Petzl Attache Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Versatile, lightweight, relatively affordable, lots of gate clearance, gate security stripe.
Cons: Screwgate can get stuck closed, aluminum I-beam construction wears out quicker than some.
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Our Analysis and Test Results
What we love about the Petzl Attache is that its I-beam construction allows for the HMS/pear-shaped design at a relatively light weight. The pear-shaped basket is easy to use as a belay or rappel device, and is also large enough to hold many different items clipped in, or a Munter hitch if you are forced to use one. It isn't quite as secure as an auto-locker due to the screw gate locking mechanism, but we do appreciate the safety stripe feature, where a swatch of red shows when the gate remains open, allowing for a very quick visual check whether you have locked the gate or not. That said, the Attache is a fair bit larger than the most common lightweight and compact lockers, so we typically only carry a couple with us on multi-pitch climbs, and fill out the rest of our rack with smaller and lighter choices.
The Attache is the carabiner that we most frequently grab, thanks to its simple and clean design and solid performance, no matter the application. Petzl carabiners are well designed. The size of the Attache allows it to be easily manipulated by both gloved and un-gloved hands. We use the Attache during days of ice climbing and alpine rock and snow climbing and appreciate that it is big enough not to fumble like some other lightweight options. The spring tension in the gate is less than some other HMS style competitors in this review, but we like that it feels easier to open but still snaps closed reliably and effectively.
Thanks to its classic HMS/pear shape, this contender is adept at holding clove hitches and Munter hitches, important considerations if looking at locking carabiners that can perform well on multi-pitch climbs or on alpine routes where a Munter hitch may be a more efficient belay than a standard tube style device or a plaquette (auto-blocking belay device), or necessary if you happen to drop your belay device.
This locking carabiner uses I-beam construction along the whole perimeter, even around the basket. The inner, rope-bearing surface is wider than the outside, which allows for a smoother feed when dealing with ropes under tension. That said, all I-beam shapes give more friction than round stock lockers. This friction is more noticeable when belaying with thick ropes in auto-block mode, such as belaying a second with a Petzl Reverso. The added benefit to using an I-beam construction locker when belaying auto-block, or guide mode, is that that it gives you an easy means to give slack to a weighted rope by ratcheting the carabiner back and forth.
Ease of Unlocking and Locking
The construction of this locking carabiner is top notch; the quality is apparent when clipping and locking the carabiner. The milling job is quite good and there is very little play between the screw lock and the gate. It is easy to screw the gate open and shut with and without gloves. We used the Attache rock climbing, alpine climbing in snow and ice, and ski mountaineering, and were impressed that it did not easily get jammed up with snow, ice or grit, likely due to the tighter fit of the screw lock.
The biggest issue we have with the current iteration of the Attache is that it is surprisingly easy to weld the screwgate closed, that is, tighten it down until it is so tight that climbers who are not as strong may have a very hard time unlocking it. This complaint is echoed in many online user reviews. To avoid this, realize that the screw gate only blocks the gate from opening, and isn't meant to join the gate to the nose. Similarly, locking the gate when it is under tension, and then attempting to unlock it while un-weighted, can lead to the gate feeling stuck. The best tactic is to screw the gate locked before tension is applied.
Compactness and Weight
With the Attache, Petzl has struck a perfect balance between size and weight. Among the larger carabiners in our test, the Attache is also one of the lightest. On our independent scale it weighed in at 57g. Since there is no major functionality tradeoff for its light weight, and because the Attache locker is a full-sized HMS carabiner that can hold hitches readily, it is one of the most versatile lockers in our review, at home at the gym, the crag, or an airy alpine face.
The Attache is a full-sized locker, and since you only need a minimum of 2-3 HMS or pear-shaped lockers per team member in a typical multi-pitching situation, consider rounding out the rest of your kit with smaller, more compact lockers. These little guys take up less space on the harness and pack, and weigh a lot less than their full-sized counterparts.
When it comes to gate security, the Attache is not as foolproof as an auto-locker. The screw gate means that in order for it to stay closed, one must first remember to screw it closed! While this sounds very simple, you may be surprised to find out how easy it is, especially if in a hurry, to not screw the locking gate closed, thereby rendering the 'biner as secure as a non-locking wiregate.
That said, among the screw gate lockers that we tested for this review, the Attache was one of the few that has a visual security indicator. This takes the form of a red strip on the gate that lives underneath the screwing mechanism. If you leave the gate unscrewed, red will show, telling you that it is not secure. Screw that gate closed and the red will be covered. The visual indicator makes it slightly more secure than the rest of the screw gate lockers.
The Attache has the most gate clearance, as measured by the ruler, of any 'biner in this review. While holding the gate open with a rubber band, we measured the size of the opening at 2.6 cm, larger even than the opening of some much larger carabiners.
We like the large clearance for such a light weight, since we are more likely to bring lightweight carabiners into the mountains with us. Having a wide opening is useful when clipping ourselves into big nests of slings at fixed anchors on alpine routes, putting a skier on belay with snowy ropes, or backing up a crevasse rescue system with multiple bight knots into one carabiner.
The Attache is a mid-ranged locking carabiner in our review. It is one of the more expensive carabiners that use traditional screwgate closures and do not have any specialty belay function. However, as the best overall locker, we feel this presents great value, and we highly recommend having a few of these on your rack.
The Petzl Attache has been one of the most popular locking carabiners on the market for a long time, and will continue to be so, thanks to its light weight, versatility and performance in most all tasks it was used in. It is a perfect choice for users looking to retain all the functionality that they expect from a full-sized locker, but at a fraction of the weight for those endeavors where shaving every ounce is critical, as well as for the everyday climber who wants a quality locking carabiner for their safety systems.
— Andy Wellman