Petzl SmD Screw Lock Carabiner
The SmD is the latest addition to Petzl’s very successful lineup of carabiners. The Petzl SmD is a slightly asymmetrical D-shape fitting somewhere between the Spirit and the AmD, with the construction of the Attache SL (a personal favourite).
At 46g it weighs a mere gram over the popular Petzl Spirit biner but what initially drew me to the SmD was the small hole located below the gate intended to attach a small length of cord (2mm works) to a Tibloc, Ropeman or Micro Traxion thereby rendering them loss-proof. Perhaps this was creating a solution to a problem I didn’t know I had, but I was intrigued nevertheless.
Initial Impressions of the Petzl SmD
My initial impressions of the SmD have been positive and I like the gradual curve to the baskets, both top and bottom. The added space made the gate easy to operate with a pulley and Tibloc or a Micro Traxion, but not both. The H-Beam profile and the D shape make it easy to handle with, or without, gloves despite the diminutive stature. The 2mm greater gate opening is noticeable when compared to the smaller Spirit.
While the SmD comes in both a screwgate and a double action, I found the former to be sufficient for my needs. As always, the Petzl gate features a red band providing a visual warning when the biner is unlocked. The screwgate feels tight and doesn’t wobble at all; an indication of the precision manufacturing Petzl is renowned for.
One feature that I don’t believe is talked about enough is the small hole at the back of the keylock. This is intended to push mud, ice or assorted debris through that could potentially prevent the gate from closing fully. While it is a rarity, I have had a few older lockers gunk up in foul conditions. This is a nice feature. Additionally, the keylock design resists snagging extremely well, which I appreciate as I have a penchant for hemline drawcord catching.
Use As A Belay Biner
The wide, flat basket ensure proper positioning of a belay device, be in tube style or GriGri and the added volume in the lower basket make the Petzl SmD sit flush with a belay loop, limiting the possibility of flipping the carabiner. I see this as a real plus as the Petzl Dual Connect doesn’t easily allow for fatter stock carabiners such as the Petzl Hera to be threaded into the belay arm. The SmD will be an excellent choice for this application.
While I’ve yet to put it through a sufficient test, the Petzl SmD is a superlight carabiner and I suspect this will be reflected in the durability. The stock of the h-beam in the basket where the rope would contact appears to be marginally thinner than either the Spirit or the Attache and the reduction in surface area will undoubtedly wear out quickly if used as a belay or rappel. That being said, it is constructed of the same metal and anodized the same as the Attache, which has held up very well for me over the past three years. The basket width is noticeably wider on the Petzl Spirit.
Use In Anchor Construction or Improvised Rope Rescue
Utilizing a D-shaped carabiner helps ensure proper alignment of pulleys and orients the force directly along the strongest axis, the spine, making this shape ideal for improvised rescue scenarios. However, it also ensures correct orientation of anchor legs, belay devices, rope grabs or personal lanyards. However, the rounder shape makes the possibility of rotating and dangerously cross-loading the carabiner more likely. For this reason in anchor construction it may be preferred to use a conventional asymmetrical biner like the Spirit, which utilizes a narrow base to help prevent misalignment. Furthermore, the tighter angles and compact construction of the Spirit translate to a greater strength when the gate is open (Spirit: 9kN vs SmD: 7kN) making it imperative to ensure the SmD is not placed in a position where the gate could be forced open.
Petzl SmD Tech Specs
|Strength Major Axis||23kN|
|Strength Minor Axis||8kN|
|Open Gate Strength||7kN|
To me this carabiner strikes a fine balance between the Spirit and the Attache. It is light enough justify carrying an extra locker yet spacious enough to accommodate an emergency pulley, an Italian Hitch or even two clove hitches. I will be using the Petzl SmD primarily as a piece of rescue kit to hold a Tibloc and a small pulley but it has its place as an extra versatile locker on a streamlined harness.
Pros: Lightweight, versatile, clever hole prevents losing gear.
Cons: If used appropriately, none.
Edit: Since this was initially published in August 2017 I have purchased a few more of these wonderful carabiners. They now comprise the bulk of my glacier travel kit. I carry two of these along with slings and cordalette in addition to the one that holds my tibloc. I’m finding fewer and fewer reasons to use traditional d-shaped lockers since the Petzl SmD was added to my collection. Click here for a complete packing list for what I bring on Multipitch Climbing Routes.
You can find the Petzl SmD screwgate online or in Canmore, AB at Vertical Addiction. Also, you might be interested in a few other reviews of the new lightweight products from Petzl.