The Mad Rock Super Tech Keylock Screw presents the best value of any locking carabiner in our review, and so we are happy to recognize it with the Best Bang for the Buck award. At a mere $8 retail, you can buy two of these lockers for the same price as most of the others, and there is little in the way of trade-off in performance. The Super Tech is a small, compact offset-D shaped locker with a screw gate and I-beam construction to minimize weight while still meeting required strength tests. Compact lockers like this one make up the majority of our rack (we commonly carry around four or so on a long climb), with only a couple lockers needing to be the larger and heavier HMS style. Although we enjoyed the function of the DMM Phantom Screwgate slightly more, there is really no reason not to save some money and fill out your rack of lockers with these affordable ones.
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 locker most similar to the Mad Rock Super Tech that we tested is the DMM Phantom Screwgate. We awarded our Top Pick for lightweight and compact lockers to the Phantom, but we honestly feel that there is virtually no trade-off in practical performance between it and the Super Tech. They are pretty much the exact 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 compared to the Phantom, 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 on the Phantom. 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. Since you can buy two of these for same price as one of those, this is clearly the better value purchase.
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 the larger pear-shaped Petzl Attache 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 such as the gate found on the Petzl Freino or even the magnetic gate on the Black Diamond Vaporlock Magnetron.
Among the collection of seven screw lock gates that we tested, this was the second easiest and quickest to get open, behind the super fast Phantom Screwgate. 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 the third lightest in this review, and only 4g heavier than the Phantom Screwgate. 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 Phantoms, the accumulated difference would still only be just over half an ounce, but you could save $28.
These two lockers are also the exact same size. 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. The only auto-locker that is also light and compact is the Edelrid Pure Slider, but its gate is still very easy to open.
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 Phantom Screwgate. As long as you are only clipping one item to one item, clearance with a locker this small should not be the main issue.
Lightweight and compact lockers like the Mad Rock Super Tech are designed for use anywhere a larger HMS/pear-shaped locker is not needed. They are good for building anchors and clipping oneself into an anchor, but don't work well for belaying, rappelling, or multiple rope situations. We especially like them for lightening up the rack, which matters when performance is needed for climbing at your limit.
At a low cost of only $8 retail, 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