Everything you ever wanted to know about carabiner noses

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Everything you ever wanted to know about carabiner noses
Which nose for what?

Carabiners have noses? Indeed they do! And just like the ones on people and animals, carabiner noses come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The only difference: carabiner noses don’t have a sense of smell! But what they do have are some great names: “HoodWire”,“Wirelock”,“MonoFil”, Keylock or even “Clean Wire”. Not bad, eh?

Yeah, carabiner noses can be pretty confusing. Luckily, you have us to clear it all up for you! In the following, we’re going to give you an overview of the carabiner noses mentioned above and tell you what to keep in mind when carabiner shopping.

Nose or no nose – that’s the question

If you’ve ever taken a closer look at your carabiners, you’ve probably noticed that they not only differ in terms of their shape and size, but also in terms of the tip. The bit of the carabiner which the gate snaps into. That’s the carabiner’s nose. And, it can either have a little hook or no little hook.

Everything you ever wanted to know about carabiner noses
The classic nose.

The nose and the gate of a carabiner work together much in the same way as a lock and key do. The nose is basically like the “notches” of a key, locking the carabiner with the gate so that it has maximum strength. There you have it: the first essential function of the carabiner’s nose! In other words, the nose makes it possible for the carabiner to have a strength of at least 20 kN along its major axis (European standard EN) when closed. However, when loaded along its minor axis or when open, the strength of a carabiner is significantly reduced. It may be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: when climbing, you should avoid loading carabiners in these ways at all costs, if and whenever possible. But here comes a bit of wisdom you may not have known: your choice of nose can help avoid these dangerous situations!

The hook nose

Everything you ever wanted to know about carabiner noses
Not good – now try not to fall.

As already mentioned, there is the nose in the form of a little hook. This can cause the following problems:

  • The nose can get hung up on bolt hangers, nuts or even a sling
  • The rope is really difficult for the follower to remove
  • When loaded, a carabiner with a traditional nose (hook/notch) is also very difficult to unclip

Bolts, nuts and co.

It’s rather irritating to get your carabiner caught in the gear loop of your harness, but getting it caught on a bolt hanger or nut is extremely serious business.

You will not be able to close your carabiner, putting you in the very dangerous open gate scenario. In such a situation, the load isn’t in line with the major axis, causing the rope basket to bend and perhaps even break.

Good to know

The fact that your rope will be difficult for you to remove is something you should consider if you’re planning on following on a multi-pitch climb. This won’t be so much of a concern for pure sport climbers.

On overhangs, you’ll notice that your rope is under load even when you’re removing your gear and that it’d be best to remove the carabiner on the side of the bolt hanger first. That way, you won’t risk your safety, even though it will be irritating and energy-sapping trying to remove your carabiner for the fifth time because its nose keeps getting caught.

These kinds of noses are primarily on wire-gate carabiners, older screw-gates can also have a notch (hook).

Keylock is the magic word

Everything you ever wanted to know about carabiner noses
Left: keylock
Right: a gate with a hook nose

The problems we mentioned above are easy to solve. Thanks to some innovations in the field, carabiners no longer need a hook nose to work. Keylock is the magic word. Keylock refers to a locking system that forgoes the traditional small hook nose. Instead, keylock carabiners have something akin to a jigsaw piece on the nose, which fits into a corresponding opening in the gate. This serves to prevent anything from getting tangled. Keylock carabiners are absolutely essential for belay stations, in conjunction with a belay station sling and the upper carabiner of a quickdraw, as they reduce the risks mentioned above.

The professionals

With keylock carabiners out of the way, we can now move on to “Hoodwire”, “MonoFil”, “Wirelock” and “Clean-Wire”. These are all designs that utilise both the lighter wire gate as well as the keylock system, thereby fusing the advantages of a wire gate with those of the keylock system. Let’s begin with Hoodwire:

  • “Hoodwire” from Black Diamond: Very simple, but extremely effective. The small wire bar over the nose prevents snagging when clipping and cleaning bolts. The HoodWire design is found in the Black Diamond – Hoodwire Quickdraw.
  • The Petzl “MonoFil”: A single wire is inserted into the nose, thereby fusing the functionality of both a wire-gate and a keylock carabiner. Petzl’s MonoFil keylock can be found in the Petzl – Ange Finesse – Quickdraw.
  • The “Wirelock by DMM is also a wire gate that is snapped into the nose, eliminating any snags. This system can be found in the DMM – Shield – Quickdraw.
  • “Clean-Wire” by Wild Country: This wire-gate carabiner utilises the keylock system as well. The wire gate snaps into the nose, as seen in the Wild Country Helium 2 QD – Quickdraw. This is achieved by means of a small bulge or hood over the nose.

Keylock is the future

The keylock system has clearly surpassed the noses of old. In terms of wire-gate carabiners, the new technology introduced here is your best option, even though they tend to be much more expensive. For this reason, you should think about what you’re going to use them for and if they’re really necessary. If you resort to traditional noses, make sure that the noses are as small as possible and slightly rounded, if possible. Have fun climbing!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask our experts in customer service. They are available during the week from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at 03 33 33 67058 or via e-mail.

There’s a lot going on in the climbing and outdoor industry. New products are being invented, existing ones are being reworked and improved, and we, too, are learning more every day. And, of course, we would like to share this knowledge with our customers. That’s why we regularly revise the articles at base camp. So, don’t be surprised if a post changes a bit in the coming months. This article was last edited on 10/11/2015.

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Alpinetrek-Expert Florian K.

Alpinetrek-Expert Florian K.

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