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