DMM Phantom Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Light, small, least amount of revolutions needed for screwgate to lock or unlock
Cons: Expensive compared to alternatives, the least amount of gate clearance
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|Price||$14.95 at Backcountry|
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|$18.95 at REI|
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|Pros||Light, small, least amount of revolutions needed for screwgate to lock or unlock||Versatile, lightweight, relatively affordable, lots of gate clearance, gate security stripe||Twist-lock is easy and fast, versatile shape, lightweight, secure||Very light, affordable, visual indicator on screw gate, full-sized offset-D||Versatile, great for use with double ropes and belaying, auto-locking gate mechanism, wide gate opening|
|Cons||Expensive compared to alternatives, the least amount of gate clearance||Screwgate can get stuck closed, aluminum I-beam construction wears out quicker than some||Pricey, slightly less gate clearance than HMS style||Gate spring squeeks, less versatile than HMS style||Heavy and bulky|
|Bottom Line||The lightest and easiest to use small locker||The longtime standard as the best locker for all purposes||A lightweight, simple, twist-locking offset-D that performs better than the rest||Our Best Bang for the Buck winner due to its great price, but also its impressively lightweight||A versatile and secure choice that is easy to handle and use, if a bit heavy|
|Rating Categories||DMM Phantom||Petzl Attache||Petzl Sm'D Twist-Lock||CAMP USA Photon Lock||RockLock Twistlock|
|Overall Utility (25%)|
|Ease Of Unlocking And Locking (25%)|
|Compactness And Weight (20%)|
|Gate Security (20%)|
|Gate Clearance (10%)|
|Specs||DMM Phantom||Petzl Attache||Petzl Sm'D...||CAMP USA Photon Lock||RockLock Twistlock|
|Weight||41 g||57 g||51 g||44 g||93 g|
|Gate Closed Strength (KN)||24||22||23||23||24|
|Sideways Strength (KN)||9||7||8||8||8|
|Gate Open Strength (KN)||9||6||7||9||8|
|Gate Clearance (cm)||1.6 cm||2.6 cm||2.2 cm||1.8 cm||2.5 cm|
|Visual Locking Indicator?||No||Yes||Autolocking||Yes||Autolocking|
|Carabiner Shape||Offset-D||Pear/HMS||Offset-D||Offset-D||Large Pear/HMS|
|Lock Closure Type||Screwgate||Screw-lock||Twistlock, also comes in screw lock or triple action||Screwgate||Twistlock|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We tested four light and compact lockers for this review, and found that we enjoyed using the DMM Phantom Screwgate far more than any of the others. We typically carry three or four of these size lockers per person on a multi-pitch climb, using them for attaching to anchor bolts, at the end of a personal anchor device, and as the second locker for an ATC guide or Reverso style auto-locking belay device. Since we use them so frequently, and carry more than one, weight matters, as does function. Not only is this among the lightest lockers that you can find anywhere, but we love how quick and easy it is to unlock and lock. Compared to the competition, far fewer revolutions of the screw gate are needed to go from all the way open to all the way closed. This action is much smoother than the sometimes squeaky twisting action found on other lockers. It's also among the highest overall rated lockers in our comparative scoring, and as our favorite is the natural choice for our Top Pick award.
Overall utility is a measure of how well a locker performs at its designed purpose, combined with how versatile it is. Super light and compact lockers like the Phantom are not really designed to be used as belay or rappelling carabiners, and do not do a good job for those purposes. Simply put, they don't have enough space in the basket to accommodate multiple ropes (in the case of rappelling), and the angled, offset-D shape is not the best for minimizing rope friction, as it tends to force all ropes into the slot next to the spine, where there is friction from two sides.
These lockers thrive at securing one thing to another thing where the extra security of a locking gate is appreciated, but where multiple items, ropes, or knots are not being used. This makes them among the least versatile of all lockers, although their super light weight does induce one to bring them along, rather than leave them at home. While not super versatile, it is pretty much impossible to complain about the function of this locker.
Ease of Unlocking and Locking
The DMM Phantom Screwgate obviously requires one to screw the gate in order to lock it or unlock it. This task takes more time than auto-lockers to close, without doubt, but also generally takes more time to open as well. Despite this, we generally find opening screwgates to be easier than the sometimes elaborate finger gymnastics required to open a triple-action auto-locker.
Among all screwgates, the Phantom was the easiest and quickest to open and close. To compare, we measured how many revolutions of the screwlock it takes to go from completely open to completely closed, and in the case of the Phantom we found it to be two full revolutions, or four half turns. Every other screw gate took more than this, in some cases double or triple.
Compactness and Weight
At only 41g on our independent scale, this is the lightest locker in this review.
The Phantom isn't only the lightest, but also the smallest locker. To be fair, it is virtually the same size as a couple of the other compact lockers we compared it to, but is significantly smaller than any full-sized locker. If you are planning a trip into the Wind River Range in Wyoming, where the average approach is well over 10 miles, then weight and size are clearly some of the most important characteristics, and for these purposes the Phantom is supreme.
When it comes to gate security, screwgate lockers are at an inherent disadvantage compared to their auto-locking counterparts for the simple reason that one must remember to lock them in order to be sure they are secure. Combined with the multitude of tasks one is juggling at a hanging multi-pitch belay and you may be surprised out how easy this is to do.
Among the seven screwgate lockers we tested, those that have a safety stripe of red color on the gate, or other form of visual indicator, that is visible if the gate is still open, and invisible if it has been completely and properly screwed closed. This allows for a very simple and quick visual inspection. Most screwgate lockers, like the Phantom, lack this feature and are not as easy to visually check if they are closed. Additionally, we found that the screwgate on the Phantom is slightly prone to wiggling loose with vibrations, meaning for the most security we recommend you flip the 'biner basket side down, so gravity assists in keeping the gate closed.
At a mere 1.6cm of gate clearance at its narrowest point, this locker was tied for the least amount of clearance.
This would be a really big deal if this locker was designed for anything other than securely attaching slings or ropes. But as a super lightweight and compact locker, it is not ideal for bulky attachments, like clove hitches or Munter hitches, so while it received the lowest score for this metric, is not something we would really worry about when considering its value.
These lockers are a bit on the pricey side for what you get. That's the biggest downside that we can think of to buying multiple Phantoms. If you have to stick to a certain budget, then check out some of the other compact lockers, which offer nearly equal performance, but lower price tags.
The DMM Phantom Screwgate is the best light and compact locker you can buy, but comes with a larger price tag than most in this category. We appreciate how light and small it is, and especially how much easier it is to quickly open and close the gate compared to other lightweight lockers. As our Top Pick, we highly recommend carrying three to four of these on your rack for multi-pitch climbs.
— Andy Wellman