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petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 27, 2013 6:21 pm
by killian
im looking at getting a new descender. my father owns a petzl stop but i have never used it on nething but the tree out back. i think i could acqurie it for little or no money. im leaning more toward the petzl rack as i have seem and heard great things about it.. i was just wondering what everyones take on the 2 are? is the petzl stop good for long drops/mud or is the petzl rack just hard to go wrong with? :shrug:

Re: petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 27, 2013 7:25 pm
by Chads93GT
Id rather someone get a 6 bar stainless steel rack from SMC or BMS with or without a hyper bar. Ive never seen a petzl rack except for in the movie Sanctum.

Re: petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 27, 2013 7:29 pm
by firemedic1015
The BMS Micro Rack with one hyperbar is hard to beat. Get the long frame model.

Re: petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 27, 2013 7:33 pm
by VRcaver
The Stop is an awful device. Any micro rack with at least one hyper bar is better, assuming you have some basic instruction about proper usage. I am currently using the Scarab and love it even more than a micro rack, but it takes a little more experience to use safely.

Re: petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 27, 2013 7:40 pm
by Mike Hopley
If you're doing very long drops (e.g. 100+ metres) with heavy rope, then a rack is better. This is because you can thread the rack without lifting up the weight of the rope.

The Petzl Stop is superior for multi-pitch caves with European-style "technical" rigging (thinner rope, and convenience rebelays set every 30 -- 50 metres or so). The advantages of the Stop are that it's lighter, more compact, quicker to thread, and easier/quicker when locking off or performing changeovers.

The Petzl Stop also features a "deadman's handle" designed as a safety backup. The safety benefit is debatable, but it can be convenient (e.g. at rebelays). It can also be annoying, as it's a pain to press in. Many cavers (like me) prefer a Petzl Simple, which lacks the autostop handle. However, for effective control, both the Stop and Simple should be supplemented with a braking carabiner.

It is rare to see anyone using a rack here in Europe now; they are considered clunky and old-fashioned. Nevertheless a rack will work okay in any cave, whereas bobbins (Stop & Simple) will be infuriating when you have 20 kg of rope to lift up...

A rack will give the smoothest abseil. An expertly-used Simple will be almost as smooth, and will give the best control (rapidly speed up or slow down on a whim). A Stop can be quite jerky, especially on thicker rope.

Note that you can also get micro-racks, which are smaller and lighter than a Petzl Rack.


Ive never seen a petzl rack except for in the movie Sanctum.


The expedition leader for Xitu 2012 was using a Petzl Rack. He got on fine, and that cave is 1264 metres deep.


The Stop is an awful device.


Why's that?

It works fine if used correctly in the contexts for which it is designed.

Re: petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 27, 2013 7:53 pm
by snoboy
I'd echo what Mike says above, and add that if you are going to choose a rack, get anything but the Petzl Rack. I have one, and it's probably my least favourite device. Not enough friction, and heavy for what it is. The BMS micros are nice.

Re: petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 27, 2013 8:08 pm
by killian
i have used a 6 bar smc rack. im a firefighter and thats all we have on the truck.. that being said i hate them. i haave also used 1 on a 200ft pit. didnt like it there either. there way to heavy and as im only 170 lbs wet i dont have the mass to need more than 3 maybe 4 bars on a used rope. i do like the petzl rack for the reason its a little smaller than a smc and its bars are dummy proof making it impossible to rig up wrong. i never considered a micro rack cuz i heard some ppl saying that they get to hot and damage ropes. maybe just a rumor.

Re: petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 27, 2013 9:30 pm
by Scott McCrea
killian wrote: im only 170 lbs wet i dont have the mass to need more than 3 maybe 4 bars on a used rope.

You're doing it wrong. Seriously, get with an experienced rack user. Someone that really understands how they work, not just some with experience. Experience does not always equal understanding.

Re: petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 27, 2013 9:33 pm
by Smells_Familiar
I've got a BMS long micro rack with dual hyper bars and love it. The BMS uses stainless brake bars which don't wear nearly as fast as aluminum but don't provide quite as much friction. The Petzl rack uses aluminum bars and that's one of the main reasons I wouldn't buy one for caving. Also, for shorter drops it's not as compact as a micro rack...and for long drops it's potentially not as safe to use as a rack with more bars.

By the way Killian, don't ever go down to just three bars if you want to live very long. Please be careful.

Re: petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 27, 2013 9:39 pm
by Smells_Familiar
snoboy wrote:I'd echo what Mike says above, and add that if you are going to choose a rack, get anything but the Petzl Rack. I have one, and it's probably my least favourite device. Not enough friction, and heavy for what it is. The BMS micros are nice.


You have found that a BMS micro provides more friction than a Petzl rack? Petzl's got 5 aluminum bars and a micro's only got 4, and they're stainless steel. Aluminum provides more friction than steel. Were you using two hyper bars or something? I'm just curious how you came to this conclusion.

Re: petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 27, 2013 9:58 pm
by Carl Amundson
I'm 160lb and use a BMS micro-rack with the long frame.
It's a great rappel device and works well on muddy project rope.
The long U-frame allows you to move the bottom bar down to reduce the friction at the top of a longer drop.
The hyper bar allows for quick and easy lock offs of the rack.

Re: petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 27, 2013 11:14 pm
by Chads93GT
Scott McCrea wrote:
killian wrote: im only 170 lbs wet i dont have the mass to need more than 3 maybe 4 bars on a used rope.

You're doing it wrong. Seriously, get with an experienced rack user. Someone that really understands how they work, not just some with experience. Experience does not always equal understanding.

This. My buddy is 135 lbs and uses the 6 bar smc rack and uses 5-6 bars. If you are using 3-4 and struggling then you need to learn how to use the rack because you are doing something wrong.

Re: petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 27, 2013 11:29 pm
by GroundquestMSA
Chads93GT wrote:
Scott McCrea wrote:
killian wrote: im only 170 lbs wet i dont have the mass to need more than 3 maybe 4 bars on a used rope.

You're doing it wrong. Seriously, get with an experienced rack user. Someone that really understands how they work, not just some with experience. Experience does not always equal understanding.

This. My buddy is 135 lbs and uses the 6 bar smc rack and uses 5-6 bars. If you are using 3-4 and struggling then you need to learn how to use the rack because you are doing something wrong.


I third the motion. I'm 130 lbs at best and when I'm not using an 8, I use 5 or 6 bars of my SMC rack. I have an old Kong version of the stop bobbin and I don't like it at all. Without a braking carabiner it's too fast. With a braking carabiner it's just not comfortable. I like being able to let the rope hang between my legs and control my speed with the brake bars of the rack.

Re: petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 28, 2013 12:22 am
by VRcaver
Mike Hopley wrote:
The Petzl Stop is superior for multi-pitch caves with European-style "technical" rigging (thinner rope, and convenience rebelays set every 30 -- 50 metres or so). The advantages of the Stop are that it's lighter, more compact, quicker to thread, and easier/quicker when locking off or performing changeovers.


The Stop is not superior for the reasons you mention when compared to other devices. Even consider the Simple, which is a nice device. It is even lighter and more compact than the Stop. But compared to a micro rack the stop is about the same size and weight, takes about the same amount of time to do changeovers, and lock offs are equally fast. If you have seen otherwise it is due to a difference in experience with the devices.

The Petzl Stop also features a "deadman's handle" designed as a safety backup. The safety benefit is debatable, but it can be convenient (e.g. at rebelays). It can also be annoying, as it's a pain to press in. Many cavers (like me) prefer a Petzl Simple, which lacks the autostop handle.


You just hit on the worst part of the Stop.

Nevertheless a rack will work okay in any cave, whereas bobbins (Stop & Simple) will be infuriating when you have 20 kg of rope to lift up...


Also consider that in the US there are many caves where the bobbins will not work on the available rope, even with the C wrap, due to the size or other rope conditions. A rack will work with pretty much any diameter of rope or cord you come across, from the tiniest of alpine to the fattest of TAG.

A rack will give the smoothest abseil. An expertly-used Simple will be almost as smooth, and will give the best control (rapidly speed up or slow down on a whim). A Stop can be quite jerky, especially on thicker rope.


The Simple will not give the same range of ability to speed and slow as a rack. You get what you rig at the top of the drop and adjustments are simply the same as belaying, which is less than with a rack where you can also change friction mid-rappel.

VRcaver wrote:The Stop is an awful device.


Why's that?

It works fine if used correctly in the contexts for which it is designed.


There are numerous reasons why the Stop is awful. You pointed out several. To those I add some significant ones: lack of ability to use a free hand during descent to help with obstacles, and pain and numbness in the hand from the lever on long vertical trips. So far I have not seen any advantage of a Stop as claimed by people who use them. A micro rack in the hands of someone with equivalent experience will perform just as well by every measure, but work in a wider range of conditions and more efficiently at that.

If some has a preference for a bobbin device, the Simple is just fine as you note. I think it is not quite as good as a micro rack, but it is vastly superior to a Stop.

Re: petzl stop or petzl reppel rack

PostPosted: Feb 28, 2013 6:48 am
by Mike Hopley
VRcaver wrote:But compared to a micro rack the stop is about the same size and weight, takes about the same amount of time to do changeovers, and lock offs are equally fast. If you have seen otherwise it is due to a difference in experience with the devices.


That's a fair comment. Micro-racks are a similar size and weight to a Stop.

Perhaps the reason racks are almost never used in Europe is that, until recently, you couldn't get a micro-rack unless you ordered it from America.


The Simple will not give the same range of ability to speed and slow as a rack. You get what you rig at the top of the drop and adjustments are simply the same as belaying, which is less than with a rack where you can also change friction mid-rappel.


The Simple most certainly will give you the same range of speed (at least on normal length drops, not 200 m). The difference is that friction is controlled mainly by raising or lowering the hand (and also by how hard you grip the rope).

My preferred setup is Simple + Freino, which I usually C-rig on 9 mm rope and thicker (I still S-rig for 8 mm). This lets me do a "free fall" abseil when I want, yet stop effortlessly. It also lets me lock off very fast, thanks to the Freino; this is useful when rigging.

I'd rather have instant control in my fingertips, than adjust my speed by fiddling with bars. It's hard to fiddle with bars when you're looking down the pitch, scanning ahead for the next rebelay, as you run and jump off the wall. Rack bars don't come with proprioception; my right hand does. :tonguecheek:


Also consider that in the US there are many caves where the bobbins will not work on the available rope, even with the C wrap, due to the size or other rope conditions.


The Simple works fine with (old, fuzzy) 11 mm rope. Are you telling me that people actually use thicker caving rope than that? Or is it the stiffness of the rope that makes it difficult?


To those I add some significant ones: lack of ability to use a free hand during descent to help with obstacles, and pain and numbness in the hand from the lever on long vertical trips.


I used a Stop to descend a 1000 metre deep cave; it worked fine. My hand wasn't painful or numb. Uncomfortable at times, but nothing more.

I don't like the device, for the same reasons you mention, but let's not exaggerate the problem. The Stop works fine in the hands of people who know how to use it.


If some has a preference for a bobbin device, the Simple is just fine as you note. I think it is not quite as good as a micro rack, but it is vastly superior to a Stop.


Some people prefer the convenience of the autostop. Some people think it's safer. Some people like its versatility: you can use it as an improvised chest jammer, or for hauling, or for tensioning a tyrolean...