When you’re lifting heavy weights, you want to be focusing on your PRs, not worrying about safety and security.
That’s where having high-quality barbell collars comes in. While they may not seem like that big of a deal, these clamps are a crucial piece of equipment. With the wrong ones, your workout can become outright dangerous.
Whether you’re a casual lifter trying to tone up, or a powerlifter attempting to break records, choosing the right barbell clamp is an important safety decision.
No time to waste? Check out the products we’ve reviewed:
Barbell Collar Buyer’s Guide
So, what do you need to consider? There are a few important things to figure out before you buy barbell clamps.
First, how much weight will you be lifting? Are you more concerned about how easy it is to put on or take off a collar, or about having a super-tight grip? What type of bar do you have? Do you need a clamp that can withstand a high-impact workout? And finally, how much do you want to pay?
The first thing to consider is the amount of weight you’ll be lifting.
If you’re a bodybuilder or competition lifter, you’ll want a serious metal collar that can support a lot of weight without slipping. You’ll pay more for these sturdier metal options, but they’ll be able to handle the additional pounds.
Athletes dealing with fewer plates on the bar may find that a plastic quick-lock or basic metal spring-clip collar will do the trick and keep everything from sliding.
No matter what category of collar you buy (metal, plastic, etc.), you’ll also want to factor in durability.
For example, there are different types of plastic clamps of varying durability. While the tougher plastics come with a higher price tag, they’re able to withstand more weight, function better on vertical barbells, and better handle being dropped without popping open or snapping.
Athletes doing heavy CrossFit training or repeated drops from shoulder level should consider paying a little more for more durable products.
On the other hand, lifters with more controlled routines, or those focusing on horizontal lifting like bench presses or squats, don’t have to worry so much about collars cracking or splitting.
Regardless of routine, clamps of all kinds can loosen over time, so choosing a collar that comes with a warranty is always a good idea – we’ll discuss this more a little later on.
Barbell collars come in a variety of materials, including various hard plastics, and different types of metal options.
Metal clamps without some sort of inner lining can scratch your bar – so ensure to find one with adequate protection. On the other hand, plastic collars are usually rubber-lined to avoid scratches and increase grip.
Plastic collars also generally weigh less, a consideration for those who don’t want extra weight on the bar. These options are more prone to cracking or breaking than a metal collar, but even the toughest metal collars can become dented or misshapen over time.
Weighted metal collars have the advantage of letting you know exactly how much weight you’re lifting, but may not fit standard bars purchased at big-box stores. They’re mostly used by serious competitors, since the few extra ounces from non-weighted collars won’t affect most amateur lifters’ workouts.
So for maximum durability, metal is your best bet. However, there are plenty of good-quality plastic options out there which are also really tough.
Ease of use and comfort
For people with smaller hands or weaker grip strength, spring collars can be tricky to put on or take off the bar. This is because they require a lot of force to open the spring and slide it onto your barbell.
Collars with locking mechanisms, such as quick-release versions or level locks, open with the flick or turn of a latch, so they can be easily removed one-handed.
Some quick-release clamps are rounded, while others feature sharp-edged designs, which, while easy to grip, can hurt your palms. Consider what would be the most convenient for you, and go from there.
Accidents happen, especially when dealing with heavy weights.
Since even the best barbell collars can crack, bend, snap or loosen over time, product warranties are a definite plus, especially if you’re investing in a more expensive clamp.
Consider whether the company you’re buying from offers a lifetime warranty, or has a free replacement, exchange or return policy. This is especially important if you tend to be a little rough on your barbells (dropping them from above knee height, for instance).
Generally, since most barbell collars won’t set you back more than $20 or so, a 1-year warranty is a plenty-good deal.
There are a wide variety of both metal and plastic collars available that won’t break the bank. A lower price tag doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality, but if you’re looking for heavy-duty clamps, expect to pay more.
While most lifters don’t necessarily need weighted or competition-rated collars, if you are in the market for one you’ll be facing a three-digit bill. For those who aren’t concerned about International Weightlifting Federation standards, you can find good-quality collars starting at around $15-$20.
Regardless of how serious a lifter you are or how much weight you’re hefting, a collar is an important investment – and if you do your research, it doesn’t have to be a costly one.
While bars come in a variety of diameters and sizes, in this guide, we’ve focused on non-competition collars that fit a standard 2” Olympic bar. This is the most common variety used in home gyms, CrossFit boxes and fitness centers.
Best Barbell Collars
Now we’ll review some of the best barbell collars you can buy in 2019.
1. Clout Fitness Quick Release
For fast-moving weightlifters, who sometimes pick up the next plate to add without remembering to first remove the collars, Clout Fitness has a solution to your problem.
Their Quick Release locking barbell collars can easily be removed one-handed, saving the trouble of setting down the plate to remove the clamp. Designed for 2” Olympic bars, the collars feature a quick-release, single-lever latch that makes them simple to open and slide off.
Made of durable ABS plastic, the clamps have a rubber coating on the inside that keeps them locked firmly in place, ensuring a snug fit and preventing plate movement – even when dropping the weights from overhead holds. And whether you’re looking to ensure you can easily see the collar against dark weights, or just want to add a little flair to your home gym, the 12 color options offer alternatives to traditional dark clamps.
Clout collars are wider than some of the alternatives and take up more horizontal space on weight-loading zones, but lifters may be willing to forego that extra plate in exchange for the convenience these collars offer.
And while all plastic versions run the risk of cracking or splitting, the low price on this pair means they can easily – and cheaply – be replaced if they happen to break over time.
2. Lock-Jaw PRO 2
The Lock-Jaw Pro 2 is an ideal option for more serious lifters looking for a clamp strong enough to manage a massive amount of weight on an Olympic bar. With a large, spring-loaded snap latch, these collars’ impressive clamping force secures weights during hard workouts without sliding, even when the bar is angled at up to 45°.
This makes them ideal for high-impact workouts where weights are being dropped, sessions with massive amounts of weight, or intensive CrossFit exercises.
Despite the tight grip, you still get elastomer pads and a strong resin frame, which protects the bar and plates from any scratching or damage. It’s been reported that over time the clamps can lose a bit of grip, but the slide isn’t usually extreme.
The PRO 2 comes with a heftier price tag than alternatives like the Cloud Quick Release clamps, but increased durability and ability to manage more weight make them a good investment for experienced lifters.
While levers can sometimes be weak spots on plastic collars, the manufacturer also includes a one-year warranty with this product, so you’re covered if there are any problems.
3. Greententljs Olympic Barbell Clamps
As one of the most popular barbell clamps on the market, these Greententljs collars combine durability, ease of use and economical pricing into one easy package.
Made of high-grade nylon and hard rubber, the Greententljs clamps fit standard 2” Olympic bars and latch on with a convenient quick-release lock. This easy locking mechanism makes removing weights a hassle-free process, while the rubber lining ensures they won’t come off until you want them to.
A sleek design with rounded corners means they won’t hurt your hand when you’re putting the collar on the bar, and the 12 color choices let you customize the look for your home gym.
Perfect for the home lifter or CrossFit enthusiast, these clamps do struggle with serious weight and may not be the best choice for serious bodybuilders, or for vertical bars/heavy-weight squats.
As mentioned before, there’s always a slight risk of cracking or splitting over time with plastic collars, but considering the price, these are great value. And while comparable in durability and price to the Clout Fitness clamps, the Greententljs satisfaction guarantee means that if the clamps don’t measure up, you can return or exchange them for free.
4. Synergee Aluminum Barbell Collars
If you don’t like plastic collars, a reasonably priced alternative is this option from Synergee. Made of lightweight aluminum, they’re surprisingly light at 13.4 ounces, so they won’t add noticeable extra weight to your bar despite being made of metal.
A rubberized lining gives the Synergees a strong grip on the barbell, preventing slipping and sliding, and keeping the plates firmly in place.
These aluminum collars also feature a lock-and-release design, meaning they can be easily added to or removed from 2” Olympic bars. However, the rubber can create a lot of friction against some bars, which sometimes makes the clamps difficult to remove. This does ensure a very tight grip, though some athletes might prefer a collar that slides on and off more easily.
A stylish metallic finish available in three colors gives the collars a very sleek look, and their unique shape makes them easy to grip. Synergee provides a durable option that, while a little difficult to remove, is long-lasting and doesn’t loosen over time.
5. CAP Olympic Barbell Collars
Traditionalists will love the CAP 2” spring-clip collars.
Chrome-plated and with easy-grip handles, these standard clamps will get the job done without the flair or features of more expensive collars. While they can be difficult to get on and off the bar (particularly for people with smaller hands or slightly weaker grip strength), their simplicity and durability continue to make them a solid choice for lifters that are looking for a no-nonsense option.
Note that with time and repeated use, the collars do loosen a bit which makes them easier to remove. So if you’re on a budget, but are concerned about the usability of these clamps, they’re still a viable option.
The upside to the collars’ tightness is that plates won’t slide around, making the CAPs a good choice for vertical lifting.
Also, the clamp’s metal structure is incredibly tough and won’t crack under strain, ensuring a long life – they’re surprisingly durable considering what they cost. For home gyms and fitness rooms, these spring clip collars are a simple, economical solution.
6. Dark Iron Fitness Barbell Collars
An alternative to the quick-release clamps we’ve looked at are the Dark Iron Fitness collars. The difference is this – these clamps feature a spring-loaded locking system with a crank-style handle. Simple to slide on with one hand, they are easily tightened and feature a convenient on/off label, so you can tell when the collar is fully locked.
Made of high-impact molded polyester, the collars fit snugly on the bar and, thanks to a rubber-padded lining, grip tightly through tough workouts.
Dark Iron’s clamps can shift a little when dropped from shoulder height or above, but they won’t slide around during less intensive workouts. At only 11.2 oz., they’re lightweight, meaning they’re very portable, so you won’t have to settle for low-quality clamps at the fitness center or gym.
Another perk of these collars is the lifetime replacement warranty – coupled with the low price, this makes them a good option that would make a great addition to any powerlifter’s equipment bag.
You’ve reached the end of our buyer’s guide!
Remember, above all else, the last thing you want is the collar cracking or falling off mid-lift. If this occurs, and you’ve got a lot of weight on the bar, you could break bones.
Even if it’s a few dollars more, go for the toughest option you can find.
Still not sure what to get? Drop us a comment below and we’ll get right back to you.