Sterling ATS Belay and Rappel Device


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Review Summary

5 out of 5

1 Reviews

  • Build quality: 1
  • Great design: 1
  • Lasts forever: 1
  • Performance: 1

Durability: 5 / 5
Quality: 5 / 5
Ease of Use: 4 / 5

1 Ratings & Reviews

Durability: 5 / 5
Quality: 5 / 5
TypeOfClimbing: Alpine / 5
EaseOfUse: 4 / 5
from Santa Fe, NM
35-44 yrs

Smooth Rapping
April 23, 2013

I bought this device for an upcoming canoneering trip. I was advised by experienced canyoneers that a *rappel device* (such as the Sterling ATS, Petzl Pirana, Totem, etc.) is preferable to a regular belay device in a canyon with long complicated rappels for a few good reasons: * greater control of friction, whether you're light or wearing a heavy pack, double or single ropes, thick or thin rope. * the longer friction path means it won't overheat like a belay device might with faster and longer descents * easy to "lock-off" mid-rap to mess with gear or admire the view * works well with thinner ropes, on a single-rope rappel, which is typical for canyoneering So you're headed to the Canyon and you want to bring a rappel device - which one to choose? I chose the ATS over the Pirana because: * It has two slots, allowing you to use it as a tube-style belay device which also works as an auto-locking top-belay, like an ATC Guide or Reverso * Its curved shape gives you more friction options. For a thinner rope, rig it with the bend downwards. For thicker or double ropes, rig it in reverse. This is true both in rappel mode, and in belay mode * Its symmetrical design has horns on both sides. This lets you use it left or right handed, or at least use the rope on the same side whether you rig it with the curve up or down * On the downside, it costs $4 more than the Pirana, but the extra features make it easily worthwhile. I tested it out rapping on the local crag, and did the same rap in four configurations: #with two ropes# 1. With the ATS 2. With the tube-style ATC 3. With the ATC Guide with friction grooves 4. With the ATC Guide reversed, with no friction grooves I found: * The ATS has amazing control of friction. With just a gentle variation in grip of the brake line, i could move smoothly, and easily control speed. * The tube-style ATC works fine, as you'd expect, but it doesn't have much friction, and i had to pay attention to the rope * The ATC Guide has too much friction for a rappel. Just the weight of the brake line was enough to stop you completely, and you have to push the brake line away from you, just to move. Rapping is not smooth, and you often stop and start, rapping down in a jerky fashion * With the ATC Guide rigged backwards with no friction grooves, it had not enough friction, and i had to strangle the brake line. Some climbers prefer it backwards, because the friction grooves provide too much friction, but i thought it was simply dangerous. Won't try that again. The mounting hole has a rubber shroud, which helps to hold your carabiner in place. The Pirana has the same feature. While i've heard that the Pirana is very picky, and it is imipossible to get it to fit most biners, the ATS worked fine with various belay biners. One issue: if you hook the ATS #or Pirana for that matter# directly on yoru belay loop, it will skew sideways. It is thus better to extend your device 6 to 12 inches away from your harness with a girth-hitched sling. That way, you can keep it straight on, and easily attach a prusik to your harness on the brake side as a safety backup. In conclusion i highly recommend the Sterling ATS. While i probably wouldn't use it as the primary device for sport/trad climbing #I'd use the ATC guide for that# i would bring it along if i knew a lot of rapping was needed. And for Canyoneering, where it's all about rappeling, i'm glad i bought it! Thanks Altrec.

Pros: Great design, Build quality, Lasts forever, Performance

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