Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Gear Guy

Shouldn’t All Gear Have The Same Strength Requirement?

Why are carabiners required by the CE to hold 20 kN, yet sewn slings are rated to 22 kN, and lots of protection fails at 10 kN or less. Shouldn’t all gear have the same strength requirement?

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All-Access
Intro Offer
$3.99 / month*

  • A $500 value with 25+ benefits including:
  • Access to all member-only content on all 17 publications in the Outside network like Rock and Ice, Climbing, Outside, Backpacker, Trail Runner and more
  • Annual subscription to Climbing magazine.
  • Annual gear guides for climbing, camping, skiing, cycling, and more
  • Gaia GPS Premium with hundreds of maps and global trail recommendations, a $39.99 value
  • Outside Learn, our new online education hub loaded with more than 2,000 videos across 450 lessons including 6 Weeks to Stronger Fingers and Strength Training for Injury Prevention
  • Premium access to Outside TV and 1,000+ hours of exclusive shows
  • Annual subscription to Outside magazine
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

Why are carabiners required by the CE to hold 20 kN, yet sewn slings are rated to 22 kN, and lots of protection fails at 10 kN or less. Shouldn’t all gear have the same strength requirement?

—J. Jonstone, Charlotte, NC

The simple answer is because nuts, cams, carabiners, harnesses, ropes and every item of equipment in the chain of protection is made of
various materials, has a unique use, is loaded differently and subjected to different loads. You can’t apply one standard to all climbing gear any
more than you can use the same standard for a car’s airbag and tires. If all types of gear had the same rating as carabiners, their designs and functionality
would be compromised to the point of becoming unusable. For example, a micro nut that now breaks at the cable at 5 kN would, to achieve a carabiner’s
CE strength, require a cable so thick it wouldn’t fit through the nut itself. If all gear had the same strength rating, the rating would actually have
to decrease— not increase—down to the lowest common denominator, since nuts and cams could never achieve a strength equal to that of a
sling. Slings are required to test to 22 kN because it is practical and economical to manufacture them to that rating. So why not? Also, since slings
are used for all purposes from assembling a belay to clipping bolts, they need to be strong enough to never fail in any application, and do so even
after they have lost some strength from wear and tear. Gear Guy has spoken!

This article was published in Rock an Ice issue 228 (August 2015).