I am sometimes a bit puzzled by the limited view that some people seem to have when considering connectors. The default position for many seems to be to use karabiners – always. Which in many instances is fine, karabiners are fantastic, versatile components, they are light, easy to handle, interchangeable and therefore easy to replace.
Yet as with any other tool, they have their limits, for instance they are sensitive to incorrect loading, such as nose-loading, cross-loading, outside-loading or three-way loading. Also, locking mechanisms need to be looked after and serviced, the body of the krab needs to be inspected for wear and tear.
Not every locking mechanism is equally suited for a task, depending upon what use you intended to put them to. Roll-out of the locking mechanism may be an issue, or dirt preventing gates from closing properly.
The intent of this post is by no means to bash krabs, do not get me wrong, I think they are a great tool and use them all the time, I am simply saying that there are also other options out there, such as rings, shackles or screw-links (to name but a few). The advantage these connectors have for certain uses is that they are either a closed shape with a uniform breaking strength – or at least closer to the closed shape than the often highly specialised shapes and profiles of modern karabiners.
Also, full material will often be used in their manufacturing, making them less susceptible to unusual loading.
Used discerningly and in the right place, I believe components such as the ones above can be a real asset to the range of connectors we use on a daily basis.
When I am looking for ease of installation and need to be able to switch between components quickly, I will in all likelihood use a karabiner.
When I am remote installing or cannot visually inspect my connector for correct loading, I am a big fan of using rings (I know, I rattle on a bit about that one).
When I have a clearly defined direction of pull, for instance in a rigging scenario, and I need to be able to install and deinstall, yet speed is not of the essence, I will consider the use of shackles.
When I want to link two closed components on a semi-permanent basis, screw links are an option I may well consider.
So you see, our use of connectors begs differentiation, not all connectors tick the same boxes, yet each has their place if considered carefully. Why not try adding one or the other of the above into your bag of kit and see how you get on. I rather enjoy problems like this, it is like trying to slot the correct elements together in a puzzle to get the best fit possible (not that I was ever a great puzzler – in fact, au contraire 😂).