Edelrid's Bulletproof Karabiners Review

It is rare these days that something genuinely new and interesting happens in the world of karabiners. Most brands have taken their development so far that we are really just down now to subtle and cosmetic changes. But the Bulletproof is a real step forward.

Edelrid Bulletproof the set  © UKC Gear
The full test set

Two years ago, at OutDoor 2016, Edelrid introduced a karabiner called the Bulletproof. This looks like a normal karabiner, except that the section of the body that takes the main wear from the rope, or clipping in the bolt/wire runner, has a steel insert to give it extra strength. The end result is a karabiner that combines the lightness of a normal aluminium model, with the strength and wear-resistance, where it really matters, of a steel karabiner.

First Impressions

We got an early set of the basic Bulletproof months ago, and have been using it as a quickdraw combination for some time. Since then the range has been extended to include a set of screwgates in small and HMS belay size, including models with wire retainers for the belay loop. We have been testing some of these through the summer in both trad and sport environments.

Edelrid Bulletproof on the first bolt  © UKC Gear
The Bulletproof on the first bolt of a sport route

The first question that comes to mind on seeing the Bulletproof is why did it take so long for someone to think of this? It seems so obvious when you look at it - but isn't that the way with most clever inventions? In this case the karabiners are neat and have a familiar action. The steel insert adds surprisingly little weight, so unless you are going super-lightweight on alpine or mountain trad, then the extra mass really isn't an issue.

For Sport Climbing

Edelrid Bulletproof doubled ups on a lower-off  © UKC Gear
A pair of Bulletproof quickdraws used on a lower-off

Over long-term use, clipping steel bolts can cause cumulative damage to aluminium karabiners, and the resulting sharp burrs can then go on to damage your rope. This is why it's a good idea to have a dedicated set of sport climbing quickdraws, and to always clip the bolt with the same end of the draw. With the added protection of that steel insert, the Bulletproof helps considerably reduce the damage at the bolt end.

When sport climbing I have found myself using one Bulletproof quickdraw in the first bolt and then often keeping another pair for the lower-off. These are the two points that take the most wear in a normal sport climbing system. If you're top-roping on a lower-off then using a Bulletproof pair makes perfect sense to reduce the wear on both the lower-off and your own gear. It also makes sense to use them on crux bolts when working routes, to avoid battering the karabiner on the bolt too much.

Edelrid Bulletproof HMS used with a Grigri  © UKC Gear
A bullet proof HMS on a Grigri

For Belaying

The simple small screwgate version is an obvious addition to the range but it is perhaps not somewhere that the hardwearing benefits will be instantly appreciated. It is really with the bigger HMS karabiner used for belays or top-roping that the Bulletproof stands out as an exceptional realisation of a practical idea. If you have an old belay karabiner then just take a look at the inside of the curve: I'd be willing to bet that there's a worn rope groove, or at least some obvious wear to the anodised surface. Being far more durable at the point of highest wear, the Bulletproof gets round all that. Edelrid are obviously aware that this is a big advantage, since they offer it in four different models - twistlock and screwgate, and with and without wire belay loop retainers. If you're going all-out for safety - and that's really the point of this karabiner - then one of the rope retainer models is probably the ideal.

Edelrid Bulletproof with double ropes and a belay plate  © UKC Gear
The HMS with retainer Bulletproof and double ropes

As a sport belay karabiner obviously this will be welcomed by those with Grigris and other similar devices that tend to heavily mark karabiners. If there is a small downside it is the Bulletproof can't be relied on to work with some of the Click-up type devices where the karabiner is integral to the braking system. With these you really need to use the karabiner supplied with the device since a slight change in this does result in less braking power.

Conclusion

This is a brilliant idea which has been carried out to perfection by Edelrid. Carrying a couple of these as quickdraw sets when sport climbing will save wear on your rope and everyone else's lower-offs. As a belay karabiner the Bulletpoof is probably one of the best models out there, giving you everything you need in a more durable form while still retaining a reasonably light weight.

Edelrid say:

The name says it all, an innovative & robust hybrid carabiner. The steel insert at the apex prevents premature wear and sharp edges from appearing. It is available in a variety of styles and sets including a quickdraw set and a belay set with the Mega JUL.

Bulletproof Straight / Bent (RRP: £12)

  • Steel insert prevents wear from rope edges and bolt hangers
  • Keylock closure system for optimum handling
  • H-profile construction ensures best use of material to minimise weight
  • Ergonomic gate design for easier clipping.

HMS Bulletproof Screw (RRP: £20)

  • Innovative Bulletproof insert
  • Keylock closure system for optimum handling when clipping and unclipping
  • H-profile construction ensures best use of material and minimal weight
  • Available in either Screw or Triple lock
  • Available with and without belay loop retainer clip

For more info see Edelrid.de

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I’m surprised this hasn’t attracted more comment, although maybe this is more of a reflection on how watertight both the review and the product are.

Contrary to my posting, I’m currently on holiday on Kalymnos and have with me 2 x Bulletproof Quickdraws. The first goes on the first bolt, the other goes on the lower off. Whilst it is impossible to judge the lasting (positive) effect this will have on my rope, there is a very small price to pay (both in terms of the price, which is reasonable, and the weight, which is almost exactly the same as any other quickdraw) for the assumption that it WILL be a benefit in the long run.

What has struck me is how many people both out here, and at home, top rope directly through the anchors. If ever there were a reason to invest in a couple of Bulletproof quickdraws then this is it, particularly when the pitches are 40m long!!

21 Sep, 2018

I'm just waiting for a bullet version of a small wiregate for winter and trad use, I hope its something that they can make feasible. The review is very nice and the product genuinely  interesting. My ice screws are eating through the alloy on my chimeras, so something like this just a little lighter would definitely be in my sights. On a side note Edelrid actually have some really interesting gear (aimed at the indoor wall market), that is actually quite innovative.

I'll see if we can get the goss when we're out at the next trade show. Seeing as they've already done screwgates + snapgates, wiregates seem like the next obvious step.

 

21 Sep, 2018

Technically there's no reason they couldn't do a wiregate. But getting lighter? Not really because you need nearly the same amount of aluminum for strength if you want to keep the basic dimensions reasonably similar.

21 Sep, 2018

Indeed, I just meant lighter/ smaller when compared to the current snap-gate version.

The steel plate appears to be an epoxy(?) add-on, so I figured it should be quite possible to mould/press the fitting for it to a smaller carabiner, without too much weight penalty.

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