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Black Diamond Rocklock Screwgate Review

A great carabiner for close to the ground use like rappelling, belaying and top roping
Black Diamond Rocklock Screwgate
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Price:  $12 List | $11.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Large gate opening, round stock for smooth belaying and rappelling, affordable
Cons:  Large and heavy, rattley cheap feeling screwgate closure
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 8, 2019
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 14
  • Overall Utility - 25% 7
  • Ease of Unlocking and Locking - 25% 6
  • Compactness and Weight - 20% 4
  • Gate Security - 20% 6
  • Gate Clearance - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Rocklock Screwgate is BD's largest locking carabiner, designed with belaying and rappelling in mind. It is durable, affordable, and with a retail price of only $12, presents fantastic value. For climbers looking for a locker to use on gym climbs, top-roping days, or rappelling, the Rocklock is a good choice that won't break the bank. If you are getting high off the ground or far from the trailhead, however, its weight may prove burdensome, and for these uses we recommend a lighter option, such as our award winning Petzl Attache. As the largest locker in this review, there is a lot that the Rocklock can do, but trends these days are also moving toward lighter and more compact lockers, which can also do most of the same things, without the weight and bulk.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Large gate opening, round stock for smooth belaying and rappelling, affordableVersatile, lightweight, relatively affordable, lots of gate clearance, gate security stripe.Light, auto-locking, versatileLight, small, least amount of revolutions needed for screwgate to lock or unlockVery quick and easy to unlock, auto-locks, very light and compact
Cons Large and heavy, rattley cheap feeling screwgate closureScrewgate can get stuck closed, aluminum I-beam construction wears out quicker than some.Can freeze shut, hard to open at times, locks shut on gear loopsExpensive compared to alternatives, the least amount of gate clearanceLocking mechanism not as secure as others, locking slider can block closure of gate
Bottom Line A great carabiner for close to the ground use like rappelling, belaying and top ropingThe best and most versatile locker at a reasonable price.Worthy of our Top Pick as the best auto-locking carabiner you can buy.Our favorite personal locker is great for building anchorsA unique tool for greater peace of mind while leading
Rating Categories Rocklock Screwgate Petzl Attache Vaporlock Magnetron DMM Phantom Edelrid Pure Slider
Overall Utility (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
Ease Of Unlocking And Locking (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
9
Compactness And Weight (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
9
Gate Security (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
4
Gate Clearance (10%)
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
3
10
0
5
Specs Rocklock Screwgate Petzl Attache Vaporlock Magnetron DMM Phantom Edelrid Pure Slider
Weight 85 g 57 g 56 g 41 g 43 g
Gate Closed Strength (KN) 24 22 24 24 23
Sideways Strength (KN) 7 7 7 9 8
Gate Open Strength (KN) 7 6 7 9 8
Gate Clearance 2.4 cm 2.6 cm 2.2 cm 1.6 cm 1.8 cm
Visual Locking Indicator? No Yes Autolocking No Autolocking
Carabiner Shape Pear/HMS Pear/HMS Pear/HMS Offset-D Offset-D
Lock Closure Type Screwgate; also comes in Magnetron, Twistlock Screw-lock Magnetron Autolocking Screwgate Autolocking Slider

Our Analysis and Test Results

We tested the version of the Rocklock that includes a screw gate, which is the most affordable version of the Rocklock, but there are also two other gate options to choose from––Twistlock and Magnetron. While the Twistlock may cost a bit more, it also comes with the assurance that the gate cannot possibly be left unlocked unintentionally, and also cannot wiggle open with vibration. Those who don't mind spending more money but want a larger and more durable version of the Black Diamond Vaporlock Magnetron should also investigate the Rocklock Magnetron.

Performance Comparison


With its large capacity  the Rocklock screwgate makes for an excellent master point for an equalized anchor  as it is easily able to hold a clove hitch  as shown here  or even two!
With its large capacity, the Rocklock screwgate makes for an excellent master point for an equalized anchor, as it is easily able to hold a clove hitch, as shown here, or even two!

Overall Utility


Black Diamond's Rocklock Screwgate is a solid performer in a variety of applications. It is a flagship locking carabiner in Black Diamond's lineup, and is frequently included in packages with belay devices like their ATC Belay Device. With a round, thick stock, the Rocklock is able to allow rope to feed smoothly through tube-style belay devices while still providing enough friction to safely arrest falls. Thanks to its heavy stock, this locker also better resists the abrasion inherent in the high friction uses like belaying and rappelling than lighter weight carabiners such as the Black Diamond Positron. The Rocklock is a great choice for use on a top rope thanks to its low friction, thick material and ability to clip into bulky master points.

The large opening makes clipping multiple bight knots into the Rocklock quite easy.
The large opening makes clipping multiple bight knots into the Rocklock quite easy.

In multi-pitch climbing situations, the Rocklock holds clove hitches well, and will even easily accommodate clove hitching in with two ropes, a common scenario when climbing on twin or half rated ropes, or when climbing as a party of three. We also like how smooth belaying with a Munter hitch is, thanks to the wide basket. With the exception of its size and weight, we feel this locker not only performs well at its intended purpose, but is also fairly versatile.

Ease of Unlocking and Locking


We used this locking carabiner in many situations, from top roping to multipitch climbing, alpine rock climbing, and even canyoneering. We found that the Rocklock Screwgate opens and shuts smoothly in most situations, as long as it is not screwed tight too far in either direction. Some overzealous users screw it open onto the stop ring a few times, where it becomes quite difficult to release. When locked, the Rocklock stays locked, but auto-locking carabiners like the Edelrid HMS Bulletproof Triple FG will provide better ease of opening, and since they lock automatically can be a more secure choice in certain situations. We certainly do not advocate only using auto-locking carabiners for all of your climbing uses since they can be cumbersome to use, but for some things like on your belay device or at the end of your personal anchor system clipping into an climbing anchor, having the extra security of an auto-locker can be helpful.

In order to open or close the gate  you must screw or unscrew the blue locker shown here. We found it to be somewhat low quality  as it rubs and squeeks as you open or close it.
In order to open or close the gate, you must screw or unscrew the blue locker shown here. We found it to be somewhat low quality, as it rubs and squeeks as you open or close it.

We noticed, as many online reviewers have pointed out, that the screwgate of this locker squeeks a lot as you spin it, and also seems to rub, not opening or closing very smoothly like the screwgate of the DMM Phantom Screwgate. While this shouldn't be a safety concern, it doesn't make us feel as if we are using, or purchasing, the very highest quality equipment, an odd thing to say for a piece of gear from Black Diamond.

Compactness and Weight


What the Rocklock Screwgate provides in function and overall versatility, it gives up in compactness and weight. It is among the heaviest locking carabiners in this review, although not as weighty as the heaviest DMM Belay Master 2. This is not a carabiner you would want to carry half a dozen of up a long multi-pitch rock climb, unless it was a big wall style climb where the extra weight is worth the additional functionality at complicated and clustered anchors. The Rocklock is also massive; the largest of any that we tested. This bulkiness made us shy away from bringing it on most backcountry climbs, since we could almost bring two lightweight lockers for the same weight and size.

At 85g  this one weighs considerably more than any other HMS style pear biner we tested  making it a poor choice if weight  or compact size  is a primary concern.
At 85g, this one weighs considerably more than any other HMS style pear biner we tested, making it a poor choice if weight, or compact size, is a primary concern.

There is obviously always going to be a tradeoff, for as we shift towards lighter construction and materials, we will sacrifice durability, so we feel that for someone looking to equip themselves with a locker for use with their belay/rappel device or wherever there might be a lot of friction occurring over the rope bearing surface of the carabiner, the Rocklock is still a good choice.

Gate Security


Screw gate lockers, as this one is, suffer when it comes to gate security for the simple reason that the user must remember to close them every single time, or they are rendered ineffective. It is surprising how often a screwgate carabiner can be left unlocked over the course of a long day on a big route. They are also somewhat prone to unlocking themselves over time, simply by the force of vibrations running through the carabiner allowing the gate to wiggle open. The way to solve this problem is to be sure to flip the locker at all times, so that gravity works to keep the gate closed if it should naturally loosen. The Rocklock is prone to these problems, in the same manner that the Metolius Keylock Element, or any other screwgate locker is.

Screw gates have the unfortunate disadvantage of occasionally coming open on their own due to the vibrations of the rope or being knocked against the rope helping the screw the loosen and slip downwards. Orienting them upside down  as shown here  prevents this from happening as gravity keeps the gate closed.
Screw gates have the unfortunate disadvantage of occasionally coming open on their own due to the vibrations of the rope or being knocked against the rope helping the screw the loosen and slip downwards. Orienting them upside down, as shown here, prevents this from happening as gravity keeps the gate closed.

Gate Clearance


At 2.4cm, the Rocklock Screwgate has one of the largest gate openings of the eleven locking carabiners reviewed. Only the Petzl Attache has more, while the Edelrid HMS Bulletproof Triple FG has the same amount. A large amount of gate clearance is important when clipping into bulky master points on anchors, especially when they are made of thick diameter materials like static rope or are fixed sling anchors comprised of many pieces of material. The large gate opening on the Rocklock makes it easy to clip into the rope strands when setting up belay/rappel devices on the rope. When using a device that keeps the rope from interacting directly with the carabiner, like a Petzl Gri-Gri though, we found it easier to use a dedicated belay carabiner, such as the Petzl Freino.

We measured the open gate clearance at 2.4cm  which is a lot of space for sliding hitches or multiple items on and off easily.
We measured the open gate clearance at 2.4cm, which is a lot of space for sliding hitches or multiple items on and off easily.

Best Applications


As Black Diamond's flagship belay carabiner, it pairs perfectly with a tube-style belay device like an ATC or a Petzl Reverso. Its smooth handling and feeding of rope makes it a great choice for belaying and rappelling, in gym climbing, outdoor top roping, and big wall climbing applications. It is a little too big and heavy to recommend for long multi-pitch climbs where weight is an important consideration, or for situations where a smaller locker would do the job just as well. But for the budget-conscious climber who is looking for a durable addition to their harness, this contender is a solid performer.

High on the Swiss Arete of Mount Sill in the Sierra Nevada  complicated multi-pitch anchors are made more manageable by using the right locking carabiner.
High on the Swiss Arete of Mount Sill in the Sierra Nevada, complicated multi-pitch anchors are made more manageable by using the right locking carabiner.

Value


At a retail price of $12, the Black Diamond Rocklock Screwgate is not the least expensive of the locking carabiners we reviewed, but it is the most versatile and functional of the lower priced lockers. We feel that a new climber looking for a locking carabiner that will be a jack-of-all-trades at a budget price, the Rocklock is a great choice. Lighter options like the Petzl Attache will perform all the same duties at a fraction of the weight but will cost a third more.

The Rocklock makes a good choice for belaying of any type due to its large round stock construction that allows for smooth handling and minimal friction  as well as increased durability over I-beam construction.
The Rocklock makes a good choice for belaying of any type due to its large round stock construction that allows for smooth handling and minimal friction, as well as increased durability over I-beam construction.

Conclusion


If you are looking to start your basic climbing rack, the Rocklock Screwgate is a great choice to pair with your belay/rappel device, and your personal anchor system. With a simple and functional design at an economical price, we can recommend it for all situations where weight or size are not primary considerations.


Andy Wellman