Carabiners are simple, extraordinarily useful devices that you can use in order to keep yourself secure while you are climbing a rock face on your vacation or a building at a job site. It is, of course, important to use them properly in order to prevent injury or death. A carabiner is a simple loop that opens inward as a gate, allowing you to attach climbing gear. These metal rings can be oval, d-shaped, or pear shaped. The spring loaded gate, or arm, can be opened inward in order to feed a rope or other piece of climbing equipment through the carabiner. The arm then springs shut. The arm only opens inward, never outward. This secures the rope so that any attached devices, or humans, will not slip away.
Any climbing device, including a carabiner, should have the stamp of approval of the International Union of Alpine Associations, or the IUAA. If not, they should have the approval of the Conformité Européenne, or CE, in order to show that it meets the standards of European safety. These two agencies test climbing gear under real conditions in order to verify that they are safe for use. If a carabiner does not have either of these two stamps, you should never buy or use them.
Carabiners are also known as biners or crabs. They have been tested to withstand extreme amounts of pressure and force. Most are designed to withstand between one and four metric tonnes of force.
In order to use a carabiner properly, it needs to be loaded properly. They must be loaded from the correct end of the loop. This end will take on a curved or “v” shape. An improperly loaded carabiner is “cross loaded.” This means that it is loaded along the longest side of the device, which is the weakest point in the ring. You should never cross load a carabiner, because this can put more strain on the device than it was intended to carry. This is very unsafe and can lead to injury or death. It should be avoided at all costs.
There are three different kinds of carabiners that occur in common design. The first type of carabiner is called a screwgate. A screwgate is a type of carabiner that comes with a cover that can be screwed into position once the carabiner is loaded. This prevents the carabiner from opening accidentally during climbing.
The second common type of carabiner is called a clipgate. Also referred to as snap gates, clipgates are best for clipping onto protection devices and slings. You simply press the gate against the sling and the gate opens. It snaps shut once the sling is loaded inside. Even though the arm only opens inward, there is no locking mechanism on a clipgate. While it is unlikely that an event will occur that causes a clipgate to open inward, the lack of a lock makes clipgates less safe for use than screwgates.
The third type is called an auto-locking carabiner. This option can be safer than the other two options because it has a locking mechanism, and there is no possibility that you will forget to lock the device while you are climbing. It is important to keep dirt out of the locking mechanism, however, as this can prevent the locking device from operating effectively.
If a carabiner is dropped onto a hard surface from a significant distance, this can do damage to the internal structure of the ring. Damage can occur at the molecular level, so even if you do not see any damage it is unsafe to use a carabiner after dropping it a significant distance. When in doubt, it is always safer to buy a new one than it is to use a potentially damaged piece of climbing gear.
A carabiner are a very simple device that allows you to climb safely and effectively. Treat them with respect and always use them properly. You will be rewarded with an enjoyable and fun climbing experience.