Okay, I’m a gear addict. I carry too much gear, on a daily basis, and when I’m on trips. My only hope of managing it is through organization, and I try to take full advantage of any new tools, or products that come out that can help me do that. Plus, nifty new tools and products that help me manage my gear qualify as gear themselves. That helps sate my gear addiction since it’s yet more stuff to try out…. It’s a vicious circle. One of the latest gizmos I’ve been testing is the Niteize plastic S-Biner. I first became aware of S-Biners last year, from the guys at Blind Horse Knives. They were using the stainless steel versions to attach sheaths and other items to their belts and belt loops. They looked really handy, and I kept meaning to pick some up, but I never seemed to get around to it. Well, just before Christmas, I bought a couple of REI backpacks for my kids–a blue one for my son, and a pink one for my daughter, and I was looking for a way to attach some gear to them that would be secure, yet easy for a young child to put on, and take off the pack as needed.
I remembered the S-Biner and went hunting for them on the web. I soon found out that a new plastic version had been released since I’d first seen them.For my purposes, I thought plastic would work just fine and, as an added bonus, I found that they were made in a variety of colors, including black, red, blue, olive, yellow, and pink. That was perfect for what I needed! I had gotten my son a blue Fenix EO1 flashlight to match his pack, and my daughter a purple EO1 to match hers. I wanted to attach the light to their packs in a way that they couldn’t easily lose them, but make it so that they could access them, if needed, without any problems. With the plastic S-Biners, I was able to get blue ones for the boy, and pink ones for my daughter. They matched their packs and were easy to take on and off. Color coordination is always nice (the kids loved it), plus I could easily keep track of whose were whose that way.
The plastic S-Biners come in two sizes, a #2 and a #4. The #2 is a compact 2 inch by 1 inch, while the #4 is almost twice as big at 3 ½ inches by 1 9/16 inches. I ended up ordering two blue #2’s for my boy, two pink #2’s for my daughter, and two olive #4’s for myself, just because I figured I probably needed a couple as well. Niteize also makes a #10 size in black plastic only. It’s a gigantic 10 3/8 inch by 4 7/8 inch model. I didn’t snag one of those. I might have, just for the novelty of it, if I had seen it when I was ordering. I’m not quite sure what you’d use that one for, but I could probably have come up with something had I gotten one!
All S-Biners operate very simply. They are S shaped (thus the name) and have two hinged one-way gates located in either opening of the S. The gate easily pushes in for snapping them onto, and off of, gear, yet remains securely closed once clipped on. They’re fast and easy to use. They’re much quicker than a locking carabiner, and lighter weight too. The kids (ages 4 and 5) didn’t have any problems operating them either, which is exactly what I was hoping for. For items that you may want to secure, but keep ready for use, they’re perfect. I’ve used mine for the aforementioned flashlights, for pocketknives and multi-tools, keys, and other tools so far. The large #4’s work very well on sheaths. I tried mine on a JRE Leather bushcraft style sheath for my old Mora #2 ½. It rapidly converts the high ride bushcraft sheath into a low ride dangler and makes it easy to just snap onto a belt loop for carry. It’s equally easy to unclip it once in camp, or around the house. Being able to quickly shift the knife around from my belt to my pack and back is extremely convenient too. The S-Biners would also work well for hanging bags or other items off of lines or hooks either at home or at the campsite.
It’s worth noting that while S-Biners are really handy for carrying gear, they are not rated as weight bearing devices, and should not be used for climbing! With that said, they seem plenty durable and should hold up to normal use just fine. I don’t anticipate any issues using them for any of my intended purposes, and wouldn’t hesitate to clip on other gear to my pack (such as cook kits, rolled ponchos, or mess kits) with them as needed. Aside from their convenience, and their cool color options, possibly the best thing about S-Biners is that they’re extremely affordable. I picked mine up from Lighthound.com for $1 a piece for the #2’s, and $1.50 a piece for the #4’s! At that price I should have gotten another dozen to scatter around my gear and I assuredly will the next time I order. The stainless steel ones really don’t cost much more, so if you think you might want the extra strength of steel, that isn’t going to break the bank either. If you need a way to easily attach gear to your packs, keep things clipped more neatly, on or about your body, or just want to keep things neatly hooked together, take a look at Niteize’s S-Biners. They’re one of those handy, inexpensive items that you’ll wonder how you lived without once you use them!