Review – locking ‘binas

We take a look at the DMM Ceros and the Grivel Clepsydra S, a couple of the locking ‘binas available to the good climbers of Oz.

DMM Ceros –
better action than all of the Arnie movies put together; likely as unkillable as a Landcruiser Troopie
Grivel Clepsydra S – fun, small, surprisingly intuitive but not for everyone

The holy trinity of route climbing is the rope, the harness and the locking ‘biner. A unified tryptic keeping you safe. Of the tryptic, the locking carabiner is my fave. I love its variations, its competing mechanisms, the subtle deviations in each new iteration.

I’ve been using the DMM Ceros (screwgate) and the Grivel Clepsydra S for about six months now. This review is not a versus battle but a bit of a look-see at both.

When I first spied the Clepsydra Small, I thought, ‘Too small. Looks like a Chinese finger trap’. Neither of these thoughts is instinctively positive. I turned it over a few times, marvelled at its bells and whistles, attached it to my rack and tossed it in my pack.

When I first spied the Ceros I put my GriGri on it and clipped it to my harness.

A Ceros lovingly cupped in two hands. Image Chook Betts

A Ceros lovingly cupped in two hands. Image Chook Betts

The two have some similar features. The wire gate Belay Loop Isolators (BLI – the gate at the small end of the carabiner) corrals your belay loop to keep everything properly oriented and protect against cross loading. You don’t want to cross-load your ‘biner as loading along the minor axis – think of this as ‘sideways’ – reduces strength by 65%. It is surprisingly common for your ‘biner to flick around when belaying, so pay heed, or get a locker with a BLI.

What is good in usage can be a pain when stored and all BLIs are annoying when clipped to anything other than your belay loop. They sit awkwardly on gear loops if you don’t yank them down and, if you do, getting them off is a bit trickier. That said, I reckon BLIs are worth the extra faff.

Similar to belaying, BLIs keep everything where it should be when rapping. If you are a simul-climber – all four of you in Australia – or a misanthropic rope soloist, the BLI also keeps everything pointing the right way, making it easier to pull rope through as you scurry along.

The Clepsydra in action. Image Chook Betts

The Clepsydra in action. Image Chook Betts

The Ceros and Clepsydra have different locking mechanism. My Ceros employed the tried-n-tested screw. Not much to report here other than it’s marvelous and easy to operate with a single hand. The Clepsydra uses Grivel’s up-down opposed gates that look wonky until you try them. In use, they are surprisingly easy to use – pull one gate in with your thumb and pointer finger, push the other out with your middle finger, slip your belay loop through the open gates and yank out to lock the ‘biner in the BLI. In short order I was able to get it on and off my belay loop with one hand and whack a GriGri on, albeit with a little wrangling over the wire gate.

If you’ve got a big, beefy harness, the Clepsydra S is not for you as a thick belay loop won’t fit in the small BLI area. If you’ve got massive, cumbersome hands, it’s not for you, (though it does have a big brother – the Clypsedra K10G, which we have not tried). I like it, the dual-gate mechanism is bomber and intuitive and it gives you the confidence to know that if it’s on your belay loop, it’s locked.

The DMM Ceros is a love-at-first-blush ‘biner – effortless to manipulate single handedly whilst feeling safe as Australian treasury bond yields. A very nice bit of kit.

The Hip Pocket Effect:
DMM Ceros $42.95
Clepsydra S $32.95

About your tester: Much like a magpie (but without the sweet song), Simon Madden is easily impressed by shiny things. He is also a big fidgeter and is not that smart, so he prefers things to be relatively simple. He used to call himself a trad climber but given that he has mostly clipped bolts for the last few years he is probably clinging too tightly to history.



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