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New Petzl self-braking descenders: users tell all!

In 2018, we launched the new self-braking RIG descender equipped with our AUTO-LOCK system and a reinforced robust design. In 2019 the entire line of I’D will undergo the same enhancements. Who is better placed to share their first-hand experiences about the incredible benefits these new improvements offer than those professionals using our descenders day-in and day-out?

June 7 2019

Rope access and confined space

AUTO-LOCK: the main benefit of new Petzl descenders 

The AUTO-LOCK system allows for easy work positioning without having to operate the handle and tie off the device: as soon as the user releases the handle, the device automatically locks off the rope.

For Ivan Muscat, a rope-access professional in France, “The main benefit of new the Petzl descenders is the AUTO-LOCK system. On the older models, we had to actively set the handle in the locked position to lock off the device and safely let go of the rope. A lot of people who took the CQP (Professional Qualification Certificate) exam for rope access professionals still remember that if you forgot to lock off the handle more than once you could fail the exam. Now, the handle locks automatically. You still need to pay attention so that the rope does not lodge itself beneath the handle right at the moment when you let it go, otherwise the handle will not fully lock, which will also be considered a mistake during the exam, as is any other instance where you fail to tie or lock off the rope when needed.”

For Merto A., a routesetter in a climbing gym and a work-at-height professional in the USA, “Petzl’s descender provides me with the confidence and safety that I need to be able to concentrate on the task at hand. Whether I’m placing a large volume on a climbing wall or adding a small hold to a route, my descender is the least of my worries and that allows me to work with my mind at ease…

The AUTO-LOCK system also offers an incredible advantage when moving around or ascending a rope. This is what French rope access professional, Julien Rivollet, explains, “With the new design, the handle is simpler to use by the fact that the rope runs much more smoothly through the device than older descenders. The handle requires less pressure to operate and so it is much easier to adjust speed when descending, whatever the type, age, or condition of the rope, the weight carried on the device, or the length of the descent. When using the device to ascend, the new AUTO-LOCK function simply makes everything smoother (requiring much less effort to take up slack) and safer to handle: you don’t need to unlock the handle anymore, to take up slack you simply to start pulling on the rope below the RIG!

Sascha Ostrowski, a work-at-height professional in Germany, also agrees, “I am excited about the significant improvement in the handle's ability to control rope speed through the device; it was more or less an ON/OFF switch with the older version. The new descenders make it easy to manage."

For Mike Bockino, head routesetter at The Front climbing gym in Salt Lake City, Utah, “The AUTO-LOCK system is incredibly useful for setting routes. After spending years using a GRIGRI to set routes, I now use a RIG and am terrified about the idea of going back to using a GRIGRI. The RIG’s simple functionality, ease of use, and similarity with other Petzl devices make it really nice to use, including when I train new staff.”

RIG and I’D descenders: robust devices for any situation

Self-braking devices are frequently used in harsh environments. Intense use, often with dirty ropes, also puts these devices to the test. Therefore, reinforcing device durability and sturdiness was a key enhancement to include in the new RIG and I’D designs. We added a stainless steel reinforced plate to protect the area where the rope rubs, increasing resistance to long-term wear and tear. The result speaks for itself!

Ivan Muscat comments, “On the older descenders, the rope rubbed against the folded over part of the side plate when exiting the descender, which started to wear over time, often quickly depending on the condition of the ropes used. This is no longer the case on the new versions since a piece of steel was added to the side plate, providing a more robust surface where the rope rubs, and is almost impossible to wear out. This will be incredibly useful for major construction projects where the ropes are often covered in dust or mud, causing premature wear on the device. This will no longer be the case with the new generation of descenders.

A final word from those use these new devices

Julien Rivollet, “I now have a hard time going back to using my old descender! It reminds me to just what extent the new devices have improved!

Merto A., “Yet another incredible and reliable product from Petzl.

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