Carabiner vs. Shackle vs. Quick Link – Pros & Cons

When it comes to connecting two pieces of gear together, there are three main options: carabiners, shackles, and quick links. But which one is the best? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each to help you make the best decision for your needs.

Carabiner vs. Shackle vs. Quick Link – Pros & Cons

Each of these carabiner types has its own pros and cons:


  • Pros: Lightweight and typically made from aluminum alloy, which is strong but not as strong as steel Many have a locking mechanism to keep them from opening accidentally Can be used for a variety of purposes, including connecting two pieces of rope or attaching gear to a backpack
  • Cons: Not as strong as a shackle and can fail under high loads Can be difficult to open if the locking mechanism is engaged


  • Pros: Much stronger than a carabiner and can handle much higher loads Can be opened and closed easily, even when under load
  • Cons: Typically made from steel, which is much heavier than aluminum alloy Can rust if exposed to moisture

Quick Link:

  • Pros: Strong and secure, yet easy to open and close typically made from stainless steel, so it is resistant to rust
  • Cons: Heavier than a carabiner

Carabiner Pros – Lightweight, Strong, and Versatile

Carabiners are small metal loops with a spring-loaded gate that can be opened and closed. They are lightweight, strong, and versatile, making them ideal for a variety of applications. Carabiners are commonly used in rock climbing, mountaineering, and caving, but they have also become popular as keychains and bag charms.

Carabiner Cons – Can Unclip Themselves, and Can Be Dangerous

Carabiners are one of the most essential pieces of gear for climbers, but they also have some drawbacks. One of the main problems with carabiners is that they can unclip themselves. This can be dangerous if you are relying on the carabiner to keep you safely attached to the rock face.

Another problem with carabiners is that they can be difficult to operate with one hand, which can be a problem when you are trying to clip into a safety line or anchor.

Shackle Pros – Can Be Locked, and Are Very Strong

Shackles are much more secure than carabiners. They cannot be easily unclipped, and they are very easy to operate with one hand.

Shackles are similar to carabiners, but they have a rigid body and a hinged gate. This makes them more durable and less likely to open accidentally. Shackles are often used in marine applications where maximum strength is necessary.

Shackles are very strong and can be locked with a padlock. If you are worried about someone being able to take your things, then a shackle is a good choice. Shackles can also be used in place of carabiners for attaching things, but they are not as easy to use.

Shackle Cons – Can Be Difficult to Open, and Are Heavy

Shackles are not as versatile as carabiners, and they can be difficult to attach to some types of gear. Shackles are strong, but they can be difficult to open, and they’re also heavy. If you’re carrying a lot of gear, that weight can add up.

Quick Link Pros – Easy to Open and Close, and Can Be Locked

Quick links are heavy-duty carabiners that can be used to connect two pieces of equipment or material. Quick links are often used in construction and industrial applications.

Quick links are similar to shackles in that they are very secure and easy to operate with one hand. However, quick links are even easier to attach to gear, and they are just as strong as shackles.

If you’re looking for an easy way to connect two pieces of gear, a quick link is a great option. Quick links are easy to open and close and can be locked for added security.

Quick Link Cons – Not as Strong as a Carabiner or Shackle

Quick links are not as strong as carabiners or shackles, so they are not recommended for use in applications where a lot of weight will be pulled on the link.

Which One is Right for You?

Carabiners, shackles, and quick links all have their pros and cons, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.

Carabiners are strong and versatile, but they can be difficult to open and close. Shackles are easier to open and close, but they’re not as strong as carabiners. Quick links are the strongest of the three, but they’re also the most difficult to open and close.

So, which one is right for you? If you need a strong connection, go with a quick link. If you need a connection that’s easy to open and close, go with a shackle. And if you need a versatile connection, go with a carabiner.

In Closing

Carabiners, shackles, and quick links each have their own pros and cons. This is why it is important to know what you intend to use them for and choose the one that fits the intended application. Remember, your safety depends on choosing the right one!

NEXT UP: Different Carabiner Shapes and What They’re Used For

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Jack Harrison
About Jack Harrison

JT Harrison is an expert Survival Instructor, focused on wilderness and urban survival techniques. He focuses on survival, prepping, food, water, shelter and other essential steps individuals and families can take to live for long periods outdoors, or in crisis situations. JT has been trekking and climbing for 20+ years in some of the harshest environments in the world. Learn more about JT here or connect with him on Twitter