Best Carabiner for Survival EDC

by Tommy Grant

A strong carabiner clip that you can trust gives you versatility way beyond your keychain. Rock climbers use strong steel carabiners to hold their weight and warfighters use polymer clips to hold their gear. Survivalists get to pick from a wide range of carabiners to hold together their survival kits or use for everyday carry, but some models are much more effective than others.

This is where we come in. We’ve researched the best survival carabiners, tested them, and now the results are in: the overall best, an everyday carry option, and a self-defense upgrade option. If you need a carabiner with performance that you can trust, one of our suggestions will hold the line.

Contents (Jump to a Section)

The Best Survival Carabiner

Rhino Locking Carabiner

Two-pack, Locking, and Strong

Locking, inexpensive carabiners that are plenty strong to tackle a wide range of survival tasks.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Rhino makes a wide range of carabiners, but the 3″ manual lock clips provide the best value. These aluminum D-rings have plenty of strength for emergency use but stay lightweight enough to be hardly noticeable in a pack or in your pocket.

There is a wide range of color options, so you can use them to identify different packs or gear. You get two at this price, making them a screaming deal and hard for any clip to beat, value-wise.

Here is everything you get with these clips:

  • 2-pack
  • 12+ color options in multiple sizes and auto-lock options
  • 7075 Aluminum
  • Strength rated 12 kN (2,697 lb)
  • 3″ size
  • 1.0 ounces (each)

With rugged strength paired with a price that is hard to pass up, it’s easy to see why the Rhino Locking Carabiner tops the rest.

EDC Carabiner

ASP Polymer

Lightweight, Rugged, and Versatile

Rugged polymer clips that mark and retain your gear on tactical bags or keep your keys close by.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

There are a few options for polymer gear clips, but Armament Systems and Procedures (ASP) makes the best. With the highest equipment weight rating and the data to back it up, they are the clips that you want to trust in the field, on your bug out bag, and as part of your everyday carry loadout.

Here is how this carabiner measures up:

  • 4+ color options in two sizes (mini not shown)
  • Rugged molded polymer (rustproof)
  • 275-pound weight limit (equipment rated)
  • 3.5″ size
  • 0.1 ounces

If you are looking for a lightweight clip to keep your gear or keys together, this ASP Polymer Carabiner is the best option.

Self-Defense Carabiner

Petzl OXAN

Precision-Made, Locking, and Insanely Strong

This heavy-duty steel carabiner is strength-rated at 38 kN (or over 8,500 lb) on its major axis, blowing away the rest.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Brass knuckles can be regulated, but carabiners offer a unique alternative if you are able to slip them over your fingers. You’ll want one strong, wide, symmetrical, and with a locking clip if you are to consider using one in self-defense.

Warning: Just because carabiners are legal everywhere doesn’t mean you will be immune to trouble if you use one for self-defense. Using improvised weapons and excessive force can still land you in legal hot water, so use sound judgment and know local stand-your-ground laws wherever you find yourself.

Luckily, one of the top climbing harness manufacturers makes just what you’re looking for, with unparalleled strength to boot.

Here are the specs:

  • 2 color options
  • Steel oval (symmetrical)
  • Manual screw lock with indicator
  • Strength rated 38 kN (8,543 lb)
  • 4.3″ size
  • 5.0 ounces

If you need a carabiner for self-defense, the Petzl OXAN Climbing Carabiner is a great choice with unparalleled quality.

Everything We Recommend

Petzl OXAN

This heavy-duty steel carabiner is strength-rated at 38 kN (or over 8,500 lb) on its major axis, blowing away the rest.

Where to Buy

$17* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

The Carabiners We Compared

Our research narrowed the field down to a few brands and types of carabiners and clips that we compared: Petzl, Black Diamond, ASP, Rhino, ESEE, Nite Ize, ISC, Outdoor Element, CIVIVI, and more.

You can see our full list of review criteria below in the What to Look For section, with an explanation for each.

We considered a wide range of clips with plenty of different models across many different manufacturers. I wasn’t very impressed with the multitool-style carabiners- they weren’t very good at any of the extra features. Plus, they had lower load ratings than our polymer pick and worse durability for all the complexity.

We’re always looking for new and better gear, so if you have a carabiner that’s versatile and effective, let us know in the comments. We review most of our tested gear annually so we can try to get it in the next roundup round and see if it will beat out our top picks.

What to Look For

The best survival carabiners have a few features to look for:

  1. Value
  2. Support Weight
  3. Spring Clip Durability
  4. Size & Weight
  5. Versatility

When you get the right blend of these, you can find the perfect carabiner for a wide range of survival tasks. Below, we break down what each of these features means for the clips that truly set themselves apart.

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like a gear clip or keychain shouldn’t blow out your entire budget. Most of them are inexpensive and our top pick is a screaming value that should fit any budget.

You never want to spend too much money on one resource, even when it comes to things you use every day. It’s better to diversify your spending to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios.

Support Weight

Carabiners that have been tested give a strength rating in either Newtons or pounds. When it’s listed as pounds, that is usually the result of a static load test. It’s important to understand that this is different than a falling load test, usually listed in Newtons or foot-pounds (lbf).

Just because a clip is rated at 275 pounds and you weigh 200 does not mean it is safe to support your weight. When people and things fall, we accelerate due to gravity which increases the force on a clip when it ‘catches’ you. Even small falls can greatly increase the force: just falling two feet would overload that 275-pound clip.

This is why climbing gear is rated well into the thousands of foot-pounds. The higher the force rating, the better- but also the bulkier and heavier the clip will be, usually.

Spring Clip Durability

Most carabiners have very few moving parts, but those moving parts need to be durable. The clip, pivot pin, spring, and screw lock can all cause issues if they are damaged, worn out, or of poor quality out of the box.

Quality climbing brands excel here because precision and quality can put lives on the line. Still, climbers always advise that you should inspect your gear before you use it.

Size & Weight

Larger carabiners can be stronger and more versatile, but they also weigh significantly more. This trade-off means that there is a sweet spot where the top pick sits, right at about an ounce.

Even the pure steel and massively strong Petzl clip doesn’t break past 5 ounces, so your pick shouldn’t be weighing you down too much regardless.


Some carabiners have included multitool functionality, which adds to their versatility. While this is a good consideration for survival gear, the ones I tested unfortunately were not worth the tradeoff on the other features, like strength, weight, and durability.

Plenty of budget survival gear gets muddled up by manufacturers adding too many functions at the drawback of the main function. The original multitool does multiple tools well. Survival knives, shovels, axes, and carabiners do not.

How to Use a Carabiner

Just because we don’t suggest a multitool-style carabiner doesn’t mean carabiners don’t already have limitless survival uses. A strong clip that quickly attaches and detaches is perfect for a huge range of situations.

You’ll find them useful as:

  • Keychain: keep keys together and attached to your belt loop or pocket.
  • Climbing: the original use still works great, as long as you get one with a high strength rating.
  • Equipment clip: useful for a huge range of survival equipment. I keep one on my survival towel and steel water bottle.
  • Brass-knuckle self-defense: with a large carabiner closed and locked, you can improve the damage you deal in a fistfight.
  • Line loop or attachment: use with rope or paracord to create a clothesline or equipment line.
  • Tarp hooks: use with tarp grommets as a rapid attachment tool.
  • Marking: different color carabiners can be used to quickly mark gear, equipment, people, and trails.
  • Hammer: looping your lower fingers through a carabiner can turn your fist into a makeshift hammer.

Lists like these can go well into the hundreds, but you get the point by now. Carabiners are incredibly useful, inexpensive, and typically lightweight.

Who Needs a Carabiner?

Carabiners are completely optional tools, but I’ve been using one daily for over twenty years now. They make organization for kits easy, allow you to quickly attach and remove gear from many places, and can even hold your keys and EDC tools together.

Just because I use one doesn’t mean it’s essential. You don’t need one for survival, but I do suggest that you consider one for your daily loadout:

If you have more than you need for daily use, you’ll find that they are useful for camping, hiking, bug out bags, and more.

How We Review Products: We research thoroughly before selecting the best products to review. We consult experts in the field for a better understanding of what makes the gear great. Hours on end are spent field testing gear in stressful conditions. We assign performance criteria and impartially rate each tested item. You can support us through our independently chosen links, which can earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. After our review process, some of the items reviewed end up in our giveaways.

Sources and References

All of our experience and the testing we do to determine the best carabiners are useless without listing our research sources and references. We leaned on these for the book knowledge that we paired with our hands-on testing and practical survival experience:

Burduhos-Nergis, D., et al. (2019). Materials types and selection for carabiners manufacturing: a review. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering. Volume 572. (Source)

Muflikhun, M., et al. (2021). Characteristics and performance of carabiner remodeling using 3D printing with graded filler and different orientation methods. Engineering Failure Analysis. Volume 130. (Source)

Nergis, D., et al. (2018). Structural Analysis of Carabiners Materials Used at Personal Protective Equipments. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering. Volume 374. (Source)

The Final Word

Carabiners have a wide range of uses, from holding keys to holding people while rock climbing. For survival, you can find even more tasks a carabiner can be put to use, making them very versatile and a pretty good gift for most preppers and survivalists.

Here are a few other gear reviews and guides our subscribers have found helpful:

We presented quite a lot of information, but as always: if you have any questions let us know and we would be happy to help. Our testing found the Rhino Locking Carabiner to be the best option given its value, support weight, spring clip durability, size/weight, and versatility.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.

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