In the field, Ring compared how easy it was to clip and unclip each carabiner, taking into consideration gate and basket shape as well as gate tension and nose shape. One of the features that really differentiates the products from one another is the nose shape; some models, specifically wiregates, are fitted with a notch on the nose where the gate comes to rest. This notch can easily snag on bolt hangers, the rope, or even on the harness, especially if the product is small to begin with. Many solid gate designs use keylock technology, which means that the nose is smooth and easy to clean even on overhanging routes. Some products in this review have wiregates, but have keylock-like functionality, meaning that the notch is buried in the nose or the notch is surrounded by a wire hood that eliminates snagging.
After using the test results to rank all the products, OutdoorGearLab announced its three winners: the Wild Country Helium received the Editors' Choice award, the Mad Rock UltraLight earned the Best Buy award, and the new and improved Black Diamond Oz got the Top Pick award for Lightweight. For more information about each award winner, please read on.
Wild Country Helium
This innovative product ingeniously combines wiregate and keylock functionality. Rather than the typical nose notch mentioned above, the Helium features a notch that is inset into or buried in the nose. This way, Wild Country has solved the problem of the snagging wiregate! OutdoorGearLab's testers found it very easy to clip and unclip no matter the angle of the route. Additionally, this model is relatively lightweight and it is very easy to handle since it is full size. Thanks to its large basket size, rope bearing surface, and gate opening, it also received top marks in the company's “how many ropes fit” and “rope pulling smoothness” metrics, which make the Helium a good choice for anchor building and top-roping. Its design also make it ideal as an all-around carabiner - from sport and trad climbing to ice climbing and mountaineering. Although this product was the most expensive in the review, the Helium is an excellent option for those who can afford it. It also comes in a preassembled quickdraw.
Mad Rock UltraLight
An inexpensive wiregate design, the Mad Rock UltraLight also earned the Best Buy award in OutdoorGearLab's old review! This product is relatively lightweight and quite easy to handle. Although it earned mostly average scores across the board, the UltraLight is an excellent choice for climbers who need a basic biner and are on a tight budget. Like most inexpensive wiregate models, this Mad Rock piece does not feature a snag-free nose; however, at just $5.95 per unit, it is easy to work around this inconvenience. This product fully meets all safety standards and is easy to clip as well.
Black Diamond Oz
In OutdoorGearLab's old carabiner review, the wiregate Black Diamond Oz did not score well in several critical categories, including ease of unclipping; however, in the years since, Black Diamond has redesigned the Oz with a small wire hood that surrounds the notch on the nose. This greatly improved the Oz's ease of unclipping on overhanging routes and its overall convenience. Although this product is not the lightest in the review, it is the lightest mid-size biner. In the old review, the CAMP Nano 23 (which weighs five grams less than the Oz) earned the Top Pick for Lightweight. In the updated review, however, Ring decided that weight should be tempered with overall usability and opted to give the Top Pick award to the more user-friendly Oz. This product is no quite as strong as some of its competitors, but it still meets all industry regulations. It falls right in the middle of the price range, which also makes it a fairly good deal.
OutdoorGearLab LLC is a company headquartered in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Dedicated to creating world’s best outdoor gear reviews, the company performs side-by-side testing of outdoor gear and publishes the results in comparative reviews. Each product is scored across a range of weighted categories, competing products are graded, and top performing products receive awards. The company’s web site http://www.outdoorgearlab.com, is a free resource for people who love the outdoors and participate in activities such as hiking, climbing, backpacking, and camping.