Nite Ize S-Biner MicroLock
0.14 oz / 4 g
1.39 x 0.59 x 0.27 in / 35.46 x 15.08 x 7.07 mm
A locking mini S-biner that can secure items while…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $5 USD
A locking mini S-biner that can secure items while providing a quick-release option. Great for adding a tool to your keychain or a lightweight light to a zipper pull. Well-made stainless steel construction with a clever design that will please those in search of a secure but easily releasable attachment device.
- Great, functional S-biner design
- Firm tension on spring-steel gates
- Integrated lock discourages unintended opening
- Comes in a two-pack
- Lock is plastic; may wear out over time
- Big fingers may have difficulty locking-unlocking gates
This is the case with Night Ize's S-Biner MicroLock, a small item accurately identified by its name. I've used a range of Night Ize products from their Microlight on a keychain to Gear Ties to strap a tripod onto my pack to the BugLit LED lights of which my children are enamored. Their products tend to be innovative niche products, and the S-Biner MicroLock is no exception.
This S-shaped carabiner is 1.375 in/ 34.93 mm long and .625 in/ 15.9 mm wide. Fashioned of stainless steel, it is impervious to the elements and--at .14 oz/ 4 g--has a sufficiently satisfying heft to suggest quality construction and to inspire a measure of faith in its utility. This is a much better quality product that the plastic S-biners that are attached to cheap flashlights and other knick-knacks.
The Lock, a Key Feature (sorry about the pun)
The S-Biner MicroLocks feature a lock, of course, essentially a plastic cam that rotates and clicks into place to prevent the gates from opening inadvertently (see diagram in image, below). It takes a good bit of effort to lock or unlock the biners.
I have found the lock to be very functional, never opening on me by accident. An audible click sounds when it locks into place so that there can be no misunderstanding about whether the gate is open or closed. This feature is great for keychain use, where the contents of one's pocket often shift and threaten to open a device without a locking mechanism.
The S-Biner MicroLock works well in securing, for instance, my Leatherman Squirt PS4 to my keychain. By virtue of using the S-Biner, I can detach the tool when using it without going through the hassle of unthreading a key ring.
An additional feature that separates these from inferior mini S-biners is quality construction. The steel feels solid, and the tension on the gates is not inconsiderable--you can see in the image below that I am exerting a fair amount of pressure to open the gate. Note, too, the notch in the nose of the biner where the gate closes--a nice touch.
Rated at 3 pounds (1.36 kg), you can actually carry a fair amount with one, and aside from the inherent limitation of size and this 3-pound rating, only the imagination limits the S-Biner MicroLock's uses.
I am contemplating adding another set (they come two per pack) to rig a homemade under quilt to my hammock. In addition to using one for my Leatherman on my keychain, I've used one to hold a lanyard on a fixed blade knife before as well as using one to fasten a lightweight light to a zipper pull on my Osprey Talon pack.
In practice, I've found that these S-Biners tend to migrate from task to task rather than become permanent fixtures somewhere. They are great for attaching keys to things, for hooking a coil of bank line or paracord to a pack, or for attaching a titanium spoon somewhere. They are awesome for attaching a Swiss Army knife to a pack or belt loop on a pair of pants.
The quick-release feature tends to drive my own use of them. It is nice to have something like this to help attach or organize small pieces of gear, a tool for all the little tasks you didn't realize you needed this for! Should I acquire more of these, I will place one in my backcountry repair kit for whatever eventuality might require it. I've long carried larger carabiners to attach things to a pack; it is really nice to have a smaller option for smaller pieces of gear.
The S-Biner MicroLocks do have limitations. I've mentioned the weight limit, but there is also the reality that the gate opening is only so big (although Night Ize makes other, larger S-biners). Size up your pack for possible attachment points before getting into the backcountry and realizing you have none small enough to accommodate the S-Biner's gate.
Another potential drawback is the lock, which may eventually grow looser. If it does I'll update this review. Don't imagine you'll to open the lock with gloves on, and those who have large fingers may struggle to get their fingers between the gates to open or close the lock, things to consider. Oh, and as Night Ize warns on the packaging, these are "NOT FOR CLIMBING."
So are they essential? No, but they are very nifty, and they offer an often elegant solution to small tasks. More than once I've reached for them and muttered a "that's perfect!" after using them. If you have large fingers, you may have difficulties with these, but for others, quality build and clever design make these useful, and--at about $5 for a pair--a good value.