(4 out of 5)
There are no shortage of locking carabiners on the market but the Black Diamond Gridlock Screwgate is one our favorite belay carabiners for cragging. It’s a simple, easy to use, and effective. Before we dive into the details it’s important to compare what makes a belay carabiner different from other locking carabiners.
Any belay carabiner should be a locking carabiner, which can be achieved in many ways. Some locking carabiners employ the classic twisting screwgate while others autolock using magnets or a twistlock. Beyond locking, a belay carabiner should have pear shape that offers up a large and slightly curved top that then tapers down length wise. Other locking carabiners come in a D-shape that are intended more for building anchors or other security applications. The D-shaped locking carabiners will work for belaying but are not as versatile for using a munter or other types of hitches. Pear shaped carabiners are designed for belaying either using a belay device or munter hitch.
While the Gridlock Screwgate takes a little bit of time getting used to with the added belay loop security, it is a great option for single pitch cragging or gym climbing.
This is the main selling point of the BD Gridlock Screwgate. When attaching the carabiner to your belay loop, you simply pull the carabiner taught away from you and lock your belay loop in the lower closed portion of the carabiner. This ensure that your belay device will not shift on you while belaying. No more worrying about the orientation of your carabiner and belay device or the potential for cross loading, which significantly weakens the strength of a carabiner.
The one exception to this rule is when belaying with a Grigri, the device should be secured in the small end of the Gridlock Screwgate with the larger shelf attached to your belay loop. This helps ensure against the highly unlikely (if you are any sort of attentive belayer) scenario that they Grigri will slide down the back of the carabiner resulting in a cross loading event you purchased the biner to prevent in the first place.
Taken straight from the BD instructions for the Gridlock Screwgate. The Grigri should be positioned in the lower portion of the carabiner to prevent cross loading.
There are a lot of overbuilt carabiners of the market the end up having multiple moving parts or non-intuitive ways to open a gate. The screwgate is likely the most commonly used locking mechanism on carabiners meaning you can pass the Gridlock Screwgate to someone who hasn’t used it before and they’ll get it. Not need for an instruction lesson on how to use the thing.
After a few pitches you will be efficient in getting the Gridlock on and off your harness. It works well with all harnesses and belay devices we have tried up to this point so there shouldn’t be too many worries about compatibility with other gear. We used it just fine on a Black Diamond Momentum and Petzl Sama harness.
While there are stronger belay carabiners on the market, it has plenty of strength (22 KN along the major axis) and holds up well over time.
Belay carabiners from left to right:
The screwgate version of the Gridlock is non-auto locking. Having an auto-locking carabiner is one less opportunity for a mishap. Black Diamond does make the Gridlock with it’s magnetic auto-locking feature for a few more bucks.
While not absurdly out of line with other belay carabiners, the BD Gridlock Screwgate is a few dollars more than comparable carabiners.
While it would work fine for multi-pitch or rappelling it’s not as easy to use or versatile as simple pair-shaped locking carabiner.
This is a great carabiner for single pitch cragging or gym climbing. Easy to use with the added benefit of securing the orientation of the carabiner against cross-loading.