How Does a Descender Attach to a Harness?

A common question we get asked here is “how does a descender attach to a harness?” The answer, of course, is with great care and attention to detail! But seriously, folks – attaching a descender to a harness is not something to be taken lightly. If done incorrectly, it could result in serious injury or even death. So please, make sure you know what you’re doing before attempting this!

How Does a Descender Attach to a Harness?

A descender is a friction device used to control speed while rappelling or abseiling. It is also referred to as a brake device or rappel device. A descender usually attaches to the master attachment point through the caver using a D-ring. This is located at the front center waist area of the harness.

When properly positioned and applied, the descender transfers most of the weight to the anchor point while allowing the user to slide down at a safe and controlled rate.

What are the Different Types of Descenders?

There are many different types of descenders on the market, but the three most common are the friction knot, the tube/plate, and the figure-8. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.

  • Friction Knot (or Prusik) – The friction knot is a simple device that can be easily made with a piece of cord. It is lightweight and compact, making it a good choice for emergency situations. However, it can be difficult to use if you are not familiar with the knot-tying technique, and it can be hard on your hands if you have to use it for a long time.
  • Tube/Plate – The tube/plate descender is a more sophisticated version of the friction knot. It uses a metal plate or tube to create friction, which makes it easier to control than the knot. It is also more comfortable to use for long periods of time. However, it is more expensive than the friction knot and can be difficult to find in an emergency situation.
  • Figure-8 – The figure-8 descender is similar to the tube/plate, but uses a loop of cord instead of a plate or tube. This makes it even easier to control, but it can be difficult to tie in an emergency situation. It is also more expensive than the other two types of descenders.

How Do You Use a Descender?

Descenders are devices used to control a person’s rate of descent down a fixed rope. They can be brake-controlled or force-controlled and are an essential part of safety equipment for climbers, rescuers, and industrial workers who work at height.

Brake-controlled descenders have a handle or lever that the user squeezes to increase friction and slow their descent. The most common type of brake-controlled descender is the tubular device, which has a circular frame and uses a cam to generate friction when the handle is squeezed.

Force-controlled descenders work by using the weight of the user’s body to generate friction. The most common type of force-controlled descender is the figure 8, which gets its name from its shape. To use a figure 8, the user bends the device in half and attaches it to their belay loop with both arms through the two loops. The user then leans back and uses their body weight to control their descent.

What are the Different Types of Harnesses?

There are three main types of harnesses: full-body, sit, and chest. Full-body harnesses are the most common type of harness and are typically used for work that requires more than one person to be suspended at a time. Sit harnesses are worn around the waist and legs and are typically used for rock climbing or tree climbing. Chest harnesses are worn around the chest and shoulders and are typically used for kayaking or canoeing.

How Do You Use a Harness?

There are many different ways to use a harness, depending on what you need it for. Rock climbing, for example, requires a different harness setup than skydiving.

First, you’ll need to put the harness on. To do this, thread your arms through the loops and then fasten the straps around your waist and legs. Once you have the harness on, you can adjust the straps to get a snug, comfortable fit. Next, you’ll need to attach the descender—the device that controls your speed as you rappel down a rock face or cliff—to the front of your harness. To do this, thread one end of the rope through the descender and then clip it onto the front of your harness using a carabiner.

Once your descender is attached, all that’s left to do is clip onto your anchor point—whether that’s a fixed point in the rock or a parachute—and start Rappelling!

How Do You Attach a Harness to a Descender?

There are three ways to attach a harness to a descender:

  1. The first way is with a sewn-in loop of webbing or dyneema that is about 2 inches (5 cm) long. You thread the loop through the appropriate hoop or ring on the harness, then back through the loop itself, and pull snugly. Check that the sewn loop is strong enough to take your weight in an emergency by pulling on it with all your might.
  2. The second way is with a carabiner. You thread one end of the webbing or dyneema sling through the appropriate hoop or ring on the harness, clip the carabiner into the loop, and pull snug. Again, check that everything is secure by testing it with all your might.
  3. The third way is similar to the second, but you use two carabiners instead of just one. This is known as the “double carabiner method,” and it’s considered more secure than using just one carabiner because even if one carabiner fails, you’ll still be attached to the descender. To use this method, you thread one end of the webbing or dyneema sling through the appropriate hoop or ring on the harness, clip both carabiners into the loop, and pull snug. Once again, check that everything is secure by testing it with all your might.

What are the Different Types of Attachments?

There are many different types of descenders on the market, each with its own set of features and benefits. Understanding the different types of attachments is important when choosing the right device for your needs.

The most common type of attachment is the carabiner attachment. This is simply a loop of webbing or cord that goes through the eyelet on the carabiner. The loop is then tied or clipped to another loop on the harness. Carabiner attachments are quick and easy to use, but they can be susceptible to failure if not used correctly.

Another type of attachment is the D-ring attachment. This consists of a D-ring sewn onto the back of the harness, with a cord or webbing loop running through it. The loop is then tied or clipped to another loop on the harness. D-ring attachments provide a stronger connection than carabiner attachments, but they can be more difficult to use.

The third type of attachment is the crotch strap attachment. This consists of a strap that goes around the climber’s waist and legs, with a ring or other device at the front that connects to the descender. Crotch strap attachments provide a very strong connection between the descender and harness, but they can be difficult to put on and take off.

How Do You Choose the Right Attachment for Your Application?

The most important considerations are safety and efficiency. Different types of descenders offer different advantages, so it is important to choose the right one for the job at hand. Some of the most popular options include carabiners, D-rings, and work positioning lanyards.

Carabiners are one of the most popular methods of attaching a descender to a harness, as they are quick and easy to use. There are many different types of carabiners on the market, so it is important to choose one that is rated for the weight of the person or object being lowered. D-rings are another popular option, as they offer a high degree of security. Work positioning lanyards can also be used, but they are not as common because they can be more difficult to use.

In Closing

Attaching a descender to a harness is fast and simple, but requires it to be done in the proper way. Remember, your safety is what counts the most!

NEXT UP: Safety Steps for Using a Descender

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Leon Ashcraft
About Leon Ashcraft

Leon Ashcraft is a Safety Instructor and consultant in Colorado with focus on OSHA, environmental health and safety, transportation safety, oil & gas, rescue operations and construction safety. Learn more about Leon here or connect with him on Twitter | LinkedIn | Medium

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