by Kevin

September 1, 2021

Rock climbing helps you keep fit, and it is also a fun outdoor activity. But just like other activities, you need to have the right gear when rock climbing so that you can keep safe.

Carabiners are essential gear for those who are doing rock climbing. Learn more about carabiners and when to retire climbing carabiners.

When to Retire Climbing Carabiners: Quick Answer

Retire a carabiner immediately if it is excessively worn, cracked, or its gate doesn’t function properly. If you have dropped a carabiner from a significant distance, you should retire that carabiner, no matter if you see or not any cracks on its surface.

How Long Do Carabiners Last

What Is a Carabiner?

A carabiner is a metal loop with a spring gate that is mainly used to connect components. The gear is mainly used for intensive activities such as rock climbing, caving, rope rescue, etc. Carabiners are made from strong metals like steel and aluminum. 

The carabiners can be in different shapes and sizes, and the one you choose depends on what or how you plan on climbing. But you need to be cautious when buying the product to get one that is sturdy and will keep you safe during your climb.

The best way of doing this is by buying the carabiners from a reliable company. If you do this, the product will serve you for a long time if properly used.

Carabiner Should Meet the Required Standards

Before buying and climbing gears like carabiners, it is important to ensure that they have met the stingiest standards set by the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation.

Buying climbing products that meet the set qualification is important as it will guarantee that the products are certified and safe.

Types of Carabiner

You need to learn the types of carabiner available to invest in a product that will meet your needs. There are mainly two types of carabiners the auto-lock carabiners and screw-lock carabiners

  • Basic shapes: D-shaped, Asymmetrical D-shaped, Oval.
  • Basic types: Straight gate, Bent gate, Wire gate.
Retire Climbing Carabiners

How Long Do Carabiners Last

The question most people ask is how long do carabiners last. Carabiners are strong and depending on the product you get and how you use it, they can serve you for 10-20 years.

But manufacturers do not give the product a retirement age since there is no natural deterioration for metals. But you need to learn of the signs that will help you know when to retire climbing carabiners.

When to Retire Climbing Carabiners

If you notice any of these signs in your carabiner, it is time to retire it.

Failing gate

After using the carabiners for some time is likely to accommodate dirt and sand, which might find its way to the rivet area. That is why you need to clean your carabiner with soap and water before your retire it.

But if the carabiners have had minimal use say less than a year, and you notice that it is faulty, the issue might be with manufacturing. You can send it back to the company so that they can exchange it for you. 

Wearing of the product

There is a high chance of your carabiners coming in contact with other bolt metals and rocks when climbing. When this happens, there is likely going to get worn out. Using such carabiners when climbing is dangerous as it can cause deadly grooves on your rope. In some cases, it might even cut the rope.

If you notice that your carabiners are worn out, the best option is to retire them. But if the issue is worn-out color, this does not affect the carabiners’ strength or function, and you can still use it for rock climbing.

When to Retire Climbing Carabiner

Issues with rivets

The rivets are where the gate is connected to the carabiner. The rivets need to work properly so that you can avoid complications of the rivet falling off or not closing.

Though having problematic rivets is not common, it is important to keep an eye on your gear to ensure that you do not have issues when you climb.

Deformed carabiners

Another issue you might have with your carabiners has a deformed body, gate, or nose. When this happens, you might end up with cross-loading or issues.

If that is the case, there is a high chance that the gate might not close as needed. That is why if you find that the carabiners have any part that is deformed, then it is time to retire it and look for another product to use.

It has survived a fire

If your carabiners have survived the fire, you need to be careful about how you use them. Heat can structurally cause damage to the structure of this gear in ways that are unexpected or unknown.

Using such a product will be risking your life. It is not worth the risk for you to use a carabiner that has survived a fire.

Retire Climbing Carabiner

It has exposure to corrosive chemicals

Corrosive chemicals that are known to eat away metals can cause damage to the carabiner. So, if the product has been exposed to chemicals like battery acid, fuel, or any other corrosive substance, then you need to retire it.

The mistake most people make after such exposure is to clean out the carabiners and use them. But corrosive chemicals can lead to the product wearing off. The last thing you need when climbing rocks is to realize that your carabiners are not working. That is why you should retire the product when exposed to corrosive chemicals.

It has constant seawater exposure

Seawater is dangerous to the carabiners but only when exposed for a long time. If you are planning to climb the seawater cliff, you should not worry about the splashed waves and mist that come into contact with the gear. 

However, if the carabiners are submerged in seawater for a long time, this could lead to corrosion, and the best way to handle this is by retiring the gear. Using the product could be risking your life. Even if it does not seem faulty, you shouldn’t risk your life.

Conclusion

When to retire climbing carabiners is up to you. As a rock climber, it is your responsibility to ensure that the product you use is safe.

As a general rule, if the carabiners make you nervous when you climb, then you should retire them. Getting new carabiners will help keep you safe and will also give you peace of mind when climbing.

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About the author 

Kevin

Kevin loves bouldering. Mainly because he can practice it alone without considering other people. Although he rediscovered this hobby in the last three years, the boulders turned out to be his most visited landmarks.

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