A buying guide for Karabiners & Connectors

A buying guide for Karabiners & Connectors

The choice of karabiner comes down to its intended use. All karabiners are certified for use on their major axis with the gate locked. Foreseeable misuse is catered for on the other axis.

Loading a karabiner in the following ways can be dangerous and could lead to the failure of the karabiner due to a loss of strength of 70% or more:

  • Open gate
  • Minor axis
  • More than two directions
  • Over an edge
  • Cantilever
  • Overloading

Pressure and rubbing against the locking sleeve can not only open the gate but can also create a dangerous situation as the sleeve is the weakest part of a karabiner.


    Load direction (shape)

    Device(s) it’s being used with

    Gate action






    The Standard

Load direction.

    D shaped – to position the load in the strongest direction.

    Oval – symmetrical shape for even load distribution.

    Pear – for high capacity / bulky items.

    Wide opening – for attaching to anchors.

    Multidirectional – for loading in more than two directions.

Karabiner Gate Action

Screw Lock
Pros Cons
Can be opened with one hand Vibration can lock the sleeve
Reliable in dirty / harsh conditions Rubbing can unlock the sleeve
User manually locks the sleeve User forgets to lock the sleeve
Tri lock
Pros Cons
Rapid autolocking Difficult sleeve operation
Secure triple action locking Two hands needed to insert a device
  Chance of something stopping the sleeve locking
  Foreign objects can prevent locking
Double action
Pros Cons
Ease of opening Cantilever loading
Rapid autolocking Pressure from structure can open gate
Two separate actions  
Semi-permanent connection
Pros Cons
Very secure Tool required for connection / disconnection
Twist lock
Pros Cons
Speed of opening Two hands needed to insert a device
Rapid auto-locking Chance of something stopping the sleeve locking
Ball lock
Pros Cons
Rapid auto-locking Two hands needed to insert a device
Visual locking indicator  
Pin lock
Pros Cons
Helps prevent inadvertent disconnection Tool required for connection / disconnection
Secure triple action locking  

As you can see, there is generally a compromise between security and ergonomics.

Some manufacturers give guidance on which karabiners to use with which device. They also produce accessories to ensure the correct orientation / position and to avoid cross-loading.


    EN 362 Personal protective equipment against falls from a height. Connectors.

    EN 12275 Mountaineering equipment.Connectors.

    UIAA 121 Connectors.