Many climbers wish their wiregate carabiners had clean keylock noses. This makes total sense. Wiregate carabiners are light, can have great gate actions, and are even better at withstanding gate shutter and gate flutter than solid gate carabiners. In winter, wiregates also tend to freeze less than solid gate carabiners. Ensuring they won’t catch or snag on anything with a clean keylock nose makes them even better!!

Keylock Note: Technically speaking the CAMP Dyon is the only “keylock” carabiner in the traditional sense. All the below carabiners have a clean nose, but each company has created a completely unique way to make a nose that won’t catch. Many designs are like a reverse keylock with a hooded cloak of protection or another snag-free workaround. If you want to dive deeper, you can read this post to see what keylock technically refers to.

Even though the first clean nose carabiner (Wild Country Helium) hit the market in 2004, the reason this hasn’t caught on everywhere is partly because each clean nose design is patented. This means each manufacturer has to come up with their own innovative way to create a keylock carabiner. Not only is the research and testing process costly and time consuming, but often the result is hard to produce, requiring incredibly tight tolerances. 

All the clean nose wiregate carabiners available today are absolutely premium carabiners. Out of the 30+ brands that offer carabiners, only 7 brands have the skills and ability to design and make them.

Overall, each of these carabiners are absolutely premium carabiners.

This subset of keylock wiregate carabiners are the cream of the crop. At this level it comes down to tiny preferences, like gate action, size, weight, and price — and we’ll discuss all these factors below.

Clean nose keylock wire gate carabiners
This image will soon be obsolete, due to Black Diamond retirements. Go to WeighMyRack.com/carabiners to see all the current options.

Gate Actions

Gate action is a completely personal preference and doesn’t effect how the carabiner works otherwise. Some climbers have cultivated a preference. For example, I prefer buttery easy to open (less resistant) gates and it takes me a few pitches to get used to a gate that is so snappy that it feels like it’s resisting me to open it. Alternatively, many of my climbing partners find it comforting to have the gate feel like it’s primed, quickly snapping shut with an LOUD CLICK.

Very Snappy Gates

Less Resistant Gates

   

Locking Wire Gate

Note: As a small handed person I find this Grivel double wire locker to be the easiest to use of all Grivel’s Twin Gate locking carabiners.

Hooded Nose Con

There are a few cases where one carabiner is significantly better than the others. The CAMP Dyon beats all the competition when it comes to fitting through small chains and other old or homemade fixed pro with small holes. The Dyon is the only clean nose carabiner that has a narrow nose – the beautiful hooded noses and protruding wires create a shroud that will not fit through tiny openings.

Fitting in the hole doesn’t guarantee it will sit perfectly, but it is certainly better than not fitting at all.

wiregate keylock carabiner nose difference
Yellow CAMP Dyon on the left, silver DMM Alpha Light on the right.

Carabiner Size

In general, small carabiners are used when weight matters more, like in alpine climbing or if you’re carrying a really large rack. For more versatility, or for those with larger hands, mid to full size carabiners are a better bet. Full size carabiners are also more ideal for ice or winter climbing when gloves add bulk. Some climbers also make mixed alpine draws putting a small carabiner on top and a larger carabiner on the bottom.

Full size options

Mid-size options

Small/Mini sized options

 

Weight

Weight may certainly play a factor in your decision, especially if you have a big rack, long approaches, or are going for a multi-pitch speed record. Ordered lightest to heaviest, here are the stats for the lightest weight clean nose “keylock” wiregate carabiner:

Price

The clean nose is a premium, and so is the price. Clean nose wiregate carabiners are some of the most expensive carabiners on the market because they are so complicated to make.

In 2019, the cheapest clean nose wiregate options were $10, but those Black Diamond options are no longer in production and it is unlikely stock will exist in 2020. This means Petzl will have the cheapest options at $12-13, and all other options will be $14+.

Cheapest to most expensive “keylock” wiregate carabiners:

Are these options too expensive? If so, check out this post that explains how to look at carabiner geometry to find the one that is least likely to snag.

Coming Mid-2020

Climbing Technology Berry W carabiner

Climbing Technology Berry W carabiner quickdraws
Climbing Technology Berry W carabiners, Berry DY, Berry NY, and Berry PRO quickdraws

The Italian manufacturer Climbing Technology is borrowing Black Diamond’s patent for the wire over the gate snag free method (aka Free Gate), and will introduce the Berry W carabiner and Berry quickdraws with the Berry W on the bottom. The Berry W carabiner will come in at 38 grams and will be most similar to the BD Hoodwire. At this point it is unclear if they will be distributed in the US.

Coming Late-2020

Grivel’s Plume Evo Wire

Grivel PLUME EVO wire black_RENDERGrivel PLUME EVO wire yellow side_RENDERGrivel PLUME EVO wire black close up front_RENDER Grivel PLUME EVO wire black close up back_RENDER

 

Grivel is coming out with a clever addition to the keylock wiregate options with their Plume Evo Wire. The weight is expected around 30 grams, and the price will be 19 Euros and come in black and yellow.

Clean Nose Carabiners are Hard to Make

I can’t stress this enough because it’s basically an engineering marvel that we even have this option!

In 2017 when we went to CAMP’s headquarters in Premana, Italy, we talked to the designer about the process of creating the Dyon carabiner, that had just come out. It was no easy feat, and they showed us how tight the tolerances are. It takes precision engineering to make, and many factories are completely unable to produce it.

In 2019, we toured DMM’s facilities in Wales, UK, and saw how they make the hooded nose carabiners, and heard how much time and money went into making the design happen. It cost £50,000 just for the rig that they hoped would make the hooded nose…a rig that didn’t work, but proved the concept was possible. It is an incredible triple-forging process that is also finicky and hard to get perfect, even after a decade of production experience.

By 2020 Black Diamond will carry no snag-free wiregate carabiners (they’ve already stopped manufacturing the Oz, Hoodwire, and Livewire). When we asked why, Black Diamond said that it was a manufacturing nightmare and that it was more complicated than just needing to raise prices. Recently Black Diamond moved factories and it’s likely (pure speculation here) that this would have been a hard product for the new factory to make and no consumer wanted to see a large price increases so BD cut their losses.

Where to Buy

You can click any of the carabiner links above and it will go to WeighMyRack where we’ll show you carabiner details including all the available prices from online retailers in the US and abroad.

Here are some current US carabiner and quickdraw buying options:

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Alison Dennis

Alison Dennis

Alison (she/her) runs WeighMyRack from her 17' travel trailer. She is currently touring the US and would love if you contacted her to meet up to talk about climbing, climbing gear, or if you have any fun and/or ridiculous adventure in mind.

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