I've been shopping for a tri-state self-locking carabiner for clipping into personal anchors but made a mistake and ordered a twist-lock 'biner instead :) Since product return is a hassle during those zombie outbreak times, I decided to keep it. It's a lighthweight offset-D UIAA certified 23kN load-bearing carabiner.

Now, what would be the best use for it? :) I won't be clipping into anchors with it, I prefer a proper tri-state carabiner. Using this twist-locking for auxiliary work such as haul bags or tools seems to be a waste, on the other hand!

  • The only use I find for twist-locks is really the one you don't like: in your personal anchor system. I find them useless for everything else. In the personal anchor system you can just clip into stuff and hear the noise of the biner locking without losing time to lock or unlock it.. – QuantumBrick May 22 '20 at 13:11
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    Sort-of related question: does any manufacturer still make the old-style non-automatic tri-state carabiners? Unlock was up, twist, down but the carabiner would then stay unlocked until you locked it again with the opposite movement - kind of halfway between a screw gate and an automatic tri-state. – user3245 Jun 21 '20 at 11:50

Nobody ever complained of having too many carabiners; you did not waste your money no matter what you do with it right now. Clip it to a stopper knot on the end of your reserve/back-up rope, or use it to keep a rope bag closed, or clip it to a tie-down or tow rope in the back of your truck. One day it will be exactly the piece you need at exactly the right time.

  • "One day it will be exactly the piece you need at exactly the right time." - yeah, I guess, makes sense :) – Alexander Jun 5 '20 at 10:43

I've used a twist lock carabiner to secure a water bottle holder or glasses case to a bag. When travelling in a city, this prevents opportunist thieves from easily unhooking the item from my bag.

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    Great idea about deterring thieves Matthew! On the other hand, like I mentioned in the question, hanging a bottle on a brand-new UIAA load-bearing 23kN biner sounds like a waste :) – Alexander May 22 '20 at 11:43
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    I have actually used a 23kN carabiner for that. Overkill perhaps.:) – Matthew Martin Jun 2 '20 at 12:14

Twist-lock biners are standard tools in all types of climbing and mountaineering. You seem to have gotten the impression that there's something unsafe about them, but that's just not true. In my experience, self-locking biners are strictly a thing that you see on permanently installed setups in a climbing gym. I have never seen one outdoors. When you use a normal twist-lock biner, you just build careful habits so that every time you use it, you're using it correctly. I was taught to get in the habit of locking it when I put it on my rack, so that's just totally automatic. Whenever I finish setting up a belay or an anchor, I click the gates to make sure they're locked.

For multipitch trad I carry four. I always want at least three, for the following purposes:

  • One for tying in to the anchor. (They're standard for this use. I have never seen anyone use anything else.)
  • Two for setting up an ATC Guide to belay a follower in auto-blocking mode.

The fourth one I sometimes use when leading if there's a particular piece of pro that I want to clip the rope to and make sure it can't possibly come out. However, you can accomplish the same thing with two non-locking biners, opposite and opposed.

Sometimes when building a trad anchor, if I perceive a particular piece as being particularly important, I'll use a locker on it, but again you can accomplish this with two nonlockers.

If you've spent any time practicing self-rescue skills such as escaping the belay and ascending the rope, you'll realize that these can also eat up locking biners.

I don't do other styles of climbing very much, but for example a common way of setting up a bombproof toprope anchor for a bunch of boy scouts to climb on all afternoon would involve roughly five locking biners. Say you have two bolts, so you put two lockers in there. Then you have the master point of the anchor, and you put three locking biners in there for the toprope to run through. If you look at standard technical manuals for single-pitch, they recommend the multiple biners in order to cut down on friction, as well as for increased redundancy. If you take a class such as the AMGA single-pitch instructor (SPI) class, this is the technique they teach for people training to be guides. (I think most guides use steel biners for this purpose because they don't wear down as fast.)

Here in North America, the standard textbook on this sort of thing is Long and Gaines, Climbing Anchors. For the AMGA SPI class, the text we used was Gaines and Martin, Rock Climbing: The AMGA Single Pitch Manual.

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    The use of twist-lock carabiners is mostly discouraged nowadays. If the rope is running over the lock can easily open it by twisting the lock and then pushing the gate inward. See google.com/… and the illustrations in bergundsteigen.at/file.php/archiv/2001/2/… – Manziel May 28 '20 at 7:36
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    As opposed to twist lock, a tri-lock (three way lock, push and twist lock) is considered safe – Manziel May 28 '20 at 7:38
  • Thank you Ben for such a detailed answer! However... I'm with @Manziel regarding safety :) I've been taught to use a tri-lock carabiner for personal anchors and screw-gates for anything else (building anchors, top-rope or rappel sites, for example). Actually, I've been to a crag outing last weekend and don't remember seeing any twist-lock biners in our group (with two instructors). – Alexander Jun 5 '20 at 10:34
  • I guess it's a question of different traditions... I've been taught by an European instructor. – Alexander Jun 5 '20 at 10:42

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