Sunday, April 17, 2016

Review: Gearlex Ear Clip

I wanted to upgrade my accessory carrying capacity without adding my weight, or adding to my magnetic signature. (I rarely go through metal detectors, but whenever I do, it's a bigger and bigger pain each time). I use ITW Grimloc's on a bunch of my bags and harnesses, which are good, but have a "pop-open" thresh-hold that I have had come open at inopportune times.  

I saw that Hornest SG was stocking a bioplastic carabiner that looked to be suiting my needs. These are the Gearlex Ear Carabiners.  These weather and chemical resistant clips are made from 62% renewable materials and ends up being 15% lighter than nylon materials and are reported to retain that toughness down to  -60oC, in case you are intending to go yomping in Vladivostok or Mawson Station.

At the broad top of the "ear" shapes, the clips feature a 1" webbing loop, with a split notch for feeding it into the location of your choice. 

Unlike the webing notch of the of the Grimloc, the Gearlex webbing loop is on the outside of the carabiner, not the inside. This frees up the internal area of the carabiner to give more space for attached objects, and adds freedom of movement. 

However, it makes me worry about how much of a load the clip can take. The large Ear clips are rated to a max of 78kg and the small to 60kg, which is vastly more than the Grimloc's 36kg break-point. I rather empirically tested it manually by pulling it looped through my webbing , and it held in place to the point of hurting my hand and with the stitching straining.

The gate of the carabiner is fitted with a dovetail locking mechanism which adds to the strength of the gate and is one of several locks now standard throughout the climbing world.  The inside, weight bearing rim of the carabiner is thicker, to distribute the load, but the back edges have a broad rib for stability and strength, without adding too much mass. 

The carabiners are clearly not climbing rated, and come with warnings not to be "load-bearing" but that said, for the strapping of accessories, like water bottles, dummy cords or even strapping on smaller packs to bigger packs, such as the Hill People Gear Runner's Bag, or the Zulu Nylon Gear CAOS admin pack or even perhaps a daypack, for those of us who pack like we're about to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.  

Gearlex produce these in Black, Coyote and Ranger Green, and I got one of the clips in black, one in ranger green and a small one in Ranger Green as well, to give me some options when I am setting them up and using them, to match or contrast the gear they are attached to.

Not as hardy and load-bearing as an aluminium or steel climbing carabiner, bigger and more stable than a Grimloc, the Gearlex Ear Clips fill the niche between a light accessory clip and a heavy-duty carabiner.

Both have their places and uses, but for something in-between, you might find that the Gearlex clips, in big and small suits your needs.

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