I seem to have accumulated a good number of carabiners that, while probably still safe, I won't climb on anymore. They might be worn, of questionable origin, or just plain made obsolete by an upgrade.

What are some creative uses for these carabiners? I already have plenty of shoe and leaver 'biners, so non-climbing uses would be most useful.

10 Answers 10


You probably already do this, but make sure you mark all 'retired' carabiners with their own color of tape so that you never accidentally climb with one.

Then let the fun begin. If you do any backpacking, they are extremely useful for attaching things to your backpack.

A few other favorites: dog leashes, making clotheslines, or use with hammocks.

If you're feeling adventurous, maybe chain a few together and assemble lights to hang from the ceiling with said chain.


Give them to those who need them.

First of all, novice students in your gym or mountaineering school will be happy to use a bit heavier/older gear, but ease the burden of buying everything for their first trip. Just make sure that carabiners are safe, because the newbies can't tell themselves.

Then, any local non-commercial groups, who organize rope fun for kids or everybody. A hand-made fun park needs a lot of stuff.

Finally, if you are heading to a remote Asian mountain region this summer, you can take carabiners and old ropes, which the locals will happily use for many years in their households to tie their livestock, etc... Of course, this is tricky because of limited airplane weight.

  • 2
    Love this idea.
    – user2766
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 9:10
  • @Steed: +1, I too loved this idea, specially the last one. They really value the equipment like no other non-adventure person does!
    – WedaPashi
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 6:07
  • 2
    @Steed Always great thinking of others and passing things on...Great suggestions!
    – AM_Hawk
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 15:44

As Hillsons suggested a good way to use it, let me put in what I would do:

  1. You can use it as a Weight. Simply knot a carabiner to the end of a rope that needs slinging over a pole or onto a roof. The weight helps with accuracy.
  2. Clip keys inside backpacks to loops for extra security
  3. Link a few together for your kid to play with while you are shopping.
  4. Attach your water bottle to your backpack.
  5. Hold electrical cords in a loop (Don't like to have cable-tie?)
  6. Tie the neck-belt using the Carabiner to secure your pet to an anchor.
  7. Tie up all your key-chains to it and hang it using a sling?
  8. To hang whatever stuff you wanna hang. Please bear in mind load specifications.
  • 1
    WRT 8, I am having trouble thinking of non-insane loads that a climbing carabiner could not take. Being that climbing carabiners are rated incredibly highly. I guess something like shock loading it with a hanging motorbike? Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 13:42
  • 1
    Point 1 only works for heavy biners or very light ropes. A 30g weight doesn't help that much if your rope weighs 50g/m... Apart from that: good answer!
    – anderas
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 12:44

You can drill some holes in your carabiner and use it as handle for mugs and other things in your home you need to lift.

enter image description here

mug example

  • I've seen these mugs before and they always look fun :) +1 nice fun option.
    – Aravona
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 8:49
  • 2
    That seems like it would be difficult with a proper carabiner :).
    – Felix
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 14:20
  • with the aluminum carabiner it should work to drill a hole in it
    – ibex
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 14:41
  • Fun, but you'd then have to drill holes in your mug and make sure to seal them up again... the last is non trivial if it should be food safe, durable and withstanding scalding hot beverages.
    – fgysin
    Commented May 23 at 11:03

Obsolete biners are very useful for retreating. If (as you state) you've retired them because:

made obsolete by an upgrade.

and they are generally solid.

Then it's well worth dragging a few of these along on climbs you're worried you may not be able to complete. I've been welcome of some old steel biners when retreating off of climbs in the past. They're solid and dependable and I don't mind loosing them. Well worth the extra weight.


If you're handy with welding (or a drill and screws, brackets, or a hot glue gun), you can make a pretty cool coat rack or key rack out of old carabiners. You can remove the gate for a coat rack by knocking or drilling or cutting off the pins, or leave them on if you're making a key holder. Just attached the carabiners with the hook down and out from the wall by welding, gluing, bracketing, or drilling and screwing it onto some form of a back plate.

To address the safety issue: once carabiners have been mechanically attached to a wood or metal plate and hung on a wall, no one will identify them as serviceable climbing equipment (except for children, who would probably recognize dental floss as suitable rope for rappelling off the roof before they could remove the carabiner from your wall).


This is probably going to be an unpopular opinion because it's not nearly as "feel good" as helping remote Asian herdsmen. (Which incidentally is probably one of few exceptions to what follows.) Nevertheless:

It is my belief that unsafe carabiners should be destroyed. In my opinion it is too great a risk that someone will get ahold of one and see that it has the right marking to be a "real" carabiner and use it for some kind life-support application.

Mind that I am strongly opposed to excessive safety regulations and I firmly believe in using your brain and "swim at your own risk" etc. This notwithstanding I feel that the risk outweighs the benefit when it comes to distributing unsafe carabiners. (I also realize that even when new carabiners are dangerous for those who do not know how to use and inspect them but people do not usually give away brand new carabiners.)

For the uninformed there may be certain expectations of climbing equipment. Just as "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" so too I believe is a bit of old climbing equipment in the wrong hands. Worse, the "real" equipment may give a sense of validation to ignorant use that results in greater risk-taking than if hardware-store equivalents were used.

Now if the old carabiners are truly still safe to use then use them! If your equipment doesn't wear out before it truly becomes obsolete you should make it a mission get out and climb more. :-)

  • 1
    I completely agree that the only way to really retire unsafe climbing gear is to destroy it.
    – Felix
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 14:19
  • 1
    You are right, of course. However, there are answers here (like the coat rack by @pheidlauf) which gives the retired carabiner a good use and is unlikely to be mistaken with a good one.
    – Roflo
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 16:35

A nalgene water bottle holder! You can then clip it to the back of your pack, and it helps with carrying it around!

nalgene caribiner

You may want to decorate yours though.

Also caribiners are nice just to always be attached to your backpack for anything with a loop!

  • 1
    Be aware that the plastic lid connection is really flimsy. I've had quite a few of them snap or roll off, so I generally attach some thin cord around the neck of the nalgene, and clip to that.
    – Felix
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 14:21
  • @Felix Really? I haven't ever had that problwm Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 14:28
  • @OutlawLemur I've only had the plastic slide right off when the nalgene is full and I use a key chain biner to my pack...I too agree that the lid connection is flimsy...
    – AM_Hawk
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 15:42
  • 1
    @RogerB I put it in the water bottle pocket, but still attach it so if my waterbottle were to fall out I would not lose it forever. And it is pretty terrible to walk with it clipped on only though. Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 16:00
  • 1
    We digress, the question is actually about uses for old carabiners. The point I was making was that using them for attaching things to you pack isn't a great use for them, as you also confirmed.
    – RogerB
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 16:08

Get a set of curtains and make the carabiners the rungs for the curtain, just make sure that the bar that it slides on is of a good diameter for the carabiners, or if you can find a bar sturdy and narrow enough you could take the core out of a retired climbing rope and put it over the curtain bar for bonus points.


"Make a Dog Lead" has already been said, but I use an ancient carabiner at the other end of the lead to clip it to my belt.

This enables hands-free dog walking, which permits me to put my hands in my pockets while out with the dog, Especially good in sub-zero winter conditions.

If you haven't got enough dogs, then your local dog pound might appreciate the donation of clips and rope that is no longer suitable for climbing.

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