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Alison Dennis

Reviews

Lifeguard

Mad Rock
Madrock Lifeguard Belay Device
3.48

I'm biased because I prefer multi-pitch climbing to single-pitch climbing

This device initially caught my attention because of the weight (light), price (cheaper than competitors), no plastic bits (less wearing), size (it's small!).

In use, I found it's really smooth to take in slack and it seems to catch a fall in the same way a GriGri does (literally in the camming mechanism and also in the user experience). Everything happens pretty quick and a dynamic belying skill is helpful. Fat ropes and light climbers definitely mean you have the device almost completely open to lower at a slowish speed.

I really do love that this is a small device and I can use it with an offset D for a super light setup. If weight is your top priority, this is one of the best mechanical brake assist options. (If you go non-mechanical, Edelrid's Jul2 or MegaJul are great super light brake assist options options).

I would give it 5 stars but...
- .5 star for a lack of slack collection while using in guide mode (a method most climbers probably won't use... I used guide mode while multi-pitch climbing and simul-rappelling in Mexico).
- .5 stars for lowering (really, the lowering is pretty similar to the Petzl GriGri, which I'm not a huge fan of either. With constant use, you'll become more comfortable and gain more control of the lowering, but for me I feel like I can regulate a larger range of rope diameters in a smoother fashion with a tuber. Aside: For a mechanical brake assist device the Trango Vergo has some of the smoothest lowering I've tried (I haven't tried the CAMP Matik yet that has an extendable handle for more control).

Note: Unlike the CAMP Matik and GriGri + (coming 2017), the Lifeguard does not have a safety backup/cam re-engagement if the handle is jammed back in the full throttle open mode by a [scared] climber. There is also no cam override mechanism for feeding slack quickly.

OvalWire

Black Diamond
Black Diamond OvalWire
3.48

Don't trust it to hold your nuts

Pros
oval
Cons
heavy
doesn't carry nuts well...

You cannot use the BD wire gate oval that comes with their nut set to hold your nuts. You need a solid gate oval. I was told this by my climbing mentor once before I led a climb (with my new nuts and accompanying wire gate biner). I thought “ok, sure, I'll think about it” . During the climb I experienced the reason why a wire gate is not a good idea here. When testing the nut, giving it a good tug with the biner/rest of the nuts, the placed nut somehow came off the wire gate biner. What?! That week I purchased a solid gate oval and have never had this issue again. I wish BD would sell their nuts with the solid gate instead.


Occasionally I use this wire gate for my glacier travels for my rescue system instead (with pully/prussik/knife). But my Omega Pacific oval is a bit smaller/lighter and does the job just as well (it has a smaller gate opening, but with such infrequent use it's not an issue at all).

Nano 23

CAMP
CAMP Nano 23 Full View
3.48

Maybe I'm too needy and can't handle micro biners

Pros
uber lightweight
Cons
super small gate opening
stiff gate action

I have pretty small (girl) hands. I still think the gate opening on this biner is too small (and rather stiff). Only one finger can fit comfortably on the gate (two fingers = one gets smushed when you go to close the gate). I've heard a few people claim “you get used to it” but I'm not hardcore enough to keep trying something that doesn't work for me. I have two of these biners and they rarely accompany me on a trip. For a small biner, I'd rather have 4-7 more grams and a pleasant experience. It works like it should, but that just doesn't work for me. Note: I know CAMP has slightly improved the Nano 23 since it's first release, which is the model I have. I haven't tried any of the newer ones.

Nitro

Wild Country
Wild Country Nitro Tech Wire Full View
6

It's Friday, I'm in love

Pros
Lightweight
size
great gate opening
acts like keylock even though it's not...
price
Cons
NONE

This is my favorite biner (perhaps because I can't afford the Wild Country Heliums). I talk about how nice this biner is on basically every climb. It's just awesome. It actually makes me happy when I clip with it. Where to begin? The gate opening is large, and the gate action is incredibly easy and smooth—so much better than the BD Neutrinos. I wish this came in different colors, I'd be happy to rack with these as well. For draws they're excellent; they're super easy to clip into gear/bolts/chains/whatever. The nose is basically keylock—it is extremely rare for it to catch on anything. If you can't afford the amazing Heliums, then the Nitro's are definitely the nicest 2nd option. In fact, you could save your money, get these and still be totally happy.

Oval

Black Diamond
Black Diamond Oval
5.16

It carries my nuts comfortably

Pros
carries my nuts
cheap
Cons
heavyish

In my opinion you cannot use the BD wire gate oval that comes with their nut set to hold your nuts. You need a solid gate (oval) biner. I was told this by a climbing mentor once before I led a climb (with my new nuts and accompanying wire gate biner). I thought “ok, sure, I'll think about it” at first. And then during the climb I experienced the reason why a wire gate biner is not a good idea here. When testing the nut, giving it a good tug with the biner/rest of the nuts, the placed nut somehow came free off the biner. What?! That week I purchased this solid gate oval and have never had this issue again. The gate action is also smooth and a great resistance. If somebody stole this biner, I would buy it again. I wish BD would sell their nuts with this solid gate instead.


I'm too lazy to take all my nuts off this biner to use it for my glacier travels, so I use the oval wire gate biner that came with the nuts for my rescue system instead (with pullys/prussiks). Because ovals really do work a ton better for a pully system.

VaporLock Screw

Black Diamond
Black Diamond Vaporlock Screwgate
5.16

A great screw

Pros
size
weight

I have 2 or 3 lockers on my rack. This is always one of them. It's a great biner that doesn't take up too much room and has a pretty large gate opening that works easily for any anchor/power point. It spins pretty well with 7 spins up and about 5 spins down with gravity. I'd be willing to use this as a belay biner; I'm sure it could do a munter, and it handles clove hitches like a charm. Basically, it holds whatever I need to fit into it, and is happy about it.

Neutrino 2017

Black Diamond
Black Diamond Neutrino Carabiner
2.58

I rack with these

Pros
color-coded
Skinny
cost
Cons
fairly small gate opening for the weight
nose catches a fair bit

I have two sets of the 6-pack Neutrinos. I bought them because they were some of the first biners I saw to come color-coded--and the anodized colors perfectly matched my BD cams.

My biggest grief is that the non-keylock nose sticks fairly often. It's pretty annoying but not enough for me to give them up and buy different racking biners (just enough that I wouldn't recommend them to others).

They're also a little heavy for such a tiny gate-opening. The gate action is fairly stiff but not discouraging. I tried a few as alpine draws but that provided a disappointing experience too; the Neutrino specialty is definitely cheap-color-coded racking.

They're pretty thin, which is a plus for racking. Though if I were to buy racking biners today, I would buy a different model (willing to spend $1-2 more per 'biner to increase the handling), since there are so many more options now.

Titan

Wild Country
Wild Country Titan Full View
4.32

Skinny Spinny

Pros
Skinny
Cons
lots of spins to lock/unlock

Often I have 2 lockers on my harness. Sometimes I take this one if I want a lightweight third biner. It's a stylish biner that doesn't take up too much room/weight and has a fairly large gate opening that works easily for any anchor/power point. The only con I find is that its pretty slow to lock/unlock with 10ish spins up, and with gravities help, 8 spins down.

Astro

Wild Country
Wild Country Astro Tech Wire Full View
4.32

Best of the uber-lights

Pros
Light
easy gate action
nose doesn't snag much even though it's not keylock...
Cons
small gate opening

I use these biners (w/ a locker) for my cordelette. For me they (along with all the other super lightweight biners) have too small of a gate opening for me to easily rack with them (practice makes perfect?...). Either way, I like having this biner around. I've used them on draws before and they worked, but I haven't done it since--they're just not as awesome as the WC Nitros (or Heliums), but those full-size biners aren't really a fair comparison. Compared to other micro-biners I like this one the most.

Rocklock Screwgate

Black Diamond
Black Diamond Rocklock Screwgate
4.32

My belay biner!

Pros
big without a crazy weight gain
smooth locking gate action

This biner is my permanent belay biner. It's fairly large ("Does your biner hang low? Does it wobble to and fro?..."), so it'll easily accommodate a munter or whatever else you might throw it's way. I only have one large locker on my rack, and this is it. The gate action is somewhat slow (6 spins up) but gravity helps it the other way (4 spins down). No matter the orientation, I've never had an issue with it becoming unlocked, even after an aggressive belay.