I never ‘got’ the fascination and seemingly cult-like following behind Petzl’s Spirit biners. They’re a nice biner, yes, but so are many others. And at $25 per draw, a rack of them got expensive, quick. They aren’t particularly light, and though they clip really well — ok, maybe the best bolt-clipping, and un-clipping, biners I’ve ever used — the pros just never added up for me.
The redesigned-for-2013 Spirit biners are a different story, however. Fabulously light and cheaper than the old version ($20 per draw) they have the same great clipping action and keylock design. The biners are now an H-beam shape, reducing weight but also resulting in a thinner spine. The gates have also been redesigned – putting the bent-gate rope-end biner into contention with the DMM Alpha Sport as the easiest clipping draw I’ve used.
Both the gates have been redesigned, with the bolt-end biner getting a redesign of the finger notches on the gate, and the rope-end biner’s gate flattened to facilitate rope-clipping. As far as I can tell, the improvements work.
The new Spirit weighs just 37-grams (an average of 12 biners on my kitchen scale) whereas the old Spirit weighs in at 48-grams. How Petzl managed to shave 11 grams yet retain the same size, shape and strength is beyond my understanding of physics. But, on a typical 12-draw rack, the new Spirits will save you around 250 grams — a not insignificant, and easily noticeable, savings! (FYI, 37 grams is less than some wiregate biners out there, making these a pretty attractive biner for both sport and trad climbing!)
Pair all this with Petzl’s excellent dogbones, and their unique and highly functional String’ biner-keeper rubber-thingy, and you have some seriously awesome quickdraws. And let’s not kid ourselves, they look pretty awesome too.
Pros: excellent design facilitates both cliping and un-clipping of bolts and rope, light, (relatively) inexpensive, good looks
Overall: If I didn’t have even lighter yet still full-size biners for ice and alpine adventures, the Spirits would be my do-it-all draws.
Update: Petzl has announced they’ll be releasing a screwlock version of the Spirit for 2014. The narrow nose will make this an awesome sport locker, able to fit into even the smallest chains and tightest bolt opening! I can’t wait!