Matador BetaLock Review
The Matador BetaLock’s keys may not be unique, but we like that its locking feature provides security and ensures accessories don’t just randomly fall off.
- Being lockable makes it more secure than a plain spring-loaded carabiner
- Deadbolt easily aligns with gate notch
- Super small keys are easy to store and use
- Too thick to hook onto small loops of tiny accessories
- You must keep track of the keys apart from the carabiner itself
- Key isn’t unique, so it’s not totally secure
1.94 oz (55 g)
3.7 in x 2.5 in x 0.47 in (9.4 x 6.4 x 1.2 cm)
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Carabiners are one of the many tools we frequently use here at Pack Hacker. They don’t play a super flashy role in your daily carry like travel backpacks, slings, or duffles do, but they’re definitely working in the background and, literally, keeping things together. However, they do fall short in a certain way. Though a carabiner is easy to hook and unhook, that also makes it inherently insecure under the right circumstances. The solution? Make it behave more like a lock.
Or at least that’s what Matador is doing with their BetaLock. This carabiner turns into a makeshift lock with a set of provided keys. That said, it’s also not a full-fledged lock, as the idea is not to be as cumbersome as traditional locks. You might wonder how exactly Matador toes the line between a quick-and-easy carabiner and a cumbersome lock, so let’s find out.
The BetaLock is made out of aircraft-grade aluminum, which is a fancy way of saying aluminum since it’s actually pretty common. Regardless, the BetaLock’s build quality is undeniably robust, and it should be, given how thick it is. In fact, we were slightly taken aback by the BetaLock’s sheer size. Pictures don’t do it justice, but it’s definitely a beefy unit once it’s in your hands.
The metal has a unique shape, with alternating flat sections that give the BetaLock a more sleek look, topped off with a tastefully applied Matador logo on one of these flat areas. Apart from the branding, the only writing on the BetaLock is a brief disclaimer that it isn’t designed for climbing—basically, don’t use this to secure a harness or something similar.
The BetaLock’s basic functionality is very similar to your standard carabiner. There’s a spring-loaded metal gate, and anything you slip through is kept there. What differentiates the BetaLock is that it has what’s basically a deadbolt built into the gate.
The gate itself has a notch where the bolt can slot into, and included are two very small keys (one is a spare) that you use to engage that bolt. These keys are, unfortunately, not unique, although that makes sense, given their size. On the plus side, this makes them super easy to use and carry around, even compared to small keys. It’s also much faster to disengage versus having to input a three-digit combination, especially in the dark, for example.
So, what’s the practical purpose of a lockable carabiner that’s not entirely secure due to its common key? Well, we’ve lost a few carabiners during trips over the years, and this pretty much solves that. We don’t really use the BetaLock to secure a bicycle, a locker, or a bag’s zippers. This is simply a more secure carabiner that you can be confident will be there at the end of the day—provided you remember to lock it first.
Specifically, we’ve used the BetaLock to secure a bike light to a backpack, an insulated bottle to a compression strap, and even a pouch to a travel bag. Prior to the BetaLock, we’d typically use more traditional carabiners for these purposes, but the BetaLock just feels much more secure and reassuring to use.
The large size makes it almost too hardcore to put on a day sling like the Bellroy Lite Sling. It’s big and shiny, but you have to set people straight whenever they ask if you’re an avid climber, since it’s such a huge carabiner on your sling. All of this is to say that we wish Matador would offer a smaller version of the BetaLock.
On the other hand, it looks much more at home on bigger bags like a daypack, travel backpack, or even a camera bag. The BetaLock is a carabiner, through and through, so as long as you can hang it externally, it can really go anywhere you want; packability is mostly a non-issue apart from the awkward aesthetics of its large size.
As we’ve already alluded to, the BetaLock’s biggest weakness at the time of writing is the lack of size options. As you can see, it dwarfs nearly all of the examples we’ve gathered in the image below. Because of the metal’s thickness, the BetaLock can’t hook into small accessories like car key fobs unless you use a separate keyring, whereas there’s no problem doing this with smaller carabiners.
Another thing we dig about the BetaLock is how tight the tolerance is, a good indicator of the high level of build quality. The spring-loaded gate always aligns with the deadbolt, with no perceivable wiggle room around the hinge to mess it up. Cheaper carabiners are usually guilty of such flaws, and you’re more likely to see their gates misalign with their corresponding notch.
- Clever mix of a lock and carabiner
- A little larger than we expected
- This was great to have as a companion on a 3-week South America Trip
- Like that it is literally locked to a bag when stored
- Key lightweight & small – not too much of a burden for a crowded keychain
- Construction is still solid; Some carabiners not intended for climbing can become loose at the hinge—not the case here
- A little large to carry on a sling, but proves well with a daypack or travel pack