Gear Review: Black Diamond GridLock Screwgate Carabiner
|The GridLock in action. No rope twisting - GOOD!|
At first glace, it's obvious the GridLock isn't your typical carabiner. It is specifically designed for belaying and to prevent cross loading. Though it looks similar to a pear shaped screw gate carabiner, it's narrower at one end. The gate features an extra prong of metal that keeps the belay loop in place and the carabiner properly oriented. The belay loop stays locked at one end of the carabiner while the belay device and rope stay locked at the wider end.
Once the system is set up, nothing shifts and there is no danger of cross loading (pictured below left - bad!). Essentially, this means that the belayer won't look down and see that the carabiner has turned and either their belay loop or the rope is laying against the gate. It's amazing how frequently this happens, particularly when lead belaying. This position greatly weakens the carabiner itself. Carabiners are designed to take loads on their longest axes, vertically, not width-wise. Depending on who you ask, they're only one half to one third full strength when loaded horizontally.
|A pear shaped screwgate 'biner cross loaded - BAD|
The only issues I can see with the GridLock are cost and ease of use. At $19.95, it's a little more expensive than your average carabiner. However, the GridLock takes care of cross loading and to me, that's priceless. The other downside of the GridLock is that it's only designed for belaying. I don't mind adding a carabiner with one purpose to my pile of gear, but that might not be true for everyone. Though the design is intuitive, it takes several uses to figure out how to clip and unclip it efficiently. Once you do, you're set.
|The GridLock from start to finish, right to left.|
Bottom line - I'd definitely recommend the GridLock, and can see it becoming a vital piece of gear for me. If you're a Pennsylvania climber, head over to East Ridge Outfitters and pick one up!
I got my GridLock from East Ridge Outfitters as a complimentary sample, but as always, the opinions expressed here are my own.