Mad Rock Super Tech Keylock Screw Review
Cons: More revolutions of screw gate to open and close.
Manufacturer: Mad Rock
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mad Rock Super Tech Screw is very similar in overall performance to most of the other lightweight/compact lockers we've tested. While we awarded our Top Pick for lightweight and compact lockers to a different choice, we honestly feel that there is virtually no trade-off in practical performance. Compact lockers are pretty much all the same size, are so close to the same weight that it's negligible, and are best used for the same purposes; that is, everywhere you don't need a larger HMS/pear style locker. We use them for building anchors on multi-pitch climbs or top-ropes, and attaching ourselves to the anchor either with a single knot or a personal anchor system. The only downside with this locker, and it's minor, is that the screwgate requires a full 3 ¾ revolutions to go from completely open to completely locked closed, whereas the same task only requires two full revolutions with the best choices. Over the course of a long climb the extra time can add up, but again this is such a minor difference as to not really be a deciding factor.
Overall utility is a combination of how well the locker performs at its designed purpose, combined with how versatile it is. As a compact locker not meant for belay duties, rappelling or using a Munter hitch, the Super Tech performed really well. We only once noticed that we had a hard time clipping it to a giant rappel bolt anchor, but we still succeeded in the end.
Screwgates like these are good for use in the cold and the snow as they tend to be easy to manipulate with gloves on and don't freeze closed very often. However, they are not a good belay locker, as they are far too small to hold two ropes, as a larger pear-shaped biner does with ease.
Ease of Unlocking and Locking
In general, screwgate lockers are not nearly as easy to lock and unlock as auto-lockers, especially simple double-action auto-lockers. Among the collection of seven screw lock gates that we tested, this was the fourth easiest and quickest to get open, so roughly average. The textured metal on the outside of the locking barrel is easy to grip and spin, and it is smooth in function.
Compactness and Weight
The Super Tech weighs a mere 45g, making it one of the lightest in this review, as you would expect, and only 4g heavier than the absolute lightest. For those who think that those 4g are going to be noticeable, think of it in terms of ounces: the difference is 0.14 ounces. Yeah, not much! Even if you bought four of these instead of the lightest choice, the accumulated difference would still only be just over half an ounce, but you could save a significant chunk of change.
These lockers are also the exact same size as other compact options. That is, the smallest and most compact lockers you can buy, so they won't be filling up all the space you need for a tent and sleeping bag in your pack as you hike into the Wind River Range.
We rated the Super Tech the same as most of the screw gate lockers for gate security. If closed and oriented correctly (upside down so if the gate wiggles open with vibrations it doesn't open, but stays shut), these are as safe as they come.
Of course, the Achilles heel of all screw gate lockers when it comes to gate security is that you must first remember to lock it, every single time. It may be easy to remember once or twice, but on a large, 10-pitch route, you may have to lock a locker up 50 times or more, and it is not inconceivable that once or twice this task is forgotten. For this reason alone, auto-lockers are always the most secure.
We measured the gate clearance of the Super Tech at a mere 1.7cm, which really isn't surprising considering how small it is. The offset-D shape is designed to allow the spine to angle away from the gate and increase the clearance, but there is only so much increase that is possible in such a tiny package.
We noticed the lack of clearance when trying to clip into extra large rappel bolts, which are super fat around the bottom. With a bit of effort we managed to make it work, and point out that the clearance is still ever so slightly more than that found on the smallest choices. As long as you are only clipping one item to one item, clearance with a locker this small should not be the main issue.
You will be hard pressed to find any piece of climbing gear that is more affordable than this one. This is a fantastic value, and there is virtually no reason not to buy a few of these. You will always be able to find a use for them!
The Mad Rock Super Tech Keylock Screw wins our Best Bang for the Buck award for incredible value. Not only are they roughly half the price of comparable competitors, but they offer a negligible tradeoff in performance for that savings. Weight and wallet conscious climbers would be advised to replace their larger, heavier lockers with these small ones, and never look back!
— Andy Wellman