Sunday, 12 April 2015

Black Diamond Magnetron Karabiner - Useful Gear or a Safety Risk?

The Black Diamond Magnetron karabiner comes in three different sizes and styles, these being the:

RockLock - RRP £22.00
Weight: 87 g
L-R: RockLock, GridLock & VapourLock
Gate Opening: 21mm
Open/Closed Gate Strength: 7/24 kN

GridLock - RRP £27.00
Weight: 78 g
Gate Opening: 21mm
Closed Gate Strength: 8/22 kN

VapourLock - RRP £24.00
Weight: 56 g
Gate Opening: 20mm
Open/Closed Gate Strength: 8/21 kN

I received RockLock as a present after completing my first lead climb and I can honestly say it's one of the most innovative and useful pieces of gear that I own. I've read a lot of mixed reviews on the subject of magnet locking karabiners so thought I'd write my own after clearing up a few questions that I've seen asked.

Q) I dropped my magnetron in a box of iron filings which has rendered it useless (genuine post!) 
A) What are you doing keeping a box of iron filings with your gear? That's like keeping ice cubes next to the fire

Q) Will the magnets wear out?
A) No... It's a magnet

Q) What if I get sand or grit in the locking arms?
A) Wipe them? getting sand or grit in the locking mechanism of a screwgate will probably cause you more problems

What is clear to me from these questions is that there is a lack of common sense, and also there are a lot of 'what ifs'. I could pose the question 'what if I cross loaded the karabiner whilst wrapping the rope around the two locking arms and pulled it tight in such a way the karabiner came open and I became unclipped?' Well there is 2 possible answers to that 1) I'm really unlucky, also I need to find a new climbing partner as they aren't keeping me tight on the rope while they are belaying, 2) I'm on the floor (probably at home on my settee) trying to make this situation happen, not really putting myself at any risk at all.

How does it work?
It is pretty simple to open, all you require is one thumb and one index finger, pinch together and pull towards your hand in one swift motion. Locking it is even more simple, you just have to let go, and there is a magnet in an indent that attracts the protruding magnet on the arm that completely locks it shut.

Footage showing how the karabiner opens

Useful piece of gear?
I love my magnetron. Yes you can probably buy two other karabiners for the price of one of these, but for me the personal advantages are completely justified in the pricing. As I've mentioned on an earlier post, I really struggle with circulation and numb fingers in the winter months and this karabiner is perfect for these situations. It means I don't have to worry about getting to the top of a climb with painful fingers and have to fiddle with a load of screw gates to open them and rig my belay. All i have to do is pinch, pull and let go, my karabiner is now placed onto the belay loop of my harness ready to get to action. Also the locking arms are pretty easy to open whilst wearing gloves as well so if I was belaying a group of children on a bottom rope on a cold day I could keep my gloves on whilst setting up. Everything about this karabiner is smooth, there are no sharp bits that catch on the rope, the actual locking arms are pretty low profile so don't get stuck on anything unlike the screw on a screwgate. The locking arms are pretty substantial and require a fair bit of force to open them, not a lot, but just enough that you don't have to worry about them being flimsy and easy to knock open. The pinch point on the locking arms are also ribbed so that it is easily grippable.

Magnetron Clipped onto my belay loop

Safety risk?
The only real problem I could possibly see occurring using a magnetron is if you used it to clip children or beginners onto the rope. If they got half way up a climb or half way down an abseil panicked and grabbed onto the karabiner. There is one way to prevent this though, don't use a magnetron in this situation. I believe when introducing children or beginners to climbing you should introduce them to traditional practices and use traditional gear, such as a screw gate karabiner. For example, you wouldn't buy a child a macbook as their first laptop. Also, you might use gucci high tech gear, then they may go to somewhere else at a later date who don't have gear as high spec, and then they wll have no idea what they are doing or how to use it. However, if they were taught how to use a screwgate karabiner, they'd have the extra safety of not being able to accidentally undo it while they were flapping, and they would have a rough idea how to use most other karabiners then.

In conclusion I feel it's an extremely useful piece of kit, I'm yet to experience any problems with it, and until such time as I do it will remain my favorite karabiner. I feel it is worth the money and would definitely recommend at least trying one out to everyone.   

1 comment:

  1. Glad you like them! Always nice to have some good feedback from the community!