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Carabiner how to guide: choosing and using the right carabiner

When using equipment to belay or to maneuver, carabiners are a vital link in the safety chain. User safety often relies on a single carabiner. To avoid the risk of breaking or accidentally opening a carabiner, it is important to know how to choose and use them.

May 5 2017

Rock climbing

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Choosing the right carabiner shape and locking system

© Lafouche

Petzl designs carabiners in a several shapes and with an assortment locking systems. This allows the user to choose the most appropriate and efficient features for a specific or wide variety of uses. Choosing the wrong carabiner often translates to reduced efficiency and/or comfort. In extreme cases it can reduce the level of safety as well.

Carabiner shapes:

Les formes de mousquetonsHow to choose > 

Carabiner locking systems:

Les systèmes de verrouillageHow to choose > 


Proper carabiner use and best practices

© Sam Bié

A carabiner is designed to be weighted along its primary axis, with the gate closed and locked. This is the carabiner's strongest position. All other positions increase the risk of a break or accidental opening, and therefore present a danger to the user.

Three best practices:

1. Choosing the right gear
Make sure that the carabiner you choose is suited for the intended use and is compatible with the rest of your gear; use accessories for positioning to place yourself in the best position.

2. Properly position the carabiner from the start
On your harness, on the anchor, on a descender, or at the end of a lanyard, when placing the carabiner, verify that it is properly positioned and closed.

3. Monitor the carabiner when in use
Carbiners move around when used, are pulled by the rope, bump up against the rock, and vibrate when you are on the move. Regularly check that the carabiner has not moved into a dangerous position and that the locking system stays closed in spite of vibrations.

Basic tips for carabiners:

Conseils de base

View the tech tip > 

Examples of dangerous carabiner loading:

Exemple de sollicitation dangeureuse
View examples > 

Conduct a compatibility test:

Réaliser un test de compatibilité
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Choosing the right carabiner to connect a device to your harness

© Lafouche

Based on a carabiner's shape, size of opening, and frequency of use, different devices do not connect to a harness with the same carabiner. The following tech tips will provide you with recommendations on the right carabiner to choose for several key devices. 

GRIGRI belay device

Assureur GRIGRI
View the tech tip >

VERSO and REVERSO belay devices

Assureurs VERSO et REVERSO
View the tech tip >

PIRANA descender

Descendeur PIRANA
View the tech tip >

RACK and HUIT descenders

Descendeurs RACK et HUIT
View the tech tip >

STOP descender

Descendeur STOP
View the tech tip >

Attaching a rope to your harness

Connexion d'une corde au harnais
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Choosing the right carabiner for anchoring ropes, lanyards, hauling systems, and other uses

© Marc Daviet

The situation is much different for a via ferrata, when the carabiner at the end of lanyard will be constantly opened and closed, from installing a fixed rope when caving, where the anchoring carabiner will remain closed for a long period of time without being checked. The following tech tips provide recommendations and the right choice of carabiner for most cases.

At the end of a climbing or via ferrata lanyard

Bout de longe d'escalade ou de via-ferrata
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Ancrages et relais
View the tech tip >  

Hauling and pulley attachments

Mouflages et connexion de poulies
View the tech tip > 


For all carabiner tech tips on

On each activity page, the tech tips are organized by chapter: basics, choosing a carabiner, belaying,… 

Explore each activity…


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