At a mere 41g measured on our independent scale (42g according to DMM), the Phantom Screwgate is among the lightest locking carabiners in the world. Not only is it light, but also compact, having the smallest overall profile of any that we tested. It's offset-D shape built with I-beam construction allows for top-notch strength shrunk down into the easiest to carry with you size. In truth, most of the lockers that we carry on our own racks are of the light and compact variety, as we only need two HMS/pear style lockers to get the job done (one for belay device, one for master point). With its quick and easy to open and close screw gate and unparalleled weight savings, the DMM Phantom Screwgate is the best light and compact locker you can own, and is our top recommendation for filling out your rack of lockers.
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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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 Mad Rock Super Tech Keylock Screw, 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 squeaky twisting action found on the Black Diamond Positron, and much more secure than the tiny lock on the Edelrid Pure Slider. It is 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, and we scored it slightly higher than the Positron or Mad Rock Super Tech in this category.
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 such as the Edelrid HMS Bulletproof Triple FG.
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 easily the lightest locker in this review. The second lightest is the Edelrid Pure Slider, which weighted in at a still very light 43g, but does not have as secure of a gate closure.
The Phantom isn't only the lightest, but also the smallest locker. To be fair, it is virtually the same size as the Mad Rock Super Tech, but is significantly smaller than every other locker that we tested. 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, the Petzl Attache is the most secure because it has a safety stripe of red color on the gate 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. The rest of the 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 with the Petzl Freino for the least amount of clearance.
This would be a really big deal if, like the Freino, 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.
The DMM Phantom Screwgate is best used in conjunction with a couple of larger HMS/pear style lockers for building anchors on multi-pitch climbs. We like to carry four of them for attaching to bolts at anchors, and as the second locker needed for an auto-locking belay device. They are also perfectly suitable for attachment points on the end of personal anchor systems. While they can work in a pinch, we don't recommend them for use on a belay or rappel device. The easy to grip and open screw gate makes these lockers perfectly suitable for use in the cold or snow.
Retailing for $15, these lockers are certainly on the pricey side for what you get. That is the biggest downside that we can think of to buying multiple Phantoms. If you want virtually the same performance, but have to stick to a certain budget, then check out the far more affordable Mad Rock Super Tech Keylock Screw, which presents a better value.
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