Lighter, stronger, faster, almost idiot-proof – is the Grivel Twin Gate the ultimate auto-locking carabiner?
Back in August Dave and myself paid a visit to ‘The Mountain Boot Company’ to check out some of the upcoming gear for the Autumn/Winter season and one particular item caught our attention. We’d both seen the videos of Stevie Haston demonstrating the revolutionary new Twin Gate krabs from Grivel and were keen to see (and feel) them in the flesh. Three models were available to fondle; the Mega K6G – a twin solid gate pear shaped carabiner suited to belaying Italian/Munter Hitch duties, the Sigma K8G a offset D shaped solid/wire gate mix, and the Plume G – a twin wire gate. We only got to review the first two as the Plume hadn’t become available yet although it actually felt to be the easiest to operate on initial handling.
Now you may be wondering why reinvent the wheel yet again when it comes to locking carabiners? Well the twin gate system offers a number of advantages. Firstly it is relatively lightweight size for size compared to similar lockers and the twin gates actually make it stronger in the gate closed test. Secondly with a twin gate you can not forget to ‘lock’ the carabiner and it is potentially more secure against freak accidental openings (check the video – unlikely but still…). Lastly it can’t get jammed or frozen shut.
All these advantages sound great but to me they sounded even better when you put them in the ‘fun’ environment of Scottish winter climbing. So after three months of Scottish winter how did the carabiners fare? For winter work the two different models performed very differently. The pear shaped solid twin gate Mega K6G was a bit of a disappointment. The solid twin gate was hard to operate with gloves on, even in fairly ‘ideal’ winter conditions, the tiny tabs to facilitate purchase on the side of the gate were just not sufficient and it was soon swapped to the ‘summer only’ rack (with bare hands there was not so much of an issue). As you’ve probably guessed the Sigma K8G (catchy names huh?) was a different kettle of fish. The combination of solid and wire gate was much easier to operate and after a short period of familiarisation became pretty much second nature. How much did I like this carabiner? Well I went out and purchased another two with my hard earned pennies and I’ll happily buy the Plume when it becomes available. In use it was quicker to set securely than a standard screw gate with no risk of forgetting to screw it up and there was never a risk of it freezing shut even when getting dripped on at a (semi)frozen, icy belay. Is it the perfect locking carabiner? Not quite. There is a familiarisation period or ‘learning curve’ before you feel totally happy with them and they are a little trickier to unhook from rear racking loops on your harness. There are some placements when it’s a bit trickier to ‘hook’ the outer gate than a standard carabiner, such as a deep set wire where the loop has dropped into the crack, but it’s not a deal breaker especially as I tended to use them mainly on the rope end of extenders/slings. Something I didn’t consider however is that you may be totally happy using your shiny new twin gates but your partner may not! After we swapped leads for the final pitch of Crest Route in SCNL I had to suppress my laughter as cries of ‘Witchcraft!’ assailed me from above as Bruce endeavoured to open a twin gate I’d passed to him on a long sling!
As you can see I didn’t get on with the Mega so well but I loved the Sigma! It excelled as a carabiner for use on long slings for threads, spikes and when rigging belays. The Sigma also makes for a bit of extra reassurance when used as the rope end carabiner on that last ‘bomber’ placement before a long run out. I’m hooked.
RRP Mega £12.00
RRP Sigma £11.00
Stockists Tel: 0191 296 0212
I have the Clepsydra L K10G which improves the Mega with an inner gate that prevents the biner to turn upside down. This inner gate opens in the “good” way as opposed to of many similar biners : top>down. This means you just pull the biner up to clip that gate and once clipped to your harness, it won’t open unintentionally. Downside of the inner gate : it makes the biner less versatile and essentially useful for belaying.
The L K10G still has the solid twin gate which are likely to be a pain with gloves but there is a S K10GS with the same combination of solid+wire gate as the Mega. It’s alsso smaller and lighter than the L K10G, shame it was not an option when I bought the L…
I also have a few Plume K3G and find them perfect used as the rope end biner on extra long quickdraws or slings. The only problem is sometimes my climbing partners struggle with them, both leading or second. Note how light they are (39g) and still stronger than many bigger ones. Downside of the quickdraw biner shape : not so good for belaying. Also the wire gate are quite wide and won’t get through some gear.
The Plume HMS K3GH due to hit the market in may 2020 looks like a great combination of the best features of the whole range : wire gates, versatile, ultra light. I reckon it’s the best choice for anyone wishing to try the twin gate system. If they don’t like it either for belaying or as a multi purpose biner, I’ll be buying it back at half price ;-D
Finally I have also used the very light and compact Tau. Again not so versatile and mainly good for belaying but may be easier to get used to as such.