Tip #43 – Designs of Karabiners

By 19th October 2019 Resources, Tips

Designs of karabiners

There is an almost bewildering array of designs of karabiners available. Shape, size, colour and other individual branding characteristics all combine to overwhelm the novice buyer. I have met a number of new climbers whose approach seems to have been to find one design that they “like” and then buy lots of them. This may not be the best approach, however. On your climbing rack, consider carrying a selection of different designs and sizes of karabiners as they all have different characteristics and therefore different pros and cons. You can then choose the most suitable design of karabiner for the task at hand. But equally, don’t overdo it and carry several of each size/shape ‘just in case’ you need them.

Here are a few of the main designs of karabiner:

  • Offset-D shape. The strongest common design of karabiner as the load is kept close to the back-bar of the karabiner. (A true D-shape is in fact stronger, but less common than the Offset-D which offers greater was-of-use due to its wider gate opening.)
  • Oval shape. The best shape for hauling and using pulleys as the load is kept centralized.
  • HMS shape. With one end wide than the other, they can accommodate more ‘stuff’ at the wider end (for example Italian Hitches or multiple clove-hitches) but they are prone to getting cross-loaded or mis-orientated more easily (a bad thing to happen).