Carabiner modification

Sea kayakers use carabiners for various purposes. You might have one on your tow line, throw line or contact cord. Some carabiners come with a nasty tooth at the gate, which can cut or get stuck on the deckline  when releasing the carabiner.


The tooth at the gate can damage ropes or hinder release of the carabiner from decklines.


If you have any type of carabiner which you are using on ropes, you can simply file down the tooth with a metal file.

The end result may look something like this.

IMG_0001 (1)


Not only will it be safer, it will be easier to release the carabiner from  the deckline.

kN 22 9 8. 22 Kilonewtons along the spine. 8 to 9 kilonewtons across the gate.

Some claim filing down the tooth will weaken the carabiner strength.  On your carabiner there should be a kN (kilonewton) rating, which says something about the load the carabiner can take along the spine of the carabiner and on the spring itself.

This particular carabiner can take 22 kilonewtons (2,2 tons) along its spine, while 8 to 9 kilonewtons (815 to 917 kilos) across the gate. Filing down the tooth on the gate will probably weaken the carabiner, but is it likely to weaken it so that it becomes useless or dangerous for sea kayakers? Personally I do not think so, as you are likely to stress the spine of the carabiner in a towing situation.


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One thought on “Carabiner modification”

  1. Matt Skuse sent me a comment to this post. Thanks Matt.

    I used to work with HB on the design of UK military climbing kit. The lug on the carabineer is designed to trap the end of the gate in the event of the actual spine of the carabineer deforming – which happens well before the marked breaking strain of the carabineer – so taking the lug off is an issue, defendable perhaps if you are not using it for climbing. The issue would be – what if it makes it back into a climbing kit after you had made that change? It’s still marked as 22KN on the body! For that reason some people will get very upset about you taking a file to a crab. There have been a number of court cases about that in the US.

    But – why use a climbing carbineer at all? They are not designed to be clipped in and out of small cordage, they cost money and they are so heavy that, on a tow line, they will sink the line – and perhaps snag on the bottom. Weight in the tow system is also a liability if the tow breaks under strain.

    As you have seen I use small clips like this stainless steel “Dutyclip” in the picture. Or even plastic. The deck lines on a kayak only handle a few KNs, perhaps less than 2, so no need for more strength than that.

    Sad truth, I think the guys in the kayak shop would rather sell £25 crabs than £3 clips, explains is part why we are where we are.

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