Wild Country Helium 3 Carabiner Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Key-locking nose design, easy gate action, large size
Cons: Pricey, heavy compared to competition
Manufacturer: Wild Country
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Wild Country Helium 3 Carabiner
|Price||$13.95 at REI|
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|$7.95 at REI|
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|$12.95 at Backcountry|
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|$5.21 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Key-locking nose design, easy gate action, large size||Full-sized, easy to clip, low price, low weight||Keylock wiregate has no notch, easy to handle, large rope-bearing surface||Great price, slim profile, comes in eight different colors||Very light, inexpensive, small shape|
|Cons||Pricey, heavy compared to competition||Has a notch in the nose, gates sometimes get sticky over time||Heavy, expensive, single "wiregate" takes some getting used to||Other options are lighter, a little on the small side, exposed notch in the gate||Not the easiest to clip, exposed notch on nose, can be hard to handle with gloves on|
|Bottom Line||This great carabiner is among the largest and hands down the easiest to use, regardless of hand size||While not perfect, still the most impressive combination of the winning attributes – full size, low weight, low price||If you love all things Petzl and are looking for a wiregate carabiner, the Ange L (and smaller S) are the only options, but they're not our favorite||This inexpensive carabiner provides a great value and matches up well with your cams||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 Helium 3||CAMP Photon Wire||Petzl Ange L||Trango Phase Carabiner||Black Diamond MiniWire|
|Gate Clearance (20%)|
|Specs||Wild Country Helium 3||CAMP Photon Wire||Petzl Ange L||Trango Phase Carabiner||Black Diamond MiniWire|
|Manufacturer Weight (g)||38g||30g||34g||30g||23g|
|Gate Closed (kN)||24||22||22||24||20|
|Gate Open (kN)||10||9||10||7||7|
|Gate Clearance (mm)||27||26||26||23||21|
|Forging Method||Hot||Cold||Not Specified||Not Specified||Hot|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Wild Country Helium 3 is an updated version of a long-popular design and features hot-forged I-beam construction. The I-beam means that the stock is not totally round, and instead places more aluminum material on the inside of the carabiner for a wider and more rounded interface with the rope, while cutting out the superfluous material on the exterior edges. This type of design retains all the strength of a thicker and heavier round stock, while cutting out unnecessary weight, and looking cooler overall. These 'biners come anodized in six different color options, matching the most common cam colors, so you can pair the color of your carabiner with the color of your cams for the easiest racking. You can also buy them in a six-pack (rack pack), which comes with one of each color, and provides a bit of savings over buying them individually.
This is easiest carabiner to clip that we have tested. It has a very wide 27mm of gate clearance, giving you the maximum amount of space for both the rope, and your fingers if need be, to slide through the gate into the basket without getting caught.
Even better than the gate clearance is the snappy action on the doubled-up wire gate. This gate feels very light, and is very easily forced open, but also snaps closed in a millisecond with a satisfying click. Some carabiners have gate springs that are very tight and make it effortful to force the rope through the closed gate, but not so with this one. The design is also such that the nose sticks out further than the top of the carabiner, with the gate angled outward as it descends, so that gravity assists in the clipping motion. It is literally possible to drop the rope through the gate. All of these factors contribute to the Helium 3 being among the easiest clipping carabiners you will find.
The "clean-lock" nose design makes this one of the easiest wire gate carabiners to unclip the rope or a sling from. This design recesses the hooked beak inside the nose design, so that there isn't a protruding hook, common on many wiregates, for the rope or slings to catch on when unclipping. The end result is a completely smooth nose (see photo).
Worth noting, however, is that the basket is very deep, and the nose does curve upwards at the end, rather than continuing on a flatter trajectory. What this means is the rope has to be lifted out of the basket in some situations, which isn't quite as easy as simply sliding it out. This complaint is minor, and this is certainly one of the easiest carabiners to unclip under duress.
If we have one major complaint about these awesome carabiners, it's their weight. Weighing in at 38g per, these are 5g per more than the last version and roughly 16g per heavier than the lightest options in this review. Granted, they are one of the largest as well, so the additional weight shouldn't come as a surprise, but both the added weight and the added size make them less portable compared to the competition.
How significant is the difference? If you have 20 of these on your cam rack, weighing 15g per carabiner more than the Black Diamond MiniWire, that would amount to 10.58 ounces of difference, or roughly 2/3 of a pound. For something as simple as the carabiners you are racking up with, this is actually a fairly significant amount, so how much weight matters to you should certainly be something to consider.
The Helium 3 has a relatively deep bucket, as compared to some others that are flatter in shape. The deep bucket focuses the rope down into the groove where it is meant to run but also makes it a bit harder for three ropes, or three figure-8 on a bight knots, to sit side by side inside the carabiner. If they do sit like this, then they inhibit the opening and closing of the gate a bit. On the other hand, if the knots or ropes are unweighted, they can be arranged to sit on top of each other and thus allow plenty of room for the gate to open.
It is no problem to fit a clove hitch, or twin ropes, through this large carabiner.
Handling is largely a function of how large a carabiner is, as we have found time and again that large 'biners, up to a certain point of course, are far easier to use than little tiny ones. As one of the largest in our current selection, the Helium 3 is naturally also one of the easiest ones to handle. This also comes into play when you are climbing in the winter with gloves on, and you may consider buying larger carabiners over smaller ones for use while alpine and ice climbing, simply for how much easier they are to use.
While this carabiner is hot-forged with I-beam construction, it lacks the added textured ridges that are sometimes added to hot-forged carabiners that serve to increase friction and grip.
Speaking strictly in terms of performance, we feel this carabiner offers great value, as it is one of the highest performing. Its price point is on the high end of the spectrum, although not out of line with other top-end carabiners. You can save a bit of money per unit if you choose to buy a six pack. That said, if you are on a budget, then there are quite a few options available that cost about half as much as this one, and would therefore likely provide greater value.
The Wild Country Helium 3 is a fantastic carabiner, and we think makes an excellent choice for racking cams, clipping nuts to, and for using on extendable alpine draws. Basically, if you are trad climbing, then these carabiners will easily find a place on your rack. We are less likely to recommend them for sport climbing draws, but still concede that their insanely easy clip-ability makes them a reasonable choice no matter what type of climbing you love most.
— Andy Wellman
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