The Best Climbing Gear for Beginners (2023): Harnesses, Belay Devices, and Helmets

Picks We Liked

The DMM Alpha Wire Wire-Gate Carabiner for $17 also impressed me alongside the DMM Dyon. The wire gate is more conventional than the Dyon, but like the Dyon it’s completely snag-free, as DMM has effectively eliminated the notch on the nose. At 36 grams, it’s unnoticeably heavier than the Dyon and a few dollars more expensive.

Our old recommendation for a locking carabiner, the C.A.M.P. Photon Locking Carabiner for $13, and the non-HMS DMM Phantom Locking Carabiner for $16 are both excellent choices if you need snag-free lockers with buttery smooth screw gates and relatively low-ish weight. I didn’t notice any difference in building quality between the two.

There are various locking mechanisms for locking carabiners, including twist-lock and magnet-operated ones. They’re all fine, but go with the classic screw-gate, which is much cheaper. It’s what I use. If it gets stuck, apply some outward pressure (put it under load) and then try unscrewing it.

The C.A.M.P. Nano 22 Wiregate for $7 was my old pick, but I got tired of rope snagging the nose. Its schnoz has a reduced protrusion compared to traditional carabiners, so it’s not terrible, but it’s also not snag-free. Plus, they’re awfully small, and so building anchors on them can quickly become cumbersome. They’re still a fine choice for when you’re prioritizing low weight at a low price, such as clipping quickdraws.

A burlier option, the Metolius Belay Gloves for $40, certainly felt more substantial than the Black Diamond Crag gloves, but they’re overkill for most routes. Being made completely of cowhide with reinforced palms, they made me feel like I could’ve used them to grab onto a passing locomotive. The downside is that in the summer heat, they sure get sweaty.

Things We Didn’t Like

The Black Diamond RockLock Locking Carabiner for $15 performed admirably, but its non-scalloped edges made it extraordinarily heavy at 85 grams—twice the weight as the other lockers I tested. Most people won’t need something this huge. Plus, the nose had a tendency to snag on everything.

The Black Diamond HotWire Wiregate Carabiner for $10, a climbing classic, has been updated recently but just doesn’t stand out anymore. The nose snags so badly that I owe mine an apology for the names I called them in Alaska this spring.