Figure 8s and descenders are used to apply friction to the climbing line and control the rate of descent. Self-braking descender such as the Petzl I'd, Rig, or SMC Spider offer additional control the descent, and are popular among professionals in the tree care industry.
Large rescue 8 with ears ideal for rescue, mountaineering, and lowering loads. 40 kN (8,992 lb) rating. Compatible with ropes up to 12mm (1/2"), weighs 252 g (8.9 oz).
This steel figure eight is very popular for its high strength. Uses include personal belay, rescue, and rigging. The steel figure eight has long bent ears to prevent the rope from locking up during descent. Popular for rescue kits or as an inexpensive lowering device. 11,250 lb (50 kN) break strength.
Aluminum standard eight is lightweight, compact, and dissipates heat well. Anodized aluminum stands up well to use.
Easy to rig when wearing gloves, this compact 8 has smooth action. Anodized aluminum. Weighs 2.9 oz. 4.6" long. Made in the U.S.A.
Rated: Excellent Review by: Phil
“ Love this 8. Excellent balance of size and weight. Very easy to rig 16- and 24-strand quickly and correctly. Good, smooth control of the descent. Excellent value.”
The Petzl Pirana is a unique descender with three different braking positions, two supplementary braking spurs, and a small carabiner hole for a “rigid” carabiner/descender unit which helps to keep the descender positioned correctly. The carabiner hole will only fit Petzl carabiners, and is meant to be a tight fit.
New descender from Sterling Rope incorporates the best of tube, plate, and figure 8 style devices into one compact and durable tool. This unique device allows multiple friction settings on rappel as well as auto lock-off belay options. The ATS incorporates the best parts of a tube or plate device and a figure 8 with 'hyper-horns' into one compact, durable frame.
Rated: Excellent Review by: TRL
“First plate I have ever used. I tried it both directions with 1/2" rope, no real discernible difference noticed. Easy to soft lock. I think it allows one to descend faster than a figure 8, again not a big difference. ”
Rock Exotica Mini-eight features side ears that let you easily vary friction, and is super compact - great for an emergency descender. Carabiner hole has rubber gasket that fits tightly on a Rock Exotica or Petzl carabiner. Only 3.6” long! Made in the U.S.A.
Designed for firefighters in bailout situations, compact aluminum 8 is perfect for your bail-out kit. Works on a wide range of ropes; smaller ropes when doubled up to 7.5mm, and single up to 12.5 mm (1/2”). Weighs 1.7 oz (48g). Made in the U.S.A.
Rated: Excellent Review by: Phill Smith
“This has proven to be an excellent backup to the Mountaineering 8 for descents. The smaller size makes it a bit slower to rig on kernmantles, but Velocity and other 7/16" 24-strands rig up just fine, even with gloves. Control of descent speed is very similar to a full-size 8 - certainly close enough to be very safe if you have to switch to your backup 8. This is a very good combination of size, weight, and function for the very little space it takes up on the kit.”
Russ Anderson / SMC figure 8 with ears is a classic design and is rated to NFPA 'T' on 9.5mm to 12.5mm rope, and NFPA 'G' on 11m to 16mm rope. Anodized aluminum. 7,194 lb breaking strength (32 kN). 6” x 5.25” x .5”. Weighs 6.5 oz (184g). Made in the U.S.A.
Seattle Manufacturing Company's Descend Control stainless eight is lightweight, tough, with exceptional control of acceleration, rappelling speed, and stopping. Wider shoulders help prevent girth hitching the rope. Made in the U.S.A.
This self-braking descender and belay device for single rope replaces a figure 8 or friction knot. The handle allows the rope to move, and descent is controlled with the free hand. If handle is released the cam is engaged and descent stops. Anti-panic device automatically brakes if the handle is pulled too far. Two models available: I'D S accepts up to 7/16” (11mm) rope. I'D L accepts up to 1/2” (13mm) rope.
Designed for professionals, the Rig allows the user to move into position then easily stop where needed. This descender is compact and intuitive to use, making for smooth descents. A simple and effective alternative to more traditional descenders. Automatic return system on the handle. Pivoting cam facilitates taking up the slack in the rope. Can also be used to make a reversible haul system, and for short ascents (in conjunction with a FOOTPRO foot loop and an ASCENSION handled rope clamp). Single ropes between 10.5 and 11.5 mm in diameter (7/16” ). Weighs 380 grams. Instructions included.
A new version in 2011 made this already-great descender 20% lighter and 25% more compact! The GriGri is an extremely popular descender which uses a handle to control the rate of descent. When the handle is released, the GriGri self-brakes and engages the cam to halt descent. The GriGri can be used in conjunction with a handled rope ascender and foot loop for short ascents in the sit/stand climbing method. Works with ropes with a maximum diameter of 7/16” (11mm.)
7/16” (8.9 - 11.5 mm max capacity), compact, easy to use.
Rated: Excellent Review by: Jimmy
“had a GriGri now for 3 years, it's used 3 days a week and it is still as good as the first day I bought it..! now I want GriGri 2 ”
The SMC Spider is an Auto Braking NFPA T Rated Descender designed for work positioning and personal descent. The Spider provides person working at height the ability to easily maneuver and secure themselves while on the fly. Allowing users to easily load and unload from the device without having to unclip from their harness, it is an ideal descender for window washers, fire fighters and industrial workers who need a device that provides them with optimal strength and performance.
Accepts rope from 11 - 12.5mm in diameter, MBS 13.5kN (3,174 lbf), weighs 19.8 oz (562 g).
This Descender from ISC features some unique features for a handled descender. The handle is aluminum and coated for grip, and designed to rotate 360°, making it easier to use and switch between allowing the rope to run and locking the device. Each station in the rotation is accompanied by a “Click” so that you have the audio feedback in addition to the feel of switching the position. Features an anti-panic brake if the handle is rotated too far by an inexperienced user.
The D4 has a great video and manual on the D4 descender page.
5 1/2” x 3 1/4”, weighs 23 oz, and works with ropes from 10.5mm to 11mm (7/16”).
Rated: Disappointing Review by:
“ I purchased this as a climbing descender. I think the "descend" position is to small and it goes into the "panic" position too easily. I can't keep it out of the "panic" position when trying to descend. Very frustrating. My buddy purchased one about the same time, and he fells the same about it. I wish it could be modified to make the "descend" position a larger area. ”
The Scarab Rescue Tool is a stainless steel tool that excels at easily controlling heavy rescue loads, pick-offs, twin rope systems, and other rescue techniques. The Scarab is strong, does not twist ropes, and allows quick adjustment of friction with easy lock-offs and ambidextrous use. Single and double rope capable, and allows attachment of rope without unclipping from anchor.
Rope capacity 9mm - 13mm (up to 1/2"), NFPA 1983 G, weighs 385g (13.8 oz).
Rated: Excellent Review by: Jamz Luce
“ The Scarab is so simple and so good. It handles loads smoothly. Easy to lock off. Easy to add or remove wraps for control. I am using mine for rigging exclusively. Game changer for lowering loads out of the tree. Set a block above and take the Scarab to where you are cutting to control the load from there. Use a quick sling like a BARC to position the Scarab. Lock it off or let it run. Works great on 1/2" rigging lines. Super versatile even with loads in the hundreds of pounds. So many places it works great. I now need another to use in climbing/rescue applications. ”
The U-Rack utilizes Hyper bars which makes it easy to add friction or lock off the device. The rack dissipates heat excellently while still giving the needed amount of friction for long rappels. SMC tests their equipment in the user configuration which gives very accurate ratings. This rack is designed to run on ropes from 7-12.5mm and has a MBS range of 8kN to 22kN which corresponds with ropes you would use it with. At 9” x 3’ it is the most compact rack from SMC.
The Petzl Stop descender is an alternative to a figure 8 designed to work on single ropes with a max diameter of 7/16” (11mm.) The handle works like an on/off switch, stopping descent when released and allowing descent when squeezed. Rate of descent is controlled by the grip on the free end of the rope. Installation instructions are stamped into the faceplate.
With the SMC J rack, you can build your own rappel bar assembly by adding the brake and tie-off bars you want.