The locking krab is an essential piece of kit that helps to keep us safe on the crags. Locking the gate eliminates the potential for a rope, sling or device to become unclipped. This simple function allows safe belaying, rigging, ascending, abseiling, rescue, hauling or even just an added element of security when you feel the need (for example, a critical or low level runner).
There are a number of different designs which suit different end uses. The main types are as follows:
Standard Offset Ds
These are the most commonly used locking krabs. They are generally smaller and lighter than the other designs and are ideal for setting up belays. It is also worth having a few for your self rescue kit (Prusik loop, Tibloc etc) or critical/low level runners. For a good example check out the DMM Shadow Screwgate
HMS and Rigging Krabs
Traditionally the HMS has been the recommended krab to use with a belay device, but there is a significant drawback. While it is true that they work well with an Italian or Munter Hitch, when used with a standard belay device they do have a tendency to flip over and allow cross loading of the krab (not good!).
But don’t write them off as they are very useful in rigging situations where two ropes need to be tied into one krab. The wide gate opening and large ‘rope basket’ mean that it is possible to clip in various items (for example, your rucsac on a winter belay). Check out the DMM Boa
for an example of a large and very strong rigging HMS krab.
These are HMS style krabs that have additional design features aimed at stopping the krab flipping into a cross loading position. As a result they are by far the safest krabs to use for belaying. For an example check out the DMM Belay Master 2
, which in addition, can only be closed if the gate is properly done up.
Ovals are the best krab style for setting up a pulley because they allow the pulley to sit in a correctly loaded and equalised position. The symmetrical shape also stops them shifting under load and potentially dislodging a marginal gear placement – thus their popularity with aid climbers. For an example check out the DMM Ultra O Screwgate
There are a few specialist designs such as DMM Revolver
- this has an integral pulley which reduces drag and can be used for hauling and rescue situations.
The Petzl Freino Grigri Krab
has a mini krab/friction spur on the back of the spine – this gives extra friction for belaying (very handy if your partner is heavy) and is useful when lowering heavy loads.
There are also locking krabs specifically designed for Via Ferrata – check out the Petzl Vertigo
for an example.
There are two main styles of locking gate:
Screwgates – the original design is simply a barrel which screws up and holds the gate closed. Obviously, if you forget to screw the gate up it is vulnerable to opening; however some people like screwgates because they require deliberate action – the idea being that a methodical approach will ensure safe rigging and de-rigging. Check out Rocio Siemens thoughts on this here
Auto Lockers – these gates are designed to rule out the issue of the ‘undone screwgate’. They will automatically click into a locked position and ensure the krab remains secure. Some designs can be undone with one action (a twist), but others take the failsafe feature one step further and require you to push and twist. If you intend using these in winter make sure you try them with your normal climbing gloves as they do require more dexterity than a screwgate.
If you arrive at a belay but, for whatever reason, have only snapgates left on your rack, you can use two snapgate krabs as an alternative for setting up the belay – just make sure the gates are on opposite sides.
Steel Locking Krabs
Steel krabs are very tough but unfortunately much heavier than alloy ones; consequently they are little used in normal climbing situations (although you will occasionally see in situ ones fitted to sport route lower-offs). Their most common use is by outdoor activity centres where hard wearing kit is essential. We don’t run them as a regular stock item but can easily obtain them – just give us a call to discuss your requirements.