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Review by billcoe_ (1)

Helium Clean Wire Carabiner (Manufacturer link) Average Rating = 4.67/5 Average Rating : 4.67/5

In: Gear: Essential Equipment: Carabiners: Non-Locking Carabiners: Wire Biners

Review 5 out of 5 stars

Review by: billcoe_, 2005-03-20

The Dmm Shields and Dmm Specters will be out soon and give the Wild Country Heliums a run for the money. The Salewa sub 30's don't seem to be in this country and don't have the protective hoods. The Heliums, for now, may be a world leader for strenth and weight.

I believe you should not look at your rack as a finished product, but rather a work in progress. Which explains why I’ve sold all of my 3rd gen Camalots on e-bay, and no longer lead using the original Wild County ridged friends.

Things often change for the better. When we see new techniques or equipment, we should evaluate it, and, if it is better, embrace and utilize it. It was from this mind set that I decided to buy a set of 6 WC Helium’s and see how they did. Realize that I am in love with my Petzl Spirit carabiners. I not only love the Spirit specs, but I love the way the gates caress my hand with that silky smooth opening and positive click.

Non-climbers who saw me fondling these sexy red Heliums at work immediately came over to see what way up. After they fondled them, they were in denial that these biners were anything but a toy. They weight that much. Unlike a toy, it outperforms almost every other carabiner in the world right now in most (but not all) of the criteria rockclimbers find important.

These specs. sum it up well. 25 kn gate closed, 10 kn gate open, minor axis 8kn. Gate opening 27mm. Short version, these puppies are not your grandmothers carabiner, but are full sized, full strength, full spec'ed, full everything but not full weight. At a listed 33 grams, but closer to 32 grams on my scale, your disbelief will register as you can barely feel it in your hand.

The gate closed and open strength at 25kn and 10kn respectively outperforms almost all of the biners out there, including my beloved Petzl Spirits (at “only” a respectable 23 and 9.5).
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It is not just in the spec’s but these little beauties have solid design strengths which even a novice like "moi" can determine just by looking at them. My failing memory registered an interesting idea Royal Robbins had in conjunction with Salewa a hundred years ago it seems. They made the center of the carabiner hollow in an innovative attempt to shave weight. The clear failing of that idea (in an age where carabiner brake rappels were a carabiner-wearing, grit-sanding common occurrence), is that as you wear through the carabiner as it ages, you don’t really know how much material is left. The Heliums shave the weight where it is visible, on the outside. They added material to the business end radius where the rope sits, it measures a rope-gentle 8mil+, and the designers pulled weight from the center of the bar, most of the way around the outside of the biner, where nobody really needs it. The far superior clean-wire feature should immediately be adopted by all mfgs, if it didn’t violate a Wild Country trademark or patent.

The bulbous nose cradles the tip of the wiregate so that it is nestled deep inside, out of the way of any rock which may try to pry it open in a fall. The wiregate slightly tapers inwardly to reinforce the superior design, it is a brilliant and well thought out configuration in that respect. Form follows function. )

Small note: Wild Country had an early batch recalled, and their performance and honesty on that was exemplary and commendable. I would definatly trust this company to make a good product, seeing how they owned up so quickly when they found a little tweak early on).

I love these red hotties. They are amazing. They are close to being THE ultimate biner. I will be adding some to my rack, maybe lots of them as I get more comfortable with them.

What possible weakness or flaws could Bill be seeing in these little red phenomonoms you wonder? Minor points, no doubt. Just like a group of dudes checking out the supermodels on the tube and saying stuff like “Oh I don’t know is she’s that hot man, she’s got a mole on the arm (Uhh, dude, you’ve never had a chick like that even say hi to you in your life, so don’t plan on trading in that 250 lb wife of yours any time soon”), or crap like “Yeah, that’s a hot Ferrari, but I’d get different wheels, (Dude, you couldn’t afford new wheels even if you traded in your 20 year old Chevy and moved out of your trailer into your moms basement again to save the rent money”).

The most noticeable flaw becomes apparent almost immediately. I’m not talking about the wallet emptying price either. The smaller of the ends is very narrow. Couple the light weight with the narrowness of the small end and you have a carabiner more likely to be moved around so that it is not in a position to take the hit in the major axis, where that 25 kn strength figure would easily deal with the stress of a fall, but on the minor, or narrow weaker axis. Yeah, this carabiner is more likely than about any biner on your rack to be ass-sideways to Sunday when you need it most. You might consider that an irrelevant point. It might be, fact is, the minor axis figure of 8kn (1760 lbs) still makes it about as strong sideways as the max strength on the Eiger and Liberty ovals some of you other old farts started out climbing on in 1970 (1800 lbs new).

Then there’s that intangible. That silky smooth gate action of the Spirits was not duplicated. Too stiff and strong. Oh, the gate action may be as good as other wiregates, but if you are a Petzl fan because of the gate action, these aren’t there.

If you are a wiregate fan, you have got to look hard at these babies, because except for a mole on the arm, these things are Ferraris for the vertical: and far and away the best wiregate on the market today.


Bill Coe