbing.

The Spirit (left) and the Camp Nano 23 (right) have the same size gate opening (21 mm). This makes them less ideal for carrying lots of slings or using as anchor points at a belay.
The Spirit (left) and the Camp Nano 23 (right) have the same size gate opening (21 mm). This makes them less ideal for carrying lots of slings or using as anchor points at a belay.

Rope Pull Smoothness


The rope bearing surface on this product is nice and wide, creating a smooth pulling action. This results in less wear on your rope, particularly when taking multiple falls and yarding yourself back up. The newer version of the Petzl Spirit straight gate has a slight groove in the basket of the carabiner to help direct the force of a fall along the spine. Our testers didn't find that this affected the way the rope pulled through the carabiner one way or the other compared to the older model. The Petzl Djinn, along with the CAMP Photon Wire Straight Gate and the Wild Country Helium also scored highly in this metric.

Portability


A couple of years ago, Petzl moved to an I-beam construction for this carabiner, which shaved off some grams (39 grams now compared to 45 grams on the older version). That still leaves them in the heavier range for a traditional rack, but not so heavy that you couldn't use your Spirit quickdraws on a trad route or two. That said, if you used the Spirits on a full double set of gear it would end up weighing almost a pound more than if you used the Nanos. You'd save a half a pound with the Black Diamond Oz Carabiner, and if you consider the slings and quickdraws on your rack too, that also becomes a full pound. This is why gear manufacturers are striving to create lightweight gear for the traditional climbing market, because when you're lugging a double set up a Yosemite Grade V, every ounce counts.

Older Spirit (left) vs. newer Spirit (right). Petzl shaved 5 grams off the updated version by moving to an I-beam style construction.
Older Spirit (left) vs. newer Spirit (right). Petzl shaved 5 grams off the updated version by moving to an I-beam style construction.

Best Applications


The Petzl Spirit straight gate carabiner was designed with sport climbing in mind, and this is where it still excels. The ease of clipping and unclipping makes it great for fast clips on the go. If you love this product but mostly traditional climb, you can always buy the straight and bent gate versions, and rack them on shoulder length slings for clipping into your gear.

The Petzl Spirit in its preferred element: steep sport climbing.
The Petzl Spirit in its preferred element: steep sport climbing.

Value


This is one of the more expensive models out there. In sport climbing, you most likely will only be purchasing 20-24 of them, and usually pre-assembled in a quickdraw. But for building up your traditional rack, you will need upwards of 40 individual carabiners. This is where price can really become a main purchasing consideration, and another product like the Best Buy Mad Rock Ultralight might be a better option.

Conclusion


The Petzl Spirit continues to dominate in the sport climbing world, and the latest version of its Express quickdraw won our Editors' Choice award. However, the carabiner itself might not be your best choice for most types of climbing for which you'd be buying individual carabiners. Even with its recent weight loss, it is still much heavier than the lightweight options out there. If you're looking to build or update your trad rack and want the best biner available, the Wild Country Helium is a much better option.


Cam McKenzie Ring