Category Archives: Gear

Gear Review: Black Diamond Offset Micro Stopper

A review of Black Diamond’s newest passive protection should really take place in the context of the competition. BD’s offset nut is the first not produced by a British company, and Black Diamond (BD) is fighting for a niche market held by the HB Brass Offset for a long, long time. The HB Brassy has proven itself to be an indispensable aiding tool. When HB went out of business years ago, the brassies become a coveted piece of equipment, unavailable on the retail market until recently, when DMM bought the old molds and continued the production of these amazing little nuts. Now, BD has tweaked the tried and true formula, using bronze instead of brass for better durability, and utilizing a less aggressive taper. The width of the sides correspond almost exactly between the HB and BD offsets, but BD made their stoppers with a slimmer, longer profile giving it a larger surface area. When I finally got my hands on a set of these I had very specific ambitions to climb the Desert Shield in Zion. With a few hundred feet of sustained thin aid and pin scars, it was the perfect place to put them to the test. … Continue reading

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Science Confirms: Rappel Devices Can Get Very Hot

If you’ve rappelled more than 40 feet before, you probably have noticed your rappel device heats up when you use it. On long, free rappels, in fact, your ATC, Pirana, or other device of choice easily becomes hot enough to burn you good. I tend to immediately throw my Pirana in the closest pool of water in such situations, because if I don’t, I invariably burn my thigh or arm a few moments later. Whether throwing a 174º Pirana into 50º water warps or changes it, I have no idea. Anyhow, canyoneer James Kehoe took a big step past casual observation in attempting to answer the long-standing question: Just how hot does a rappel device get on a 450-foot rappel? James posted his test results on the Canyons Group, and I thought I’d post them here for general interest. Take home message: Your rappel device can get REALLY hot, especially on long, free rappels. Take precautions to avoid licking the device upon touchdown and keep small infants at least 10 feet away at all times. Thanks to Mr. Kehoe for posting his study. To find his original post, go the Yahoo Canyons Group and look at the 10/4/2010 posts. I’ve … Continue reading

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Sizing Five Ten Canyoneers for Really Big Feet

Each year, I get several questions from curious Sasquatchian Canyoneers wondering, “What is the biggest foot that fits in the Five Ten Canyoneer 2?” As a person with a size 14 foot, I empathize with fellow men and women who struggle to find shoes that fit. I have been fortunate to see what does and does not work in dozens of rental situations where folks with large feet tried on the Canyoneer2, so I thought I’d share this admittedly esoteric knowledge here for the world to enjoy. First, let’s lay out the important facts to consider when planning a large foot fitting: 1) Foot width is often describes as foot “volume”. A narrow foot is considered “low volume”; a wide foot is “high volume”. 2) The largest Canyoneer 2 size Five Ten makes is 15; the next smaller sizes are 14, then 13 (no half sizes). 3) The sock a person wears inside the Canyoneer 2 greatly affects the fit. Thicker socks offer more warmth in cold water, cushion for hiking, and help low-volume feet fill the width of the Canyoneer 2. Thinner socks provide less insulation (good for summer), but offer less cushion. Here are a few popular sock … Continue reading

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Canyon Rope 102: Choosing The Right Materials

In my last post, I shared thoughts on the utility of dynamic climbing ropes versus static canyon ropes in the canyoneering realm. To bring newcomers up to speed, both dynamic and static ropes will keep you alive whilst rappelling, but static ropes are undeniably lighter, stronger, and less expensive. Take-home message? Use static ropes whenever reasonably possible. In this follow-up article, let’s discuss the varied types of STATIC ROPE out there, specifically, the materials you’ll find in static ropes. Basically, you’ll see three different fabrics out there: 1. NYLON Nylon is a low cost material from which most dynamic climbing ropes, and some canyoneering ropes, are made. It often stretches 10-12% when weighted, meaning a 100 ft. piece of rope becomes as long as 112′ when someone is rappelling on it. Nylon also absorbs water, which has significant weight disadvantages. Nylon can absorb up to 150% of its own weight in water, so your 5-pound 100 ft. rope can weigh as much as 12.5 pounds when soaking wet. In addition, load-test studies show wet nylon to be 20-40% weaker than dry nylon. Do you really need to worry about a 40% strength loss when your tensile strength is 5,ooo lbf. … Continue reading

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Canyoneering Ropes 101: Static vs. Dynamic

ROPE is one of the flashier and more expensive tools in your canyoneering tool chest. Because most canyoneers aren’t made of money, they want lots of great canyon days for the cash they shell out on a rope. Ropes are made from different fibers, for different purposes, and each one carries advantages and disadvantages. Here’s my two cents on canyon ropes and the materials used to make canyoneering ropes. Static (Canyon) Rope vs. Dynamic (Climbing) Rope Dynamic rope is built for elongation, stretching somewhere in the 6 – 12% range when weighted. Dynamic ropes are essential for protecting a rock climber’s vertical fall; the “unwinding” of the interior rope twists disperses energy, reducing the force on the climber’s body. To achieve this carefully controlled stretch, climbing ropes are made of nylon, with the interior rope core (kern) twisted tightly, and the sheath of the rope (mantle) woven more loosely. Static rope, on the other hand, is built for low-elongation; it stretches in the range of 2-4% when weighted. In a static rope, the kern strands are twisted less tightly or are straight, and the sheath is woven more tightly, reducing the rope’s elasticity. Static ropes do not protect a climber … Continue reading

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