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!!

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 the cream of the crop in terms of craftsmanship. Out of the 30+ brands that offer carabiners, only 7 brands have the skills and ability to design and make them.

A screenshot of showing the available options. Although this screenshot may turn obsolete, WeighMyRack will always stay updated with every option.

A “Well Technically” Nerd Note about Keylock Carabiners: Technically speaking the CAMP Dyon is the only “keylock” wire gate carabiner in the most traditional sense. All the carabiners below have a clean nose, but each brand has created a unique way to make a nose that won’t catch / is snag free. Most 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.

Choosing a best is hard because they are ALL premium carabiners. At this level it comes down to tiny preferences, like gate action, size, weight, and price — and we’ll discuss all these factors below.

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.

Snappier Gates


Less Resistant Gates

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 . Most other models have a hooded nose that will not fit through tiny openings.

Fitting into small holes 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 (retired) on the right.

Carabiner Size

In general, small carabiners are used when weight matters more, like in alpine climbing and/or if you’re carrying a really large rack (and each cam is hung on your harness with a carabiner).

For more versatility, or for those with larger hands, mid to full size carabiners are a better bet. Full size carabiners are often more ideal for ice or winter climbing when using bulky gloves. Some climbers also create their own mixed quickdraws putting a small carabiner on top and a larger carabiner on the bottom.

Larger (Mid / Full size) options

Small / Mini Options


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:


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.

Cheapest to most expensive “keylock” wiregate carabiners:

If the price is totally off-putting, check out our post that explains how to look at carabiner geometry to find the one that is least likely to snag <– you can get a non-keylock carabiner that has a low potential for snagging for much cheaper than a keylock wiregate.

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.

In 2020 Black Diamond stopped manufacturing the Oz, Hoodwire, and Livewire. When we asked why, Black Diamond told us that it was a manufacturing nightmare and that it was more complicated than just needing to raise prices. In 2020 Black Diamond also 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 would have accepted a multi-dollar increase in price so BD cut their losses.

Where to Buy

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

To Find The Best Carabiner

We recommend trying out the carabiners your climbing partners and visiting as many gear shops and handling as many carabiners as possible. Often, you will know ‘the one’ after you test it, it’ll either fit in your hand really well, or somehow just make life easier.

Want to See All The Carabiners (over 1000)?

At WeighMyRack, we list every carabiner and give you filters for shape, gate type, gate opening, price, weight, brand, and features like visual warning, keylock, available in a rack pack, or if it has a belay keeper. You can also filter by on sale carabiners with discounts >20%.

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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