Wild Country Astro Review
Cons: Difficult for large hands, small
Manufacturer: Wild Country
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Wild Country Astro
|Price||$9.00 List||$7.95 at REI|
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|$6.95 at REI|
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|$8.95 at REI||$5.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Lightweight, good handling||Full-sized, easy to clip, low price, low weight||Great price, slim profile, comes in eight different colors||Very large basket, excellent gate clearance, easy to handle, affordable||Very light, inexpensive, small shape|
|Cons||Difficult for large hands, small||Has a notch in the nose, gates sometimes get sticky over time||Other options are lighter, a little on the small side, exposed notch in the gate||Heavy, stiff gate springs, notch and hook on nose||Not the easiest to clip, exposed notch on nose, can be hard to handle with gloves on|
|Bottom Line||A lightweight decently easy to handle biner that finds a nice middle ground between ultralight and heavier offerings||While not perfect, still the most impressive combination of the winning attributes – full size, low weight, low price||This inexpensive carabiner provides a great value and matches up well with your cams||An updated version of an OG classic, but one that is heavier than similar sized competition and doesn’t offer the smoothest clips||A tiny and lightweight carabiner that will help you shave ounces from your rack, but may also be a bit harder to use|
|Rating Categories||Wild Country Astro||CAMP Photon Wire||Trango Phase Carabiner||Black Diamond Hotwire||Black Diamond MiniWire|
|Gate Clearance (20%)|
|Specs||Wild Country Astro||CAMP Photon Wire||Trango Phase Carabiner||Black Diamond Hotwire||Black Diamond MiniWire|
|Manufacturer Weight (g)||30g||30g||30g||40g||23g|
|Gate Closed (kN)||24||22||24||24||20|
|Gate Open (kN)||7||9||7||8||7|
|Gate Clearance (mm)||24||26||23||27||21|
|Forging Method||Hot||Cold||Not Specified||Hot||Hot|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Wild Country Astro is an extremely popular carabiner with the weight shaving alpine crowd, and we can see why. As one of the lightest biners in our review, it retains decent functionality, both clipping and unclipping, weighs in under an ounce, and despite its small size, still feels manageable in hand. The recessed tooth on the nose does help with the ease of unclipping but does cause some hangups when you're flailing.
When shaving grams and slammin' cams, sometimes you have to give up a bit of functionality to accomplish the mission. There are definitely carabiners that are a bit easier to manipulate in hand and clip than the Astro simply due to its smaller size. That being said, the Astro clips quite well. The bent wire gate creates a nice cradle against the nose of the carabiner, which helps the rope slot in. The gate itself is on the stiff side but has smooth action through the entire path of travel with no weird hangups.
While Wild Country claims the Astro has a "hooded nose", the reality is the tooth on the wire gate is simply recessed. Our testers experienced a generally pleasant unclipping experience when using larger ropes 9.5mm+ but a noticeable catch when going thinner. The omission of wire rails or a clean nose does necessitate careful unclipping. That being said, this design is worlds above biners with a fully exposed tooth and while the Astro wasn't ultra-smooth on the unclip it was generally pretty easy and snag-free.
Now for the good stuff. The Astro is among the lightest options we've tested among all of the new additions to this review. Yes, there are absolutely lighter biners out there but we feel the Astro does a dang good job at offering excellent portability without too much sacrifice. The thin profile and decent handling enhance the portability. Racking up your arsenal of cams and draws with Astros would definitely shed some weight while keeping things functional and relatively frustration-free.
The Astro has a gate clearance measured at 24mm. Even though the Astro is quite small, it allows for 3 strands of 9.8mm rope to fit with decent clearance and full gate opening. This proved to be more than adequate when out on alpine missions when we were using a much thinner rope. The bent wire gate provides significantly more clearance that you might think upon first glance.
The ease of handling category is likely the most subjective and difficult to rate of all metrics in this test. Our main tester has hands on the larger-ish side of the spectrum making smaller carabiners generally more difficult to manipulate. That being said, the Astro has redeeming features that do enhance its overall ease of handling. For unclipping, the wire gate, which is wider than the nose, allows you to put your thumb right on the tip of the wire to open and unthread the rope. Other biners, even slightly larger biners that have a recessed wire gate can be a bit trickier to open for the unclip. This also translated to easier unclipping from our harness and clipping into a bolt or transferring to our mouth before re-gripping and placing a cam. Those with small hands would likely find the Astro to be pretty perfect.
For a biner that rings in below ten bucks a pop, the Astro represents a solid value. While the stated weight is over one ounce, the tested biner we received tested .9oz on two scales. For something as functional and lightweight, we wouldn't be surprised to see it costing a bit more than its current price. As the Astro fits into a niche of midsize carabiners that keep weight to a minimum, there is an argument to be made that they are uniquely capable and hold significant value in that right no matter the price.
While the Astro is an excellent biner, the size can be a bit limiting and detract from the overall versatility when compared to the rest of the field. For those with hands on the small side, the Astro really could be an all-arounder. As it stands, we found this biner to be an excellent lightweight companion on alpine adventures for those who want to shave grams but not take it to the limit.
— Brian Martin