Best Rappelling Devices: Complete Buyers Guide

Best Rappelling Device

Are you looking for the best rappelling device? Then, you’re in the right place. Rappelling is a fun activity, and most people find it exhilarating, even on their first attempt.

So, if you’re looking for the necessary gear to rappel safely, the first one on your list should be a rappelling device. The best rappelling devices should be easy to set up for all rappellers and climbers, regardless of their skill set.

Besides, they should make it possible for you to eliminate or add friction when descending and be compatible with ropes of different diameters. But first things first.

What is a Rappelling Device?

A rappelling device is a device used to descend from one point to another by sliding down a length of rope and the rappelling device regulates rope speed when rappelling. Some rappelling devices are made for military use, while others are made for recreational use.

How Do You Use a Rappel Device?

The rappelling rope moves through the rappel device, which functions as a brake by increasing friction to the rappelling rope, thus allowing you to descend safely. It’s relatively a straightforward process, but double-check that you’ve correctly fed the rope through it. 

6 of the Best Rappelling Devices

That said, which are the top devices for rappelling? The market is filled with rappelling devices that claim to be the best, which might make the searching process rather frustrating.

So, to make it easier for you, we have listed the best rappelling devices below.

  1. Petzl PIRANA 
  2. Sterling ATS
  3. Petzl Stop Descender 
  4. Edelrid Giga Jul
  5. SQWUREL 2
  6. Black Diamond ATC

1. Petzl PIRANA Rappelling Device: Our Top Pick

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Petzl PIRANA Advantages 

  • Inexpensive. 
  • Its design allows you to be connected to the rappelling rope without detaching it from your harness. 
  • Friction levels are adjustable, offering the necessary adjustability before and when rappelling.

Petzl PIRANA Disadvantages 

  • When mid-rappel, the number of friction levels you can add is limited. 
  • Compared to other rappel devices, the Petzl PIRANA has fewer features.

Petzl PIRANA Overview 

While the PIRANA doesn’t have as many features as most rappel devices, it has a little bit of everything and doesn’t overcompensate on one given area. Besides, the simple and highly durable construction is an appreciated bonus. 

It’s among the most affordable options on the market, and this, in tandem with durability, makes it our top pick. Perhaps, the best thing about this rappelling device is that it sports ample features to facilitate executing all types of technical rappels without the complexities featured on other rappel devices that make them difficult to use. 

The Petzl PIRANA offers six friction levels that come in handy when on technical routes. For instance, if you’re rappelling from steep terrain, you can increase resistance giving you more control.

Then again, if you want to lower yourself quickly, you can reduce the friction to descend easily. These variable friction levels are more convenient than basic rappelling devices like the ATC, where you don’t have any control other than how tightly you can hold the rope. 

The PIRANA rappel device lets you adjust the friction level mid-rappel, which will come in handy when canyoning, as you will tackle different terrain in a single rappel.

For example, if you want to keep the rappelling device a bit loose when descending on the edge of the route and tighten it once you’ve gone past the edge, the Petzl Pirana offers you this option. Furthermore, you can tie it off if you want to rest mid-rappel. 

The other advantage the PIRANA offers is effortlessly dealing with double-strand rappels, making it extremely versatile. This makes it handy for lowering when sport climbing and on multi-pitch routes. The PIRANA is an all-purpose rappelling device, and while this is beneficial, it also comes with some drawbacks.

So, in most circumstances, the PIRANA won’t be the best rappel gadget for one specific task; thus, there will always be a better performer at that particular task. Overall, this is a reliable, durable, and versatile rappel device ideal for all situations. 

Petzl Stop Descender and Sterling ATS: Runner-Up

Petzl Stop Descender and Sterling ATS rappel devices are a close second after the Petzl PIRANA rappelling device, and here’s what you need to know about them.

2. Sterling ATS Rappelling Device 

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Sterling ATS Advantages

  • The four horns offer different levels of friction mid-rappel.
  • The middle niche lets you use it for belays. 
  • The two-slot construction facilitates effortless two-strand rope rappelling.

Sterling ATS Disadvantages

  • General and straightforward design. 
  • The carabiner hole is small, thus accommodating specialized equipment only.
  • It’s made using soft metal that wears quickly when used in wet and sandy surroundings. 

Sterling ATS Overview 

Minus a few flaws, the Sterling ATS rappelling device could have beaten the Petzl PIRANA to the first position. Let’s see what it has to offer.

The ATS allows for the execution of a two-strand rappel, which is a requirement for all excellent rappel devices. The other thing to love about this device is the four horns that let you adjust the level of friction mid-rappel. 

The Sterling ATS rappelling device’s primary benefit is that you can also use it as a belay device. It’s among the most reliable devices on the market that can do this. This is something that even the Petzl PIRANA won’t offer you. 

When it comes to the downsides, the Sterling ATS has a basic design. The spacious, flat shape, featuring a horn on every corner, makes this device heavy. This design also makes it difficult to pass the rope through when belaying. 

The other fault in its design is the small carabiner hole that makes it difficult to attach standard carabiners. Hence, you will have to buy specific gear to execute fundamental functions. Again, this rappelling device is not durable.

Its construction includes soft aluminum, and while it makes it somewhat lightweight, it sacrifices durability. That said, this is a versatile and reliable rappelling device, regardless of the drawbacks. 

3. Petzl Stop Descender Rappel Device

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Petzl Stop Descender Advantages

  • Ideal for muddy, wet, and clogged rappelling ropes. 
  • Auto-lock feature. 
  • Durable construction. 

Petzl Stop Descender Disadvantages

  • A little bit heavier. 
  • More expensive. 

Petzl Stop Descender Overview

Petzl is a well-known sports brand that manufactures high-quality products, and Stop Descender is no exception. It’s ideal for professionals, canyoneers, and cavers due to its durable and solid construction. 

It has a stainless-steel construction with an auto-lock feature and a dead man’s switch that detects whether your hands are on or off the device. This rappel device is constructed to make sure you descend safely, despite the circumstances. 

It’s not only one thing when it comes to what the Petzl Stop Descender is best at. First, it is durably constructed to endure anything from dropping it off a cliff to hitting it against a rock. Moreover, this rappel device is the safest option for beginners, particularly those scared to rappel. 

On the other hand, it is about five times bulkier than most standard rappel devices on this review, though it is more robust than the Petzl PIRANA.

The dead man’s switch on the Stop Descender will halt your descent if something happens as you lower yourself. This means that you need to have a handle down to feed the rappelling rope through the device; if you fail to do so, the Stop Descender will automatically lock itself, leaving you suspended mid-rappel. 

This feature can come in handy when you want to rest before you’re done rappelling. What’s more, it shields you against various hazards; for example, if you have an accident mid-rappel and you cannot work the rappelling device, it will hinder you from falling to the ground. 

Lastly, the stop Descender is among the best picks for tackling dirty, wet, and mud-clogged rappelling ropes. Due to the internal camming rappelling devices, you don’t need to stress about the rope’s condition affecting your ability to regulate the rappelling process, as you would with a friction-based rappelling device such as the PIRANA. 

The only flaws with this highly functional and impressive rappelling device are that it is bulky and doesn’t perform well when double-strand rappelling. Besides, you cannot utilize it for belaying like the Sterling ATS. 

Again, in terms of limited functionality, the Stop Descender can only perform single-strand rappels with 9 to 11-mm ropes. The Petzl Stop Descender is definitely worth buying if safety is your priority. 

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4. Edelrid Giga-Jul: Best Rappelling Device for Climbers

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Edelrid Giga-Jul Advantages

  • Ideal for trad climbing, multi-pitch, and single-pitch expeditions.
  • It works as a manual belay and assisted braking device.
  • It gives you more control when descending. 

Edelrid Giga-Jul Disadvantages

  • No adjustable friction levels. 
  • It has a unique design that is rather complex to adapt to. 

Edelrid Giga-Jul Overview 

For the rock climbers, here is the perfect rappelling device; the Edelrid Giga-Jul. It all began when a German firm designed the Jul, an impressive yet flawed rappelling device, a long time ago. After that came Mega Jul, a better, relatively faulted rappelling device that wasn’t well-embraced by climbers. 

Again, in 2018, Edelrid decided to apply innovation to enhance Mega Jul’s general functionality, which is how the Giga Jul came to be.

The Giga Jul is a generalist like the PIRANA, though it can execute any given task more than most standard rappelling devices. All the same, it’s not reliable on single-pitch routes. Again, it might be somewhat heavier compared to an ATC. 

The Giga Jul can be functional in multiple scenarios like double-strand and single-strand rappels, hanging, and taglines. On top of that, this rappelling device has an assisted-braking feature for technical routes. 

For instance, if you’re lowering yourself on terrain while collecting your climbing equipment or want to rappel halfway and stop to take some photos, the assisted-braking feature will come in handy. Again, it makes it possible and effortless to hold on to the rope using one hand. 

On the other hand, if you don’t need this feature, you can always choose the ATC, or if you prefer rappelling down swiftly. The main downside of this rappelling device is that it has a rather complex design that will take some time to get used to. The auto-lock feature might also take some time to adapt to. 

While these flaws might be an issue for some climbers, they are things you can overlook since the advantages the Giga Jul offers to make it worth investing in. The Giga Jul is the most suitable rappel and belay device for rock climbers looking for a suitable rappelling device. 

5. SQWUREL-2: Best Rppelling Device for Canyoneering

SQWUREL-2 Advantages 

  • Solid, narrow construction ensures it doesn’t catch other gear when rappelling.
  • Enhanced rope maintenance nub facilitates a shorter rope tail. 
  • Tail construction makes it easy to decrease or increase friction mid-rappel.

SQWUREL-2 Disadvantages 

  • More expensive. 
  • Asymmetrical construction makes it hard for left-handed people to use.

SQWUREL-2 Rappel Device Overview 

Canyoneering calls for rappelling several times within one adventure. From lowering yourself from a cliff to rappelling past waterfalls and other terrains, you will require a reliable and solid rappelling device. The best option would be purchasing a canyoneering-specific rappelling device, like the SQWUREL 2. 

Best Rappelling Devices

This incredible rappelling device has a unique tail and head construction, thus its name. Its construction is quite genius as it facilitates effortless off-and-on-again modifications for the various friction levels through its “tail,” making it easy to slide the rappelling rope over it for additional halting power. 

Moreover, this device was engineered particularly for canyoneering, and it does an excellent job. Besides achieving most of the tasks other rappelling devices do, it needs fewer features to attain them. 

Regarding rope control, no rappelling device in this review compares to the SQWUREL 2. It’s got well-thought features like the additional material on the major friction parts and a streamlined design. If utilized properly, this rappel device will comfortably handle 2000 rappels or more without wearing out, which justifies its price tag. 

All the same, this device does have a few drawbacks. The major fault with the SQWUREL 2 is its asymmetric construction, making it challenging for left-handed individuals to use. If you misuse this device, it will wear out quickly.

If you use the SQWUREL 2 rappelling device correctly, you’ll find that it has all the features you need when canyoneering, and you will execute more than 2000 rappels before it starts wearing out. 

On the other hand, while the SQWUREL 2 device is handy when canyoneering, it might not be suitable for circumstances that call for more than rappelling. Again, it is not constructed to perform belays; thus, it won’t be helpful when you need to ascend. 

Furthermore, it is not compact compared to an ATC; therefore, hauling it with you throughout your adventure as a backup device isn’t reasonable. Lastly, this device needs some getting used to; thus, it might not suit beginner rappelers. 

6. Black Diamond ATC: Best All-Purpose Device for Rappelling

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Black Diamond ATC Advantages

  • It’s the ultimate all-around rappelling device. 
  • Sturdy. 
  • Rugged. 
  • It comes in handy in multiple rappelling circumstances. 

Black Diamond ATC Disadvantages

  • Reduced control.
  • High risk of the rope twisting. 
  • You can’t make adjustments mid-rappel

Black Diamond ATC Overview 

It would be remiss of us not to review a product from Black Diamond. They are a famous sports brand with exceptional products, and the Black Diamond ATC is no exception. 

Before delving into this device’s review, it would be best to explain how this is the best all-around device, which is the same thing we said about the Petzl PIRANA. The Petzl PIRANA comes in handy and is the best for various circumstances when rappelling. 

So, whether you’re rappelling in caves or canyoneering, it will effortlessly help you lower to the ground. On the other hand, when it comes to the Black Diamond being the best all-purpose rappel device, it is helpful in all rope-associated activities only.

Hence, if you’re going to be rappelling, mountaineering, caving, climbing, or canyoneering, and performing other rope-associated activities, you should bring the Black Diamond ATC. 

Therefore, the PIRANA is the most suitable if you require one rappelling device. However, if you need a device to execute multiple tasks, you should pick the ATC. And while we have stated that the Giga Jul was the best rappelling device, it’s not as good an all-purpose rappelling device as the ATC. 

Besides, the Giga Jul might not come in handy for mountaineers. With the rugged design of the Black Diamond ATC, it will be more useful in the alpine surroundings due to the slippery ice and snow, which can make even the best devices look bad. 

There are many reasons to love the Black Diamond ATC. First, it is highly portable, user-friendly, and highly versatile. So, it will come in handy whether you’re going sport climbing, double-strand rappelling, multi-pitch climbing, or any other rope-related activity. 

Seeing as it weighs 80g, you can easily carry it with you. Although it has a simple and all-around construction, it presents a few drawbacks. For instance, you cannot modify the friction levels while rappelling.

For this, try utilizing a carabiner-prusik system, though it will be time-consuming to set up. Again, it doesn’t offer the lock-off feature when rappelling; therefore, you cannot rest mid-rappel when utilizing the Black Diamond ATC. 

Finally, it is not as safe as some of the rappelling devices in this review. For example, it doesn’t have an auto-lock feature, no backup system, and no additional friction loops.

However, if you tie a rappelling knot, you can create a backup mechanism. Without these safety features, you will have a much riskier adventure, particularly if you’ve been rappelling all day long and are exhausted. 

Besides, if you’re new to rappelling, the Black Diamond ATC might not be the best go-to option for you, as it is much more difficult to control the speed at which you’re rappelling, and you won’t as well be able to halt mid-rappel. 

Moreover, if you partake in activities like caving or canyoneering, the Black Diamond device might not be ideal, as it is not designed for technical terrain.

Suppose you’re an alpinist or climber searching for a rappelling device that will let you execute various basic tasks, such as belaying and rappelling. In that case, the ATC rappelling device is ideal for you. 

How to Use Rappelling Device? (5 Steps)

Whether you are an experienced climber or just starting to explore the sport, properly using a rappelling device is essential for a successful rappelling experience.

Following the outlined guidelines, you can safely and confidently use a rappelling device to your advantage.

1. Assemble the Rappelling Device Correctly

Step 1 of using a rappelling device correctly is to assemble the rappelling device correctly. 

Before you start:

  1. Read the instructions and safety information included with the rappelling device.
  2. Assemble the rappelling device as instructed, ensuring all components are securely connected.
  3. Ensure the rappelling device is level and in the correct orientation before continuing.
  4. Once the rappelling device is assembled, check the carabiner, rope, and harness for any signs of wear and tear.

2. Secure a Proper Anchor Point

Securing a proper anchor point is critical when using a rappelling device. Ensure that the anchor point is strong and will not come loose during the rappelling process.

Look for trees at least 12 inches in diameter, boulders, or other solid objects that can handle the rappeller’s weight. Examine the anchor point carefully and ensure that there are no loose objects in which the rappeller can get tangled.

Additionally, wear a helmet and use a connection point either through the rappel device or an additional knot.

3. Establish a Secure Connection with the Rappel Device

Establishing a secure connection with the rappel device is an important step in the process of using the device. Before connecting the rappel device, it is important to verify that the rope has been secured to a reliable anchor point.

Once the rope is secured, the rappel device should be attached to the rope and tightened securely with a carabiner.

Finally, the rappel device should be connected to the user’s harness, and the brakes should be locked by pushing the plate on the rappel device. Once the connection is secure, the user is ready to begin rappelling.

4. Ensure Proper Braking Technique

When using a rappelling device, it is critical to ensure proper braking technique. Always double-check that the brake hand is in the proper position and apply an even amount of pressure with both hands.

To ensure a safe descent, you should use a controlled braking technique that requires the brake hand to move quickly and with slight downward pressure.

This will help slow the descent rate and ensure a safe and secure rappel. Additionally, the brake hand should only be removed from the rappel device once the descent has been completed.

5. Safely Lower Yourself with the Rappel Device

Once you have secured yourself in the rappel device, the next step is to lower yourself safely. Make sure that you have secured the rope firmly and that it will not slip from the anchor point.

Once you have confirmed that the rope is secure, slowly begin to lower your body using the rappel device. Make sure to keep your body upright and use your legs to control the speed of your descent.

Do not use your hands to lower yourself, as this can cause the device to break or malfunction. Once you reach the ground, slowly release the rope and the rappel device.

Frequently Asked Questions about Rappelling Devices

How to make a rappelling device out of carabiners?

Creating your rappelling device requires the use of specialized carabiners, which are great for securely attaching yourself to a fixed point.

When used correctly, carabiners give you the ability to attach yourself to a rope and rappel down a surface. It is important to remember always to double-check the carabiners that you are using before beginning to rappel.

It is also important to choose carabiners that are the right size for the rope you are using. Once you have selected the carabiners, you can attach them to the rope and anchor them to a fixed point. Then, you are ready to rappel.

How to use a belay device for rappelling?

The right rappelling device is essential for any rappelling project. There are some important steps to keep in mind when using a belay device, such as an eight or figure-eight.

First, attach the device directly to the anchor point. Ensure that the device is securely attached and that the device’s locking mechanism is engaged. The next step is to clip the rope into the device, ensuring the rope is running in the proper direction.

Finally, ensure the climber is securely attached to the rope, and check the belay device once to ensure it is properly engaged. Once these steps are complete, the rappeller can proceed with their descent.

What belay device is used for high-speed rappelling?

Regarding rappelling devices, it is essential to ensure a safe and secure descent. High-speed rappelling requires a specialized device that can quickly and safely lower climbers.

The most popular rappelling device used for high-speed rappelling is the Grigri. The Grigri is an assisted braking device featuring both an active and passive braking system.

The active braking system is engaged when the rope moves quickly, while the passive braking system is engaged when the rope is under tension.

The Grigri rappelling device is designed to provide reliable and efficient braking and is recommended for anyone looking for a faster and safer rappelling experience.

What safety measures should be taken when using a rappelling device?

Taking the necessary safety measures when using a rappelling device is essential.

Rappelling devices are used to descend a vertical surface, such as a cliff face, so it is important to pay close attention to the device and the environment when using one.

Inspect the rappelling device before use to ensure it is properly working. Make sure the surface you will be descending is safe and that no loose rocks could fall and cause harm.

Additionally, wear a helmet and consider wearing gloves to protect your hands. Lastly, use a rope appropriate for the task and the correct length and diameter for the rappelling device.

How often should a rappelling device be inspected and serviced?

It is important to inspect and service rappelling devices regularly to ensure their continued reliability.

Generally, the frequency with which rappelling devices should be inspected and serviced depends on the type of rappelling device used and the environment in which it is operated.

For instance, a rappelling device used for rescue operations should be inspected and serviced more often than one used for recreational purposes.

Generally, rappelling devices should be professionally inspected and serviced at least once a year or after every 100 uses, whichever comes first.

What are the common components of a rappelling device?

A rappelling device is specialized equipment used to safely and efficiently descend a rappel line. It combines anchor points, attachment points, and a friction device. 

The anchor points secure the rappel line to a fixed surface, such as a tree or rock wall. Attachment points provide a secure connection between the rappel line and the user’s body.

A friction device is used to help control the speed of descent, allowing the user to safely and smoothly rappel down the line. 

When selecting a rappelling device, choosing one compatible with the type of rappel rope used that meets all safety standards is important. It is also important to thoroughly understand the device, its components, and its use.

What is the purpose of a rappel device?

A rappelling device is an essential tool for anyone engaging in rappelling. It is used to control the descent of a person or object down a vertical drop, such as a cliff face or a building.

The most common type of rappelling device is a rope-and-carabiner system, but many other types depend on the specific application.

All rappelling devices are designed to reduce friction and provide a safe descent while allowing a person to adjust their speed of descent and even stop during the rappelling process.

Should crystal hunters use a rappel device?

For crystal hunters, rappelling devices can be an invaluable tool. They provide a safe and efficient way to reach otherwise inaccessible areas in a fraction of the time it would take to climb.

Rappelling devices also allow crystal hunters to explore more areas with fewer risks. As such, crystal hunters should seriously consider using a rappelling device when venturing out in search of crystals.

If used correctly, rappelling devices can provide a safe and efficient way to access previously inaccessible areas.

Is there a difference between a rappel device and a belay device?

Yes, there is a slight difference between rappel devices and belay devices. Typically, rappel devices are somewhat bulkier compared to belay devices. Again, they are pricier. However, there are rappel devices that work as belay devices as well. 

How to make a rappelling device out of carabiners?

To make a rappelling device out of carabiners, you need to have a lockable carabiner and attach it to the belay loop. However, if you don’t have a lockable carabiner, attach two non-lockable climbing carabiners to the belay loop, with their gates in opposite directions. This way, the carabiner head will be facing the tail of the corresponding carabiner.

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Next, attach two more non-lockable carabiners in the same manner, and feed a portion of rope through them. Again, connect two more carabiners on both sides of the previously attached carabiners and feed a portion of rope through them. 

Make sure it passes over the carabiners’ spine and not the gates. The carabiners will act as a brake, allowing one person to sit on the left side and the other climber on the right.

What descender device is used for rappelling?

The Petzl Stop Descender is the best rappelling device for single-strand rappels, and its ease of use and security is unmatched. 

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Can you use a belay device for rappelling?

Yes, you can use a belay device for rappelling—almost every belaying device, whether an ATC device or Gri-Gri, can be used to rappel. The method you will use to rappel will be quite similar to that of a belaying. 

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What is a quick-release rappel device?

The Quick-Release Rappel Device (QRAB) is a light rappelling descender for professionals, like swift helicopter descent, tactical rappel, and personal escape. It has an instant detachment mechanism that lets you disconnect from the rope fast. 

To Summarize: 6 of The Best Rappelling Devices

There it is, a review of the best rappelling devices on the market!

The Petzl PIRANA is our top pick, as it is an all-purpose device that’s affordable, easy to use, and highly versatile. The Sterling ATS and Stop Descender, the two runner-ups, came close to bagging the first position and will come in handy in multiple situations during your rappelling sport adventure. 

The Giga Jul is ideal for rock climbers as it offers you more control and acts as a manual and assisted braking device. On the other hand, if you prefer canyoneering, the SQWUREL 2 device is most suitable as it is specifically designed for such situations. 

As for the generalists, the Black Diamond ATC will come in handy in all rope-related activities, from mountaineering and rock climbing to single-pitch routes. 

In conclusion, rappelling is a great way to explore the outdoors, but it’s essential to be safe and use the proper rappelling device and techniques.

With a bit of practice, you can make sure you know how to use a rappelling device correctly and safely.

With the correct setup and proper technique, you can enjoy the thrill of rappelling while keeping yourself safe and secure.

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