Black Diamond RockLock Review: The Best Cheap Locking Carabiner?

Avoiding a factor-2 fall

Clove-hitched in on the Black Diamond RockLock.

The RockLock is the Honda Civic of carabiners. It’s hardworking, simple, reliable, and very durable. It may not be the fanciest or most luxurious of options, but it offers a lot of bang for your buck. In our review of the best locking carabiners, it won the award for Best Value.

To put it to the test, I used it for everything climbers would normally use a locker for — belaying, anchoring, multipitch climbing, etc. To get some hard numbers on usability, I put it up in a speed test against 11 other locking ‘biners. Read on for our full review.

Or if you’d like to read more about how the Black Diamond RockLock compared to the other locking carabiners we tested, check out our article on the best locking carabiners.

Locking Carabiner Score Weight Gate Clearance Shape
Best Value: Black Diamond RockLock Screwgate (This Product)
87
85g 21 mm HMS
Top Pick: Petzl Attache
93
56g 24 mm Compact HMS
Best Anti-Crossloading: DMM Rhino
90
72g 20 mm HMS
Best Auto-Locking: Edelrid HMS Strike Slider
89
62g 22 mm Compact HMS
Black Diamond GridLock Magnetron
61
82g 21 mm Modified HMS

What We Like

Durability

“It’s a good beat-the-***-out-of-it-and-not-have-to-worry ‘biner,” said one tester of this carabiner. The RockLock is one of the heavier belay ‘biners available, but along with the weight you get bombproof construction and a thick, burly stock. It’s no mistake that the RockLock is the carabiner of choice for most gym and belay use. It can take a beating, and it will stay functional for a long time.

As an everyday belay ‘biner, the RockLock is as good as it gets.

Simplicity

The RockLock is exactly what you need a belay carabiner to be and nothing else. It has a big basket, a large round stock, and a well-designed screwgate. Everything functions exactly like you’d expect it to, and that’s a good thing. If the RockLock seems boring, that’s probably because it is — you tend not to notice it, but that’s just because it’s doing its job well.

The beefy round stock on the RockLock keeps feeding smooth and easy.

Price

The RockLock is the cheapest HMS ‘biner we tested, and it remains one of the more affordable options on the market. When you combine low price with long-term durability, the RockLock makes an enticing package. If you don’t need a lighter carabiner, or especially if you’re just beginning your rock climbing journey, there’s no need to spring for a more expensive option.

What We Don’t Like

Weight

One of the quintessential trade-offs in the climbing world is weight vs. durability, and the RockLock is no exception. That durability takes a lot of metal, and it shows in the RockLock’s weight. At 85g, it was the heaviest carabiner in our test. Granted, the extra 30g or so isn’t much in the scheme of things, but if you need to carry multiple lockers on a longer adventure or multipitch, the weight starts to add up.

Chunkiness

The same thick stock that makes the RockLock so lovely to belay and rappel with makes it clumsy for some applications. If you need a smaller ‘biner for anchoring or multipitch duties, the RockLock is not the ticket. For most duties it’s perfectly adequate, but its bulk is a drawback every once in a while.

The RockLock’s burly construction takes up quite a bit of space.

Simplicity

The streamlined feature set of the RockLock is a blessing for everyday duties, but not if you need any extra functionality. If you prefer a carabiner with protection from crossloading, for example, you’ll need to look elsewhere. The RockLock is available as an auto-locking option, but that’s about it.

Best Uses

The RockLock really shines as an everyday ‘biner. For gym duty and frequent belaying, it’s exactly what you need. It is possible for the RockLock to crossload, but I’ve never found it to be an issue. For more on the topic of anti-crossloading, check out our full locking-carabiner roundup.

The RockLock is decent as an all-purpose HMS that you would take out cragging or up a multipitch, but its weight and bulk are slight drawbacks. If you frequently find yourself out on big cliffs, I would suggest finding a slightly lighter option (like our Top Pick, the Petzl Attache).

Value

The RockLock is an exceptional value. It’s a great belay carabiner at half the price of the other 11 options we tested. It won a well-deserved Best Value award in our head-to-head tests.

How the RockLock Performed in Our Testing

In our head-to-head we scored carabiners based on their functionality, ease of use, and portability.

Functionality

The RockLock had a nearly perfect score on functionality, hindered only by its size and an uninspiring screwgate. For how large it is, the RockLock doesn’t have a large gate clearance, although it’s not generally an issue. The screwgate is very functional, but not the smoothest or most reliable design. Other than these minor niggles, the RockLock scored very well.

Ease of Use

The RockLock scored perfectly in this category. In all respects, it’s easy, intuitive, and usable. To get some hard numbers on usability, I put each carabiner through a “time trial” of common on/off belay transitions. The RockLock had an average time of 7.68 seconds, which was the fourth best in our test. How easy the RockLock is to open and close really stood out, and it remains one of the most user-friendly ‘biners available.

Portability

This is the category where the RockLock suffered. Its bulk and weight mean that it’s more noticeable on your harness than the other lockers we tested. That said, the RockLock will still go anywhere and carry anything you need, so it didn’t lose too many points.

Product Specs

  • Weight: 85g
  • Gate Clearance: 21 mm
  • Shape: HMS
  • Gate-closed Strength: 24 kN

The Bottom Line

The RockLock is a simple, burly, and intuitive belay ‘biner at a great price. For gym use, it’s an ideal choice. It doesn’t come with any frills or extras, but as a classic HMS carabiner it’s the best value out there.