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Petzl Sm'D Twist-Lock Review

A favorite due to its versatile shape and very easy to open twist-locking gate design
Petzl Sm'D Twist-Lock
Photo: REI Co-op
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $20 List | $18.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Twist-lock is easy and fast, versatile shape, lightweight, secure
Cons:  Pricey, slightly less gate clearance than HMS style
Manufacturer:   Petzl
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 10, 2020
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 15
  • Overall Utility - 25% 7
  • Ease of Unlocking and Locking - 25% 9
  • Compactness and Weight - 20% 7
  • Gate Security - 20% 9
  • Gate Clearance - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Sm'D is full-sized, and has a great twist-locking gate that is easy to open with one hand, snaps closed and locked automatically for the greatest security, and has a large basket that can fit multiple ropes, knots, and virtually any kind of belay device. It is a general, all-purpose locker that thrives for building anchors, as well as rigging applications such as rope access or big wall climbing, where frequent and repetitive use make the twist-locking design a real time saver.

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Petzl Sm'D Twist-Lock
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $18.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$15.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$14.95 at Backcountry
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$17 List
Check Price at Backcountry
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Pros Twist-lock is easy and fast, versatile shape, lightweight, secureVersatile, lightweight, relatively affordable, lots of gate clearance, gate security stripeVery light, affordable, visual indicator on screw gate, full-sized offset-DLight, small, least amount of revolutions needed for screwgate to lock or unlockSimple design, very versatile, affordable
Cons Pricey, slightly less gate clearance than HMS styleScrewgate can get stuck closed, aluminum I-beam construction wears out quicker than someGate spring squeeks, less versatile than HMS styleExpensive compared to alternatives, the least amount of gate clearanceDoesn’t prevent rotation with an ATC style belay device, a bit heavy, can be awkward on a gear loop
Bottom Line A favorite due to its versatile shape and very easy to open twist-locking gate designThe best and most versatile locker at a reasonable priceThis lightweight offset-D is not only a perfect choice for the budget conscious, but for anyone who wants top performanceOur favorite personal locker is great for building anchorsThe simplest and most versatile anti-crossloading locking carabiner
Rating Categories Petzl Sm'D Twist-Lock Petzl Attache CAMP USA Photon Lock DMM Phantom DMM Rhino
Overall Utility (25%)
7.0
10.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Ease Of Unlocking And Locking (25%)
9.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Compactness And Weight (20%)
7.0
7.0
9.0
10.0
6.0
Gate Security (20%)
9.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Gate Clearance (10%)
8.0
10.0
5.0
3.0
8.0
Specs Petzl Sm'D Twist-Lock Petzl Attache CAMP USA Photon Lock DMM Phantom DMM Rhino
Weight 51 g 57 g 44 g 41 g 73 g
Gate Closed Strength (KN) 23 22 23 24 27
Sideways Strength (KN) 8 7 8 9 9
Gate Open Strength (KN) 7 6 9 9 7
Gate Clearance (cm) 2.2 cm 2.6 cm 1.8 cm 1.6 cm 2.2 cm
Visual Locking Indicator? Autolocking Yes Yes No No
Carabiner Shape Offset-D Pear/HMS Offset-D Offset-D Offset D/HMS
Lock Closure Type Twistlock, also comes in screw lock or triple action Screw-lock Screwgate Screwgate Triple action, double-action, or Screwgate

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Petzl Sm'D is a lightweight offset-D locker that comes in three different locking versions: screw gate, twist lock, or what they call "triact-lock," which is a triple-action locking mechanism for the most security. The price of the locker varies depending on which of these you choose. We tested the twist-lock, which has an automatically locking gate the moment it is released, which is especially useful when you need to quickly open it or have it lock upon closing, as the twist-lock mechanism takes much less time to manipulate than a screw locking gate. The downside is that it is more likely to get jammed due to snow or ice if you use it in the winter, although this is by no means guaranteed.

An interesting feature found on this locker that isn't found on any other we have reviewed is a small hole through the metal stock just below the gate hinge. This hole is designed as an attachment point for a keeper cord tied to a tibloc, micro-traxion, or Gri-Gri. These devices are perfect for pairing with the Sm'D, but are also small and fiddly and require being removed from the carabiner to be put on the rope. A keeper cord will ensure they don't accidentally end up dropped. If you like the shape of the Sm'D, but want a larger size, check out the Am'D.

Performance Comparison


The Sm'D is a full-sized yet compact offset-D shaped locker that we...
The Sm'D is a full-sized yet compact offset-D shaped locker that we tested with a twist-locking gate. It is a do-everything kind of carabiner that handles well, provides peace of mind due to excellent gate security, and even has a small hole, seen next to the gate spring, for attaching a keeper loop when pairing with other devices. Using it as a top-rope anchor in this photo to reduce wear on fixed hardwear.

Overall Utility


This carabiner features an I-beam construction designed to cut down on weight while also still being easy to handle, even with gloves on. It also has a keylocking nose, a feature now standard on almost any locking carabiner, but which helps ensure that the nose will not hook or hang up on anything. Its offset-D shape is appropriate for any use, and it's smaller size and lower weight means there is no reason not to bring it with you on whatever climb you may do.


In general, we find offset-D shaped carabiners to be slightly less versatile than round stocked pear-shaped carabiners, which thrive for belaying and rappelling. However, the shape of the Sm'D, compared to the other top offset-Ds we compared it to, has a flatter basket that doesn't angle so aggressively towards the nose and gate. This gives more space for a wider variety of devices to be used in conjunction with it, or for two ropes in the case of rappelling, without causing rope pinching or bunching up that would happen if the basket was angled more sharply. This is a very versatile carabiner.

The I-Beam construction leaves a wide surface on the inside of the...
The I-Beam construction leaves a wide surface on the inside of the basket for the rope to run over, which reduces friction. The basket is also flatter and wider than most offset-Ds, which again reduces friction and makes for a smoother belay or rappell. We enjoyed using this carabiner as the second locker on our multi-pitch, auto-locking belay setup, and think it is versatile enough for virtually any use.

Ease of Unlocking and Locking


When it comes to locking, it is hard to imagine having an easier design. There is nothing that a person needs to do to lock this carabiner, as the spring-loaded action in the gate and the twist-locking mechanism ensure that it snaps closed and locked the second the gate is released. There is no need to remember to lock the gate; it happens automatically in a moment.


To unlock the gate of this carabiner, one must use one or two fingers and thumb on the gate to twist the red locking cylinder a quarter of a turn around the gate, which aligns it with the nose, and then open the gate while holding the lock in place. This takes a little bit of dexterity, but when done right happens in a fraction of a second, which is much less than it takes to manually unscrew a screw gate carabiner. The twist-lock mechanism is stamped with cross-hatched texture for added friction with your fingers, and also has some hard-edged half-moon shaped cutouts that also improve the grip. Thus, it is among the easiest carabiners to quickly unlock.

To open, you must twist the gate a quarter turn, until the opening...
To open, you must twist the gate a quarter turn, until the opening on the red locking mechanism aligns with keylocking nose, and then push it open. While this takes some dexterity, it is also really fast. You can see the added grip that is added to the twist-gate to help with the process.

Weight and Compactness


This carabiner weighs in at 51 grams, which is pretty light. It is about six grams lighter than the pear-shaped Attache, but a reasonable amount heavier than some of the other offset-Ds we've compared it to, especially the more compact options. Most of the added weight is likely in the twist-lock mechanism, which weighs more than a screw locking gate.


While the twist-lock weighs slightly more, we think it has some nice advantages over screw locking gates that make the added weight worth it, especially considering we are only talking a couple of grams difference. Similarly, you can save close to 10 grams per carabiner if you opt for the smallest and most compact lockers. The Sm'D is certainly more versatile than these tiny lockers, so it may be worth it carrying the added extra weight. If we had our choice, we would likely carry a couple of Sm'Ds and a few super compact lockers for building anchors on multi-pitch climbs.

The Sm'D weighs 51 g, which is middle of the road. This photo shows...
The Sm'D weighs 51 g, which is middle of the road. This photo shows the differences in sizes and compactness, with the largest HMS and pear-shaped carabiners on the top, the "full-sized" offset-D lockers in the middle, including the Sm'D on the left in gold, and the smallest compact lockers in the bottom.

Gate Security


We had virtually no concern during our testing that the gate of this carabiner would somehow work itself open once locked on its own. The spring-loaded action in the locking mechanism is robust and locks the gate with authority. The only way that the gate would not be locked is if something blocks it when it closes, such as a sling or a bolt hanger, if the carabiner is not fully put in place. For this reason, a quick visual inspection that the gate is closed is still wise, and if the gate is closed, then it is for sure locked.


Having this amount of security is nice. While screw gates are a bit cheaper and also weigh less, one must remember to lock them every time they are used, and this is something we have forgotten to do many times in our climbing careers. Usually, you realize you forgot when you go to unlock the gate and find out that it was never locked in the first place, a disconcerting feeling. The double-action locking of the twist-lock is not quite as secure as a triple-action locker, which requires three motions rather than two to unlock it, but actually finds the sweet spot of good security while not being annoying to open every time.

Using the Sm'D as the second carabiner in an auto-block belay setup...
Using the Sm'D as the second carabiner in an auto-block belay setup where we are bringing the second up on a multi-pitch climb. If the gate is closed, then it automatically locks shut, so you don't need to remember to screw the gate closed.

Gate Clearance


We measured the gate's clearance at 22 millimeters, or 2.2 centimeters, while on Petzl's website, they quote the clearance at 20 millimeters. For a relatively compact locker, this distance is on the higher side of the spectrum, making it easier to add and remove items from the basket, especially when there are multiple items, like knots or ropes, that can block the gate from opening if they bunch up on each other inside the carabiner.


A wider gate opening is also nice if you plan to pair the Sm'D with other devices such as a Gri-Gri, Micro-traxion, or ascender, as it simply makes all the clipping and unclipping you may need to do smoother.

We measured the gate clearance at 2.2 cm, which is pretty spacious...
We measured the gate clearance at 2.2 cm, which is pretty spacious for an offset-D design. A gate opening this wide simply makes it easier to get multiple items like ropes, knots, or devices on and off the carabiner without hassle.

Value


This carabiner's price varies depending on what type of gate locking mechanism you choose, with the twist-lock and triact-lock costing more than the simpler screw gate. While you may have to shell out a couple of extra dollars for a twist-lock, we think the peace of mind that comes from having an auto-locking carabiner is more than worth it. Since it is one of the highest-scoring carabiners in our review and functions well, we think there is great value in this purchase.

Using the Sm'd as a belay locker, paired with the Gri-Gri. While...
Using the Sm'd as a belay locker, paired with the Gri-Gri. While it's a bit small compared to some of the other belay specific lockers, and doesn't have an anti-crossloading feature, we thought it worked really well for this purpose.

Conclusion


The Petzl Sm'd Twist-Lock is our favorite offset-D shaped carabiner, which makes up the bulk of the selection we would carry on any given day of climbing. Offset-Ds tend to be lightweight, and this one is more versatile than most due to its wide, flat basket shape. The twist-locking gate adds security and peace of mind, and is very easy to manipulate to open quickly. If you are looking to bulk up your locker selection, you can't go wrong by adding a few Sm'Ds.

Top-roping classics at the southern Colorado sport climbing area of...
Top-roping classics at the southern Colorado sport climbing area of Penitente. When top-roping, we like to hang a couple of our own-lockers on the anchors, to reduce the wear on the fixed hardwear that a top-rope causes.

Andy Wellman