What Is a Carabiner? Definition and Meaning
A carabiner is a shackle or coupling link with a metallic loop containing a spring-loaded gate for safety closure. It is used to rapidly and reversibly link components, particularly instability and safety-critical systems such as climbing rocks or buildings.
The term carabineer is a shortened version of Karabinerhaken, a German name for a “spring hook” used by a carbine machine gunner to fasten his carabin to a belt. Carabiners have curved bodies and a straight bar that works like a gate. The bar may also be curved in other cases.
Each carabiner has a locking or closing mechanism that allows items to be fastened to it without the risk of them falling off. Carabiners, unlike typical coupling links, devoid of closure point, allow for simple clipping and provide a secure waypoint for anyone who might require one.
What Are Carabiners Used For?
We have rope-intensive sports, such as climbing, caving, and sailing. Still, there are rope rescue, industrial rope work, window washing, whitewater rescue, and acrobatics. All these activities employ carabiners extensively.
Nearly all carabiners are built of steel and aluminum. However, those used in sports are lighter than those purported for commercial applications and rope rescue fronts. Today, mini-biners, or carabiner-style keyrings, are becoming more popular.
There’s a lack of common laboratory testing and safety standards in manufacturing. As such, carabiners may bear a stamp “Not for Climbing” or a comparable warning.
While, from an etymological standpoint, a carabiner is any metal connecting link containing a spring gate, the usage is specific in the world of climbing. The term is reserved for devices designed and evaluated for load-bearing weight-bearing in safety-critical processes such as rock climbing and mountaineering.
Additionally, to attach the envelope to the basket, hot air balloons utilize carabiners rated at 2.5 tonnes going up to 4 tonnes. On the other hand, a load-bearing rappelling carabiner with screw gates links the umbilical of the diver to the surface-supplied diver’s harness. Their maximum safe operating load is generally 5 kN or higher.
How Do Carabiners Work?
Carabiners create a full loop while in use. Besides, they come in various forms, including ovals, ovals with square sides, spheres, D-shapes, apple shapes, or S patterns. Again, they all have movable gates that permit ropes or straps to pass through. However, the mechanics of these differ.
On the other hand, they are spring-loaded to keep them closed unless they are forced to open. But, under typical climbing conditions, the pressure from the spring is generally adequate to hold the gate closed. Since this structure is not appropriate for all uses, some versions integrate locking gates.
Carabiner locking systems are classified into three types: automatic, manual, and free-lock. For instance, free-locking carabiners have a springy movable gate that takes a line, sling, or other fasteners.
To make a quickdraw, rock climbers typically link two non-locking carabiners to a short piece of webbing (an extender). Here is all you should know about the different types of carabiners for rock climbing and how to select climbing quickdraws.
These are the commonly used gates:
1. Solid gate: The more conventional carabiner design has a thick steel gate, separate pin, and spring systems. The contemporary carabiners have a ‘key-lock nose form and a gate opening that snags a little more than the classic notch and pin form.
2. Wire gate: The gate is formed by a stretch of bent spring-steel line, with no secondary spring or pins required (a type of ‘active hinge’). Wire gate carabiners are light when compared to solid gate carabiners, but both have similar strengths. Since wire gates tend to resist icing, they are excellent for ice and alpine climbing.
Due to reduced gate mass, their wire bales are less vulnerable to “gate flutter.” Gate flutter is hazardous yet common when the carabiner unexpectedly strikes a rock during a fall. In such an incident, the carabiners’ gate opens and lets the rope loose.
Simple wire-gate designs include a notch for snagging. However, newer designs have a shroud or guiding wires wrapped around the “pinned” section of the carabiner nose to avoid dragging.
Both the Solid gates and wire gate carabiners may contain straight or bent gates. The latter is easier to clip a rope onto, single-handedly. It is used in lead climbing and rope end carabiners for quickdraws.
How are Carabiners Rated?
Should you look keenly, you will see three sets of numbers with the letters kN on the spine of any rock-climbing carabiner. A set of vertical arrows will be on one set of numbers, a horizontal arrow will be on another set, and lastly, a picture of an open carabiner will be on the third set.
kN means kilonewton, a unit of measurement used to determine how much force a carabiner can securely bear. A kN is equivalent to around 225 pounds of force. The vertical arrows, parallel to the spine of the first row of numbers, indicate how much force the carabiner can sustain on its main axis with the gate locked.
For instance, if the value is 24 kN, it implies that it can resist roughly 5,400 pounds of strain before becoming inoperable after being closed and loaded for long periods.
The subsequent number should drop substantially, by about a third, and be marked with arrows running perpendicular to the carabiner’s spine. The minor axis represents the force that indicates how strong the carabiner is once an external force is exerted on the gates and spine. If the label says 7 kN, it implies that if the carabiner is loaded horizontally (cross-loaded), it will only sustain 1,575 pounds of strain.
The numbers should be close by one or two digits to the first set in the last set. A small image showing a carabiner with its gate open generally follows the strength rating. This is referred to as the opening gate power. It may be lowered by up to a third of its maximum power. For example, if we used 8 kN as an example, the carabiner would resist about 1,800 pounds of force.
How Are Carabiners Measured?
Carabiners are rigorously tested and certified to ensure that they meet strict specifications. These specifications are set based on the intended use of the carabiners. According to OSHA regulations, a carabiner must support a minimum weight of 3,600 pounds.
These rules are in place to help with fall prevention, as such. Shipbuilding, construction, and maritime terminals are among the industries affected. Carabiners’ resistance to force is measured in kiloNewtons (kN), with one kN equaling roughly 225 pounds.
The center of the big bend, also known as the main axis, is the carabiner’s strongest section or the place that can hold the most weight. According to OSHA, a carabiner must have a minimum breaking strength of 16 kN to be considered safe.
By measuring the amount of pressure needed to open the gate, a carabiner’s rating can be determined as well. The International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) establishes a minimum need of 5 kN. On the other hand, the University of Arkansas (UARK) suggests anywhere between 5-15 kN for mountaineering activities. But this is not specifically mentioned in the Department of Labor regulations.
There have been three certification standards established for carabiners in the U.S., irrespective of their intended purpose. These are the National Fire Protection Association certification, the ANSI certification, and the CE marking for safety, health, and ecological preservation standards.
Can Carabiners be Used for Lifting?
While carabiners may be used for lifting, it is wise to recall that not all carabiners are suited for the job. Whether you are lifting or tethering, you have to use a lift carabineer with black e-coat finishing.
It is usually labeled with a safe working load of one-fifth of the maximum tensile strength, as is customary in the hoisting business.
As a lifting carabiner, several body types might be used. Remember, personal protective equipment should not be utilized to lift anything.
Are Carabiners Allowed on Airplanes?
Carry-on luggage rules allow climbing shoes, chalk packs, headgear, and harnesses on planes. Crashpads and carabiners can often be checked as luggage.
Normally, it won’t be an issue if the edges of the carabiner are left blunt. However, depending on what nation you are in, airline laws may change. If in doubt, contact the airline directly.
How Much Weight Can a Climbing Carabiner Hold?
It is impossible for any climber not to be preoccupied with the issue of gear strength and condition. Even when we are redundant, it sometimes takes a single carabiner to keep us attached to the wall. As such, it’s critical to comprehend the dynamics at work and be certain that you’ll be caught.
Since carabiners are rated by force instead of weight, the force is given in kiloNewtons (kN), written on the carabiner’s side. Climbing carabiners must withstand a force of at least 20kN, or roughly 4,500 pounds (2,000 kg). However, the weight limit is determined by the carabiner.
To put it succinctly, the strongest carabiners are 225 pounds or 28-kilo Newtons. A carabiner of one brand and design may carry a different amount of weight than another. The weight limit is usually stamped on most climbing carabiners.
The rankings on rappellingequipment.com are curated to save you time by aggregating the best reviewed products from the most reputable companies. We may receive a commission if you buy something using a link on this page.