Choosing the Right Tool for the Job – Carabiners

The Black Diamond Journal recently posted an excellent article that discusses some of the characteristics of various types of carabiners.  It’s an excellent overview of carabiners in general, but also contains some details of interest to seasoned climbers.  I’ll post an excerpt here- for the rest, check out the original post on Black Diamond’s blog.


QC LAB: Choosing the Right Tool for the Job – Carabiners

By Kolin Powick

With dozens of companies making untold numbers of carabiners these days, it can be a real chore to navigate through countless different models to choose the one that’s right for your type of climbing. Wiregate vs. standard gate.  AutoLock vs. screwgate. Ultralight vs. heavy. What biners should I use on my slimmed-down alpine rack as opposed to my daily sport cragging kit? As with most pieces of climbing gear, there is a certain amount of inherent versatility, but often certain products are better suited, and more often than not designed specifically for certain applications. As with almost anything, it’s always prudent to select the right tool for the job. This month we’ll attempt to distill the basics of carabiner usage to help you figure out what’s the right choice for your type of climbing.

Differences between Industrial and Recreational Carabiners

We’ll start off with a quick word on basic carabiner use because we get this question all the time.

I get lots of random calls from arborists, fire departments, rescue workers, marinas, yachting folks, Jeep guys and warehouse personnel wanting to know if it’s okay to use our carabiners for their particular application. The official answer is always no, not recommended. Just as all of our instructions say, our gear is “For Climbing and Mountaineering Only.” But why?

The simple answer is that we are climbers and mountaineers, we know climbing and mountaineering, and we design, test and certify our gear for climbing and mountaineering. We’re not as intimate with the loads, the uses, misuses and abuses of these other applications.

What many people may not realize is the different ways that recreational gear is designed, tested and rated compared to industrial equipment. Industrial carabiners are usually made of steel, are much heavier, are much stronger, and rated differently than aluminum climbing carabiners.

An industrial carabiner is usually rated to a SWL (safe working load, or safe working limit)- of let’s say 30kN. This means that you can load the carabiner safely to 30kN. And in industrial applications there is almost always some kind of safety factor say of 2 or greater, which means that the carabiner won’t actually break until around 60kN. However, climbing gear is rated to the load at which it will actually break. So a 20kN carabiner actually breaks at that load. There’s a big difference.

Bottom line: Climbing gear shouldn’t be used in industrial applications—it just isn’t designed and rated for those types of loads and situations.


This is only a small excerpt of the complete article- to see the rest, visit Black Diamond’s Journal here.

 

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