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What’s the Difference Between a Carabiner and a Snap Hook?

Carabiners and snap hooks have similar functions that allow them to carry and pull extra weight. Whether you’re climbing a mountain or tying up a lanyard, there’s no denying the usefulness of these tiny but mighty tools. However, if you were to only choose one, how do you know what to choose?

Carabiners are spring-loaded and can only be opened by pushing the gate away from the loop. Snap hooks are opened by pushing the spring gate toward the loop. Carabiners are much more robust and better for climbing or securing heavier weight, whereas snap hooks are ideal for clipping light items only.

Click here to see a video of how a carabiner works.

Important: Do not try climbing with snap hooks! They are not designed to hold heavy loads for extended periods of time. Carabiners are typically stress tested and should have a kN (kilo-Newton) rating written on it somewhere. If you don’t see these markings, don’t use them for climbing either.

Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following info:

  • Pros and cons of each tool
  • What the best carabiners and snap hooks are
  • Which one you should choose going forward
  • How to use carabiners and snap hooks
Carabiners and Snap Hooks

Snap Hooks vs. Carabiners: Which is Better?

Snap hooks and carabiners are both very useful items to have. In a perfect world, you should get both of them so you’ll always be prepared for a variety of tasks. If you only want one or the other, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the advantages and disadvantages of each tool.

Here are the pros and cons of carabiners and snap hooks:

Pros of Carabiners

  • Carabiners have a manual gate that allows you to push through them with a rope, string, keychain, or any other looped item. You don’t have to pull a lever or do anything other than pushing the object through the gateway and allow it to close for a tight, secure hold.
  • Carabiners are popular in the climbing community because they often have a higher weight capacity than any other hook. That being said, you can get a wide range of strengths to choose which one suits your purposes.
  • Finally, carabiners have a wide opening loop. They can hold much bigger ropes than snap hooks, and the gate is firmly held against the gateway to prevent the rope from pushing it open on accident.

Cons of Carabiners

  • Carabiners are quite bulky in size, which makes them annoying to carry in your pocket. You’ll have to hook them on a belt loop, backpack strap, or somewhere on a purse. There are definitely smaller carabiners, but they don’t have a good weight capacity.
  • Carabiners have gates that can freeze in extremely cold weather. If you lock something inside of it, you might have a serious problem getting it out. Not only that, but the gateway can rust shut, preventing it from opening.

Pros of Snap Hooks

  • Using a lever on a snap hook makes it easier if you’re wearing gloves. You don’t have to flip open a gateway, so it really depends on your personal preferences. However, there’s no denying the usefulness of a wide knob for opening purposes.
  • Since they’re not sitting flush with the top of the gateway, snap hooks can’t rust close unless the lever is soaked in water for extended periods of time. Even then, you can push it down once or twice to loosen it up again.
  • Snap hooks are compact and easy to carry wherever you go. You can use them on keychains, in your pocket, and even in a waller. Despite their small size, they still have the capability of holding large amounts of weight.

Cons of Snap Hooks

  • In most cases, top-tier snap hooks can’t hold as much weight as top-tier carabiners. This concern might not be an issue if you don’t need to carry 300 pounds, but it’s still worth mentioning.
  • Over time, the lever on a snap hook can loosen and become a serious problem. Without a secure gateway, you can’t rely on it for heavy-duty tasks. It takes a while, and some of them don’t have this issue, but the results could be dangerous.

The Best Carabiners Around

If you’re interested in getting a new set of carabiners, this is my favorite one found on Amazon. They are available in multi-packs, and you can usually choose from all sorts of color combinations. They’re equipped with a robust kN (kilonewton) rating, which equates to plenty of pounds of total weight capacity for just about anything you might want to do. Some sets also include free keyrings.

If you choose to purchase these carabiners, you can use them for cycling, backpacking, camping, lanyards, traveling, and all sorts of other activities and items. They’re a fantastic all-around choice that’s made even better by the incredibly low, budget-friendly price.

Perhaps the defining feature that makes them the top of the market currently is the lightweight aluminum construction. Aluminum is known for being tough and super lightweight. In fact, these carabiners are less than an ounce. They are perfect for a backpack emergency kit.

Things to Look For in Carabiners

  • Compact size that can carry over 2,500 pounds
  • Include extra keyrings
  • Perfect for leashes, swings, hammocks, and many other uses
  • Multiple colors to color code what you are carrying

Related The Best All-Around Carabiner Brand for Everyday Use.

The Best Snap Hooks on the Market

On the other hand, if you think snap hooks are your best choice, then try out my favorite brand. They come in multi-packs, and each unit has a snap hook on both sides. This configuration makes it much easier for you to hook two loops items together without having to try knots.

Another excellent feature of these snap hooks is that they can hold an impressive poundage per hook. They might not be as strong as the aforementioned carabiners, but you don’t always need the additional weight capacity. The sacrificed strength comes at the benefit of a much smaller snap hook, too.

Perhaps the most overlooked feature of these snap hooks is that they’re some of the best tools for farmers and pet owners. They’re small, but they can hold back dogs, cats, and many other animals. Some customers even pointed to the fact that they locked horse gates with them.


  • Holds over 100 pounds (45 kilograms)
  • Comes with multiple hooks per package
  • Perfect for leashing animals
  • Lightweight, compact size

Related Long-Term Camping Gear List | 14 Must-Have Items.

Should You Get a Snap Hook or a Carabiner?

Now that you’ve seen all of the pros, cons, and best items at your disposal, it’s time to decide which is right for you.

Snap hooks have the advantage of being small and lightweight, while also using a lever to open and close. This process makes it easier for you to use them with gloves, but the lever eventually loses the spring’s tension. If you’re using snap hooks at a workplace or anywhere with gloves, then they’re the best choice as long as you replace them every few months to one year.

Carabiners are excellent for climbing and performing heavy-duty activities, but they’re quite bulky when compared to snap hooks. They also have gateways that can rust or freeze shut, making them hard to open. That being said, they have excellent tension that never weakens over time under proper care. If you want a long-lasting, heavy-duty hook, then carabiners are your best bet.


As you’ve read throughout the article, carabiners and snap hooks are preferred over the other for different reasons. Before you buy the first one that you set your eyes on, consider the numerous variables and benefits mentioned above.

Here’s a quick recap of the post:

  • My current favorite brands of carabiners and snap hooks are, in my opinion, the best carabiners on the market for most purposes.
  • You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a high-quality version of either tool.
  • When wearing gloves, snap hooks reign supreme.
  • For climbing purposes or dragging heavy items, carabiners should be your go-to.
  • Getting both tools is the best way to always stay prepared for anything.